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Lost at Sea: How I found it, recovered it and flew it again!

pogopilot

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Some may not believe this story and some may, either way I do not care. I only hope that those of you who do, may learn something from my experience.

I was vacationing with my family in Turks and Caicos in May. It was the last day of vacation and I wanted to get some shots of the catamarans knifing through the water under a stiff breeze. I had just finished filming my wife and her brother in the water and was flying my MP back to the beach. I saw a catamaran whizzing by with one pontoon out of the water and I thought a quick video would add nicely to my clips from the week. The boat was moving fast and was a good 200 hundred yards away. I flip it into "sport mode" and make pretty quick time getting out there. I start to do a nice profile shot but I was higher than i wanted to be so I brought the MP down. But forgetting it was in sport mode it reacted very quickly and with no downward obstacle avoidance, I hit the drink and my beloved MP sunk to Davy Jone's locker. Since it was out of VLOS, I did not see exactly where it went down and I was in a bit of panic mode. I saw on the app where it went down relative to the beach (see screen shot of mission below, you can see the flight ends up in the drink!) and relative to some coral reefs but I did not have an exact position. I grabbed one of the sailing instructors and asked him if we could go on the rescue boat to find my MP. We hopped in but had no luck. Back on the beach I realized that not only did I have the last location on the DJI app screen but it also had MY location! All I had to do was connect the dots by getting back in the rescue boat and motoring until the two dots were on top of each other. It took another 5 minutes to get out there and the other sailing instructor, who was a proficient diver, dropped over the side and found my MP in 30 feat of water in less than a minute. While I knew that the salt water had ruined my MP (it was under water for about an hour) I was really just hoping to salvage the memory card with all the great shots and video from the week. (feel free to look at my highlight movie here).

Back on the beach I gave my MP a thorough rinsing in the snorkeling (fresh water) rinse bath, tossed the battery and removed the SD card. All pictures and video clips were intact ! Except for the very last video of course. I asked the resort chef for some rice figuring maybe I could sell some part when I get home and I may as well try to minimize the corrosion. So he gave me two pounds of rice into which I plunged my MP and secured the grocery bag firmly. I brought it home with me and put it under my desk where it sat for about 4 weeks in the rice.

One day while scanning this forum, I saw someone was interested in buying an MP for parts so I said that I had one, he asked my how much and I said I would get back to him. So I decide, lets see if this drowned bird will even light up. So I take it out of the rice and take about an hour to shake out all of the loose pieces of rice from the main body and the motors. I had to tilt it many ways to get what I believe was all the rice out. Please note, I have never opened my Mavic or removed any covers. So I slap in a battery and fire it up. Holy ****!, normal startup routine, lights, sounds, gimbal action! Ok this is pretty cool, I scream at my wife, "it started!!!", she did not drop her nail file but she was quite surprised. So I take it outside to see if I can fire up the motors and sure enough all four sing their tune! So I started a few very small take off and landings and I am excited beyond belief. A few more solid flights and I am sold, all is well. I had to use some sand paper to clean the battery contacts on the back of the MP but other than that I have done NOTHING to get it back in shape. I have flown maybe 30 flights since then without a hitch.

Now I am not making any recommendations on how to recover a bird that has been in salt water, I am only telling you my experience. I hope it may help someone.
 

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Mossiback

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Wowzers! You are one lucky man!
 

Robert Mitchell

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... she did not drop her nail file but she was quite surprised...
Best line in the whole post! Sounds like my wife, with regards to my toys.

JK. Great story, thanks for sharing the details, and glad you got her back and are flying again.

...and you say that the camera is fine also?
 
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conchman

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I have heard and/or read several stories about MP dropping in the water and then working. I think only the battery gets ruined, and I would suppose that the saltwater may do some long term damage that may not be visible until several months or years afterwards. Its still amazing though, considering what a complicated piece of equipment it is.
 

pogopilot

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Best line in the whole post! Sounds like my wife, with regards to my toys.

JK. Great story, thanks for sharing the details, and glad you got her back and are flying again.

...and you say that the camera is fine also?
Thanks, yup the camera is fine.
 

Robert Mitchell

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Thanks, yup the camera is fine.
See, what that tells me is that the camera must be robustly sealed. To be underwater, at that depth and not have a single micro drop get in to the sensor or lens elements, is amazing to me.
 

pogopilot

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See, what that tells me is that the camera must be robustly sealed. To be underwater, at that depth and not have a single micro drop get in to the sensor or lens elements, is amazing to me.
I thought the motherboard would fry out first but then I read that it is treated with some kind of sealant, but I agree, you would think that the camera and/or gimbal would be toast after an hour in salt water. I am truly amazed.
 

tris001

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Back on the beach I gave my MP a thorough rinsing in the snorkeling (fresh water) rinse bath,
Would you recommend dunking it the following day to remove any corrosive water? A wave hit mine in the face last night and I have left it wrapper it toilet paper as I have no rice to hand!

Love the story!
 
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