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Old 12-31-2016, 11:58 PM
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Blmeanie Blmeanie is offline
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Boats and Quad copter flying

So I received a Phantom 4 this Christmas, one of the main purposes is to use it for filming people skiing, hydrofoiling, wake boarding, wake surfing off my boat.

I think I understand it to be one of two likely methods:
1) hand launch and catch off back of boat - interesting proposition as there are other boats creating wake to rock my boat, but doable.
2) stand on nearby dock while riders/skiers ride and control phantom from the dock, fly it back to dock to land

#1 also has the skill to learn of controlling the phantom while in a moving object chasing a third moving object. Will really need to be practiced up looking primarily at the RC display.

#2 has the isolation factor, not on the boat, not enjoying the crew

If I go with #1, how do I do RTH on a moving object (boat) ? Or do I set it on the dock before going out and somehow not have it auto reset on hand launch?

Help would be appreciated from those with experience, have asked on phantom pilots too,

Thanks,

Steve
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  #2  
Old 01-01-2017, 12:58 AM
gweaver gweaver is offline
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Buy a pontoon to use as your launch/landing point? Has the advantage of being 'party central' when folks are boarding and could follow alongside/behind, keeping you near the action.

I like your idea of using the RTH function from the dock. As far as testing your concerns, go someplace open (baseball field?), set the RTH function to home plate or something, then walk to the outfield and launch the drone, see if it will RTH to home. If it does, I would think you'd be OK setting the dock as home and then taking off in the boat. My hunch is that as long as you keep it powered up (but not flying) after you set home, it will store those coordinates in memory and use that as home whenever you RTH. Of course, test extensively on dry land first.

As far as the challenge of flying and following, check out the Litchi app. It's supposed to add a 'follow me' function (if the P4 doesn't have that already) which will allow you to target an object and have the drone track it. Then you just need to focus on keeping the camera view you want.

FWIW, I don't own a drone yet, but I've been doing a fair amount of research on the Phantom series, along with Litchi. There are some pretty good youtube videos out there explaining the ins and outs of Litchi and the various abilities of the Phantom drones.

G
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Old 01-01-2017, 01:08 AM
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Blmeanie Blmeanie is offline
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yep, still learning the skills, follow me feature is on the phantom 4 (what I have) too so will be looking into it as we approach April. Thanks for the reply.
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Old 01-01-2017, 01:46 AM
ewilcox11 ewilcox11 is offline
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I had one of the bigger 3DR drones and it crashed last year. Won't get into that other than it was a horrible experience, but I am planning to buy a Mavic this spring/summer. I'd learn to manually land it if I were you. There is no way I'd trust the RTH function around water. I also just read an article where the guy was discussing 5 or 6 drones he tested. One was the P4 and he said the RTH was sometimes very accurate and sometimes it might be off by 5 to 10 feet. I'd think that 5 to 10 feet could be the difference in a dry landing or a wet one.
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Old 01-01-2017, 04:21 AM
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Stefan Stefan is offline
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Do not underestimate the man power that goes into all the drone shots you see around here, pilot, spotter, boat driver, observer... first really learn your flying skills, a water release/catch start landing is NOT your basic flight manouver, watch your fingers!

I have an Inspire1 which I hardly use because I do not have enough flying experience since I can't find time. We're usually 3-4people on the boat and it just stresses me too much to fly beside boat driving over the day. Maybe that might change with the new quads, Mavic, Karma, etc. we'll see...

Also be prepared for DJI Products to be glitchy in the beginning of their life-cycle, but they have gotten/do get better...
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  #6  
Old 01-01-2017, 09:02 AM
bigmac bigmac is offline
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Launching and recovering a Phantom 4 from a runabout-type boat and tracking a water skier is a significant production that has to be planned and practiced.

You can select Dynamic Home Point as an option and it will then continually update the home point as being your mobile device attached to the transmitter (as long as your mobile device has GPS capability and it's turned on). Automatic landing doesn't work very well on a boat, especially a moving boat, since landing accuracy is about +/- 10 feet. The Phantom 4Pro and Mavic Pro allow visual landing on an optical target, which works pretty well, most of the time. The way I have done this with my Phantom 4 is taking off from my sun pad with the wakeboarder in the water, selecting the Follow function and targeting the skier, pulling him up. The drone follows the skier. To recover the drone, I engage Home Lock. Then all I have to do is pull back on the right stick and it will come back to me, and I land it on the sun pad manually or hand-catch it. You could also set if for RTH, then cancel it when it gets close and land it manually. I don't like that as pushing the wrong button to cancel means your drone will likely get wet. The whole thing is quite a production, and you risk a lot. Note that the Follow function can be a little glitchy and lose lock every so often, so there's a lot of "oops, the drone isn't following", in which case you have to stop the boat and fly the drone back to reacquire the subject. Needs to be low speed. The frequency with which you lose lock on the skier is related to how fast you're going. I've only used it for hydrofoil and wakeboard and even then only rarely as it's a lot of work and concentration. I understand that skiing at 36 mph makes for a problem. Also note that since it tracks optically, the skier wearing a bright contrasting color helps.

I've done this with both DJI GO app and Litchi. I prefer Litchi for almost everything else, but I think the follow function works a little better with DJI GO. It's a potentially frustrating exercise that requires a lot of practice (preferably on dry land). I practiced by following my dogs running across the field. The actual mission itself is exactly the opposite of a relaxing care-free day on the lake. Your skiers and your passengers will likely find it annoying. You will find it nerve-wracking.
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  #7  
Old 01-01-2017, 09:23 AM
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Blmeanie Blmeanie is offline
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thanks for the in depth review bigmac. Yeah, I realize how much of a production it will be, not to be done all the time. Will be primarily to catch foilers, 21-23 mph, I'll do the dock thing at first for sure, then maybe take off and land from boat, either by hand or on the sun pad as you mentioned.
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Old 01-01-2017, 09:36 AM
bigmac bigmac is offline
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The problem with doing it from the dock is that acquiring the hydrofoiler to lock onto as they go flying by is difficult. I've never been able to do it. I have been able to lock on to kayakers, but faster than that...well, I need a lot more practice. I would like to try orbiting the target while moving...I haven't been able to do that tracking my dogs until they slow to a walk or stop.

My advice for trying it from the dock...practice with a kayaker or canoeist.
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  #9  
Old 01-01-2017, 10:11 AM
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Blmeanie Blmeanie is offline
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i was thinking of freelancing from the dock, not necessarily using the follow mode, that way I can control everything. Maybe I'm wrong but that seems easier. Is there not enough visible to lock on before they come out of the hole?
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  #10  
Old 01-01-2017, 10:15 AM
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ProTour X9 ProTour X9 is offline
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I would not recommend using RTH to land on a dock, but I'm guessing the Phantom 4 has improved. My Phantom 3 will land within 15-20 ft of original launch point using RTH. That's not accurate enough for a dock. I have launched from the boat and had a buddy (the one with the longest arms and lots of practice) "catch" my drone when landing; and I have been able to land on my dock from across the lake using the camera. My only advice is to practice as much as you can before bothering your passengers/guests. Getting the perfect angle/distance/speed and landing are probably the only difficulties in flying a drone. Definitely practice in the wind as well, you want to be prepared for a multitude of situations.
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