Get the most from your Mavic
Join thousands of Mavic owners helping each other
Join Us Now

My tips on how to stop DJI Mavic from forced firmware and app updates.

adiru

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2017
Messages
324
Reaction score
11
Age
34
Lets say you need to be able to get your drone up and flying in a moments notice. (plenty of scenarios I could think of) Had that happen to me, the moment was ruined because hey DJI app had to update, had to download a 100+ something sized update for a DJI 4 app and won't let you fly the mavic with the app (of course I could still use controller, but that means I couldn't really do the filming, which was the whole point of it all in the first place). Another example, lots of folks opened up their apps recently to fly the Mavic just to find out that a firmware update was down deep throat-ed into them, so they have no choice but to do the update, because once DJI app gets the signal that it needs an update, you can't go back to before it got the directive from DJI. Then lots of folks reporting that after the latest firmware update their DJI Mavic is crazy flying and crashing on its own for no good reason. I don't know about you but I have the right to refuse updates and only update when I wish to update, and not be subjected to DJI's Guinea pig status. Long story short this is the simple easy surefire way to go about it:

I don't ever want anything updating without my consent. Be it a Windows 7 update or a Mavic update or whatever.

This is what I do:

Get a tablet just for flying the mavic, (they are cheap these days) Don't ever connect it to the Internet ever. Download the DJI Go app directly as a apk package instead of through Google Play, now enjoy the piece of mind of No updates, no forced firmware updates, etc.

(if you must connect it to the Internet, make sure to put your tablet or device in airplane mode each time BEFORE starting the DJI app or any third party apps like Litchi or whatnot; some android devices also let you go into per application setting to deny a particular application from using data etc)

Then after a particular update has been tested by the rest of the public for many weeks, then and only then will I update on my own, manually, at my discretion and on my own downtime.

Trust me, better safe than sorry. You don't' want to be that Guinea pig. Or lose a perfect moment.

There is a reason why Canon don't force DSLR updates on its camera owners and Boeing doesn't force FMC updates on the airlines. DJI needs to learn.
 

halley

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2016
Messages
913
Reaction score
627
Location
Central Honshu, Japan
Okay, I am not sure one way or the other on this. However, I work with aircraft firmware as a part of my job, so I like to read people's experiences here and work out what might be going on inside DJI's proprietary system. The previous posts were saying they were told they could not fly until they hit the update button.

Imagine that DJI firmware on the drone has a built-in expiration date which says "DO NOT FLY PAST 2017-02-16 AS REPORTED BY GPS TIME." If you connect to the Internet and there is no new geofencing or logic update patch available on the DJI site, then the built-in expiration date is updated by 1 week or 1 month. If there is an update and it is installed successfully, the new built-in expiration date is also updated accordingly. Such a system would require the user to connect and check for updates on a regular basis, and they would have a clear choice: update or don't fly.

Remember, the operation of aircraft is a heavily regulated industry. There are certain safety requirements for operators and product designers to comply with, even if the end-user likes to think of themselves as special and exempt.
 

adiru

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2017
Messages
324
Reaction score
11
Age
34
Okay, I am not sure one way or the other on this. However, I work with aircraft firmware as a part of my job, so I like to read people's experiences here and work out what might be going on inside DJI's proprietary system. The previous posts were saying they were told they could not fly until they hit the update button.

Imagine that DJI firmware on the drone has a built-in expiration date which says "DO NOT FLY PAST 2017-02-16 AS REPORTED BY GPS TIME." If you connect to the Internet and there is no new geofencing or logic update patch available on the DJI site, then the built-in expiration date is updated by 1 week or 1 month. If there is an update and it is installed successfully, the new built-in expiration date is also updated accordingly. Such a system would require the user to connect and check for updates on a regular basis, and they would have a clear choice: update or don't fly.

Remember, the operation of aircraft is a heavily regulated industry. There are certain safety requirements for operators and product designers to comply with, even if the end-user likes to think of themselves as special and exempt.

Is there a CMOS battery inside the Mavic that I don't know about? How does Mavic keep track of the time when not flying and not powered on? It does a radio sync with atomic clock upon each power up? And what about its location upon power up? I would imagine a Mavic that powers up in China shouldn't be subjected to the same regulations as one that powers up in America via the FAA etc. (in that case, if anything were to be hardcoded like that, should it not default to the least restrictive international law first and then apply more local group policies later?) Edit: If it is using GPS TIME then surely it knows GPS location too.

So far, I've not hit the "DO NOT FLY PAST 2017-02-16 AS REPORTED BY GPS TIME." For the record, I do not recommend that no one ever updates, only that there is reasonable forewarning from DJI whenever an update might affect downtime so that the flying customers can plan for it, in lieu of which, as long as no legislation has made it unlawful to do so, the consumer can exercise his or her rights to use the product in such a way as to not be immediately forced upon any and all updates.

In any case, there is no case law and nothing in my state, and no Federal law that mandates consumers accept manufacture hobby drone updates within a certain amount of time. In fact there is currently nothing that mandates that they have to give updates at all whatsoever.

Jailbreaking an smart phone was deemed in the US to be lawful, then case precedent should apply to those who (I myself would probably not undertake any such endeavors) find a way to turn off the forced GPS/GPSTIME modes of the aircraft and fly in ATTI instead. As long as no laws are broken (not flying it inside the protected radius of airport, or higher than 400 feet etc etc or whatever) then there is currently no law that mandates that consumer drones MUST fly with GPS turned on. If that was the case, the RC model aircraft flying without GPS would get in a lot of trouble, not to mention all the drones out there without GPS functionality whatsoever. (and what about people who still build their own drone from scratch?) But that's not the case.

And while you can register an N number with the FAA for the Mavic, it isn't an airplane and doesn't fall under an aircraft.
 
Last edited:

halley

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2016
Messages
913
Reaction score
627
Location
Central Honshu, Japan
How does Mavic keep track of the time when not flying and not powered on?
GPS is a prime source of accurate time. If you listen to 1 GPS satellite for 1 second, you will know the time within a few hundred milliseconds. With GPS lock on 4+ satellites, you know it within a millisecond. Ever wonder how your microSD card files and flight logs had the right timestamps?

As for laws, DJI may simply write this into their software before it is mandated. After all, the whole concept of geo-fencing was DJI's answer to the White House Landings incidents before the FAA even really woke up and started throwing their weight around.

I agree: if you don't like it, build your own.
 

AlanTheBeast

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2017
Messages
1,922
Reaction score
860
Age
59
Location
Montreal
Is there a CMOS battery inside the Mavic that I don't know about? How does Mavic keep track of the time when not flying and not powered on? It does a radio sync with atomic clock upon each power up? And what about its location upon power up? I would imagine a Mavic that powers up in China shouldn't be subjected to the same regulations as one that powers up in America via the FAA etc. (in that case, if anything were to be hardcoded like that, should it not default to the least restrictive international law first and then apply more local group policies later?)

So far, I've not hit the "DO NOT FLY PAST 2017-02-16 AS REPORTED BY GPS TIME." For the record, I do not recommend that no one ever updates, only that there is reasonable forewarning from DJI whenever an update might affect downtime so that the flying customers can plan for it, in lieu of which, as long as no legislation has made it unlawful to do so, the consumer can exercise his or her rights to use the service in such a way as to not be immediately forced upon any and all updates.

In any case, there is no case law and nothing in my state, and no Federal law that mandates consumers accept manufacture hobby drone updates within a certain amount of time.
DJI are in a multi-shaded grey zone and that in a lot of countries. On the other hand they have lawyers. Plenty. Bunches. And their job is to make sure the engineers give DJI a lot of reasons to say that they did their best to limit hazards including via updates of s/w which may have an impact on safety - even if they don't.

DJI is NOT an aviation company. They make drones that do not carry humans aboard. So the sensitivity to their hazard is far less. If a drone crashes it _most_ likely will not harm anyone other than in the pocketbook. So, they are not subject to the rigours of avionics s/w design, testing and release that aviation systems are subject to (ie: DO-178C under the requirements of the particular avionics such as DO-229 for airborne GPS receivers).

So there's no regulation about how they release s/w or f/w updates anywhere. But there are lawyers. Oodles. The engineers and programmers do what the lawyers say. The lawyer's creed: minimize liability.

Checklist item for every day.
-Start the coffee.
-Check for DJI updates.

In that light it would be great if DJI had an alerting service such that one could receive a text when updates are out.

That could really save a weekend of misery (MP won't fly but the morning and evening light have never been more magical ... )
 
  • Like
Reactions: halley

adiru

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2017
Messages
324
Reaction score
11
Age
34
GPS is a prime source of accurate time. If you listen to 1 GPS satellite for 1 second, you will know the time within a few hundred milliseconds. With GPS lock on 4+ satellites, you know it within a millisecond. Ever wonder how your microSD card files and flight logs had the right timestamps?

As for laws, DJI may simply write this into their software before it is mandated. After all, the whole concept of geo-fencing was DJI's answer to the White House Landings incidents before the FAA even really woke up and started throwing their weight around.

I agree: if you don't like it, build your own.

Flight logs from where? They don't go onto the MicroSD. Once RC signal is lost, all logging stops. There is no Black box/FDR on the Mavic itself.(the controller has its own gps, so does the smart phone, but that's not the point, Mavic itself doesn't log anything locally)

Question about litchi only recording partial flight data for Mavic
 

SrMi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2017
Messages
62
Reaction score
29
Age
58
Automatic app update is a user choice, i.e., you specify in your Android or iOS if you want to update apps manually (my choice) or ASAP. DJI does not force you to update the app, AFAIK.
Has it been confirmed that you cannot fly Mavic when a new firmware has been found? My Mavic was indoors when new firmware appeared, I did not fly it, but it seemed to me that I would have been able to fly and control it without updating firmware.
Good advice to wait with updates (app and firmware) until its stability has been confirmed.
 

TTFullTimer

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 7, 2017
Messages
204
Reaction score
84
Age
77
Well I had no way to fly when DJI said I had to update the Mavic. Luckily I had 4g on my phone and was able to sit in the hot Arizona sun for almost an hour while things ground away to download and install the new update. It would not fly without the update. Had I been in a low or no signal area I would have had to pack up, drive back 15 miles to town and then upgraded. By then I would have lost the desire to drive out again to fly.
 

mavic_billy

New Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2017
Messages
1
Reaction score
0
Age
49
Flight logs from where? They don't go onto the MicroSD. Once RC signal is lost, all logging stops. There is no Black box/FDR on the Mavic itself.(the controller has its own gps, so does the smart phone, but that's not the point, Mavic itself doesn't log anything locally)

Question about litchi only recording partial flight data for Mavic
Hey so if you wish, pull your Mavic Pro shell off, then you will find an RF Shielded section on the MB. There is a pre-installed 4Gb Micro SD card, which can be removed and contains copies of multiple .DAT files, which are Flight Logs, created anytime you power on the Mavic. There's even a PARAM.TXT file which indicates modules called etc.

There is another chip in that same RF shielded section.

I found the above out after I crashed my Mavic and pulled it apart to clean/repair. You can use DATCON to create files which can be imported into GoogleEarth.

Of course the Quad has time, it has an embedded GPS chip....hence the correct statement on how the .DAT files are timestamped appropriately. The RC does not have a GPS Chip, not sure where you get that from, but if you are referencing the GPS display on the RC, that's provided for display to show you what visibility the Mavic has to the GPS Constellation.

So a Mavic has 2 Micro SD slots, one you didnt know about and another where you provide the SD card. FYI your .DAT files do get transferred to your Go4 App....

Lastly, I dont see how DJI can stop your quad from flying, unless you have a data connection on your phone or tablet. I dont fly with any valid data connections at any time.

DJI arent going to know when they will need to update in the future, so all this talk of being grounded doesnt make sense, because you didnt update firmware. However if you need to fly with a Data Connection all the time, then I can see possibly DJI sending you an update that you may not be made aware of, but I'm not sure DJI would do that.

What does flying with a Data Connection to the internet get you? I miss the point. You can fly the Mavic easily via WiFi or RC, Data Connections to internet not required, but then maybe you are streaming the Video to youtube or faccebook.

Logging continues regardless of signal lost, its logging to the Mavic itself.