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South Africa - Let's hear about your crashes
798 1 2017-6-29
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lost in Africa
lvl.1
Flight distance : 16768 ft
South Africa
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It's a topic you hope you will never contribute to but trust me, it can happen to anyone.

So, we had flown a couple times around Johannesburg when an opportunity arose to travel to Venda and naturally the Mavic was packed.

We stopped next to a main road and wanted to fly above some rather nice forrest areas with a little mist and nice mountains in the background to get some scenic stuff. The batteries were charged and there seemed to be no reason not to fly. No wind, no animals and no people around.

In hindsight I know I should have calibrated the drone first because we had travelled about 500km North from the last calibration. (1)
Initially, the Dji app didnt want to connect to the Mavic but a reboot of the phone sorted that out. Frankly, if that happens again I'm just packing up and going home again because it's a good warning that today is not your day. Anyway, I pushed on.

The Mavic connected to the app. I launched and the views from above the forest were spectacular, better even than I imagined. I took a short video and used the return home button to bring the Mavic back to the take off point. I'd set it to rise to 50m so as to clear any trees should there be a problem. (2)

The Mavic was directly above me and gently came down to about waist height before i cancelled the home function. I said I just want to fly around a tree in the forest and then I'll land and pack up. The tree was about 5 m off the road I was operating from, the Mavic went forward until literally under the big branches and disconnected from the controller. Battery 50%! It immediately attempted to climb to the safety height and return home. You can imagine what happened next. My drone hit a branch about a meter up on it's flight, fell sharply, caught itself, then took a more determined run at the same path and flew into the same branch again. This second attempt was less successful than the first as the Mavic tipped, seemed to switch off and then fell like a dead bird to the forest floor.

I picked the drone up from the forest floor where fortunately it had landed on a pile of needles but the gimbal appeared to have come loose from the gimbal plate.

We packed up and left, I grumbled to myself about the disconnect the whole way back to Jhb.

I searched for a repairer on the DJI website (not helpful). I googled and because I was going to the Free Stare in a few weeks I wanted to get the gimbal fixed a bit faster than a service center could offer me. Eventually I found a guy in Pretoria who can fix drones and has cupboards of spare parts. He fitted a new gimbal assembly (when I only wanted a ribbon cable), test flew the drone and had it back with me in 3 days so the story has a happy ending but I paid for that crash big time.

What I learned:

1. Always calibrate the compass when moving more than 400km from your last take off. I would say you should even do it more just for the accuracy of the compass
2. Set your safety height specific to every situation. I should have landed the Mavic and changed the option to hover knowing that the branches were about 3m off the ground.
3. Don't fly if you're in a rush. To most of us these things cost a small fortune and repairs don't come cheap




2017-6-29
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james roe
lvl.2

India
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2018-2-9
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