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P3 Down. Total Wreck
1213 37 2017-6-29
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Rnfaust
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I Guess it's so long for now fellow P3 pilots. Yesterday brought an end to over 2 years of successful flights with my P3A.
I took off with no wind and a full battery after performing a thorough pre-flight check. I was running Litchi on iOS.
I manually took it up to altitude and everything was normal as I began the WP mission. It lifted another 20ft to 240ft at which point it zoomed around, completely inverted and powered into a neighbor's roof upside-down. (Poor neighbor thought a bomb had gone off!) Total wreck obviously, except for the landing gear which never made contact. It was easily recovered on the hillside after bouncing of their concrete shingle roof.
Factoids:
1.        No evidence of a bird strike. I watched it with my naked eyes - also video and no visible feathers.
2.        Did not spin off a prop. They were still on the drone, but scratched and broken from the roof.
3.        Same mission I ran previously.
4.        No wind – not that wind would cause it to invert and power 150ft down to a roof top.
5.        I was watching the app until I heard the commotion in the air, at which point I watched it flip and dive straight down.
6.        The camera was trying to keep things steady you’ll see, but the final second or two were lost when the battery ejected upon impact.
I don’t know – IMU error – gyro? I’ll probably try to recover the onboard logs, but the flight battery is pretty bad and it won’t recognize my other battery for some reason.
Plans:
Guess I’ll wait it out awhile and see what develops with laws and technology before jumping into another one. I did get a Mavic as a gift from my Better Half last month, but returned it when I found the video didn’t perform right with my iPad Mini. I’m very concerned for liability reasons now – who knows how this could have ended. And my insurance specifically excludes drones.
Live long, and prosper.

Litchi 2

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2017-6-29
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pritchiedotcom
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Sorry to hear your sad news.. Hope you get a replacement soon.
2017-6-29
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jerkweed
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Also sorry to hear that.  Funny thing happened to mine last night.  I have had mine for 5 months and have flown successfully many times, about 170 miles logged. I was at about 300 ft. and lowering it straight down when at about 50 ft. to went into a spiral and crashed.  I was so dumbfounded I don't know if I even tried to correct it.  The camera popped off and one power wire separated from the connector.  The camera seems fine but the broken wire worries me.  There was a message about a software upgrade that I didn't heed. The first flight went fine as did the second one until I was descending.  This had happened several times in the past but then it corrected itself, not this time.
2017-6-29
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RedHotPoker
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@RnFaust, Oh No!!

This isn't a thread I wished to see... Very sorry to hear that your drone crashed.  
Send in the dat files please and see what exactly it shows us.
www.phantomhelp.com/LogViewer/Upload
It might be good for others here to take precautions about... Thanks
Hope that you can find funds and courage to buy another drone, incase DJI doesn't replace this one, for you.
Please let us know the outcome.
Again, sorry about this uncalled for upset.


RedHotPoker
2017-6-29
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Rnfaust
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jerkweed Posted at 2017-6-29 13:23
Also sorry to hear that.  Funny thing happened to mine last night.  I have had mine for 5 months and have flown successfully many times, about 170 miles logged. I was at about 300 ft. and lowering it straight down when at about 50 ft. to went into a spiral and crashed.  I was so dumbfounded I don't know if I even tried to correct it.  The camera popped off and one power wire separated from the connector.  The camera seems fine but the broken wire worries me.  There was a message about a software upgrade that I didn't heed. The first flight went fine as did the second one until I was descending.  This had happened several times in the past but then it corrected itself, not this time.

Sounds like Vortex Ring State (VRS). The P3 is pretty much immune, but not altogether.
Do not descend to fast and try to keep forward motion to stay out of your own wake. Hope that helps.

2017-6-29
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RedHotPoker
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Rnfaust Posted at 2017-6-29 14:14
Sounds like Vortex Ring State (VRS). The P3 is pretty much immune, but not altogether.
Do not descend to fast and try to keep forward motion to stay out of your own wake. Hope that helps.

I thought when DJI canted the motors slightly, that it was to help get rid of the dreaded vortex ring?

I often descend straight down and have never experienced any of those erratic flight situations.

Admittedly, returning to home base with a little forward momentum is more fun, and looks much like a real aircraft landing.


RedHotPoker
2017-6-29
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Rnfaust
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RedHotPoker Posted at 2017-6-29 14:20
I thought when DJI canted the motors slightly, that it was to help get rid of the dreaded vortex ring?

I often descend straight down and have never experienced any of those erratic flight situations.

You're right (of course), but it never hurts to "feather" the controls.
Like your comment about forward motion. Makes it look like a manned aircraft.
2017-6-29
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RedHotPoker
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Rnfaust Posted at 2017-6-29 15:49
You're right (of course), but it never hurts to "feather" the controls.
Like your comment about forward motion. Makes it look like a manned aircraft.

For many of us, this is as close as it gets, to realism. ;-)


RedHotPoker
2017-6-29
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KM5RG-Robert
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I have noticed that when I manually land, I descend MUCH slower than the AC does when it is autolanding (RTH), I think I remember it descending at over 6 mph vert speed in RTH which surprised me. Still no problems though.
2017-6-29
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Rnfaust
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KM5RG-Robert Posted at 2017-6-29 15:57
I have noticed that when I manually land, I descend MUCH slower than the AC does when it is autolanding (RTH), I think I remember it descending at over 6 mph vert speed in RTH which surprised me. Still no problems though.

Prop guards might add to the problem, or even the elevation or temp.
2017-6-29
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KM5RG-Robert
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Rnfaust Posted at 2017-6-29 16:14
Prop guards might add to the problem, or even the elevation or temp.

I've never used any prop guards myself.
2017-6-29
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Rnfaust
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KM5RG-Robert Posted at 2017-6-29 16:19
I've never used any prop guards myself.

They might somewhat protect against a personal injury. At least you would be trying, but that's about it. They are basically a waste of money because you won't use them.
As a moderator wisely said, "If you need them, you need to fly elsewhere."
2017-6-29
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KM5RG-Robert
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Rnfaust Posted at 2017-6-29 16:41
They might somewhat protect against a personal injury. At least you would be trying, but that's about it. They are basically a waste of money because you won't use them.
As a moderator wisely said, "If you need them, you need to fly elsewhere."

"If you need them, you need to fly elsewhere."

Sounds like good advice.
2017-6-29
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endotherm
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I doubt it is vortex ring state, this is almost unheard of in the P3 range as the descent speed is limited.  As I read the description, it was actually climbing at the time.  It also appears to have just started or ended the Litchi mission when it happened (not certain from the description) but that would lead me to suspect the automated flight component was the culprit here.  I'd like to see a flight log, and the full dat file from the aircraft if you are able to retrieve it.
2017-6-29
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fivetonine
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Sorry to hear that, man. And yes, liability is a big issue. For that sake, I got a specific drone insurance a while ago.
2017-6-29
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Rnfaust
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fivetonine Posted at 2017-6-29 23:47
Sorry to hear that, man. And yes, liability is a big issue. For that sake, I got a specific drone insurance a while ago.

I've considered separate drone liability insurance, but wonder if it would cover an incident occurring in a populated area. I'll bet many of us are often in violation of that rule, through at least parts of our flight. Insurance for replacement or repair isn't that much of a concern for me. Liability would be.
2017-6-30
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Dirty Bird
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Very sorry to read this post.  Not sure what may have caused the malfunction?  Glad no one was hurt & hope you secure a replacement soon.
2017-6-30
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microlinux
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Rnfaust Posted at 2017-6-30 07:54
I've considered separate drone liability insurance, but wonder if it would cover an incident occurring in a populated area. I'll bet many of us are often in violation of that rule, through at least parts of our flight. Insurance for replacement or repair isn't that much of a concern for me. Liability would be.

As long as you are flying for recreation. liability may well be covered under your homeowner's insurance, check it out. I was able to crank up my coverage $$ for very little.
2017-6-30
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Rnfaust
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microlinux Posted at 2017-6-30 10:34
As long as you are flying for recreation. liability may well be covered under your homeowner's insurance, check it out. I was able to crank up my coverage $$ for very little.

I checked into that earlier this year with my carrier American Nation Property and Casualty (ANPAC). They told me they do not include that coverage in my homeowners and they are not able to write a separate policy or rider for it here in Colorado. Not even liability only. I know - you'll say I have the wrong carrier.
2017-6-30
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Dave Kent
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In my opinion when ever you run Litchi or GSP your taking more risk.
As a pilot you must ask yourself is the return worth the risk running these apps.
2017-6-30
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Dirty Bird
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Dave Kent Posted at 2017-6-30 12:41
In my opinion when ever you run Litchi or GSP your taking more risk.
As a pilot you must ask yourself is the return worth the risk running these apps.

Definitely worth it.  There are things you can do with waypoints you just can't do flying manually or with Go.

2017-6-30
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RicardoGray
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Rnfaust Posted at 2017-6-30 12:28
I checked into that earlier this year with my carrier American Nation Property and Casualty (ANPAC). They told me they do not include that coverage in my homeowners and they are not able to write a separate policy or rider for it here in Colorado. Not even liability only. I know - you'll say I have the wrong carrier.


Sorry to hear this. You have been on the forum for quite a while, and I think we have shared some ideas between each other on different occasions.
I use Litchi quite a bit too, and have never had anything like this happen. I also have descended with full stick down many times and not had an issue. I hope you get the courage to jump back in. I hope I never have a total loss like this, but I would have to do whatever I could do get another one. I understand too your concerns about liability to others. I would hope we all share the same feelings. Truth of the matter is anything can happen. I often worry myself about other drone flyers crashing into some crowd or something. I hope it never happens. I think as long as you try to be careful and take care of your equipment, that is all you can do. You can't fault yourself for something out of your control. That is what I try to live by anyway.
To touch on the insurance. It is unfortunate your homeowners doesn't cover it at least the liability part since it is a non-commercial hobby. Most do and mine actually does and covers the replacement less my deductible, which is about as much as the costs of a new one. Anyway, I know it doesn't make sense to change your policy just to get coverage, but quite honestly it doesn't hurt to shop around once in a while to see if another company might give your equal coverage for less money, and may even include coverage for a drone. That is what happened to me about a year ago. Shopping around and switched only because of better price, and low and behold  when I asked about my drone it was not a problem.
Anyway, hope to see you back my friend!
2017-6-30
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Rnfaust
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RicardoGray Posted at 2017-6-30 13:07
Sorry to hear this. You have been on the forum for quite a while, and I think we have shared some ideas between each other on different occasions.
I use Litchi quite a bit too, and have never had anything like this happen. I also have descended with full stick down many times and not had an issue. I hope you get the courage to jump back in. I hope I never have a total loss like this, but I would have to do whatever I could do get another one. I understand too your concerns about liability to others. I would hope we all share the same feelings. Truth of the matter is anything can happen. I often worry myself about other drone flyers crashing into some crowd or something. I hope it never happens. I think as long as you try to be careful and take care of your equipment, that is all you can do. You can't fault yourself for something out of your control. That is what I try to live by anyway.
To touch on the insurance. It is unfortunate your homeowners doesn't cover it at least the liability part since it is a non-commercial hobby. Most do and mine actually does and covers the replacement less my deductible, which is about as much as the costs of a new one. Anyway, I know it doesn't make sense to change your policy just to get coverage, but quite honestly it doesn't hurt to shop around once in a while to see if another company might give your equal coverage for less money, and may even include coverage for a drone. That is what happened to me about a year ago. Shopping around and switched only because of better price, and low and behold  when I asked about my drone it was not a problem.

After 2 years of fun, mostly within a 3.5mi radius of my back porch, I'll take my place back on the fence for awhile and jump back in when I get better insurance and when the next super iteration is released by DJI. I do like their stuff.
I'll still be watching you guys.
2017-6-30
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KM5RG-Robert
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Rnfaust Posted at 2017-6-30 14:40
After 2 years of fun, mostly within a 3.5mi radius of my back porch, I'll take my place back on the fence for awhile and jump back in when I get better insurance and when the next super iteration is released by DJI. I do like their stuff.
I'll still be watching you guys.

Yeah, I want to take advantage of the larger sensor of the new cameras, but I am treading water here to wait and see what the next (P5?) drone offers.
2017-6-30
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Rnfaust
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Update from OP:
An Analyst from the Phantom Pilots Forum reviewed the data from the "black box" SD on the main board inside the drone. The data suggests an intermittent failure of the ESC, not a prop spin off or prop breakage. His analysis can be seen on post #27. Link to analysis  It's an interesting read.
2017-7-2
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endotherm
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Rnfaust Posted at 2017-7-2 09:01
Update from OP:
An Analyst from the Phantom Pilots Forum reviewed the data from the "black box" SD on the main board inside the drone. The data suggests an intermittent failure of the ESC, not a prop spin off or prop breakage. His analysis can be seen on post #27. Link to analysis  It's an interesting read.

You can't argue with BudWalker's (DatCon viewer's author)  analysis.  Maybe an intermittent contact with a break in a wire?  Someone on this forum previously reported something similar with a break in a solid (rigid) wire inside the insulation of a high current cable, leading to intermittent connection.  Have you ever had a hard landing/crash with this aircraft?  The break could have been asymptomatic for some time and not previously detected.
2017-7-2
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Rnfaust
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endotherm Posted at 2017-7-2 22:24
You can't argue with BudWalker's (DatCon viewer's author)  analysis.  Maybe an intermittent contact with a break in a wire?  Someone on this forum previously reported something similar with a break in a solid (rigid) wire inside the insulation of a high current cable, leading to intermittent connection.  Have you ever had a hard landing/crash with this aircraft?  The break could have been asymptomatic for some time and not previously detected.

Yes Bud Walker is pretty amazing. He analyzed a runaway I had over a year ago. All ended well when I switched to ATTI temporarily. That seemed to be a possible compass related anomaly. I was testing controls and yawing at full stick (360x2). He said probably not a good idea.
I did have 2 relatively hard landings 2 years ago, but no broken parts. It's been very reliable overall.
Is there one ESC module? I see good size chips at each motor.
2017-7-3
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hward51
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pritchiedotcom Posted at 2017-6-29 13:00
Sorry to hear your sad news.. Hope you get a replacement soon.

I haven't flown in 3 weeks.  Mine cut off and dropped in mid air.  Luckily I was just at hovering distance.  Only damage was broken skid, but now I'm paranoid.  Don't know if it was the new batteries I bought or what.  Having difficulty reading the logs.  I've taken battery #5 out of circulation until I can find out more.  Just before this happened I was at 300 ft.
2017-7-3
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AG0N-Gary
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Rnfaust Posted at 2017-7-3 06:51
Yes Bud Walker is pretty amazing. He analyzed a runaway I had over a year ago. All ended well when I switched to ATTI temporarily. That seemed to be a possible compass related anomaly. I was testing controls and yawing at full stick (360x2). He said probably not a good idea.
I did have 2 relatively hard landings 2 years ago, but no broken parts. It's been very reliable overall.
Is there one ESC module? I see good size chips at each motor.

Rnfaust:

I found your post interesting, because I'm in a similar boat.  I'd been flying my P3A for almost 2 years before it was "destroyed" in an amazing, and amazingly fast, crash from low altitude.  To say I was surprised is an understatement.

I had recently received my new Mavic and decided I wasn't going to actually fly it until weather improved enough and my wife had time to give me a hand with what I had in mind.  I wanted to put the P3 in the air and video the maiden flight of the Mavic for a simple launch, hover, etc.  Prior to lighting the fuse on the Mavic, I decided to do a quick checkout of the P3, so I lit the fuse on it, let it idle a bit while checking various things on the screen and then lifting off.  I put it into a hover at about 5 feet at first and checked for stability.  Everything looking good, I rose up to about 15-20 feet and hovered.  I rotated both directions, slid left, slid right, back to a hover.  I then gave it about half throttle (climb) simultaneously with either forward or right lateral (don't remember which) movement for a climbing angled departure.  I was watching it the whole time, and it was still only about 20 feet in front of me.  Within one to two seconds, it rose up on one side and continued the arc until it was on edge and went completely out of control.  It headed in my direction, it turned out, and powered itself into the concrete it had launched from just a few feet away from me.  The sound was sickening, full power, crash, and nothing.  While recovering my jaw from the ground, I looked down beside me and started spotting pieces.  The battery had been ejected immediately, so it had shut down and not trying to burn itself up.  The battery seemed fine.

Looking at what was left, it apparently hit with one arm either straight down, or slightly angled and inverted, stressing the upper half of the arm until it peeled itself open and tweaked the tip of the arm.  There was one prop destroyed at impact with various pieces found at the location.  There was one other slightly damaged prop and the others were fine.  The camera and gimbal seemed fine, and were even level when started later.  All motors appear to be fine, with nice smooth rotation and not ugly sounds.  They seem to be fine.

Later, I put a battery back in it and started it up.  Camera seemed to initialize and gimbal was level (or at least as level as it usually is).  Motors spun up just fine with no props and all sounded the same.  I couldn't put props on due to the shell damage, which I hadn't worked on yet.

I later launched the Mavic and did my initial flight, sans video from the other platform.

I have looked at the log and noticed a mention of compass error or something similar just as it crashed, but that's as far as I've gone.  Takeoff was from the exact spot in my driveway where I have launched for 90% of my flights over the last couple of years I've had it.  It was a month or more ago that I looked at them so might not remember all of the details at this point.  The whole thing is sitting on my desk while I tend to other more pressing tasks.

What am I going to do with it?  Well, if the control system really is stable enough to fly again without visiting the drone hospital, I'm going to put another shell on it and rebuild it.  In fact, I think I'm going to replace the stock shell with the Phavmic shell.  If it is more seriously damaged, I'll have to evaluate it before deciding to either sell for parts, send it for repair (probably not dJI), or put it in long term storage.

That's my story.  I'll be interested in keeping up with this thread to see how you come out.

Gary - AG0N
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2017-7-3
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#shotxclvck
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Excatly why I use the DJI app.
2017-7-3
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#shotxclvck
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Rnfaust Posted at 2017-6-29 14:14
Sounds like Vortex Ring State (VRS). The P3 is pretty much immune, but not altogether.
Do not descend to fast and try to keep forward motion to stay out of your own wake. Hope that helps.

Definitely operator error!
2017-7-3
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#shotxclvck
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I also noticed the people who experience these phenomenon don't have a lot of flight time.......maybe more practice is needed before you go up and away!
2017-7-3
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Rnfaust
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AG0N-Gary Posted at 2017-7-3 11:20
Rnfaust:

I found your post interesting, because I'm in a similar boat.  I'd been flying my P3A for almost 2 years before it was "destroyed" in an amazing, and amazingly fast, crash from low altitude.  To say I was surprised is an understatement.

I've learned from flight data analysis of my P3A that there can be system failures. I've had two confirmed in 2 years. My P3 will not be repaired and returned to service because this crash appears to be an intermittent ESC failure. None of the IMU data was available when I turned it on again. The motors would not start obviously. I had to dig out the System SD from under the mainboard to retrieve the flight data. You however will be able to retrieve it through the micro SD port in the front under the nameplate. The drone must be turned on.
If I were you, I would get the .dat files from the drone ASAP and see if Bud Walker will analyze them for you. I believe he will. He monitors the Phantom Pilots forum so you can PM him there. You might as well join if you don't already belong.
If you are going to rebuild your P3 after the experience you described, you should strongly consider a new mainboard. However, they used to cost more than you can buy  a P3 for now. So, if you want to keep a P3 in the game, just buy another aircraft only. Maybe even sans camera.
Reshell to fix cosmetic damage but you might be throwing good money after bad if you've had system failures.
You or any app cannot command the P3 to fly on its side or upside down, so if it does, you've lost a prop or had a mainboard failure. IMO
Good luck
I turn the tread over to you now. You have the story du jour.
2017-7-3
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Rnfaust
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#shotxclvck Posted at 2017-7-3 13:09
I also noticed the people who experience these phenomenon don't have a lot of flight time.......maybe more practice is needed before you go up and away!

You can't always or ever predict a system failure.
I did a preflight check.
Took it up and hovered at 150ft.
Began my mission with immediate catastrophic results.
Stuff happens. And I have the logs that sadly show it.
2017-7-3
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endotherm
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Thankfully, main board or internal hardware failures are rare.  The majority of crashes are typically due to some external influence or operator action.  Perhaps as they age, we will be seeing more of this.
2017-7-3
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StephenGSY
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In video it looks as if the gimbal became detached. Maybe this caused the problem. Weight shift and making it look like ESC failure.
2017-7-4
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pritchiedotcom
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hward51 Posted at 2017-7-3 10:01
I haven't flown in 3 weeks.  Mine cut off and dropped in mid air.  Luckily I was just at hovering distance.  Only damage was broken skid, but now I'm paranoid.  Don't know if it was the new batteries I bought or what.  Having difficulty reading the logs.  I've taken battery #5 out of circulation until I can find out more.  Just before this happened I was at 300 ft.

Yeah I think most people or paranoid and some should be more paranoid.  I've seen footage of drones flying not just over busy interstates/highways, but up them!
I've got DJI drone care so I believe my drone would be covered, however 3rd party liability is different matter.  So until I am fully covered I am reducing any risks to a minimum.
Good luck and happy droning!
2017-7-4
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Rnfaust
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StephenGSY Posted at 2017-7-4 02:58
In video it looks as if the gimbal became detached. Maybe this caused the problem. Weight shift and making it look like ESC failure.

You're right it does look as though the gimbal came off, but it's actually the attitude of the drone causing that phenomenon. Have you ever picked up your drone while it's turned on (motors not running) and turned it over to look underneath? The camera tries to level itself to a point then jumps to the other direction when it can go no further. I think that's what happened.
The gimbal was anchored by 2 pins. They even made it through the upside down landing. Whoopie!

Gimbal

Gimbal


Camera

Camera

2017-7-4
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