I am caught up in this, and as a result it is really hard for me to be impartial and unemotional about all this.
DJI is one of the worlds largest drone manufactures, they make a vast array of drones of various sizes, intelligence and price.
Honestly, they crank them out faster than they can support them.
Not only that, but because they sell more of them than any one else, more people are going to use them, the more people use them, the more people you will get that abuse them.
So, whats a drone maker to do?
In sort, lock people out of their drones.
It sort of all started with ‘no fly zones’.
If you tried to fire up your drone near an airport or stadium or some other location deemed by ‘the government’ as being illegal to fly a drone in that air space, then DJI would simply not let you turn the motors on.
As you can imagine, this upset very many people. There was a very vocal backlash on DJI, so they tweaked the system and rather than lock your drone out, they allowed you to fly, only after you entered your credit card details at the time of flight. Not to charge you, but if anything happen, they would have the location (GPS) and identity (CC) of who and what went down.
It was simply a case of them letting you fly your drone, but still be accountable to the government.
As you can imagine, this did not go down well with very many people. Mostly the Russians.
They hacked DJI’s firmware (software) to spoof the GPS into thinking that the drone was in fact in another part of the city and thus in an ‘Ok to fly zone’.
As you can imagine, this did not go down well with DJI or the government.
So, DJI rushed out a firmware update. So the Russians hacked that one as well.
So, DJI rushed out another firmware update. Apparently, that one was a bit more tricky and has slowed down a lot of people…. They are now saying that you should not go to the latest firmware version.
So, DJI pushed out yet another update that forces drone owners to update….If you don’t, your drone wont turn on no matter where you are located.
This is where I come in.
Went to prep my drone for a sunrise flight many weekends back, and it said I cant fly till I update, so I updated as per their directions and it glitched or something, but the end result was that my drone transmitter would not talk to anything, the drone or the smartphone it connects to.
As per the directions, I redid the update several times and got the same result.
Hit the interwebs and found a whole bunch of people screaming at DJI for rushing these updates and locking people out of their drones totally. Keep in mind that most of these drones start at 1000 bucks.
On top of the price, you have people that are (trying to) make a living flying drones, they cant fly till they do the update and now they cant fly because the update bricked their drones.
They have jobs booked, they have back up DJI drones, and they are in the exact same position. They cant fly any of them.
Its another whole blog, but enough to say DJI support is beyond appalling. Just so bad as to be useless unless you are a drone business owner and have to muddle through it.
As soon as my drone came up dead, I knew that I would just write it off, I would not be trying to get DJI support to help me, or send it to them to get it fixed – thats how bad it is.
Here is a very short read with a very telling ending.
Effectively, DJI has full control over whether or not your drone works. The company isn’t likely to abuse that power (it has strong incentives to keep you flying), but it gives the impression that you don’t really own your drone — you’re just paying for permission to fly it.
Freddy and I have talked about getting another drone, would it be a DJI or not.
Bottom line, I managed, after spending about 4 hours on it, to get my drone back up and running. I have not flown it yet, but to say that my confidence in DJI drones is totally shot.
So unsettled by all this (some of the horror story’s on the web – if they can be believed – some I don’t, many I do) that I am honestly a bit scared to fly it.
I am looking at the rescue drone I got off Gary and Craiglist a little more, need to get some air time on them and get some confidence in my repair skills.
Long story short, I love flying, really want to take more photos with them, but am at a bit of a loss how to get the reliability and quality I want.