Join Jim Heid for an in-depth discussion in this video Safety checks: From you to the drone, part of DJI Mavic Pro: Tips, Tricks, & Techniques.
(beeping) - Whenever I hear that drone start-up sound, I get a little rush of adrenaline. I always tell people that's as close as I'll ever get, to the feeling of parachuting out of an airplane. And, the reason I feel that little hint of anxiousness, is because I'm about to go to battle with gravity, which is always waiting for any little mistake that could allow it to bring your drone to the ground. That's why it's important to have a little pre-flight checklist and to approach the take-off process methodically. Now, disciplining yourself to do this isn't always easy, there will be times when you're out with your drone in it's bag and, all of a sudden, the clouds get incredible or something else happens that you just want to shoot right now.
You will be tempted to rip your drone out of its bag and get it into the air as soon as you possibly can. Resist that temptation. In the aviation world, there's an acronym pilots use called PAVE. It's a handy way of remembering the factors that can cause things to go very, very wrong. Let's take the acronym apart. Personal means, well, you. Are you sick? Are you tired? Have you been celebrating in ways that could impair your ability to fly? Aircraft means, in our case, the drone.
Are the props tight? Are the sensors clean? Are your batteries fully charged? The V in PAVE stands for enVironment 'cause everyone needs to cheat sometimes to make up acronyms. It means, the place where you plan to fly. Is it windy? Are there trees or obstacles around? Are there a lot of people around? Are you near any kind of restricted airspace? Is your take-off point a good distance from metal objects that could affect the drone's compass? And the E stands for external pressures.
Are you pressed for time? Are there people waiting in the car while you try to grab that perfect piece of footage? Are there onlookers distracting you with drone questions? These things happen and they're the kinds of external things that can distract you from your primary mission, fighting gravity. All four letters in the PAVE acronym are important. It's a great set of letters to keep in mind before you fly. So, I've already mentioned some of the things that should already be on your pre-flight checklist. Fully charge all the batteries. Drone, remote controller, and your smartphone or tablet.
Speaking of your phone, if you're going to use it to fly, it's a good idea to activate its Do Not Disturb feature, to allow calls from no one. Not even the contacts on your favorites list. You don't want your flight screen interrupted by an incoming call. In fact, some pilots recommend flying with your phone or tablet in airplane mode, for maximum reliability. That introduces some minor limitations and we'll talk about them later. Me, I rarely switch into airplane mode for a flight, but I do use the Do Not Disturb function.
As for the drone itself, start by inspecting the propellers. When I've arrived at a new destination and unpacked my drone, I like to unseat and then re-seat the props, just to make sure they didn't loosen up during my travels. Next, I feel my way along each prop, to search for nicks or dents that might affect flight. These can be small and easy to miss by eye and that's why I do it by hand. Especially if I've have a little mishap recently. Here you can see that I've come across a tiny tear on the prop.
Now the drone would probably fly just fine with this light damage but its flight stability could be affected. Why fly that way? When you damage a prop, even just slightly, replace it. It's a cheap way to improve safety. Then, there are the sensors. The Mavick Pro has two optical sensors on the front and two on the bottom. These sensors are part of the drone's collision avoidance system and, in the case of the down facing sensors, the landing system too. These are optical sensors, basically, tiny cameras and, for that reason, they'll work best when they're clean.
Clean them with lens-cleaning tissue or a microfiber cloth every now and then, especially if you've been flying somewhere dusty or damp. There are a couple more pre-flight steps you'll want to preform and those happen after you turn the drone's power on and you hear that start-up tone. We'll cover those in the next video. Yes, going through a short checklist before you fly takes a minute or two and, yes, that might cause you to miss that magic cloud formation or cause the rest of your hiking friends to leave you behind. But it's worth it. I look at it this way. When you're still on the ground, you've got gravity right where you want it but, as soon as you take off, the tables turn, so improve your odds.
Remember the PAVE acronym and take your time before you take off.
- Safety checks
- App settings
- Startup, takeoff, and landing
- In-flight data displays
- DJI GO tips
- Flight modes
- Streaming live
- Adjusting focus
- Exposure and white balance
- Still photography and panoramas
- Shutter speed
- Aerial video
- Using the gimbal
- Using the remote controller