Join Jim Heid for an in-depth discussion in this video Startup, takeoff, and landing, part of DJI Mavic Pro: Tips, Tricks, & Techniques.
- Okay, let's get airborne. Let's put a few of the concepts we've covered so far into practice. To take off, fly a little bit, and then land. Along the way we'll look at some best practices and one worst practice that you'll want to keep in mind. A really important preflight consideration deals with the exact spot where you plan to power up and take off. Because the drone contains a compass you want to make sure you power up and take off from a spot that's, let's call it compass friendly. That means no nearby ferrous metal, iron or steel, so stay well away from any cars.
You should also avoid concrete road or concrete sidewalk, since they often contain a wire mesh. A lawn is a better launching point than a sidewalk or a road. The spot we're at here meets our needs perfectly. It's a nice open setting, the weather's good, and we've got a nice patch of short grass to use. If you want to fly from a very sandy spot, like a beach, you might want to launch the drone from a surface of some kind, a hard shell carrying case if you use one, a few companies also sell portable drone landing pads that you can unfold and put in place.
Okay, let's get on with it. Here's my drone, as you can see I've got an iPad Mini and my remote controller and I'm using a mounting bracket on a sunshade here. These are great accessories that I'll talk about later in the course. Nothing's turned on yet, all my batteries are charged, I did a quick inspection of my props, I took off the gimbal clamp and the dome, put both in a safe place, and now it's time to power up. The recommended sequence is to always power up the controller first, then the drone. Powering off, by the way, is exactly the opposite, drone first, then remote.
Basically you want to avoid having the drone powered on all by itself. So here we go, I'll turn my iPad on first and launch the DJI Go app. Next, I'll power on the remote, that short, long button press sequence, and now the drone. And we're going to do something kind of different here, the start up process happens pretty quickly, and as I described in a previous video, a bunch of different things happen. So we're going to freeze the process as each thing happens, so I can say a few words about what's going on. We're also going to switch to a split screen view that shows DJI Go on my iPad and the status lights on the back of the drone.
This, again, will really let us take apart that start up sequence. I'll power up the drone and keep an eye on the split screen. For a couple of seconds the drone's status light goes between red, green, and yellow as the drone does a self-test and plays that happy little start up chime. Within a couple of seconds the drone flashes yellow and red lights and Getting Attitude Data appears in the DJI Go app as the drone accesses its compass and starts to get its bearings. Just a moment or so later the IMU begins to warm up and initialize.
This is the time when you don't want to move the drone. The accelerometers and the gyros in the IMU are waking up. As soon as the IMU is warmed up the status message tells us that the drone is in Attitude Mode, or Atti Mode for short. In Atti Mode the drone doesn't have GPS lock, it doesn't know where on earth it is, but yet it's kind of ready to fly, and indeed, the remote controller display is alternating between Atti Mode and Ready to Go. Theoretically we could take off now, but it's a bad idea. The drone would be more likely to drift around, since GPS helps it hold it's position.
In Atti Mode the drone will always hold it's altitude when it's hovering, thanks to that internal barometer, but as I said, it'll be more prone to drifting around. So we're going to wait. Now let's focus on the GPS status area of the DJI Go app. Notice that it's starting to pick up satellites and telling us how many it's found so far. After a few seconds the drone establishes GPS lock. - [Voiceover] The Home Point has been updated. - How many seconds will depend on where you are and how clearly the drone can see the entire sky. Here we can see we're picking up about 15 satellites.
And DJI Go's friendly voice tells us that the Home Point has been updated and asks us to check it on the map. Both parts of this message are important. The app has told us that the drone knows where on earth it is, and that'll come in handy for the Return-to-Home feature we looked in the previous video. But the app also said, hey, just to make sure I got it right check the Home Point on the map. This is your chance to double-check the drone's work, to make sure it didn't accidentally set a Home Point 1,000 miles away, because of some weird GPS glitch or drone glitch.
And by the way, if you don't hear that message, but you do see that you've switched into GPS mode be sure the volume is up on your mobile device. The DJI Go app often has interesting or important things to say when you're in flight, so it's a good idea to check the volume on your phone or tablet before you fly. I'll tap on the map, look it over, and yep, that's really where the drone is, so we're good. Now we're really ready. I can take off using the takeoff button in the app or I can use the sticks on the remote controller, pushing them down and toward each other to start the props.
Right now let's use the apps, 'cause there's something I want to show you. I'm going to tap the takeoff button and when I do I have a chance to choose the precision landing option. When you activate this option the drone uses it's downward facing cameras to memorize the terrain underneath the takeoff point. To do this the drone has to climb to at least 30 feet. It's also a good idea to pause there for a moment or two to let the drone get an accurate picture. Some pilots say that isn't absolutely necessary, but it doesn't hurt. When the drone is landing using the Return-to-Home feature the drone compares what it memorized to what those down facing cameras are seeing and it adjusts its heading to land at that spot.
It's usually pretty accurate. A couple of tips. To get good results from precision landing it needs to be bright enough, so the cameras can see and record what's under the drone and your takeoff location needs to have some patterns that the drone can recognize. Taking off from a bland parking lot or a plain patch of sand probably won't work that well. That's were a little landing pad of some kind can be a big help. And finally, the location has to be fairly unchanging. If you're taking off from a spot where there are people or things moving around precision landing won't work very well, because the landing spot won't match what the drone saw when it took off.
The drone will still land at the Home Point, remember, that's coming from the GPS and the compass, but it might not be precise, as in, within several inches. Okay, precision landing is turned on, let's fly. I'll swipe across the Slide to Takeoff slider and up we go. I'm just going to fly around for a few seconds here and then we'll land. And to land I'm going to hold down the Return-to-Home button on the controller. I could also tap the Return-to-Home button in the app, the same function.
When Return-to-Home is active the remote controller beeps. You can see that the drone has changed its heading and it's climbing to an altitude of 90 feet, that's the default Return-to-Home altitude. I can cancel the RTH by using the app, or easier still by just pressing the pause button on the remote controller. If I do cancel it the drone stops what its doing and hovers. And that brings up a tip. When you're using the Return-to-Home feature you always want to be watching what the drone is doing and be ready to cancel the landing if anything looks weird.
If the drone is heading somewhere unexpected, if it's climbing up into a forest canopy, or not landing where you thought it would. That last part, not landing where you thought it would, that can happen more easily than you might think, and here's why. If the drone is within five meters, about 15 feet, of the Home Point it'll try to land right where it is. The drone figures, eh, I'm close enough to home, I'm just going to land right here. Which if you're hovering over water about 10 feet from where you took off could be awkward. The bottom line is if you're already close to your Home Point or a relatively low altitude keep a close eye on what the drone does when you start a Return-to-Home action and be ready to abort it if something doesn't look right.
I'll let the drone continue the landing and we'll see just how precise the precision landing feature is. And there you have it, pretty precise. We're back on terra firma. And that, by the way, is a drone pilot's favorite Latin phrase. Now that wasn't a very adventurous flight we just went on, but that wasn't the point. What I wanted to do was really take apart the process of warm up, takeoff, and landing, so that we could explore what's happening during each of those phases. The Mavic's Return-to-Home and landing features are great and usually work really well. I use them all the time.
But it's also important to know how to get the drone back to you and back on the ground under manual control. And the only way to get good at that is to practice, using the drone itself, and also using the flight simulator that's built into the DJI Go app. And one last thing, that worst practice I mentioned at the beginning of this video. I mentioned that you can start the drone's motors by pushing the controller sticks down and toward each other. That's called a combination stick command, or CSC for short. That same sequence will also stop the drone's motors even when you're airborne.
This is an emergency shutoff that you should basically never use unless there's an emergency, like you see the drone rocketing toward a body of water or a crowd of people. It will cause your drone to immediately surrender to gravity and the results will likely not be pretty. Use it to start up the motors when you want to take off manually using the stick on the controller, but don't use it when you're airborne, unless you really, really have to.
- 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