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Miraculous save
337 21 2018-6-20
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Wireframe
lvl.2
Flight distance : 7441 ft
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Part I. Rise and Fall of Yellow Spark

So on my way to work I have this nice fountain, right 20 meters out of the underground station - there's a miniature square with fountain, sitting places and overall looking nice.
I decided to make some shots. It was my fourth of fifth flight, as I purchased Spark (fly more combo with RC) couple of weeks before.
I calibrated compass (as it required calibration), checked the map, checked the correct map direction, received 11 GPS satellites and decided to fly as everything was green.
I made slow flyover above the falling water, made a quickshot - circle and decided to finish the flight with rocket view as fountain is pretty symmetrical.
Once the spark completed the Rocket program, trouble started.
It was in clear sight and not very high above, but i received 'video feed disconnection' and 'No GPS' suddenly and my beautiful yellow Spark switched to ATTI mode. There was a minor wind on the ground level, but I clearly understand that it was a bit windy above, as it started drifting slowly.
I panicked.
I have read about the ATTI mode, but had no time to practice flying it. I tried to bring it back above the square level, but spark has already drifted aside and was above some trees that surround the square. There were definite hiccups in the receiving data from my RC. I lost it from sight.
But somehow, being moved a bit aside, GPS coverage improved and Spark decided to get to homepoint where I started the flight. I am just guessing, as there were problems with RC interaction. A minute later, running around looking for my Spark, i found it lying in the grass 3 meters aside home point, with a bit of mud on it's 'face'. I deducted that it struck the branches somehow and fall. It looked intact overall and the gimball was working.
I cleared the spark from mud, changed battery and tried to launch.
Oh no!
I received a number of errors:
Camera Sensor Error - Hardware Malfunction. Contact DJI for Repairs
Forward Vision Sensor Error - Restart Aircraft. Contact DJI support if problem persists
Air Encoder Error (0x8000000) - Restart Aircraft. Contact DJI support if problem persists
This is scary!
I gave it several tries, tried downgrading/upgrading firmware (in order to reset software errors) but problems persisted.
I reside in Russia and there is no Official DJI Care here. We have kind of 'licensed distributor' with their own repair center but they state clear that even diagnostics has to be paid if drone was not purchased from them...
But that's the only way...

to be continued in 5 minutes.
2018-6-20
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Wireframe
lvl.2
Flight distance : 7441 ft
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Part II. Damaged

So I went to this repair center. They took my spark and promised that in approx 5 days i will learn what is happening.
So what was happening?
They told me that Spark is beyond repair, or, to say, that repairing it is an ineffective way of spending my money. They told me that with the fall made a strong hit to the spark (how? tree branches are like 5 meters above the ground and the soil is soft and grassy) and not only it received external scratches, but the 'mainboard' controller received a crack, which made the repair cost approx 90% of the new drone price. Oh, and the camera was also no good, as they said.
I was devastated - this is my first drone and I was not ready to spend additional money on another one (and I needed the drone as my vacation is couple of months ahead - and I was going to film some scenic locations).
So I went home and decided to sell some leftovers (bag, RC, batteries, protection, etc) from fly more combo, as purchasing the combo again will be cheaper.

Part III. A Miracle!
I put some online ads to a local buy/sell forum and soon one of the guys was already going to meet me in the evening to take some stuff. Also we agreed that he'll take the malfunctioning Spark for parts for some 30-40 usd equivalent.
And just in two hours before the meeting, i decide to download flightlogs and check if I forgot anything on my Spark. I turned it on and it took me a minute to understand what I see - no errors were showing. Are you scared that i will throw away, my little Spark? No I won't, of course I won't.
I called the guy, apologized and cancelled the meeting. I ran into the yard and tried to give it a go - everything went smooth as silk! Spark was flying flawlessly and everything was working fine.
Since then, I already made several flights, started training the 'cinematic moves' and stitching the short clips in order to get in the habit of it.
It is a miraculous save for my drone.
2018-6-20
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ChrisJG
Captain
Flight distance : 457559 ft
United Kingdom
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Wireframe Posted at 2018-6-20 23:11
Part II. Damaged

So I went to this repair center. They took my spark and promised that in approx 5 days i will learn what is happening.

Great news that your Spark is saved and you can continue to fly it foot more adventures. Good luck!
2018-6-20
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ChrisJG
Captain
Flight distance : 457559 ft
United Kingdom
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Wireframe Posted at 2018-6-20 23:11
Part II. Damaged

So I went to this repair center. They took my spark and promised that in approx 5 days i will learn what is happening.

Great news that your Spark is saved and you can continue to fly it for more adventures. Good luck!
2018-6-20
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Wireframe
lvl.2
Flight distance : 7441 ft
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Part IV - Questions

1. I am not sure how the repair center could have misdiagnosed my drone. I have some trust issues (especially with repair centers), but it would profit them to make a repair and charge me for parts, while they just clearly stated that this is and inefficient way of spending my money and did not even charge me for diagnostics. So, what's the catch?

2. How these errors just disappeared? I understand that self-diagnostics is an important part of the startup routine and there is a number of failsafes designed to block the flight if anything stinks. So how come these errors came into life and then disappeared like politician's promises? Anyone experienced that?

3. But mostly I am concerned about - can these errors be back the same way they disappeared? One day I climb the location I want to capture and wham! errorrs-errorrs-errorrs!

Any ideas are welcome.
2018-6-20
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Wireframe
lvl.2
Flight distance : 7441 ft
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My flight distance seems to be out of line for this account EDIT: Disregard that. Slow sync.
2018-6-20
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Wireframe
lvl.2
Flight distance : 7441 ft
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ChrisJG Posted at 2018-6-20 23:14
Great news that your Spark is saved and you can continue to fly it foot more adventures. Good luck!

Thanks a lot! I am so happy!
2018-6-20
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Wireframe
lvl.2
Flight distance : 7441 ft
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Oh, and btw, my first clip . Will be glad to hear any advices
2018-6-20
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S-e-ven
Captain
Flight distance : 3589747 ft
Thailand
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Wireframe Posted at 2018-6-20 23:19
Part IV - Questions

1. I am not sure how the repair center could have misdiagnosed my drone. I have some trust issues (especially with repair centers), but it would profit them to make a repair and charge me for parts, while they just clearly stated that this is and inefficient way of spending my money and did not even charge me for diagnostics. So, what's the catch?

moisture, perhaps?
mud, gras, fountain, .....
2018-6-20
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Wireframe
lvl.2
Flight distance : 7441 ft
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S-e-ven Posted at 2018-6-20 23:28
moisture, perhaps?
mud, gras, fountain, .....

No-no-no. It was not in contact with water for a second and when I say 'mud' i mean more like 'not a hard-like-stone soil'.
2018-6-20
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Flighty
Captain
Flight distance : 1911181 ft
Croatia
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Great story and I am glad it ended on a good note for you..  As for the repair center, I just think they are inefficient and did a bad analysis of the damaged drone, that is if they even bothered??, miracle recovery, possible the IMU was knocked about and after a few resets it come back on line??? just my opinion!!
2018-6-20
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A CW
Captain
Flight distance : 11458084 ft
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United Kingdom
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Great back story - glad you managed to save it to fly again!
2018-6-20
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A CW
Captain
Flight distance : 11458084 ft
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Wireframe Posted at 2018-6-20 23:26
Oh, and btw, my first clip on Youtube. Will be glad to hear any advices

Very nice footage too
2018-6-20
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Wireframe
lvl.2
Flight distance : 7441 ft
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A CW Posted at 2018-6-20 23:55
Very nice footage too

Thank you very much! I still have a lot to learn, i understand that clearly
2018-6-21
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A CW
Captain
Flight distance : 11458084 ft
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United Kingdom
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Wireframe Posted at 2018-6-21 00:33
Thank you very much! I still have a lot to learn, i understand that clearly

You never stop learning in this game Keep at it
2018-6-21
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Wireframe
lvl.2
Flight distance : 7441 ft
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Flighty Posted at 2018-6-20 23:53
Great story and I am glad it ended on a good note for you..  As for the repair center, I just think they are inefficient and did a bad analysis of the damaged drone, that is if they even bothered??, miracle recovery, possible the IMU was knocked about and after a few resets it come back on line??? just my opinion!!

Well, i did resets and even reuploaded the firmware (which should also do a reset, IMO). Looks like it's about unthorough analysis in the repair center...
2018-6-21
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ChrisJG
Captain
Flight distance : 457559 ft
United Kingdom
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Wireframe Posted at 2018-6-20 23:26
Oh, and btw, my first clip on Youtube. Will be glad to hear any advices

That's a great video too, love the bridge footage with the Church steeple / tower in the foreground and the ship on the other side of the river.
2018-6-21
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Wireframe
lvl.2
Flight distance : 7441 ft
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ChrisJG Posted at 2018-6-21 02:23
That's a great video too, love the bridge footage with the Church steeple / tower in the foreground and the ship on the other side of the river.

Thank you very much! That was 'A city birthday' that day, so a bit overcrowded.
2018-6-21
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JimFandango
Second Officer
Flight distance : 130768 ft
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I'm amazed the people in the video aren't stopping to look at the Spark. Every time I use mine everyone starts rubbernecking when the hear the noise of the props. It makes me quite self-conscious about where I fly.
2018-6-21
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JJBspark
Captain
Flight distance : 1144157 ft
Netherlands
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Hi Wireframe.
Great story and lovely video.

Never ever sell this Spark, you have the self-repairing version!!

If you like upload your flightrecord, so we maybye see what happend to your Spark ; to learn from it.

cheers
JJB
2018-6-21
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Wireframe
lvl.2
Flight distance : 7441 ft
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JimFandango Posted at 2018-6-21 02:42
I'm amazed the people in the video aren't stopping to look at the Spark. Every time I use mine everyone starts rubbernecking when the hear the noise of the props. It makes me quite self-conscious about where I fly.

Well, some of them did (this got cut out ). But really Spark is not that noisy and not much people stopped to take a look what am I doing. Mostly several kids stopped their parents to give them a minute of drone observation
2018-6-21
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Wireframe
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Flight distance : 7441 ft
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JJBspark Posted at 2018-6-21 03:01
Hi Wireframe.
Great story and lovely video.

I know! I thought about that Maybe if i will let it lying down for a month I will find that it transformed to Mavic Air!

Will try to upload the record a bit later

But what I think happened is that when I got a bit higher than nearby buildings' roofs, i appeared in the zone of some GPS-suppression or another wifi/whatever jammer. There's a number of them across Moscow, mostly on governmental and/or police-related buildings. Also the fountain itself (massive metal) and being close to multiple wifi spots was causing interference. These are all valid points and I tend to view the situation as 'not enough scouting' and 'unsuitable place for flying'. So - pilot error (especially as i never had the same error in consequent flights)
2018-6-21
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