Topic: All I wanted was a nice panoramic video of the sunrise....
Hey fellow fliers. First let me state that I'm not sure if the following pertains to the drone itself or to Free Flight v2.1.6. I just upgraded to Free Flight v2.1.6 last week and have flown with it twice without any problems.
Did you ever have one of those premonitions which said, "Don't fly today. Play it safe and just pack it up."? Well I did, but I ignored it.
I'm currently on a work assignment in San Antonio, TX and scheduled to return home in 3 days. I planned to mail my drone home instead of carrying it on the plane (just like I've done twice before). But I figured, before mailing it, I'd like to get a nice panoramic video (from high altitude) of the sunrise along with the surrounding Texas landscape. I went through my pre-flight as normal, took off, calibrated, and then took the drone up to an altitude of almost 80 meters (data obtained from AR.Drone Academy). I hovered and panned the scenery for about 3 minutes and then decided to descend. All was going too perfectly; nice temperature, beautiful skyline, and no wind. I descended to about 70 meters and all of a sudden the drone went into a free fall. I ran like heck to try and catch it but missed it by about 6 to 12 inches. BAM!!! Right in the middle of the street.
It's totally busted up; broken cross, broken body, the camera points up at about a 20 - 30 degree angle, prop, gear, and shaft broken. Condition of the control boards and motors are unknown at this time. When the battery is connected, I get a green LED from the control board, but no other indications.
Even though USB Record and Auto Record were both enabled, none of the video was recorded. However, the flight data did upload to AR.Drone Academy. Here's what was sent to the Academy:
Flight time & date: 2012-08-07 06:49:54
Number of crash(es): 1 Duh!! (OK, "Duh!!" wasn't on there)
Flight Duration: 03m 38s
Steering device: iPad
Flight position: (address of my hotel along with GPS coordinates)
Altitude: The graph shows the drone's max height as just below 80 meters and then its descent to 70 meters before the free fall.
Speed was negligible since I just took it straight up. The only horizontal movements were me keeping the drone localized.
Battery strength at the time of the crash: 33%
This is the first time that my drone has dropped out of the sky for no apparent reason. In addition to trying to get a panoramic view, this flight also served as another verification test of Free Flight v2.1.6 before performing a firmware upgrade (being a Systems & Network Engineer, I know; one upgrade at a time: Test the Free Flight upgrade first, then upgrade and test the firmware.)
I know others have reported momentary drops in altitude, but has anyone else experienced a drop of this magnitude? That is, all the way to planet earth.
I'm placing a call to Parrot. I really enjoy flying my drone and only have about 4 to 5 hours of flying time on this one. I see no reason at all why this thing should have just dropped out of the sky.
AR Drone 2.0
Free Flight: 2.1.6
Flying with: iPad 2
No Mods other than painted prop tips and the addition of tie-wraps to the landing gear.
Inertial: Hardware: 2.3 | Software: 5.32
Free Flight: 2.2.7 | Flying with: iPad 2