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Phantom 3 Fly Aways. If you read nothing else about your P3, please read this...
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6446 40 2015-7-26
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heclectic
lvl.2

United Kingdom
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Long Read. Apologies in advance and if you're in a hurry, just skip to the BOLD!!!

We're reading about so many so called "Fly Aways" happening to the Phantom 3 now its use around the world is becoming so widespread, so let's try to make sure as many people as possible know what many here already know and have been saying for a little while now...

Learn Attitude or "ATTI" Mode from the outset. It WILL save your P3 sooner or later.

I must confess I didn't and I was very lucky, however I did at least set the "Enable Multiple Flight Mode" in the Pilot App because I had noticed people saying it can save the day in certain situations. If I hadn't, I would now have had a heavily crashed P3... of that, there is no doubt.

About two weeks ago, I took the P3 to my workplace for the first time. It was a windy day, with steady 15-20mph, gusting to 25-30. I know, I know, a little beyond limits but I was showing the P3 off to friends and I'd a reasonable amount of experience of windy conditions to be confident it was ok.

Being a new place, I performed a Compass Calibration. What I didn't realise at the time, was the area in which I performed it was a large courtyard surrounded on three sides by a two storey building made from Large Insulated SandwichPanels (or LISPs). These are quite simply, large Aluminium Alloy skinned panels and they comprised the whole outer surface of these buildings.

The result of the Compass Calibration appeared normal, as did the subsequent aircraft warm-up. GPS & Safe to Fly followed, shortly after by 12 Satellites and Home automatically set.

Take Off... straight to 4 or 5 feet.

Almost immediately the P3 started quickly to the right and control inputs (apart from ascend/descend) had little and a highly confused effect. Startled, I battled with it for no more than a few seconds and at a point its lateral motion reduced, I promptly landed it. It was a bumpy landing and it tried to tip due to its lateral motion, but I was lucky, the props didn't strike the ground... Phew!!!

Right, I thought. Let's switch everything off and back on, see how warm-up goes, and try again. This was a BIG mistake.

Everything came up good and I thought this time I'll get it ascended straight above the courtyard buildings, to get it steadied at a safe height. This was because I had incorrectly attributed the previous issue to the blustery wind that was swirling around the yard. Up it went and right away it started veering to the right and rear. The higher it got the quicker it was veering, until once well clear of the buildings it really shot off out of sight behind me to the right. Even though I couldn't see it over the building, I instinctively continued its climb so it was clear of the tallest things in the area and especially due to a nearby radio mast. I climbed it up to 60 metres while repositioning myself a hundred or so meters away in open ground so I could try to see where it was.

The P3 was difficult to find, but with a combination of the map on the Pilot App, catching glimpses of it and hearing it revving away at full power, I found that it was flying at full speed in huge circles and appeared entirely unresponsive to any control inputs (apart from ascend/descend). Also, these circuits were getting progressively furtheraway in the direction of the prevailing strong wind. I'm not one usually taken to panicking, but at this point, I feared it was a lost cause. More importantly however, it was making its way to a more built up area of town.

I was thinking for a few moments... ATTI, ATTI, come on, do it, do it! But I was hesitant. The reason... I'd never used it. Combined with being faced with a machine so outrageously out of control, I had zero confidence in what would follow and thought, what if I might make it worse?? (Like how could it be much worse?)

A drowning man will clutch at a straw, right? Right. Into ATTI Mode I go. It's not so straightforward by now though. I could barely see the P3. Sixty metres up and 3 or 400 metres away. I forgot to mention, in switching to big map a few moments earlier, the FPV view had frozen too... just to keep me on my toes, eh?! So back to big map. The only thing I had to go on was spinning the aircraft symbol heading to the reciprocal Home line on the map and pushing full ahead. It's responded... hurray!!! A big moment of relief! So I'm full ahead, but it was painfully slow. The wind up there was brutal and it crawled back at a snail's pace. It took what seemed like a couple of minutes to come just a few hundred meters... but at least it was coming back. I had full control.

So, just for fits and giggles, I was having a crash course in ATTI Mode in what turned out to be stupidly strong winds. It took me the next two or three minutes battling the wind to descend and manoeuvre the P3 to a point about 6-8 feet off the ground where it was rocking and swaying quite viciously. At this point, I had neither the skill, nor the bottle to attempt a full landing in ATTI in that wind. At least, not when I had the option of a quick grab by a human and so, finally, the eager hands of a waiting friend got my story to a happy ending.

I carried out another Compass Calibration there on the spot, in the wide open area. All seemed ok. I took off… lo and behold everything was perfectly ok. And so, successfully (and luckily) ended my crash course in P3 Calibration malfunctions and the all-important ATTI Mode. Just how many lessons can one learn in ten minutes?!

Now of course, I play in ATTI Mode a lot of the time, for practice and I can land the P3 on a postage stamp in 20mph gusts.

That turned out longer than I intended. Apologies to anyone still reading. I do hope you are though, because this is the simple bit you need to remember and make second nature...

1.   If you take off and things don’t seem quite right, do one thing, first and foremost... if at all possible… get it straight back on the ground!

2.  If for any reason you can’t do "1" above, go full power ascent to get it quickly to safe height (above all obstructions for hundreds of metres around). Once ascending, switch to ATTI, get your bearings and Recover...

...And because after reading this you’ve practiced ATTI lots and lots, your recovery will be nowhere near at hectic as mine.

Fly Safe.


2015-7-26
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looxonline
lvl.2

South Africa
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Cool post. Thanks!
2015-7-26
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robb getts
lvl.2

United States
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another small fact dji didn't mention.im so ad the p3 wont do poi or gs or follow me
2015-7-26
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CaveDrone
Second Officer
Flight distance : 11549 ft
United States
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I practiced ATTI yesterday,  OH MY!   I had a slight breeze blowing towards me, so I corrected, drifted to the right, corrected..drifted to the left corrected, all the while still coming toward my wife and I.  Actually got in control with many continuous, non-stop corrections, tried landing, forget it  a better person than I will be able to do it!  Switched back to P mode and landed.
I then decided to checkout F mode, very nice no worries regarding the reversed controls no matter what what direction the camera was pointing.  Can relax a bit and enjoy a bit of "mindless flying".     Decided to  practice ATTI again, mindful to get the correct orientation before doing so, then switched.  OKAY here we go..... breeze was just a little stronger  the Phantom 3P drifted past me while I was trying to adapt mentally from F mode to ATTI  and boom, controls "reversed" perspective wise then proceeded to crash in to a small hill and my house.    No damage other than a scraped up siding and props.  .     Gonna have to absorb a few lesson's before doing ATTI again.


2015-7-26
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LICENSED PILOT
First Officer
Flight distance : 644833 ft
United States
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"a little beyond limits (wind)" Your first mistake, followed by 2 more attempts at flying in an unsafe environment (the erratic behavior was a clue). If you value your Phantom gotta take a hint and just stay on the ground. Thanks for the educational post.
2015-7-26
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mark1975
lvl.4
Flight distance : 92454 ft
United Kingdom
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Exact same happened to myself but I wasn't as lucky at the time I hadn't set the multiple modes up but I'm used to flying in manual mode for about 4 yrs now, mine took off veered left then around myself straight into the front end of a BMW X6 the owners car who I was giving a demo too the location was a ind estate I was on a car park surrounded by metal units I didn't perform compass calibration , I since have flow it ok no problem but I have now enabled multiple flight modes good advice there .....
2015-7-26
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Oliver
lvl.4

United Kingdom
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Practise with a cheap £20 quadcopter first
2015-7-26
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Willie Wonka
First Officer

United States
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Sorry to say it but it's dji mistake to not include manual mode as a requirement to start flying or at least master that on the simulator before you even allowed to fly in gps mode, as gps mode only provides you with the false sense of security, which in this case is a very bad nightmare.

Learning to fly on something smaller with less assisted control should be done before flying the phantom, so you can have a great experience and enjoyment with the phantom.  

Everyone should practice on a simulator with different types of aircrafts, as in fixed wing, fixed pitch helicopters and variable pitch helicopters then last but not least manual mode quad copters.
2015-7-26
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HunterBrooks
Second Officer

United States
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But DJI made it a requirement to fly under 400', and people complained and override the settings all the time.  DJI made it a requirement to not operate in no-fly zones, and people are pissed that DJI would limit their ability to fly where and when they want.  Imagine if DJI forced the software to operate only in manual mode for the first 10 hours of flying.

No, this one's on us.  We all need to be disciplined enough to practice, practice, practice.  Heck, DJI even went outta their way to create "Beginner Mode".  How many people do you think actually spent 10 hours flying in "Beginner Mode"?  5 hours?  2  hours?  30 minutes?

Ninety percent of fixed wing flight lessons is practicing "Ah, crap!  Now what?" maneuvers.  And the Phantom, regardless if you only got it to take some pictures, is an aircraft.  We own the responsibility of learning to fly it safely.
2015-7-26
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heclectic
lvl.2

United Kingdom
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LICENSED PILOT Posted at 2015-7-27 00:04
"a little beyond limits (wind)" Your first mistake, followed by 2 more attempts at flying in an unsa ...

To be fair, it was really just one more attempt and I admitted just how big a mistake that one more attempt was. I now know, if the thing flies weird, get it down ASAP and appreciate its electromagnetic environment and do a little thinking. Then get out somewhere clear, get it calibrated (Compass first and IMU if necessary) and test fly again... tentatively.

For this occurrence, once I'd weighed up all the variables, there was little doubt the dodgy Compass Calibration (as carried out in a three quarter Faraday Cage) was the cause of all my woes. On appreciating this, I carried out a further Comp Cal in a clear area and took it for a tentative short test flight afterwards to confirm the aircraft's serviceability. If it had continued to malfunction on that attempt, I would have ATTI'd and thrown it back on the ground pronto.... which I'd subsequently learned is absolutely the thing to do ;)

All in all, a plethora of lessons learned... every day's a school day.
2015-7-26
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Willie Wonka
First Officer

United States
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And then people wonder why DJI is not bringing poi and " fly for me and take great shots or I will freaking crash you and get my money back" mode, that's why ! And for the people that enjoy the added assists to an already stable platform that they trust for years , they get hurt in the process because DJI got scared and is not going to continue and add these features to the low end phantom and only add them to the inspire or maybe just the matrice..

2015-7-26
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heclectic
lvl.2

United Kingdom
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CaveDrone Posted at 2015-7-26 23:56
I practiced ATTI yesterday,  OH MY!   I had a slight breeze blowing towards me, so I corrected, drif ...

Keep it simple and in light or no wind at first. Also, keep it oriented heading away until you really begin to get the feel.

But do stick with it... it's worth it and it does get easier.
2015-7-26
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genestlaw
lvl.1

Canada
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heclectic Posted at 2015-7-27 01:22
Keep it simple and in light or no wind at first. Also, keep it oriented heading away until you rea ...

Maybe a dumb question, but one I suspect many others are asking....How do you enter into ATTI mode and how is it different than regular P mode?  I thought a sub-mode of P was ATTI?  
2015-7-26
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vu.q.le
Banned

United States
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Tip: the author has been banned or deleted automatically shield
2015-7-26
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heclectic
lvl.2

United Kingdom
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genestlaw Posted at 2015-7-27 01:56
Maybe a dumb question, but one I suspect many others are asking....How do you enter into ATTI mode ...

You enter ATTI mode by flicking the small switch at your left index finger (on the forward left face of the controller) to the centre position. First however, you must set the "Enable Multiple Flight Mode" in the Pilot App.

As I understand it, ATTI will only be selected while in 'P' Mode if the otherwise well calibrated Navigation System loses coherence (known confidence) in one or more of its feeds from the GPS and/or Compass. This can be caused briefly due to, say for example, poor satellite reception or odd, transient compass readings. Once the Nav System is happy everything ties up again it goes back to Auto. That's why it spends the vast majority of its time in Auto GPS or OPTI while you might see the odd fleeting transition into ATTI.

Crucially, the "Fly Aways" we speak of happen because the overall Nav System thinks everything is hunky dory and calibrated, when indeed it's not (caused by a bad or corrupted calibration) and the aircraft's Flight Control System ties itself in knots trying to make head nor tail of nonsense coming from Navigation system that is out of calibration. If you get to see one of these out of control "Fly Aways", it soon becomes apparent that the aircraft is whizzing around all over the place, while the Nav System thinks it's hovering perfectly steady.

I suspect DJI probably know this and might be looking at a way the Systems might identify a bad calibration of the Nav System and switch to ATTI automatically if it detects this. This could then be implemented in the next eagerly awaited Firmware. I certainly hope so and it's one more aspect that would explain why it's taking a little longer than anticipated for a firmware that will hopefully nail a number of issues, to hit the streets.
2015-7-26
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heclectic
lvl.2

United Kingdom
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vu.q.le@outlook Posted at 2015-7-27 02:08
I'm trying to understand the root cause....my guess is that the compass calibration at the spot you  ...

Hi, read the post I've just posted above. It explains what I believe occurs in the aircraft's systems in the type of "Fly Away" that befell me.

Trust me, it wasn't pilot error. An element of operator error, I'll grant you.

There's little doubt it's been confirmed as bad Compass Calibration, almost certainly caused by interference in the earth's magnetic field, thanks to the courtyard being surrounded by huge metal panels.
2015-7-26
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Stevo9401
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United Kingdom
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Well worth the read thanks for posting, think next outing will be batteries worth of  atti mode practice, i personally think everyone not familiar with atti mode should read this post until its drummed in
2015-7-26
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El Conquistador
lvl.1

United States
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I'm fortunate enough to have a large hay barn to practice in (10k sq/ft. its sides are open so i get the wind effect, but the roof blocks the gps signal. It's been very helpful in situations where the aircraft develops a mind of it's own for some reason.
2015-7-26
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Spare Wheel
lvl.2

United Kingdom
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HunterBrooks Posted at 2015-7-27 00:46
But DJI made it a requirement to fly under 400', and people complained and override the settings all ...

I have just acquired my BGA (glider) solo flight "wings" after about 50 instructions and about 20 hours flying time over about 10 months. We had a visitor to the flying club who wanted to go "solo" after about 3 flights - go figure the mentality of this guy. He probably thought he "qualified" because he sky dived and bunji jumped somewhere.

I think what we have is a bunch of arrogant adenaline-fueled egotistical pr*cks who treat this as a video game or something to add to their "profile".

If you want to treat the Phantom 3 as a toy to give you more kudos on your facebook page, fine. Just don't link this with people who are shooting for commercial reasons - with the correct accreditation.
2015-7-26
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CaveDrone
Second Officer
Flight distance : 11549 ft
United States
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heclectic Posted at 2015-7-27 01:22
Keep it simple and in light or no wind at first. Also, keep it oriented heading away until you rea ...

Thanks,  Heclectic, I am going to keep on flying in ATTI mode, may take awhile to get comfortable,  my neuroplasticity is not as great as it used to be...LOL
2015-7-26
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brycerichert
lvl.4
United States
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I didn't know people weren't flying in ATTI mode regularly. unless I'm hovering over a game... this is the fun way to fly.
2015-7-26
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timswimm
DJI team

Hong Kong
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really great post gonna save so many copters! ATTI mode is pretty simple in fact. (people who flew manual will be agree). practice more for u'r own drones safety!
2015-7-27
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aburkefl
First Officer
Flight distance : 78612 ft
United States
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heclectic Posted at 2015-7-27 01:00
To be fair, it was really just one more attempt and I admitted just how big a mistake that one more ...

Never forget either - if there's wind at ground level, there's very like a lot more wind higher up. Plus, you apparently took off in somewhat of a sheltered area, then flew upward quickly into a much stronger wind.

You're a lucky guy. You got the lesson without paying the price!
2015-7-27
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xaq7
lvl.1

United States
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I've been using ATTI as my default mode. I like how when I let off the sticks, it'll coast instead of make an abrupt correction to hold position. Seems to fly much more smoothly in ATTI, then if I ever need it, I switch to GPS. Like I had a big bug on me, GPS, check that it's holding position, deal with bug, back to ATTI.
2015-7-30
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amstaff_loyalty
lvl.2
Flight distance : 546752 ft
Sweden
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I fly ATTI all the time, that means landing too. It separates men from the boys.
2015-7-30
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wnemay
lvl.2

United States
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robb getts Posted at 2015-7-26 22:19
another small fact dji didn't mention.im so ad the p3 wont do poi or gs or follow me

They just announced a beta firmware yesterday with some of these features... it will probably be out to mass market in a couple of weeks ;)
2015-7-30
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Michael M
First Officer
Flight distance : 1984898 ft
Canada
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Whats so hard about atti? Flying in atti is like flying a toy quad. Where you actually have to fly the thing.
2015-7-30
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jwoo
lvl.1

United States
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Thank you for this post. I did not realize the need of selecting multiple flight mode option until now!
2015-7-30
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rayrokni
Captain
Flight distance : 8139875 ft
United States
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I wouldn't calibrate the imu "somewhere out there" because you want the phantom as cold as you can, and a very level surface!! Good luck and happy flying
2015-7-31
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Paniza
First Officer
Flight distance : 1411801 ft
Canada
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Great post.

I practice ATTI with a cheap quad and computer simulator.
2015-7-31
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rodger
Captain
Flight distance : 15812070 ft
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United States
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What you are stating is 100% correct. I have been flying for a few years now and this is the first thing that I started to practice with. ATTI Mode is essential to learn and actually it adds to the experience knowing that you are flying on your own. I practiced in a wide open area until I was comfortable with it. Another instance that it applies to is if the quad enters return to home mode once you have it within sight and want to fly for a while more enter ATTI and take over.

I would like to ad this to your post. Put your smart device in "Airplane Mode" this disables Text and Cell coverage. It will also give you greater distance . The Cell Freqs. are very close to the Freqs. in your Controller and the Quad. I use my Quads to inspect Radio Towers and more often then not there are Cell Equipment on them. I fly in Airplane Mode and 8,I literally are within inches of the Cell Antennas and they are in full operation. I have never had an issue doing this.

Glad to hear that your Quad is still in tact. Thanks for the Post.
2015-7-31
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aek
lvl.2

Sweden
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Thanks for sharing a really good post.
I now realize I have to practice ATTI mode.

Thanks.
2015-7-31
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rolyf
lvl.2

United States
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On switching over from GPS to ATTI...
I have experience flying less expensive quads in what amounts to ATTI mode, that's the only way I could fly them! However, I've always taken advantage of my P3P's GPS/Compass system to relax and just enjoy flying. In GPS mode I have practiced emergency low power RTH and "Failsafe'' landings.  This thread has got me thinking I need to also be able to fall back to full manual control in a seamless manner.
I have Multi-mode enabled.  My question is this. When I switch to ATTI by sliding the 3-position switch at the back of the controller, will the aircraft immediately be under my command or will I be asked to swipe a screen bar to confirm?

Oh, two others.  In ATTI, will the aircraft remain at the same altitude it was when I switched over, regardless of the switchover altitude (1 meter or a hundred meters)?  I understand that the aircraft will now be subject to wind, but with no wind will it remain where it is if I provide no control input?

FWIW I have a friend who flies the newer, even larger jumbo jets for Japan Air Lines.  He tells me there are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old bold pilots.  I refrain from being bold unless there isn't enough airspace under my P3P.

Thanks for your help.
2015-8-24
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jayhkr
Second Officer

United States
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Your bird will be immediately under your control with the loss of its GPS capabilities.  No swiping required, no altitude change unless you have a weird strong updraft (if anything you would have a downdraft) but yes any wind up at the altitude of your bird will carry it in that direction.  Obviously the stronger the wind the faster it will fly in that direction.  There will be SOME movement of the bird and it will not be as stable as in GPS mode.  But you will have the same type of control as you had without GPS enabled, just a bit more tedious to bring back and land if you're more used to GPS mode (like most of us are).  Start low and close, then fly further and higher with ATTI on and you'll get the hang of it.  Once you become fairly comfortable with it, and it's not windy out, go our far and high with GPS enabled and like others have said, simulate a GPS fail by turning ATTI on and get your bird back.  It's much better to practice knowing you have the ability to turn GPS back on if you mess up, than when it really counts!
2015-8-24
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Alien tech
lvl.4
Flight distance : 84902 ft
Bulgaria
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Thanks interesting stuff.
2015-8-25
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rolyf
lvl.2

United States
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jayhkr Posted at 2015-8-25 11:49
Your bird will be immediately under your control with the loss of its GPS capabilities.  No swiping  ...

Thanks a lot jayhkr!  Good info, and it looks like I have some more training ahead of me.  Flying conditions for Saturday predicted favorable.

2015-8-26
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QaaUz
lvl.2
Flight distance : 178130 ft
Denmark
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Well ending tale, well told. Loved it - that's to say, all in all. I too have to learn to 'fly' mine. The help systems are fine when having to decipher a reflective screen (android) or a crappy ipad screen that every finger touch becomes mist. The actual ability to fly is one major leap forward in avoiding loss, tragedy. The systems ability is a great help when the app goes down and to concentrate on better photography.
2015-9-5
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jpflkeys
lvl.2
United States
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I purchased a trainer drone (Blade Nano, $89.00) for my first quad before I took to the skies, flew indoors chasing the cat around the house. Best advise I ever got was "Learn to Fly and become a Pilot First", its all you, no RTH, no camera, very responsive & touchy controls, its great practice taking off & landing on a coffee table & flying around a living room without crashing it.  When I got out in the field the first time with my expensive bird it was like a walk in the park, flew it like a pro, knew exactly what I was doing & why.
2015-12-27
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EricJackson
lvl.2
Flight distance : 2113406 ft
United States
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From a 3.5 channel $20 heli to a 4 channel heli, blade mqx quad traxxes mini quad, Syma xc5(excellent beginner quad) ,then dromida ominous fpv (fun to fly) , Syma x8c ( phantom size) all of which had no gps, no automatic holding of any type, has made flying the phantom 3 pro so easy. It's like it flys itself, but in times of turbulent flying , I know I can handle full manual attic because of the quads I flew first. Best advice to new flyers buy cheaper toys first with no sort of flight help and learn to fly first!  Even those that have our phantoms should still have a cheaper one around just to brush up on flying unaided by gps and everything else. I still have my x8c and fly it regularly to stay on top of my game. Easier to crash a $100-$200 drone than to wreck a $1300 drone .
2015-12-27
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mike.wildlight
Second Officer
Flight distance : 5623 ft
Australia
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To go back to your original "issue" it's very unlikely that the aluminium panels had much to do with the compass error. Aluminium is non-ferrous so doesn't affect e-mag or traditional compasses much or at all.
Perhaps if had a steel frame structure supporting it?
2015-12-27
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