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Wind blew my drone away because I'm a fool -- any GPS tracker advice
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DJIyumm
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I decided to fly my phantom 3 Standard today in 15 mph winds.  Didn't seem that windy on the ground but at about 200 feet it started to blow away so I hit the RTH which made it raise higher to come home.  By the time I realized it wasn't going to be able to make it and going up higher was making it blow away faster (again, because I'm an idiot) it was out of range so I couldn't tell it to cancel RTH and land where it was.  Watched it sail off into the sunset trying its little heart out to come back home.  By the time I got to my car it was out of sight so I tried driving down the interstate to see if it would randomly connect to my controller to tell me where it landed but no luck.   Looks like some farmer will find a nice fancy drone in their field come spring to play with.  

1) This was only my 5th flight or so, bought the thing over thanksgiving.  Any chance the DJI warrentee coveres "pilot is an idiot" and they will give me a new one for free?  

2) More realistically, and besides not flying in heavy winds and being sure to land right away if it is blowing away, what else should I do next time (assuming the wife let's me buy a new one).  Are there any GPS trackers worth adding to a drone?  A quiick google search seems to have some for $150 - $200... which seems silly to attach to a $400 drone.

2016-12-6
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DJIyumm
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I did see a review online for a "TK102" GPS tracker, which is only $30 and uses a sim card so it just uses cell towers to text you where it is if you call it.  Not sure if others have used it or if such things are no good.
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Geebax
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If you know someone else with an aircraft you could always fly the same route to see if you can spot it. Was it over fields?

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solentlife
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The sim card trackers are the one to go for. Then you do not have range problem. The stand alone variety are mostly using BT 4 and only good for 100m at best. Many in fact down to 30m or so.

It is actually a very active topic for general RC flying and I am involved in a group testing and developing solutions to it by means of commercially available items. The biggest hurdle we find is physical shape and size.

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Labroides
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Acouple of things to learn from this:
There can be a downside to having the RTH set too high
It's always best to have it set to clear any local obstacles plus a safety margin.
You can stop RTH from climbing and you can descend while in RTH.
Flying in strong winds isn't necessarily a bad thing, but flying away downwind in a strong wind is.
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DJIyumm
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solentlife Posted at 2016-12-6 20:55
The sim card trackers are the one to go for. Then you do not have range problem. The stand alone variety are mostly using BT 4 and only good for 100m at best. Many in fact down to 30m or so.

It is actually a very active topic for general RC flying and I am involved in a group testing and developing solutions to it by means of commercially available items. The biggest hurdle we find is physical shape and size.

Glad to hear I'm not alone in the quest for some sort of GPS tracker.
In your research, have you come up with any good solutions?  if Sim Card style is the way to go, what is the best solution you have found?

Many of that I looked at online seem to be to track cars and things so my concern would be they are metal or magnets or something that may throw off the drone's sensors.
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DJIyumm Posted at 2016-12-7 11:20
Glad to hear I'm not alone in the quest for some sort of GPS tracker.
In your research, have you come up with any good solutions?  if Sim Card style is the way to go, what is the best solution you have found?

Look at the Trackimo, big seller for keeping a location on your drone.  Has an app for Android/IOS and can pull it up on any web browser.  I use it for when I use those long distance Litchi missions.
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Ange1walk
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Pretty heartbreaking to hear, but if you can't find it just buy a new One, you listed that as an option
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DJIyumm
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Ethanflux Posted at 2016-12-7 11:58
Look at the Trackimo, big seller for keeping a location on your drone.  Has an app for Android/IOS and can pull it up on any web browser.  I use it for when I use those long distance Litchi missions.

Looks like Trackimo is $140 which seems silly to protect a $400 drone.  
Anything cheaper and more simple?  Or is there just not a $30 option that works?
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DJIyumm
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Ange1walk Posted at 2016-12-7 12:03
Pretty heartbreaking to hear, but if you can't find it just buy a new One, you listed that as an option

Yep, that is probably what happens next.  Although I should probably show restraint and wait until winter thaws out a bit so i'm not tempted to fly in bad weather again.

The next quesiton is do I stay with Phantom 3 Standard, or jump to the Mavik which looks amazing... but maybe I've shown I'm not ready to be trusted with the more expensive stuff and should stay basic first?  Then again, Mavik's long range would have meant I could have landed in time before it was out of range.

Decisions Decisions  
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DJIyumm Posted at 2016-12-7 12:09
Yep, that is probably what happens next.  Although I should probably show restraint and wait until winter thaws out a bit so i'm not tempted to fly in bad weather again.

The next quesiton is do I stay with Phantom 3 Standard, or jump to the Mavik which looks amazing... but maybe I've shown I'm not ready to be trusted with the more expensive stuff and should stay basic first?  Then again, Mavik's long range would have meant I could have landed in time before it was out of range.

I went with the P3A as my first drone simply because of the longer range/better camera vs. price. I think lightbridge is the way to go.
Sorry for your loss.

On the flip side, if you get another drone soon, go looking for your old one using the last heading as a clue.
Also since it has not been mentioned, the RTH feature does not usually fair as well against wind as flying manually (less speed). Not sure about in flyaway situations if it would use full power or not.
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Ethanflux
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DJIyumm Posted at 2016-12-7 12:05
Looks like Trackimo is $140 which seems silly to protect a $400 drone.  
Anything cheaper and more simple?  Or is there just not a $30 option that works?

There are other devices out there that use Bluetooth technology but you have to be in so much proximity.  I fly the P4 and P4P+.  I prefer to know exactly where the drone is at all times.  The Trackimo uses GPS and cell towers to position and report its location and the battery lasts 96 hours in case you can't track it down right away.  It is also easy to switch the Trackimo from the P4 to the P4P+, and when my Mavic comes in, that too.  Anyway, there isn't a whole lot of options in the way of drone tracking, but here is a link of what pretty much everybody uses.

http://www.dronethusiast.com/how-to-track-your-drone/

http://uavcoach.com/find-lost-drone-3-awesome-gps-drone-trackers/
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DJIyumm
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Ethanflux Posted at 2016-12-7 12:27
There are other devices out there that use Bluetooth technology but you have to be in so much proximity.  I fly the P4 and P4P+.  I prefer to know exactly where the drone is at all times.  The Trackimo uses GPS and cell towers to position and report its location and the battery lasts 96 hours in case you can't track it down right away.  It is also easy to switch the Trackimo from the P4 to the P4P+, and when my Mavic comes in, that too.  Anyway, there isn't a whole lot of options in the way of drone tracking, but here is a link of what pretty much everybody uses.

http://www.dronethusiast.com/how-to-track-your-drone/

Thanks, really appreciate your thoughts.

That second link you included has the TK102 listed as the 3rd option.  That's currently $23 on Amazon.  It looks a little bigger than the Trackmo, obviously, but it still does the Sim card thing.  What am I missing?  Why not go with that for $23 vs. the $140 Trakmo?

https://www.amazon.com/ABLEGRID- ... &keywords=TK102
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Ethanflux
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DJIyumm Posted at 2016-12-7 12:49
Thanks, really appreciate your thoughts.

That second link you included has the TK102 listed as the 3rd option.  That's currently $23 on Amazon.  It looks a little bigger than the Trackmo, obviously, but it still does the Sim card thing.  What am I missing?  Why not go with that for $23 vs. the $140 Trakmo?

Only support 2G SIM card (SIM Card not included)

So you have to get your own sim card and data plan and only runs on 2G network which most carriers are phasing out.  5G will be here in 2020.
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proimages
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Sorry for your loss, I purchased a tracker and realized in my first and only real crash..not going to do much good under water, now in a forest situation maybe. Don't forget to include the tracker in losses.. If stuck in heavy wind ..full descend with full forward makes a big difference..I try and avoid RTH maybe some lost drone flyers...name number on craft next time..cheers Darrin
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Jkeller84
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Here is what I use. Works great.

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fans987d278a
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Have you looked at your last flight route, I know you don't have your bird, but I would gto over to phantompilots.com & ask about looking at your internal info.
There is a fellow, msinger over at the site that has helped a few guys at least get an idea of how long she would keep flying & an approximation of where she would auto land.
Man, I wouldn't give up on your bird yet.
My 5th flight I put mine into a tree, God knows where as in the bright sun, I couldn't see my monitor, panicked & did the "instant stop" move which means she just dropped fro mthe sky, somewhere.
I got enough info from internal storage to at least get an idea of where she went & after 2 hrs, found my Phantom nestled in a huge mound of hay & untouched!
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WilliamM
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DJIyumm Posted at 2016-12-7 13:05
Looks like Trackimo is $140 which seems silly to protect a $400 drone.  
Anything cheaper and more simple?  Or is there just not a $30 option that works?

The "TK102" GPS tracker and the Trackimo are the best two in my option. Remember the Trackimo comes with the sim card, and the first year of service is included. After that it's only $5. a month.
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DJIyumm
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fans987d278a Posted at 2016-12-7 13:42
Have you looked at your last flight route, I know you don't have your bird, but I would gto over to phantompilots.com & ask about looking at your internal info.
There is a fellow, msinger over at the site that has helped a few guys at least get an idea of how long she would keep flying & an approximation of where she would auto land.
Man, I wouldn't give up on your bird yet.

Good thought.  

I was using Litchi app so was able to upload my flight into Healthy Drones.  Seems to have mostly gone in a straight line towards the end - is there a way to predict how long it remained in the air before the battery went down to the point it would auto land?  I'm sure it is somewhere along that line, but I'm not sure how to best calculate where.  
So maybe that guy can help me, unless others here have thoughts.
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WilliamM
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On trying to locate your lost drone, play back your flight plan on your device. It has the GPS cord right there on the bottom left of the screen, then use a map app and drive or walk to that last known spot.
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DJIyumm
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WilliamM Posted at 2016-12-7 14:31
On trying to locate your lost drone, play back your flight plan on your device. It has the GPS cord right there on the bottom left of the screen, then use a map app and drive or walk to that last known spot.

Thanks, but the problem I am facing is it was still hovering 250 ft in the air, trying to fly back against the wind but failing when it lost contact and just kept drifting away with still 50% battery life.

So as best as I could tell, it didn't crash right at the point of lost signal, it probably drifted with the wind for another 5 to 10 minutes until the battery got low enough to trigger auto land.
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DJIyumm Posted at 2016-12-7 12:28
Good thought.  

I was using Litchi app so was able to upload my flight into Healthy Drones.  Seems to have mostly gone in a straight line towards the end - is there a way to predict how long it remained in the air before the battery went down to the point it would auto land?  I'm sure it is somewhere along that line, but I'm not sure how to best calculate where.  

litchi stores the flight data on devices..and syncs with healthy drone..check wind direction from home point ..quad was fighting it's way back to you..could be close..in a tree etc
Litchi also has a lost drone feature..cheers D
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Labroides
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proimages Posted at 2016-12-8 08:38
litchi stores the flight data on devices..and syncs with healthy drone..check wind direction from home point ..quad was fighting it's way back to you..could be close..in a tree etc
Litchi also has a lost drone feature..cheers D

A lost drone feature isn't much help when signal is lost well before the drone comes down.
It can only show where the last signal was and in this case that will be a long way from the Phantom.
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WilliamM
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proimages Posted at 2016-12-7 16:38
litchi stores the flight data on devices..and syncs with healthy drone..check wind direction from home point ..quad was fighting it's way back to you..could be close..in a tree etc
Litchi also has a lost drone feature..cheers D

I was going to mention that feature also, but it's only going to give you the last known location when the signal was still being received. It's worth a try though.
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joe_gadget
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If you're handy with electronics check out a couple of projects on rcgoups for a long range lost model tracker which don't rely on cell service. S
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WilliamM
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DJIyumm Posted at 2016-12-7 16:04
Thanks, but the problem I am facing is it was still hovering 250 ft in the air, trying to fly back against the wind but failing when it lost contact and just kept drifting away with still 50% battery life.

So as best as I could tell, it didn't crash right at the point of lost signal, it probably drifted with the wind for another 5 to 10 minutes until the battery got low enough to trigger auto land.

It's water under the bridge at this point, but in the future DON'T use the RTH in a high wind condition, it flies at like 2/3 power, not full power like if you had tried to fly back manually. Also not sure what your RTH altitude was set at, but it should be set just above the tallest thing in the area. You have people on these forums that say "just set it to 400 feet" the max in the states. That's nuts, makes no sense at all.
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eliot may
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Ok, as a newbie myself what should I do if i have a fly away situation? should I switch to atti mode and use the compass pointer to fly it back to me?
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WilliamM
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eliot may Posted at 2016-12-7 20:24
Ok, as a newbie myself what should I do if i have a fly away situation? should I switch to atti mode and use the compass pointer to fly it back to me?

A true fly-away and a drone getting in the wind are two very different things. A true fly-away is when the drone GPS and/or compass has gone sideways and you have no choice but to do what you just said. Put it in A-mode and try to fly it back manually. But a drone getting in some high wind is totally different, the GPS and compass is working just fine, there's no reason to take it out of P-mode. Just don't use the RTH and fly it back at the lowest altitude you can fly back at.
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WilliamM Posted at 2016-12-7 19:44
A true fly-away and a drone getting in the wind are two very different things. A true fly-away is when the drone GPS and/or compass has gone sideways and you have no choice but to do what you just said. Put it in A-mode and try to fly it back manually. But a drone getting in some high wind is totally different, the GPS and compass is working just fine, there's no reason to take it out of P-mode. Just don't use the RTH and fly it back at the lowest altitude you can fly back at.

Ok I see... the reason I said atti mode is because I thought the extra performance you get in that mode would help the bird fight the wind...
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Labroides Posted at 2016-12-7 15:36
A lost drone feature isn't much help when signal is lost well before the drone comes down.
It can only show where the last signal was and in this case that will be a long way from the Phantom.

The drone is most likely still broadcasting..you can drive around trying to reconnect..
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WilliamM
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eliot may Posted at 2016-12-7 20:55
Ok I see... the reason I said atti mode is because I thought the extra performance you get in that mode would help the bird fight the wind...

The very small improvement you might get by going from P to A mode is not worth it in my view when factoring the fact you would loss any help the drone was giving you by using it's GPS. Unless you where a real pro at drone piloting.
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eliot may Posted at 2016-12-8 12:55
Ok I see... the reason I said atti mode is because I thought the extra performance you get in that mode would help the bird fight the wind...

The best thing you can do to prevent "flyaways" is to learn how your Phantom works and how to use it.
Particularly learn from the mistakes of others that you read here.

Atti mode would not have made much difference but pushing the right stick forward and or descending would have helped.
Not flying away downwind in a strong wind would have prevented the whole incident.
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solentlife Posted at 2016-12-6 21:55
The sim card trackers are the one to go for. Then you do not have range problem. The stand alone variety are mostly using BT 4 and only good for 100m at best. Many in fact down to 30m or so.

It is actually a very active topic for general RC flying and I am involved in a group testing and developing solutions to it by means of commercially available items. The biggest hurdle we find is physical shape and size.

Sorry to hear about your loss. Unfortunately, I really doubt DJI will replace in that situation.

The Good News: You may be able to get insurance on the next one for cheaper than a GPS tracker... Not sure. I pay $75/ Year through StateFarm under the Personal Articles Policy in Fl and I have zero complaints so far... Didn't get insurance until I had to pay for a $724 repair thru DJI.
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DJIyumm
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Holy Phantom Drone Gods, I found it!

It was right in the middle of the fairway of a snow covered golf course, not even stuck in a tree.  It was hard to spot a white Phantom in the middle of white snow, but there it was.  Watching the video, it looks like it landed perfectly like a feather, fully under control at a slow speed.  After landing at some point, It does appear to have been blown about 50 ft along the ground based on where it landed in the video vs. where it ended up 3 days later (heavy winds the last few days).

SO NOW MY NEXT QUESTION FOR EVERYONE:   How best to test it to see if anything is broken? Do I just fly it and see what happens or are there internal tests I can run somehow?

Background:
- It has been about 20F to 30F during the day the past 2.5 days that it has been sitting outside.
- It has gotten down to about 16F at night.
- It has been very windy and light snow, but the Phantom wasn't covered in snow or anything.  So mostly blowing snow against it for 2 days.
- Externally it looks fine... nothing appears to be broken.  Camera lens not scratched, fins aren't broken (thankfully had fin guards on).
- The battery turns on just enough to flash the 1 green light at me to tell me it is out of juice.

Currently I have it thawing out in the garage, my arbitrary theory being it is better to warm up gradually rather than bring it in the house right away.  I haven't yet tried recharging the battery.

Do I just charge the battery once it is warm, pop it in the Phantom and try to hover a few feet of the ground to see what happens?  Or should I do something else first?

(And thanks again everyone for your well wishes)
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DJIyumm Posted at 2016-12-8 09:02
Holy Phantom Drone Gods, I found it!

It was right in the middle of the fairway of a snow covered golf course, not even stuck in a tree.  It was hard to spot a white Phantom in the middle of white snow, but there it was.  Watching the video, it looks like it landed perfectly like a feather, fully under control at a slow speed.  After landing at some point, It does appear to have been blown about 50 ft along the ground based on where it landed in the video vs. where it ended up 3 days later (heavy winds the last few days).

I would personally let it sit inside for quite a few days to let any moisture in there dry out. Then try to charge the battery. Then power it up and let it sit there for a while on the ground to make sure no errors some up. Recharge the battery to 100%, and try to hover it close to the ground. Be ready to CSC it in case it goes off the rails.
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Yeah I would do everything you said. Once everything is up to room temperature, try to recharge the battery and keep an eye on it. If that went well and charged, fire everything up (except motors) and make sure all tests says everything is fine. Then and only then would I attempt to get it airborne a few feet to make sure everything works ok.
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DJIyumm Posted at 2016-12-8 21:02
Holy Phantom Drone Gods, I found it!

It was right in the middle of the fairway of a snow covered golf course, not even stuck in a tree.  It was hard to spot a white Phantom in the middle of white snow, but there it was.  Watching the video, it looks like it landed perfectly like a feather, fully under control at a slow speed.  After landing at some point, It does appear to have been blown about 50 ft along the ground based on where it landed in the video vs. where it ended up 3 days later (heavy winds the last few days).

Charge batteries
Run a drone
Check does compass and IMU works well (try to look at measurements of each)
Try to fly , but before that, put BEGINNER MODE ON, to make sure that drone will not fly away ;)
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WilliamM
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Your one very lucky guy. Happy ending. If it didn't rain all should be fine once it's at room temp for a few days before charging or powering the AC up. Now in the future, if the winds are over 15+ mph fly into the wind and never with it. Crosswind is also a risk if the winds are high, but okay if not in the teens (mph). Also as stated above, the RTH setting should be maybe 10 meters over the tallest thing around, any higher is not helpful.
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eliot may
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did you just keep looking? how did you find it? Nice story tho. let us know how she flys!!
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Hoomi
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I headed out to fly my P3S on Monday, but when I got outside the 5 mile airport zones, the wind was kicking it up pretty good. Decided to skip flying until I had a bit more experience, for just the scenario you encountered.

Out here, though, there wouldn't be any snow to land on, but a desert full of various types of cactus.
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