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Old Mar 05, 2014, 12:23 AM
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Canada, BC, Port Moody
Joined Jan 2014
26 Posts
Video
Destructive DJI F550 collision and story - Video

I was out capturing a nice foggy sunrise in the snow and was momentarily distracted by a passer by. I lost orientation and then video signal went a bit too fuzzy for depth perception. You'll see how it ended.

Winter aerial video resulting in catastrophic drone crash (2 min 24 sec)


I just spent a few thousand bucks on this thing, so I had a bit of a freak out. Luckily I have the Marco Polo by Eureka, which took me to the landing gear lying in a creek. The forest was quite thick and I wasn't able to see it right away.

I still had my goggles with me, and the cameras had been disconnected, but I could still see the distance, height, and azimuth on the OSD. I went back to my computer and drew a line in google earth with that distance and azimuth.

I used the GPS on my iPhone (with the 3D Maps app) to navigate to the coordinates that Google Earth gave me. I spent another half hour looking for it before I spotted a flashing red light in the trees... 90 feet up! (29 meters exactly) in a tree with no limbs for almost 80 feet.

So now for recovery. I am a hunter, so I am very familiar with going up trees to setup my tree stand. So I used the same methods. I screwed in metal steps while tying off on the way up. Well, I don't have 50 steps, I have 10. So I started putting in lag bolts, I got about 1/3 of the way and just couldn't get any farther.

I went home and started trying to figure it out. Eventually I decided that for this purpose and for hunting, that it is time that I own tree spurs. I went out and managed to get a great deal on a $300 set of spurs and all the other gear.

I strapped in and started heading up the tree. It was surprisingly easy and fast to get up to the canopy. The surprise, however, was when I got to the first limbs. A long story short, arborists are skilled and incredibly brave people and they carry stuff that I just didn't have.

After my near death experience that I will spare you the details of, I headed down and called a pro. He is seen in the photos below, rescuing my little friend from the tree.

I met him at the bottom of the tree and noticed that my camera and gimbal were missing. I started freaking out until I noticed that I was standing right beside it!

Total rescue time: 3 days
Total damage cost: $90
-1 motor
-1 ESC
-1 AeroXCraft Landing gear (broke surprisingly easily)
-1 Zenmuse Vibration isolation plate
-1 8 pin connector on the gimbal.

Lessons learned:
-Ignore people when you are flying! Safety first!
-When you lose depth perception or doubt your location at all, send it high, put IOC into home lock and pull back!
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Old Mar 07, 2014, 02:23 PM
Redacted per NSA "suggestion"
dedStik's Avatar
United States, VA, Virginia Beach
Joined Feb 2012
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Ouch
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Old Mar 10, 2014, 06:54 PM
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United States, MD, La Plata
Joined Jun 2012
331 Posts
You forgot the $300 spikes- which by the way canNOT be used in my neck of the woods and whatever the PRO charged you for the recovery.
Good thing it hit a tree and not a house or a car or a pedestrian....
I wonder about that pedestrian part of the story... At about 1:44~1:45 you make a very tight pass on a tree and the image bobbles. You made similar close passes elsewhere in that video as well. I wonder if you didn't get just a bit too cocky....
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Last edited by Icarusdanoob; Mar 12, 2014 at 02:19 AM.
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Old Mar 31, 2014, 02:22 PM
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Joined Dec 2013
216 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBennett View Post
I was out capturing a nice foggy sunrise in the snow and was momentarily distracted by a passer by. I lost orientation and then video signal went a bit too fuzzy for depth perception. You'll see how it ended.
Fantastic video!

The most interesting part to me about this crash is how much information you had to help with the recovery.
  • FPV right up until the crash
  • OSD with distance/height/azimuth information, still available after the crash
  • 3D maps and a GPS-enabled phone
  • A Marco Polo (pet tracker tag system)
  • A blinking red light

... and despite having so many separate systems, you literally needed *ALL* of them to find your hexacopter! That alone makes this a great learning opportunity and discussion starter for lost model locating.


At the end of your post, you summarized your lessons learned:
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBennett View Post
Lessons learned:
-Ignore people when you are flying! Safety first!
-When you lose depth perception or doubt your location at all, send it high, put IOC into home lock and pull back!
... but these are all ways to prevent a crash, not to improve your recovery ability after it happens.

So a few questions:
  1. If only the Marco Polo had been available, after finding the landing gear in the creek, did that get you close enough that you think you would have (eventually) been able to find the rest of the hexacopter without any other information?
  2. Are you going to move the Marco Polo from the (apparently fragile) landing gear to someplace directly mounted to the frame?
  3. If you had had a DVR, would replaying a saved recording of the FPV video stream have helped locate the hexacopter?
  4. Are you going to invest in an OSD or other telemetry that gives a full GPS position (lat, lon, alt) instead of the distance, height, and azimuth?
  5. After seeing how the gimbal broke, for round 2 will you be tethering your camera to the frame?
  6. Would a loud beeper or audio alarm on the hexacopter frame have helped locate it?
  7. The sales demonstrations would lead one to believe that the Marco Polo is easier, faster, and more accurate than tracking based on GPS position. Having tested the Marco Polo in a real-world high-stress situation in a wooded area, would you agree that this was true?

Thanks.
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Old Mar 31, 2014, 02:50 PM
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United States, MD, La Plata
Joined Jun 2012
331 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoX View Post
Fantastic video!

The most interesting part to me about this crash is how much information you had to help with the recovery.
  • FPV right up until the crash
  • OSD with distance/height/azimuth information, still available after the crash
  • 3D maps and a GPS-enabled phone
  • A Marco Polo (pet tracker tag system)
  • A blinking red light

... and despite having so many separate systems, you literally needed *ALL* of them to find your hexacopter! That alone makes this a great learning opportunity and discussion starter for lost model locating.


At the end of your post, you summarized your lessons learned:


... but these are all ways to prevent a crash, not to improve your recovery ability after it happens.

So a few questions:
  1. If only the Marco Polo had been available, after finding the landing gear in the creek, did that get you close enough that you think you would have (eventually) been able to find the rest of the hexacopter without any other information?
  2. Are you going to move the Marco Polo from the (apparently fragile) landing gear to someplace directly mounted to the frame?
  3. If you had had a DVR, would replaying a saved recording of the FPV video stream have helped locate the hexacopter?
  4. Are you going to invest in an OSD or other telemetry that gives a full GPS position (lat, lon, alt) instead of the distance, height, and azimuth?
  5. After seeing how the gimbal broke, for round 2 will you be tethering your camera to the frame?
  6. Would a loud beeper or audio alarm on the hexacopter frame have helped locate it?
  7. The sales demonstrations would lead one to believe that the Marco Polo is easier, faster, and more accurate than tracking based on GPS position. Having tested the Marco Polo in a real-world high-stress situation in a wooded area, would you agree that this was true?

Thanks.
How about the "I should have never buzzed that obstacle"? Honestly. Flying FPV with anything short of MILSPEC stuff is nothing short of silly. Notice that the OP has yet to respond....
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Old Mar 31, 2014, 03:05 PM
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Joined Dec 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Icarusdanoob View Post
How about the "I should have never buzzed that obstacle"? Honestly. Flying FPV with anything short of MILSPEC stuff is nothing short of silly.
You're completely correct. Flying long-range FPV beyond the visual range of a spotter will always have risks... and flying sideways or backwards without camera coverage, flying high-speed around trees, becoming distracted with things on the ground, etc, etc, all greatly increase that risk.

But that doesn't change the fact that this was an interesting (and successful) recovery of a crashed multicopter. Not everyone who crashes does so because of cocky flying - equipment failures, environmental conditions / wind gusts, signal interference, flight controller "flyaways", etc, could all put your flyer a good distance away or in areas that make locating it very difficult. Hence, the opportunity to learn from this as a locating/recovery case study.
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