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  • #1 by Sharpe on 06 Apr 2018
  • Hi everyone,
    About a year ago I was looking into getting a DJI Mavic pro or phantom 4. I decided to wait a year owing to a lot of speculation about drone law changes and DJI software updates that would inhibit the drones flight - also I wanted to wait for the next technology step.

    Now that that the next generation of DJI drones seem to be close at hand (with rumours abound about the Mavic 2 and the Phantom 5) I'm looking into getting into the hobby again.

    But before I get ready to make the investment I was hoping some of the more experienced users might be able to offer some clarification on where UK law and (particually) DJI software is now and where it may be heading in terms of flight zone limitations (specifically distance and height).

    When I was looking at getting a drone about this time last year there was a lot of rumours circulating about a DJI software upgrade that would essentially force users to comply with the rules and reg's for the particular nation you are flying in. Now I am not saying I desperately want to fly my drone 10 miles away with no line of sight etc (even ignoring the public safty risks, it seems like a fast way to loose an expensive piece of kit). However, in the UK (as I understand it) the drone code says you can fly essentially as far as you like so long as you can see the drone (so I assume about 500m or so depending on drone size) but that it also says at a max of 400'.

    My concern is that if DJI release a software patch that forces this behaviour then I won't be able to take the footage I am hoping to get - predominantly landscapes of cliffs and hills. This is becuase while the cliff height may exceed 400' AGL (from take off) I could happily make a case for responsible flying taking off from a beech and flying to the top of the cliff (or slightly higher) - say 400-600'AGL from take off point. Also, if I started from the top of the cliff then my AGL would already be the height of the cliff up to +400' - but in some cases this is not as practical as taking off from the beech at the base of the cliff. (I would not these cliffs are inacesible and uninhabited so any risk is to my own drone and not to public safety).

    This is why I am concerned about any current or future plans especially by DJI to force users to comply with drone laws/codes in their countries and I would opt to not waste a large cash sum investing in tech that has been arbitrarily hamstrung.

    Can anyone here let me know what the current software flight restrictions are on DJI products like the Mavic or the Phantom and if there is any expected software releases that are planned that will curtail the flying area within certain limits (eg no more than 500' from take off point and max alt of 400')?

    Many thanks,
    - Sharpe
  • #2 by apollo7 on 07 Apr 2018
  • From what i have always heard, you can fly say 400ft up from point of take of, so if you were 200ft up you can still fly another 400, were i live we are 1100ft ASL any way, if your worried about DJI bringing new software patches out to restrict things, go for a Phantom 3 advanced as they seem to have forgotten about dji go3 app to a point
  • #3 by ched999uk on 07 Apr 2018
  • I believe there is also 3rd party firmware that 'helps'. I think Dark Butterfly has tried it.
  • #4 by Dickw on 12 Apr 2018
  • I also have a query on DJI software.
    I have installed the NAZA-M Lite software on my PC as I am thinking of getting an F450 Flamewheel to play with, (my first DJI device) but it keeps asking me to “log in” and suggest that I need to do that to set up the FC.
    Is that correct?
    Does DJI “restrict” how I set up the FC – i.e. can I set it up how I want including manual mode if I want to?

    Might be having second thoughts about buying.

    Dick
  • #5 by ched999uk on 12 Apr 2018
  • I also have a query on DJI software.
    I have installed the NAZA-M Lite software on my PC as I am thinking of getting an F450 Flamewheel to play with, (my first DJI device) but it keeps asking me to “log in” and suggest that I need to do that to set up the FC.
    Is that correct?
    Does DJI “restrict” how I set up the FC – i.e. can I set it up how I want including manual mode if I want to?

    Might be having second thoughts about buying.

    Dick
    I have a f450 with Naza-lite (flashed to non lite  ::) ) The login appears to just be that you need an account. I don't think dji have ever sent me an email or anything and OK so you do have to use the assistant to set up the fc but you can set it how ever you like as long as it's within the assistant, bit like apple an itunes, in that you can put what ever music you like on it as long as you do it through itunes.
    You can set a ceiling above 400ft in the assistant and set manual mode etc.
    Depending on what you want to do the F450 may not be ideal. Mine is a camera ship with 3 axis gimbal underneath.
    What are you going t use it for?
  • #6 by Dickw on 12 Apr 2018
  • Thanks for the reply - you have reassured me somewhat.
    I have played with smaller quads and now fancied something a bit bigger - and perhaps more stable in the windy weather we seem to be blessed with.
    A camera platform is one potential use, but just progressing to something different and extending my flying skills  is the main idea for now.

    Thanks again.
    Dick
  • #7 by ched999uk on 12 Apr 2018
  • Thanks for the reply - you have reassured me somewhat.
    I have played with smaller quads and now fancied something a bit bigger - and perhaps more stable in the windy weather we seem to be blessed with.
    A camera platform is one potential use, but just progressing to something different and extending my flying skills  is the main idea for now.

    Thanks again.
    Dick
    No problem. I went the other way. I built a 250 zmr about 4 years ago, it was way beyond my abilities. So I got a F450 and found it so much easier. I learned a lot and last July I built a 220 Matrian3. Wow a big learning curve but I can fly it in stabilised mode. I have been learning acro mode on a sim so hopefully soon I will be back trying to fly in acro mode  ::)
    Have fun.
  • #8 by jamesb72 on 13 Apr 2018
  • Just to clarify the Naza-M/V2 etc flight controllers don't have any 'map' or no fly zones to my knowledge, they use GPS for RTH and to hold position, so other than optional altitude limit and distance you can set if you wish, they are pretty unrestricted, as they don't know where you are anyway, so you can fly these pretty much wherever you wish.

    Any of the DJI integrated camera platforms from Phantom 3 and newer (including Mavic Pro/Air) all have 'map aware' firmware, so DJI can force upgrades (and prevent flying if you don't take them), and even if you use non-DJI apps (such as Litchi), you are still using the DJI SDK which enforces no fly zones and height limits etc, so don't bypass the restrictions.

    Main restrictions are height is limited to 500M above takeoff (but you can go negative, so take off from clifftop you can fly down to the sea, and up 500M above clifftop), which is a fixed limitation, you can set a lower limit if you wish (ie 120M/400ft) but no higher, and that flight area is limited using DJI's list of no fly area's, which is mainly concerned with airports and other sensitive airspace like prisons/football stadiums, so flying around cliff's etc shouldn't be an issue.

    You can get a rough idea of DJI restrictions map from their flysafe website: https://www.dji.com/flysafe green area's are just a warning, yellow I believe you have to be logged in to authorise, and red restricts takeoff. This does show they are pretty inconsistent, ie Gatwick you can fly freely up to 10km away, but most of Somerset is a warning area due to Yeovilton (which has pretty limited helicopter flying).

    As to whether DJI will add restrictions going forward, they probably will to comply with any legal restrictions, but they will have to balance this against commercial interest in selling stuff, but it is frustrating to buy a DJI product and then have your use of it potentially restricted without your consent, but this is the price you pay for the excellent app integration, which you cannot get from a self build.

    Main thing to be aware of is that 500M is a very long way, for aerial photo etc 90% of the time you will be 50M or lower, and within 200M of your take off position, which is well within the regs, so while the restrictions sound worrying, they wouldn't be an issue for any normal use taking cliff/coastal pics other than a very few restricted airspace area's, ie nuclear power stations/military bases etc, which you wouldn't be interested in anyway.
  • #9 by apollo7 on 13 Apr 2018
  • Thanks for the reply - you have reassured me somewhat.
    I have played with smaller quads and now fancied something a bit bigger - and perhaps more stable in the windy weather we seem to be blessed with.
    A camera platform is one potential use, but just progressing to something different and extending my flying skills  is the main idea for now.

    Thanks again.
    Dick

    I use Naza assistant and have never logged in, just click cancel and it lets you continue, same on M lite...not that i would ever use m lite again, my original M V1 is simply the best
  • #10 by Dickw on 15 Apr 2018
  • I use Naza assistant and have never logged in, just click cancel and it lets you continue, same on M lite...not that i would ever use m lite again, my original M V1 is simply the best

    OK, as far as I can see M v1 Assistant is not available to download anymore and it is now M v2 Assistant (v2.4) that is available.
    So as a newbie to DJI with M lite software already installed on my PC (my Naza Lite equipped F450 is yet to arrive) - is there any advantage in me upgrading to Assistant V2 and what are the differences?

    Dick
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