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Freefly ASTRO - anyone flying one?

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Hi Everyone -

Long-term drone flyer but always a lurker on the forum. Shifted to drones after 40 years of helicopter aerials. (Nat Geo, Vanity Fair, 6 books)

Seriously considering purchasing the Freefly Astro over the Sony Airpeak. I've heard enough horror stories about the Sony to make me stay away from it.

Have not seen much info on an Inspire 3 - I am currently flying an Inspire 2, X7 with the 9mm Laowa, 16mm, 24 (my favorite) and the 50mm. (Thinking of possibly switching out the Inspire to the FreeFly Astro)

Interested if anyone has purchased or seriously considered the Freefly Astro for higher resolution still photos and 4K video.

Thank you.

Cameron Davidson
camerondavidson.com
 
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I have flown one and I was not impressed. First and foremost it is not an equivalent or competitor to an Inspire 2. It might be adequate for mapping but it's absolutely not a cinema machine in any way. Its Herelink controller is like a toy and the video transmission latency/quality is poor. Very laggy. It's also very difficult to see the image in typical outdoor ambient light. The stability of the gimbal is poor- which might be the biggest issue. No comparison to the stable and steady frame from an X7 or X5S. The Astro is fairly large and clunky relative to an Inspire. It is smaller than a conventional heavy lift setup but to be forced into their very limited range of cameras along with the size is a significant concern. Very, very few clients want a Sony A7R and its associated glass. At least the folks I work with. Not saying the A7R4 is a bad camera. It's an excellent camera. But for pro drone cinema jobs it's simply not in demand. The I2, as old as it is, is still requested specifically by production. And if not that then the director and/or DP usually wants a heavy lift rig with the camera body and glass of their choice.

The rumor mill and leaks concerning the Inspire 3 have been ramping up more and more since the start of the year. The specs look very good Most speculation now is that it could be released by Q3 or Q4. Some have said September or October and the most likely release date. If you can wait until then I'd just continue to serve clients with the I2/X7 and see what DJI offers with the I3.
 
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ZCDC -

Thank you.

Good to know all of the points you have made.

My interest is primarily stills photography.

My biggest problem with DJI products (I've owned a bunch and was featured in one of their books) is the nanny-state Geo-fencing. I've had two shoots become un-flyable due to unlocks with DJI not working properly. I have purchased an Autel EVO II and hacked a Mavic 2 Pro just in case that ever happens again.

If the Inspire 3 is at least 40/50 megs for stills and is hopefully, full frame and can use the current set of lenses, then I would strongly consider it.

I appreciate all your insight and comments about the ASTRO. Had no idea that there were video transmission problems. I've flown my Inspire 2 out to 6000 feet away - so I feel that DJI has that under control.

Guess it is hurry up and wait time.
 
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I have flown one and I was not impressed. First and foremost it is not an equivalent or competitor to an Inspire 2. It might be adequate for mapping but it's absolutely not a cinema machine in any way. Its Herelink controller is like a toy and the video transmission latency/quality is poor. Very laggy. It's also very difficult to see the image in typical outdoor ambient light. The stability of the gimbal is poor- which might be the biggest issue. No comparison to the stable and steady frame from an X7 or X5S. The Astro is fairly large and clunky relative to an Inspire. It is smaller than a conventional heavy lift setup but to be forced into their very limited range of cameras along with the size is a significant concern. Very, very few clients want a Sony A7R and its associated glass. At least the folks I work with. Not saying the A7R4 is a bad camera. It's an excellent camera. But for pro drone cinema jobs it's simply not in demand. The I2, as old as it is, is still requested specifically by production. And if not that then the director and/or DP usually wants a heavy lift rig with the camera body and glass of their choice.

The rumor mill and leaks concerning the Inspire 3 have been ramping up more and more since the start of the year. The specs look very good Most speculation now is that it could be released by Q3 or Q4. Some have said September or October and the most likely release date. If you can wait until then I'd just continue to serve clients with the I2/X7 and see what DJI offers with the I3.
ZCDC, Cameron Davidson and I fly together and talk frequently. We're in the same boat, seriously considering a new medium-lift platform so we're anxious to hear comments like yours. Thank you for sharing. I've had a lot of wasted time with DJI GeoFencing Limitations, but have them relatively under control now for my I2, M2P and M600 but I'm sorely disappointed with DJI's support of product failures, batteries in particular. Seems to me that if Freefly can have ASTRO batteries with 500 charge cycles, I'd expect DJI have something similar. But, holding off on a Sony S10 or ASTRO/A7R IV to see an I3 seems reasonable/advisable in view of the potential timeframe. Thanks, again.
 
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I'm not a stills photographer so I can't speak to that. The Astro might actually be a great platform for stills. The A7R4 is certainly a fantastic stills camera and the issues of video lag and gimbal stability don't matter nearly as much.

All of the I3 info I've seen thus far is from leaks and rumors. I haven't seen any stills specific specs. It will be interesting to see what it offers. Hopefully DJI finally fixes and allows the stills and video modes to retain their settings independently. It seems we will all know soon.
 
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I'm not a stills photographer so I can't speak to that. The Astro might actually be a great platform for stills. The A7R4 is certainly a fantastic stills camera and the issues of video lag and gimbal stability don't matter nearly as much.

All of the I3 info I've seen thus far is from leaks and rumors. I haven't seen any stills specific specs. It will be interesting to see what it offers. Hopefully DJI finally fixes and allows the stills and video modes to retain their settings independently. It seems we will all know soon.
Many thanks. Hurry up and wait time.
 
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@chriscrumley and @CameronD:

It's funny you mention the erroneous GeoFencing issues ("Nanny state" - perfect description). My entire hacking journey has been to circumvent these issues. Funny, but as DJI works harder and harder to infiltrate my drones, I have to come up with new and creative ways of hacking them. Apparently, DJI and myself are in an arms race. The good news is that I'm winning.

Just yesterday I did some testing with some pretty amazing results. First, a little background...

One of my clients of many years is a construction contractor. I have been shooting construction progress videos for them for at least 4 years. I use my Inspire 1 with the X3 camera for these shoots.

Two of the construction sites have been in Class C airspace, with the latest one being right on the outside bleeding edge. Because I generally fly pretty low on these flights (140-230' AGL), I'm often below or barely above adjoining skyscrapers. I have hacked my drone so that it is not GeoLocked in these spaces. If one reads through this forum other users have been GeoFenced despite having their LAANC permissions in order. So I have no regrets that my drone is immune to these erroneous limitations. That said...

Starting November of last year I started shooting a construction site well outside our local Class C and Class D airports - over 10 miles away from them. About a month ago, using third-party software, I went to launch my drone as I always have, but this time was met with this message (don't have the correct third-party software screenshot, so here's a DJI screenshot with the same message):

1659116576352.png

I was at least 12 miles from the military base. Somehow, DJI had not only infiltrated my hack, but had GeoFenced a zone I had been flying for months? Naturally, I got online and rechecked NOTAM's for the area and there was nothing about this area or any military operations in my city. I picked up my Inspire 1, left the job site and successfully launched and flew my Inspire 1 at my house. Hmmmm.... So that day I decided I would conduct some experiments....

So I had a theory. In order for DJI to ground my drone, there had to be a chain of data that started with my iPad and ended at my drone. Because DJI shares absolutely zero information regarding HOW they GeoFence, I decided I would conduct my own R&D.

My normal work flow is to clear my MicroSD on site and check WiFi interference. These tasks have to be done via the DJI app. (My third-party app does neither). It was after clearing my card that my drone was grounded. So what if I cleared my MicroSD card and set the RC channel OFF site? This way I could fly my drone on-site without having to open any DJI software. So after successfully flying my drone at my house, I went back to the jobsite. Wouldn't you know it, I was able to launch my third-party software and fly the mission. After the mission was done, I opened the DJI Go App. My Inspire 1 was immediately grounded.

So then I wanted to know WHERE is the data bit was located that's telling my drone not to fly! Is it in the App? Or the RC? Or the AC? I disconnected the iPad from RC and restarted it. Drone still grounded. So I shut down the RC and the AC and restarted the AC. The red flashing light on my Inspire 1 told me that it was still grounded. Clearly the "Do not fly logic bit" was in the drone itself, probably imbedded in the firmware.

So yesterday I conducted another experiment. As you're aware one must connect to the Internet to download maps for any drone software. Ergo, before every mission I download mapping data at my house before heading off to the jobsite. I have an older Air 1 iPad that has pretty much become useless. It still runs the Go and Go 4 Apps without a problem, but is not powerful enough for any other drone software. So I decided to isolate this iPad from the Internet. I turned off WiFi and have left it off for the past month.

So yesterday I flew my mission as usual. After flying I opened the Go App. Immediately my drone was grounded. So then I shut everything off, connected my Air 1 iPad to my RC, started the RC FIRST, opened the Go App second, and fired up the Inspire THIRD. Sure enough, the GeoFencing was cleared. I successfully started and flew my drone. For the first time in my entire droning career I had successfully CLEARED a GeoFence OUT of my Inspire 1. To me, this is a HUGE discovery.

So now what?

My P4P and Mavic Pro are hacked. They have been impervious to DJI GeoFencing. However, my SPARE P4P is NOT hacked. I received this message months ago on a jobsite that was located a gazillion miles from airports:

1659118663702.png

I love the ChinEnglish "...will ACROSS the no fly zone." For this mission I simply put away the spare, pulled my primary, hacked P4P and flew the mission. It will be interesting to see if this "reset" works on my P4P.

What will be even more interesting would be to see if this hack works on drones I do NOT own like the Inspire 2. All it's going to take is some intrepid Inspire 2 owner who has an extra iPad. This would be REALLY good information for the drone community.

D
 
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@chriscrumley and @CameronD:

It's funny you mention the erroneous GeoFencing issues ("Nanny state" - perfect description). My entire hacking journey has been to circumvent these issues. Funny, but as DJI works harder and harder to infiltrate my drones, I have to come up with new and creative ways of hacking them. Apparently, DJI and myself are in an arms race. The good news is that I'm winning.

Just yesterday I did some testing with some pretty amazing results. First, a little background...

One of my clients of many years is a construction contractor. I have been shooting construction progress videos for them for at least 4 years. I use my Inspire 1 with the X3 camera for these shoots.

Two of the construction sites have been in Class C airspace, with the latest one being right on the outside bleeding edge. Because I generally fly pretty low on these flights (140-230' AGL), I'm often below or barely above adjoining skyscrapers. I have hacked my drone so that it is not GeoLocked in these spaces. If one reads through this forum other users have been GeoFenced despite having their LAANC permissions in order. So I have no regrets that my drone is immune to these erroneous limitations. That said...

Starting November of last year I started shooting a construction site well outside our local Class C and Class D airports - over 10 miles away from them. About a month ago, using third-party software, I went to launch my drone as I always have, but this time was met with this message (don't have the correct third-party software screenshot, so here's a DJI screenshot with the same message):

View attachment 32699

I was at least 12 miles from the military base. Somehow, DJI had not only infiltrated my hack, but had GeoFenced a zone I had been flying for months? Naturally, I got online and rechecked NOTAM's for the area and there was nothing about this area or any military operations in my city. I picked up my Inspire 1, left the job site and successfully launched and flew my Inspire 1 at my house. Hmmmm.... So that day I decided I would conduct some experiments....

So I had a theory. In order for DJI to ground my drone, there had to be a chain of data that started with my iPad and ended at my drone. Because DJI shares absolutely zero information regarding HOW they GeoFence, I decided I would conduct my own R&D to figure how DJI was grounding my drone.

My normal work flow is to clear my MicroSD on site and check WiFi interference. These tasks have to be done via the DJI app. (My third-party app does neither). It was after clearing my card that my drone was grounded. So what if I cleared my MicroSD card and set the RC channel OFF site? This way I could fly my drone on-site without having to open any DJI software. So after successfully flying my drone at my house, I went back to the jobsite. Wouldn't you know it, I was able to launch my third-party software and fly the mission. After the mission was done, I opened the DJI Go App. My Inspire 1 was immediately grounded.

So then I wanted to know WHERE is the data bit located that's telling my drone not to fly? Is it in the App? Or the RC? Or the AC. I disconnected the iPad from RC and restarted it. Drone still grounded. So I shut down the RC and the AC and restarted the AC. The red flashing light on my Inspire 1 told me that it was still grounded. Clearly the "Do not fly logic bit" was in the drone itself, probably imbedded in the firmware. CLEARLY, I could no longer

So yesterday I conducted another experiment. As you're aware one must connect to the Internet to download maps for any drone software. Ergo, before every mission I download mapping data at my house before heading off to the jobsite. I have an older Air 1 iPad that has pretty much become useless. It still runs the Go and Go 4 Apps without a problem, but is not powerful enough for any other drone software. So I decided to isolate this iPad from the Internet. I turned off WiFi and have left it off for the past month.

So yesterday I flew my mission as usual. After flying I opened the Go App. Immediately my drone was grounded. So then I shut everything off, connected my Air 1 iPad to my RC, started the RC FIRST, opened the Go App second, and fired up the Inspire THIRD. Sure enough, the GeoFencing was cleared. I successfully started and flew my drone. For the first time in my entire droning career I had successfully CLEARED a GeoFence OUT of my Inspire 1. To me, this is a HUGE discovery.

So now what?

My P4P and Mavic Pro are hacked. They have been impervious to DJI GeoFencing. However, my SPARE P4P is NOT hacked. I received this message on a jobsite a gazillion miles from airports:

View attachment 32700

I love the ChinEnglish "...will ACROSS the no fly zone." For this mission I simply put away the spare, pulled my primary, hacked P4P and flew the mission. It will be interesting to see if this "reset" works on my P4P.

What will be even more interesting would be to see if this hack works on drones I do NOT own like the Inspire 2. All it's going to take is some intrepid Inspire 2 owner who has an extra iPad. This would be REALLY good information for the drone community.

D
Wow. Many thanks. What an ordeal.

This is the site I used to hack the GeoFence from one of my Mavic 2 Pros.


I am not a Windows user, so a buddy did it for me.


I've only used it twice. Once when NEAR a refuge but in clear air space. The Mavic flew perfectly without any warnings or hitches.

Second flight it gave me a bunch of warnings that I did not have permission to fly, etc. I turned the controller and turn off, rebooted and it was fine.

Both of these flights were in clear airspace.

I think I am going to buy another Autel and sell the Mavic 2 Pro's. I'll wait until the Freefly Astro is ready for public consumption.

The DJI Nanny-state is a problem and as Chris Crumley pointed out, they're not very helpful when you have a problem. (at least in my experience)
 
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My next door neighbor is a director. We live in SoCal. Whenever I mention a drone he asks “Does it fly an ARRI? No. Then I don’t care about it.”
 
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My next door neighbor is a director. We live in SoCal. Whenever I mention a drone he asks “Does it fly an ARRI? No. Then I don’t care about it.”
Good for him. The creative world needs less of his snobbery and more people creating with the tools at their disposal.
 
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@chriscrumley and @CameronD:

It's funny you mention the erroneous GeoFencing issues ("Nanny state" - perfect description). My entire hacking journey has been to circumvent these issues. Funny, but as DJI works harder and harder to infiltrate my drones, I have to come up with new and creative ways of hacking them. Apparently, DJI and myself are in an arms race. The good news is that I'm winning.

Just yesterday I did some testing with some pretty amazing results. First, a little background...

One of my clients of many years is a construction contractor. I have been shooting construction progress videos for them for at least 4 years. I use my Inspire 1 with the X3 camera for these shoots.

Two of the construction sites have been in Class C airspace, with the latest one being right on the outside bleeding edge. Because I generally fly pretty low on these flights (140-230' AGL), I'm often below or barely above adjoining skyscrapers. I have hacked my drone so that it is not GeoLocked in these spaces. If one reads through this forum other users have been GeoFenced despite having their LAANC permissions in order. So I have no regrets that my drone is immune to these erroneous limitations. That said...

Starting November of last year I started shooting a construction site well outside our local Class C and Class D airports - over 10 miles away from them. About a month ago, using third-party software, I went to launch my drone as I always have, but this time was met with this message (don't have the correct third-party software screenshot, so here's a DJI screenshot with the same message):

View attachment 32699

I was at least 12 miles from the military base. Somehow, DJI had not only infiltrated my hack, but had GeoFenced a zone I had been flying for months? Naturally, I got online and rechecked NOTAM's for the area and there was nothing about this area or any military operations in my city. I picked up my Inspire 1, left the job site and successfully launched and flew my Inspire 1 at my house. Hmmmm.... So that day I decided I would conduct some experiments....

So I had a theory. In order for DJI to ground my drone, there had to be a chain of data that started with my iPad and ended at my drone. Because DJI shares absolutely zero information regarding HOW they GeoFence, I decided I would conduct my own R&D.

My normal work flow is to clear my MicroSD on site and check WiFi interference. These tasks have to be done via the DJI app. (My third-party app does neither). It was after clearing my card that my drone was grounded. So what if I cleared my MicroSD card and set the RC channel OFF site? This way I could fly my drone on-site without having to open any DJI software. So after successfully flying my drone at my house, I went back to the jobsite. Wouldn't you know it, I was able to launch my third-party software and fly the mission. After the mission was done, I opened the DJI Go App. My Inspire 1 was immediately grounded.

So then I wanted to know WHERE is the data bit was located that's telling my drone not to fly! Is it in the App? Or the RC? Or the AC? I disconnected the iPad from RC and restarted it. Drone still grounded. So I shut down the RC and the AC and restarted the AC. The red flashing light on my Inspire 1 told me that it was still grounded. Clearly the "Do not fly logic bit" was in the drone itself, probably imbedded in the firmware.

So yesterday I conducted another experiment. As you're aware one must connect to the Internet to download maps for any drone software. Ergo, before every mission I download mapping data at my house before heading off to the jobsite. I have an older Air 1 iPad that has pretty much become useless. It still runs the Go and Go 4 Apps without a problem, but is not powerful enough for any other drone software. So I decided to isolate this iPad from the Internet. I turned off WiFi and have left it off for the past month.

So yesterday I flew my mission as usual. After flying I opened the Go App. Immediately my drone was grounded. So then I shut everything off, connected my Air 1 iPad to my RC, started the RC FIRST, opened the Go App second, and fired up the Inspire THIRD. Sure enough, the GeoFencing was cleared. I successfully started and flew my drone. For the first time in my entire droning career I had successfully CLEARED a GeoFence OUT of my Inspire 1. To me, this is a HUGE discovery.

So now what?

My P4P and Mavic Pro are hacked. They have been impervious to DJI GeoFencing. However, my SPARE P4P is NOT hacked. I received this message months ago on a jobsite that was located a gazillion miles from airports:

View attachment 32700

I love the ChinEnglish "...will ACROSS the no fly zone." For this mission I simply put away the spare, pulled my primary, hacked P4P and flew the mission. It will be interesting to see if this "reset" works on my P4P.

What will be even more interesting would be to see if this hack works on drones I do NOT own like the Inspire 2. All it's going to take is some intrepid Inspire 2 owner who has an extra iPad. This would be REALLY good information for the drone community.

D
The GeoZones that won’t allow you to fly are on the drone. If you’ve hacked it you’ve basically turned off the bit of logic that prevents you from flying, however, the drone and app will still recognize that it’s in a GeoZone and give you that screen. You just click ok and despite all the indications that it won’t take off, it will. If it’s properly hacked that is.

As to why you haven’t been getting these messages before I don’t know but the messages are expected.
 

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