My drone story so far...

It all started up on the clifftops of Cannibal Bay. I went up there with my camera to take photos but I couldn’t see the bottom of the cliffs from up the top. I tried tying my camera to a big long stick and poking it out over the edge but it still wasn’t enough. That was when I got the idea to buy a “cheap” drone just to get some shots of the cliffs so I could view the whole perspective properly.

I run on a shoestring budget so I had to save up for a few months just to buy an old well used DJI Phantom 2 model. Then I bought a Zen Muse gimbal and a Go Pro for it. Finally after much research I bought a screen and a video transmitter and reciever for the Go Pro. I was so excited when I got it all working properly. The very first time I flew it was at the beach and it flew away and I lost it. In despair I packed up and started driving home then for some reason I turned around after 5 mins driving and went back and there was the drone in RTH mode landing itself. The third time I flew it was off the cliffs at Cannibal Bay and the battery failed after 8 minutes and it fell in the ocean and was gone forever.

It had taken me a year to build that drone and I got to fly it three times. I saw the amazing potential though of drone photography and I was hooked. I’m a keen rock fisherman and I could see it was the ideal tool to look for good fishing locations along the Catlins Coast. So I bought another S/H well used Phantom 2. The very first time I flew it on the day it arrived it got a low battery warning then flew away over the rainforest and crashed and I never saw it again. For weeks I searched for it butit was gone. I owned it about one hour.

After that I did some serious research into DJI drones and drone technology. I discovered that the Phantom 2 had pretty nasty issues with maintaining GPS connections and low battery issues. Once the battery voltage drops too far the RTH algorithm they used was faulty. My research indicated that instead of fixing the problems DJI simply brought out another model that was much more stable and that was the Phantom 3.

So I saved up for another year and bought a damaged DJI Phantom 3 Advanced. My career was a computer engineer so I had the knowledge to pull out the motherboard and repair it. The difference was night and day. The Phantom 3 was stable and reliable and the RTH never let me down. I did well over 50 flights with that first Phantom 3 and loved it until the day I flew it with a cold battery. The drone software warned me that the battery temp was too low but in my haste I flew it anyway out over the ocean and there was a sudden catastrophic battery failure and the drone fell in the ocean and that was the end of that drone.

So that was 3 drones and 3 years of my life down the drain. I nearly gave up but I had all these S/H parts I’d bought to repair the damaged Phantom 3 when I first built it. One of the parts was a Phantom 3 Pro camera so I ended up building a fully functional Phantom 3 Pro out of three wrecked drones I bought on Trade Me.

At the time of writing this (October 2021) I still have that Phantom 3 Pro and it is now my backup drone. My main drone at this time is a Phantom 4 Standard which I also purchased wrecked and then repaired it.