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Smart Controller Firmware V01.01.0076

I updated today and haven't had any issues. Also got a firmware update for the A2S after doing the SC update. Not sure if they are dependent upon eachother but it seemed too coincidental that I was only notified for an aircraft update after updating the SC.
 
Nice to see that there are still people around, being forced to fly with the (poor) RM500.

I also recently updated my RM500, used for my little Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced, to V01.01.0076. So far I haven't seen any bad side effects but some of my grief has been solved. Not necessarily by this update though. More about that later.

I need to get more flight hours on this platform after update to be able to really say if everything works all right but after about five hours nothing negative.

Ask usual I have the sneaking feeling that DJI has planted a logic time bomb in the firmware to kill off the drone. But so far it's flying well!

One of my reasons for actually doing this update was that my RM500 seemed to 'lock up' when signal strength was poor - which it usually is with the original, extremely poor, antenna construction. I frequently had to kill and relaunch the Pilot app on the RM500 to get it back to play before modifying the RM500 to use real UHF connectors and external antennas. Either cabled patch or Yagis - or small controller mounted dipole rubber duckies. And I'm doing my test flying FAR from interference sources. I actually have a sort of radio spectrum observatory as my neighbor for the same reason.

However, to get the update installer going, I had to uninstall most of what I have installed on this device - AirData, Litchi, Drone Deploy, Maps Pilot Pro, video streaming utilities, tunneling and firewall software preventing data from going to china, etc, etc - to free up enough memory. So it wasn't completely painless in that regard.

It took maybe 5 iterations trying both direct flashcard updates and using the 'DJI Assistant' software which made me extremely uneasy since it forces me to use a Windows 10 computer. Extremely nasty experience I must say, and I haven't used Windows since XP was abandoned, but transitioned fully to Linux in different flavors. Especially on my Mac's.

The update seemed to work alright but after reboot, the RM500 was still on the previous fw level. This happened several times. I uttered many nasty words.

To me it looks like even if the update starts and finishes without complaint, there's still a possibility that memory limitations prohibits a successful update. There's really no way to tell if it doesn't write a verbose logfile somewhere. I didn't really feel for debug or reverse engineer another DJI product so I just launched the installer yet again a few times...

What is the saying? 'The definition of an idiot is someone doing the same stupid thing over and over, each time fully expecting a different outcome'..? 🤔

In the end I uninstalled almost everything except the file explorer I'm using on all my devices, giving me access to my network shares via ssh and much more. I didn't want to do a full 'factory reset'. And I never did.

When it finally booted, confirming the correct firmware at V01.01.0076, I was immediately offered a firmware update for the aircraft to V01.00.0621. In this aircraft firmware there is a claim saying 'Added support for Remote ID in the United States'.

Since I'm neither a fan of having my piloting position pinpointed when flying - or ever, nor being in the United States, I respectfully declined the aircraft update. I can still take off and fly the M2EA without any hiccups.



Now to my reason for updating the firmware, contrary to my standard MO of not fixing what's not broken:

Mainly I experienced stability issues with the RM500 but I have also had a lot of grief with the M2EA platform in general. It's sort of a love-hate relationship where my attachment to the little drone prevent me from selling him.

Yes, HIM. It's a deep personal attachment going on here. He's sort of my only friend with severe development impairment, always happy to be helpful but usually not doing particularly well - especially considering the overhead and cost adopting and housing him. But you shouldn't reject nor neglect those wanting to but maybe not performing at the top tier level, right?

The aircraft could easily have been one of the best drones on the market but it fails miserably due to being ridiculously constrained in its DNA (firmware).

Disregarding all the Mavic 2 Zoom / Pro functionality, just take the camera for example. 48MP and nothing but the most basic functionality. No manual modes, no RAW picture option, not even an option to fix the shutter speed - NOTHING!!!

No burst photography - although this seems to be limited in the Pilot app, not the camera itself. Bursts would be incredible useful since I always shoot in 3-photo bursts when doing recon flights. Sometimes a shot has motion blur or a bird is temporarily covering part of a picture. Bursts solve this.

And on the thermal side it's basically the same ripoff. It's lacking the very basic isothermal function and even worse - it can't even compensate for ambient temperature on-board. You have to do this in Post-Processing - and that's NOT what this drone is primarily about. It's a reconnaissance drone for easy carrying and ultrafast deployment which should have these extremely basic functions on-board.
A simple slider for guestimating the ambient temperature would have been beautiful but I bet there's already an ambient temperature sensor in the drone somewhere.

I fully understand that DJI can't incorporate everything in this small form factor with limited cpu real estate, like AI targeting, tracking and following as in the M30T - but WTF!? For close to 10 grand in US dollars you'd expect a little more than this. Actually much more. Especially with a cheap Chinese thermal sensor without licensing fees to pay to FLIR - like with the M2ED.

One of my REALLY huge problems was that I couldn't get it to stream RTMP to my own in-house server. I just got a shitload of decoding and demuxing errors that I couldn't really figure out. Video hacking isn't my main business so I'm a bit wing clipped here. Cryptography on the other hand is something I have dabbled with a lot so I don't give up easily...

For a long time I was convinced that DJI did 'something strange' (TM) to the video stream but then I tried streaming to public servers like 'Twitch.tv' etc - which turned out to work just fine (except for the horrible lag and lack of security in form of viewer authentication).

I need to stream both video feed and remote control screen with very little lag to a server with no leakages. And now I can finally do that!

Now when it looks like this issue is solved I can't really say if this has something to do with the update to the RM500 and Pilot app or my endless and sometimes desperate source code modifications. Regardless, it now works and I'm able to stream the camera feed and remote controller screen over my in-house nginx server in a pure Linux environment. 👍

These were the reasons I was desperately trying to update my little M2EA, hoping DJI would do the right thing - even if I know very well how they operate, abandoning a product as soon as a new one is introduced to the market.

Really ****** business morale, especially in the 'enterprise segment'. Any European or US company would support and update a product like this as long as the hardware allows it. It's a matter of honesty, customer care and self preservation. DJI's 'customer care' is nothing but a care that especially the enterprise customers needs to buy another expensive piece of kit as soon as possible.


A little background:

The reason I'm trying to develop a Backend software solution for streaming and collaboration is another of DJI's specialties: overpriced subscription fees for their substandard backend products - like Flight Hub for example. This is also abandoned since long, now focusing solely on 'FlightHub 2', leaving the M2EA without the all important collaboration tools for rescue teams. Good work DJI ... Why not allowing the M2EA into the 'FlightHub 2'? There's no good explanation except that customers are forced to buy the larger M30T - which I also did...

So I decided to look into building an open source collaboration tool suite, available for drones of any kind - if I can find enough time for it, financing it somehow.

I've been flying RC since I was a kid, moving to large gas powered helicopters in my upper teens and later jet powered. After a serious hiatus I revisited this hobby when small MEMS gyros made for the mobile phone market showed up. This naturally opened the door to cheapish flight controllers. But due to vibration sensitivity the development platform was everything but cheap, demanding jet power to combat vibrations from gasoline and nitro piston engines.

At the time I was actually more into experimental diving and development of controllers for Closed Circuit Rebreathers but after a 'bug' bit me in an underwater cave, 4 hours in and 135 meter's down, I was given permanent and total cave and wreck diving prohibition from my wife. Suddenly I had all the time in the world for large helicopters again. Including a 1:1 scale MD500.

I've been dabbling with 'drones' since around 2009 when I built my first real working flight controller with fully autonomous flight modes (autopilot), suitable for both fixed and rotor wing aircraft, with which I won 1st and 2nd price in a rather prestigious competition - the 'DIY Drones T3 competition'. This was really encouraging - also when Chinese individuals mailed me constantly, trying to get the C++ source for the controller.

In the process I rendered a full scale MD500 grounded due to unauthorized modifications - Install of servos coupled to the control linkage. This was partly solved by registering the helicopter as an experimental aircraft. And not flying it at the public airfield but rather over my own property.

To my knowledge this was the first time ever a small helicopter was equipped with an autopilot which could not only hover in place and hold it's attitude but also could fly by 'point-and-click' on the navigation screen. Needless to say, all these toys costed some serious money...

When I couldn't find the financial muscles to take this to market myself, I open-sourced the firmware code - back then written for the PIC32 family of microcontrollers, later ported to STM32.

The rest is history as they say...

Long rant but there's my $0.02 about DJI in general.

//Mike
 

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