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Landing drones on a rocking boat deck

I'd be much more concerned about how much it increases the cross-sectional area that it exposes to the wind and how much that reduces the drone's speed and acts like a sail to catch the wind.
Blocking the VPS sensors is also a concern, but it would be interesting to see the data to show if/how switching to Sport Mode works to allow descent.
If you want to find out more, take it out for a short flight, do a couple of straight runs at maximum speed and then bring it back to land from 30-40 feet up.

Then post the data.
Go to DJI Flight Log Viewer | Phantom Help
Follow the instructions there to upload your flight record from your phone or tablet.
That will give you a detailed report of the flight.
Come back and post a link to the report it gives you.
Or .. just post the txt file here.
Increased surface area is definitely an issue and winds do have a significant effect on it so attention to the winds is a must. My buddy says he's going to make some with pool noodles but I think my raft is going to outshine his model. I'll get him over here to tool around with it and have him take some shots of it in action. I have a pool out back too so I can demonstrate take offs and landings. I'll need help posting up the flight records as that's above my paygrade, I'm pretty good mechanically but when it comes to tech, I'm lost.

Here's my first prototype in action. Two tubes wouldn't even hold the drone upright in water and I'm surprised at how much just one more tube increases stability on water. BTW, those are Coors Light cans and they're longer and skinnier than standard cans. I might try a set with standard cans to see the differences.

Drone Pontoons 2.jpg
 
Coors Light cans

Good old silver bullets.


Maybe I overlooked it, but do you use spray foam insulation inside the cans to aid in floating or just seal the hole up to make it air / water tight?


.
 
I'll need help posting up the flight records as that's above my paygrade, I'm pretty good mechanically but when it comes to tech, I'm lost.
No worries ..
There are a couple of options ...
1. Go to DJI Flight Log Viewer | Phantom Help
Follow the instructions there to upload your flight record from your phone or tablet.
That will give you a detailed report on the flight data.
Come back and post a link to the report it provides and someone might be able to analyse it and give you an understanding of the cause of the incident.
or
2. Just post the .txt file here
or
3. If you use Airdata, you can view the flight data on Airdata and post a link for the Airdata report
 
I just taped the tops together with duct tape, each tube is made of two cans. Duct tape is waterproof. I figure we'll make a set when we get to AK so we don't have to add to our luggage and I'll even tape over the holes so they won't fill up with water if there's a breakup in a crash on the water.
 
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Three years ago, I think I read on that forum that someone had attached a fishing line under his drone with a lead hanging down . After the flight, he was approaching the drone, catching the lead and killing the motors. A 3 to 4 feet long fishing line was doing the job. This has to be practiced on land first.
 
I am an offshore fisherman, winter in Texas & summer in Oregon, and hand launch & retrieve from my boat only during calm seas. It’s extremely risky and should be practiced on dry land. I stood in the back of a pickup that was moving at an idle and always caught the drone from the back using a leather glove.
 
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Try getting it as close as you can then use the CSC to stop the motors. It'll drop on the deck, and if it's a few feet and you have something nice and soft for it to fall on, it should be fine.

This is what the emergency motor stop CSC is for. Among other things.
Thats what I was thinking too, only throw down a big picnic blanket or large towel first. Hover over it and kill the motors.
 
I’ve been flying off boats since 2015 starting with the Phantom 2, going onto the Inspire 1, Mavic Pro, and now the Mavic 2 Pro. I have filmed a lot over water launching and retrieving way off shore in calm and rough seas, usually from an 8m fishing boat. It takes some practice but here’s how I approach it:
1. I fly a Mavic 2 Pro with Atti mode enabled. I launch in GPS because I can not activate Atti until I’m in the air. I also have all sensors and landing protection disabled so the sensors doesn’t interfere with the launching and landing.
2. I make sure the boat is drifting away from the direction I’m launching in.
3. I hand launch and catch from the stern where there is the least amount of movement from the smaller fishing boat.
4. The rougher the seas the earlier I bring the drone home giving me plenty of time to attempt the landing. I usually start my landing approach at 40%.
5. I move the low battery warning to 15% so the controller doesn’t start beeping at 30% adding to an already stressful situation. :)
6. I clear the deck around me of fishing rods so there are the minimum of obstructions to hit.
7. If possible I have the boat so the wind is at my back pushing the drone away from me.
8. In Atti mode with the drone’s rear facing me I float it slowly back toward me.
9. Ideally you have someone you trust to catch while you pilot, but in most cases I do the catching.
10. I slowly bring the drone toward me closely observing the swell and the wind. If the approach isn’t good I abort and try again. With a lot of swell it will take multiple attempts.
11. Swells often have a rhythm / patter to them. Be ready to land in the lull between a set of swells. When the drone is getting close to the boat be ready to ascend quickly if a swell should hit the boat.
12. At this point, if all looks good, you just have to commit and go for it. Being gentle on the sticks I place the drone within grabbing distance. In good conditions the hand catch is graceful and easy, but in less ideal conditions I make a committed and deliberate grab for the bottom of the drone.
13. Once I have a grip on it I hold the throttle stick all the way down until the motors shut down. In heavy swells the drone will fight you because it’s now moving up and down with swell and it’s trying to maintain altitude. In this case you can keep holding the stick down until it shuts down or you can invert the drone to automatically shut down the motors (for some reason I don’t like inverting the drone).
14. It’s a good idea for the catcher to wear a glove of some sort in case things go sideways. Something strong but thin so it doesn’t do more harm than good.

I’m sure plenty of people catch in GPS mode from boats, and if you have a dedicated catcher that works pretty well. Because I hand catch and pilot I like to float the drone toward me in Atti mode and catch it without GPS braking the drone the moment I take my fingers off the stick.

Hope that helps!
 
I've put some thoughts about this and the methods that I use for landing on a boat in this thread:


I hope it's helpful.
 
Thats what I was thinking too, only throw down a big picnic blanket or large towel first. Hover over it and kill the motors.
FWIW, I tested this with an Avata over a soft, grass/ice plant area after @Yorkshire_Pud pointed out potential wild movements by the drone.

The Avata in N mode, at least, didn't go insane, but just gently yawned about 180° and moved about 18" from the spot I was over before cutting the motors (and recording) and dropping to the ground. The lack of full-throttle movement in the 225° direction from forward suggests the FC is aware of the CSC configuration, and doesn't execute the control movement – perhaps if the motor stop CSC is enabled?

Video... when the video ends thats when the motors cut off. I auto record enabled:


I plan to test the same in C mode with my A2S as soon as we dry out after a few days of rain.

In any case, I can confirm by direct testing that this is a viable solution for landing an Avata on a boat with the deck pitching all about.
 
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Thats what I was thinking too, only throw down a big picnic blanket or large towel first. Hover over it and kill the motors.
Initiating the CSC will cause the drone to move horizontally, you risk crashing your drone or sending it for a swim.
 
FWIW, I tested this with an Avata over a soft, grass/ice plant area after @Yorkshire_Pud pointed out potential wild movements by the drone.

The Avata in N mode, at least, didn't go insane, but just gently yawned about 180° and moved about 18" from the spot I was over before cutting the motors (and recording) and dropping to the ground. The lack of full-throttle movement in the 225° direction from forward suggests the FC is aware of the CSC configuration, and doesn't execute the control movement – perhaps if the motor stop CSC is enabled?

Video... when the video ends thats when the motors cut off. I auto record enabled:


I plan to test the same in C mode with my A2S as soon as we dry out after a few days of rain.

In any case, I can confirm by direct testing that this is a viable solution for landing an Avata on a boat with the deck pitching all about.
Sorry I'm just seeing this now, but very cool!! I've been meaning to do the same test with my air 2 and blanket.
 
Sorry I'm just seeing this now, but very cool!! I've been meaning to do the same test with my air 2 and blanket.
I later tested with the A2S, results in this post.

I think I can make it drop closer, even straight down, by starting the landing cycle and then doing the CSC, but I haven't tried it yet.

In any case, if you have a large enough deck, this is doable for an A2S too.
 
Initiating the CSC will cause the drone to move horizontally, you risk crashing your drone or sending it for a swim.
It moves in an entirely predictable, repeatable way. If planned for, there is very little risk of what you say.
 
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My major concern about this is that even if the drone moves in a predictable way, the boat often doesn't. If you have any waves or swell or current the boat is moving more than a passenger can perceive. I learned this the hard way when I tried to land on a ship's heli-pad (which you'd think would be easy to land on) and the propellers hit the ground due to the rocking motion. IMO hand-catching is the way to go (although launching from a raised platform works under certain circumstances).
 
My major concern about this is that even if the drone moves in a predictable way, the boat often doesn't. If you have any waves or swell or current the boat is moving more than a passenger can perceive.
This is correct.
It's the aspect about flying from a boat that landlubbers cannot imagine.
 
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My major concern about this is that even if the drone moves in a predictable way, the boat often doesn't. If you have any waves or swell or current the boat is moving more than a passenger can perceive. I learned this the hard way when I tried to land on a ship's heli-pad (which you'd think would be easy to land on) and the propellers hit the ground due to the rocking motion. IMO hand-catching is the way to go (although launching from a raised platform works under certain circumstances).
This doesn't add up to me.

How do you hand catch if the boat is moving as much as you describe? Does your drone track the movement of the boat?

I'm not seeing it. If the lateral movement is small enough to be able to compensate with arm movement standing on the deck, the error in the CSC maneuver will be about the same.
 
When the boat is out on the ocean and there are various motions of the deck when the boat has stoped ,I would like to hear others opinions as to their experiences with landing when the descending sensors detect the deck movement.
Am I the only one that has problems landing on boat decks and have others got any suggestions apart from hand catching the drone. Hand catching is also awkward as trying to coordinate your body going up and down also affects the drones sensors causing random drone movements.
I have ,when trying to land a couple of times my AIR2S , I experienced when hovering the drone over the area it was going to land on it seems it detects the deck movement and the sensors kick in and it ascends again. I have tried landing a couple of times on a fairly large area of deck with the normal landing control but the drone just won’t land normally., I presume the landing sensor detects the up, down and side movements of the landing surface as the boat moves in the ocean. I have found the only way to get it down is the stressful crash technique of descending to start the landing movement with the left stick and when the drone is just about to move up again, kill the motors to drop it on the deck. Not the most smoothest of landings.


Recommend you consider the Lunar Landing Pad , which you can make on your own as it allows you to land at will with much more control, near cars or on a boat , or surrounded by People or dogs.






You can also get the Air 2S Rescue jacket which will safeguard your flight with a safe hand catch on the boat.
We use it on the Jet Ski as well as its a great Utility tool and takes seconds to apply.

Air 2 starts at 2 min 22 seconds

 
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This doesn't add up to me.

How do you hand catch if the boat is moving as much as you describe? Does your drone track the movement of the boat?

I'm not seeing it. If the lateral movement is small enough to be able to compensate with arm movement standing on the deck, the error in the CSC maneuver will be about the same.

It's like those GIFs of someone moving a chicken around while the chicken's head stays in the same place. This is what your body does when you get your 'sea legs': your legs rock with the boat, your upper body stays stable and allows you to do things to the point that you don't even notice the boat moving under you. So if you hover the drone and allow someone to 'go and get it' they can wait for the small lulls in the boat motion and just reach up and grab it while their legs account for the rocking of the boat. I give my hand-catchers several minutes and I keep the drone above their heads so that they're the ones pick the time and who go up and get it. The moment you get the drone low enough that it can hit a rail or gunwale or antenna the rocking becomes a problem because it is really easy to hit things accidentally. If you're above the obstacles, then I think that might be too high for a controlled crash. But I'm sure good pilots (better than me) could do it if the deck is open enough, and most of the time things won't go wrong.
 
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Long explanation that was unnecessary, and missed my point.

If the boat is moving around significantly in the horizontal plane, you will be too. The drone in the air will not, however, be tracking the movement of the boat.

To safely hand catch, you need to bring the drone down gently where you can catch it. Can't do that any more easily from a moving boat than from the back of a moving pickup truck.

Trying to fly the drone to stay with the boat is going to result in all sorts of pitch and roll movements, which increases the likelihood of a hand-catch disaster risk, and probably a bloody hand.

How many of you have actually tried this? I have, many times. We've always stopped the boat, and landed on the deck. It's near impossible to land on a boat or truck that's moving. Dangerous as h e l l to try and hand-catch.

But hey, I'm more then willing to eat crow on this. I'll even Venmo/paypal/zelle U$25 to anyone that can document themselves hand-catching on a truck or boat going 20mph. Just post the video. I made a public offer right here.
 
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