Monthly Archives: December 2014

DJI Phantom Christmas? Awesome! Now READ THIS!

fc40If you received a DJI Phantom for Christmas, then you are a lucky man…or woman, but I’m betting you’re a man.  

The Phantom’s are amazing machines.  They are great fun, produce really cool video footage and are super easy to fly as long as you have a good GPS signal.

But, before you fly, there are a few things you need to do, and a few things you need to know.  

Not following this advice is, in the opinion of many, the #1 cause of “flyaways”, which is when the thing takes off and is never seen again.  This is usually followed by people blasting DJI on Facebook and then deleting their post when people ask them about home lock.

Most of the details below are from my experience with an FC40.  You may be lucky enough to have a more advanced unit, but the information should be mostly the same.

First – DON’T PANIC!!!   

Second – RTFM!! (look it up)   Twice!  You can download it here.

Now watch these videos.  I spent a lot of time finding these and they helped me A LOT.

Assemble your FC40 

(but don’t fly it just yet!)

NAZA software setup

Enable IOC

Some say this is for advanced users.  I say if you are smart enough to remember to keep both small switches in the top position until you want to use IOC, then why wait.

Calibrating the IMU 

First Flight

Ignore the advice to go up slowly – GIVE IT THE BEANS!  Slow lift offs can cause tip overs.

Exploring Flight Modes

Introduction to IOC

Remove your camera for the first few flights

(and other good advice)

And finally – some basic rules you should be aware of BEFORE you fly

Now that you have done that you might be ready to fly.  But if you are smart you will read this collection of wisdom courtesy of James Nevins.

keep_calmFinally, put your name and phone number on there somewhere.  If you do lose it one day, you’ll be glad you did.

Now GO FLY!!

Keep practicing.  It takes time to get used to it so that you do the right thing when things go wrong.

1 Comment

Filed under Life - or something like it, Technology

Computers Don’t Make Mistakes Sir…

I just spent a frustrating morning getting my old A8 inspected by the always impressive NJ DMV.

The car is in great shape and should have breezed through without a hitch.  After all inspections in NJ now require nothing more than plugging into a socket on the car and reading the result off of a screen.

A little alarm bell did start to ring when the DMV inspector had to quickly disappear because the owner of the car in front was chasing him screaming “YOU BROKE MY F****** CAR!” (sic).  

The inspector finally came back to my car about 10 minutes later and the following exchange took place:

DMV: “I’m sorry Sir, but your car failed because we were unable to get any readings from the computer.”

Me: “What does that mean?”

DMV: “I don’t know, but we see it a lot.”

Me: “I have an OBD2 reader at home. It reads this car just fine.  Can you try it again?”

DMV: “It will just give the same results.  Computers don’t make mistakes Sir.”

Me:  “I work with computers, and I can tell you that they make mistakes all the time.”

DMV: “Not these computers.  Computers are dumb.  They just do what they are told.  When there are problems it is usually caused by people.”

Recognizing that this guy was not going to re-test it, and didn’t even realize what he had just said, I decided there was no point in staying.

I should mention that I had the exact same problem with this facility 5 years ago when they were unable to read the computer of my 911.  I just brought the car back a week later where it passed without issue.  

I reasoned that if the nearby Jack Daniels Audi dealer could read it then I might have a chance.  I stopped in at the JD service desk where I had this exchange:

Me:  “Would you be able to plug a reader into my car so that I can prove to DMV that their reading is incorrect”

JD: “Yes, but I will have to charge you $147 to do that.”

Me (blinking): “You charge $147 just to plug a machine into my car?   Really?”

JD: “Yes Sir.  It’s very…technical and involves WiFi and Downloading things.  That’s why it costs $147.”

I left.

Next stop was at a local independent service place.  These folks were very nice.  He couldn’t fit me in today but told me that this is the 3rd car this week that had the same problem after visiting the DMV in Paramus. He suggested trying another DMV.

A quick drive to the DMV in Lodi (arriving literally as they were closing) and 5 minutes later I had a shiny new sticker showing I was good for another year.

Which leads to the question…am I allowed to charge DMV for wasting my time?


Filed under Life - or something like it