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Lost my drone
11781 24 2015-1-4
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sirweston1
lvl.1

United States
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I lost my drone and I'm not even certain why.

I felt that I was getting pretty good at flying it.  My plan was to drive the road to the summit of South Mountain Park in Phoenix and launch from there.  But the road was closed so I drove to a trailhead on a really scenic canyon and hiked up the canyon to a good launch site.

I calibrated the compass and set my launch site as my "home" point.  Since I was not sure I would get any good shots i flew with a battery with only three bars.  I lifted off, flew up the canyon to where power lines came into sight.  I reversed and flew back down the canyon and out the mouth of the canyon where it opened up over the desert floor.

I was only 65 feet up and about 800 feet out from my launch point with light winds.  But the Phantom was right in the sun so I started flying it with FPV.  I flew it straight back to my position with the FPV on my S5 and saw no obstructions.  I flew it back from 800 feet out to 582 feet out when I got the connection lost message.  I was not at all concerned.  I assumed it would either regain connection or just fly "home."

As I searched the horizon and I could not spot it but was looking into the sun.  I was surprised that I could not hear it.  Normally at that distance I can still hear it.  I thought it might be possible that in flying it back to me it the compass was slightly off and it flew behind the peak at the mouth of the canyon so I hike back down but it was not hovering in that position either.

That's when I started to get nervous because I still could not hear it and I should have been close enough to hear that buzz.  At the time I lost contact I should have had about 6 minutes of flight time remaining.  Since I could not see or hear it at the mouth of the canyon and I knew the battery was getting close to dry, all I could do was hike back up to the launch point and see it if flew "home."  But it didin't.

I've flown it over 1400 feet out while 400 feet up on the side of mountains and lost connection and either regained the connection or had it fly home several times.  This flight was nothing compared to other flights.  65 feet up and 582 feet out and it's gone like an AirAsia flight.

The hole time I was in this canyon I could hear gun shots.  It was pretty obvious that there is an outdoor shooting range somewhere on the side of the mountain.  Perhaps some jerk shot it down (at 65 feet up it would not be that hard to hit).

Wes

2015-1-4
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birdfolk
lvl.4

United States
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Some clown is going to hang it on the wall, right next to his singing fish.
2015-1-4
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jeepinocala
lvl.4

United States
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Very bad idea to fly anywhere near guns shooting these drones are cool but I will admit if I were shooting and saw one approach it would be very hard not to shoot it down.
2015-1-4
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sirweston1
lvl.1

United States
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These units should have a locate system.  My Samsung Galaxy S5 is a lot cheaper and has a locate feature.  I read that it costs Samsung three cents to add GPS capability to their phones

A small, light secondary battery (one aaa), a GPS pinger, encased in a strong but light shell on the unit.  Just one more switch to turn on in the start up check list.  When the unit goes down and the primary battery is dead, you active the 'Where Is My Drone' app your phone and it shows you.  One aaa battery could ping gps for a year, or you could go with a much lighter custom battery that pings for 24 hours.



It would not add a lot of cost or a lost of weight.  Just a little engineering.  Even better make it a snap on component that sits on top and center.  It would only need to be about a half an inch thick.  Flyers can snap it in when then are new to flying or flying something risky.

Not only for flying errors, I've been reading about a lot of drone thefts.  If the drone had a gps pinger that pinged when the secondary system was turned on until the secondary system was turned off or when the secondary battery died and a locate feature for stolen units as well that would ping if the primary battery is powered up again.  Police love catching criminals.  And police love when technology makes it easy to catch criminals.

Come on DJI, it's 2015 time for a locate feature.

Wes

Wes
2015-1-6
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anthony
lvl.2
United States
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There is a locate feature.  It's in the app.  Find My Phantom.
2015-1-7
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tonyphantom147
lvl.4

United Kingdom
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anthony@midmore Posted at 2015-1-7 21:21
There is a locate feature.  It's in the app.  Find My Phantom.

Yes there is.
2015-1-7
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BWJ
Second Officer

Denmark
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anthony@midmore Posted at 2015-1-7 21:21
There is a locate feature.  It's in the app.  Find My Phantom.

Useless when loosing contact, or flying ATTI
2015-1-7
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leostrat_54
lvl.4

United States
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I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but c'mon people put Marco Polo or some such device on your aircraft.  It does cost, but it's better than losing a drone and you can use it for all your future aircraft.  I won't even lift off for a test flight without one on the drone.
2015-1-7
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teedo757
lvl.4
Flight distance : 1870 ft
United States
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sirweston1@gmai Posted at 2015-1-7 09:52
These units should have a locate system.  My Samsung Galaxy S5 is a lot cheaper and has a locate fea ...

I lost mine for a while about a month ago so I feel your pain. It took me 9 days but I did end up finding it 2 miles from its original location. I bought a GPS tracker on eBay a few days ago, I am still waiting for it but I have heard you only need to throw in a mobile sim card and strap it to the phantom. It would be nice if DJI added a spot for a sim card allowing you to track it however since yours most likely lost GPS and drifted away in atti mode it probably wouldn't be of use anyways. I feel more comfortable having a separate tracker....I don't trust the DJI software. I have started flying mine only in atti mode.

Hope you find it.
2015-1-7
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leostrat_54
lvl.4

United States
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I like the Marco Polo because it DOES'NT use GPS and you don't have to pay any monthly fee (you own it outright)
2015-1-7
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sean.moore.esq
lvl.2

United Kingdom
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Does everyone assume they will have phone signal coverage for these GPS enabled devices to phone home ?

No coverage, no phone home
2015-1-7
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kjkisatsky
lvl.4

United States
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leo, that's pretty cool.  Amazon has it for 220 bucks.  I like that there is no risk of radio interference, because the Marco Polo will not activate until you activate it with the handheld receiver.  I hate to keep spending money on this hobby (already in for 1500 USD), but this seems like good insurance.
2015-1-7
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gnixon2015
First Officer

United States
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i agree, every time i buy an accessory (battery, case, even lanyard) i wonder how much worse ill feel if i have a flyaway.  expensive as it is, sounds like good insurance.
2015-1-7
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sirweston1
lvl.1

United States
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leostrat_54@yah Posted at 2015-1-8 00:54
I like the Marco Polo because it DOES'NT use GPS and you don't have to pay any monthly fee (you own  ...

Marco Polo is a good solution.  But, I'm thinking about what it would cost to make a Marco Polo.  Two 2-way radios, battery, charger.  That could be made for $8 easy.  $220 seems like a lot of money for that.  The form factor and weight are definite pluses.  I could add an additional line to my cell plan for $5 per, get another sim card and plug that into something small and light.  What is the smallest and lightest gps tracker or cell phone I could find?

Or is that the point of Marco Polo?  It's the smallest and lightest?

Wes
2015-1-16
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sirweston1
lvl.1

United States
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leostrat_54@yah Posted at 2015-1-8 00:54
I like the Marco Polo because it DOES'NT use GPS and you don't have to pay any monthly fee (you own  ...

Thank you for your post Leo.  I looked at the Marco Polo system.  But, I'm starting to lean towards a system like the Drone Mods UAV Locator.  

Both a 2-way radio system and a GPS cellular system should allow me to locate my lost drone if it flies away.  But with a system like Drone Mods UAV Locator I can track the device with my phone.  That gives me the additional insurance of being able to track a stolen unit.  I keep my drone in trunk of my car in a Go Professional Backpack.  I have everything I need in there.  And I have about $3K invested in that backpack.  

If I go with the Marco Polo system it would track a fly away.  However, it would not be any use if my backpack was stolen since the tracking device would also be in my backpack.   With the Drone Mods UAV Locator, I would still have my phone and would still be able to track my investment.
2015-1-17
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leostrat_54
lvl.4

United States
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sirweston1@gmai Posted at 2015-1-18 08:58
Thank you for your post Leo.  I looked at the Marco Polo system.  But, I'm starting to lean toward ...

....and that would be the day you left your phone on the transmitter ;-). The point is there is no perfect system. I shoot video in a lot of the parts of the country without great phone service so a phone based tracker for me is just walking on thin ice. Same for many GPS trackers. I need something immediate and reliable. The negative on the MP? Limited range if I have to hike (and can't drive within 2 miles) it will be a long day.  Also in wooded, rugged terrain the range may be 800 yards or less.  

I am beta testing a long range tracker that will locate under water, ice, snow, and even underground. Negative? Cost....the nice thing is the tracker won't fit in my backpack so I don't have to worry about it getting stolen with my drone...... ;-)
2015-1-17
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david
lvl.1

New Zealand
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Did you not try the "find my phantom " in the DJI app?
2015-1-19
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grangerfx.gmail
First Officer
Flight distance : 817713 ft
United States
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All of the trackers I have seen so far have one thing in common: They are designed to track pets or children not drones. Pets and children tend to be found near your home where there is cellular coverage. Even so, if the person or thing happens to end up in a dead spot, well... they don't call them dead spots for nothing.

Marco Polo is the closest thing to what I want but even that is pretty brain dead. GPS is free. It should be included in any tracker. What should not be included is the cellular connect. They should use a low bandwidth digital RF connection. The device would ping continuously while it is on. Upon command, it would connect to GPS, get a fix and turn off GPS again to save battery. It would then ping the last GPS fix. Simple. Low power. Long range. You don't have to pay a monthly fee or hunt for hours in long brush while you try to triangulate the position of your lost drone. Does anyone fancy doing a Kickstarter to make one of these? I think it would have a really big market.
2015-2-9
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mardzi
New

Germany
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Try missingdrones.com  
2015-3-14
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erik.lipscomb
New

United States
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I lost my drone tonight, I could see it flying away, it wasn't responding to controls once i got it to about 25 feet the wind just pushed it away..I can only assume it crashed and was picked up by the inhabitants, I searched high and low. I had my FAA registration number on it but I dont think anyone will be able to find me based off that..at this point. Im pretty sure whoever picked it up probably have no intentions of giving it back. This was a lesson learned. I just purchased another one from best buy a few minutes ago. 12 months no interest so i will use this one to try and find my other one. If its not too late..Im sorry to hear about your lost drone...
2016-3-18
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labroides
Captain
Flight distance : 9991457 ft
Australia
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erik.lipscomb@h Posted at 2016-3-19 13:33
I lost my drone tonight, I could see it flying away, it wasn't responding to controls once i got it  ...

If you go to http://www.phantomhelp.com/LogViewer/Upload/ and follow the instructions to upload your flight record someone might be able to work out what happened and possibly point you to where you should search.
2016-3-18
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Mike_fnq
Second Officer
Flight distance : 5623 ft
Australia
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sirweston1@gmai Posted at 2015-1-18 10:58
Thank you for your post Leo.  I looked at the Marco Polo system.  But, I'm starting to lean toward ...

Just had a look the Drone mods one and the ones listed don't use a 2 way radio system just cellular hopping.  I'm leaning towards Marco Polo still but it would be awesome to have a system that pinged a GPS signal.
Hmmm I wonder if a spot unit may work?
might be too heavy, not sure if it can be set up for a sched ping.
Right-o, off to do some research!
2016-3-18
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Mike_fnq
Second Officer
Flight distance : 5623 ft
Australia
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grangerfx.gmail Posted at 2015-2-10 06:06
All of the trackers I have seen so far have one thing in common: They are designed to track pets or  ...

OK for anyone that's interested SPOT will  send (via satellite) updates on location for at least 24hrs (depending on your plan) not perfect though heavy, placement might be an issue, and quite expensive to run...
2016-3-18
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wFABNaRWQEqO
lvl.1

China
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  FPV battery
2016-9-6
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Wingsy
lvl.3

United States
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This is what I would do if I were to undertake a Marco-Polo type design:

* Transceiver & GPS strapped to your drone.
* When turned on it would stay idle for 1 hour (or 2, 3 etc - you choose).
* After the delay it would wake up and take a GPS fix, and repeat every hour.
* Then every minute (or 2 or 3) it would transmit the GPS coordinates, using 900MHz FHSS as in MP.
* Receiver is a small device with LCD large enough to display just the lat/long received from the transmitter.

Once your drone becomes lost you would drive/walk around the area with your receiver until the GPS coordinates pop up in the display. You could also strap the receiver to a friend's drone and have him fly around the area. If it gets a hit you'll see the coordinates when he lands. If your drone is stolen then this won't help much since the thief would just turn off the device.

I'm an electronics engineer and this type of device is what I have been doing for the past 15-20 years. Ive done GPS to track albatross in the Pacific, track truckers and tell them what state they're in (hey, sometimes they don't know!), 900MHZ FHSS systems that link chicken houses on a farm, and others. This sounds like an interesting project. Too bad I'm retired.
2016-9-8
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