Monday, December 4, 2017

Phantom 3 Professional - ESC Failure in Flight/Crash!

My P3P Crashed!  But the GPS Location was perfect...

To make a long story short:  DJI replaced my P3P with a new (I presume that it was a refurbished) P3P.  They didn't say that they would and they charged me about $90 for an hour of labor and some camera gimbal servos, but in the end, I believe that it was worth it.  I had repaired the cracks and so I had been inside the P3P.  They gave me a good, and fair replacement.  I'd certainly buy from DJI again, I believe that they are an honorable company.


I walked right up to my Phantom 3 Professional after it crashed.  I was flying in FPV mode with Litchi and everything was proceeding normally until my drone started fluttering/spinning in the sky at 334 feet altitude and fell right to the ground.  What happened!  There was very little time to react, even if there was something that I could do.  I recall that I commanded a full up left stick to try and reduce the rate of decent but the whole event lasted about 11 seconds.

The total air time was only 1 minute and 41 seconds.  There was no prior indication of the upcoming ESC failure, other than an uncommanded 180 degree right turn 20 seconds before total failure.  

Gosh, that's a lot of energy and it showed on the fuselage. But as it turns out, the actual impact speed was about 1/2 of the free-fall calculations.  Those other three motors were trying there best to remedy the situation but there was no hope.   A quad simply cannot fly with only three good motors.  ( Update:  As it turns out, a quad CAN fly with only 3 motors, but a DJI Phantom 3 Pro can't and this seems to be a software issue)

This is a classic video of an ESC failure in flight.   Hopefully, DJI will agree and replace my IMU board and bent 4k camera.  I'm heartsick that the drone that I've hand caught for over 200 flights and more than 29 hours of flight time just face planted into the ground!!!

Are you kidding me!

Just when I thought DJI was the pinnacle of quad technology, something like this is on YouTube from 5 years ago!  In other words, Abigail didn't have to crash!  Let's see what DJI does.

Take a look at the video above, it'll amaze you!

Update:  DJI First reply:

"Dear Customer, Unfortunately, damage that is not caused by a product malfunction or is out of the warranty period is not covered by DJI aftersales policy. We will either repair it or replace it with a product that's new or equivalent to new in both performance and reliability after payment has been received. For more information, please visit DJI North America"

Update December 2017:  Although the form letter said that the crash wouldn't be covered by warranty, I received back a newly refurbished Phantom 3 Professional. (Actually, it turned out to be a Phantom 3 Advanced with a 4K camera attached.  The range was noticeably lower than the Pro)   Before I sent it back, I applied the plast-aid fix to the rear motor mounts, but this fix was not there so they must have provided a new body and a new camera and a new main board. So I'm very happy with what I received back from DJI, the total time for repair was about 3 weeks and the new quad is flying well.  It has a different serial number and no wear on the serial number sticker which occurs by taking the battery in and out over time so this is a newly refurbished quad.  I'll let you know how it goes, but I'm happy with DJI again!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

My UpAir One won't arm it's motors! (again!)

Well this appears to be the same problem that I sent my quad back to Banggood a few months ago.  I'm better at taking it apart now and honestly, this one was my fault...  I was out flying a distance away and triggered a RTH (return to home) because of weak signal strength but after the quad returned to LOS from me, I overrode the RTH and began to fly around locally.  Well, it's well known (at least to me) that if you override RTH, then that's your last free ticket with the Upair, the next failure, such as a low battery RTH will fail and the quad will fall out of the sky!!!  (and that's what happened!)

After picking up my camera and the broken landing gear, (my UpAir fell from about 60' on soft sand!)  I tried starting the motors again but it wouldn't arm any longer.  I took apart the drone to look for any loose or broken components but there wasn't anything visibly wrong so I just kinda left it on the bench for a couple of months while I tried to research the issue.  I've had luck with heating some electronic components to I got out my heat gun and heated up the SD card where it had been super glued by Banggood.  I gave it good heat cycle, probably 300-400° for about 60 seconds and after letting it cool again I mounted the battery on the board and tried powering it up.  After a normal startup sequence, I tried to arm the motors again and VIOLA, IT WORKED!.  

Well that would explain Banggood super-gluing the SD card in.  A loose connection on the card would cause the quad not to be able to complete it's boot sequence and not let the motors arm.  

Update:  I'm not positive that the SD card was the problem, I also heated up the IC located on the center of the daughter board.  It also could be that component but it's enough of an issue to take the UpAir apart that I wanted to heat both components just in case.

The bottom line is that my UpAir is STILL flying and although I haven't electronically logged each flight as I have with my Phantom 3 Pro, I've flown the UpAir just as much or even more.   Right now, I have 30 hours and 201 flights on my Phantom 3 Pro, and I have at least that much on the UpAir too!

More about this:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Upair One - No MAV data

Are you sitting there with your UpAir One on the shelf because the motors just won't arm?  Well,  I have been there twice now!    No MAV Data, motors won't arm is my previous experience with sending my drone back to Banggood.  The only change that I could see was that the internal SD card was super-glued into it's mount rather than the silicone (RTV) that was as the original craft was delivered to me.

Well, after a crash, which was my fault after an override on a low battery RTH, my quad sat on my table for 2 months until I had an idea.  Sometimes heating a circuit board will  repair it.  I decided to take the heat gun to the SD card and viola!  After heating the SD card (still superglued in by Banggood) I plugged in the battery and tried to arm the motors and it worked!.  I put the quad back together and took it outside and flew it for the first time in over two months!

My supposition is that the reason the Bangood superglued the SD card in is that it's having trouble with connections in their SD mount.  It's not that it's working loose, but that the connections are poor or the the SD card itself is of poor quality.  I don't know, but the problem appears to be centered around the internal SD card.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Total Eclipse in Arthur, Nebraska (2017)

Despite all of the warnings about massive traffic jams we decided to travel from Brighton, Colorado to Arthur, Nebraska which was in the path of totality.   We ran into some morning fog on I-76 that was pretty thick in places, but the traffic was normal and when not slowed by fog, we were able to drive the speed limit heading towards I-80 and while heading back home.  On this route, the crowds failed to materialize.

I decided to fly the P3P during totality and capture a panorama of the area but as it turns out, I forgot to press 'Record' after landing the drone and inserting a fresh battery at 2 minutes and 30 seconds before totality!   All I can say, is that you had to be there.  Even these guys that recorded the space station transiting the sun during the eclipse, forgot to take the lens cap off of their telescopes because of the awesomeness of the event!  I got some good video, but theirs is better.  Watch this video too.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Rats!!! Stress Cracks in my Phantom 3 Professional!

I suppose that it had to happen, I purchased this refurbished P3P from Amazon on June 14th but at 108 flights and 15.25 hours flight time, but my P3P developed two rather substantial stress cracks in the rear arms, just where everyone else is experiencing them after only 57 days! 

In my opinion, these cracks aren't caused by overtightning the two frame screws just inside the motor mount screws.  These are specifically made not to stress the plastic by using stand-off screws.  These screws have a large barrel that slips through the plastic and compresses agains the metal insert in the upper shell.  The lower shell shouldn't be stressed by these.  No, In my opinion, the plastic formulation of the aircraft body, perhaps aided by the lack of rigidity in the join of top and bottom halves is the culprit and that can only be solved by re-designing the top and bottom enclosures.   I suspect that is why DJI added the plastic "locks" on the P3, to help bind the top and bottom shells together.

I decided to repair my drone rather than use the warranty replacement that is available (My drone is less than 2 months into a 12 month warranty period) because of the delay I've read about, (6-8 weeks) and partially because I believe that DJI will just use new but defective cases to fix the issue.  I want to fix the issue and not just delay it's re-occurrence.

BTW - I know, I should have rotated my phone to take this video.  Oh well, next time.

I've decided to go with the Plast-Aid fix.  This seems like it will strengthen the arms sufficiently and beyond that, I've decided to apply a tape element to join the top and bottom enclosures of the fuselage and make them a single component.   I don't want to glue the top to the bottom because of the difficulty of separating them in the future, but I want to select a strong adhesive tape that will strengthen the enclosure.

Well, my Bondic arrived before the Plast-Aid so I fixed the cracks with Bondic.   Amazing stuff, but my wife said that she's been using this for 30 years now and I just should have borrowed some of her UV nail polish!  I'm pretty sure it's not the same, but Bondic really works great to stop the cracks.  3-4 seconds of the UV lamp and Bondic solidifies very well,  I sanded the arm and it looks as good as new!  I still want to add a bit of Plast-aid to the lower arm before flying again, but this looks like it will be a good fix.

So after adding the Plast-aid, this is what my lower rear arms look like.

Update: Now at 128 flights and 3 hours additional flight time (18h 02m 27s total flight time).  The rear motor mounts aren't showing any additional signs of cracking.  Either in the existing cracks or in any new areas.  I'll be inspecting these arms closely over the next few months and let you know if I see anything.

Update: Now at 149 flights and another 3-4 hours of flight time.( 21h 47m 08s) of total flight time.  I've located two VERY small cracks emanating from the two frame screws opposite of the original cracks that I applied the smallest amount of Bondic to check them from spreading.  These are trivial associated cracks but worth logging.   Overall, I'm pleased with the Plast-aid/Bondic repair protocol. The rear motor arms are very solid and seem to be fixed well but cracks on the Phantom are an issue to be sure.

Update: 169 flights and 25 hours total flight time.  No additional cracking and the rear arms are still very solid!  61 additional flights and 10 hours of flight time since the repair.  I bought a new Phantom 3 Pro shell, just in case this didn't work, but now I'm sure that if I do change the case, that I'll make sure to fill the lower arm motor mounts with Plast-aid prior to mounting the motors.  This stuff looks like it works great and fixes the problem.

Update: 199 flights and 30 hours total flight time.  This is an additional 15 hours of flight time and there's no further cracking, so I think these arms are essentially fixed.  If new cracks occur, I don't believe that they will be related to the original cracks.  I would heartily endorse using Plast-aid and Bondic to repair rear arm cracks in the Phantom 3 pro.  It appears to work well!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

3 bladed props for the UPair One???

You have probably seen lots of drones flying with 3-bladed props.  There is no reason why, with appropriate design adaptations, that a 3 bladed prop won't serve just as well as a 2 bladed prop.  But they simply don't work on MY UPair One!    At least without some PID modifications.   In fact, I believe that is all that it will take to make my UPair One fly just fine with these props.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The UPair One is a great racing 'copter! (Ok, not so much)

There are lot's of great uses for the DJI Phantom 3 Professional, but racing around your yard seeing how fast you can fly is probably not one of them.  My old UPair One allows me to fly with crazy abandon (and still fly safely) around my yard and share it with you.

Here are some videos of my recent figure 8's around the yard.  The UPair is a great training 'copter!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

UPair One vs Phantom 3 Professional

Really?  I've seen videos where this comparison is proposed, but I cannot disagree more! The DJI Phantom 3 Professional is a quality flying machine.  The attention to detail is clear and unmistakable.

Yes, the UPair is a workhorse, but again the quality of the Phantom in comparison is obvious for even the most casual observer. But for all of it's corners cut, the PX4 board on the UPair One appears to be a stable flight controller but none of the serious attention to detail can be seen in the G10 UPair where the DJI product takes quality for granted.

Don't get me wrong, I learned to fly a full featured camera drone using the UPair One.  I still fly mine almost everyday.    Just this evening I was working on tight figure-eights at 28kph in my front yard!  I wouldn't do that with my P3P, but the UPair with her little fixed-pitch racing drone camera beneath, handles it pretty well!

Actually, you can get pretty good video using just an FPV camera with no gimbal at all!  I was having some trouble with my UPair camera/gimbal so I removed the whole assembly and flew LOS with only the quad.  Not being able to determine my position at the limits of LOS, I attached a $20 fpv camera to the camera mount and added back my 600mw VTX.  Below are the images streamed back to my phone, actual camera recording would provide a better image, but you can see that the UPair platform is pretty stable if you keep the control movements gentle.

Gold Plated Male and Female Bullet Banana Connectors Plugs for RC Battery ESC Motor

I've seen a number of YouTube videos where people have replaced their stock UPair One motors and decided against unsoldering the wires from the flight controller board but cut the wires to the motors and spliced them back together.    Some use crimp connectors and one person I remember used crimped on male and female spade terminals insulated with duct tape!  That was the video with the ESC fire on in flight.

I've replaced all of my stock motors with Racerstar 2212's and opted to use these quick-disconnect terminals.  They work very well and with the proper heat-shrink tubing applied, they'll protect against shorting out your ESC's.

These connectors are wonderful for easily swapping out your quad's motors.  Here is a link on Amazon:

Friday, July 7, 2017

UPair One Battery test. Documented 25.4 minutes aloft!

My 2.7 k camera has been causing me some problems.  The connectors are getting worn and causing the FPV video to be intermittent.   So I thought, "I don't need no stinkin' FPV", so I pulled the camera and the monitor off the controller and fired up the drone!

You still have to wait for a GPS lock to be established and you won't know unless you try to take off.  Although the motors will arm, the UPair won't take off.  Be patient, it only takes a minute or so then you're off!

Flying strictly line of sight without the FPV is fun, and the training is helpful in case of a system failure where you would need to navigate back to the home point without any visual aids.  (Yeah, I know.  RTH works but you still might need to fly your quad in manually...)

I even tested flying out 1000 meters and turning off the controller, yep, it fly's right back to home.

I'll post more, but here is a battery test I just completed an hour ago.  25 minutes and 23 seconds aloft with my UPair One!

Update:  Ok, don't interrupt RTH and hover until the battery shuts off!  Unless you are only 6 feet in the air with the camera and gimbal removed.  There was no damage to my naked UPair, it's flying just fine after the crash.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Aerial Inspection using the P3P and Litchi?

The drone industry is at it's beginning and the future looks very promising.  One of the things that drones are being used for is remote inspection.  This video looks at using the Litchi Mission Hub app to pre-program a remote power line inspection mission.  

This video is just a demonstration of what I believe will be routinely performed in the future.  Precise flight plans can be flown using GPS navigation and GIS mapping tools to pre-plan a Drone "Mission" to capture photographic or other 2 or 3D data.  

My first UPAir One flight and my first flight with a capable quad.

The UPair One is a good quad to learn with.  It's relatively inexpensive and a capable flying machine with many of the features that you'll learn to love in a quad.  GPS navigation, aerial photography using a camera on a gimbal and FPV flying.  That said, it's also lacking in all of those areas.

I didn't know it at the time, I was awestruck with the technology and flew my UPair One for about 90 flights before it quit working for me.  I had no crashes, it was easy to fly and the FPV view was amazing as far as I knew.

In the end, it's worked out well and I have about 90 successful flights on my UPair One.   We only know what we've flown so ignorance in this case is bliss.

I presume that the top shelf quads are that much better than what I'm flying now, the DJI Phantom 3 Professional so I'll just appreciate what I have and look forward to upgrading in the future.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

How to paint your Drone?

Why not?  The UPair One is a plain white plastic beast.  It's a DJI Phantom clone and who would paint their Phantom?  I wouldn't.  You spend $1000+ on something you don't paint it on a whim with a can of spray paint.

But after you upgrade to a Phantom, what else are you going to do with your UpAir?  There is only one YouTube channel that I can find where someone has painted their UpAir One and that's Olaf at Drones4Life.  After you upgrade to a DJI phantom, and probably any other DJI product, your not going to have much affection for your first drone.  It's just a fact.

So why not have some fun with your first love?  Since I've removed my camera and gimbal from my UPair, it's rock solid!  I can fly it within line of sight and it will do whatever I ask of it.  I can ask it to do things that I would never feel comfortable doing with my $1000 Phantom.  

Yesterday, I decide to paint my UpAir.  I originally thought that candy apple red with flames would be great, but after getting to Home Depot and finding out that they didn't have candy apple red, I settled on metallic silver with florescent green and red stripes.  Ok, I decided on the the metallic silver with red stripe stickers from my Phantom.  It was easier than masking the 3 different colors, and as it turns out, it doesn't look bad.

So this is the paint that I settled on.  I've read that you shouldn't use metallic paint because of the attenuation to the GPS signal. (Olaf again @ Drones4life) but I'm a bit of a rebel and I need to check out the data myself.  As it turns out, the Rustoleum metallic paint that I used didn't have any noticeable effect on my GPS lock on my UPair.   I ended up putting 3 good coats on the GPS antenna on top too! 

Here's a link:

If you are unsure about this, of course, don't do it.  I'm just reporting that I didn't have any issues.

Next, I also installed 4 new Racerstar 2212 980KV motors.   This is also something that Olaf had done.  I bought these motors last month and I thought that now would be a good time to replace my old motors.  The old motors are still good but the ole UPair really looks cool painted metallic silver with red motors and red Phantom Stripes on the front.

So here it is!  The (almost finished) metallic silver, 2212 red racerstar motors and the pilfered DJI Phantom 3 Standard decals on my naked UPair.  What do you think?  (I want to fill in the sweeping lines inset into the fuselage plastic with red paint and highlight the "UPair" logo as well.)

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Warm Summer Nights

I'm learning that even ham-fisted photographers like me can shoot a decent shot with the help of an automated mission planner.  I know, I know, the highlights are still blown out but I'm working on it. This short flight around the neighborhood was my second attempt at utilizing multiple Point of interest (POI's) in Litchi along with altitude changes and sweeping panoramas to create a cinematic style video.

The sweeping shot of the car on the highway was accidental, the automobile entered my FOV during the shot but it fits perfectly!  I could have planned it that way so I'll keep that in mind for next time.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Working on my Cinematography

I'm trying to not waste my time just having fun flying my quad, (though it is really fun to fly!)  I'm working on classic Drone shots and DJI intelligent flight modes.  Here is one example:  The classic pull away shot!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Litchi Mission Planning - Wow!

I've been in technology all of my life.  I was an authorized service rep for the Commodore 64 for goodness sakes so I know computers!  (Ok, that's not really impressive but I've worked on control systems for monitoring atomic bomb testing at the Nevada Test Site, I've calibrated Geiger counters for use on nuclear submarines and built lots and lots of applications in PHP, .Net, C++ and C# so I know computers.)  But this is just amazing! Draw a path on a map, add some points of interest and press "Go" and the Phantom 3 Professional flies it... automatically!  It's just amazing!

I flew the Litchi mission planner today for the first time.  Trying to connect first using my Samsung Galaxy Tab S but it wouldn't connect to my tablet so I tried my cell phone, a Galaxy S5, and it hooked right up.  I opened the mission and sent it to my P3P and pressed 'play'.  Amazing!  It just flew the mission perfectly!

This adds a new level of sophistication to my cinematography.  The computer will handle drone velocity, pitch, yaw and camera angle automatically while I am just responsible for keeping the altitude sufficient to not smack into anything while the mission is being executed.    I think I can to that.  But that, as it turns out, is extremely important!

Just to make sure, I flew the mission again a bit later in the day and overlaid the KML file on top of each other in Google Earth.  They were almost identical!  I'm looking over the videos of the two different flights now, but I expect that they are the same.  Simply Amazing!

Update, I've since flown missions using my Galaxy Tab S tablet.  I uninstalled DJI Go and Litchi and reinstalled them both, as well has clearing the defaults on both apps. They appear to coexist just fine on my tablet.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Father's Day

My father once told me (he was a 727 captain for Western Airlines), that if you see an another airplane in your windshield while you're flying, that it better be moving across your field of view, because if it's stationary and not flying away from you, then that is the exact spot where the other airplane will hit you!  Well, that works for landing your drone too!  If you keep your drone coming at you with very little movement, that's where it will land.  You can just reach up and grab it.

Friday, June 16, 2017

HDR with the Phantom 3

I have 13.5 hours quad flight time now (and a bit over 500 hours as pilot in command in aircraft that you sit in) so my thumbs have finally stopped shaking. Apparently the apprehension of winging my $1000 quad two miles through the air at about 40mph makes me a bit nervous at first. I recall my first solo of a Cessna 150 in 1971 when I was 16 years old, I felt the same apprehension.  After that, flying becomes a part of you!


Yesterday, I was working on testing the Point of Interest mode of the Phantom 3. (It works great!) This evening I'm working on HDR's (High Dynamic Range) photography using the AEB or "Automatic Exposure Bracketing" mode.  I shoot on the ground with a Nikon D300 and have shot a good deal of HDR.  I like shooting 3 shot 1 EV raw images to use for HDR processing.  I find that 3 images are sufficient to create a great final image.  I've been using Photomatix for years so that's what I processed these images with.  I'm pleased with the results and will likely continue to shoot 3 shot RAW brackets for everything from now on, even if I don't process the images in HDR.  

3-Shot HDR using AEB and Photomatix
3-Shot HDR using AEB and Photomatix

These are classic HDR images.  I usually like to under emphasize the HDR "look" but I processed these with the default settings of Photomatix to let you see the full effect of High Dynamic Range Photography.  These images took about 3 additional minutes to process before posting to the blog.  It's a nice effect.

3-Shot HDR using AEB and Photomatix

3-Shot HDR using AEB and Photomatix

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Phantom 3 Pro - What a difference $1000 makes!

I received my DJI Phantom 3 Professional yesterday!  After reading the manual cover to cover charging the flight and controller batteries, I was able to fly for about 15 minutes last night.  I'm really enjoying learning all that this new craft can do - right out of the box.  It is an order of magnitude better than my UPair One, without question!

Monday, June 12, 2017

UPair One PX4 Flight Controller Board.

The UPair One V1.2 PX4 Flight Controller and GPS boards are what make the UPair drone fly.

UPair One - Main Board with ESC controllers

As you can see, there are 6 mosfets driving each motor in each quadrant.  I'm not sure what the four chips are towards the center of the board, but I believe that they are the controller IC's for each motor.   The red/black leads on the top and bottom of the board are 5vdc power for the navigation LED's.

The GPS controller board is where I believe my problem with the "NO MAV DATA" is originating but until I hear back from Banggood, I'm not sure.

UPDATE:  After several weeks and a hundred more flights, the motors again wouldn't arm.  Not seeing anything physical on the boards, I let the quad sit on the shelf for a couple of months while focusing on my Phantom 3 Pro, but out of curiosity and an electronics background, I decided to try the heat gun fix to the GPS board.  I heated the large IC in the center of the board to about 400° and also the SD card mount (that was super glued by Bangood).  Lo and Behold, it worked!.  There is either a flakey IC, solder connection or SD card involved here that the heat restores the connection.  It's still working so far! (December 2017)

More about this:

Monday, June 5, 2017

Rats! No MAV Data!

Update: 11/14/2017 - No MAV data, part deux

Well, I think that the controls issue has finally manifested itself fully.  What was a control problem, and a minor fly-away where my quad didn't respond to my lateral control inputs. It did allow me to land it but somewhat unsmoothly (a soft crash in the weeds).   Subsequent starts gave me no confidence that I truly was in control of the quad and finally, it reported "No MAV Data" and will not arm the ESC's.  Rats!

I've searched all I can on the web, tried everything that I can find so far and wrote to technical support at Banggood.  Still waiting for a response.

Update - June 11th

I heard back from Banggood. But to keep it in context, I need to share what I wrote to them using the Amazon message system on my order:

I own Serial Number *12PXXXXXXXXX that I purchased on this order. I've had 87 successful flights before the quad stopped communicating properly. I'm getting "No MAV Data" now exclusively and am unable to arm the motors, just prior to this, the quad began to fly erratically though I was able to safely capture it by grabbing it in the air without crashing.. I have sucessfully run both the controller calibration and rebinding procedures successfully. ( but the problem remains. Is there another procedure that I might follow? I was assuming that it should last longer than this. 

I specifically included the actual Serial Number on an email message from Amazon so they would have proof of purchase.

This is what I heard in reply:

Regarding the issue,please help to check the following details for confirmation:
1.The SN code on your drone
2.Please try to turn off the drone and controller and restart again to see
if the problem still exist.
3.Please turn on your drone and controller, check the led light on the photography transmitssion block,
controller light,receiver light on the drone,drone light ,camera light, taking us photos to show the 
light status,this will help our engineer to confirm the problem.
4.Do you have picture on the screen when it shows"NO MAV DATA"?

We looking forwards to hearing from you soon.`

Thank you for your cooperation.
Chelsia from UPair customer service

Really?  This is obviously a form letter that I believe weeds out many people. I included the serial number in my letter and a detailed explanation of what I had done.  Have I tried turning it off and on again?  Really?  Can I take a picture of the screen when it shows "NO MAV DATA?".  I bet they've received hundreds of these complaints so far.

Now I've done lot's of modifications in the three weeks that I've owned and flown this drown almost every day successfully for 87 flights without a mishap.  I don't really expect Banggood or Amazon to refund me anything.  I've learned a ton about quads and fully expect to find a new PX4 board on Ebay sometime soon to get this quad going again.  I'm not worried.

In my opinion, the UPair is a great quad to learn on.  I flies pretty well and may have lasted longer for others than I experienced.  I did have a defective motor that would have caused a crash had it become disassembled in flight.  I was able to repair that just fine and got another 65 flights in so I'm not too terribly disappointed.  However, the quality of build is not exceptional and it's obvious if you take one of these apart.  It's worth the $295 that I spent, I've learned that much and I expect to get this working again.

I'll keep working to get my UPair back on the air, meanwhile I'm eagerly waiting for my new DJI Phantom 3 Professional that will be here next week.  I can't wait!
Update June 12th:  Ok, I calmed down and photographed the quad naked and sent it to Banggood (Chelsia) along with the serial number of my craft (again).  I also included a short video showing the status of the internal lights.  I also let them know that I'm not looking for a replacement or a refund, just some help fixing my quad and hopefully I'll be able to purchase the parts they recommend.  Heck, it's either the GPS board or the PX4 main board. 

This was the video that I sent to Banggood to explain my problem.

Update - July 5th

Wow, it's been under 3 weeks and my repaired quad arrived back.  It's the same fuselage and motors and the same antennas.  I'm not sure about the controller or the camera but I'll let you know when I do.  I fired it up and what do you know?  It has MAV data now!

I'm almost positive that the problem was in the GPS board but I suppose it could have been in the camera controller.  After working with the DJI Phantom 3 Professional over the past 3 weeks, the differences in construction are striking but hey, it works now!

Thank you Banggood, I couldn't have asked for better service!

Update - July 5th - Evening after 2 flights.

Ok, I took the quad out 1200+ feet and flew around, but on the way back, at about 50 feet, my upair fell out of the sky!  I've troubleshooted down to an intermittent connection on the camera gimbal control board feeding the VTX.  I've lost all FPV also though the gimbal still works and the gimbal pitch still functions.  For now, I've pulled off the camera and gimbal assembly.

So after receiving the quad back from the G10 repair facility, here is what I found... The only change that I can observe is that the SD card has been superglued into it's holder. That's it.  I suspect that it was a software change or SD card corruption that caused the "NO MAV DATA"  error and replacing or replacing the SD card fixed it.  You can see the change in these two images:

Before returning the quad

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

New DJI props arrived - noticeable quality improvement.

After the inverted faceplant into the driveway gravel that my drone made a couple of days ago,  I needed to replace my stock UPair props, I found these DJI props on Amazon.  

When they arrived they were all 13.0 grams +/- .05 grams,  the variance in weight between the props was minimal and the quality difference appeared noticeable to me. 

All four were in balance though I did add a 1cm square of cellophane tape to one blade but this is considerably less than the stock UPair blades that came with the quad.

I had over 80 successful flights on the last set of stock props and they would have lasted longer had not I rearranged my driveway with them.  Hopefully I'll get as much life out of these DJI props. I ordered another set of these sames props today.  It looks like a great buy at $13 for four of these.

Update: June 18th - I think that the noticeable improvement in quality of these props is what convinced me, without actually seeing one, that the DJI Phantom series was a quality build.  Now, actually owning one, I'm very glad to have purchased one.  The Phantom 3 Professional is an incredible machine!

Monday, May 29, 2017

WOW! That was interesting!

I just finished my strobe modification and went outside to fly.  I thought I'd be extra careful and at least try to calibrate the compass.  After all, I had the quad taken apart completely, taking pictures of the PX4 board and USB connections.

It went together mostly as expected but because I've added several new wires to the fuselage and some of that 20ms - 1A pulses for the new strobe lights, I was a bit cautious.

The quad started up normally and I chose PHLD (Position hold) with 15 satellites as I've had 75 successful flights prior to this mod so I thought everything would be ok.  Still, I was being cautious.

A raised the quad to 2 meters and watched it's position holding ability, which promptly stopped working, if it ever started.  There was no appreciable wind but the quad didn't hold position at all.  From experience, I switched to Altitude hold mode to disengage the GPS and attempted to land the thing.  It was everywhere and I was losing it quickly.  I wish I had a video  to review but it contacted the ground at a higher than normal rate of travel and flipped over.  Great!  Now my precious UPair One is chewing up the gravel in my driveway, inverted, and it won't shut off!  I have to pick it up and humiliatingly shut it off with the battery power switch!

What happened?...

Truthfully, I'm not sure.  I took it back into the shop and inspected the propellers (they were chewed up from the gravel in the driveway),  I tried to do an ESC reset as Olaf at DfL talks about, but it didn't work on my PX4 board.  

Well, I degaussed it again using my 40 year old home made degaussing coil. After sanding off all of the huge gouges on my props from the driveway, I tried flying again.

It worked!..It just worked!

I started the motors and they idled as expected.  I gave it throttle and it rose 2 meters and stopped climbing as I expected.  I reached out to hold it and made sure  it couldn't fly away.  Almost reassuredly, it hovered where it should.

I don't know if this is truly the degaussing working, but it seems to.

After further research, it appears that this degaussing question has come up alot on drone forums.  In this DJI forum, there is considerable questioning about how to do this and what tools to use.  Based upon my experience degaussing television picture tubes in a previous occupation, I'll write up my recommendations about how to do this.  

Sunday, May 28, 2017

56th Flight - Heiligenschein

1.54km east to the aqueduct at about 5pm.  Strong Heiligenschein at the quad’s shadow, even from 100 meters high. Flew south towards the powerlines then directly home.  Steep full throttle descent from 100 meters altitude to the landing.

55th Flight

My friend Mike came over and I let him fly this flight.  Autolanding RTL. Another convert because of GPS technology!

53rd Flight

Late afternoon  Departed to the east and turned north and flew up the road a bit at 100m altitude. Flew back down the street at 100 meters to keep the noise to a minimum.  Landed from the South over the shop. This is 1km from me. I installed the 600mw VTX a couple of weeks ago and it's really working well. I ordered a couple of clover-leaf antennas from aliexpress a couple of weeks ago. Turns out that I should have read this article from D4L before I bought them. As it turns out, I bought an SMA Male when I should have purchased an RP-SMA Male. Oh well, another two weeks for new antennas from China!


52nd Flight

I Flew 2.81km north towards a nearby radio tower.  The quad flew very well, great tracking, speed and controllability. I felt like this was the limit of the UPair One's range, the 600mw 5.8Ghz FPV transmitter was pretty snowy at times but the control transmitter also was getting to it's limits. At the antenna, RTL mode was auto selected once or twice and I decided that returning to home was a good idea. This distance is about 2 Miles which is pretty darn good in my opinion for a $295 quad.

 51st Flight.png