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Q500 4k Altitude Drops

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#1
On 5/3/2018 at about 11:23 am ET I was hovering during a test of my Q500 4k. The plan was to fly through my 6 batteries since I hadn't flown the quad in several months.

Flight location was Piedmont Park ... a place I often fly. I get there, calibrate the compass and then the accelerometer and then begin to fly. I fly around through the first battery with no incident, turn off the quad, then proceed to the second battery.

I flew through the second battery, also no incident.

On the 3rd battery, about 6 minutes into flight, the quad plummets about 25-30 feet from a hover. I boosted throttle to see if it would respond and the quad taps the ground and then shoots right back up. I then did my best to land it without further incident. Quad lands, no visible damage.

I then recalibrate the compass and accelerometer (2nd on site for the day) and flew through the rest of battery 3 with no incident.

I then flew through batteries 4,5 and 6 with no incident as well.

I have opened a ticket with Yuneec but I am still patiently waiting for a response.

I am starting this conversation in hopes of getting advice from anyone who can better interpret the flight logs which are zipped and attached ... Hope someone can help ... Cheers
 

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Steve Carr

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#2
I am starting this conversation in hopes of getting advice from anyone who can better interpret the flight logs which are zipped and attached ... Hope someone can help ... Cheers
I had very little time today to get to the forum. I will see if I can find anything significant in the telemetry.
 

Steve Carr

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#3
There are 79 logs recorded. Many of those are probably made during calibrations. I looked at number 77 and it shows a 42 min flight time. This appears to be 3 flights that were recorded on the same log. Very unusual. I can see where the battery was changed but the file kept recording. The time and date corresponds with your time frame. I can also see after the 3rd battery was installed there was a sudden drop in altitude followed by a rapid ascent. That fits your description. I can see no cause for this sudden drop. The throttle was at middle stick until you throttled up to regain altitude.

This is a definite case for Yuneec to review. You should call them and discuss the situation. Just a tip.....don't mention my name.....I'm not on their friend list even though I love their products. The Q and H are fantastic machines. Hopefully you will get a good tech. It's a mixed bag.
 
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#4
There are 79 logs recorded. Many of those are probably made during calibrations. I looked at number 77 and it shows a 42 min flight time. This appears to be 3 flights that were recorded on the same log. Very unusual. I can see where the battery was changed but the file kept recording. The time and date corresponds with your time frame. I can also see after the 3rd battery was installed there was a sudden drop in altitude followed by a rapid ascent. That fits your description. I can see no cause for this sudden drop. The throttle was at middle stick until you throttled up to regain altitude.

This is a definite case for Yuneec to review. You should call them and discuss the situation. Just a tip.....don't mention my name.....I'm not on their friend list even though I love their products. The Q and H are fantastic machines. Hopefully you will get a good tech. It's a mixed bag.
Thanks Steve. They have had my logs for 2+ weeks now. Last week Imcalled back and they were nudged forward by my persistence and checked in the logs that had been sitting in email... Since then, no word. I'm trying to avoid getting on their bad list as well but they aren't helping their case. They are really tempting me to go DJI but I would prefer to simply keep a "reliable" Q500.

I will let you know if and when this gets resolved. Hopefully I get a good tech as you said
 
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#5
There are 79 logs recorded. Many of those are probably made during calibrations. I looked at number 77 and it shows a 42 min flight time. This appears to be 3 flights that were recorded on the same log. Very unusual. I can see where the battery was changed but the file kept recording. The time and date corresponds with your time frame. I can also see after the 3rd battery was installed there was a sudden drop in altitude followed by a rapid ascent. That fits your description. I can see no cause for this sudden drop. The throttle was at middle stick until you throttled up to regain altitude.

This is a definite case for Yuneec to review. You should call them and discuss the situation. Just a tip.....don't mention my name.....I'm not on their friend list even though I love their products. The Q and H are fantastic machines. Hopefully you will get a good tech. It's a mixed bag.
Steve, after weeks of back and forth calling Yuneec to follow up on the logs, the tech told me that they cannot tell what happened by looking at the logs. They did say they would be glad to receive my drone and repair it t my cost. That would include shipping, parts and $80 per hour in labor costs. I also had a breeze controller replaced and that took about 2 1/2 weeks to complete. I will spare you the details of my several conversations with the tech but funnily enough, I spoke to the same tech on 70% and quite possibly 100% of the calls. My takeaways from the experience are

1. Yuneec is now grossly understaffed
2. They no longer have any business advertising themselves as offering superior customer service
3. The requirement that Q500 owners must submit logs in order to be covered by warranty is a catch 22 since Yuneec does not provide pilots with any way of confirming that logs are being recorded before flight. In other words, each time you re-seat the micro SD card in the ST-10, you have to hope it's recording, you cant connect the controller to the GUI to confirm ... but Yuneec can deny your warranty if no recording is being done. This happened to me and I have read of another such case. That is utter rubbish on Yuneec's part.
4. I was told that the Q500 is no longer being produced and that Yuneec is now selling what they have on shelf. The latest firmware of this drone, v1.07, was released in September 2015. That is almost 3 years old. This tells me that the product is being sunset and that some limitation blocked further development or made such development infeasible.
4. Given the number of drone drops I am now seeing reported on Yuneec drones, I would advise anyone to stay away from Yuneec. This coupled with the poor excuse for customer service they are now dishing out has pushed me in a new direction and I would urge anyone who doesn't want to see their investment fall like a brick to follow.

I was considering getting the Typhoon H that's about to come out with the 1" sensor but I am going to get a DJI drone instead. It has truly been a Yuneec experience but they need to do a better job. You can't have so many of your drones falling out of the sky, have no explanation even when the coveted logs are provided and then be offering sloppy customer service at the same time.

I suspect if a proper turn isn't made it will be curtains for Yuneec, at least their consumer line, in the not so distant future.

Hope you have a great day .. Cheers Mate
 

Steve Carr

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#6
It's very sad to have this kind of experience with Yuneec. It certainly appears their analytical software was incapable of finding and identifying the anomaly. The techs have no training in reading log files manually, but that is true of all manufacturers.

As far as the firmware, there has been no need for updates. Once a stable firmware is achieved, any changes can introduce new problems. I much prefer Yuneec's approach over DJI who has several updates each week and you MUST do the update in order to fly. At least Yuneec's is optional.

You should be able to access the sd card in the ST10 by connecting it to your computer with the charging cable. So you can verify the files are being written without the need to remove the card.

The Q500 went out of production a very long time ago. Still, for the money, it has been a wonderful piece of machinery. Every bird on the market has glitches. It's just the nature of the hobby. Your next bird may be much better or much worse. It's just the luck of the draw.
 
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#7
Steve,

I'm not sure if it's because I have a Mac but connecting the remote to my computer with a charging cable doesn't show anything. I spoke to the tech about this as well and he offered no solution.

I love the Q500 and will see what I can do to correct intermittent compass errors that I now suspect are at the root of the drops. While speaking to the tech I told him that I saw some flashing orange on the main LED during my last tests. He said this is a compass calibration. When I told him that I calibrated twice before that and received the confirmation of success, he said that I may need a new compass. I opted not to send the Quad in to Yuneec at my expense because their 5-7 business days written turnaround became almost a month for both my tickets and I've seen folks send their quads in and get them back with more issues. I did go ahead and order a compass and GPS module however, in case they need to be changed out since they are plug and play parts. So I'm not abandoning the Q500 by any means

The bigger issue at hand in my opinion though, is why all these other Q500 and Typhoon H copters are falling. I checked DJi forums and spoke to a couple drone shops and this noticeable volume of drone drops definitely seems unique to Yuneec. There just isn't this volume on the DJI side. Whether it be compass issues, kp index or in some cases, batteries vibrating off contacts, I do not think Yuneec is doing enough to maintain the integrity of their consumer products. By design, the battery of a drone just shouldn't even be able to vibrate off the contacts.

With the way how DJI has been eating up market space, it's going to be interesting to see how Yuneec's new products land in the long run. After my experiences with their unapologetically poor customer service however, I doubt I will buy additional Yuneec products.

You've been a great help Steve. I really appreciate your advice. Cheers!
 

Steve Carr

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#8
I guess I missed the compass errors. It definitely sounds like you need to replace it. As far as batteries vibrating loose, I know of no such problem.

Not sure where you are seeing a all these fall from the sky posts. That is rare. I see no more with Yuneec than other brands including DJI.
Search Results for Query: fall from the sky | DJI Phantom Drone Forum
 
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#9
I guess I missed the compass errors. It definitely sounds like you need to replace it. As far as batteries vibrating loose, I know of no such problem.

Not sure where you are seeing a all these fall from the sky posts. That is rare. I see no more with Yuneec than other brands including DJI.
Search Results for Query: fall from the sky | DJI Phantom Drone Forum
I saw the yuneec drops here on the yuneecpilots.com thread but I didn't see all the DJI ones you just pointed out when I searched .... Touche to you good man!

I love the Q500 so I will still use it if i can get these compass errors to go away. I didn't know what the flashing orange was until later in my search because it's not documented on Yuneec's outdated led code list.

My fear is that the compass error will not be visible via the Quad's main LED if it starts with the quad more than 15 feet in front of me. When I saw the errors, they were not consistent. They seemed to randomly come and go as I flew about 20 feet above grass in a park.

I don't believe the ST10+ gives any vibration feedback when there is a compass error but I am hoping you can school me on this one... I imagine there will be a "Mag Cal" or other similar error on the screen when there is a compass error ....but when flying line of sight, I don't know if I would see that error, especially if I don't know what the error looks like.

By chance do you know if and how the ST10+ reflects a compass calibration error while in flight?

Andre
 
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Steve Carr

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#10
The orange status light will flash when a compass error is detected but no warning will be displayed unless the error lasts for several seconds. If it does the ST10 should vibrate and show the error message. The Q500 is less sensitive to a compass error than the H. In addition, the orange light is more common close to the ground. On the Q it should go away over 15' high unless there is a real problem.

I would suggest flying a few batteries without the camera installed to see how the Q is flying. If there is a significant problem at least the camera won't be damaged. If you have a friend with a windows 7 computer, you might want to check the ST10 on it to see if you can access the sd card without removing it.
 
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#11
The orange status light will flash when a compass error is detected but no warning will be displayed unless the error lasts for several seconds. If it does the ST10 should vibrate and show the error message. The Q500 is less sensitive to a compass error than the H. In addition, the orange light is more common close to the ground. On the Q it should go away over 15' high unless there is a real problem.

I would suggest flying a few batteries without the camera installed to see how the Q is flying. If there is a significant problem at least the camera won't be damaged. If you have a friend with a windows 7 computer, you might want to check the ST10 on it to see if you can access the sd card without removing it.
Steve,

I plan to do some testing again by next week with the camera removed. I did this on my last test as well after seeing the drop but I didn't notice the orange blinking until right before landing on the last battery. With all this new knowledge you have imparted I hope to be able to get more conclusive results.

The irony here to me is that you earlier advised me not to mention that I spoke with you when calling Yuneec .... but you have been far more helpful and informative than all the hours (yes hours) I have spent communicating with Yuneec customer service.

That said I say Steve for president!

Once I complete my next round of testing I will circle back and let you know what happened. Most likely I will test with the stock compass before trying to open the quad and replace.

Thanks again,

I'll be in touch.

Andre
 

DoomMeister

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#12
Was that hours waiting to communicate, or were you actually able to keep someone on the phone longer than 10 or 15 minutes?

Would that be president of Yuneec? I’ll second the motion.
 
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#13
Was that hours waiting to communicate, or were you actually able to keep someone on the phone longer than 10 or 15 minutes?

Would that be president of Yuneec? I’ll second the motion.
DoomMeister,

The hours include two rounds of calls to Yuneec about this issue. If I eliminate wait times, I estimate I spent about an hour and a half between speaking on the phone and using the live chat feature.

I also have to make note of the fact that after the initially promised 5-7 business day response time was not met, I had to call multiple times. after my first call, my logs were checked in and assigned. After that weeks went by and I was told the reviewer had gone for vacation. After another week of no reply I called back again. This is when the tech told me they had been reviewed and nothing could be deduced from them.

Steve for president of Yuneec for sure.

Let's see what happens as I test further.

Cheers!
 

Steve Carr

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#14
Have you looked at the telemetry? The column labeled Error Flags will show 32 when there is a compass error. I compare that against the Altitude Column to determine at what elevation the error occurs.
If you wish, you can upload the telemetry file here. Just add a .txt to the file name so it will upload.
 
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#15
Have you looked at the telemetry? The column labeled Error Flags will show 32 when there is a compass error. I compare that against the Altitude Column to determine at what elevation the error occurs.
If you wish, you can upload the telemetry file here. Just add a .txt to the file name so it will upload.
I did check the telemetry and I believe you took a look and recommended I send to Yuneec. I did and they could not deduce diddly.... When I do my new tests I will upload any new telemetry files I get if things get "interesting."


Andre
 
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#17
Steve,

Due to a lot of rain I didn't get around to testing again until this weekend. I flew through two flights successfully and then experienced a drop randomly on my third battery. I compared my result to the last test I did and realized that I also experienced that drop on the third battery... although not the same battery pack. I purchased a replacement compass and GPS module but have yet to find the motivation to pull all those screws and replace the compass and possibly also the module.... full disclosure, I also acquired a Mavic Air which has been flawless in comparison ... not only is it more stable, has more features, doesn't need to start on a flat surface to level the camera and more portable, it also locks to GPS way faster and in more places. But still, I am more in love with the Q5004k as it's my first drone ... I just wish Yuneec would have had a better handle on this. I've seen several cases online where folks had similar issues, sent their drone in and after getting it back had the same or more issues ... What I wanted to be simply a fun filming experience has become quite a project and I am not sure when I'm going to lock in on making sure it gets fixed ... I will let you know what the result is when I pull the Quad down and change parts. Thanks again for your help and words of Droneful wisdom.

Cheers,

Andre
 
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#19
Are you still getting the compass errors?
How much drop do you see when it happens? Does the altitude reading change as well?
Steve,

When I tested I started to see brief flashes of yellow while flying the 2nd battery. They were not consistent though. I didn't check the logs since we know the yellow /orange flashes on the main LED indicate compass errors. I was flying about 70-100 ft above ground when I saw the drop. Luckily I saw the drop as soon as it started because I was looking at the drone and not the screen. As in past cases, I boosted throttle and the drone stopped plummeting about 10 feet above ground ... but then it started to shoot right back up. For about the next 10 seconds I did what I could to land without it crashing. Seems it entered into a "sluggish to respond to stick movement" state. I was able to land without any damage. I use a carbon fiber gimbal guard though, it reduces the risk of breaking the landing gear and camera.

I didn't get to see how much change if any was reflected by the telemetry data while the drop was happening and I didn't check the flight logs data. The last time this happened, the altitude drop was shown in the logs but that by itself didn't indicate much so I didn't bother checking.

On another note, I pulled the quad down tonight and will likely switch out the compass tomorrow. That going well, I hope to test again later this week.

Andre
 
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