Flying over water...advice wanted

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#1
Hi...

I am really really a newbie when it comes to drones. I would love some advice on flying over water.

I am making a documentary this July where I will get to ride on the El Galeon, a 170 ft Tall Ship from the Cleveland area to Bay City, Michigan. I will be spending 4 days on board the ship on Lake Erie and Lake Huron.

I purchased a Phanton 4 and I have been practicing daily learning to fly it and I am getting a bit more comfortable flying it, but I still am a nerveous wreck while flying. I am sure that by July I will be confortable enough to get some amazing footage out on the water.

I would appreciate any and all advice from experienced flyers who could share any tips with me. I have been reading about turning off the Vision Positioning System (VPS) while flying over the water. Is that a good idea and if I fly without it what precautions do I have to take.

Thanks in advance to anyone who share their wisdom with this newbie.
 
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#2
A lot to say about flying over large body of water (different air pressure, humidity, "density altitude" factor), best thing you can do is to get drone insurance if you put it in the drink. Also since this is for financial gain, you can deduct it at tax season if you can prove it made money for you.
Second, always have a back up drone (buy one from Apple or BB and DO NOT OPEN IT) return it for refund if not needed. Would suck if you can not finish the shooting due to water damage.
 

msinger

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#3
I have been reading about turning off the Vision Positioning System (VPS) while flying over the water. Is that a good idea and if I fly without it what precautions do I have to take.
There is no way to turn off VPS. The best you can do is fly in ATTI so it's not used to auto position your Phantom.
 
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#4
This is what can happen when you fly over water.

Notice anything?
That's right, the lack of a drone, just a sad RC all by itself.
I just smashed a P4 into the bridge in the background, now it's about 6m down with the big catfish, it was nothing really to do with the water to be fair. I was using the P4 to take my line and bait out and then flying low to the water so the PVA tape holding my tackle dissolves, I've done this a 100x. Fishing for catfish I got very close to the bridge to drop the bait and then got a battery warning, the sad thing is I was using my phone on the RC for fpv, I don't usually bother. The sun was bright so I didn't bother looking at the phone screen anyway, so I got the battery warning and the P4 was trying to land but I still had to drop the bait off, so I went down to 1ft to dissolve the PVA tape, whilst the P4 was auto landing, I shouldn't have but I'm very naughty and a calm experienced pilot. So I dropped the bair and pulled the P4 up, I couldn't use the manual RTH command on the sticks because she was landing, so I started moving what I "thought" was forward, I wasent looking at the phone........ bump, clipped the rails on the bridge in the photo, the phantom, NEARLY, got stuck in the rails seconds before I watched it wrench itself out and tumble down the dam wall, into big cat (230 lbs+) territory. I haven't even gone over there to look, I imagine the P4 with battery isn't a floater right? But what's far worse than all of this......
I haven't even caught a fish :(

On the plus side I can now nearly claim to have destroyed at least 1 of every phantom released bar a couple, my P3P is a survivor..... or did I lose one of them as well :confused:. Anyhoo after 3 phantoms now lost to the water I am going to attach a couple of these on my new P4 Waterbuoy - Miniature Floatation Device. And as a footnote to the catfish, dinners on me tonight, phantom style.
 
Last edited:
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#5
Your biggest challenge may be launching and landing. You should practice hand catching. Return to home will not work with a moving ship.
 
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#6
This is what can happen when you fly over water.

Notice anything?
That's right, the lack of a drone, just a sad RC all by itself.
I just smashed a P4 into the bridge in the background, now it's about 6m down with the big catfish, it was nothing really to do with the water to be fair. I was using the P4 to take my line and bait out and then flying low to the water so the PVA tape holding my tackle dissolves, I've done this a 100x. Fishing for catfish I got very close to the bridge to drop the bait and then got a battery warning, the sad thing is I was using my phone on the RC for fpv, I don't usually bother. The sun was bright so I didn't bother looking at the phone screen anyway, so I got the battery warning and the P4 was trying to land but I still had to drop the bait off, so I went down to 1ft to dissolve the PVA tape, whilst the P4 was auto landing, I shouldn't have but I'm very naughty and a calm experienced pilot. So I dropped the bair and pulled the P4 up, I couldn't use the manual RTH command on the sticks because she was landing, so I started moving what I "thought" was forward, I wasent looking at the phone........ bump, clipped the rails on the bridge in the photo, the phantom, NEARLY, got stuck in the rails seconds before I watched it wrench itself out and tumble down the dam wall, into big cat (230 lbs+) territory. I haven't even gone over there to look, I imagine the P4 with battery isn't a floater right? But what's far worse than all of this......
I haven't even caught a fish :(

On the plus side I can now nearly claim to have destroyed at least 1 of every phantom released bar a couple, my P3P is a survivor..... or did I lose one of them as well :confused:. Anyhoo after 3 phantoms now lost to the water I am going to attach a couple of these on my new P4 Waterbuoy - Miniature Floatation Device. And as a footnote to the catfish, dinners on me tonight, phantom style.
Be aware that the Waterbuoy will not work reliably. It has been shown that if the Phantom sinks quickly, it will reach a depth where the Waterbuoy will not be able to inflate before it is activated.
 
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#8
Flying over water is no different than flying over land with the exception if you go down over water your drone will sink to the bottom. The Phantom doesn't know or care its over water. I've never had any VPS issues over water but pay close attention to your altitude & FPV if you are flying particularly low. Also note that some P4s tend to drop a bit of altitude if you are flying fast and stop quickly.

I suggest picking up a GetterBack (www.getterback.com) which will at least allow you to recover your Phantom & memory card from up to 100' down should the unfortunate happen.

My biggest concerns for you is your inexperience & nervousness. Also flying around the rigging (I am assuming the El Galeon is one of the Spanish Tall Ship reproductions popping up in various American locales?). If the ship is moving that will add an entirely new factor as far as recovery while dodging the rigging & sails. Flying over water is loads of fun but be sure & get in lots of flights between now & then so you are comfortable.




Hi...

I am really really a newbie when it comes to drones. I would love some advice on flying over water.

I am making a documentary this July where I will get to ride on the El Galeon, a 170 ft Tall Ship from the Cleveland area to Bay City, Michigan. I will be spending 4 days on board the ship on Lake Erie and Lake Huron.

I purchased a Phanton 4 and I have been practicing daily learning to fly it and I am getting a bit more comfortable flying it, but I still am a nerveous wreck while flying. I am sure that by July I will be confortable enough to get some amazing footage out on the water.

I would appreciate any and all advice from experienced flyers who could share any tips with me. I have been reading about turning off the Vision Positioning System (VPS) while flying over the water. Is that a good idea and if I fly without it what precautions do I have to take.

Thanks in advance to anyone who share their wisdom with this newbie.
 
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#9
@Bob P I understand the concerns of flying over water. We've lost a drone in the water before as well and it is a terrible feeling.

I'd suggest you check out the WaterStrider. Full disclosure--I am affiliated with the company, but I really think it would work well for you. The currently available WaterStrider in the campaign rewards will be delivering in July, so I'm sure we could get you one before your trip. I'm happy to answer any questions you have about it.

WaterStrider: Perfect Footage. Confident Landings. Anywhere.

View media item 1675
 
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#10
This is what can happen when you fly over water.

Notice anything?
That's right, the lack of a drone, just a sad RC all by itself.
I just smashed a P4 into the bridge in the background, now it's about 6m down with the big catfish, it was nothing really to do with the water to be fair. I was using the P4 to take my line and bait out and then flying low to the water so the PVA tape holding my tackle dissolves, I've done this a 100x. Fishing for catfish I got very close to the bridge to drop the bait and then got a battery warning, the sad thing is I was using my phone on the RC for fpv, I don't usually bother. The sun was bright so I didn't bother looking at the phone screen anyway, so I got the battery warning and the P4 was trying to land but I still had to drop the bait off, so I went down to 1ft to dissolve the PVA tape, whilst the P4 was auto landing, I shouldn't have but I'm very naughty and a calm experienced pilot. So I dropped the bair and pulled the P4 up, I couldn't use the manual RTH command on the sticks because she was landing, so I started moving what I "thought" was forward, I wasent looking at the phone........ bump, clipped the rails on the bridge in the photo, the phantom, NEARLY, got stuck in the rails seconds before I watched it wrench itself out and tumble down the dam wall, into big cat (230 lbs+) territory. I haven't even gone over there to look, I imagine the P4 with battery isn't a floater right? But what's far worse than all of this......
I haven't even caught a fish :(

On the plus side I can now nearly claim to have destroyed at least 1 of every phantom released bar a couple, my P3P is a survivor..... or did I lose one of them as well :confused:. Anyhoo after 3 phantoms now lost to the water I am going to attach a couple of these on my new P4 Waterbuoy - Miniature Floatation Device. And as a footnote to the catfish, dinners on me tonight, phantom style.
Every time I red your story I crack up. Everyone who I tell about you using a drone to fish thinks I am making it up. Using a drone to fish LOL.
 
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#11
@Bob P I understand the concerns of flying over water. We've lost a drone in the water before as well and it is a terrible feeling.

I'd suggest you check out the WaterStrider. Full disclosure--I am affiliated with the company, but I really think it would work well for you. The currently available WaterStrider in the campaign rewards will be delivering in July, so I'm sure we could get you one before your trip. I'm happy to answer any questions you have about it.

WaterStrider: Perfect Footage. Confident Landings. Anywhere.

View media item 1675

There is no price for it?
 
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#12
On the Kickstarter page, there are rewards down the right side of the page. You have to scroll to those to see the current price. As rewards get filled, the price or options can change. The currently available WaterStrider price is $159. Here is a screen shot of what it looks like on the page.
When you click on this box or the green box that says "Back This Project", you'll be taken to a screen where you can finish the process.
WaterStriderReward.jpg
 
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#13
By the way, check out our latest video that shows some really cool landings on water and other difficult terrain that would have otherwise ruined the drone (or at least the camera).

The campaign ends on Monday, so time is running short to get a WaterStrider for $159 from our production runs in June and July (June is already full). There are more great videos on our campaign page. You can find the campaign link in my signature below. Check it out!

 
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#14
The GetterBack water recovery system is lightweight, inexpensive, and velcro makes it easy to attach or detach from your Phantom landing struts. I always use one over water (some people use two for added insurance). It doesn't deploy until 5 or 10 feet underwater, so won't work if the bird comes down on algae or in shallow water.
 
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#15
Sorry, the water spider is not going to work well on the open water - where the guy is going. It's not. Even if you managed a landing safely the first mostly drunk recreational boater that sees a "UFO landing" is going to swamp the thing. But flying over water isn't the problem. As dirtybird mentioned, the Phantom doesn't care if you are flying over water, the Grand Canyon or a field of mattresses.

Your problem will be taking off and landing.

The rigging. You need to stay away from it. Most of the square rigged vessels I've seen had lots and lots of annoying little obstructions. And the P4 does a poor job of seeing ropes. Your best bet is to be able to get it up a foot or so off the gunwhale, shoot it sideways until your clear of everything. Or hand launch on the bowsprit (be sure to have someone else take pictures and wear your PFD). Then you have to reverse the procedure to land. I launch off a powerboat with a clear deck and I haul up like a bat out of hell until I clear the antennas. I've still bounced into things. Fortunately, inflatables squish a bit when hit with the props. But I try not to make a habit of it.

I fly over water perhaps 75% of the time. It's sort of easy. But first, you really, really need to be able to control the Phantom. You need to be able to hand catch it and have it come to you. All of the time. You're not going to get the captain to move the boat for you. You need to be able to land in ATTI mode (even an anchored boat drifts). You should learn how to use home lock an course lock.

And, as has been mentioned, the P4 seems to like to move up and down a bit more than is strictly appropriate.

And you might want to ask the captain about this. He or she might not be too thrilled (or they might, but get permission). I don't think these boats have a clear quarterdeck, but if the boat has a mizzen-type sail (the fore and aft sail on the back) and the captain is willing to move the boom away and the boat is big enough so there is enough room between the rope lines then maybe you have a chance. Otherwise, not so much.

As I mentioned, I'm pretty comfortable launching off of boats - been doing it for the better part of a year. I would have a number of reservations about doing it off of an overgrown sailboat. Especially for a newbie.
 
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#17
Advising a nervous newbie to fly in ATTI mode is incredibly bad judgmrnt.
I was not advising anyone do that -- simply offering it as a suggestion if the downward sensors are causing a problem when flying over water. Newbies probably shouldn't be flying close to the surface of water anyhow. It's one of the most dangerous things one can do.
 
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#18
I fly over water all the time. Just focus on your shots and watch your altitude. Here’s one I did for a neighbor.

 
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#19
Nice flight. One comment on a pet peeve of mine. You know you can level the gimbal to get level horizons, right. You video is good just photographically tilted horizons are a no, no. You can adjust so that does not happen.
 

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