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Old 02-10-2018, 04:02 PM   #1
Rich Z
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Crawfordville, FL
Posts: 185
Default Xiaomi Mi 4K drone

Finally had a day yesterday where it wasn't raining, windy, or I was under the weather from that cold or bug I picked up last week. So I took the drone out to try out some stuff with it. Actually felt a bit rusty at the controls, so this is something you really need to practice quite a bit, I guess.

Anyway, this drone comes with some automated flight features in the controller app that I wanted to play around with. The first one is the capability to set way points that will direct the drone to automatically fly from one to the other point in sequence. What you do is to go into the menu to select it, set up the parameters you want (drone height, speed, etc.) and then select the points you want on the map screen by simply tapping points on your cell phone display running the controller app. My goal had been to send the drone out the driveway at 125 ft elevation, down the road, then when reaching the edge of our property, move from one corner to the next, circumnavigating the four corners and head on back to "home". But I think there is a limit of 6 way points, which would have been OK, since I could have triggered the Return To Home feature when the drone had finally reached the end of the way point run.

BTW, what is interesting to me about this function is that I think it would be handy to set way points to command the drone to fly a pre-determined path, which would allow me the freedom to then just worry about manning the direction that the camera is pointing without also having to worry about where the drone was actually going to be flying. Theoretically, of course. At this point, I don't know what the drone actually does if you, for instance, yaw the drone to chance the lateral position the camera is pointing. The only movement you can make with the camera itself, is from pointing directly forward to pointing directly down, and any point in between. Any time you want to video something off center from being directly in front or directly under the drone, you have to move the drone itself to do so.

But the flight plan didn't work out as planned, however. When the drone flew out over the driveway, and then headed north up the road to the north edge of the property, it got to the point where I had it set to turn west to that NW corner of the property. Instead, it announced that it had lost signal, and that automatically triggered the Return To Home safety function, so it just turned to point directly "home" and came on back to the launch point and landed. Perhaps I could have regained control at that point, but I didn't try that quite yet.

Hmm, flight data was showing that it got out to about 1100 or so ft, and I think I've flown it slightly further than that before. But I was running a screen capture program on the smart phone this time, so perhaps that is interfering with the control app somewhat. I then tried a simpler way point set, just heading straight out to that northwest corner of the property, then turning south to the next corner. BTW, it seems that you MUST put the drone up high enough to clear any obstructions BEFORE triggering the way point routine, because when you trigger that function, it immediately heads towards that point, gaining altitude along the way. In my case, that would have meant flying directly into a pine tree before it got high enough to clear it. Fortunately I put the drone at height before triggering the way point command, otherwise this could have turned out ugly. Anyway, the drone again only got about 1100 feet or so out there, and then lost signal and did the RTH thing again. I may have to try this again sometime without that screen capture program running to see if that is causing this problem. The drone SHOULD be able to go much further out than that. Some people have logged a couple of miles with their drones (this model). Of course, I don't expect to get it that far with all the trees causing interference, but still, I think it should go somewhat further than 1100 feet out from me.

Anyway, so much for the way point test. So I then decided to try another function called "Orbit Mode". With this one, you have to position the drone above the Point Of Interest (POI), then set up the parameters you want. There was one parameter called "angle" that I'm not sure about, since the display didn't mean much to me. It could mean the direction the drone is pointing, but that is apparently covered in another selection. Maybe position of the camera, but the display didn't seem to be associated with the possible directions you can actually set the camera, which is just up and down at various degrees. So I guess I'll have to play around with that sometime just to see what it does. Again, you need to put the drone at height to clear obstructions BEFORE triggering this function. It doesn't go UP then out, it goes up gradually at an angle while heading to the start point on the circumference line of the circle you have set.

This one seemed to run without issues, but I was only about 215 or so feet from the controller.

I can see where people could get into trouble with some of these modes by not knowing how it actually operates and allowing the drone to run into something as a result. There is no sort of obstruction avoidance on this drone, so if you tell it to run into a wall or tree, it will certainly oblige your wishes. I'm guessing you can cancel these automated functions on the fly, but things could happen quickly and you just might not have time enough to figure out what to do before the crash. Probably would be a good thing for me to figure out experimentally under controlled conditions.

Also I had quite a few instances of trying the RTH (Return To Home) function, either because the drone lost the control signal, or I just used it as a fast and easy way to bring it back home, and noticed that the drone just didn't seem to get as close to the launch point as it had in the past. Sometimes came down as much as 8 ft. away. That's not too bad, I guess, but you still have to keep that in mind in case you are launching it from a narrow area with obstructions all around you.

But all in all, a good day of flying. Any day you don't crash or lose your drone flying it is a GOOD day.

Oh, just out of curiosity, I took my temperature gun outside because I wanted to check the temps of the propeller motors after flying to see how that looked. I'm guessing that a motor going bad would tend to be hotter than the rest of them, so I wanted to get a feel for what the temperatures should be. All four of them were registering between 100 and 103 degrees F, which doesn't see TOO hot to me. So all is good with the motors, so far.
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