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Some DJI Phantom Users are Experiencing Flyaways Resulting in Lost/Damaged Units and Cameras
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October 14, 2013
3:00 pm
Dave Andrews
Guest
41

Sorry guys, but that's just NOT the case with any of these. When it loses connection, it's supposed to come to the site of origin if it's in GPS mode. If it can't do that, it's supposed to go straight down and land in place. under NO circumstances is it the user's fault if the thing shoots off in some random direction and never stops.

Regardless of anything the user does or doesn't do, it's not supposed to do that.

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October 14, 2013
3:08 pm
j allard
Guest
42

i'm with dave on this. i've had 3 flyaways now across about 2 months of flying. i've had my share of pilot error mishaps, but the flyaways have happened at different altitudes and different circumstances and always goes full throttle and full attitude with no recovery until crash. there is definitely some kind of a bug in the firmware that confuses it. it's scary. i've had them happen at 4 feet (in a public space), 40 feet and 200 feet. none ended well.

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October 14, 2013
7:09 pm
Justin
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43

I can't figure out why I had my first fly away. Possible interference perhaps. It was on GPS mode. I am very thorough when it comes to calibrations and settings. It scared me though. Lots of sweet equipment on my Phantom. Plus. These baby's can get away very far and I don't want to accidentally hurt any one.

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October 14, 2013
7:16 pm
Justin
Guest
44

I think we are possibly getting TX interference. I have check my Naza visually and on my laptop. Check flight characteristic with the motor on and held the craft in my hand while playing with the controls. She responds well. At first I though my accelerator was stuck to cause it to just climb , I am really lost on this. Scare to even fly her. Going to take her to desert just to triple check. 2.4mhz way too many users.

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October 14, 2013
8:59 pm
Andrew Graham
Guest
45

it is from interference, mine happenned in a dense wifi area. checkout my post above. we need to replace the radios in these things if we are in urban areas with something more powerful.

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October 15, 2013
3:33 am
Carlo
Guest
46

This sounds exactly like my story. EXACTLY. I made no calibrations, but my software is also up to date. 2 minutes flight, up, forward, fail safe didn't work and Hero 3 Black Edition gone. Haha... Man, I swear I could've written that above.

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October 16, 2013
3:46 pm
Denus
Guest
47

I just bought a Phantom, and got version 1.1, with two RX antennas on it.
According to some, the receiver will select the stronger of the two automatically, also know as diversity.

My guess is that this must be an update responding to the many fly away issues, too bad DJI does not admit the problem.

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October 19, 2013
10:17 pm
Edward
Guest
48

Why not just add the dual battery brackets on each side, and use the battery cargo bay to hold a light GPS tracker? that way if the phantom flies away it can be tracked with a smart phone and quickly found using Google Maps.

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November 5, 2013
1:09 pm
byroninedmonton
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I've now lost TWO Phantoms … both flyways. Neither recovered. The first unit had a Drift HD camera attached, the second did not. Lost them within 2 or 3 weeks.

I fly ONLY in the GPS mode.

The DJI promotional video maintains the unit will return to the take-off point provided the GPS has locked into the satellites. Yes, sometimes that works. But sometimes it does NOT. Know that. For me, it's been nearly a $2,000 lesson.  

An email I sent to DJI [from its website] was neither answered nor acknowledged. My letter to them seemed to drift off into cyberspace, not unlike the Phantoms.

The Phantoms are still great little units, quite impressive. When they work well, they're a lot of fun. One can get great camera shots too.

I bought both my units online, and the distributor I dealt with has been honest. He tested my second unit, and came to the conclusion the transmitter was faulty, so he replaced it. Turns out, perhaps the unit itself was faulty. Who the hell knows? It's an awful thing to see hundreds of dollars sailing off into blue, failing to respond to the 'Go Home' feature. All the praying in the world didn't bring them back.

My first unit was lost somewhere over a big city [my take-off point was a large field a mile away]; the second unit was lost at sea with my take-off point two miles away.

I also discovered that the battery chargers can be defective. The distributor says he's getting a lot of returns on the battery-charger units. 

Perhaps it's a matter of the company in China working out some bugs. The sad thing of course is that so far you end up paying for those mistakes -- and paying big time. Let's hope there are class-action lawsuits, as companies tend to pay attention to loss of revenue.

Another thing: the Phantom, for some reason, has its hardware geared only to PCs. What about owners who have Mac computers? Strange thinking by the engineers at DJI.

Meanwhile, know that when you buy a Phantom -- particularly the older models -- you are rolling the dice, no matter what the company ads tell you. 

I would recommend a short test flight before any venturing of more than half a block away. If the unit returns to its original take-off point, fine. If it doesn't, bring that sucker down and start over! It's not worth the risk. Another tip: put your name and phone number on both the unit and the batteries. Some honest person may find it and give you a call.

I also hope that if you do have a flyaway the craft doesn't land in a crowd of people, or on a busy freeway. There are potentially huge legal problems not only for the company, but for you, the pilot.

If you're buying online, pay through Pay Pal -- as you stand a much better chance of getting a refund.

Buyers should encourage the company to install tiny battery-powered GPS units on the crafts, so the unit can be tracked by a smart phone if it flies away. There's just so much money at stake here. A flyaway is something I hope you don't experience. 

 

 

 

 

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November 7, 2013
10:50 am
byroninedmonton
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Mickeyboo said
Regarding fly aways....I own two Phantoms, the first one has never had issues.  I bought the second one when the price dropped $200 to $479 at B&H.   Today I test flew the new one in the same field I always use for testing.  It flew pretty well for 8 minutes and then began  to rapidly depart I killed the engines and it landed.  I had the experience two more times and each time had to quickly kill the engines damage was thankfully minimal. I only broke one carbon fiber prop...the gimbal and GoPro 3 have no problems.  I'm very distressed that this new Phantom in 1 day has shown such erratic behavior while the other which I've flown for months has had no problems with regard to flying away.

 

I always calibrate the controller and I always wait for the flashing green light with no red flashes indicating that it has picked up the GPS guidance.  I should have been suspect when right out of the box the transmitter failed to talk to the Phantom...I read in the advanced manual how to get them to connect and did that.  Pure speculation on my part but perhaps these Phantoms at a lower price are being dumped because of the fly away issue.  The introduction of their new models is now more than a few months behind schedule as well.

 

 

 

 

 

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November 7, 2013
10:53 am
byroninedmonton
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The company doesn't want to acknowledge a problem with the earlier model having fly aways for the same reason a car manufacturer didn't want to acknowledge there was a problem with its accelerators. It's not about ethics or morals or responsibility, it's about money.

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November 14, 2013
5:49 am
realkit2003
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November 14, 2013
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lost mine after second day .phantom climbed then started to go away from me tried to regain control then when i shut it down to make it return home it just kept going till i lost sight .lost phantom and go pro .dji will not respond to any mail i have sent them 

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November 14, 2013
5:57 am
realkit2003
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mmm i had the same thing and spoke on the phone to the company i brought it from and now i have read this from mickyboo it is now making more sense

I should have been suspect when right out of the box the transmitter failed to talk to the Phantom…I read in the advanced manual how to get them to connect and did that.  Pure speculation on my part but perhaps these Phantoms at a lower price are being dumped because of the fly away issue.  The introduction of their new models is now more than a few months behind schedule as well.

 

so when will they start the refund process

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November 28, 2013
11:15 am
therealscarylarry
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November 28, 2013
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My story is not too different from all of yours. Story starts good, ends with multiple fly aways and a badly damaged phantom.  I bought my phantom July 1, waited weeks and weeks for delivery. I tried to learn all that I could so I could minimize the "user error" factor. In the end, I was way off. I cannot say everything is entirely DJI's fault and maybe I made some missteps along the way but I still believe that when the Phantom suddenly takes off and nothing I do can correct it, that this is an issue that falls under DJI's responsibility. It would be different if they didn't tout it like it was some miracle technology that is fail-safe and so easy a child can even do it. If they were straight honest and said "here are the good points...A,B,C,D... but you should also know that many users have crashes, flyaways, and anomalous erratic behavior, so BUYER BEWARE!"  Truth is: if DJI was 100% honest, they would not have had 1/2 the sales they did. It's a big red flag when a company won't respond to customer's emails with SOME kind of good customer service response, even if it is phony BS intended to soothe the customer. How about at least ACT like you care? I mean some people scrimp and save every cent to buy this neat gizmo and are beyond crushed when they disappear or crash. It's really reprehensible for a company to not give the customers empathy to start with, and work towards a solution and their "solution" of blaming it all on "user error" is not acceptable. They in essence tell their customers, "sorry sucker... you got played. We will leave you to twist in the wind, and oh yeah....You should buy ANOTHER ONE! The improved model won't be like your 1st!"   Overall it's such a sh**ty situation. We all feel mixed feelings like we love the phantom, but hate the scary issues, we just want what is fair and to have the value of what we spent. If these were $150 toys this would not be such a major beef. They sell this like it's almost perfect.  

My phantom's story goes like this:  I had many great flights, I never upgraded the firmware because everyone said "DO NOT". I did make the mistake of not having full awareness of what computer calibration can do. I avoided connecting to the computer because I  thought it was not wise. I know now I should have been making use of the systems checks and advance calibrations. My mistake there.  I took the Phantom to another state and flew it but landed hard. I came back to California, reassembled everything, did the preflight checks, compass dance, connected to all the GPS sats. and got all the right lights telling me "good to fly". My mistake....the Phantom may have been confused about global position and when it was about 30 ft up it just took off uncontrollably. It was so fast all I did was pull down on the throttle with no response. Then it just dropped like a stone onto pavement and crashed. Lost all my vibration dampeners for the Zenmuse Gimbal but I did put it together and did some testing. It worked ok. I had maybe 6-8 more flights, then I took it to Arizona with me. I had some great flights, stable and not sketchy. At this point I still thought the 1st flyaway was a compass calibration error on my part and fully trusted that it wouldnt happen again.  Last day / Last flights were out in the desert, on a small mountain/hill hundreds of yards from all cell phones, wifi, cars or potential interference. It was a little windy so when the phantom got squirrelly I thought it was wind issues. Then suddenly it flew away and because of the angle of flight it just crashed hard on the side of the hill into gnarly baseball sized rocks. That killed the zenmuse. I was pissed. So I calibrated the compass and did all the preflight stuff again (not realizing it needed computer diagnostics)  The gopro black got a scratch/nick in the lens center. Phantom was without GoPro or Gimbal at that point so I said "screw it, I want to try again and see WTF is going on here"  [[ BTW  I had a Garmin GTU10 GPS tracker on my phantom from early on because all the flyaway talk scared me, I wanted some insurance. I highly recommend it for everyone. Some complete losses would be salvaged crashed phantoms which is marginally better than one that is lost irretrievably. Just ask those that LOST their phantom. A wrecked one preferable to a missing one]] SO......right or wrong, I Got all greens and flew again (every flight after 1st flyaway I avoided GPS mode) I was flying in ATTI for final two fatal crashes.   The phantom darted full throttle away, like it was being chased. It was about 100ft up and 300yds away when I think the battery died in mid flyaway. It just tumbled to the earth. Even landed in bushes/dirt desert but the damage was SEVERE!  Cracked shell, all propellers were bent so bad they couldnt turn. When fresh battery was tried, I get power up chimes, no lights on all four arms, and zenmuse is DOA (I think the fragile flat wire got wrecked)  

This has all made me sick, mad, resentful for the financial loss, bummed out for awful customer service and an inferior product that was marketed like it was flawless.  I put the phantom away. It's still wrecked. I ordered a replacement shell but now I am not so sure I would know how to repair it at all.  Can anyone suggest a logical way to diagnose and work towards a restoration??   I keep thinking I should rebuild, put a less expensive gimbal on it (what is the best low priced one??) and then put it all up on ebay for a low starting bid...take whatever $$ is generated, and figure out what kind of quad/multicopter is TRULY reliable, which company (if any) has real real integrity, and IF I should even attempt to continue with this hobby. Maybe it needs more years to develop this technology?    

Question now is: HOW CAN I RESTORE MY PHANTOM?

                       When does a class action lawsuit begin?

                       Where to go from here?  S550? (is any DJI product reliable??)  Another brand? Blade 350?  I am soooo confused :(

Any input is appreciated (constructively) I need a relatively neutral Phantom Guru/Mentor (one who isn't trying to sell me gear)

For everyone here who lost or crashed a phantom....I really really do feel your pain! Cry

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December 13, 2013
11:09 am
nl11883
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December 13, 2013
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Same issue here. It happend 3 times now. The first time it ended up in a garden but it was still working. I took it out flying again and didn't had any problems. I was in the middle of nowhere so that kind of excludes interference on the channel I think. I had to climb on a roof the second time. I took off and lost control after about 30 seconds. It was an open place, I took of, flew away slowly but it speeded up till max straight ahead for a bit and came back as well, full speed and ended on the roof. Some damage on the props but that was it. The last time, exactly the same happened. Was flying out of my roof terrace, took off, flew for about 40 seconds and lost all the control. I could find my Phantom on one roof terrace and my gimbal with camera on another roof terrace. And that was the end of it. The Gimbal was dead and my props were broken down. 

 

In all cases, I did the compass calibration, I unplugged the battery, plugged it in again and waited till all lights were blinking green. No fancy settings like HL or CL. All in default. I'm using a Futaba 8CH remote with 200mW FPV system and a Zenmuse gimbal with GoPro Black 3+ attached. 

 

My dealer offered me a full replacement for free, thanks DSLRPros! Good service. But I hope DJI is getting in to this because it really scares me now to fly out again with my replacement. With all the gear attached like FPV, GoPro and Gimbal, it's not just a toy but a pretty valuable product.  

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December 27, 2013
2:17 pm
john uk
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December 27, 2013
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i had the same problem yesterday i flew mine set the compass corectly took the model to near enuff 400ft" i lost control of it as it said conection failed, so i decided to switch off the transmitter and let it return to home' after switching off the transmitter it did say going home on my iphone" but after 5 seconds after powering of that transmitter it said conection faild" however i remember looking at my phone screen i was conected to 9 satelites" the model had a mind of its own it just start flying away" i realised it was not responding to return to home my camra switched off i tryd turning my transmitter back on to regain control but by that time it had flown so far away i was unable to get it back" battry was also fully charged this happened with that latest phantom vision 2" £850 loss in under 2weeks model was never to be seen or heard from" 

 

dji need to fix up and get this dam robot workjng properly as its an expensive thing to loose" :( good luck everyone 

hope this does not happen to others

 

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March 31, 2014
2:30 pm
valcalepi
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March 29, 2014
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March 27th 5:20pm EST I had the same fly away issue and I spent 2 days in the forest, marsh, river and landfills trying to find it.

Had  a brand new Mobius Camera mounted on my DJI Phantom FC40. $660 invested, it seems after reading all these posts that this is a wide spread problem. I also had issues after performing firmware update, the software changed the config to another transmitter(one I do not have). I have to wait 90 minutes on hold for DJI to tell me the fix. Why not send a new firmware out that corrects the bug. Clearly they have issues with their products. I am on hold to speak to someone I was caller 42 but got down to 22 so far and waiting.

 

When I called earlier I was caller 9, I should have stayed on the call then ;-(

 

With that many support calls, it shows there is an issue and their firmware has a bug!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!ConfusedFrownYell

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May 1, 2014
2:10 am
la_panza
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May 1, 2014
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Hello all, sad beginning for me..  I bought my Phantom 2 Vision some april 26th, after some flawless short test flights I connected it to my Mac, run the Flight assistant, updated the firmware to 3.0 calibrated it and tried again...

Motors ON, throttle to minimum, copter on the ground...  suddenly it started "glitching" motors at maximum speed, and again suddenly from minimum to maximum, as if there were some loose contact somewhere, all by itself..  it started tumbling on the ground, had serious damage on the camera gimbal and two broken propellers.

Now I'm scared of trying to fly again, I was lucky it drove crazy while it was at ground level, if the same happened while actually flying, someone (or I) could be seriously hurt.,,

I was near a place whith a lot of Wi-Fi activity..  but I wonder how it's possible, if the radio link is based on an "error-protected" protocol, as i suppose it should be, how can it be messed up so easily?  such an expensive, heavy  and dangerous flying object is expected to have a very relieble and stable communication radio link with its RC..  I'm astonished,  scared and very disapponted....

 

Cheers..  Adolfo

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May 26, 2014
3:45 pm
Railhound
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May 26, 2014
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I had flown my Phantom 2 about 10 times. Everything seemed to work just fine. On my last flight everything started normally the lights were green indicating ready to fly with GPS support. I was connected with the camera and could see the ground on my smartphone.

As soon as I spun up the rotors, I began as normal with a slow ascent and then all of a sudden the Phantom 2 just shot straight up in the air and flew away over my house. I attempted to bring the aircraft back down but it appeared that I had no control of the aircraft at all. The connection to the camera was also lost almost immediately after take off.

I quickly lost sight of the aircraft. I turned the controller off assuming it would return to home but it did not. I walked around my neighborhood searching for the aircraft and trying to see if I could reconnect somehow to the camera and aircraft or spot where it was.

The aircraft is now lost. This is a very dangerous situation as it could have crashed and hurt someone. I have no idea where the Phantom 2 landed or if it crashed. However, I am uncertain that I want a replacement unit now as obviously there is a serious flaw in the manufacture of this product (or this particular unit was defective.) In any case, this created an extremely dangerous situation.

It is obvious that this had nothing to do with WIFI signals in the area. The fail safe should have return the unit to home. Judging from the rest of the posts here this design flaw was carried over from the Phantom to the Phantom 2.

I have emailed both the dealer and DJI but haven't heard from them yet. My advice - don't but this device. It is dangerous - never mind costly.

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June 4, 2014
4:36 pm
RD
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I had a great time with my phantom 2 vision. I crashed a few times before I was able to really control it well. After each crash on inspection it did not appear to be damaged although on one occasion when it (or I ) flew into a tree, the battery was ejected. As I flew more and more, one afternoon the quadrocopter put its nose down and flew off, never to be found again. After a lot of thought, I think this could have been a result of damage especially to the compass which is exposed. Also,Frown one needs to be sure each time that there are more than 6 satellite signals and that the home position is set properly. So I think that my fly-away may not be from intrinsic defects. I would highly recommend inscribing your telephone number on the body with reward if found.
The experience of flying a Phantom is hard to beat, so I have finally broken down and ordered the new Phantom 2 +. I am primarily interested in photography but discovered a great deal of fun flying this machine. Will be very careful to make sure all settings are correct in the future.

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