Hi Guys!

THIS is my very first post on DIYDrones, and I am most confused.  This is my story.

I am quite new to this UAV business, and I originally purchased a DJI Phantom (1st generation) from a locally BIG Camera equipment retailer, here in Montreal (LL.Lozeau).  To my knowledge at the time, it was the thing of the moment. I looked on the web, and little that I knew at the time, DJI seemed to be reliable, easy to use and, mostly for me at the time, affordable.

Enthusiastic about this new purchase, I read the provided « instruction sheet », and, I must confess, it was (seemed) most easy to setup and fly.  I did my first flight the next morning, since weather was clever enough to allow me to do so.  Well ... Okay!  Pilot error, I guess, I lost control.  BUT I recovered it, almost intact, a few houses down the block.  Only one Prop Guard was wrecked, but that was fixed rapidly thanks to Super Glue!  And up we go again, and all went well that time.  The same evening, I was flying with my GoPRO, and took some VeRrY ShAkEy PiCtUrEs of the area! ;-)

It was THEN, that I wanted a way to stabilize the HERO3, with, what seemed best at the time, the Zenmuse H3-2D Gimbal ...from DJI, of course.  Costs as much as the Phantom itself, but hey!  A man has to do what a man needs to do!  But that remote control seemed a toy thing, resembling more the one from Fisher Price than one for the real thing.  So I went to purchase a HiTech Aurora 9X Remote Control Unit, along with 4 x 3S 45C Batteries, the big Hyperion 150W charger and the whole kit and caboodle!  The real stuff, I thought!  Well, so far, so good!  I'm in business.  So I had the Gimbal installed, as well as the receiver replaced inside the Phantom.  « Cool!!  Let's try it! »

VERY stable videos!  I was impressed of the results.  Next, I wanted ...telemetry, because I wanted to know my battery voltage remotely!  HPP-22 and HTS-SS, with a HTS-GPS, and HTS-ORPM (Optical RPM Sensor).  OK!  Now I know when to land this thing, before the battery runs out, and if it falls, I'll know where it is!

Then, I wanted to see WHAT was my camera filming in real time, NOT once on the ground (legitimate request, wouldn't you think?)  I then needed a 500mW Video Link from ... Yup!  DJI!  And a link receiver with a screen to see the down linked images!  This is starting to add up $$$!

Now, the ULTIMATE thing would be, ...a Ground Station Control.  WOW!  Completely automatic flight!  That would be way cool!  Only one thing though!  This is a Phantom!  Not a Boing 747!  There is only limited space inside this plastic shell!  I needed the DJI Data Link, AND a DJI Can Hub ...

Hmmm!  What to do?  Well, the Flame Wheel F450 seemed to have plenty of room for all this equipment.  After all, I have the ESCs, the motors, the controller, that should not be to complicated to merge all this stuff to an F450 Frame.

So I did!  Managed to sandwich all the modules, and while we're at it, let's add an FPV camera and transmitter from ... no!  Not DJI!  This time, I wanted a Fat Shark gear!  Simply awesome!  The ultimate FPV, the camera being mounted on 2 servos, for full pan & tilt FPV experience!

Last week, I finally wanted to get this flying wonder a try.  Battery was fully charged, DJI was calibrated to the max, new version software, and all!  I was ready.  Gave it a go in my back yard and ... Well, I was happy it was in my back yard, and not in front of a crowd.  They would've had a very good laugh!  The thing was so heavy, that it raised 5 feet in the air before slowly acting like an elephant with canary wings!  Hehehe!  I had a good laugh my self, because I secretly had my doubts about this baby flying !!

Well, at this time, I see only one solution.  Adding 2 more Props!  So I am in rebuilding my F450 into a DJI Flame Wheel F550 Frame.  Just purchased a top and bottom plate, 2 more Motors and ESCs, and I should be in real business by the end of next week.  At least, I think!

Now I am filled with confusion.  I'm reading all this controversy about DJI and Fly-Aways.  Some are convinced that it's DJI's Naza-M Controller's fault, some others, like Dan Blake and Jamie Peebles (on other Forums), would have tendency to blame the unwanted behavior on the pilot more than the hardware or the software.  Who should I believe?  Should I go with another controller and discard the Naza-M V2 and go towards another manufacturer?

What is said about learning to fly in Manual Mode worries me, although I fully agree with it!  I've tried that a few times with my AeroSIM RC Simulator, and I crash it within a minute, if not, right at take off !!  I know! I know!  No GPS is used in Manual Mode, and this is the main reason there is no GPS-Glitch related crashes in Manual Mode.  But you need to be a REAL pilot to fly in this mode!  Hehehe!  I practiced in Attitude Mode tonight, and I must confess, it is not easy, although I spent 30 minutes and could maintain a fairly good hover positioning about 90% of the time!  I plan on doing some more practice this week.  Could this help me recover a GPS Glitch situation?  I ask anyone.

Well, here goes my first post.  I hope I was not too long.  I am here for one thing : LEARNING !!  Am I at the right place??  I sure hope so!

I also hope I've posted this one in the right board!  There are so many...

Yours truly,

Daniel.

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Welcome and good luck with your journey. All of us have traveled it in one way or another.

Welcome! It seems you are in the right place! I would suggest giving the Pixhawk a try, read the Arducopter wiki to get a good idea of what you will be in for!

Best regards!

Just curious; how much money did you spend so far ?

 

As for me... I had an AR Drone 2.0, and I fell in love with it, and wanted to go big/better, I purchased a DJI F550 frame, NTM Motors, MultiWii Pro flight controller with GPS, Turnigy 9x transmitter, Tarot gimbal & GoPro camera, and cheap FatShark goggles (with low resolution; big mistake)....

I had no idea what a huge diference is between the tiny all automatic AR Drone, and the custom built F550, I had all the problems that anyone could possibly have plus more. I crashed it so many times I lost count, and I think i spent about $2500 so far on it including replacement frame/motors/props/landing gear, etc... The tarot gimbal and FatShark goggle never used because I am still learning to fly this monster :) and nothing automatic on it seems to work!! so I am learning to fly it in acrobatic mode, and it's not easy at all.

 

I live in Canada, Toronto; if you come by here, let me know, and maybe we can fly together :)

Hi Daniel,

I bash DJI a lot, but I'll tell you what I think is the honest truth:

The DJI Naza is probably not likely to have a real flyaway on you, provided you are actually setting it up and operating it properly.  I'm quite sure that a huge number of "DJI Flyaway" reports, are simply due to user error of one sort or another.  It seems that any time a UAV does not do what was in the user's brain, they say that it was a flyaway.  Maybe the problem was actually between their brain and thumbs, but they call it a flyaway.  It's a tempting and common thing to blame a computer for our failures.  A great example is a report I saw of a flyaway, which turned out to be the case where the system switched to "Atti mode" instead of GPS hold mode, and simply drifted away on the wind because the user didn't know what to do.

Just last weekend, I lost a helicopter in a lake, using Arducopter.  It did not do what I wanted it to do at the time, rolled over upside-down and flew into the lake.  This is where many people stop analysing, and blame the complicated system.  However, I could not deny the fact that after looking down at my radio, the switch positions were in Acro mode.  And the telemetry log also indicated I had switched to Acro.  Hmmm...

Ooops.  I'm quite experienced, but my crash was caused largely by lack of sleep over the past 2 weeks due to stress of getting ready for AVC.  I've never made that mistake before after 3 years of flying.

Where DJI really suffers is that they make things too easy.  Or they make it look too easy.  They don't help their users understand how the system works.  Everything is obfuscated behind it just works.  People don't have access to logs, or don't have the skills to read those logs and figure out what happened.  They don't make a big deal out of data logs, because well... why would you need logging on a system that never fails and is easy to use?  everything just works.

Well, you know, stuff happens.

Figuring out what happened so you can help yourself learn to fly better, or solve your setup problems is a key requirement to grow in this hobby/industry.  Or, in other cases, give the programmers the data they need to fix a bug.  

Don't get me wrong.  There is plenty of evidence that sometimes DJI systems "just fly away", completely out of control.  I just think it's less likely than some claim.  I only accept video evidence, or testimony from plausible reports.

You have posted on the right board if you want to get in deep in UAV technology, and actually learn how these things work.

Hey Michael!

Thanks for the reply!

Hahaha!  So far? I lost count after $5000 !!  But seriously, last time I've added the invoices, as for personal curiosity, I was at the $6,750 mark. As of now, I must have spent well in the $7000.  And since, I've added 4 ESCs, an F550 top/bottom plate, Deans connectors, I'm in for 4 motors, DOZENS of Props, and what not!  And the funny part is that this new UAV I'm building is still on the ground.  Like I once said, if all goes well, it should be airborne by the end of the week.

I too, started with an AR Drone 2.0, and I think this gave me the go.  Then purchased a Phantom, then a F450 and finally, this F550.  I plan on rebuilding the Phantom and sell it.  I still have the original Frame, Motors, ESCs, Landing Gear and all.  It's just a question of putting it back together.  I do not plan on selling it with the Gimbal though.  The new owner can spend HIS money on it.

I live in Montréal, and my brother in law lives in Woodstock, Ontario.  Once or twice a year, we go and see him.  It will be an honor to meet you and show you my Drone.  I am anxious to see yours too!  I'll post pictures of mine as I am building it into completion, very soon!  You'll see!  You call yours a Monster?  Hahaaaa!  Wait till you see mine!  I think I'll call it King Kong ... or even more, Godzilla!

Stay tuned, Michael!  I think this Site is just GREAT for me!  I feel at home already.

Yours truly,

Daniel.

Hi Gary!

Thanks for the reply!  Much appreciated!  I look forward to put my experience to the service of this community.

Yours truly,

Daniel.

Hi Bob!

Thanks for the VERY useful information you just provided.

So IF I get this right, DJI does not provide data logs access to their Naza-M Controllers.  Other controllers do?  Like I said previously, I'm quite green to this industry, and would like to learn.

I am in the process of merging a Phantom's Naza Controller into a new F550 Frame.  My story is on my page, so you know where I came from.  I want to rebuild the Phantom and sell it.  Only, I would be left without a Controller.  Everything I learned so far would be our the window, just like going from Windows to OS X ... PC to Apple.  I know, having done this transition that Apple is more costly and more simple, but is the very best of them two.

So should I ditch DJI's Naza right away, not even taking a chance, and go with another one right away, or give Naza a fighting chance?

Yours truly,

Daniel.

Hi Daniel,

I posted some pics of my drone here: http://diydrones.com/forum/topics/diy-cheap-landing-gear

 

Wow, that is a long way to drive all the way to Woodstock, but you pass right through Toronto, so it's perfect if you want to take a break, we can meet in a park close to the highway, and have a chat, and a quick fly around :)

 

Send me a message a day or 2 in advance so I can make my plans accordingly.

 

Se you soon,

Michael

I just wanted to chime in as well. I recommend you stick with the NAZA unless you really want to do auto missions and/or troubleshoot a bad flight through logs. I have had both and started with an apm 2.5 but didn't have much time for tuning and setup so sold it and got a NAZA v2 flight controller which perfformed really well. I used it for FPV and aerial video but I got bored of that and am now back and sticking with the awesomeness of the Pixhawk controller. It has what a NAZA has and much more. With the autotune feature you don't have to spend hours trying to get it tuned perfectly. I'm doing 3D mapping by programming patterned missions over an area.

So if you are happy with the cabability of the NAZA then stick with it. I agree that most fly aways are most likely due inproper setup ... especially the fail safe options. Just last week I had a small crash with my Pixhawk because I was in an auto mission coming in to land and I decided to go into stab mode.... However... I had my throttle stick all the way down (throttle stick down will allow the motors to stop after touchdown when autolanding). Totally my fault but my first instinct was to blame the controller until I saw my throttle stick all the way down.

Good Luck

@Rob every time I have watched a crash I did not want to happen happen it was because of something dumb I have done! Autopilots various have always obeyed my command!

I second everything Rob wrote earlier Re: DJI naza.

As far as your question "Could this help me recover a GPS Glitch situation"? (Learning to fly manual)

 

Absolutely. The more "automated" you fly, the more your system is prone to error. It's not only GPS. Could be barometer. Could be compass. Could be programming of a bad waypoint. Etc ... Knowing how to "recover" in manual (and usually in split seconds) is a must and will save you a fortune long term. And even in manual, things can go wrong that could piloting sometimes can help with.

But I'd go further than that.  I may be too extreme for some, but for me, even knowing how to fly well in attitude mode is not enough. I'd say learn to fly "the hard way", with no self leveling. You can do this via simulator, but even better, you can buy a blade nqx for $69 (or equivalent), that can fly both in "stabilized mode" and "acro", or non stabilized. Have at it, learn how to fly it in all orientations, including 45 degrees, do banked turns, figure 8's in all orientations, etc ... Start with self-level, then go with "agility" mode (Acro).  Oh, there's be a learning curve, and you'll crash a lot.

But here's what you'll get: Split second reflexes, no matter the orientation, no matter the height. You won't need to think and loose previous time, it will have it "wired in". Just like you don't need to think when you turn the wheel on you car or apply the brake when a car gets too close. And you'll get better flying in auto, and more guarantee to recover in Atti. You'll "know" what your fly controller is doing when it banks some. You'll learn to anticipate, and to recover if need be.

You may think well, that's too much. But I'd bet quite a bit that, sooner or later, it will save your copter. And no matter what, it will  make you  fly better and safer. You'll feel like you are driving a tractor when you know how to drive a Ferrari at high speed. When said tractor goes weird ... well no big deal (-:

I know quite a number of people who wished they had gone this way. This includes a real good cinematographer who went on to buy an DJI A2,  a really nice octo frame and a Red Epic.  Crashed the bird with the camera  after two weeks ...With the camera, a $60k or so rig all told ...

 

Cheers.

 

 

Hi Michael!

I sure won't miss the opportunity to pay you a visit if I pass by Toronto, that is a certainty, my friend!

Best regards,

Daniel.

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