DJI Droning: The Do’s & Dont’s
DJI has been raking in the cash ever since they penetrated the drone market in 2006. The expensive price tag on all DJI products doesn’t help. That, coupled with its consumer base’s willful ignorance, results in high-profit margins for the company. I have been a part of that growing consumer base since 2016. My first drone was the DJI Phantom 3. Although I lost that drone fairly quick at a lookout in Chattanooga, Tennessee, I quickly learned. With such a price tag, the learning curve occurs fast. Lessons learned with droning are typically discovered the hard way. It is highly unlikely that someone will forget such a lesson.
There is no feeling worse than losing your drone. Actually, realizing you forgot to install a Trackimo tracking device feels much worse. Yea, I know, Tile’s exist. Nonetheless, Trackimo is the best option when comparing these two. First of all, only a Trackimo can be attached to your drone. Attachments that link the device to the drone come in the box. Secondly, Tile uses Bluetooth to triangulate a device. Trackimo works anywhere GPS works. For those of you unaware, that’s everywhere in the world. Although this device is $198.90 (compared to $35 each for Tile’s best model) it is well worth it. The correct decision here is evident when considering drones range between $600 and $8,000.
Update the Firmware
Tie a red string around your pointer finger. You’ll need the reminder. Every single time you take your drone out for liftoff, make sure you have updated it. Failing to update your drone (especially after neglecting to do so for a while) will result in your DJI product acting up. Slight interferences will have way more of an impact than usual. For example, a simple interference can easily cause the receiver to get an “Aircraft Disconnected” message. This is especially the case when flying near urban areas or simply areas where a lot of technology is being used. Forgetting to update the firmware in low-volatility areas should be fine. Nonetheless, you’ll want to practice updating it regularly. To update, following these steps:
- Ensure your Micro SD card is inserted into the gimbal and has at least 100 MB of free space. Do not remove the Micro SD card from the gimbal during the firmware update.
- The firmware update process takes around 30 minutes. It is recommended finding a comfortable environment to carry out the update.
- Check, in the DJI GO app, that you have the latest firmware installed before every flight.
- The firmware update requires an internet connection. Connect your mobile device to a Wi-Fi network whenever possible
- Wait for the progress bar to reach 100% to ensure the firmware update is complete.
- The camera status indicator will blink red and green to show that the update is in progress.
Check the Geotags
Although the DJI GO 4 app notifies users if flying is prohibited in a certain area, learning which areas this applies to can be useful. In certain situations, I have driven hours to a location just to figure out I’m not allowed to lift off. The solution for this is by going to the GPS on the GO app. Searching it on GPS mode will allow you to see the restrictions in the desired area – no matter how far away.
Do NOT Try to Battle Weather
You should reconsider flying the drone if a number of weather conditions are occurring. One of the most obvious examples is during a lightning storm. Numerous videos have been posted online with the drone that results. It’s NO BUENO. Heavy fog can also be detrimental in some situations. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve attempted to penetrate a low-hanging cloud with several drones. One of them, however, got covered in so much condensation that it completely broke. Over spring break last month, I learned that winds can be a threat the hard way.
California’s Highway 1 is covered in so many peaks and dropoffs that the updraft (basically from San Fran to Santa Cruz) is too much for a drone to handle. If your drone gets caught in the updraft, it’ll be in the ocean within seconds. I’m angry at myself for not taking note of this threat. Last October, I flew my Mavic Pro 2 in Anza, California. This region is essentially a desert. One day while flying, my drone got pushed a little more than a mile away. We had to hop in the car and race the speed the wind was making for the drone – just so we could get back in range with the RC remote.
Review the FAA Rules
Most Importantly, review the FAA rules for flying drones. All of the FAQ’s are posted on their site, as well.