Did you update your DJI Phantom 4 Pro/Pro Plus firmware thinking that you would reap the benefits of increased stability with your UAV system?
I also made that mistake and it was costly. Here's the story...
I booked a client session this past week that was a great, 30 acre mountain property about 40 min from my studio. We planned to complete a full TackSharp™ photography session as well as a full drone session while on-site. Little did I know that I would find myself at the end of my time there aborting the drone mission all together.
After a very successful photography session, I immediately became disappointed...
My remote control unit for the aircraft would not display the view from the camera. There was no signal.
I was stuck up in the mountains without a way to complete the client's drone session! Thanks DJI.
The back story...
The night before, I had upgraded the firmware on the aircraft and the RC to the latest version 01.04.0602. I did this the recommended way on-screen using the sync cable and the upgrade firmware module on the display. After the upgrade, it tested fine and I thought I was ready for the next day. Boy, was I wrong.
The next day, I found myself apologizing to the client and having to reschedule the drone session for a later time. This meant that I would have to drive another 32 miles, spend 4 hours the next day troubleshooting the issue and losing money in the process.
How I fixed it...
After spending an hour and a half online chatting with DJI support, we were getting nowhere fast. I decided to step away from the issue, continue my day and come back to it in the evening. After another couple of hours using their recommended methods of updating, I decided to try rolling the firmware back on the RC.
When searching the DJI website, I found the Phantom 4 Pro+ Remote Controller Firmware v01.02.00.00 published on 2017-06-09. I took the following steps:
- Downloaded the file in the link above
- Extracted the file to a microSD card
- Inserted the microSD card into the RC
- Turned the RC on
- Went to System Settings > About Devices
- A box popped up asking if I wanted to update to v01.02.00.00
- After tapping update, the RC updated and restarted
- Another box popped up asking if I wanted to update again to another version (I don't have that number at the time of writing this article)
- After tapping update on that message, the RC updated and restarted
- I turned on the aircraft at that point and it worked! I had signal and was back in business.
Always check the forums online regarding the firmware update you are trying to install. Even if DJI states that it is ok to use and publishes it on their website it could still be faulty.
If you do decide to update the firmware, always update the aircraft unit using the DJI Assistant software and update the RC unit only by manually downloading the firmware to a microSD card and using the mobile menu system to install from the card. Do not follow the on-screen prompts to use the sync cable. This introduces additional risk that the aircraft and RC unit updates will get out of sync.
If you are flying drones for a living and use them in production environments, spend the extra money up front and buy a backup drone. If I would have had a DJI spark with me as a backup, I could have completed the job at an acceptable quality level for the client.
Although I absolutely love flying DJI drones and feel they are the best on the market today, they really need to improve their production of their firmware to make it more reliable and seamless to install.
A message to DJI
Please just give us one, simple, user-friendly way to update our UAV and RC firmware. Make it as flawless as possible so that we the consumer and professional drone operators don't have to waste time and money on these types of shenanigans! I hope this helps you improve your products and support.
See ya! I've got another 40 minute drive to do.