Phantom 3 Standard Terminated With Extreme Prejudice by Gravity

Joined
Aug 17, 2020
Messages
184
Reaction score
108
Age
36
Sadly, the fat lady just burst into song over here on this fateful 9th day of April 2021, because my trusty Phantom 3 Standard drone abruptly lost all battery power and dropped like a rock from 140 feet AGL, an instant after it slammed the brakes at the conclusion of its final aerial foray, having flown 267 fully autonomous Litchi missions lasting a total of 68 flight hours, during which 1,217 miles aloft were covered at the nominal Litchi mission cruise speed of 17.9 mph.

I can only assume that the simultaneous shutdown of all four motors was due to a flight battery disconnection, even though I have always been very careful to ensure the flight battery was snapped snugly into place before each takeoff. By pure coincidence, I'd already ordered a low-mileage backup Phantom 3 Standard from ebay, which is due to reach me next week, so the planets ought to retain their alignment despite this unexpected calamity, all else being equal.

The crashed Phantom 3S now commences its new role as a bookend and conversation piece, as I doubt whether there is anything worth salvaging on this broken carcass. Even with the imminent arrival of my replacement Phantom3S foremost in mind, I really must stop typing now, and devote some minutes to a spot of anguished wailing and gnashing of teeth, before once again regaining my stiff-upper-lip composure. The moral of this dark tale is that drone fliers must check and cross-check flight battery connections before every flight.
 
Last edited:

Oso

Premium Pilot
Joined
May 19, 2015
Messages
4,836
Reaction score
3,894
Location
Western US
Sadly, the fat lady just burst into song over here on this fateful 9th day of April 2021, because my trusty Phantom 3 Standard drone abruptly lost all battery power and dropped like a rock from 140 feet AGL, an instant after it slammed the brakes at the conclusion of its final aerial foray, having flown 267 fully autonomous Litchi missions lasting a total of 68 flight hours, during which 1,217 miles aloft were covered at the nominal Litchi mission cruise speed of 17.9 mph.

I can only assume that the simultaneous shutdown of all four motors was due to a flight battery disconnection, even though I have always been very careful to ensure the flight battery was snapped snugly into place before each takeoff. By pure coincidence, I'd already ordered a low-mileage backup Phantom 3 Standard from ebay, which is due to reach me next week, so the planets ought to retain their alignment despite this unexpected calamity, all else being equal.

The crashed Phantom 3S now commences its new role as a bookend and conversation piece, as I doubt whether there is anything worth salvaging on this broken carcass. Even with the imminent arrival of my replacement Phantom3S foremost in mind, I really must stop typing now, and devote some minutes to a spot of anguished wailing and gnashing of teeth, before once again regaining my stiff-upper-lip composure. The moral of this dark tale is that drone fliers must check and cross-check flight battery connections before every flight.
Sorry to hear the news, but I did enjoy your writing. 😊
 
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Messages
695
Reaction score
339
Location
Barrie, ON Canada
Sorry to hear that. :(

My P3S has 588 flights on it and is almost 4.5 years old. Thanks to flight software like Litchi, Dronelink and Hammer it still feels like I am flying a current drone.

Are you sure it was a battery failure? How many charge cycles were on the battery? Maybe you could post the logs and one of the experts on here could have a look to see for sure. I would be interested in knowing because 3 of my batteries have over 100 charge cycles on them and two have over 150 cycles. My oldest in-service battery is over 4 years old.

Hope your new bird is as good as your old one.

Chris
 
  • Like
Reactions: Billie Nelson
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Messages
695
Reaction score
339
Location
Barrie, ON Canada
Oops, just realized you said it was a battery disconnect not a failure - sorry! Still would be interesting to see logs.

Chris
 
Joined
Aug 17, 2020
Messages
184
Reaction score
108
Age
36
Sorry to hear that. :(

My P3S has 588 flights on it and is almost 4.5 years old. Thanks to flight software like Litchi, Dronelink and Hammer it still feels like I am flying a current drone.

Are you sure it was a battery failure? How many charge cycles were on the battery? Maybe you could post the logs and one of the experts on here could have a look to see for sure. I would be interested in knowing because 3 of my batteries have over 100 charge cycles on them and two have over 150 cycles. My oldest in-service battery is over 4 years old.

Hope your new bird is as good as your old one.

Chris
Your mention of possible battery failure got me to thinking, Chris, which can on occasion be a good thing. I checked my battery usage history as I hadn't done so in a while, and was dismayed to see that all three of my batteries were long overdue for service. I had become complacent and simply failed to keep up with the specified battery maintenance intervals spelled out on Air Data's pages.

Having performed just one battery service a while back on each of my three batteries, I realize too late now that the most likely scenario that brought my drone down was not a battery disconnect, but a catastrophic battery failure, resulting from my own negligence in this area of drone management that I now understand way too late, is absolutely critical.

My laxity with regards to battery maintenance was perhaps borne out of a misconception that battery failure would take the form of a progressive degradation in flight time, as opposed to a sudden and unanticipated battery shutdown mid-flight. With my flight times still consistently up in the 22-minute range on all three batteries, I wrongly assumed that there were no imminent failures on the horizon. Now, I know better.

I would be grateful for any observations that can be shared by the experts here, now that the full extent of my drone novice buffoonery is documented here in the attached screenshots from Air Data's maintenance pages. If the most likely cause of this crash is battery failure, and NOT an in-flight disconnect, then I will need to take this lesson to heart now, before my replacement drone arrives, so that this avoidable debacle never plays out again. Thanks in advance for any thoughts that can be shared in this regard.
 

Attachments

  • Battery 2 with 87% Left.jpg.png
    Battery 2 with 87% Left.jpg.png
    88.6 KB · Views: 49
  • Battery 3 with 86% Left.jpg.png
    Battery 3 with 86% Left.jpg.png
    87.2 KB · Views: 45
  • Battery1 with 90% Left.jpg.png
    Battery1 with 90% Left.jpg.png
    88.4 KB · Views: 45
  • Battery Maintenance Log.jpg.png
    Battery Maintenance Log.jpg.png
    20.6 KB · Views: 44
Joined
Aug 18, 2016
Messages
183
Reaction score
50
Age
69
Location
North Florida
What is "Air Data " & how are you servicing the Batteries ? Is this data available one the P3's program or something down loadable ?
 
Joined
Aug 17, 2020
Messages
184
Reaction score
108
Age
36
Air Data is a website that allows drone owners to keep a record of how many hours flown by their drone, and how many charge cycles are on the batteries used, along with other useful performance data such as maximum distance flown, and battery temperatures.


There is a small price tag for this service, but it is well worth the cost in my view since I do like to keep track of how many total miles my drone has flown, along with that all-important battery service information that I obviously should have put to better use, looking back with hindsight. Servicing the drone itself entails cleaning the battery terminals and a couple of other related items also listed on the same website.

The battery service routine entails a full discharge and recharge that is normally recommended at certain specified intervals based on cumulative hours of battery use. Details can be ferreted out in the link above if you decide to subscribe to this service.
 

Attachments

  • Bsic Battery Service.jpg.png
    Bsic Battery Service.jpg.png
    62.3 KB · Views: 31
  • Full Battery Service.jpg.png
    Full Battery Service.jpg.png
    60.7 KB · Views: 33
  • Full Drone Service 1 of 2.jpg.png
    Full Drone Service 1 of 2.jpg.png
    57.5 KB · Views: 31
  • Full Drone Service 2 of 2.jpg.png
    Full Drone Service 2 of 2.jpg.png
    54.7 KB · Views: 29
  • Extended Drone Service.jpg.png
    Extended Drone Service.jpg.png
    55.3 KB · Views: 34
  • Like
Reactions: Huttcraft
Joined
Feb 21, 2020
Messages
112
Reaction score
59
Age
76
Hi Billy, as a fellow P3S owner and a Litchi advocate, I can only say that I am sad to hear of your P3S demise. I enjoy your unwavering support of the DJI P3S and Litchi. In the short time that I have been flying my P3S (old technology) found that Litchi makes the P3S an old drone on steroid. I too love them both but wish I could justify a Mavic Air 2 for photography and mapping.
 
Joined
Dec 26, 2016
Messages
25
Reaction score
26
Age
51
Location
Nova Scotia
Hi Billie - sorry to hear about your P3S! It’s the ignominious end they all eventually reach though. A dramatic crash is way more respectable than gradual disintegration.

This is the first I’m hearing of any need to maintenance-cycle a lipo battery. I’ve been flying with them for many years, starting with fixed wing rc back in the mid-2000s, and understood deep discharge was not something you want to do. Too risky that you will hit the bottom and kill the pack, and in any case, unlike nicd or nimh packs, lipos don’t have ‘memory.’ I wonder why DJI packs would be different?

dave
 
Joined
Aug 17, 2020
Messages
184
Reaction score
108
Age
36
Dave your post brought to mind the possibility that I was the architect of my drone's untimely doom. Most of the missions I planned on Litchi probed the extreme edge of the Phantom3S' range, with round-trip distances typically ranging between 5.5 and 6 miles, whereby the drone landed with between 20 and 25% battery left, which is a tad less than the recommended minimum battery duration of 30%.

On a few occasions during those Litchi missions, winds ate into the battery power even more, with the result that I made quite a few landings with as little as 15% battery power left on the fuel gauge. That said, the worst consequence I expected from such heavy battery usage, was shortened battery life, necessitating the purchase of new batteries more frequently than would have been the case had I been more conservative in my flight planning, by ensuring there was no less than 30% battery power left at the moment of touch-down.

I did not expect that my penchant for running the flight battery below 30% could result in a sudden and complete loss of battery power, as occurred yesterday at the cost of the entire drone. All the same, I will now go back and revise all my stored Litchi flight plans, to shorten them down to a maximum of 20 minutes per flight, for when my replacement P3S arrives in the post next week, just to eliminate over-discharge as a causative factor of similar mishaps in the future.
 
Joined
Nov 23, 2020
Messages
41
Reaction score
28
Age
53
Sadly, the fat lady just burst into song over here on this fateful 9th day of April 2021, because my trusty Phantom 3 Standard drone abruptly lost all battery power and dropped like a rock from 140 feet AGL, an instant after it slammed the brakes at the conclusion of its final aerial foray, having flown 267 fully autonomous Litchi missions lasting a total of 68 flight hours, during which 1,217 miles aloft were covered at the nominal Litchi mission cruise speed of 17.9 mph.

I can only assume that the simultaneous shutdown of all four motors was due to a flight battery disconnection, even though I have always been very careful to ensure the flight battery was snapped snugly into place before each takeoff. By pure coincidence, I'd already ordered a low-mileage backup Phantom 3 Standard from ebay, which is due to reach me next week, so the planets ought to retain their alignment despite this unexpected calamity, all else being equal.

The crashed Phantom 3S now commences its new role as a bookend and conversation piece, as I doubt whether there is anything worth salvaging on this broken carcass. Even with the imminent arrival of my replacement Phantom3S foremost in mind, I really must stop typing now, and devote some minutes to a spot of anguished wailing and gnashing of teeth, before once again regaining my stiff-upper-lip composure. The moral of this dark tale is that drone fliers must check and cross-check flight battery connections before every flight.
Sadly I know that feeling , data shows I was at 267ft then it was lights out then fell like a brick. I rebuilt it. New shell , rebuilt 4K camera , props , landing gear , after a few weeks of gathering parts it was ready to fly again. I couldn't wait to fly again. However, I should have waited until morning. I was in the moment , turned it on , cleared the history , calibrated IMU , compass , ect. Gimbal , it warmed up and I was ready. Started the rotors and was ready , however I did not realize the remote was is mode 1 not mode 2 , took off with a right hook straight into the house. Next day I was on rebuild number two. 100% user error, we live an learn. The P3 have issues with the battery coming loose. I made an exoskeleton that mount between the shell and landing legs that allows you to lock the battery and extends the landing gear to protect the camera. Drilled out as much as the aluminum as I could to shead weight. I will post some pics later
 
  • Like
Reactions: Billie Nelson
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Messages
695
Reaction score
339
Location
Barrie, ON Canada
I must admit, I don't do any of the battery maintenance or drone maintenance routines suggested in AirData but instead use the information to monitor my batteries performance and hopefully spot any anomalies before they lead to a catastrophic failure. I check charge cycles, temperature, health, deviations, and error messages. One of my batteries - a PowerExtra battery as I mentioned above is over 4 years old and is still in use and has outlasted the original DJI battery which I retired long ago due to swelling. According to Airdata, it is at 74% of its life. I usually fly my batteries until they are around 30% or just under remaining and rotate them.

@Billie Nelson what your mishap has made wonder is, at what point should you retire your battery? Aside from the obvious signs like a swelling battery or constant cell deviations/cell failure, when do you retire a battery that is still working well and is not showing any signs of imminent failure? One of the things that worries me is the sudden failure of a seemingly perfectly working battery due to its age and gradual degradation.

Chris
 
Joined
Aug 18, 2016
Messages
183
Reaction score
50
Age
69
Location
North Florida
Thanks for the info . I don't use my P3 much any more & the Batteries do get recharged regularly when I see them get to two Bars . I am still using the original Battery & a new one I purchased the first year & crashed into a tree branch at high speed & DJI included it in the repair . I don't use it like most of you people , never had Litchi & mainly use it for wild life & such .

Sorry for your loss .
 
Joined
Aug 17, 2020
Messages
184
Reaction score
108
Age
36
Sadly I know that feeling , data shows I was at 267ft then it was lights out then fell like a brick. I rebuilt it. New shell , rebuilt 4K camera , props , landing gear , after a few weeks of gathering parts it was ready to fly again. I couldn't wait to fly again. However, I should have waited until morning. I was in the moment , turned it on , cleared the history , calibrated IMU , compass , ect. Gimbal , it warmed up and I was ready. Started the rotors and was ready , however I did not realize the remote was is mode 1 not mode 2 , took off with a right hook straight into the house. Next day I was on rebuild number two. 100% user error, we live an learn. The P3 have issues with the battery coming loose. I made an exoskeleton that mount between the shell and landing legs that allows you to lock the battery and extends the landing gear to protect the camera. Drilled out as much as the aluminum as I could to shead weight. I will post some pics later
Wow. This is the first mention I have encountered of sudden battery dislodgement being a known issue with the Phantom 3S. Your exoskeleton idea sounds like a good precaution, but I wonder if I might be able to affix some sort of velcro battery retainer on my next Phantom3S, that would prevent such battery disconnections, yet add very little to the craft in terms of weight. I strongly suspect a battery disconnect, because the lights went out the instant I switched from "F" mode to GPS mode on my controller, preparatory to my landing, as I have always done.

@Chris your mention of identifying a suitable point at which to preemptively retire batteries is a viable consideration for sure. I'd rather shell out $65 for new non-OEM batteries at more frequent intervals, than muddle along with the worry of having a sudden blackout occur at some point in the future, because of my seeking to "get my money's worth" out of batteries by using them past the as yet unidentified point of diminishing returns.
 

ianzone

**P4**
Joined
May 22, 2016
Messages
6,969
Reaction score
4,730
Age
51
Location
NZ
Yeh that's a bummer,I've never heard of p3 having battery problems, they clip home hard,
Well I spose with these phantoms there's a first for everything,
My first p4 did a freefall onto my house roof and broke the concrete roof tiles and the drone,,battery error then it shut down totally, terrible thing to watch with any drone
 
  • Like
Reactions: Billie Nelson
Joined
Aug 17, 2020
Messages
184
Reaction score
108
Age
36
Yeh that's a bummer,I've never heard of p3 having battery problems, they clip home hard,
Well I spose with these phantoms there's a first for everything,
My first p4 did a freefall onto my house roof and broke the concrete roof tiles and the drone,,battery error then it shut down totally, terrible thing to watch with any drone
I recently read that some after-market non-DJI battery brands have been known to suddenly lose power mid-flight and abruptly surrender control of the drone to gravity, even with a decent charge left on the batteries. This is a very disturbing thought to contemplate since I have only ever used non-DJI batteries while presuming that battery degradation was a slow process with adequate warning signs.

To be on the safe side, I didn't try to salvage the battery from my crashed P3S, even though it seemed to be undamaged. Gave it a decent burial with full military honors, rather than risk using it again.
 

New Threads

Forum statistics

Threads
140,614
Messages
1,449,376
Members
102,416
Latest member
K.J.