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  1. #1 Top |
    Flight Ready iDrone's Avatar
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    Exclamation Can you hear us now???

    About v3.0 Firmware & Mandatory No-Fly Zones & Ceilings:

    image.jpg

    If you haven't heard (you'd have to be deaf & blind not to) a lot of people are extremely unhappy about your restricting pilot control over their Phantom 2 in the latest v3.0 firmware release which installs mandatory No-Fly Zone Restrictions & Ceiling Limits in Vision Mode & certain non-GPS modes.

    In the Free West governments do not mandate that manufacturers must install "cripple-ware" into their consumer's products post-purchase, like they might in other not-so-free countries, uhm China for instance. So what compelled you to do so? And why didn't you discuss this with those of us who already own the Phantom 2 and whom this would directly affect?

    We bought the Phantom 2 because it performs as advertised; but now you suddenly want to degrade & limit its performance by coercing us into install "cripple-ware" under the threat of no longer being able to get firmware upgrades to fix bugs, or improve & add features unless we do?

    Would you buy from a company who knowingly does that to its customers after they bought their products? Certainly not.

    Any RC'er can build an aircraft that'll fly high & far w/o respect of any No-Fly Zones or Ceilings, yet history shows that few if any have done so, thus it remains to date for the majority of us RC pilots and the public: "a non-issue".

    The pilot -not DJI- is ultimately responsible for flying the aircraft, where it goes, and anything or anyone it flies in close proximity to. By not providing a DISABLE switch for these systems, you have effectively taken flight control away from the pilot and left him helpless in a situation where he might need to regain control.

    As a result, significant numbers of Phantom owners are refusing to upgrade to the 3.0 firmware and remaining at v1.08. Others have stated this marks the end of their DJI purchasing careers and are looking to other manufacturers for aircraft that don't have such restrictions. Which brings me to the consensus of their requests:

    Restore a switch in the Phantom Assistant to DISABLE the No-Fly Zone system & 394' Max Ceiling non-GPS altitude limit.

    It's a win-win for you & for us; and then we can resume discussing plans about purchasing future DJI products.

  2. #2 Top |
    Administrator Frank Adams's Avatar
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    -I feel like DJI made the revisions they did, only because they know they will have to make them eventually.
    -Another reason would be because DJI has become the reference system of all others. All eyes are upon them.
    -And then nobody wants to be nade the example of who is the 1st to get jacked up by the FAA. This also includes liability.

    I'd just about guarantee we will never see DJI install a Disable Option Switch. We would be much better off to look to the aftermarket for ways to get around some of the firmware changes. Once most realize that regardless how much requesting or complaining is done, their efforts don't get the attention they probably deserve. And that's generally when they give up and look for other options. I personally have seen A LOT of innovation come from situations like this one.

    I'm not a electronics guru, or do I claim to be one. But I do know that the few things that go on with the P2V is done by measured resistance. A solution here could be something as simple as tricking the P2V to think it is always under say 400ft. Or that it when it reached say 400ft it be switch activated and setup so it never knows its above a set level.

    And then again, it would be nice if the software developer leaked out a few tips here & there to those of us that are less likely to abuse whats given to us.

  3. #3 Top |
    Respected Pilot Shrimpfarmer's Avatar
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    I have no idea why they implemented this change but in its current state its pretty useless. The trouble with DJI is they are very vulnerable to new developments by more caring developers. If you don't listen to your customers and at least explain things to them then once a better ship passes by don't be surprised if people jump on board.
    I fly Phantom 2 with Gopro 3 Black, Zenmuse, Imersion RC600, Black Pearl Monitor.

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    Flight Ready Visioneer's Avatar
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    I suspect DJI either knows, or they're just guessing, that inherent flight restriction is going to be required for some future certification process ... perhaps for commercial application ... and they're getting their feet wet with the concept in v3.0. If that is the case, having a disable feature would likely preclude certification.

    A few, of many, problems are ...
    *They haven't revealed why they're doing this (for competitive reasons?)
    *Many current customers (e.g., purely hobbyists) may not be bound by any certification rules. This will also vary by jurisdiction.
    *The current incarnation is useless ... according to their posted no-fly map, only a fraction of our international airport property (a huge UPS hub) is in their no-fly zone (the southern half of the runways are not included).

    Though it would nice to not be in this mode, the reality is that this technology is "bleeding edge". Think about how much it's changed in just 6 months. If they're not moving forward at a breakneck pace, they're effectively moving backwards. It's tough to move that fast without issues. I don't know what their business plan is but I suspect they do not view "hobbyists" as where the big bucks will be earned. If somebody comes along with an equivalent (or better) product, and manages the development/fulfillment/servicing processes better, DJI will be dropped like a rock. How many products are there that were hot properties 10 or 15 years ago that don't even exist today? DJI has somewhat invented the industry but the second guy to come along often has an advantage in that the target is a bit clearer. One definition of a genius is someone who shoots at a target no one else can see, and hits it. They're clearly not hitting the bullseye, but they are hitting the target. Competitors are still stringing bows and fletching arrows. DJI will likely get better across the board when competition forces them ... or they'll fall by the wayside. Right now I imagine they figure priority one is developing new stuff, not servicing old stuff.

    I worked in the network side of the telecom industry for 32 years. In the latter years of my career technology moved so fast that it almost got to the point where you were reluctant to buy the latest stuff because it would be obsolete before you could get it working in the field. Fundamental planners were planning for things a couple years down the road by assuming what technology would be capable of then. It was nuts!

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    Respected Pilot Pull_Up's Avatar
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    I actually think it's quite progressive of DJI. Unless you are well within the ATZ you won't be stopped from actually taking off - and you probably should be stopped if you are even thinking of doing so. It also shows that as a manufacturer of RTF kit that anyone can mess with out of the box they are aware that they have a user-base who may not be necessarily aware of the impact they could have if this is their first RC or their first move away from mini helis or indoor quads.

    We have to face facts that DJI's products are incredibly popular and probably market-leading right now. That means that statistically if there's going to be a serious incident involving a multirotor then it's going to be someone flying a DJI product. This way they show that they are being responsible and, perhaps more importantly in some of the more litigious countries, are making sure that the company isn't open to being sued into oblivion should there ever be a serious incident.

    Let's face it, the "Western World" might be relatively free from governmental interference compared to some parts of the globe, but it's arguable we are much more under the power and control of lawyers chasing their juicy pay-days...

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    Respected Pilot Shrimpfarmer's Avatar
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    Good points. Looking at it that way I would do the same. I would even stencil on the top "Your on your own buddy"
    I fly Phantom 2 with Gopro 3 Black, Zenmuse, Imersion RC600, Black Pearl Monitor.

  7. #7 Top |
    Flight Ready iDrone's Avatar
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    Honestly, none of their reasoning much matters to me. I bought the P2V as advertised w/Waypoint functionality to follow, and I don't like it when manufacturers omit or change product descriptions w/o regard for what the customer is led to believe or more importantly what they do & do not want. No-Fly Zones were never mentioned nor a part of that advertisement.

    Now left with few choices, I opt to remain at v1.08 firmware for now with the uneasy hope that most and hopefully all of its "suicidal" issues have been fixed.

    When Waypoint functionality becomes available I'll fence-sit and monitor the reports. Once it's stable & folks seem to be OK with it I may update firmware and give it a try... But only if I can safely retrograde back to v1.08 ...so I'm monitoring the boards to see how that's working out for those who have done it since DJI HK advises, "...we don't recommend it".

    Beyond that, the Vision 2+ doesn't interest me as it's "all legs in the frame" when throttling forwards & backwards which sends chills down my spine as I picture miles & miles of snippets on the cutting room floor, more than I "care to see"; or indeed I'll "ever see" with my RotorPixel (if the darn thing ever gets here).

  8. #8 Top |
    Uses Prop guards
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    I dont see why this is such a big problem. If you have no intention of doing the wrong thing what have you got to worry about. A quadcopter sucked into a jet engine could do an immense amount of harm and good on DJI for having the brains to stop people from doing harmful things. I really don't get the opposition for this. Next time your on a plane you should feel safer knowing one less thing can go wrong.

  9. #9 Top |
    Flight Ready iDrone's Avatar
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    That's the problem, those who follow that simple line of reasoning fail to appreciate they set the precedent and lay the groundwork for surrendering their rights to government, empowering them to restrict & limit our freedom of choice 'because too many of us are too stupid & irresponsible to observe safety recommendations & laws.

    It would be one thing to market and offer a product that is advertised to incorporate flight limitations & safety restrictions prior to sale to the public, it's a different matter to forcibly incorporate such limitations & restrictions post-sale, no matter how well-intended or benevolent the reasoning, esp when the firmware has bugs and disengages the pilot from control over his aircraft under certain conditions, for example partial loss of GPS. (If there's no OFF switch; its forcibly or coercively imposed.)

    It's akin to bait & switch, or to the government telling us we're incapable of observing aviation safety recommendations & the rule of law. It would be like forcing you to install a governor on your automobile to regulate the speed of your vehicle so you cannot exceed the posted speed limit on the freeway whether you're a responsible driver capable of doing so or not: you have waived your right to choice.

    It's not the responsibility of the manufacturer to integrate these restrictions into their product (yet). And it's not the responsibility of the manufacturer when some idiot pilots one into an oncoming aircraft. The keyword here is "pilot". And the "pilot" is solely responsible for flying & maintaining his aircraft (full & RC scale) in public airspace, just as a "driver" is solely responsible for driving and maintaining his vehicle on public roads.

    Almost five decades of model RC aircraft enjoyment coexisting with full-scale aircraft w/o such restrictions have passed with historically few incidents, and suddenly overnight one new class of smart RC wreaks mass paranoia & stirs the "there outta' be a law" crowds into a frenzy based on imaginary catastrophes? There is insufficient evidence to support the need to forcibly impose such restrictions.

    If you don't want to lose your freedom of choice, then don't give it away. And what's silly about this whole controversy is that there would be no controversy if DJI had left the decision when to use the No-Fly Zone Flight Control System up to the pilot by incorporating a switch in the app or Assistant program.

    Like I said earlier, if you're an OEM and feel the need to incorporate a No-Fly Zone Flight Control System into your product, by all means do so; but do so from the get-go... market & advertise it in no uncertain terms so the public knows what they're buying. Or better yet, add a switch and let the pilot decide when to use the NFZ System.

    One final observation: It won't much matter whether DJI imposes always-ON NFZ Flight Controls in their future products, there are countless other RTF & BYO Quad's that don't. Ultimately it comes right back to consumer preference or "choice".

  10. #10 Top |
    Respected Pilot Pull_Up's Avatar
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    If I was a regulator scanning YouTube then the numbers of videos from camera-carrying multirotors showing illegal/irresponsible/dangerous activity outnumber anything similar from the more "traditional" end of the RC world by a large factor. 5 decades of co-existence has largely happened due to the complexity of older RC aircraft and the fact that you need a runway/large open area in order to fly successfully. With a multi you can take it out of the box in your back garden and pop it up to 2000ft to "have a look at your house" and not even have thought or realised you're on the approach path to the airport or within a traffic zone.

    I'm wondering if DJI's lawyers haven't been watching all the same YouTube clips with the letters "DJI" in the title, or "Phantom" in the description and have advised the company to do something before something big and bad happens or before airspace regulators start to lobby for some actual, hard legal restrictions.

    I still think this is less about Governments taking our rights away and more about corporates being nervous of being on the end of a class-action lawsuit by all the passengers on the hypothetical airliner, particularly if the incident happens in the place that invented the no-win-no-fee law suit.

    Also, if you made it switchable, very few would turn it on by choice. Witness the scurry to flip into NAZA mode on the Phantoms by people with 2 hours flight experience who wanted to try all the bells and whistles. The user-selectable NFZ switch is the corollary of the NAZA option... show people a big shiny red button that says "Do Not Push Until You Are Flight Experienced" and they'll push it day one, usually. Show them a big button that says "Push This To Turn Off Something That Means You Can't Fly Where You Want, Even If That Is On The Extended Centre-Line of Heathrow 27 Left" and I'm not sure how many will do that. Have it set by default and people who like their "freedom" will just switch it off whilst waiting for the first battery to charge, then climb it into the Class A Airspace they didn't know was 3500ft above their head.

    I get where you're coming from on the freedoms thing, but I definitely think this more of an issue in the US where there is a cultural thing about it compared to the Rest of the World - ironic I guess as the major threat to the company from legal actions for damages probably comes from that very place too.

  11. #11 Top |
    Flight Ready iDrone's Avatar
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    Agreed I'm certain it's about litigious customers who'd feign, "We'll I didn't know it could fly that high and strike a fan jet, the manufacturer should have made this impossible, I'm going to sue his ass for everything they've got." Esp here in the US where one of my favorite bumper stickers reads: "My lawyer can Eat your lawyer"

    Compulsive button pushers, I wouldn't know... I've never flown my Vision in NAZA-like mode do I'm afraid I'm an exception to that stereotype & generalization. NFZ Switch... same, I'd only enable it if it was needed in conjunction with Waypoints, otherwise always OFF unless I was in close prox to an airport and wanted to test the zone.

  12. #12 Top |
    Respected Pilot Pull_Up's Avatar
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    Lucky I slipped in the word "usually" to cover my backside, then.

    But, you do have an engineer's mindset - there are many that don't. There will come a point soon where the price of this class of quad drops low enough that 12 year old kids will wake up to one on Xmas morning... then we'll be in trouble.

  13. #13 Top |
    Respected Pilot Shrimpfarmer's Avatar
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    The sky's are certainly getting more crowded with quads. I saw a guy post some photos taken of another quad flying towards his along the same hedgerow. That pilot was way up on the top of the hill and he was down at the bottom and neither could see the other. They passed pretty darn close.

    I think DJI are trying to protect themselves although I think they may have increased the chance of being dragged in. Its one thing to build a product and in the manual tell people not to do silly things. Its another though to let people think a new software update will keep them safe. From the posts I have seen on the subject the no fly maps are as bad as the Apple Maps fiasco when that launched I can see the defendant pleading but the quad let me fly M'lud.
    I fly Phantom 2 with Gopro 3 Black, Zenmuse, Imersion RC600, Black Pearl Monitor.

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    Flight Ready Visioneer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iDrone View Post
    That's the problem, those who follow that simple line of reasoning fail to appreciate they set the precedent and lay the groundwork for surrendering their rights to government, empowering them to restrict & limit our freedom of choice because too many of us are too stupid & irresponsible to observe safety recommendations & laws.
    The reality is that many of the laws we have were written just because of that. I'm on a small suburban city council. I can attest to the fact that many laws have been written because someone did something that anyone with a lick of common sense would not have done. It's unfortunate, but it's how we've evolved to protect the majority from the foibles of the few.

    And education alone fails ... tell folks something is a stupid thing to do and they'll do it anyway figuring they are smarter than the average guy. Everyone can not be smarter than average. So we make it law with a penalty for violation (a law without a penalty is a pointless political exercise, but we have those too). Some folks will still do it, but generally they will be fewer than if there is no penalty.

    The problem with the "freedom" banner is this ... in countries with the underpinnings of personal freedom, an individual is free to do whatever they like until their exercise of their freedom impinges on someone else's exercise of their freedom. It's the latter half of that sentence that causes problems. The issue is that neither the first individual nor the second individual gets to decide where one's freedom ends and the other's begins. They both have a conflict of interest in drawing that line. While it's possible that two individuals might work it out between them, a society with millions of individuals can't work out every possible combination of individuals ... so we form governments, elect representatives, and they work out the rules. Certainly not perfect but a better system has yet to evolve.

    Quote Originally Posted by iDrone View Post
    It would be one thing to market and offer a product that is advertised to incorporate flight limitations & safety restrictions prior to sale to the public, it's a different matter to forcibly incorporate such limitations & restrictions post-sale, no matter how well-intended or benevolent the reasoning
    Perhaps a valid point but the upgrade wasn't forced (I haven't upgraded, and many have down graded). The DJI upgrade video I watched made it very clear there were flight restrictions incorporated. As I haven't done it I don't know but, if not included, the upgrade notice should have pointed this out before you hit install (I suspect it probably did not).

    Quote Originally Posted by iDrone View Post
    ... or to the government telling us we're incapable of observing aviation safety recommendations & the rule of law. It would be like forcing you to install a governor on your automobile to regulate the speed of your vehicle so you cannot exceed the posted speed limit on the freeway whether you're a responsible driver capable of doing so or not: you have waived your right to choice.
    This analogy breaks down for the following reason ... before you're legally allowed to operate a vehicle you are required to demonstrate that you know the laws regards vehicle operation and demonstrate at least a minimal physical ability to do so, i.e., you have to get a license. There is no parallel certification process for piloting a model aircraft - you don't have to know aviation "rules" and you don't have to demonstrate that you're capable of safe operation. You can just buy one and go flying.

    Quote Originally Posted by iDrone View Post
    And the "pilot" is solely responsible for flying & maintaining his aircraft (full & RC scale) in public airspace, just as a "driver" is solely responsible for driving and maintaining his vehicle on public roads.
    And yet, manufacturers of cars build in all manner of safety devices (some as salable features, some due to liability concerns, and some due to law). Your point is that manufacturers are not responsible (yet), but many find out (after the fact) that they are held responsible. They cannot rely on where a judge (or worse, a jury) might decide their liability ends. Many cases have been decided that because someone (or some company) could have prevented something, they should have done so ... and they're held liable.

    Quote Originally Posted by iDrone View Post
    Almost five decades of model RC aircraft enjoyment coexisting with full-scale aircraft w/o such restrictions have passed with historically few incidents, and suddenly overnight one new class of smart RC wreaks mass paranoia & stirs the "there outta' be a law" crowds into a frenzy based on imaginary catastrophes? There is insufficient evidence to support the need to forcibly impose such restrictions.
    Until very recently, RC aircraft were largely restricted to those with an interest in model flying for its own sake, and the skills to build and truly "pilot" their craft - folks generally interested in "doing it right". If the AMA membership is any indication of the numbers of folks involved in the US, it's about 0.05% of the population - that's pretty slim "exposure". Furthermore, this activity generally took place at designated flying fields and "out in the country", away from the public eye (and airport airspace). This "new class" has the potential to greatly alter that universe. The Phantom was at one time marketed as a flying camera, not as an RC hobbyist's aircraft. Folks with the bucks to do so need only lay down their money ... and they're off. All they're thinking about is the neat pictures they can take and how high and far they can fly. Safety likely doesn't even enter their minds. Given the environment of our litigious society, I wouldn't be shocked to find them thinking "they couldn't sell these things if they weren't safe" ... particularly with DJI touting the RTH feature ... "these things are foolproof" (these are the folks who we don't hear from, folks who never go near an informative forum, folks who are not even remotely aware that they need to).

    I would wholeheartedly agree that the paranoia that's being generated is unwarranted - but it's being driven more by privacy concerns than safety concerns. If safety gets mentioned at all, it's an afterthought.

    Where I would not agree is that we need a catastrophe before we consider some manner of preventative measures. There have been a few real (model 'copters falling into a crowd) and near miss (full scale 'copter) incidents reported. Fortunately there were no serious injuries in the former and the latter was, well, just a miss; but the notion that we need someone maimed or killed, or a full scale craft collision before we act is a bit too shortsighted.

    Quote Originally Posted by iDrone View Post
    ... decision when to use the No-Fly Zone Flight Control System up to the pilot by incorporating a switch in the app or Assistant program.
    I realize you've expressed a disinterest in DJI's motivation, but the reality is that's key to why they've done this. If it's because they expect some certification process or because of their liability concerns, your entreaty for a disable switch will never be heard. It goes directly against their motivation. If it's for some other reason, perhaps you've a shot. Knowing their motivation is key to formulating your request. If they're doing it because they think it's a neat feature (highly unlikely), you might have a chance of being heard.

    Quote Originally Posted by iDrone View Post
    One final observation: It won't much matter whether DJI imposes always-ON NFZ Flight Controls in their future products, there are countless other RTF & BYO Quad's that don't. Ultimately it comes right back to consumer preference or "choice".
    Absolutely! In the end one has the option to buy their product or not buy their product. However, I would guess that if their motivation is some manner of certification or liability concern, other manufacturers will eventually follow suit. Of course one could always build their own (or hack a "protected" product) but when something goes badly awry, one best have a good lawyer. In today's world you're already civilly liable; if some certification ever becomes law, you might be criminally liable then as well.
    Last edited by Visioneer; 04-22-14 at 01:07 PM. Reason: formatting & typos

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    Respected Pilot Shrimpfarmer's Avatar
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    I think we need a new category called 'THE GREAT DEBATE' you two are professionals
    I fly Phantom 2 with Gopro 3 Black, Zenmuse, Imersion RC600, Black Pearl Monitor.

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