Tips & Tricks for DJI Spark
My first drone (UAV) is a DJI Spark, and I am enjoying it greatly. To be sure, flying the Spark is a thrill (especially in Sports Mode), but the real action for me are the photos and videos. So with that in mind, this post shares some of the tips and tricks that I’ve collected during my first month with the Spark. I use this post for future reference, and hopefully it helps some other Spark users as well.
Connecting & Activating the Spark
As you may have discovered, scanning the QR Code does not work. After much trial and error, I ended up pairing the Spark with the Remote Controller, and then activating via the DJI app. If all else fails, contact DJI Support for help.
Linking the Spark with the Remote Controller
To connect/pair the Spark with the Remote Controller:
- Press the Pause, Fn, and C1 buttons at the same time
- Once the controller starts beeping, release these buttons
- With Spark powered on, press and hold the battery power button
- When you hear Spark beep, release this button
- Linking is now complete
Also, you can press and hold the RC power button:
- 3 seconds (1 beep) = switch from mobile device to RC
- 6 seconds (2 beeps) = switch from RC to mobile device
- 9 seconds (3 beeps) = resets Wi-Fi on the RC
Connecting via Wi-Fi vs. OTG Cable
First, understand that everything has its own Wi-Fi: the Spark, the Remote Controller (RC), and your mobile device. First you need to pair your Spark with the RC, and then pair the RC with your mobile device. It’s confusing at first, but makes sense once you do it a few times.
Alternately, you can use an OTG cable to connect your RC to your mobile device. The benefits of this include better performance and stability. It can be tricky setting it up at first, but once you have the correct OTG cable, the following steps should work every time:
- Turn on mobile device and disable its Wi-Fi
- Turn on Remote Controller first, then turn on Spark
- Wait until Remote Controller is connected to Spark (green light)
- Open the DJI Go app
- Connect one end of OTG to mobile device
- Then connect the other end of OTG to RC
This routine works for me using OTG with iPad Pro. Your results may vary, depending on device, cable, etc.
With the Spark, just about everything has its own firmware: the batteries, charging hub, remote controller, and Spark itself. And firmware needs to be kept current with the latest versions. Very important.
There are two ways to upgrade firmware: using the DJI Go app, or using the DJI Assistant app. Many users, including myself, have better success using the DJI Assistant. For some reason it is more stable and consistent.
Note: you need to upgrade the firmware for each battery individually.
Battery Charging Hub
The Spark “Fly More Combo” includes a battery charging hub. Just like the Remote Controller and Spark itself, the battery charger connects via cable to your computer, and uses the DJI Assistant app to upgrade the firmware.
Currently, however, there are no upgrades available for the charger, so it is not recognized by the app. At some point in the future, when an update is available, the charger should be recognized by the app.
Loss of GPS Signal
When the GPS signal is lost, the Spark goes into ATTI mode. When this happens:
- If RTH is not available, the Spark will lose its position, and will not be able to return to home.
- If there is wind, the Spark will drift.
- Movements made via the RC are indefinite, and must be countered with reverse control. For example, if you move the Spark forward, it will continue forward until you tell it to move backward.
- There is a high probability that you will lose your drone if it enters ATTI mode during flight.
From what I’ve learned so far, the best thing to do when Spark goes ATTI:
- Tap the radar icon on the mini map
- The icon will change to a circle and the drone will show as an arrow
- Once it does, rotate the drone/arrow to the center of the circle, and then fly toward the “H” (Home) located in the center of the map.
Again, this is just what I’ve learned so far; there may be a better way to handle sudden GPS loss and ATTI Mode. For more information about the return-to-home function, check out the DJI RTH tutorial.
Traveling with the Spark
I’ve not yet flown on an airplane with the Spark, but here are some tips that I’ve gathered for doing so.
- Check the specific requirements of whichever airline you’ll be using
- Transport your Spark and batteries in your carry-on bag
- Batteries must be discharged to at least 30%
- Batteries must be carried in a safety pouch
- Again, consult the airline for current information
More Tips & Tricks
Here are some miscellaneous tips for the Spark.
- You can shut off the Spark’s propellers by turning the Spark upside-down.
- Beware! On hot days, mobile devices can overheat and shut down. This happened to me when my iPad shut down in the middle of a flight. Luckily, the Spark was in reach, so I was able to grab it.
- You can customize the maximum speed and other parameters using Developer Mode in the DJI Assistant app. Also check out these resources.
- The Google Earth app is a great way to scout around for good places to fly. And you can even bookmark specific locations for later reference.
- For smoother gimbal movements when shooting video, try changing the frame rate to 60FPS. Also try using a higher quality SD card.
- When taking panoramic photos, angle the camera down a bit so you don’t get the propellers in the shot.
- In order for flight modes (Tripod, et al) to be available in the DJI Go app, the RC needs to be connected.
The To-Do List
As mentioned previously, I’ve only had the Spark for about a month. So still learning, and there is a LOT to learn. Going forward, I will share any new tips and tricks either in this post or in new posts. Along the way, I will be keeping my eye out for the following information:
- How to disable instant shutdown (when both RC controllers are moved down and inward/outward and the same time). This just seems like a bad idea to me, like it would be an easy way to accidentally crash your drone.
- How to slow down and/or control yaw turning speed.
SO much information is available online. To learn more, hit the search engines, and be sure to check out the official DJI Spark FAQs.