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Pilot error 4k crash, COMPLETED REPAIR and impressions. (update 04/01/15)
5604 22 2015-2-27
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mkell7
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Update: 4/1/15: flight and camera tests. scroll down to bottom of thread to view.
Update: 3/20/15 (repair process below original post in blue)I am editing this post to keep continuity and make it easier for those to get all the information in one place. If you are already in the loop skip over the blue. I know it may be a long post but I hope to give you the most accurate picture of what went on.

Original Post 2/28/15: Straight to the crash:
DJi inspire 1 4k Crash 2.26.15. pilot error. No public or other property was harmed in the accident sans the inspire. Line of sight about 300FT out. Collision with a steel cable ~100' in the air. Sustained 2 broken props. snapped carbon fiber wing arm on the foward right side. bent the left carbon fiber side wing arms inward ~10 degrees or so. right aft landing gear is cracked. Will not go in and out of travel mode.... however with some repeated tries I have gotten it to go between landing mode and landing gear raised mode via the remote landing mode/travel mode procedure.. severed the camera gimbal and ribbon cable from camera. RMA with DJI has been supplied.



Background:
I had 43 previous flights and 8 hours of flight time on the inspire. Never had any major issues.
No fly away attempts as others have reported. Always used caution when flying and having line of sight.
Max distance flown was about 7300ft, with working video signal and full control.
Ocassional GPS loss that resulted in switching to P-Atti as it should and regained most times within 5 seconds or so.
Flown at max 10mph winds with no issue.
6 batteries, all tested and flown with over multiple recharges and no issues.

For me, the Inspire 1 operated as expected and with no questionable issues. This was completely pilot error, as described from line of sight I was flying up and back past the center column in the shot, I saw the steel cables and from my angle looked as if i was in the clear, It happened within the span of three seconds, it may have drifted slightly at the last second.. If the inspire 1 was able to capture audio it would sound like a large tree branch snapping. I watched it decend into a freefall crash and ran to it as fast I could. When I got to it, what was left of the props, and to my surprise the motors were still spinning in full force. I shut it down. the camera had become detached, severed from the gimbal. Not the way I wanted to start my afternoon flight.

After flying the inspire over the past month, I know there has been reported issues, I know that there has been kinks in the firmware, shipping problems, prop locks, you name it.  Yet, I fully believe in this... the platform... DJI, and whats possible with it under the right guidance and care. Everything will get worked out in time. This was an unfortunate accident. but I am invested in it and what it can do. If i have learned anything, it's don't take chances with where you're flying. If you feel any sort of caution, fly, but be mindful of it, and if it means walking all the way to where you are right under it to get a clear indication of what is around, do it. I will be flying again in the future.

And for those that are weary or uncertain of it... whether you are planning on buying one or already have one, do not let this deter you. Flying the inspire1 is one of the most fun and rewarding experiences you can have. Take it slow, be patient, and be safe.

Special thanks to Forum Member: JakeLikesStuff for graciously meeting up with me to finalize crash footage from my SD card with his inspire 1.

Also, If any one wants a gimbal op: ill gladly help out on your flights with extra batteries of course, and I promise not to fly your inspire.



I'll be back.


Repair process History:


Timeline:
2/26/15:Crashed inspire 1 mid flight. Contacted DJI support as damage sustained required shipping out to DJI repair center in LA.

2/27/15: I called DJI to inquire about a shipping label and they sent one over to me shortly after.

2/28/15: Inspire 1 shipped out via FEDEX (with DJI supplied shipping label)
3/03/15: Arrived at Dji repair center LA (verified by FEDEX tracking #)
3/11/15: "The first step", DJI notified me that my inspire 1 was checked into DJI Zenmuse Repair Desk. Officially now in line for repair.
3/12/15: I was notified by DJI that I had an invoice and Quote for my repair.    The invoice total was $719 (to my surprise, below what I was expecting)
3/12/15: Payment made to DJI for $719
3/13/15: Payment Confirmed with DJI, Repair in progress.
3/17/15: Repair complete and "flight tested" and shipping information obtained.
3/18/15: FEDEX picked up package for return Shipment, scheduled to pickup from an authorized FEDEX Location near me, not my home address. ORIGINAL TRACKING indicates it will arrive 3/23/15
3/20/15:FEDEX TRACKING reports it is now ready for pickup from FEDEX location.
3/20/15: Back in my Possession. Door to door Repair time: 20 days (23 since crash).

REPAIR process expanded:
Now, there are several things not noted in this repair timeline that should be addressed.


The length of repair...20 days is not bad, by all accounts some have seen far worse. I can't explain why some orders take longer than others. I do know that since I live just out of San Francisco, I am relatively close to their LA repair center thus shipping times are cut down significantly, and I do not have to worry about going through any customs or other shipping related expenses and hassles living outside the country.


Communication: with DJI was both good and to be expected as others have reported. I  do not justify trying to make these guys jobs any harder and found no reason to not be polite in all of my questions or concerns. even so there were times when you could say I was tested, I just wanted answers. I
had four phone calls with DJI during my repair process and I received all very helpful information and customer service, and even with some humor like this....
2/26/15: when I first called the support #1 (818) 235 0789, I talked to the call rep there and had explained that "I was an inspire 1 customer and had just had an unfortunate crash and needed to ask if this was the right number to call about getting an RMA started". The Rep responded with "I'm sorry this is not the right number, what you want to do is hang up and dial 911" Now... This might piss some people off, but for me I found it helpful to kinda ease my frustration and inject some humor. The thought of my inspire riding in the back of an ambulance with a bunch of EMT techs running around trying to revive it is comical. YMMV. The rest of my conversation was pleasant, asked the all the questions I could think of about the process and was told I would be sent an RMA email and Customer information sheet to explain what happened with crash. I think thats important to note: The rep also made it known that I would probably not speak directly with him again as the repair center techs will be handling my repair once its in.

I made two more calls prior to shipping out, one call to clarify what i needed to send back: In my case, the inspire 1, master controller and camera/gimbal. My second controller and batteries were not needed, neither any of the additional accessories.
the second call was to inquire about getting a shipping label from them, which i did.


It's true, once I sent it in, even though I knew DJI received my inspire on March 3rd I had no further communication with them until it was actually checked into their DJI zendesk system on March 11th. I did not call or have any other communication between these dates. I just let it be.

BTW,the zendesk site, should carry all of your emails back and forth between them and give you the status updates whether you receive them by email or not.
Now here is my back and forth communication with DJI repair techs:
This is not meant to be posted so you can look at it and continue to bash DJI for having bad communication, just look at it objectively, and be aware of it, and hopefully things will continue to improve over time. Again YYMV, I have my utmost faith in DJI, these guys doing the repair and getting them back in our hands. Everything just takes time.



  • March 11, 2015 07:58
    Dear Mitchell,
    We have checked your unit into Zendesk, our customer support database.
    Congratulations! This is the first step in the repair process once we received your product. Next, your unit will be documented in our Repair Software, which the repair technicians use to track their work. This process typically happens the same day your unit is checked in Zendesk. Once that process is done, your product will be placed in line with other repairs, and continually move up until a repair technician services it at a work bench.
    We appreciate your patience and thank you for your support of the DJI Product Line.
    DJI Service Center North America
    DJI North America

  • Mitchell March 11, 2015 12:26
    Thank you for updating me on the process.Can you tell me what spot in the repair line i am in and how long current repairs are taking?


  • March 12, 2015 08:02
    Hi Mitchell,
    It is currently being checked into our repair software. Once it is finished there, it will be moved straight to our technicians' escalation rack. The process for an escalated Inspire usually takes around a week for it to be ready to ship. We will keep you updated as we progress.
    DJI North America


  • March 12, 2015 09:31
    Dear Mitchell,
    Please review the attached invoice with the due amount of (719). You can submit payment via paypal, by going to paypal.com then click on "send" located at the top. Type the e-mail "sales@dji-innovations.com" without the quotation marks and the amount to be paid located in the invoice. Then click "continue" and follow the steps to input your billing information. After payment, make sure you attach your receipt to this email to confirm your payment has been received by either taking a screen shot or saving the pdf file and reply back to this email with the attached item. We will ship out your unit once we receive proof of payment.
    Reminder: Proof of payment must be attached to the e-mail before we can ship out the unit.
    Thank you and have a wonderful day.
    DJI Repair Department North America



  • Mitchell March 12, 2015 10:56
    Hello, I have reviewed the PDF and noticed that some components that were damaged were not listed:
    (1) inspire 1 gimbal/camera
    (2) camera ND filter
    (3) inspire 1 props.
    Will these items also be replaced with my order? Will I receive a separate invoice for them?
    Will the inspire 1 be fully tested before returned to me to make sure no other components such as GPS telemetry and the compass were damaged?
    I appreciate all the work you guys do.
    Regards,
    Mitchell

  • Mitchell March 12, 2015 22:14
    Hello, as requested here is my proof of payment for the amount of $719, sybmitted via paypal to sales@dji-innovations.com
    as per earlier though, my questions about other items still stand.
    (1) did the camera/ gimbal sustain any damage and what was replaced?
    (2) will you be replacing the camera ND filter? I noticed it was pretty banged up due to impact.
    (3) Will new props be sent back to me?
    Will these items also be replaced with my order? Will I receive a separate invoice for them?
    Will the inspire 1 be fully tested before returned to me to make sure no other components such as GPS telemetry and the compass were damaged?
    Thank you very much for helping answer any questions you can.
    -Mitchell


  • March 13, 2015 14:58
    Dear Mitchell,
    We have confirmed your payment of (719.00) and will repair and flight test your unit. Once the repair has been completed your unit will be assigned to our shipping department. You will receive a tracking number as soon as it is shipped.
    Thank you and have a wonderful day!
    DJI North America

  • Mitchell March 13, 2015 16:17
    I would greatly appreciate it if you can answer these questions:
    (1) did the camera/ gimbal sustain any damage and what was replaced?
    (2) will you be replacing the camera ND filter? I noticed it was pretty banged up due to impact.
    (3) Will a new set of props be shipped back with my inspire to replace the damaged ones?

  • Mitchell March 13, 2015 16:20
    I would greatly appreciate it if you can answer these questions about my
    repair in progress:
    (1) did the camera/ gimbal sustain any damage and what was replaced?
    (2) will you be replacing the camera ND filter? I noticed it was pretty
    banged up due to impact.
    (3) Will a new set of props be shipped back with my inspire to replace the
    damaged ones?
    Regards,
    Mitchell
    ------------------------------


  • Last Tuesday at 09:56
    Dear Mitchell,
    Your Inspire One has been repaired. The Central Frame Component, left arm and
    one landing gear module have been repaired. The gimbal had the roll arm replaced
    along with several of the connector cables. The unit was test flown and is fully
    operational.
    Make sure to calibrate the compass in every new flight location. The
    compass is very sensitive to electromagnetic interference, which can cause
    abnormal compass data leading to poor flight performance or even flight
    failure.
    Do not calibrate your compass where there is a chance of strong magnetic
    interference, such as magnetite, parking structures, and steel reinforcements
    underground. Do not carry ferromagnetic materials with you during
    calibration such as keys or cellular phones. Do not calibrate beside massive
    metal objects.
    If you have any questions or concerns, please contact DJI customer support.
    Sincerely,
    DJI Repair Team
    The Future of Possible
    DJI Technology Customer Support

  • Mitchell Last Tuesday at 10:53
    > PLEASE RESPOND TO THESE QUESTIONS BEFORE MY UNIT IS SHIPPED OUT:
    > (1) did the camera itself sustain any damage? Has the video quality of the camera (out of focus?) diminished In any way?
    >
    > (2) will you be replacing the camera ND filter? I noticed it was pretty
    > banged up due to impact. If a new one can be sent with my repaired inspire I would appreciate it.
    > (3) Will a new set of props be shipped back with my inspire to replace the
    > damaged ones?
    >
    > (4) I noted in a letter sent with my repair that the master controller unit was producing unusual sounds in extended use. Is this cause for concern? Also the tablet holder accessory of the controller feels loose. Should this be replaced?
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > Thank you,
    >
    >
    >
    > -Mitchell
    >
    Sent from my iPad



_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
I think its important to interject here: At this point I had asked some questions several different times but was not able to get a reponse from a tech. However they were still communicating with me about the status of the repair. with it being completed, I was worried I wouldnt get them answered before it got shipped out. So I tried making a seperate ticket in Zendesk, and also emailing and calling DJI. When I called and spoke to one of the Reps they did a little digging and agreed they saw that I had asked some questions and not gotten a response, so they said they would notify the tech and have them get back to me. Here is the response shortly after:
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



  • Last Tuesday at 12:54
    Hello Mitchell,
    The camera, ND filter and 2 set of props have been replaced. Nothing was wrong with your transmitter - tablet holder has been tightened. You can also loosen and tighten the holder by using the provided tool that came with your Inspire 1.
    Everything was tested and good to go.
    Best Regards,
    Gary
    DJI Repair Department North America




  • Mitchell Last Tuesday at 14:12
    Hi Gary, Thank you for following up with me. Not that I will argue with it but why weren't these items listed as being repaired or replaced with the rest of the components?




  • Last Tuesday at 17:12
    Dear Mitchell,
    Thank you for your patience!
    Your unit has been shipped via: fed_ex.
    The address your unit is being shipped to is listed below:

    Thank you for choosing DJI!
    "The Future of possible"
    DJI North America

    ___________________________
Again, question goes unanswered. but at this point I knew it was being shipped back and I would see for myself.


________________________________________




What the repair process tells me is its more of an automated system at this point. You can ask questions, but they may or may not get seen. I don't know why this may be, but I do know that each of my responses from a repair tech were often sent by different people (not indicated in the transcipt shown), either way, as cool and collected I could be it can be unnerving as some people have experienced. Although again, any communication is better than none and to that I think I had a pleasant experience. The call reps and techs were respectful as I believe I was to them. And ultimately it is now back in my posession at a cost far less than what I was expecting.

I had one more concern, and a question i definately cant answer: I have not test flown the inspire post repair yet. will probably get to that tomorrow, however, I did boot it up to know that the app indicated I need to do a firmware update on all devices. So... I am assuming the Repair center is able to test fly these things without the need for updating firmware? I have since updated and all went well, and required no relinking in the controllers. but its still something to think about.

I hope this experience helps others. For what its worth I am happy with my experience and result thus far. ill do a quick update again once I am able to test fly it myself.







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2015-2-27
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augusthansen
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Kudos for being so honest and up front about your unfortunate accident.  Sorry to hear about it but a good read indeed.  If you're interested in selling your downed bird, I'd be interested in some spare parts.  It'd give you a little cash to put towards a new bird anyways. Cheers!
2015-3-4
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mkell7
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Hey August, My inspire is currently sitting with DJI at the repair center in LA, I'm having to play the waiting game to see what repairs are in order and what the total cost will be to repair. I'll followup with you once I hear back from them. Feel free to check out a couple of clips I posted when I was flying my Inspire in February. Any feedback is welcome:Inspire 1 footage




2015-3-4
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augusthansen
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mkell7 Posted at 2015-3-5 14:02
Hey August, My inspire is currently sitting with DJI at the repair center in LA, I'm having to play  ...

Good!  If you would, keep us posted on your repair experience.  That info is definitely gold.

Great videos!  You have definitely pushed your bird a bit further then I have.   I have yet to build the confidence to just let mine soar.  I have a total of about 20 flights all within 100-150ft, still trying to get the feel for it.  I see these guys getting these amazing, low angle, fast flying shots and I just don't have the balls for that yet.
2015-3-4
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mkell7
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Believe me when I say: When you do... it's going to be amazing. I probably wouldn't have pushed it so far right away, but it seems i turned off beginner mode rather early without realizing it.  Just take it slow, every time I got a "video signal low message or gps error" I immediately stopped and turned around to where I was piloting from. I didn't need a fly away or loss of control. However, I have noticed that the video signal will display error messages frequently even though you won't actually lose your video feed. Every location and every flight is going to be different of course. Have fun with it and be safe.
Where are you based out of?
2015-3-4
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Muscadel
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My Sincere sympathy for your loss!  I'm currently also waiting for mine to be replaced, as I also had a similar depth perception pilot error, and lost my inspire to similar events.
I hope you are flying again soon, and agree with all your points.  It's an amazing platform, and it flies superbly well.
Hopefully we are back in the air very very soon!
Regards
Muscadel
2015-3-5
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budnikasr
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WOW! watching the video makes me cringe. Mine broke in the same place. Understanding yours hit concrete, my fell from 12 feet and hit a rubberized gym floor. I wonder what the tolerance is on the carbon fibre arms. Is this a flaw or a design feature to absorb the shock and protect vital components? If it is a design feature, you'd think DJI would mass produce the arms and make them readily available for quick repairs. Any thoughts?
2015-3-5
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CrabHawk
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Ouch I feel your pain{:3_61:}
2015-3-5
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mkell7
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budnikasr Posted at 2015-3-6 00:29
WOW! watching the video makes me cringe. Mine broke in the same place. Understanding yours hit concr ...

It actually hit the  grass and not concrete, although at that height it doesn't really matter. Speaking of breaking in the same place.... I think all the photos I have seen of inspire crashes... It's always the forward right arm joint that breaks. I don't recall seeing the left arm breaking. I can't think why that may be, but it is interesting.

Has anyone else noticed that?
2015-3-5
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Acidsnow
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sorry for your loss, but thank you for sharing your story, hopefully you'll keep us up to date with your repair . . .
2015-3-5
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Mkell_CA_SF.BAY
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First update:
2/28 shipped out
3/3 arrived at DJI Support Repair Center LA
3/11 checked into DJI Zenmuse Repair Desk. Officially now in line for repair.  (no estimated repair time given at the moment, although I am expecting 3-4 weeks)
2015-3-11
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Mkell_CA_SF.BAY
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Updated repair process in first post at the top.
2015-3-20
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Bob Marley
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What is a $340 center frame component?
Is that next to the muffler bearing? lol
2015-3-20
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Wildcat Willie
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Thanks for the report...It reaffirms my belief that DJI is really trying to address the issues and the bill is reasonable as well as the support and the timeline is better than I thought it would be....I think they still need a few months to sort out the issues though...
2015-3-21
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Dangair
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Good for you for being honest about it too. It seems that pilot error was just bad judgement in your case. That's only human. You went to a lot of work sharing this experience with us, thank you. I'm sure some of us will learn from your mistake, after all isn't that what it's all about? Too bad you crashed, the video was looking like a winner! Maybe you could do a re shoot and close the deal on this. We would love to see the finished footage!
A reminder though..... 7300 feet does not Line of Sight make! But I think you know that
2015-3-21
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Mkell_CA_SF.BAY
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Thanks Dangair, I do think planning a reshoot is in order, eventually. Yeah the crash happened only 300ft away in line of sight. Although max distance flown on a different flight was 7,300ft in an unobstructed area over water. It just goes to show that it really doesn't matter how far or where you fly, anything can happen at anytime.
2015-3-21
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CrabHawk
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Great info. I must say I had to take a short nap and come back to finish. It was incredibly long. Glad you got your bird back! Happy Flying.
2015-3-21
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Mkell_CA_SF.BAY
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Haha thanks CrabHawk, Hopefully this will be the last thread of mine that will put you to sleep. will get out there and film more with the inspire soon.
2015-3-21
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bostonlines
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Mkell_CA_SF.BAY Posted at 2015-3-22 04:16
Haha thanks CrabHawk, Hopefully this will be the last thread of mine that will put you to sleep. wil ...

So how does your Inspire fly post repair?  Is it the same, better, worse?  Thanks for the input.
2015-3-23
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muscleflex
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Yep I'd like to know too. Is everything ok now?
2015-3-26
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Mkell_CA_SF.BAY
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bostonlines@gma Posted at 2015-3-24 05:44
So how does your Inspire fly post repair?  Is it the same, better, worse?  Thanks for the input.


TLDR: Flies as expected, but questions about the camera.

I've been in testing mode since getting my inspire 1 back from repair.

Since getting it back I have been taking it slow. My first few flights were range related. I took it out to a new location to test it out. Got it out about 4100ft and I encountered my first complete RC signal loss (black screen, no video) the inspire 1 initiated RTH immediately and i regained control by cycling GPS to ATTi and back to GPS. I was on the side of a mountain range, there was a moderately sized tower not too far from me, that said I kept calm and everything was fine.

Not to panic I performed another range test back at the Martinez harbor. Both during the original flight at the location and my test flight post repair I was able to get over 7200ft out, over water mind you. Range test complete for now.

I am still getting the occasional GPS/ ATTI loss issue when first taking off. Never had a problem being able to regain control and GPS gets locked shortly after.

My next several flights have all been camera focused. A couple of things have come up where I am on the fence about whether it's operating normally or not. Twice during some test flights today I have received a "disconnected" status on the pilot app. It happened once right after powering up. (powering down and back up again solved the issue) The second time it happened in flight, no video feed for about 15-20seconds. however I could still control the craft just fine. I was maybe 300ft away from the TX. The camera and gimbal were connected, however a black screen with the app HUD was displayed. this is different from the "No signal" status some have received when no camera or gimbal is attached.

The next issue that I am seeing is grain. How much grain is too much? this is where I need help from other forum members.  here is a clip from a flight earlier this week: Grainy 4K Clip  (Download original RAW file to view) Filmed at around 4:40pm.
camera settings were:4096*2160 24fps.
ISO 100.
Shutter at 800
ND filter ON
LOG color Profile
Sharp: 0
Contrast:-3
Saturation: -3

I know the inspire 1 is not a low light camera but is my camera grainier than normal? Would shooting at such a high shutter speed result in this much grain?
thoughts?

I'm in the process of doing other tests regarding the camera and settings. However if anyone can chime in or help point me in a good way to run some tests let me know.

finally, It may be worth noting, I have noticed some jello in my shots when flying. Not all the time or its not always apparent but i have seen it. Is this indicative of something?

2015-4-1
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peterconquest3
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Hey Mike - I have a new Inspire 1 in the South Bay Area if you'd like to come by and compare birds. Email me at: peterconquest3@yahoo.com
2015-4-29
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peterconquest3
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Mkell_CA_SF.BAY Posted at 2015-4-2 11:50
TLDR: Flies as expected, but questions about the camera.
I've been in testing mode since getting m ...


Hey Mkell - I have a new Inspire 1 in the South Bay Area if you'd like to come by and compare birds. Email me at: peterconquest3@yahoo.com
2015-4-30
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