A few weeks ago my Spark Drone Crashed. I posted a few photos which gained quite a lot of interest, so I have decided to share the whole blog about the crash here. Also as a fellow internet user I know that is helpful to post this kind of crash information on the internets for the use of others.
At the beginning of August there was a beautiful weekend with nearly no clouds in the sky, so I decided to take my drone out to a place I've wanted to go for a long time, Wufenshan (五分山) in Ruifang District of New Taipei. It is pretty much the tallest and most prominent mountain in the area, and has a weather station and radar at the top. The top is bare, and there is a road all the way to the top, giving it great views of the surrounding area.
I had just completed my flight and I wanted to get one last shot of the windy road up the mountain as I landed near the top. I was going backwards and downwards at the same time, which may or may not have activated CSC mode. I have the final footage of the drone falling and spinning through the air, as you can see below:
As I was coming down, the drone was a little wobbly. I don't recall there being much wind that day. Then, suddenly the drone cut power and spun into a spiral. I could hear the drone's propellers stop working all together, and it began to spin downwards through the air. You can't tell from the video above, but the drone was only about 30 feet from the ground when it crashed (we were higher up on the mountain). I hesitated on whether or not I should try to grab it out of the air, but I thought for sure the propellers will cut me and that will be a lot more to deal with than just replacing the drone.
The drone fell right onto the asphalt wing first with two of the bottom lights popping off. There was a biker standing next to us who helped pick up some of the plastic pieces. Luckily there was no one under it when it fell, but if there were we were close enough that I could have easily warned anyone in the area and/or caught the drone (with some risk to injuring myself).
Amazingly, the drone battery still had power and could even still fly. But, I wasn't going to continue to endanger more people flying around a compromised drone.
Wufenshan Drone Footage 五分山空拍影片
Above is the full drone video I got right before the drone crashed.
Wufenshan has an amazing 360 view of Taipei, Keelung, Pingxi, Ruifang, and Jiufen. There is also a nice hiking trail there that you can check out. It seems to be a popular spot for bikers and bicyclists.
Replacing the Drone 更換空拍機
I was glad to see that the footage was intact, but I was afraid I would never fly again. You can see here the left wings are bent.
Closer view of the shattered gimbal, cracked battery, damaged wings, missing LED covers, and bent plastic frame.
I bought my drone about a year ago and I couldn't remember if my warranty (DJI Care Refresh) still had validity.
After checking some old emails, I found out my DJI Care Refresh was still valid for another 6 days. I was really really lucky.
DJI Care Refresh lets you replace your drone if you accidentally crash it for whatever reason. But it means you have to find your drone and send it in. It's only 1300 NT (about a tenth the price of the drone) so of course its a good deal. However you can only replace it twice in a year's time.
I notified DJI support that my drone crashed and I needed a replacement under DJI care. They told me to put my drone into the original box and they would send a courier to get it.
I had read blogs about people sending their drones and not getting the foam box back, so I didn't send it.
Also as I live in Taiwan, I had also read some blogs in Chinese about people in Taiwan having to send the drones back the China and having a friend in China act as the return address because DJI wouldn't send it back to Taiwan. That is not the case, DJI now has service centers in Taiwan so this is not an issue.
The shipping company came and took the package which I carefully marked with the case number and DJI care number.
I didn't pay anything for the shipping. I also sent the broken battery along as well.
In less than 24 hours the repair center had received the drone. I thought they would send it to China, but it turns out they have a repair center in Xizhi, New Taipei, Taiwan which is a 10 minute drive from my house.
They sent me an email with all the broken parts of the drone, including the shattered gimbal casing, damaged propellers (which were actually damaged before) damaged outer case and damaged lights.
Even though the battery was still usable, they replaced that too because it was cracked.
They sent me an email with a paypal link to pay the 1300 NT for the replacement under DJI care. They then immediately sent out a new drone and a new battery.
From the time I sent out by drone to the time I got a new one back in the mail was less than 48 hours. Amazing service.
The new drone also came with a new foam box, which I now have as a backup.
So the terrible crash turned out to be not so bad because I got a brand new drone after a full year of use for only 1300 NT. I highly recommend buying DJI Care Refresh.
The Real Reason for the Crash 墜機真正原因
As to the actual reason why the drone crashed, I may never know. I know there are quite a few drone flyers out there who have had bad experiences flying drones and claim the crashes to be due to manufacturing defects.
However I have also seen posts that claim over 50% of crashes are due to engaging CSC mode, which means you put both sticks to the bottom right and left (like during takeoff). Even though many people claim this is impossible during flight, obviously I have proved them all wrong. I think in my situation I was trying to get a shot by going back and downward at the same time, which could have engaged CSC mode. However I cannot be sure because the drone was not pitching to the right or left, which means my left stick was pointing straight down.
Either way, it doesn't matter a whole lot because my drone was replaced for relatively little money.
I paid for another year of DJI refresh so I can continue to fly with some peace of mind.
You cannot turn off CSC mode in the Spark DJI app, so all I can do is be careful while flying in the future to not press both stick down to the right or left, especially while landing.
The first thing I took a photo of with the new drone was Bitan, as seen above.
Be sure to like and follow on social media to see more amazing places in Taiwan.
Also, click the links below to purchase DJI drone related products:
Buy the Spark here: https://click.dji.com/AIgWUtXuHLTxUbajN0VR?pm=link
Buy the Spark portable charging station here: https://click.dji.com/AEZHGVC_GP_TALLyMw5z?pm=link
DJI Care Refresh (Spark): https://click.dji.com/AECzmUJVWZ-H6vMYcm4n?pm=link
You can buy the DJI spark combo set here in Taiwan using this link: https://click.dji.com/AIgWUtXuHLTxUbajN0VR?
Buy the DJI Tello here, the best beginners drone on the market: https://click.dji.com/ALN3p82EUzXea0h4xH6ZyQ?pm=link
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.