The objective is to provide those who were curious about the great prize in this challenge with information about what it was and what I'm doing with it.
Initially this blog will cover the unboxing, but I will add to it when I have some video of the system in action.
This is a very high quality quad-copter with outstanding features and performance.
A heartfelt thank you element14 and Texas Instruments for supplying it.
I was hoping to show some video of the system in action by now, but it is proving to be quite an ordeal to get it working. You need to create an account, install lots of software, during which Windows complains about lots of potential problems and you need to change DNS settings etc. The mobile app alone is 150 MB and you need a late-model high-end mobile device with many gigs of memory to run this app.
Once you get through creating and account, accepting all the system changes and installing all the software and charging batteries, you can start setting up the system, which involves geolocation and compass calibration. However the first time I connected the controller to my drone with a smart phone running the app, it immediately indicated I had old firmware and needed to upgrade - which meant installing another PC utility and connecting via USB.
After doing all that, I tried to connect the remote controller and get started with calibration, but the app just kept saying the aircraft was disconnected, and to tap RESET to re-connect. I could not find anything like a RESET in the app and in fact couldn't find any way to terminate the app. If I exit the app, when I restart, it goes back exactly where it left off. The on-line help system basically says if this happens, get a new phone. Unfortunately, I don't have any extra $1000 phones lying around.
It did connect briefly before I upgraded the firmware, but in that scenario it doesn't provide much alternative to upgrading. Incidentally the upgrade warned if the phone connected to the controller does not have internet access and does not have you logged in to your account and in communication with DJI, the system cripples itself and will only fly 30 m. I wasn't sure I even wanted the upgrade at that point, but went though with it anyway.
It seems to me that every place there are people it is a no-fly zone (they make you download the whole map of no-fly zones) and where there are no people there is no internet, so you can't fly there either.
It is going to take a much deeper dive to get this thing off the ground.