Autopilot with SPARK



  • CMD Z

    I have yet to fly a single successful flight using Autopilot with my Spark. I can build a flight plan and occasionally begin the flight, but none end properly. The most concerning was a high speed fly away. Numerous errors reported and definitely does not work with the Airspace companion app.

  • Tom Croley

    OK... I went out this afternoon and used up 3 batteries experimenting with Autopilot and my Spark.  I managed to fly several "ziplines" and it seemed to work fine.  Definitely NOT easy to figure out.  This will take some getting used too.  I also tried "Focus" mode and either I didn't understand it, or it did not work properly or some combination.

    One thing I do NOT like is that fact that you cannot instantly override a mission using the RC sticks.  One you engage a mission, it is all automatic until you push the button on the device screen.  It would be nice to be able to just move a stick and either adjust or abort a mission. 

  • Gary Bennett

    I have flown about 30 waypoint missions with the Spark. I have not had any issues. In short close proximity missions I do see some small variations in path vs plan, but they all seem to be within the listed gps tolerance. 

  • Tom Croley

    I flew 6 waypoint missions today with no problem.  After watching videos and reading the flight school, I concluded that the best way to learn is to cautiously fly the thing in an open area.  The videos and reading was helpful but hands on learning is best for me.  Just make sure you know how to "disengage" quickly and you also know how to manually fly the AC with the sticks.  This evening, I set the "focus" mode to "joystick" and that was cool.  The AC followed my set course while I controlled the aiming of the camera with the joystick.  On the down side.... I could not get the "focus touch" mode to work at all and the "focus device" mode always seemed to point to the wrong location.


  • Gary Bennett

    Hey Tom, you may already know this but you can set up one of your programmable buttons on your Transmitter to function as a disengage button and there are other options you can choose for both of your programmable buttons. I have one set up to switch between camera view and map view and the other to disengage. 

    I am currently running the currently running the bata test ver. 4.5 (build 183) I am not sure if all of the versions have this programmable option, but if your not already using it you might look into setting it up. I remember when I first started doing waypoint with the Spark any sign of deviation from the plan I would shut it down. 

  • Tom Croley

    Gary... I have not programmed the two buttons yet but thanks to your reminder, I certainly will.  Especially the disengage!!

    I guess I'm a dummy but I can't figure out how to switch from camera view to map view....... all I have is a split screen with camera on top and map on the bottom (pretty useless) and options on the left side.  I'm overlooking something.


  • Gary Bennett

    The only way I know how to go from split screen to single camera/map is to turn your device's auto rotation on and then turn it to landscape. I have used and iPad Pro, iPad Mini 4 and iPhone 6 this way and the only way I get split screen is in portrait mode. I am not sure how you are mounting your device on the controller, but you might make sure your auto rotate is on and see what it does in landscape mode.

  • Tom Croley

    Gary... I use the Ipad Mini 4 in landscape mode.  It comes up split screen every time and I see not way to change it.  I would prefer camera the view is similar to the DJI app.  I'm hoping setting the C1 will help... 

    When you are setting up your waypoints, what is the difference between "freestyle" and "Map"?

  • Gary Bennett

    Tom, I am running a Bata Version and it may be different from yours, but when you go into your Flight Dashboard on my version up in the left hand corner there is a selection "more" in there is a settings selection and under that there is a section called Flight dashboard in this you should be able to set your default veiw to camera or map. This might fix your problem? If those options are available in your version.

    The difference between Map and Freestyle is map will let you select an area and the quad will fly a grid as to map an area. The freestyle will let you pick certain points on the map to fly from one to the other.

  • Tom Croley

    I went out this afternnoon and flew two more waypoint missions and set up and flew two Orbit missions.... using "subject" focus.  I must say the the orbit feature works much better than the corresponding DJI orbit.  It was dead nuts on target and few a perfect circle.

    My emergency disengage button worked great!!  Thank you Gary for the heads up on that one.

    I am still stuck in split screen mode when on a mission.  That's works fine... but having the option of full screen camera would be nice.....  What would be even nicer would be full screen camera with the option of having the route overlaid lightly.



  • Gary Bennett

    That’s great news on the orbit, I have not yet tried it. I do know that the standard dji POI circle mode does seem to fly an erratic oval, when I am trying to fly in a tight radius. Yeah the route overlay would be nice. I tend to stick more to the camera screen, so I know I am getting the footage I want.  I did find this on the hanger website. It’s about the split screen vs cam/map.


    Optimized Layout Optimized Layout
    Utilize the larger screen of your iPad to show inline Mode Controls and split-screen multitasking. Rotate your device to view full-screen or side-by-side video and maps.

  • Tom Croley

    To top right picture is closer to what I want with ability to switch between thetwo... all I get right now is the pix on the left...but I am using a Ipad Mini, not a phone.  Options may be different.  I'll keep poking at it and see what I get.

    I will have to give the DJI Orbit another chance.  No only was it not even close to a perfect circle but the camera did not stay on target either...and it was a big targe...a house.

    It real windy here today so I'll have to keep it low.



  • Gary Bennett

    Hey Tom, I also use the iPad mini 4. Mainly with my Mavic Pro and not with the Spark. All I have to do to get my mini to look like the pic at the top right is turn it on it’s side in landscape. It works for me on all my IOS devices. If that doesn’t work for you you might see if your auto rotate on your iPad is locked.

  • Tom Croley

    I flew a few more missions just before sundown today.  The waypoint mode is really nice.  This time set a point for the camera to focus on for the whole flight and it held the spot perfectly as the drone flew the course.

    I also flew on Target Mode flight.  At first I didn't understand it.  This is sort of like a DJI dronie flight only you have better control on it.  With the dronie, the AC just takes off in its pre-programmed direction away from you.  With Target mode you can specify the point you want the drone to fly too and what speed and altitude.  You can also pick the point that you want the camera to focus does not have to be you.  So this is way more flexible than the "dronie."

    I still could not figure out a way to get the "Focus" mode to work.  I guess it will not work because the camera gimble will not rotate on its own...the whole craft must turn.

    I also tried a "Pano" mode shot.  I could not get it to work either.



  • Tom Croley

    Oh.... I had two program crashes today.  One was when the AC was sitting the ground with the power OFF and I was adjusting a flight plan.  The 2nd time the AC was hovering in air but not on a mission and I was adjusting a flight plan.  Neither resulted in AC crashes.

  • Tom Croley

    Gary..... that is sure a puzzle.  I always fly landscape but I have tried portrait briefly...  My screen is NOT locked but I have tried it both locked and unlocked.  I can never get that top right only.

  • Tom Croley

    Ha!!  I figured out how to have the camera view only on the screen and quickly toggle between camera and gps.  Using the Ipad mini, the view default to an ugly split screen view that leaves you pretty helpless to do anything.  While in that view, in the upper left corner, click :more" then select either light classic or dark classic view.  This will ditch the split screen.  Then in the lower left corner, there is a tiny icon that will quicly switch from Camera to GPS view and back.  This is GREAT!!


  • Tom Croley

    I tried the "Cruise" mode today and my 1st and only attempt of the day was not very successful.  The control of the AC seem a bit quirky and it never did focus on my subject.  I'll play with it some more.


  • Tom Croley

    I went out and flew 3 flights this morning.  First I played with the Target mode and experimented with selecting new targets during the mission.  It worked great!!  I flew all over the field by just tapping on the gps screen to select  new target.  I used the Joystick to select the focus point most of the time but also tried the Subject method.  Both worked good.  I'm still not impressed with the other methods of selecting a focus point.  Joystick and Subject work great.

    Next I tried an Orbit mission.  I set a center point in the middle of the field and set a focus subject at the edge of the field.  Again it worked great.  I tried moving the center point during the mission and that worked good.  I also tried moving the subject point during the mission.  That worked good too.  You make these changes easily on the gps map screen.

    Lastly I tried a "Cruise Mission" and did much better today.  I set the "Joystick Orientation" to "Device" and set the "Focus Strategy" to "Subject" and selected a subject using POI.  You can set the POI on the gps map.  When you engage the mission, the AC rises to the selected altitude and focuses on the POI.  You can then fly around using the joystick wherever you want and the camera will stay on the subject.  The AC will fly away from you when you move the stickup and toward you when you move the stick down.  Left and right responds to the stick movement too.  The AC movement is not related to the focus of the camera or the rotation of the AC, but is oriented to the position of the operator.  So, it is possible to move the stick UP and have the craft move SIDEWAYS if the situation so demands.  The camera points to the subject no matter what.  This was really COOL and what I expected from the "Focus Mode" but focus mode does not work.  This works.

    While flying, I alway keep my finger on the disengage button just in case!!  So far I have not had any emergencies.



  • Tom Croley

    Odd Thing!!  OK here is one quirk that could  have been bad.

    I was flying in target mode and for unknown reasons the APP crashed and I was returned to my usual Apple desktop.  When I restarted the APP, target mode came up BUT... the target had move to some location in Europe!!!!  This is bad...very bad... I could not see the AC anywhere so I hit the disengage button and then hit the RTH button.  The AC started returning home.  As soon as I recovered my senses, I disengaged the RTH and flew home using the stick.  After this short quirk... I restarted my target mission and all went well.

    I doubt this would happen but I imagined the AC trying to fly to Europe and crashing when it ran out of juice.



  • Greg Glasson

    Hello Tom & Gary,

    I have been using Autopilot Beta for the last two months with my Spark and absolutely loving it! All modes I have used are working well, I'm always flying LOS just in case I have any disconnections but it has been rock solid for me so far. I have posted some youtube content here. 


  • Tom Croley

    Nice report Greg.  I've been away from the blog for a few days.  Not much traffic here.  I'm going to try flying using my Iphone instead of the Mini 4 just to see the difference.  The Mini does not have gps function.


  • Steve Bright

    Mostly works.  Last waypoint mission I was unable to start recording or take any images using the RC buttons.  Forgot to manually start interval during mapping mission.  Should the RC buttons work for you?

  • Tom Croley

    In most mission,if not all mission, the RC camera buttons do not work.  There is a small icon in the center of the screen to manually activate the camera,  I think it is a little bit annoying since I am so used to pushing the two camera buttons.  There must be a good reason for it.


  • Greg Glasson

    I only use Autopilot for the automatic flight modes, and I select camera on engage so I generally don't need to start recording. If I just want to buzz around and control the drone manually, I would use the DJI Go 4 app and the RC controls work fine.

  • Stefano Sacchini

    hi, I'm using waypoints but the triggers do not activate the camera, did that happen to anyone?

  • Tom Croley

    I have had no trouble.  Make sure your you actually set some triggers.  They appear as little red marks on the map and each one allows you to set camera actions.  An alternative would be to allow the camera to turn on at take off and just shoot the whole flight.


  • Stefano Sacchini

    the triggers are set correctly, one at the start of the mission and one at the end, the autopilot writes start camera but in fact does not take the picture, I tried to shoot manually but the camera does not shoot anyway, the mission instead is perfect

  • Tom Croley

    Just to be sure, I just came in from flying a test mission.  I set up 5 waypoints in a large diamond with two waypoints at the start.  I used 3 focus points and 4 camera triggers (2 on and 2 off).  On take off, the camera is OFF and it turns toward the 1st focus point at the corner of the diamond.  The camera comes on before reaching the point, flys through the point and then the camera goes OFF.... etc etc...  It worked perfectly.  So I'm thinking there is something you are missing in your setup.  After a flight, you can use the DJI app to review your videos...but don't run both at the same time!!

    Try a simple layout in a safe area.  Start with the camera OFF.  Set the focus point to subject and Operator as the target.  Somewhere in your flight plan, near the middle, set a camera trigger.... long press the screen and select "Camera Trigger", a red point should appear on the course.  Then a little further in the course...a short way... set another camera trigger.  Make sure your first camera trigger is set to ON.

    As you fly, you should see the triggers go by as a brown highlight on the screen and you should see the camera click on and then back off at the second trigger.  An individual video is recorded for each on/off sequence.

    Remember, the usual camera buttons on the RC controller are disabled...they don't work.  You can operate the camera manually by touching the camera button on the screen. 

    For comparison, I use an Iphone SE or and Ipad Mini 4 along with the Spark and RC controller.

    Here are 3 screen shots.  The 2nd picture is the flight described above.  The other two lay out a very simple 2 waypoint mission including the options screen.  In the larger mission you cannot see the focus targets since they are distant.


  • Jon Burns

    I am finished with my 4th day of getting to know Autopilot.  I only have 8 Waypoint flights so far.  They are just variations on the same pattern just so I can determine some flight and video characteristics.  All-in-all, Autopilot flies better than I do, so I am happy.

    I did have 1 screwy flight today where I lost connection to the Spark a few times and the AC just hovered for a few seconds.  It never corrected it's bearings though and the camera did not focus on POI correctly for the rest of the flight.  I eventually put it in sport mode and flew it back to me and landed.

    On the next flight I attempted to add a Pano to one of the Waypoints (WP6 below).  The aircraft just stopped and hovered.  It did move the camera to the correct starting position, but then nothing.  I have the pano starting at 45 degrees.  set for a 180 landscape

    Can it automagically stop a video and take a Pano, or do I have to stop video 1st then have it take the pano, then start video again when its done?  I guess I will try that tomorrow.



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