DJI Spark - Step-by-Step Launch Guide
Before I flew my DJI Spark for the very first time I spent hours reading articles and days watching YouTube videos . . . but I never managed to find an easy to understand step-by-step guide to ensuring my flights were safe, and more importantly, enjoyable . . . so here's my guide.
Perhaps the most obvious step, but make sure EVERYTHING is fully charged . . . all batteries, the controller and your smartphone / tablet.
Note: Controller lasts around 3 hours on a full charge
Check for Updates
There is no point wasting your valuable flying time once you are out in the field waiting for updates to complete, so turn everything on and check for updates before you set off.
Note: Believe it or not, but the firmware on the batteries is updated now and then too . . . you'll need to check each one in turn
Configure DJI App
There are quite a few options to configure in the DJI App, but for your first flight(s) I'd recommend the following:
Return-to-Home Altitude = 30m (or at least higher than any object around you)
Beginner Mode = Activated (at least for your first 3 flights)
Max Flight Altitude = 100m
Enable Max Distance = 100m
Enable Obstacle Avoidance = Activated
Low Battery Warning = 30%
Gimbal Pitch Speed = 10
Do a quick check of your DJI Spark and the props to make sure all is as expected. If you have so much as a scratch on your props, change them, why risk a £500 drone for a £10 prop?!?
Next make sure you've got everything packed in your bag. Spare props, landing pad, filters (if you use them) . . . the last thing you want to do when you get to site is to realise you left something back at base.
Before you head out check the conditions of your chosen location using the UAV Forecast App
If this APP says "Good to Fly" in your chosen area . . . go for it!
Note: Be sure to check out the 'Wind Profile' option . . . just because the APP may say 'Not Good to Fly', it may be OK at a lower altitude
OK, the 'UAV Forecast' App helps you understand environmental conditions, but there are other factors you need to consider.
I'd also recommend using the 'Drone Assist' APP provided by NATS (UK's main air traffic control provider) that helps you avoid certain areas or indicates where you should use extreme caution.
In addition I suggest 'Announcing a Flight' for every flight which creates flight reports, which are visible to other app users and potentially other airspace users, helping to reduce the risk of a drone related incident in UK airspace
On Site Check
When you arrive on site do a final check to ensure your planned flight is in line with the Drone Code
If there are people around let them know what you are doing. Trust me its better to do this up front rather than answer questions when you reach 100ft for the first time.
This is important . . . if you haven't got a strong GPS lock, don't fly!
Flying in ATTI (Attitude) mode when you are not confident / skilled will, more often than not, result in an increased sense of anxiety and a possible 'Fly-Off'
Prepare for take off
Sure, it looks cool to simply gaze at the Spark and let it launch from your hand . . . but let's keep things basic for your first flights.
I recommend launching from a 'heli-pad' as this not only helps the drone with pattern recognition when auto-landing, but also stops issues such as dust / mud getting in the drone.
The last thing you want whilst flying your drone up at 400ft is for your Mrs to call and ask you to pick up something from the local shop on the way home.
Make sure you put your mobile in 'Airplane' mode and just turn on WiFi to connect to the controller
Let's make sure we get home
Before you take off ensure your 'Return to Home' (RTH) location is set and correct on the map . . . and please, make sure you're not setting an RTH point next to a tall tree or anything (if you can help it)