Fly Away Phantom


I have a dead Phantom and don’t know why or what to do about it. Below, in some detail, is the saga of mysterious events that caused that death. I am hoping that someone might identify with these events and be able to offer constructive advice.

When I first received my Phantom, it flew beautifully for several flights in GPS mode. Then I began to test the various modes. I took off in one of the IO modes (can’t remember which one) and, trying to correct a drift, I flew the Phantom into a tree. Everything seemed fine after the mini crash so I recalibrated and moved to a more open space to try it again. This time I took off with the left toggle switch on OFF and the right on GPS. It flew like a bird. I then moved the left toggle down (to CL mode, I think). Suddenly everything was backwards. To move left you had to tell the Phantom to move right. I now understood that I had inadvertently directed the Phantom to fly into the tree.

After that first mishap, I became very wary and only flew in GPS mode. For loads of flights the Phantom responded perfectly. Then, I had 3 more mini crashes spaced fairly close together. All three happened at low speed and close to the ground. Once landing and twice taking off, the Phantom suddenly scooted off in a direction I wasn’t directing it to fly. Having learned my lesson, I shut the motors down each time and the Phantom fell to the ground, to no apparent damage. Thinking that I must be encountering interference of some kind, I went back to the places where I had always flown successfully.

Through this period, the Phantom’s reaction time to commands seemed a little sluggish, sometimes reacting slowly to subtle commands. This sluggishness caused me brush a palm leaf while circling the tree. The Phantom dropped toward the ground (and may have actually touched the ground?) before it took off at speed, straight up, with me trying to regain control. Next to where I was flying was a very steep, well treed hill. Maybe I finally communicated with the Phantom or maybe I didn’t, but it abruptly hived off toward the trees (which were very close) smacked into one, and fell to the ground at the bottom of the hill.
Remarkably, the Phantom showed no signs of damage. But, on checking later, one motor was binding. So, I sent it back to the dealer and had it fixed. But, when I put it into the air it flew like it was drunk - wobbling severely. So I sent it back to the dealer again.

I was told that it looked like the controller was damaged in the crash. I responded that it was a control problem that caused the crash. Anyway, I received a quote to put in a new controller and I asked if there was any guarantee that it would fly correctly once fixed. The answer was “I think so”.

Well, “I think so” certainly wasn’t going to work for me so I got ailing the Phantom back. I had read on multicopterforums that someone else had also experienced “fly away” problems and there was a suggestion that it might be a problem with the first generation controller. So I logged into DJI Phantom assistance and found an upgrade which I downloaded. After recalibrating with the upgrade, I fired up the Phantom while it was securely strapped down in the carry box I had built for it.

Everything seemed fine. The response to my directions looked correct. I fiddled around for the length of the battery – faster, slower, turning, etc. And, all seemed correct. So off I went to a large field. I set up the GPS and got the right responses from the led. With a green light flashing at me, I put it in the air. It rose about 10 or a dozen feet, turned, went forward and backwards and landed, just like it should. Breathing a sigh of relief I thought OK, let’s really fly it. The second time around, I just got it into the air when it started to move forward of its own accord. I couldn’t seem to stop it so I tried to bring it down. But, then the Phantom did a repeat of the previous crash flight. It soared into the air at real speed and nothing I was doing was stopping it. Finally I had the speed control right at the bottom – and the motors stopped. From its now dizzy height it dropped straight to the ground, severely damaging one arm on impact.

It seems that I was very naive in thinking that the upgrade might fixed the problem, but everything appeared to work correctly when “flying” the Phantom while it was strapped down. And, how else does one actually find out except by putting it into the air. Anyway, I now have a dead Phantom on my hands without once issuing a command that should have caused a crash.

Can anyone shed any light on this problem? Any input will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Egoli


Sounds as if it was going into failsafe and doing the initial climb to 20 meters.

Sent from my SCH-I925 using Tapatalk

The two times the Phantom flew straight up certainly seems like failsafe. But this doesn't account for it hiving off parallel to the ground, which it did three times nor suddenly veering off or shutting down. And, if it is the failsafe mode that kicked in and out - why?

Thanks for the reply, Egoli