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.

We flew the DJI Mavic Pro

We flew it, here’s our thoughts. Out of the box, the yaw is too sensitive to us. Great for pictures, tracking with videos will be hard

Distance is great! Built up area and we flew 2.1km easily getting shots we never tried before with confidence.

Drifts quite a bit in little wind. Gesture modes works but we don’t think we’ll be using it often.

Wifi is a great alternative to control the Mavic but as the transmitter is already so small, dont think why you wouldn’t want to bring it out. It’s also useful for that 1 quick photo you need but do not need to go a far distance or need much control. Something like take off, go up to 100 to 200 meters, snap and land and be on your way.

The Mavic is available for rental at http://sg.camerarental.biz/

State of the hobby

It is end June 2016. A round up of what is the current status of multicoptors to us.

We’ve always love folding quads. Just look at our fleet. 30 builts later, we’ve partnered up and now flying Phantoms and Inspires do make us ponder and wonder.

The neatness of these ready to flys. Less hassle of packing things. We primarily fly for aerial videos and photos. Seldom fpv racing/ mini quads. We have a few (See our fleet) but its just for speed and fun mostly. It also means less things to be messing around with. Gains, programming knobs, it’s great knowledge but the hassle with so many China based made with crude documentations, don’t get us wrong, even leaders like DJI has manuals that seems written by school students but they’re getting there…slowly but surely.  

 

 

Being able to push out products in a lot shorter time frame and putting in technologies that they heard feedback from is critical. We all don’t need that new iPad or iPhone, that new Android tablet or new graphic card or cpu,it however makes your competitors play catch up.

Gimbal
Even powering up our good old Phantom 2 with a Hero 4, on a H43D seems a hassle now. You power up the Phantom 2, the Hero 4, connect your antennas to the Black pearl monitor, turn it on….

With the Inspire 1 or Phantom 4. Power up, connect iPad/ your phone, wait for GPS, fly, enjoy the scenery.

Auto Modes/ follow me, circle/ polar
It’s ridiculously easy with the DJI Go app for the POI or follow me.

We love to DIY. The smell of solder get us going and the ability to mix and match motors and ESC and learning the different Flight Controllers can be both fun and frustrating at the same time. If you’re the casual flyer, do not hope to purchase one but hope to have an aerial shot of your holiday or a one off shot of your loved ones having fun flying a kite or spending a day skating, consider renting as even buying one has some maintenance to be done. The least is the firmware updates for your drone and at times, all the bits that come with it, the batteries, gimbal, camera etc etc may all require update(s).

Another important point is, on tiny Singapore and with strict DJI No Fly zone implementation, we weren’t able to take on some past assignment with the church sitting on the edge but inside the no fly zone. On Google Map, go to 1.373587, 103.898441. From the church, you have to fly past 5 blocks of more than 12 storeys high buildings, cross a river and then a forested area of about 500 meters even then, you’re only at the edge of the airport. We needed the church tower video-ed and it’s no more than 20 meters tall…the solution? A DIY hexacopter.

There’s even guys who are certified circumventing this by disconnecting their GPS from their Inspire 1 and fly it in ATTI mode. Go google…

We hope one day, DJI will release what is in the DJI Go app to any Naza DIY-ers that they can build and making the geo-fencing a little more flexible.

Till the day comes and for all commerical jobs we received, seems like mostly, Inspire 1 and Phantoms prevail…for now.

How a crash looks like in Flytrex

 

Flytrex is a great, cheap and lightweight tool to help, to a certain extend see what may have gone wrong. It doesn’t however include input from your transmitter.

An example below from a crash, speed and altitude has a sudden drop within 2 secs. It’s regardless there is no other logging as the crash was caused by a broken propeller mid flight after reviewing the onboard video footage.

crash

Comparing, a normal flight does not have erratic lines or a sudden fall in speed and altitude.

normal

Simple analyzing of these cannot really help in determining if it was pilot input error but does help somewhat.

Build: ATG 12mm Alien

The ATG TT X4 12, this was a love and hate relationship. Built it with 10 inch carbon fiber propellors, didn’t fly well and we moved on after a couple of weeks to the Hobbyking Aliencopter 430mm. We eventually came back to it.

The plan was to converted it to carbon fiber booms, add some red LEDs on the rear booms, replace those holders with tarots ones if needed and continue using the QBrain 4-in-1 ESC.

 

F330 Build

The DJI F330 is one of the longest serving multicopter we have. It has been built, strip down, rebuild and stripped down again trying out different ESC and flight controllers. It is versatile and small but not too small to try things out, mount things on it, take it for just some crashing and rebuild.