How to get a complete record of your DJI drone flights

To the best of my knowledge, the instructions which follow apply to any DJI drone, including the Mini 2. You will see not only how to access the videos, but also how to obtain and process the highly detailed flight logs. Please note that this guide applies to a drone flown using DJI's own software on an iPhone or iPad, and a Mac computer. If you're using Litchi or one of the other 3rd party apps, or a PC, then this guide is not for you.

Consider this: your drone doesn't just capture excellent 4K video (OK, so older drones might only be HD) but it also keeps incredibly detailed flight logs on the phone or tablet. The log as stored on the phone is compressed and encrypted but I'll show you how to process the log to get to plain-text data as well as a Google Earth record of the flight.

This guide is written for complete beginners as well as more experienced pilots. I hope you'll find it useful.



Getting the Video
The drone stores its videos in a standard form on the memory card in the craft. You may have flown for, say, 15 minutes withut pausing video recording, but the drone splits the video record up into 4.09 Gb chunks, each lasting just under five and a half minutes. But the chunks fit together perfectly, ie, not a single frame is dropped.

So the first step is to take the memory card out of the drone and load it into the Mac:



Opening this icon leads to



Opening this root folder will lead you to:



Then double-clicking on the 100MEDIA icon (it may be 101 or 102, etc, and you may not have a Panorama folder) reveals:



And there at the bottom you'll see today's videos.

Now what I do is to create a new folder within my DJI Mini folder and give it the date as a title. You don't need to do this but it helps to keep everything neat and tidy.



Drag today's videos from the card into this new folder. It may take several minutes:



But when that disappears you're done.

Now eject the drone memory card and put it back into the drone. (Suppressing memories of when I didn't do this and went out to fly with no memory card in the drone!!)



Getting the Flight Log
You're done with video now. The clips are safely stored on the Mac and we can move on to get our hands on the flight record. This is an absolutely amazing set of data. One simple file of up to about 3 Mb contains rows of 51 separate data items; the drone stores one such row every tenth of a second, so ten rows per second, 600 per minute. Not only is this data stored, but also a snapshot taken from the video, and a Google Earth track of the flight. How do we get it?

Step one: plug in your phone and find it in the finder sidebar. You'll see something like:



You want to click on files and will see something very similar to:



Click the arrow next to DJI Fly and you'll see everying the Fly app is keeping in its data files:



We are interested in FlightRecords. Drag that whole folder to the Desktop; you can't open it in place on the phone so we have to take the whole lot.



Open this folder and find the last entry:



And drag this into the folder next to the video clips. You can now delete that whole FlightRecords folder. You now have this:






Inside the Flight Log
Although it's a .txt file, it contains nothing readable. We have to go elsewhere to translate the data. Go to Airdata.com and create an account. It's free.



Once your account is set up click on My Flights then Upload:



Then, drag the .txt file in:



Click Upload then, a minute or so later you will see:



A wealth of information has been extracted from the log file. Data about the battery, time aloft, and various other statistics about maxima is shown. There's also a Google Earth picture of the flight, together with a snapshot taken from the video. For many of you this will be enough data. But should you wish to go further down this road, click on KML in the downloads and then CSV. Two files will download - drag these form your Downloads location into the folder with the video clips, where you now have:



If you have Google Earth on board you can double click the .KML and see:



and you can do all sorts of Earthy things with it.




The CSV log
That CSV you've downloaded is incredible As I said above, there's a data row for every one-tenth of a second of the flight, and each row contains 51 data items. It can be opened in Numbers or Excel. Here's how a bit of it looks:



Mine, for a flight of 12m 39s contains 763000 rows of information. Each row contains 51 items, so that's a total of 38,913,000 pieces of information!

So you can study this CSV leftward, rightwards, upwards and downwards until you've understood every facet of the flight. As for me, I wrote software to analyse the CSV to extract various relevant pieces of information and store them in a database, and to show various elements I'm interested in. Here is a screenshot of the bottom of the data, including the flight we've been using as an example in this tutorial:



So you can see that my overall analysis of all my flights (145 of them) reveals Best, Worst and Average of altitude, velocity, distance, etc, as well as totals, eg, total distance of 102.36 miles and almost 26 hours aloft.

Much of what I've said here may not interest you, but I think I have illustrated just how far you can take this mass of information if you wish.

Happy flying!




CallMeAlan.uk