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How to NOT crash your drone in 15 easy steps

01 August 2020 by Adrienn Kerekes 0 Comments

As a drone enthusiast, I've seen quite a few "drone fail" videos on YouTube, many of which ended in scary and not to mention expensive accidents. Most of these accidents could have been avoided by following a few simple safety rules. I myself have been flying drones at a professional level for some time, and I would like to share 15 simple rules that (among other things) can prevent accidents. I mostly fly the Phantom 4 (related articles: Phantom 4 VS Phantom 4 Advanced - the latest Phantom), but these tips can be applied to the Mavic Pro, Spark, or any other drone. Better to be safe than sorry! Don't try to experience these things at your own expense, as I did.

1. Before flying, practice in the DJI GO simulator ! I recommend at least two hours of practice. Get used to the controls and pay close attention to the direction your aircraft is facing. If its nose is facing you, it will move to the right when you expect it to move to the left. That is why it is recommended that the nose faces away from you during flight.

2. Read the user manual twice! I downloaded it and printed it out.

3. First, do not fly above 30-40 m and get used to the control devices. Don't mess with the camera and don't think about the pictures. As an avid photographer, it was hard for me to ignore the camera, but the most important thing in the beginning was controlling the drone.

4. Practice using the Return Home function. Re-read the section on how it works in the manual, hold down the "H" button, and learn how it works through your own experience. Note that for this function to work, you will need a GPS signal before take-off, and check the green Ht on your map.

5. Set the Return Height in DJI GO to above 100 m (I have it set to 150 m) so that your drone does not hit trees or buildings on the way home. I also recommend setting the maximum distance and height, which in both cases is smaller than the maximum allowed value. It can be tempting to push your drone to the limits of its range, but it can be an unnecessary risk. Always stay within line of sight with your drone to avoid a possible collision.

6. Be careful with power lines, cables and tree branches when flying. Obstacle avoidance sensors cannot detect thin objects, so you have to avoid them yourself. Especially during your first flights, it is recommended to have a friend with you to keep an eye on the drone while you focus on your smartphone screen. Four eyes are always better than two!

7. When taking off, use the automatic take-off function and leave the drone for approx. Float at 1m for 30 seconds. This helps the battery warm up and if there is a problem with the battery you will notice it while hovering. In addition, it is better to fall from 1 m above the ground than from 100 m.

8. In winter, when the outside temperature drops below 10°C, turn on the rotors and let the battery warm up until its temperature reaches 25°C. You can check the temperature of your battery in DJI GO.

9. Do not fly backwards, or avoid flying backwards as much as possible. As I mentioned earlier, even with the P4P's rear-facing obstacle sensors, they won't avoid obstacles like tree branches or wires.

10. If it was not emphasized enough until now; don't rely on obstacle sensors. Although they can save lives in some situations, they don't detect everything and don't work in low light conditions.

11. Do not fly in areas of high interference (such as near large metal objects) or take off under high voltage power lines.

12. Whatever happens, do not drag both control levers to the lower inner and outer corners. If you hold them in this position for more than a few seconds, the engines will stop in flight! This is a fail-safe feature and is only used before a fall. Known as Combination Stick Command or CSCs, this stick combination works with Phantom 3 and Phantom 4 running older firmware versions. Emergency stop commands have changed in the latest firmware versions and products. However, read the section on emergency engine shutdown in your drone's owner's manual.

13. Refrain from flying in windy weather. All small drones are unstable in wind, and DJI drones do not take wind speed into account when calculating return time. Therefore, if you are away, you may not be able to get back to the return point in time if the wind is strong. To measure the wind speed, you can buy an anemometer for HUF 4,000-6,000.

14. Certain birds are disturbed by drones. Some even try to defend their territory by attacking the drone. YouTube is full of videos of pilots encountering hostile seagulls or raptors and drones malfunctioning. Therefore, do not fly near large flocks of birds and do your best not to disturb them.

15. Just as in commercial aviation, the most risky phase of flight is take-off and landing. Especially when landing, make sure the landing site is clear of obstacles and relatively level. Note where the wind is coming from and consider that your drone may move a little in that direction. And if you think you have to land in sand or a puddle of water, don't! It is possible to hold the drone by hand, although it is a bit risky for new pilots. Watch some tutorial videos on YouTube before you try it yourself!

Well, these are the basic tips that I have experienced during my flights. This is by no means everything you need to know to become a trained drone pilot, but it's a good starting point.

If you want to know more about safe drone handling, visit the DJI Academy training !

Written by Calin Stan

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