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Buried at Sea. My Phantom 4 is at the bottom of the Atlantic now.
639 23 9-30 14:35
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CMDP4
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I'm new to these forums, please forgive any rookie errors here...

I have/had a P4 that was gifted to me by my wife and kids 2 years ago. I was petrified to fly it, it costing so much... So I cut my teeth on a less expensive drone, then when I was a better pilot I began using the P4. I loved it, and I have some nice videos from it. But I haven't spent more than 20 hours total flying it. Yesterday I headed to the NH Seacoast to catch the sunset. I started out by flying around the shores near Seabrook & Hampton (at the Hampton Harbor Inlet). Everything seemed fine, and for almost 13 minutes it flew like a champ! Then suddenly without warning it just made a loud 'WHIRRRRRRT!' noise and went haywire, spinning out of control and dropped straight down into the ocean below. I had no control over it, a true catastrophic failure. I have all the log files and video from the cache on my iPhone. I contacted DJI and they were not willing to help me at all because my drone is out of warranty. I asked if they could at least review the logs to deduct what caused the failure. They declined stating that only in-warranty drones received that service. I said 'well, can I pay for it'? 'Yes', was the answer 'for $65'. But also that was non-refundable and the drone was out of warranty. They suggested my best option was to buy a new one! UGH! They wouldn't even sell me a refurb'd one at a discount. Thanks DJI! What outstanding customer service you have (not)! I didn't smash into anything, I wasn't recklous, I always do a pre-flight safety check. So why did my P4 simply fall out of the sky? This was literally a new drone in terms of use. What the hell happened to it? If you look at my flight record I start getting speed errors and then compass errors right before it crashes. What causes that? Also if you view my video, right as the drone starts to spin out of control if you freeze frame quick enough something white goes flying off. I presume a propeller. But was that the cause of the failure? Or was it ripped off because of the violent spin that it took when it failed in midair?

My P4 sits at the bottom of the ocean, not too far off-shore - but not possible to reach. And I just put a new 256GB SD card in it!

Link to the flight data: https://www.phantomhelp.com/LogViewer/PIOTMBXEKTIIK1H56Q5X/

Link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CP5UcG02DKU (crash at aroud 3:45)

Can anyone help figure out what happened? Any suggestions on any recourse with DJI?

It really sucks to have this happen. :-(

Thanks!
Chris

9-30 14:35
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Geebax
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A quick look at your flight log does not how anything other than a battery that has some unbalalnced cells. But the video shows all the symptoms of a bird strike. There is nothing that suggests the aircraft failed, and the flight data does not bear it out either.
9-30 14:56
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Labroides
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It's quite normal for companies to provide warranty only within a set period.
That's DJI's policy

But you can get free analysis from knowledgeable forum members (and a better explanation that DJI would give).
Your flight went well until 12:57.6 when the drone started rotating anti-clockwise and losing height.
The pitch and roll data also indicates the drone was tumbling as it spiralled down.
An uncontrolled spiralling descent is caused by loss of a motor or propeller.
Possible causes include:
*  a broken propeller possibly due to previous damage
*  A damaged propeller mount
*  A failure of a motor
*  A failure of an ESC that controls a motor
The speed errors and compass errors are symptoms of the falling and spinning, and not indicating the cause of the incident.
9-30 15:29
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RedHotPoker
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Sorry to read about another drone fatality.



RedHotPoker


9-30 17:41
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DJI Mindy
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Hi CMDP4, we apologize for your loss, according to the after-sales policy, free data analysis and warranty can only be provided within the warranty period, but data analysis can also be provided as paid service, while the result does not affect the repair fee and no refund for data analysis service fee.
If you agree with the paid data analysis, please contact our support team, sorry for any inconvenience caused and appreciate your understanding.
9-30 19:04
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Nebuchadnezzar
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in the video looks like something hit the Drone  , it is possible?
9-30 22:09
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Labroides
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Nebuchadnezzar Posted at 9-30 22:09
in the video looks like something hit the Drone  , it is possible?

Look closely.
After it starts spinning you can see the landing gear.
But there's nothing in the video that looks like something hitting the drone.
9-30 23:41
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Ben Mason
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It's difficult to confirm which but i believe you either lost a propeller or a motor during flight. If you really wan't to know which you can upload the DAT file found in the MCDATFolder on your mobile device to google drive, i haven't looked at a P4 in a while but i believe they create MCDAT files.
Your drone is also 2 Years and 10 months old, almost 3 years, even with minimal use it's still possible for failures to occur.
10-1 00:14
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CMDP4
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Ben Mason Posted at 10-1 00:14
It's difficult to confirm which but i believe you either lost a propeller or a motor during flight. If you really wan't to know which you can upload the DAT file found in the MCDATFolder on your mobile device to google drive, i haven't looked at a P4 in a while but i believe they create MCDAT files.
Your drone is also 2 Years and 10 months old, almost 3 years, even with minimal use it's still possible for failures to occur.

Thanks Ben! Yes, I have those files. I'll upload them. Thank you!
10-1 14:05
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CMDP4
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Nebuchadnezzar Posted at 9-30 22:09
in the video looks like something hit the Drone  , it is possible?

I don't think so, I was watching it fly towards me when it failed. There were people watching too, and they said they saw nothing other than it falling out of the sky. Making a loud whirring noise first, then dropping...
10-1 14:08
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Geebax
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CMDP4 Posted at 10-1 14:08
I don't think so, I was watching it fly towards me when it failed. There were people watching too, and they said they saw nothing other than it falling out of the sky. Making a loud whirring noise first, then dropping...

To me, that sounds like a prop came off.
10-1 14:10
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CMDP4
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Geebax Posted at 10-1 14:10
To me, that sounds like a prop came off.

Ugh... All those sensors and technology taken down by a piece of plastic failing?

What causes a prop to fly off or break off?

It would be nice if Drone manufacturer's would build in a "limp home" mode like cars have. There's a Ted Talk on drones where the presenter shows how this can be done by some fancy algorithms.  At around 3:40 into the presentation: https://www.ted.com/talks/raffaello_d_andrea_meet_the_dazzling_flying_machines_of_the_future?language=en
10-1 14:22
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CMDP4
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DJI P4 Data Files

I've placed a copy of the data files (the whole directory), up on Google Drive. It is about 22MB...
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Q2ZOKosIYV-B3CUAK6RNh0fL27oKZTuX


10-1 14:29
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CMDP4
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Ben Mason Posted at 10-1 00:14
It's difficult to confirm which but i believe you either lost a propeller or a motor during flight. If you really wan't to know which you can upload the DAT file found in the MCDATFolder on your mobile device to google drive, i haven't looked at a P4 in a while but i believe they create MCDAT files.
Your drone is also 2 Years and 10 months old, almost 3 years, even with minimal use it's still possible for failures to occur.

I copied the entire directory up to Google Drive:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Q2ZOKosIYV-B3CUAK6RNh0fL27oKZTuX

Thanks in advance!
Chris
10-1 14:31
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Labroides
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CMDP4 Posted at 10-1 14:22
Ugh... All those sensors and technology taken down by a piece of plastic failing?

What causes a prop to fly off or break off?
That was almost four years ago and no drone maker has adopted it ... I wonder why?
Could it be that it's just not practical?

What causes a prop to fly off or break off?

*  Prior damage gradually becoming worse
*  A damaged propeller mount
10-1 15:31
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Ben Mason
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I don't have the time to look at it in depth at the moment, but from a quick look, your right front motor slowed(maybe your drone was hit by a gust of air ?) immediately after your back left motor failed completely(although it did recover later) and the drone spiralled out of control. Basically your propellers didn't come off, your motors failed(I don't see any ESC errors, but it could be possible they are to blame) even if the motor failure was intermittent it was enough to put your drone in a state where it lost control. I can see you throttled up when the drone lost control but this seemed to do nothing, the drone only fell faster(Perhaps the drone was stuck in it's dirty air at this point?).
10-1 23:40
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CMDP4
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Ben Mason Posted at 10-1 23:40
I don't have the time to look at it in depth at the moment, but from a quick look, your right front motor slowed(maybe your drone was hit by a gust of air ?) immediately after your back left motor failed completely(although it did recover later) and the drone spiralled out of control. Basically your propellers didn't come off, your motors failed(I don't see any ESC errors, but it could be possible they are to blame) even if the motor failure was intermittent it was enough to put your drone in a state where it lost control. I can see you throttled up when the drone lost control but this seemed to do nothing, the drone only fell faster(Perhaps the drone was stuck in it's dirty air at this point?).

Thank you for helping here. I'm surprised DJI wouldn't even bother to look at the files if not as a courtesy then as a way they can improve their products. I look forward to any other information you can provide.

Now the question is, do I buy another expensive drone? I see the Skydio r2 was officially announced today.

Pity that DJI gave me the cold shoulder, I'm going to look at other manufacturers.

I've got to put all my Phantom 4 accessories up on eBay to recover some of the money I've lost.
10-2 08:27
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Bashy
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prop not fitted correctly, done that myself, the large whirring noise will be that failed prop motor spinning up trying to compensate and failing badly   ideally you need a 5 rotor or more for any redundancy, the rotor's are like a car, 1 fails, they all might just as well have failed
10-2 18:29
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Ben Mason
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CMDP4 Posted at 10-2 08:27
Thank you for helping here. I'm surprised DJI wouldn't even bother to look at the files if not as a courtesy then as a way they can improve their products. I look forward to any other information you can provide.

Now the question is, do I buy another expensive drone? I see the Skydio r2 was officially announced today.

I'm sure from DJI's perspective they are busy enough, being the majority seller in the drone market means you also get the majority of returns. I would imagine they only look into rare cases that are extreme and relate to newer models, i don't think they care about 3 year old drones.
I don't have a very high opinion of drones that aren't DJI, as much as you can hate on them they make good drones when compared to the rest of the market. If a drone has features that you like and it makes sense for what you want to use it for then go for it.
You shouldn't let 1 crash put you off flying, in the grand scheme of things crashes like this, that are completely out of your control are fairly rare.
10-2 23:20
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CMDP4
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Hey everyone, I thought I should post an update. I started right away on Monday trying to locate who manages the bridge between Seabrook and Hampton (NH). The bridge has a tower and someone is in there usually to raise and lower the bridge. Fairly tall ships will come through that waterway, and the bridge has to be raised to get through. I finally figured out that the Army Corps of Engineers were the ones who built that inlet (dredged it), and possibly the bridge too. Anyhow I tracked down the NE chapter, and sent out emails and messages on FB. One email struck gold and I got a reply. The ACoE replied back that they were not in the area to assist but they suggested I contact the Harbor Master for that area. I put out calls to two HM's in the area, and one of them called me back! Super nice guy, he is the harbor master for the Hampton side, and knows the area extremely well. He was very interested in the whole story, and was very forthcoming about that area. I asked about the depth of the water there, and he said of course it changes with the tide, and some areas drop off rapidly. It could be anywhere from 15 feet deep to 40 feet deep. But that wasn't the issue, he said that area has a very strong under current and is very dangerous. I told him I started down the rocks and considered jumping in. He said that it was wise that I didn't. People have drowned in that area over the years. Worse he said ships have gone down there, referencing a particular 30 foot boat. He said he never goes through that area without a life vest. So I guess the smartest thing I did that day was stop myself from diving in to go after it. Maybe I could have swam the 50 meters to the spot where it splashed down. But then what? Dive down to look for it? LOL! Then magically have enough energy to swim back to the rocks? Not likely. I would have lost more than my drone had I attempted that. I was told that the tower operator left at 3:30. The incident occurred at 5:37, so no one was there. Also there are no camera in the area that might have captured it. Not that any of that would really matter, because no one was going to attempt to re-acquire it. The harbor master said he would pass the word around in the unlikely case it is seen. He also said that the ACoE is beginning a new dredging project in a few months, which may include the area that my drone drowned. I shutter to think what a dredging machine will do to my poor Phantom. I am half-tempted to drive back over to that area tomorrow and throw a bunch of flowers in the ocean and say an official "farewell". I am disappointed with DJI not wanted to at least investigate. The drone flew well for 13 minutes, and then self-destructed. I always perform a safety check before flying, everything was good. Life goes on... I'll get back out flying with my old 3DR Solo Drone soon, if I can get a battery that lasts more than 2 minutes! They don't make these any more... Too bad too, because that drone has always been a work horse. I've flown that thing for hours and hours over the years, and it's been absolutely reliable. I've found some battery hacks on YT, which I may attempt... I am not a fan of messing with LIon batteries. If DJI comes back to help I'll update here. Fingers crossed...
10-5 21:14
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Geebax
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CMDP4 Posted at 10-5 21:14
Hey everyone, I thought I should post an update. I started right away on Monday trying to locate who manages the bridge between Seabrook and Hampton (NH). The bridge has a tower and someone is in there usually to raise and lower the bridge. Fairly tall ships will come through that waterway, and the bridge has to be raised to get through. I finally figured out that the Army Corps of Engineers were the ones who built that inlet (dredged it), and possibly the bridge too. Anyhow I tracked down the NE chapter, and sent out emails and messages on FB. One email struck gold and I got a reply. The ACoE replied back that they were not in the area to assist but they suggested I contact the Harbor Master for that area. I put out calls to two HM's in the area, and one of them called me back! Super nice guy, he is the harbor master for the Hampton side, and knows the area extremely well. He was very interested in the whole story, and was very forthcoming about that area. I asked about the depth of the water there, and he said of course it changes with the tide, and some areas drop off rapidly. It could be anywhere from 15 feet deep to 40 feet deep. But that wasn't the issue, he said that area has a very strong under current and is very dangerous. I told him I started down the rocks and considered jumping in. He said that it was wise that I didn't. People have drowned in that area over the years. Worse he said ships have gone down there, referencing a particular 30 foot boat. He said he never goes through that area without a life vest. So I guess the smartest thing I did that day was stop myself from diving in to go after it. Maybe I could have swam the 50 meters to the spot where it splashed down. But then what? Dive down to look for it? LOL! Then magically have enough energy to swim back to the rocks? Not likely. I would have lost more than my drone had I attempted that. I was told that the tower operator left at 3:30. The incident occurred at 5:37, so no one was there. Also there are no camera in the area that might have captured it. Not that any of that would really matter, because no one was going to attempt to re-acquire it. The harbor master said he would pass the word around in the unlikely case it is seen. He also said that the ACoE is beginning a new dredging project in a few months, which may include the area that my drone drowned. I shutter to think what a dredging machine will do to my poor Phantom. I am half-tempted to drive back over to that area tomorrow and throw a bunch of flowers in the ocean and say an official "farewell". I am disappointed with DJI not wanted to at least investigate. The drone flew well for 13 minutes, and then self-destructed. I always perform a safety check before flying, everything was good. Life goes on... I'll get back out flying with my old 3DR Solo Drone soon, if I can get a battery that lasts more than 2 minutes! They don't make these any more... Too bad too, because that drone has always been a work horse. I've flown that thing for hours and hours over the years, and it's been absolutely reliable. I've found some battery hacks on YT, which I may attempt... I am not a fan of messing with LIon batteries. If DJI comes back to help I'll update here. Fingers crossed...

Even if you get it back, the water will be seawater and the electronics would very likely be damaged. It is sometimes possible to resurrect a Phantom that went swimming in fresh water, but seawater is a killer.
10-5 21:51
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Labroides
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CMDP4 Posted at 10-5 21:14
Hey everyone, I thought I should post an update. I started right away on Monday trying to locate who manages the bridge between Seabrook and Hampton (NH). The bridge has a tower and someone is in there usually to raise and lower the bridge. Fairly tall ships will come through that waterway, and the bridge has to be raised to get through. I finally figured out that the Army Corps of Engineers were the ones who built that inlet (dredged it), and possibly the bridge too. Anyhow I tracked down the NE chapter, and sent out emails and messages on FB. One email struck gold and I got a reply. The ACoE replied back that they were not in the area to assist but they suggested I contact the Harbor Master for that area. I put out calls to two HM's in the area, and one of them called me back! Super nice guy, he is the harbor master for the Hampton side, and knows the area extremely well. He was very interested in the whole story, and was very forthcoming about that area. I asked about the depth of the water there, and he said of course it changes with the tide, and some areas drop off rapidly. It could be anywhere from 15 feet deep to 40 feet deep. But that wasn't the issue, he said that area has a very strong under current and is very dangerous. I told him I started down the rocks and considered jumping in. He said that it was wise that I didn't. People have drowned in that area over the years. Worse he said ships have gone down there, referencing a particular 30 foot boat. He said he never goes through that area without a life vest. So I guess the smartest thing I did that day was stop myself from diving in to go after it. Maybe I could have swam the 50 meters to the spot where it splashed down. But then what? Dive down to look for it? LOL! Then magically have enough energy to swim back to the rocks? Not likely. I would have lost more than my drone had I attempted that. I was told that the tower operator left at 3:30. The incident occurred at 5:37, so no one was there. Also there are no camera in the area that might have captured it. Not that any of that would really matter, because no one was going to attempt to re-acquire it. The harbor master said he would pass the word around in the unlikely case it is seen. He also said that the ACoE is beginning a new dredging project in a few months, which may include the area that my drone drowned. I shutter to think what a dredging machine will do to my poor Phantom. I am half-tempted to drive back over to that area tomorrow and throw a bunch of flowers in the ocean and say an official "farewell". I am disappointed with DJI not wanted to at least investigate. The drone flew well for 13 minutes, and then self-destructed. I always perform a safety check before flying, everything was good. Life goes on... I'll get back out flying with my old 3DR Solo Drone soon, if I can get a battery that lasts more than 2 minutes! They don't make these any more... Too bad too, because that drone has always been a work horse. I've flown that thing for hours and hours over the years, and it's been absolutely reliable. I've found some battery hacks on YT, which I may attempt... I am not a fan of messing with LIon batteries. If DJI comes back to help I'll update here. Fingers crossed...

I shudder to think what a dredging machine will do to my poor Phantom.
It makes no difference, your Phantom's electronics were fried as soon as it went under.
I am disappointed with DJI not wanted to at least investigate.
It would be unrealistic to expect DJI to investigate every out of warranty incident.
If DJI comes back to help I'll update here. Fingers crossed...
They won't.
It's time for you to move on.
10-5 21:59
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RedHotPoker
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Case closed. All wrapped up. Nothing more to query.




RedHotPoker
10-6 18:41
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CMDP4
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Question now is "What do I do with my Phantom P4 Stuff"? I'm not financially ready to go buy a new drone. So I want to sell off what I have, and I have a lot... I've got everything that came with the P4, that wasn't the drone itself. So, original carrying case, Remote Control, two sets of extra props (new), an array of filters, prop guards (new in plastic), AC Adapter, Extra Battery (barely used, maybe 10 total hours if that), carbon fiber camera guard (fits between the landing gear, etc. The question is would this sell as a bundle? Or should I sell piece-meal. I'm not a fan of the latter, since it'll require more effort on my side. :-)

Suggestions? What would you do?

Thanks!
Chris
10-7 08:56
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