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Author Topic: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?  (Read 1038 times)

Offline nate80

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DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« on: January 03, 2018, 17:34:51 »
I think Hozza and Jeremy bought a DJI Spark recently and I'm guessing there are a few more owners on the forum.  I was lucky enough to get a Fly More Combo kit as a present for Christmas and I'm interested to hear what owners think of their mini DJI quad?

I'd read and watched a good number of articles and videos about it before purchase and, now I've had a chance to try it out a bit, I reckon its good, but not quite what I'd been led to expect.  It's a high quality and great flying little quad, but it doesn't seem to be what many reviewers had promised.  I'd heard it was a really portable drone that was surprisingly capable as a semi-pro photography platform that could happily capture high quality 1080p video footage over fairly large distances (up to 2 miles).  I thought it was strange DJI would offer a product that people claimed competed with the Mavic Pro, and now I've had a few flights I'm wondering how the reviewers reached that opinion.

I guess the first issue to mention is the OTG cable connection no longer works correctly (since a recent GO 4 App update) and the WiFi connection between the remote controller and the phone gets disrupted and suffers loss too frequently.  It can make flights kinda scary and frustrating.  Then the signal strength between the remote and the quad seems poor.  Over wide open fields my Spark flies about 300 to 400 feet before loosing connection and performing an auto RTH.

The quad's slow.  Like, REALLY slow, and too slow for lots of motion photography requirements.  It wasn't mentioned in the reviews I looked at but it only flies at about 6mph with avoidance sensors enabled and still only flies at 12mph with the sensors turned off.  To reach the often advertised speed of 30mph Sport mode needs activating, but then that locks the gimbal movement so it's almost useless for photography as any roll or pitch ruins the shot.

So far the batteries seem to only last about 10 minutes max.  It's probably due to the rubbish windy weather we've been having, but 10 mins power means about 7-8 mins real (safe) flight time.  And the firmware updates and remote to phone connection functions are awful.  Having to manually swap between WiFi networks over and over and over again is a proper bore.

And, in my case, it's made worse as the iPhone X has no home button so swiping up from the bottom of the screen is next to impossible once its held in the Spark remote controllers cradle. And the iPhone X's face recognition camera is hidden behind the plastic of the Spark remotes other gripper arm.  Seriously frustrating and fiddly to operate.

And the Spark gesture controls don't really work, so its a bit useless as a selfie drone without the optional remote controller, because the wifi control method is awful.  It only flies about 80 feet before suffering disconnection issues when controlled by my phone via WiFi.

The portability of the Spark and the charging hub that recharges all the batteries at once is very handy though and its nice and stable in the air.  It's odd.  I do like the Spark, even with the limitations I've been faced with, but I fail to really see the point of it as it doesn't seem to succeed well at pretty much anything other than being small.

What do you other owners think of it, and what do you use it for?
« Last Edit: January 03, 2018, 17:38:43 by nate80 »

Offline apollo7

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Re: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2018, 05:15:21 »
A couple of friends have them and seem to like the. I nearly went for one after the big launch, but glad i did not
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Offline orfordness

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Re: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2018, 12:05:07 »
Search for the FCC hack as this will up the transmit power from 0.09w to 0.5w and seriously increase the range...
My mavis does not require an OTG but just a standard micro USB and in my case USB C...if the update to go4 has disabled flying with the cable, i'd think about returning it unless its fixed pronto!


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Offline Hozza

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Re: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2018, 12:16:35 »
Join The Spark Side on Facebook, they do a hacked app for the fcc hack, recently did mine and made the experience greatly improved.

Offline nate80

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Re: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2018, 13:28:06 »
Search for the FCC hack as this will up the transmit power from 0.09w to 0.5w and seriously increase the range...
My mavis does not require an OTG but just a standard micro USB and in my case USB C...if the update to go4 has disabled flying with the cable, i'd think about returning it unless its fixed pronto!


Steve

Cheers Steve.  Unfortunately for me (and as far as I know) the hack only works with Android and I don't own any Android devices. Thought about buying a cheap Android phone or tablet for £50-£100 to hack the firmware (I wouldn't just borrow one as the hack needs reapplying everytime the DJI Go App auto updates - and I don't want to turn auto update off for my 100's of other apps and have to do them manually everyday just to stop the DJI app from updating) but it doesn't seem worth it.  I'd rather put the money toward a Mavic Pro etc.

Regarding the OTG cable, the OTG connection with the Spark has never been officially supported by DJI.  I reckon DJI have purposely messed up the OTG connection with the Spark so that they can sell more Mavics (that do officially support the OTG cable, as you say).

Join The Spark Side on Facebook, they do a hacked app for the fcc hack, recently did mine and made the experience greatly improved.

Thanks mate. I'll go take a look, though I don't think the FCC hack will be much good for me (iOS user).  I'm more concerned at how little else the Spark does well, not just its flight range.  I'm not really sure what the point of it is other than an entry level drone into the DJI ecosystem for people that have no prior experience with quadcopters.  I was wondering if other owners experience proved I'd missed something.

Cheers

Offline Hozza

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Re: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2018, 15:42:20 »
Well I've always wanted a camera bird but found everything either too big or in the case of the Mavic too pricey, I opted for the fly more spark and haven't regreted it yet if I find I'm using it a lot then I'll consider a Mavic.

The tiny planet pano mode is awesome btw

Offline orfordness

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Re: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2018, 16:37:03 »
Quote
Unfortunately for me (and as far as I know) the hack only works with Android and I don't own any Android devices

try here: http://dji.retroroms.info/howto/dji_configs

Specifically: http://dji.retroroms.info/howto/dji_configs

Cheers

Steve
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Offline nate80

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Re: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2018, 19:25:34 »
Thanks guys.  Great find Steve.    ::)   I'll be sure to check that out.  I really do like the Spark.  It's really well made (like most all DJI products to be fair to them) so I'd be more than happy to find more uses for it.   ~~

Offline nate80

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Re: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2018, 00:44:41 »
I've spent the last couple days playing with and testing the Spark and unfortunately I just don't seem to 'get it'. I guess it just doesn't perform the way I want it to, and it doesn't provide the functionality I'm after.

Whether I fly it with the sensors enabled or disabled it always seems to fly at approx. 6-7mph, which is just too slow for recording certain types of footage. Sport mode increases the speed but seems useless as the gimbal locks, so it's no good for photography, and the quad 'air breaks' real harshly rather than 'sliding' everytime the pitch stick is zeroed out - which is nothing like a racing drone (plus it's gps locked and too stable), so it's no good for that either.

The app constantly reports issues (high wind velocity/class D flight area/ATTI mode/weak signal) even after they've been dismissed or dealt with and it beeps nearly all the time which is really irritating. Plus it struggles to connect to my phone half the time and the standard flight range, even with the physical remote control, is awful. Even if flashing the firmware can up the transmission strength that's an extra job I don't want to bother with.

Unfortunately I think Im going to admit defeat and call it a day with the Spark. The mavic pro seems to tick far more boxes so I may go that route. Gonna have a think.  :hmm:

Offline Hozza

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Re: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2018, 14:10:41 »
I had all the connection issues your talking about, but going to fcc and remembering to turn off Bluetooth sorted it

Offline shawdreamer

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Re: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2018, 14:16:19 »
purely from an observation point of view....

It looks to me like the research and development department at Dji were pretty happy with how their Phantom range had been recieved and were confidently releasing newer versions to keep pace with incoming technical advances.

but the market started to shift away from an entirely "capability" stand point to a more "functionality&practicality" stand point.

So they introduced the Mavic, I folding frame that keeps pace with the market demand for "practicality", now Ive not looked to deeply into the Mavic but going how many people wanting a cam-ship over a flyer are still opting to use the Phantom range Im guessing that certain degrees of "ability" had to be sacrificed with the Mavic to compress all the circuit magic into the Mavics folding frame, understandable really.

but then Dji started seeing the shift in the market again from large/Mid sized frames (250+) over to the even more compact sub 200 frames which obviously pee'd all over the Phantom and even the Mavic in terms of "practicality", so they pushed the Spark though.

here's were I think things have gone wrong, between the release of the Phantom and Mavic there was a sufficient enough time gap for the technologies to advance and subsequently reduce in size which made giving the Mavic the same Tech abilities as the Phantom a distinct possibility.

unfortunately the same time gap didnt exist between the Mavic and Spark so Dji instead compressed what they could down into as small as they dared to squeeze into the Sparks tiny frame, which was capable for some parts but lets face it they were never gonna fit everything the Mavic has into the much smaller Spark.

If they'd waited a year and a half, or even a year the Techs would have advanced again and likely you'd have seen a Spark with everything the Mavic has but unfortunately they saw the Gravy train was ready to depart and instead just jumped onboard hoping that the reputation they'd built up with their previous Phantom range would encourage and ultimately carry the sales figures for the Spark.... which to my point of view seems to have worked, atleast going by the amount of people buying them and then bitching about how they aernt as good as their Phantom or Mavic :shrug:
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Offline shawdreamer

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Re: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2018, 11:12:31 »
and just when everyone else can see the train was running out of steam.....
https://www.banggood.com/DJI-Tello-with-5MP-HD-Camera-720P-WiFi-FPV-8D-Flips-Bounce-Mode-STEM-Coding-Compatible-Controller-VR-p-1249480.html?rmmds=newArrivals&cur_warehouse=CN

75 notes seems like a push for a brushed mini imo though... suppose you'll need to round it off to 80 notes if you wanna go buy it properly...
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/goat-sheep-head-mask/152693642370?hash=item238d401482:g:2hgAAOSwMoFZsDMn
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Offline nate80

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Re: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2018, 08:58:23 »
I had all the connection issues your talking about, but going to fcc and remembering to turn off Bluetooth sorted it

Cheers Hozza, I appreciate the input.  I did turn off bluetooth on every flight.  Unfortunately I don't have the time to flash and manage the firmware to get the Spark to perform adequately.  I feel that for £500+ it should already do that from the box and I bought it for ease of use.  Plus I don't want to invalidate the warranty.  It's a bit of a shame, but it's just not the right drone for me.

Offline Hozza

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Re: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2018, 09:23:00 »
Cheers Hozza, I appreciate the input.  I did turn off bluetooth on every flight.  Unfortunately I don't have the time to flash and manage the firmware to get the Spark to perform adequately.  I feel that for £500+ it should already do that from the box and I bought it for ease of use.  Plus I don't want to invalidate the warranty.  It's a bit of a shame, but it's just not the right drone for me.

Totally understand that, I wanted a Mavic but being I've never owned a camera bird I was worried that it would be a waste, hopefully by the end of this summer I'll know what I'm going to do.

But it does sound like the Mavic is the right one for you...


Offline nate80

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Re: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2018, 10:12:38 »
purely from an observation point of view....

It looks to me like the research and development department at Dji were pretty happy with how their Phantom range had been recieved and were confidently releasing newer versions to keep pace with incoming technical advances.

but the market started to shift away from an entirely "capability" stand point to a more "functionality&practicality" stand point.

So they introduced the Mavic, I folding frame that keeps pace with the market demand for "practicality", now Ive not looked to deeply into the Mavic but going how many people wanting a cam-ship over a flyer are still opting to use the Phantom range Im guessing that certain degrees of "ability" had to be sacrificed with the Mavic to compress all the circuit magic into the Mavics folding frame, understandable really.

but then Dji started seeing the shift in the market again from large/Mid sized frames (250+) over to the even more compact sub 200 frames which obviously pee'd all over the Phantom and even the Mavic in terms of "practicality", so they pushed the Spark though.

here's were I think things have gone wrong, between the release of the Phantom and Mavic there was a sufficient enough time gap for the technologies to advance and subsequently reduce in size which made giving the Mavic the same Tech abilities as the Phantom a distinct possibility.

unfortunately the same time gap didnt exist between the Mavic and Spark so Dji instead compressed what they could down into as small as they dared to squeeze into the Sparks tiny frame, which was capable for some parts but lets face it they were never gonna fit everything the Mavic has into the much smaller Spark.

If they'd waited a year and a half, or even a year the Techs would have advanced again and likely you'd have seen a Spark with everything the Mavic has but unfortunately they saw the Gravy train was ready to depart and instead just jumped onboard hoping that the reputation they'd built up with their previous Phantom range would encourage and ultimately carry the sales figures for the Spark.... which to my point of view seems to have worked, atleast going by the amount of people buying them and then bitching about how they aernt as good as their Phantom or Mavic :shrug:

and just when everyone else can see the train was running out of steam.....
https://www.banggood.com/DJI-Tello-with-5MP-HD-Camera-720P-WiFi-FPV-8D-Flips-Bounce-Mode-STEM-Coding-Compatible-Controller-VR-p-1249480.html?rmmds=newArrivals&cur_warehouse=CN

75 notes seems like a push for a brushed mini imo though... suppose you'll need to round it off to 80 notes if you wanna go buy it properly...
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/goat-sheep-head-mask/152693642370?hash=item238d401482:g:2hgAAOSwMoFZsDMn

Definitely, tech moves forward seriously fast.  I'm not sure DJI are invested in cramming as much tech as poss into ever smaller drones though.  They're likely more interested in the financial benefit of including as little tech as possible into a product that consumers will buy, and that's impressive enough to encourage repeat business.  Now I have first hand experience across the whole range of DJI's off the shelf drones (other than the Inspire) I believe I understand the purpose and user experience that each drone offers, and I do appreciate the extremely well designed financial tier system that DJI has applied to those products.

I think DJI's been sensible and they're an extremely competent company when it comes to their multi-rotors.  They clearly understand the drone market place (which they're clearly helping to build in no small part), their hobbyist and professional customer base, and the limitations and expectations of emerging consumers.  They are strategically supplying drone models to fit the various (and always developing) categories of the multi-copter world without over-stretching themselves.

The Tello looks interesting and cleverly priced so that it's attractive enough for budding young new comers to the drone market (and their parents/teachers) who want support and guidance from the manufacturer to get the most out of their toy.  A large percentage of the population obviously look for an official support network (not a hobby based or open source collection of all-sorts) so as to feel comfortable taking a risk and buying something that'd otherwise intimidate them.  Not everyone's a hardcore drone tech enthusiast!   ;D

What saddens me a little is the number of opinionated but kinda thoughtless individuals utilising the net to offer poor and uneducated advice with such confidence that it can mislead people into a poor purchase decision.  Rather than a lack of info from DJI it was a lack of useful and sensible advice in video reviews and articles online that led me to believe the Spark would suit my needs.  The purchase decision was partially my fault, of course.  But it's obviously not always possible to be aware of issues and/or limitations with a product you've never seen and can't demo until other users point them out, which is one of the primary purposes of a product review.  I guess the issue is many of the people providing reviews don't have an understanding of anything outside their own limited experience with the particular item; a fact they don't tend to outline or share.  I'm not sure I can afford to but, it seems I need to spend even longer researching and cross referencing before making a purchase decision.  Still, first world problems and all that.   :laugh:

The Spark is perfect for many, and that's great.  It's a very nice little quad.   ~~  It just didn't do quite what I wanted.

Offline MKPSG12

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Re: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2018, 10:38:05 »
I was torn between a Mavic and a Spark for a while but eventually decided on the Spark as i'm fortunate enough to have Heliguy more or less on my doorstep and I went along to one of their new pilot orientation courses. Once I had seen them in the flesh I knew the Mavic was too big and noisy/intimidating for what I want a drone for. I couldn't find any other off the shelf drone that has the same features (which mostly work for me) at the same price.

I use an IPhone with my Spark and haven't experienced any of the signal problems which others seem to have (with Android phones?). Full disclosure though, i'm fairly new to this and rarely fly more than 100m away. I need an 'up-close-and-personal' drone anyway so that side of things doesn't interest me yet.

Offline nate80

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Re: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2018, 13:15:16 »
I was torn between a Mavic and a Spark for a while but eventually decided on the Spark as i'm fortunate enough to have Heliguy more or less on my doorstep and I went along to one of their new pilot orientation courses. Once I had seen them in the flesh I knew the Mavic was too big and noisy/intimidating for what I want a drone for. I couldn't find any other off the shelf drone that has the same features (which mostly work for me) at the same price.

I use an IPhone with my Spark and haven't experienced any of the signal problems which others seem to have (with Android phones?). Full disclosure though, i'm fairly new to this and rarely fly more than 100m away. I need an 'up-close-and-personal' drone anyway so that side of things doesn't interest me yet.


I'm glad you're enjoying your Spark.   :smiley:  The ability to demo or live view drones in flight before purchase is such a bonus!  You're lucky to have Heliguy close by.  I don't know of any drone agents anywhere within the M25 that provide that option.  That'd be so handy.

As I mentioned above I'm an iPhone user and suffered awful video and signal disruption.  I get the impression some Spark's suffer more than others, but it's also down to environment.  I don't know about you but my Spark almost point blank refused to fly indoors with all sensors turned off due to magnetic interference.  As it's a selfie drone I definitely expect to be able to pilot it indoors and at my home.  Outside it was overly affected by power lines, wi-fi signals, bluetooth signals, mobile phone masts, fences (seriously - they were a problem) etc.  If I flew in the middle of nowhere with zero metal objects nearby I got good results, but any slight interference potential damaged the signal strength, sometimes massively.

I do want to be able to make use of the claimed 2km range with the remote, but in reality achieved a few hundred meters at best.  The Wifi control type was no good for my needs.  Plus, as I mentioned, the Spark is so slow and the gimbal lock in sport mode makes it unusable for quality videography.

I can definitely see how it's good for people who are happy with what it offers and who it works well for.   ~~

Offline MKPSG12

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Re: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2018, 09:57:10 »
I haven't had any issues with flying indoors, other than my dog wanting to bite the thing when I was stupid enough to have them both in the same room together!

I think the range is limited because of EU broadcast power regulations to 300m using 5.8ghz and 500m using 2.4ghz, obviously environmental factors come into play as well. You can get the 'full'/FCC range from the Spark but I think you have to install some 3rd party soft/firmware to the drone, which I wouldn't think about doing, well, at least until the warranty/crash protection I have has ran out! ;D

Offline nate80

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Re: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2018, 10:40:39 »
My house is chock full of competing signals and electronics, so that may have something to do with it.  Or perhaps it's just a fault of the Spark I received.  Completely unrelated but the Spark showed it has a party trick.  Point it at a Dyson AM09 heater and it turns it on (forward facing sensors must be I.R).  Useful if I ever loose the Dyson's remote!   ;)

Although the UK transmission signal strength is fairly poor the included Remote Control is advertised as providing 2km range without any firmware flashing.  Clearly that's 2km transmission distance under perfect conditions.  I would have been happy with 1km, but could only ever get approx 300-400 meters before RTH auto activated, and the video feed suffered breakup and intermittent lag well before that at anything beyond about 100-150 meters.  That was over open fields with a mobile phone mast approx 400 meters away and small electricity lines approx 250 meters to the side of the field.  That's just not good enough out the box and, like you, I wasn't going to eradicate the warranty by flashing the device.

As mentioned in earlier posts, range issues weren't the only issues and it proved not to offer the functionality I was after, so I decided not to keep it.  It's a really good looking little drone with some nice features though and flew well when in range and away from all interference (though the constant alerts on the Go App that I experienced did irritate).  The 1080p video quality is lovely as well and nicely balanced to make shots look saturated and vibrant.  It's really good to know other owners are really enjoying their Sparks.

Offline Hozza

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Re: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2018, 20:00:42 »
Nate

Using the TSS app you are not touching the firmware.

Paul

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Re: DJI Spark owners - What's your opinion?
« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2018, 23:03:14 »
Hey Paul. Ah right! That's cool. I must admit there's so much info out there (and much of it's a bit secretive) that it can get a bit confusing!  :laugh: 

I had a read about an fcc hack and the Go app hack by the TSS group (if I remember their name right?). I thought is was just for Android until I kept digging. Great to have an answer to the transmission weak issue but it does seem like a fair bit of hassle, like having to downgrade iTunes on the mac with the help of third party software (that may be compromised) in order to side load a third party app (that could also be insecure). I guess manually installing the hacked Go app will affect ios auto updates of all future iPhone/ipad apps too (auto updates will need turning off)? And then dji could potentially write something into a future app update that grounds the spark unless the newest app and firmwares are installed (like they did 6 months or so back with the ongoing online product activation update for the Phantom et all). You can probably tell I don't much trust DJI to make things simple or allow owners to keep full control of their own drones!   :laugh:

I really hope it carries on working well and without interrupton though, and I really appreciate all your help and input. But after much consideration I decided to bid a fond farewell to the Spark and I'm looking at getting a Mavic instead. I think it'll do more of what I want. Watch this space.  ~~

Nate