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Battery malfunction - lost drone - support reply measured in weeks/months!?
1847 20 2015-10-2
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Bluevista
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My P3P suffered a battery malfunction last week (over a lake) and I lost the system to the deep.  

I initiated contact with DJI Support almost immediately, and was able to quickly get a ticket opened for the issue.  I filled out their 3 page questionairre, and sent in proof of purchase (June 4, 2015), and even a photo of me in a kayak looking for it.  I felt good that this first support phase went as quickly and efficiently as it did.  The guy I spoke to on the phone was quite sympathetic.

I subsequently learned a couple things.
  • This has happened to quite a number of people, and...
  • Nobody at DJI is going to even look at the paperwork I sent in for well over a month!  Based on some reports I read on the many other forums is that this can take multiple months to resolve.


How can this possibly be?!

If DJI has drones dropping out ofthe sky without warning, you'd think this would be a serious enough issue for them that they'd address it quickly.


2015-10-2
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tmygun1
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Can you post the flight record.
2015-10-2
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Bluevista
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tmygun1 Posted at 2015-10-2 22:11
Can you post the flight record.

Below the line is a subset of the report I filed with DJI support via a questionnaire they asked me to fill out.  I've not yet disected the flight record, but may be able to post that once I've completed my own analysis.
------------------------------------


Location / Conditions: It was over McRorie Lake in Upstate NY.  Perfect weather, around an hour after sunrise. No wind. 44° 1'40.16"N by  74°24'59.02"W.  As it was over water, I had a fairly clear line of sight, minus a little bit of mist over the lake.

Preflight: Standard electronics check, 40+% battery remaining.  Full green on all indicators. Props on tight.  People out of the way.

Alt & Distance: Approx 20-30 ft alt, 1,000 ft distance

Details of event: I'd made a couple flights earlier that morning, and everything worked perfectly.  Decided to get a couple more photos using the remaining 40+% power on the battery.  I figured I'd go down a few hundred yards and return... completely safe with remaining power.  Initial flight out was going fine, then suddenly alarms started going off about "critical battery levels" and "low voltage".  The drone started to attempt immediate auto-land sequence.  I tried turning it around and flying it back ASAP (thinking as fast as I could).

I made partial success, but then the RC / phone indicated it had lost all signals; no video, no update of display metrics.  Looking back and forth between the display and the drone, in a bit of an anxious mood, I lost sight of it while trying to aim it home without obvious feedback from the display, but friends beside me, and others on a different shore saw it smack down into the water.  This all happened over the course of only 5-6 seconds.

The above happened about 30-40 seconds after I got it in the air.  It was stable after auto take-off; no warnings, and all green on the display.  Absolutely no reason to be concerned, so far as I could tell.  Very scary; very disheartening.

As noted, I was shocked at the suddent critical power warnings, and barely had time to read and understand the implications.  I'd briefly considered using the auto home, but worried that if the battery really was at critical levels, the delay / drain of going to return altitude would just make matters worse, so I tried dead-stickingit back home.  Without proper display feedback, I was just hoping that my joystick commands would be able to steer it back.  No luck.

As quick as possible, I took a kayak out to the area (approx 10 minutes?) to do a search, but no luck.  I understand from the many witnesses that it made a big splash, but that nothing floated in the area afterwards.

As mentioned, battery clearly had 40+ % of it's power upon takeoff... certainly more than enough for this little ride, and the critical warnings were a complete surprise.

My guess is that some sort of catastrophic battery failure or malfunction caused all this. I've since learned my experience is not uncommon.  This has happened to a number of people!

I'm a private pilot, and am well aware of the need for pre-flight inspections and careful use.

If this accident had happened over dry land, I may have been able to salvage something of the unit.  A greater concern, however, is my thinking what could have happened if this malfunction happened over private property or people.  I very much want to resolve this issue and get back flying again.  There's already a fair amount of bad press over how Phantom pilots behave... I certainly don't want DJI's products to get a bad name as well.

2015-10-2
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draadkar
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Bluevista Posted at 2015-10-2 18:22
Below the line is a subset of the report I filed with DJI support via a questionnaire they asked me ...

personally i would never attempt to fly over water unless my battery is fully charged. by the time it reaches 40% my craft must be above dry land again. I have played with my craft about 1m off the ground and at 30% it gave me a warning of low battery and requested my approval for it to return home. i ignored the request and at 10% it gave me a critical battery level warning and then it decided to land and landed right where it was.
2015-10-2
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Mad_Angler1
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Bluevista Posted at 2015-10-2 18:22
Below the line is a subset of the report I filed with DJI support via a questionnaire they asked me ...


The problem with flying over water is if its lost your likely to be on your own when it comes to warranty, you need the craft for DJI to inspect,  having logs is a huge step forward but its just another tool, some are in the tablet but the real detail is in the craft, I personally avoid water unless its absolutely necessary

Sorry for you loss but i suspect you will be offered a replacement at discount as thats been the result in the passed.

2015-10-2
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Bluevista
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draadkar Posted at 2015-10-3 01:47
personally i would never attempt to fly over water unless my battery is fully charged. by the time ...

I hear ya.

Even so, at 40+%, it should NOT have behaved like that after 30-40 seconds of flight.  It could just as easily have been over some other obstacle or an area with people near by (roads, neighborhoods, etc).  An immediate landing procedure and loss of communications with my control with 40% battery in wonderful weather conditions, clear line of sight, and only a few hundred yards out?  Some sort of malfunction happened, and I'm hoping DJI makes right by me, and with the many others this has happened to.
2015-10-2
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sploodge
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I would think that without a P3 to examine, the best you can expect is a 30% discount off another ( with sending the controller back ).... Harsh I know but that's what normally happens.

Big mistake you did was fly with a low ( less than 50% ) battery. Its not recommended at all. Not sure how the flying was but full power out with 40% could have dropped the voltage on the cells..

Post the logs from the App for the flight in question..

2015-10-2
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Mad_Angler1
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Looking at it you had a delay between the flights earlier in the day, its a risk flying a battery thats not fully charged, its a bigger risk when the time between the first flights is passed a few minutes.

I would suspect after the mornings flights the cell voltages may have recovered and confused the fuel gauge IC making it think you had more power than you actually had, then after a few minutes the real level was shown and the emergency low level warning come up.

Sadly its likely because you flew a partly discharged battery


Could you post the tablet flight log

2015-10-2
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ag0n
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At 40%, I wouldn't take off and go more than a few feet away and low level.  As for over water, I don't have any to fly over, and I'm kinda glad.  I would be scared the whole time, knowing that once it goes down, that's it.   Game over.  Can't afford to replace it.  Etc.
2015-10-2
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JDLVphantom
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I recently had to deal with DJI service - I emailed them for 3 weeks with no answer, finally called them.  The guy was great, emailed me an RMA right away - I sent it back (at their cost) the next day, they acknowledged receipt of two days after receiving it - they repaired and sent back 9 days later.  The service was really very good once I called them, my only issue is that they did not provide any detail of their findings nor what they repaired/replaced.
2015-10-3
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gregg1r
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ag0n Posted at 2015-10-2 23:34
At 40%, I wouldn't take off and go more than a few feet away and low level.  As for over water, I do ...

If I regularly flew over water, I'd purchase some foam pipe wrap insulation and attach it to the lower portion of the Phantom legs. The white Styrofoam, 2" in diameter should be enough to keep the Phantom from sinking.

The Phantom might be wet, but it's recoverable which is the point of using the foam.
2015-10-3
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jjejfjf
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Tip: the author has been banned or deleted automatically shield
2015-10-3
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Bluevista
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I found the log from that morning, but the 'attach' button for this forum won't let me upload a file that has a *.txt extension.  The file name is DJIFlightRecord_2015-09-27_[08-28-15].txt.
But, I did manage to get the file up to HealthyDrones.com.

Here's a link for those that are curious...

http://healthydrones.com/main?fl ... ENERALNotifications


2015-10-5
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brycerichert
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You are in the DJI abiss.   Good luck . They will keep it for a long time.

2015-10-6
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kelly
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Am I reading this right - the craft flew 1700ft on only 3% of the battery and went into a forced landing at 40%? I'm missing something or the software took a nap.
2015-10-6
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Bluevista
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kelly@myautorep Posted at 2015-10-7 02:34
Am I reading this right - the craft flew 1700ft on only 3% of the battery and went into a forced lan ...

I've looked through the logs, and they mimic what I saw while flying... it took off a 43% power (not 3%), then went into a forced landing of its own accord at 40%.  Is there a part of the logs that shows a 3% reading?
2015-10-15
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kelly
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Bluevista Posted at 2015-10-15 21:45
I've looked through the logs, and they mimic what I saw while flying... it took off a 43% power (n ...

No, I was concerned about the 3% drop in power in the timeframe. That seems low as I'd have expected more of a power loss.
2015-10-26
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Bluevista
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kelly@myautorep Posted at 2015-10-26 21:27
No, I was concerned about the 3% drop in power in the timeframe. That seems low as I'd have expect ...

Ah... now I follow you.  Thanks for the clarification.

Not sure what to say.  It's in the data log that way.  But... I think that may speak to the larger issue of how/why it decided to declare a critical low voltage error.  Something is certainly amiss.
2015-10-26
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agrewe
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You say it was 1,000 ft away and you got there within 30-40 seconds from take off. Deducting ~10 seconds for the actual take off & checking that gives us ~30 seconds to fly 1,000ft. If I got my math right that's an average speed of ~23mph (according to HealthyDrones the top speed reached was even 36mph, if we trust the readings). To my knowledge the top speed is 36mph. In other words, you've been flying quite a distance at very high speeds or close to top speed, which I should think will drain a 40% battery quite quickly.

Not a risk I would have taken.
2015-10-26
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droneflyers.com
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i get laughed at and ridiculed for telling folks that if they fly over water regularly - especially for no particular reason (not to get a important shot) - there is a good % chance they are going to lose their craft to the water.

I'd guess most of us would never take off and start a 1,000+ foot mission with 40% or even 50% - no reason to do this. Every time we tempt fate we lower odds that we will keep the units for a long time.

Phantoms are not warranted to "not crash". The manual states not to fly over water.

My suggestions are that folks who want to keep their P3's should fly very conservatively at all times and only use it for what it is- a flying camera. Every day I hear of mishaps from those who are showing one off to their family or friends, etc. etc.

All toy quads are going to crash or have a mishap of some type sooner or later. If this occurs over water the craft is going to be hard to recover.

A couple more hints...

Use DeOxit on the terminals regularly.
B&H Photo sells the only existing "crash" warranty - still, even that would not cover it if you didn't have the bird. But you could buy one of those buoy things that inflates when it hits water.

I flew over water today to get some video. But it was only for about 5 minutes of my 2 battery outing. I did it at the start with 100% battery.

As other members have said, you are likely to get a 30% off offer which is about the best DJI does when the craft is not available....but, who knows? Certainly they have an "out" because of the water warning in the manual, but they also have surprised some folks lately - so I wish you good luck and hope they take care of it one way or another soon.
2015-10-26
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FlyboyNC
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gregg1r Posted at 2015-10-3 17:09
If I regularly flew over water, I'd purchase some foam pipe wrap insulation and attach it to the l ...

Great idea. Light weight and safe. I'm going to install some for next summer.
2015-12-1
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