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Ex Machina
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Problem: You may not be able to fly in green and yellow zones near the Washington, DC Restricted Flight Zone.
Solution: Petition DJI to temporarily unlock the area in which you are having problems -- read the rest of the thread for details.

---------------------------------------------------

So I'm trying to figure out what to expect when flying near No Fly Zone borders and whether some areas in my neck of the woods may have inaccurate mapping recorded at http://www.dji.com/flysafe/geo-system/map

A couple weekends ago I flew in an area that according to the DJI map looks to be pretty far from the DC NFZ, and yet I was unable to fly; moving a few yards west almost allowed me to fly, but limited height upon takeoff and the Mavic wanted to land immediately. A few more yards south I was able to launch and fly as expected.

Take a look at the annotated screengrab of the DJI Fly Safe map -- note the edge of the DC NFZ in the upper portion of the map and the area in which I was trying to fly in the lower portion -- that's about 3.5km/2.2 miles away. There are multiple concentric rings of green and one ring of yellow between my flight attempts and the red zone:
132701bqzff7b46bb9f677.jpg
The second Google Maps screengrab shows a close up of the area, demonstrating how only a few yards of distance resulted in three different flight behaviors: launch prevented, launch successful with height restricted and prompt to immediately land, and then normal operation:

farm_detail.jpg

So can I get someone from DJI to help explain the behaviors I'm experiencing? I understand from other threads that behavior varies depending on how close you are to a restricted zone border, but it would be helpful to understand how far from such a border these behaviors will present -- should a roughly 2.2 mile distance outside the DC NFZ result in flight restriction?  Thanks!




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DJI-Ken
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You should be able to fly outside of the NFZ with limited height and increased height the further you move out.
You may just be a little too close to the DC NFZ.
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Ex Machina
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DJI-Ken Posted at 2017-2-7 14:06
You should be able to fly outside of the NFZ with limited height and increased height the further you move out.
You may just be a little too close to the DC NFZ.

Thanks for the reply, Ken -- so should we expect to need to be more than 2 miles outside a given red zone in order to fly normally?
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Ex Machina Posted at 2017-2-7 14:13
Thanks for the reply, Ken -- so should we expect to need to be more than 2 miles outside a given red zone in order to fly normally?

Since it's DC NFZ, it's quite possible.
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Ex Machina
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I guess I don't understand the utility of the DJI's Fly Safe map, then -- if this is not a bug but expected behavior, why wouldn't DJI elect to increase the radius of a given red zone in the official map to eliminate confusion over where you can and can not fly?
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Ex Machina
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Anyway, I've sent an email to the flysafe map folks for a little more clarity, perhaps the maps or documentation need updating -- I'll report back when I hear something.
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Ken, thanks for looking into this.

I just received my Mavic yesterday, took it out today and was disappointed to find the same thing.  I am outside of the DC NFZ at my house and the RC reports I am in an NFZ.  I reported it as a problem on the RC but it was rejected.
I would guess that DJI has MANY customers in the Washington D.C. area who have purchased, myself included, who believed where they lived or were going to fly would work because we are outside of the NFZ.  
While following the NFZ is important I hope it can be fixed to match the actual FAA NFZ.
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superjet96 Posted at 2017-2-7 19:33
Ken, thanks for looking into this.

I just received my Mavic yesterday, took it out today and was disappointed to find the same thing.  I am outside of the DC NFZ at my house and the RC reports I am in an NFZ.  I reported it as a problem on the RC but it was rejected.

I'm with you, super. I live 12 miles out and thought I would be well beyond any  DCNFZ including any military zones. I have to go at least a few miles farther just to get off the ground. Wish I had known. I could be spending a lot more time in the air. Working on my license but it doesn't look like it will be an easy road to ever film homes in this area. Time to retire and move south I guess.
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Mavman Posted at 2017-2-7 20:56
I'm with you, super. I live 12 miles out and thought I would be well beyond any  DCNFZ including any military zones. I have to go at least a few miles farther just to get off the ground. Wish I had known. I could be spending a lot more time in the air. Working on my license but it doesn't look like it will be an easy road to ever film homes in this area. Time to retire and move south I guess.

Ken is good with helping people out  so hoping he can get this going.  
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superjet96
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I am located at the red dot well within the green but not able to fly.

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Ex Machina
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superjet96 Posted at 2017-2-8 10:25
I am located at the red dot well within the green but not able to fly.

[view_image]

Superjet96, you should email flysafe@dji.com with the lat/long coords of your house and ask them to unlock the area since you are clearly in the green zone.

Here's what you will need to supply:
  • Flight Controller's serial number(start with 0)(It can be found in DJI Go app’s About page)
  • Unlock location longitude, latitude and the radius . Please offer me the info in the format like longitude: 1.123456; latitude: 1.123456, radius:500m.
  • Your DJI Account email

My goal here is to gain an understanding of the expected accuracy of the DJI maps in general so I can better plan for out of town trips.

At the moment it seems that what the maps really are telling us is that you *might* be able to fly in areas represented as flyable, but you can't know until you get there and actually try, at which point you may petition DJI for unlocking a given area. This is annoying but fine for cases like wanting to fly in your back yard, but untenable for those who plan to travel long distances to fly in zones that may or may not be actually flyable when they get there.

On the other hand, if I'm told there is a 2.x mile buffer area at red zone borders, then I can work with that.







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superjet96 Posted at 2017-2-8 10:25
I am located at the red dot well within the green but not able to fly.

[view_image]

I've had similar occurrences as well.  I actually live inside the magic circle of DC but I travel to areas just outside of it to fly-even closer-in than you guys.  I found that the areas I fly my P4 without any issues now gives me issues with the Mavic.  Yet, (in reference to superjet96) I found that even if I got the notification on my screen when I placed the controls in the start position; up pops an unlock message.  I answer yes and was able to fly.  In one area I had to provide my phone number before I was able to fly.  
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M Stuart K Posted at 2017-2-8 10:44
I've had similar occurrences as well.  I actually live inside the magic circle of DC but I travel to areas just outside of it to fly-even closer-in than you guys.  I found that the areas I fly my P4 without any issues now gives me issues with the Mavic.  Yet, (in reference to superjet96) I found that even if I got the notification on my screen when I placed the controls in the start position; up pops an unlock message.  I answer yes and was able to fly.  In one area I had to provide my phone number before I was able to fly.

That's to be expected for Mavic fliers with the new geo system logic; some areas will warn you, others require self-authorization, still yet other areas require special petitioning to DJI via email in order to unlock.

What this thread is about, though, is when we are unexpectedly unable to liftoff and/or fly normally when the DJI map says it should be fine to do so, and understanding under which conditions this might happen.
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superjet96
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Thanks for that.  Not easy being a noob.  I will get in touch with them.  I was given the warning on the RC but it failed every time I tried to go through the system.  I will try again and will move further out tonight.  I won't fly but will at least see where I can.  
I hope I didn't hurt your cause.  I see what you are getting at now.
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superjet96 Posted at 2017-2-8 12:15
Thanks for that.  Not easy being a noob.  I will get in touch with them.  I was given the warning on the RC but it failed every time I tried to go through the system.  I will try again and will move further out tonight.  I won't fly but will at least see where I can.  
I hope I didn't hurt your cause.  I see what you are getting at now.

Your drone does have to be activated/registered before self-authorization will work, and you need an active internet connection to your phone if you're out in the field doing this -- maybe one of these are causing your difficulty, though, judging on where you live, it's probably the same cause as mine. ;)
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Ex Machina Posted at 2017-2-8 10:34
Superjet96, you should email flysafe@dji.com with the lat/long coords of your house and ask them to unlock the area since you are clearly in the green zone.

Here's what you will need to supply:

Have you tried the unlock?
I live literally right at the edge of the NFZ in Vienna.  the craziest thing is that from my deck, I can fly my Phantom 4 just fine.  I can not fly east once I'm in the air. but I can take off and fly west with P4.

exact same iPhone + same DJI Go4 app, my Mavic Pro wouldn't even spin up.
you would think the models from the same company would behave the same way, right?   sh....

Since I can fly my Phantom, I tried the unlock registration for Mavic to try to fly.  no joy.  the request was accepted, but Mavic still wouldn't go.

Have you had any success with unlock feature?
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madkow70
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We should start a local group since we are dealing with unique DC area issues.
I've posted few things at various boards, but the most of the rest of the country just doesn't understand DC NFZ or other local issues.
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Ex Machina Posted at 2017-2-8 12:51
Your drone does have to be activated/registered before self-authorization will work, and you need an active internet connection to your phone if you're out in the field doing this -- maybe one of these are causing your difficulty, though, judging on where you live, it's probably the same cause as mine. ;)

Thanks I was thinking the same thing about the connection to the net.  When I was activating last night in my living room it kept hanging when trying to put in my e-mail and password.  I finally turned off the WiFi on the phone and it went right through and completed everything.  I left it on cell only when I went outside (four bars) which should have worked but it was strange that it gave a fail message.  I don't know the correct response but fail (something) in a white box seemed strange.  I will try again tonight and I will try another location also.
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madkow70 Posted at 2017-2-8 13:26
Have you tried the unlock?
I live literally right at the edge of the NFZ in Vienna.  the craziest thing is that from my deck, I can fly my Phantom 4 just fine.  I can not fly east once I'm in the air. but I can take off and fly west with P4.

Sorry for my lack of knowledge on this.  Is the unlock on the RC when it tries to spin but won't?  A screen came up with four boxes and choices but nothing worked.  I had cell on the phone activated WiFi off but no luck.  Everything else worked perfectly from what I could tell but it just wouldn't spin up unless it was in ATTI inside the house.  At least I know it will if it can.
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M Stuart K Posted at 2017-2-8 10:44
I've had similar occurrences as well.  I actually live inside the magic circle of DC but I travel to areas just outside of it to fly-even closer-in than you guys.  I found that the areas I fly my P4 without any issues now gives me issues with the Mavic.  Yet, (in reference to superjet96) I found that even if I got the notification on my screen when I placed the controls in the start position; up pops an unlock message.  I answer yes and was able to fly.  In one area I had to provide my phone number before I was able to fly.

I got a box with four choice when I tried to spin up but nothing worked.  I will try again tonight.
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superjet96 Posted at 2017-2-8 13:32
Thanks I was thinking the same thing about the connection to the net.  When I was activating last night in my living room it kept hanging when trying to put in my e-mail and password.  I finally turned off the WiFi on the phone and it went right through and completed everything.  I left it on cell only when I went outside (four bars) which should have worked but it was strange that it gave a fail message.  I don't know the correct response but fail (something) in a white box seemed strange.  I will try again tonight and I will try another location also.

My drones been registered and activated.
The request process to unlock went smoothly for me, complete with verification code and it shows up as valid and active in the app too.
full signal strength on my iPhone and the DJI Go 4 looks good.
yet, NFZ warning and no flying on my Mavic...

as I mentioned before, I don't even have to mess around with any of these unlock process and my Phantom flies just fine.   that drives me absolutely crazy...  

I'm just curious to know if anybody in DC area has successfully unlock NFZ at the edge area.
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superjet96 Posted at 2017-2-8 10:25
I am located at the red dot well within the green but not able to fly.

[view_image]

I know exactly where you are talking about.
My Mavic won't spin up from the parking lots of Burke Lake park.
but, my Phantom 4 has not issues at all from the intersection of Lee Chapel & Burke Lake Road. (in the yellow zone)

Neither will work inside the Red NFZ.
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Ex Machina
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Well, now I'm thoroughly confused -- using Wikimapia's distance measurement tools from the center of Reagan National, the DC FRZ border is not 2.2 miles away, but much closer, putting the border right about where you would expect it to be from the behaviors I experienced -- but that suggests that the DJI map is inaccurate.

Or, maybe the DJI map is using the White House as the FRZ center point while the Mavic is referencing National airport? That could explain the difference between what the map shows and what we experience.

I guess the Wikimapia site's distance tool could also be inaccurate. sigh. My brain hurts.

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I'm having a similar problem just outside the DC FRZ in Reston. I'm trying to fly in a small soccer field at the red dot, which is clearly inside the Enhanced Warning Zone, but outside of the NFZ for both Duller to the West and the DC FRZ to the East. If DJI's geofence is based on GPS, you would think they could accurately map the NFZs - at least to within a 1/2 mile! I've driven around the area and have gotten a couple unlock prompts and even gone to the Advanced Unlock process at DJI to unlock the outer Authorization Zone, but to no avail. I may get a momentary green, followed by NFZ when I try to spool up. Also worth noting that I flew this exact spot 6 months ago with a friend's P3 with no issues, so it's something to do with the Mavic and/or Go app 4 (which also seems strange - shouldn't they all be under the same geofence?).  Hopefully, we can get DJI's attention and maybe some assistance at cleaning up the geofence or unlocking the non-restricted areas.
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Trying again to upload the pic... sorry, bit of a noob...
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fansabe5d35c Posted at 2017-2-8 14:37
I'm having a similar problem just outside the DC FRZ in Reston. I'm trying to fly in a small soccer field at the red dot, which is clearly inside the Enhanced Warning Zone, but outside of the NFZ for both Duller to the West and the DC FRZ to the East. If DJI's geofence is based on GPS, you would think they could accurately map the NFZs - at least to within a 1/2 mile! I've driven around the area and have gotten a couple unlock prompts and even gone to the Advanced Unlock process at DJI to unlock the outer Authorization Zone, but to no avail. I may get a momentary green, followed by NFZ when I try to spool up. Also worth noting that I flew this exact spot 6 months ago with a friend's P3 with no issues, so it's something to do with the Mavic and/or Go app 4 (which also seems strange - shouldn't they all be under the same geofence?).  Hopefully, we can get DJI's attention and maybe some assistance at cleaning up the geofence or unlocking the non-restricted areas.
[view_image]

I'm reading that geo-restrictions are baked into the drone's firmware, and as each drone model was released and DJI's policy evolved, each have different firmware and resulting internal maps.

For instance, apparently earlier Phantom maps used the White House as the DC FRZ centerpoint while later models use Reagan National. I find myself wondering if somehow the Mavic codebase incorporates that earlier branch of code?

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Ex Machina Posted at 2017-2-8 14:48
I'm reading that geo-restrictions are baked into the drone's firmware, and as each drone model was released and DJI's policy evolved, each have different firmware and resulting internal maps.

For instance, apparently earlier Phantom maps used the White House as the DC FRZ centerpoint while later models use Reagan National. I find myself wondering if somehow the Mavic codebase incorporates that earlier branch of code?

Just discovered another possible issue. I had read somewhere that DJI used a 25KM radius (I guess around both the White House and DCA depending on the version) to approximate the 15 mile FRZ around DC. That would be fine as 25KM equates to about 15.5 miles and would not cover the Reston area in question. Trouble is, the FRZ is measured in NAUTICAL miles, which equates to something closer to 17.2 "miles" and would cover the part of Reston I'm trying to fly.

However, the FRZ as drawn by the FAA is not a perfect circle and actually follows a longitudinal bearing just West of the Reston area (possibly to allow some extra flight wiggle room around Dulles) so my area is "flyable" according to the FAA. But if DJI is actually using 15 nautical miles and not 25KM to draw the geofence, then I'm screwed. It would be incorrect and wouldn't match their own maps on their websites, but it would explain the NFZ areas I've been experiencing with the Mavic.

Now, how do we get DJI to fix the geofence to match the real limits of the FRZ and/or adjust the firmware on the Mavic to match the correct/less-restrictive programming of the Phantom units?
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fansabe5d35c Posted at 2017-2-8 14:37
I'm having a similar problem just outside the DC FRZ in Reston. I'm trying to fly in a small soccer field at the red dot, which is clearly inside the Enhanced Warning Zone, but outside of the NFZ for both Duller to the West and the DC FRZ to the East. If DJI's geofence is based on GPS, you would think they could accurately map the NFZs - at least to within a 1/2 mile! I've driven around the area and have gotten a couple unlock prompts and even gone to the Advanced Unlock process at DJI to unlock the outer Authorization Zone, but to no avail. I may get a momentary green, followed by NFZ when I try to spool up. Also worth noting that I flew this exact spot 6 months ago with a friend's P3 with no issues, so it's something to do with the Mavic and/or Go app 4 (which also seems strange - shouldn't they all be under the same geofence?).  Hopefully, we can get DJI's attention and maybe some assistance at cleaning up the geofence or unlocking the non-restricted areas.
[view_image]

According to DJI support, it's embedded in the firmware of Mavic.
Which kinda explains the behavior that I'm experiencing.
I'm using the same iPhone and the same instance (sometimes, I test going back and forth without closing the app, even) of DJI Go 4.   and my Phantom 4 would fly, but Mavic would NFZ out.

So, frustrating that I can't only fly P4 from sitting on my deck.
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fansabe5d35c Posted at 2017-2-8 14:43
Trying again to upload the pic... sorry, bit of a noob...

I live right at the edge of the yellow NFZ on Hunter Mill Road.
50 ft East of me is where Yellow area and Hunter Mill intersects.
My Phantom doesn't have any problem flying in green NFZ.   it won't fly in yellow.
Mavic's boarder is indeed where the green NFZ ends.  I have flown near Sunrise Valley and Wiehle.  but the Mavic won't spool up in South Lakes shopping center area.

the fact that my Phantom has no problem flying in green NFZ completely baffles me...
so frustrating.
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Ex Machina Posted at 2017-2-8 14:48
I'm reading that geo-restrictions are baked into the drone's firmware, and as each drone model was released and DJI's policy evolved, each have different firmware and resulting internal maps.

For instance, apparently earlier Phantom maps used the White House as the DC FRZ centerpoint while later models use Reagan National. I find myself wondering if somehow the Mavic codebase incorporates that earlier branch of code?

DJI is doing horrible job maintaining consistency of the firmware+NFZ combo.  
my Phantom 4's firmware is the latest as well and she behaves differently than my Mavic.... uurrrggghhh
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fansabe5d35c Posted at 2017-2-8 14:43
Trying again to upload the pic... sorry, bit of a noob...

I definitely think that this is a very special case because of the DC restriction.
To test another theory, I powered up my Mavic right next to Dulles Airport. as you can see in the map, that's another red Restricted zone.  but Mavic never gave any NFZ issues.
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superjet96 Posted at 2017-2-8 13:35
Sorry for my lack of knowledge on this.  Is the unlock on the RC when it tries to spin but won't?  A screen came up with four boxes and choices but nothing worked.  I had cell on the phone activated WiFi off but no luck.  Everything else worked perfectly from what I could tell but it just wouldn't spin up unless it was in ATTI inside the house.  At least I know it will if it can.

Superjet96, I'm not entirely sure how unlock behaves when it actually works.
I should try that on another restricted area other than DC NFZ, just to make sure the mechanism works.

For my case, the whole process of requesting unlock goes through and gets accepted fine.
but in DJI Go App, when I try to spin up the props, it refuses with NFZ warning, although the same app does have my unlock request listed as active status in "Me" section in the main screen.
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Ok, heard back from support who in response to my query about having to request a server unlock in areas in green and yellow, replied:

Yes, normally, customers can unlock green and yellow zones by themselves via DJI Go app. But it is a little special for the Washington DC. Our next firmware will fix this issue.

Until then, those of us who want to fly in these problematic areas need to fill out the form at http://www.dji.com/flysafe/geo-system/indi_unlock and await a response. I know some of us have gone through this process and still had problems, so it may be that we'll have to wait for this firmware update for things to work as we'd expect.

I'm going to give it a shot and will report back what happens.



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Oh, one thing I noticed when I was filling out the form -- it says only iOS is supported at this time -- all you people who have tried the unlocking but found it's not working for you, are you using Android devices?
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madkow70 Posted at 2017-2-8 17:28
I live right at the edge of the yellow NFZ on Hunter Mill Road.
50 ft East of me is where Yellow area and Hunter Mill intersects.
My Phantom doesn't have any problem flying in green NFZ.   it won't fly in yellow.

I think you nailed it - the NFZ is currently set at the boundary of the GREEN zone, not the Red. I drove around Reston a little today and confirmed what you did - the Mavic won't spool up anywhere inside the Green radius, but works fine outside of it. Obviously, since it reports NFZ in the Green zone, I can't even get the unlock prompt for the yellow zone. I'm betting I would have the same luck as you near Dulles too, meaning the NFZ zones would work properly there...they've just set the NFZ around the Wash DC FRZ too wide.

I'll try your link to report the issue to DJI and see if they can "unlock" me without a firmware update, but I'm not holding my breath. Hella annoying, but hey - at least you've got a P4 to play with while they work it out!

When/if this ever gets worked-out, I'll meet you over at Red's Table and we can buzz the lakes a bit...good luck.
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Ex Machina Posted at 2017-2-8 20:59
Oh, one thing I noticed when I was filling out the form -- it says only iOS is supported at this time -- all you people who have tried the unlocking but found it's not working for you, are you using Android devices?

Aw, for crying out loud. I just saw that bit about iOS on the unlock page. I'm flying (or trying to) with an android. Guess I'm screwed until they fix the geofence in the firmware or I go out and get an ipad mini (which would also let me fly FPV via the HDMI port to my Fat Sharks) and try to get them to manually unlock my bird. So frustrating.
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Ex Machina Posted at 2017-2-8 20:20
Ok, heard back from support who in response to my query about having to request a server unlock in areas in green and yellow, replied:

Yes, normally, customers can unlock green and yellow zones by themselves via DJI Go app. But it is a little special for the Washington DC. Our next firmware will fix this issue.

Let me know how this works out. I'm curious.
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Working in iOS.  Have the latest shipped FW on everything but also can't unlock.  I am guessing the new firmware that is currently shipping is not what they are referring to as the version that will fix the issue.  

I went out last night and tried to see where this thing ended.  It looks like a couple of you are right where every zone, green, yellow or red is counted in the DCNFZ.  You can see where I could and couldn't spin up last night.  So basically if  you are in a shaded region you are in the NFZ.

That means the NFZ extends about 3.75 km the same as Ex Machina found.  That seems to be a really over extended buffer zone by over 2 miles according to the fly safe maps.


Here are my message screens.  You can see what option I chose on the last screen shot under the error message.  Is this what everyone else gets?  Yup it was night, no image.




2017-2-9
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Ex Machina
Captain
Flight distance : 1806362 ft
United States
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My first request has been rejected:

Your geofencing unlocking application has been denied. Please offer us a documentation of your authorization to fly in the designated area. Examples of such documentation include but are not limited to a certificate of authorization, operating license or permit from a national aviation authority, a letter of agreement with an airport, a statement of work from a facility that has hired you for the operation, etc. Please re-submit your request using the link below, within these limits.

I've replied to my support contact that the area in which I requested an unlock is not within a red zone and should require no external authorization, so we'll see how that goes. Oh well, too windy to fly today anyway.
2017-2-9
Use props
Ex Machina
Captain
Flight distance : 1806362 ft
United States
Offline

superjet96 Posted at 2017-2-9 06:48
Working in iOS.  Have the latest shipped FW on everything but also can't unlock.  I am guessing the new firmware that is currently shipping is not what they are referring to as the version that will fix the issue.  

I went out last night and tried to see where this thing ended.  It looks like a couple of you are right where every zone, green, yellow or red is counted in the DCNFZ.  You can see where I could and couldn't spin up last night.  So basically if  you are in a shaded region you are in the NFZ.

Good to have more confirmation of the behavior. That second screen-grabbed alert suggests another bug in the system -- I think you are supposed to use Report an Error to provide feedback to DJI about mapping errors but it's unclear to me whether your report was successfully submitted. I haven't used that feature yet so maybe I'm misunderstanding its purpose.
2017-2-9
Use props
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