Experienced Serious P4A+ Malfunction

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Let me start by saying I've been a remote pilot for 4 years & I've always taken excellent care of all my sUAS's. I purchased a Phantom 4 Advanced + (Has built in Screen) 2 years ago this month, always in a case, never crashed or flown in inclement weather, fly in south Florida so not big temperature changes. I purchased through B&H, used for RE Photography. It was a bright sunny day, I was shooting a property, established my home point in the front yard, ascended to around 100' took 3 images in different locations then returned to home point, powered down and moved to the rear of the property. Established my home point again and ascended to around 30' and flew out about 80' to shoot the rear of the property. I went to take a shot (Shoot in Manual) and could not adjust the camera settings, I always shoot aperture f9, iso100, then adjust shutter for proper exposure, everything was frozen on camera adjustments so I decided to bring it home and restart, it was within 3 ft of me and I started to land when I noticed at the top of the screen (In Red) Compass Error re-calibrate, I still had satellite connections. It landed on a concrete walkway surface then tipped over and propellers beating the concrete, I could not stop the motors with the stick so I reached down and picked it up by the landing skids, that's when all HELL BROKE LOOSE. The motors went to full throttle and on the screen said Return to Home was activated, I did not activate, it activated on its own. I had the controller in my left hand the drone in my right and the motors spinning at full throttle trying to ascend, had 20 mins of battery left. My option was to trust RTH and hope for the best or hang on to this thing until the battery expired, I choose the latter. Was not going to take a chance of this thing ascending to thousands of feet with 20 mins of battery time left. I put the controller on the grass and tried to shut this it off while it was in my right hand over my head and still at full throttle. On the screens left side was a 'X' with a circle around it, I tapped and a dialog box popped up asking me if I wanted to Cancel to RTH, I hit ok and still no control, still said at the top Return to Home Activated and the 'X' was back on the screen, tried multiple times and still no control. I brought the stick all the way back and still wouldn't shut down, pushed RTH on controller and still would not de-activate, tried pushing the button on the battery and still wouldn't shut down. All the while the propellers spinning at full throttle, at this point I thought if this skid breaks loose in my hand it will ascend so I now had to get my hand on the body with a firm grip. Now I was concerned that a propeller might break and I could be seriously injured, so here I was standing with my bird over my head, propellers spinning at full throttle for 20 mins. until the battery died. I was never so happy to see a dead battery in my life. I ejected the battery, it was hot as hell, the motors were so hot you couldn't touch them. I let everything cool down before packing away. When I got home 2 hrs later I turned everything on and it seemed to work as it normally does, I did not fly, propellers off, just wanted to see what the screen had to say when all was activated. At this time I think I'll pass on flying it, thought about sending it to DJI repair but that could be costly, its already 2 years old so why throw money at it when I can put it towards a new one. If anyone has had a similar issue I'd like to hear from you. If you haven't be aware, these are great tools for video and photography but they are flying toys with cameras and not made at Lockheed Martin or any other aircraft mfg. This is my 2nd DJI product, my first one had a motherboard issue during flight after 11 months of use, screen went completely black, luckily I landed without incident and was still under warranty, replacement cost was $750. I decided to upgrade when I purchased my P4A+, now I'm looking to purchasing my 3rd DJI. I did notice on a few previous flights the camera adjustment up/down would stick & stay in place then jump to where I wanted it to go, like it was stuck then unstuck itself with a jerking movement, guess this was my cue something wasn't right. My take away here is be alert & if something seems off pay attention it could be telling you something, if I trusted the RTH and was wrong this thing possibly could have ascended past the 400' altitude I programmed it for and kept going upward until the battery died out, don't even want to go there. Just wanted to share my experience and hope it might help others. Be careful and fly safe.
 
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The battery off button is accessible with the props spinning.
Just need to be aware of the spinners. If you were hanging on to a full throttle phantom for twenty minutes, my guess is your ears were annoyed.
 
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The battery off button is accessible with the props spinning.
Just need to be aware of the spinners. If you were hanging on to a full throttle phantom for twenty minutes, my guess is your ears were annoyed.
I guess I forgot to mention I tried pushing the on/off on the battery, it didn't work, stayed on to my surprise, tried a few times, nothing I did turned this thing off. I tried to release the battery but my fingers so close to the blades I didn't want an injury to my hand.
 

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I guess I forgot to mention I tried pushing the on/off on the battery, it didn't work, stayed on to my surprise, tried a few times, nothing I did turned this thing off. I tried to release the battery but my fingers so close to the blades I didn't want an injury to my hand.
I suspect that most of your perception of the incident was affected by panic and confusion.
Fighting against a drone that wants to be somewhere else is a scary experience.
The drone was in an automated RTH mode and unless you cancelled that, that's all the drone was ever going to do.
If you had let the drone go, it would have climbed and carried out a normal RTH.
If you had flicked the flight mode switch out of P-GPS and back that would have cancelled the RTH and tamed the drone.
If you had properly pressed and then pressed and held the battery button, it would have shut down.
I don't see anything in your description to indicate any malfunction of the drone.

A couple of things to be aware of:
Don't launch from or land on reinforced concrete surfaces - the reinforcing steel can cause you serious issues.
When you land the drone, hold the left stick down for 3 seconds to stop the motors and you'll avoid tipping the drone with the props spinning.
 
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I suspect that most of your perception of the incident was affected by panic and confusion.
Fighting against a drone that wants to be somewhere else is a scary experience.
The drone was in an automated RTH mode and unless you cancelled that, that's all the drone was ever going to do.
If you had let the drone go, it would have climbed and carried out a normal RTH.
If you had flicked the flight mode switch out of P-GPS and back that would have cancelled the RTH and tamed the drone.
If you had properly pressed and then pressed and held the battery button, it would have shut down.
I don't see anything in your description to indicate any malfunction of the drone.

A couple of things to be aware of:
Don't launch from or land on reinforced concrete surfaces - the reinforcing steel can cause you serious issues.
When you land the drone, hold the left stick down for 3 seconds to stop the motors and you'll avoid tipping the drone with the props spinning.

I understand what you are saying but the RTH would have brought it right back to where I started from in the first place. I did look around and noticed things that could affect the compass. I took off with no issue, said home point has been updated please check it on the map, had full control the whole time flying out and back except camera adjustments weren't operational. I was not aware that if I switched out of P-GPS and back it would cancel RTH, good to know. I tried the button and it didn't do anything, also tapped the Red 'X' in the circle on the screen, it didn't cancel either. Under the circumstances I was surprised that this happened, goes without saying but was very calm and tried everything I could think of to shut this down safely without injury to myself or anyone else, did the following numerous times, tapped RTH, tapped the 'X' in the circle on the screen, brought stick back to shut down, attempted to turn off battery with button, and tried to eject battery, just couldn't grip it well enough. I'm just concerned now that the motors are possibly shot due to the heat created by the high rpm's. Appears to be ok but don't have that warm fuzzy feeling, concerned something might go wrong. It got pretty heated up, motors were very hot to the touch. Thanks for your insight, much appreciated. If this should ever happen in the future (hope not) I'll try the P-GPS back and forth. One last thing, if I was to let it go how would the RTH work if compass could not be re-established and tells me to re-calibrate? How would it know where to go?
 

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If this should ever happen in the future (hope not) I'll try the P-GPS back and forth.
Don't wait till then.
Do a trial flight, initiate RTH and then flick the flight mode switch out of P-GPS and back to see how it's the quickest way to cancel any automated flight mode.
One last thing, if I was to let it go how would the RTH work if compass could not be re-established and tells me to re-calibrate? How would it know where to go?
That's hard to answer without knowing what was the cause of the compass warning message.
How close to the concrete was the drone at the time?
You could post your flight data and it might give me more information.

Go to DJI Flight Log Viewer | Phantom Help
Follow the instructions there to upload your flight record from your phone or tablet.
That will give you a detailed report of the flight.
Come back and post a link to the report it gives you.
 
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I think your panic made things seem to be that wasn't. A battery issue is different from the drone's problem. They both had developed problems at the same time. You may have taken off ok, but when you returned, it may have positioned itself over a concentration of metal in the concrete. Everything is a guess till you post the flight records.
 
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ianzone

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Yip never panic,it freezes time and takes longer ,
Great read but unfortunate for you it happen,,all guess till see flight logs as metion above,,,sounds like those crazy bloopers from you tube ,,if that was mine and it went full noise I would upside down it onto the grass to stop props and pull the battery,,no harm will come if this done fast ,,I found out hard way that phantom props do stop when fingertip presses on top of prop to stop motor,,sure they cut but not high torque motor so even though it spinning fast it will stop,,panic is the killer,I can Imagine you holding that up spinning,,pretty torque twisting experience ay,,good thing you is still got all your fingers,hardest part for me is regaining the trust after a freefall couple years back,things will happen but keeps us alive,,
 
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Don't wait till then.
Do a trial flight, initiate RTH and then flick the flight mode switch out of P-GPS and back to see how it's the quickest way to cancel any automated flight mode.

That's hard to answer without knowing what was the cause of the compass warning message.
How close to the concrete was the drone at the time?
You could post your flight data and it might give me more information.

Go to DJI Flight Log Viewer | Phantom Help
Follow the instructions there to upload your flight record from your phone or tablet.
That will give you a detailed report of the flight.
Come back and post a link to the report it gives you.
 

Capt KO

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We’re you filming at the time? Would like to see it. Better if someone was filming you. Would go viral. 🤣
Sorry for your problems but believe you might have some life left in your bird. Not sure about the camera though.
 
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Not sure if someone posted but if you are able to get the drone upside down While you are holding it, it will cut the motors off. Crazy story! Be safe!
 
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Thank you for your thoughts and insight. I've given this plenty of thought and have come to the conclusion that it was probably a few things here that worked together to create this issue. I feel the drone did exactly what it was suppose to as you say, however the other thing we haven't talked about is wifi interference, maybe that also placed a part, the place I was shooting had Xfinity in the living room about 25ft away. Looking back at the images I took from out front I also noticed a metal roof on the add on back porch structure, couldn't see it from the ground. As for interference there was plenty, metal roof close by approx 5ft behind me, screened in porch with aluminum support structure, concrete dock with rebar, and boat lift on dock approx 20ft away, plus electrical on dock, kind of a perfect storm even though my home point was established it didn't hold.

You always need to be aware of your surroundings when shooting properties, power lines, magnetic interference, trees, cellphone and radio towers, wifi, fencing, etc...once I had some metal rods that supported tiki torches on the water edge give me issues, the only real safe place to fly is in open areas away from everything, we just try to minimize our risks. I live in the Florida Keys, 98% of homes I shoot are large properties on the water with sailboats out back or their boats on davits or lifts, sometimes there are 2, lets not forget the electronics onboard, the electrical that runs everything, pools with metal fencing for safety or pools inside screened metal structures, chain link fencing around property, and concrete backyards that encompass the entire backyard, the pool and dock area and concrete bulkheads that support the dock structure that go the entire width of the property. This is also the properties on either side of you and across the canal. The last few hurricanes that came through here ripped off shingle roofs and damaged barrel tile and the only ones that stayed were metal roofs so everyone went metal. Now they are the norm and everyone that needs a new roof moving forward goes metal. Most times I go to a property and wonder how in the world am I gonna fly back here. I usually establish my home point while my Phantom is on the Styrofoam hard case. My takeaway on this property were to many interference issues in a very small area, concrete dock, boat lift, fish cleaning table, power to dock, metal roof on porch, and metal screen porch structure, was not a large property, it was a 1/2 duplex on the water. All the properties on this street are identical and were built in the 50's and 60's. I've shot many over the years without issue until the other day so I never gave it a second thought.

I thought about pursuing the problem, doing a re-calibration at a park close by and a test flight but since its 2 years old with considerable flight time, camera adjustment issues the last few times I flew, not being able to power it down through multiple options, motors now possibly damaged due to 20 mins of high rpm's, plus the motherboard that malfunctioned on an earlier model, parts can become defective or outlive their life expectancy, not sure its worth the risk, rather be safe then sorry and spend the money on a new one then have a huge lawsuit against me in the event of a mishap. Love the product and looking at the newest one (Phantom 4 Pro+), I could use my same batteries, minus the one that overheated of course, again safety. I could use a tax deduction this year and I rather error on the side of caution.

Thanks again for your help, Fly Safe. Below is a property I shot awhile back, this is the norm here.
Property.jpg
 
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I see your point of caution. That is always the side to be on. Don’t get too carried away though. Electric wiring does little affect to the drone. Stay away from rebar and don’t fly too close over the tops of metal roofs. Off to the side is no problem. Still would like to see the flight records. You wanted to be cautious, that most likely will give you the answers to what happened. You want to know the cause don’t you? We have excellent people on this forum that most likely can tell you what went wrong. I think the metal was the first problem. It will also let you know if your Phantom needs repair. If you wanted to sale it, you would get more money for a good working model.
 
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How do the Key deer react to your Phantom? Any good pictures of large fish in the waters? I use to live in Florida and have been to the Keys many times.
 
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We’re you filming at the time? Would like to see it. Better if someone was filming you. Would go viral. 🤣
Sorry for your problems but believe you might have some life left in your bird. Not sure about the camera though.
I wasn't filming at the time just taking stills.
 
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I think your panic made things seem to be that wasn't. A battery issue is different from the drone's problem. They both had developed problems at the same time. You may have taken off ok, but when you returned, it may have positioned itself over a concentration of metal in the concrete. Everything is a guess till you post the flight records.
Yeah your probably right.
 
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Yip never panic,it freezes time and takes longer ,
Great read but unfortunate for you it happen,,all guess till see flight logs as metion above,,,sounds like those crazy bloopers from you tube ,,if that was mine and it went full noise I would upside down it onto the grass to stop props and pull the battery,,no harm will come if this done fast ,,I found out hard way that phantom props do stop when fingertip presses on top of prop to stop motor,,sure they cut but not high torque motor so even though it spinning fast it will stop,,panic is the killer,I can Imagine you holding that up spinning,,pretty torque twisting experience ay,,good thing you is still got all your fingers,hardest part for me is regaining the trust after a freefall couple years back,things will happen but keeps us alive,,
True for sure, I thought about putting it to the ground but just couldn't do it, that would have been the last resort. This is my 2nd mishap in 4 years, you get your confidence back a bit gun shy. If I decided to use it again it would always be in the back of my mind. Maybe down the road I'll give it a try. I think it would be beneficial to have the data looked at by someone who knows these things in & out before taking it for a spin. Glad you recovered from that free fall, that's what I was afraid of if it didn't return to home.
 
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I see your point of caution. That is always the side to be on. Don’t get too carried away though. Electric wiring does little affect to the drone. Stay away from rebar and don’t fly too close over the tops of metal roofs. Off to the side is no problem. Still would like to see the flight records. You wanted to be cautious, that most likely will give you the answers to what happened. You want to know the cause don’t you? We have excellent people on this forum that most likely can tell you what went wrong. I think the metal was the first problem. It will also let you know if your Phantom needs repair. If you wanted to sale it, you would get more money for a good working model.
Good information. As for anything that might affect it I am aware of rebar in concrete so I was guessing interference with electrical wires as well, any and all material that could act as a conductor/antenna, along with metal fencing and I-Beams for the boat lift that are vertical at a 45 degree angle into the water, I've had to avoid those in the past, sometimes just move 10-15ft and home point is established. Which brings up a question, If I lift off from my case and fly away from the location to a safe area but move myself out of the picture say next to a fence could that cause compass interference also or is it just related where the aircraft is located in relationship to a metal object?

I would like to pursue further but right now have limited free time. My wife had hand surgery last week and I'm having to take care of her and work at the same time plus take care of the house. The only reason why I'm on line today is because we are replacing our windows and sliders and I have to be here during installation, once they finish I have clean up. Tomorrow its back to work and next week we have plans to leave town for awhile. Things are just crazy right now and to top things off the A/C air handler died a couple hrs ago and have a call in to our local A/C guy. Like they say when it rains it pours.

As for the Key Deer they are in the Lower Keys, Big Pine south to Sugarloaf Key. I use to see them every time I drove south but not as much anymore. I think the herd is shrinking a bit. When Irma hit in 2017 the water rose pretty high and I think we lost quite a few. 150mph winds and 12ft storm surge is hard to live through. They use to be just in Big Pine but over time they migrated to other islands. I grew up in Marathon and lived there many years, wife and I moved to the Upper Keys a few years back, bought a home then our last son graduated and moved out on his own, we sold and bought a condo on the ocean. I live in Islamorada to be exact. I shoot properties from Key Largo to Marathon and help my wife who is a realtor. I try not to go further south because its to much windshield time, besides during tourist time the traffic is really bad and takes longer. As much as I've flown over the water haven't been able to catch large fish sightings, its all being in the right place at the right time. If you want to see large fish whenever you want head to Robbie's Marina where you can feed the tarpon by hand, they are the local ones that don't migrate out, they live here full time. Check out my website when you get a chance at: www.islandexposuresfloridakeys.com

Thanks again for your help, when I have some extra time I might just check into the flight data records.
 
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The battery off button is accessible with the props spinning.
Just need to be aware of the spinners. If you were hanging on to a full throttle phantom for twenty minutes, my guess is your ears were annoyed.
The blades were loud, I was surprised at the high pitch they made and the way it increased quickly to full throttle and stayed there. Hanging onto it was a real treat, the first thing was to stay calm and get this to turn off. I was concerned for my safety so I immediately put this over my head before one of those blades broke off, it could do some real damage to my upper torso or face. After 5 mins I realized nothing was working as it should so I just hung on till the battery died, usually 20 mins goes by quickly but not when your hanging onto this thing, longest 20 mins ever.
 

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