We flew the DJI Mavic Mini

Mavic Mini is here. We took it out. Our thoughts…

Once again, the provided bag can’t seem to fit everything in nicely. It’s too tight a fit but could be due to our type of plug/ british type. Don’t get me wrong, it’s one of the best designed in the world and i love it too. It’s just a little big at times.

Charger

The charger that charges the batteries comes with a single port USB plug. The charging block houses a USB port and a android type B cable is provided for you to charge your remote viat his port. However, if the batteries are charging, you will not be able to utilise that USB port. Batts need to be full or removed for that port to be active. it can however, also be used as a power bank to charge the remote, your handphones/ ipads when on the road with the batts inserted.

Batteries

You no longer can tell how much batt is left in the battery unless you have the charger with you.

Smart Modes/ Obstacles Avoidance

You do not get any smart modes with this drone. You only get GPS and Sports mode, Cinesmooth/ tripod mode. No orbiting, no follow me, no hyperlapse and no obstacles avoidance. Nothing else.

There’s a little feature to let you know where your drone is at all times. Kind of useless but well, it’s there.

Range

The range seemed better than the Spark flying at the usual field. One negative thing is, the signal do not gradually get bad. It just cuts off suddenly and if you stubbornly do not stop immediately, when the video does return, you’ll find yourself at a totally different location. We did a good 300 meters which is plenty but practically, stay within 100 to 150 meters is ideal. Flying through tight space is useful for the Mavic Mini.

Camera/ Samples

Conclude

Its a useful little drone, great for first timers but could grow out of it really quickly. It does not have a lot of features at this price point which is expected.

The DJI Mavic Air, Mavic Pro, Mavic 2 Pro, Spark, Mavic Mini, Phantom 4 and Phantom 4 Pro are available from Camera Rental Centre at a great rental price. Check them out.

Litchi, it does a lot but should do more.

[3 April 2019]

It’s been years since Litchi is around. Recently, we took the updated (Feb 2019) update for another run.

Litchi, unlike Altizure allows syncing to the “cloud”. You can then edit your missions/ waypoint anywhere on any device so long you log in to the same account. Of course, the catch is, Altizure is mostly free and you can do quite a lot already for aerial 3D scanning. $22.99 Litchi should do more.

It can do so much more. Recent Mavic 2 Pro suddenly did away with Course Lock and Home Lock. Seriously DJI? That’s like the most basic function any beginner/ intermediate users can use to learn about drones.

With Litch, it is 1 tap away.

Panoramas

We are limited to 13 actions. Maybe Litchi is afraid on the mission file size that’ll be transmitted to the drone.

  • Allow for more than 13 action so that multi rows panramas can be implemented. THere’s already the pano pre-setup. Adding one more action of tiling gimbal +30 degrees, 13 more action of the pano, -30 of the gimbal tilt and another 13 action of the pano, -90 tilt with 1 last pic should allow a good 360 panorama. We’ll love to see this.
  • If size of the mission is an issue, maybe allow the user to select the type of drone before we set up.

Flight Logs

GUI

Maybe it’s time for an overhaul of the GUI. It’s getting kind of kiddy with the GUI. I just hope changes don’t make it multi version, DJI Go, DJI Go4 another DJI app for the gimbals that they have. DJI Assistance 2, Assisant for Mavic 2, Assistant for Phantom. Do better! One app for all of them.

Mission

The mission’s GPS is flawless. However with multiple tests this is what I observed. Note take off and landing is always at the same spot.

  • Every change of battery seems to change the heading a little. I need exact heading set within the app. Any deviation change my FOV of the subject I was taking.
  • The ability to check cache video or photos is highly needed. There is no option other than to go back to a computer and check the SD card. Any mistakes would mean a whole day of shoot again. It it’s used for things that only happen once, you’re f*****.

Conclude

Thus for complex shots you know you’ll have the time to play around with. Litchi is a good tool. For production shot, that require repattative shots, daily, weekly, monthly, etc. The GPS function is good. With a team of pilots, you simply have to export the mission file out and share it. You’ll hit the exact spot every single time. Just make sure your gimbal degrees and heading are accurate. Dont depend on Litchi.

DJI Mavic 2 Pro: What we expected, what we got and where we go from here

The DJI Mavic 2 Pro. We’ll look at the Pro version and not the zoom (yet).

What’s the difference

Again, don’t compare this with the Mavic Air or even the Spark. This is to be compared with the Mavic Pro (1).

  • Front, back and sides obstacle avoidance sensors
  • Slightly larger but still foldable, the larger size felt more stable when in the air
  • Improved camera
  • Hyperlapse (this is addictive)
  • Longer battery life

Hyperlapse

The Mavic 2 Pro has brought aerial hyperlapse to a whole new level where even beginners with a few taps can shoot these wonderfully great looking hyperlapse(s).

It exceeded some expectration. All around obstacle avoidance and the bottom auxillury light is a good add on.

The size is still managable, it’s slightly bigger than the Mavic (1) Pro.

Smart Controller

The DJI Smart Controller for the Mavic 2 Pro is beautifully made. I think the weight could be reduced a little but it seems the super bright screen does need more battery life.

Precise Fly Safe Database (PFSD)

If you have updated your PFSD to Version 01.00.01.14, you’ll be swearing a lot.

Grey limits you to 150 meters. Some overlapping areas do not allow you totake off at all.

See details at https://www.dji.com/sg/flysafe/geo-map

We’ve done some unlocking as we hold permits for a year long project. It does seem to work on unlocking some areas without asking us to produce our permits.

The DJI Mavic Air, Mavic Pro, Mavic 2 Pro, Phantom 4 and Phantom 4 Pro are available from Camera Rental Centre at a limit rental price. Check them out.

Why you must not use Singapore Hobby for any DJI repairs.

Rant/ Complain post. Scroll all the way down for TLDR version.

4 April – Logged case to DJI
5 April – DJI revert to contact Singapore Hobby
19 April 2018 – We send in the Mavic Pro to Singapore Hobby and got a qutation on 19 April.

Repair cost $593.60 paid to via paypal sales@singahobby.com Replacement/Repair :
Damping Board:$20
Back Right Leg $101
Front Right Leg $110
Back left leg:$101
Top shell $14.30
middle shell $28.70
front sensor $138.60
Camera Ribbon:$80.00
$120 labour charges

27 April 2018 – Told Singapore hobby to cancel after they told us that have to collect $150 AFTER the repair. The upfront $150 is for “diagnostics and evaluation” only. WTF?!
28 April 2018 – Singapore Hobby called that the $150 AFTER repair is wrong. Will not be collected. Inform them to go ahead….#BMOML – biggest mistake of my life.
29 April 2018 – Car Free Sunday, Singapore Hobby was involved. If too busy shouldn’t accept our mavic for repairs!
8 May 2018 – Asked for update
9 May 2018 – Replied, still repairing…end of the week should be done. To wait.
21 May 2018 – Ask for update again…no reply.
23 May 2018 – Ask for update to the previous update if any.
25 May 2018 – Singapore Hobby replied informing high voloume of repairs.
31 May 2018 – Ask for update again, got a reply that it is ready for collection soon as they are doing test flight. ***Note they mention they did test flight.***
1 June 2018 – The repair completed.. That’s 6 weeks.
6 June 2018 – Collected from Singapore Hobby. When we receive it, the transmitter has no sound and the Mavic Pro has a forward right sensor error. Emailed immedaitely to Singapore Hobby with screenshots.
12 June 2018. – send it back
21 June 2018 – Send a chaser email on and giving up hope that i’ll be getting it back anytime soon.
25 June 2018 – Took the initial request to DJI and continue the original request requesting them to look into their Singapore partner, Singapore Hobby. It’s really bad and DJI took over.
3 July 2018 – Singahobby send the mavic pro to DJI, below screenshot shows it is showing up. Case logged and accepted as CAS-1972819-N6Q2S0

10 July 2018 – Received at DJI, same day quoted. Quote sent to Singapore Hobby. oh god…more waiting.

13 July 2018 – Asked DJI why quote delayed for 3 days and still not paid.
14 July 2018 – DJI replied “We hope that your dealer can provide the latest update of the repair case as they are in contact of our facility with this.” My dealer is useless…I can only lan lan siao siao wait.
16 July 2018 – Singapore Hobby sent a quotation on the repair charges. This is DJI quoted plus maybe or maybe not, their markup. Funny how DJI still found things to repair after Singapore Hobby has “repaired” it? Shouldn’t their repair certification be revoked? Replied them the same, that if there’s still things to repair, what did you do? I paid you for?

18 July 2018 – Emailed DJI on update.
19 July 2018 – Singapore Hobby reply that they need to inform me the charges BEFORE DJI can proceed with repair. Whatever that means. Replied asking if DJI is proceeding or not.
19 July 2018 – James Russell from DJI revert with a copy and paste reply “We regret to inform you that we are not able to provide more details regarding the case you checked. Because it was reported by the dealer.

We only can provide case information to the original reporter in consideration of safety and privacy protection.”

…send the whole above to DJI repeating the whole case form beginning till now ALL OVER AGAIN. Case original reported was ME and me all along. Wtf are you talking about?! CAS-1972819-N6Q2S0 is the new case ID, it is tied to Singapore Hobby because they send it to you! Your system has tied it to them, while we paid them, they didnt fix, DJI takes over and I’m still screwed.

23 July 2018 – Ronald Yong from Singapore Hobby replied to DJI’s logged case that he happen to be in DJI China as well, for training. Asked to meet up with the support James from DJI to resolve this.

25 July 2018 – Replied Singapore Hobby to sort it out with DJI.

26 July 2018 – Nothing is done, no update. Open a case with Paypal trying to get back the original money paid on 19 April 2018.

30 July 2018 – Singapore replied PayPal resolution saying the repair is for…(we direct quote) transmitter only! So the quoted $310.30 is for repairing the transmitter? Then why did they send the whole mavic pro back? Or did they send the whole mavic back since one of the front vision sensor has error.

1 Aug 2018 – Singapore Hobby replied the 25 July email that he “may” be able to check with his manager on the status. Well done, 1 week read 1 email and ok, you slowly may check…we have given up anyway.

3 Aug 2018 – Ronald from Singapore Hobby replied in Paypal Resolution Centre. We called and spoke to him and agree to pay 50% of the 2nd quote of $105.15, well, since we do not ask for a on the spot demo, we see how it may seem that we took it out the shop, to be fair, anything could have happened to it. It’s been 4 months to the day, we just want this over and done with Singapore Hobby.

6 Aug 2018 – Payment received by DJI and repair in progress. Another few days wasted.

13 Aug 2018 – Repaired and was returned to Singapore Hobby today. We waited.

17 Aug 2018 – No fucking response as usual. Send chaser email and waited again. Slow response. Receive but can’t call or email to tell me after all the big fucking hoo-ha with them. This should have been put on piority. That’s the way bussiness is done at Singapore Hobby. Fucked-UP!

20 Aug 2018 – Received call from Singapore Hobby. Meet tomorrow 12.30pm Hong Lim Park to test.

21 Aug 2018 – Met, Tested. Collected. Left.

Dji took only 8 days once payment is received. If not for wasting a few months at Singapore Hobby. We won’t be tangled in this garbage.

Comparing a similar case we log concurrently with DJI.

Smiliar case we log ( CAS-1830023-xxxx)

23 May 2018 – case logged via email.
24 May 2018 – Case accepted with case log number received from DJI Nicole.
7 June 2018 – DJI Received with email acknowledgement.
28 June 2018 – Delay by us on sending out due to newborn at home. Sent via SF Express
29 June 2018 – At DJI
7 June 2018 – Quotation for repaired received,
8 June 2018 – Payment made.
13 June 2018 – Informed it is repaired and on the way back
15 June 2018 – Informed by Roly Fang that there is a slight delay due to updating of shipping system and the Dragon Boat Festival.
22 June 2018 – Received the DJI Mavic Pro.

The above is delayed and yet it is still faster than what we have sent to Singapore Hobby!

Their contacts, they have some other domain names but if you see this address and contact, be afraid…be very afraid:

150 South Bridge Road
#B1-23 Fook Hai Building
Singapore 058727

Opening hours:
10:30am to 7:00pm Mondays to Fridays
10:30am to 6:00pm Saturdays
CLOSED on Sundays and Public Holidays

Call us at (65) 6532 1993
Email us at sales@singahobby.com
Fax us at (65) 6535 7866
DJI themselves are a mess. When you log a case, whenever you spread out your response and then carry on the replies, it’s as if it’s a brand new case. Having to repeat and their standard reply “We understand your frustration and hope to resolved it.” Oh stupid. Solve it already! Then we go round and round all over again! Paypal resolution is the fastest and easiest way to make vendors wake up since behind the scene, I believe it will cause issues on payment and receiving of funds. They will surely reply.
We need alternatives in Singapore. Old school hobby shops need to die.

TLDR version

TLDR – Singapore Hobby took 2 months to repair our mavic pro. Complained to dji who took over the case. Don’t use Singapore hobby. Go direct to DJI.

Antennas – Dont be Sally.

Have you wonder why at times, your DJI drone just dont fly as far as your friend’s? You get video interferences when you friend’s Mavic Pro just flys perfectly ok? On the same day, at the same location?

Are you setting up your antennas on the DJI Mavic or for the matter any DJI drones crossed or facing on another?

Check out Sally. She’s the drone girl who loves taking pictures, pictures of her flying a drone that is.

Then this…

ok, photo op or not, taking pics of you enjoying flying has to be realistic. See all her antennas “placement”. It’s a simple rule of folding them and have it face the drone. You’ll get far (pun) better range.

Dont take our word for it. Download any DJI manual, you’ll see this section.

So the next time you setup your antenna, do that both standing setup. Not cross, not have it parallel to the ground (unless you’re flying directly overhead all the time) and remember, dont be like Sally.

NParks didn’t say where you can fly.

Some got really happy when they saw the list published by NParks on parks that has no drones allowed sign. Does that mean other parks not listed can fly? Dont be stupid …Why i say NParks list is useless. There are a total of 69 parks listed on nparks website. www.nparks.gov.sg

The list they provide has 20 listed. Does it mean you can fly at the other 49? Of course not! Because places like Changi Beach park is a no brainer. It’s in the direct path of landing planes and you won’t be able to start your DJI drones anyway as it is a DJI No Fly Zone. I was free ,  i made a google worksheet. Will do a proper post later on my website http://bit.ly/NParksdrones

NParks shouldn’t have release a list of parks with no sign. They should have been straight forward and release a list of parks where we can fly. We can understand there is no such list as:

  • They do not want to be liable if there’s accidents to park go-ers who do not fly drones but are there to enjoy the park.
  • Then don’t have any list to begin with. CAAS has clear rules and the law is clear. Keep your drone in line of sight, keep it below 200 ft, do not fly within 5km of airports.

We took the DJI Mavic Air out

After unboxing, we really didn’t like the charger… nor the battery. Since the Phantom 3 to Phantom 4, the Inspire 1 to Inspire 2 and maybe the Mavic Pro to the Maciv Pro 2, the batteries have always been redesigned. Nothing is usable after an upgrade. Upgrading your DSLR from a Canon 60D to 70D or upwards to a 6D, 7D or 5DMK2 or MK3 do not require you to change the battery. It all uses the same LP-E6.

Come on DJI. It’s something that’s adding costs to users who upgrade. Reasons of profit or trying to squeeze it into a newly designed body of the drone are simply too expensive for end-users.

We didn’t like the charger either. It has to unfold, batteies stand vertical. The cube charger for the Mavic was better.


the mavic cube charger.
The new mavic air charger where the battery have to stand.

Option of the transmitter stick to be removed is good for those longer haul transport/ trip. Careful of dropping them onto grass in the field. A pair of spare is provided but we’ve installed it and has never removed it since.

Wind

It doesn’t handle wind well. Simple as that. We saw it drifting as we were flying near waters and usually what the Mavic Pro can handle, the Air could not. It wasn’t even huge gust of wind to begin with but we have trouble bring it back, lowered it to behind some trees and flew back behind trees.

Asteroid Mode

It is cool but if you were to get the Mavic Air to do one thing, this is about it.

Can you do car chase with it?

In 1 word. Yes, albeit a slow car.

Conclude

It’s small, it’s compact so you have to know the battery life is affected. The Mavic Pro seems to still have hit the balance better of weight vs flight time.

The build quality isn’t fantastic but you pay for what you get. It feels plastic and not as sturdy. We don’t think it’s meant to replace the Mavic Pro. It sits squarely between the Spark and Mavic Pro. Distance wasn’t great but we hit 1.8km easily before getting video signal lost but when back at our regaulr flying field, we can’t manage anything more than 400 meters.

We did some slow 8 to 12 meters/ Sec, car chases shots at 4K. Front and back obstacle avoidance is a great feature. If you don’t own one yet, get a Mavic Air, if not go for the Mavic Pro. By real commercial work, don’t get Mavic anything, look at the Phantom 4 or the Phantom 4 Pro.

The DJI Mavic Air, Mavic Pro, Phantom 4 and Phantom 4 Pro are available from Camera Rental Centre at a limit rental price. Check them out.

3D Mapping with DroneDeploy and Alitzure

Published 29 Sept 2017.
Updated 4 Oct 2017.

We took Dronedeploy (DD) and Altizure (AZ) out for a spin. Unlocking the world of 3D mapping with drones. It’s fun seeing the pictures turned into 3D Models of buildings and structures we took.

Please note we only emphasis on doing 3D Models of structures, not agriculture monitoring or agriculture mapping.

Each has their own way of taking the pics and are fully autonomous. So warning!

Always make sure you survey out the location before you attempt to map an area or building. Note the highest structure around the area you are mapping and make sure you clear the height.

Maps

DroneDeploy uses a map service we are unfamiliar with. In Singapore, there are so many areas that has clouds, incomplete buildings or showing that it’s a construction site. Some building or areas has been around for at least 2 years. That’s how old the maps are.

Altizure uses, simply, Google Maps.  It is preferred and it’s something we are already familiar with for daily use. So no figuring out required.

Flight Planning

DD Flight planning need to be given a thumbs up. You can pre plan a flight on your PC via a web browser then continue working on it while on your Android phone when commuting home then edit it further when you are at the field on your iPad before the actual flight. It syncs across all devices so long you log in to the same account. It is a no brainer….so we thought.

AZ do not have this. All pre planned maps are saved within the device you are using in and only the device you first created it in only. It’s wierd why such a basic function is not implemented (yet?). We could be doing a site survey and doing pre planning but if we forgot to bring the device we have used on flight day, you will have to redo the whole planning and hopefully you remember all the settings, area, height required etc…. the client requested.

3D Output

Straight to the point. Altizure win hands down. Their engine stitches better and is not as picky or restrictive.  DD only allows 500 images for structures. Boo! AZ allows you to stitch then add more pics later still!

So we went back and took close to 700 images. The output was great!

Embedding/ Displaying

AZ allows you to showoff your 3D Model by embedding it on a webpage like the above. DD do not have this option.

Market Place

Only DD has this option. They integrate other services into their marketplace where you can chose to say, do a 3D Print of the 3D Model you have create via Whiteclouds. You can of course download the 3D Model file from AZ and go to Whiteclouds and have it printed of course, you will need to buy 1 Diamond (see pricing below) to download the 3D file.

Pricing

It can be confusing but we prefer AZ as we may not get assignment often for 3D Mapping and AZ allows us to get 1 x “Diamond” to get the project over and done with.

 

DD offers no such one off payment plan. Only monthly or yearly payments. You do get 5 free project, per month.

Overall, we prefer AZ over DD.