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My close call, Might help a new drone pilot.

Regulator23

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Joined
Nov 4, 2017
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Age
61
Location
Davie, FL
I was flying in a very remote, rough, hilly area this week and during one of 9 flights, I had a problem. Most of you would probably have known exactly what to do, but it was new for me and fortunately I didn't panic and got it home safely. Thought this might help someone.

Took off, went to 100 feet altitude (huge trees and hills and this was sufficient for the area) and headed to an area where 2 rivers come together. I was on the porch of a cabin (metal roof but not sure if that caused the issue), looking out in the direction I was flying. I got out to around 2300' when my app (DJI GO 4) disconnected and ceased working. The app stayed on the screen, but all the numbers went away and all of the controls were grayed out. I immediately took my hands off the joysticks and began walking around the porch to different areas to see if it might reconnect. No luck, the app indicated it was 'disconnected'. I did not want to shut it down and restart it since the drone was pretty far away and my battery was down to about 50% and honestly I didn't know what shutting it down might cause.

My controller showed a distance of around 2000' but the altitude shown didn't really correspond to the 100' that I had been flying at, so I'm not sure about that. Anyway, I started moving in a direction to see what happened and the distance number showed it going further away so I turned a little, flew forward again and did this until it seemed like the distance was reducing. I sped up and for a few seconds it was seemed to be getting closer, but without me turning it at all, the distance number started increasing again. No idea why. By now, battery was down to 40% and I was starting to get pretty worried. I again moved around the yard, porch, etc. trying to see if that made a difference, but it didn't seem to do anything.

For the next couple of minutes, I again tried to move in a direction and watch the distance, but nothing I did seemed to cause it to reduce. Just an FYI, most of my flying is very close and I keep my low battery warning set at 20%. By now my battery was down to 20% and I had no idea what to do. It was only then that I noticed the RTH button on my controller. I have never flown where my app didn't work and wasn't aware that the controller had that button. Well, I pressed it and my drone immediately began the RTH process and it came back to me with about 8% battery left. It was a close call, but having always relied on the app, I almost blew it.

Restarting the app did not fix the problem. I had to restart my phone and then reboot the app and it worked properly again. I have no idea why or how it happened, but I'm so happy it turned out good. Hope this helps someone in the future.
 

Path Finder

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Joined
Jun 11, 2017
Messages
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Location
Minnesota, USA
Remember to check / set your remote disconnect setting for the type of flight you will be doing. (RTH, with height for where you are. - Hover - land)

Per this site I learned from others when your app and video "Crash" look at your remote RPM and other live data, as long as they are updating you still have control just like you figured out. (At that time start attempting to get the APP back, just don't take all day at it)

You did right by attempting a chance you could get the drone closer, however I think it will take me "forever" to get any good at that, it rotates too easy. Why DJI did not put a compass heading on the remote display is beyond me, even just a very simple arrow so you had an idea how much you were turning the Mavic. . .

Back to your blind flight, distance will decrease but recall as it comes 90 degrees to you it will look as it is slowing down then as it passes you the numbers will get bigger again. (At that point you need to decide if it is on your left or right, turn and try again) If you don't have sight of the Mavic this process is better than nothing but as you found the battery drops quickly when you don't know where the bird is at!

Knowing RTH is set correctly and use it now and then when you have full control is a good thing to practice.

Sounds like you should also check / set you battery settings, it "should" have been on the way back to land long before the battery was that low. (I think you control that setting also, I know mine warns me then at a point later it just comes back thinking I'm not able to get it back myself)

Congratulations for the safe return and landing!
 
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