Back to: Micro Drones

Potensic is a drone manufacturer that I have only recently heard of but they have been around since 2014. In December of 2022 I was able to get a good deal on their Atom SE drone so I ordered it. The specs seemed promising and at 245 grams it classifies as a micro drone in Canada. I was not disappointed at all. Despite the occasional challenges, this is a fantastic drone and it’s a lot of fun flying it.

The one thing that was missing for me was the ability to review my flight logs. The Potensic app on the mobile device keeps a log of all flights – despite on occasion I have seen some get lost. You can push those logs to the cloud if Potensic asks for them in case they are troubleshooting something for you, or you can email them to yourself. I have made a habit of keeping all those log files, however the files themselves are in a binary format, for which there are no specs or documentation available.

After spending some time analyzing those log files I was able to make some sense of them and discover some key metrics that were captured, despite there is still a lot of information in there that I haven’t been able to identify yet.

In order to read the data, visualize it, and save it into a CSV (Excel) format, I made a simple Flight Data Viewer program.

If you just want to download the binary for Windows or MacOS (x64), you can go straight to the Releases page, then under “Assets” pick the proper zip file for your platform, for instance extractFlightData_macos_x64_v0.3.0-alpha.zip for MacOS (x64) or extractFlightData_win64_v0.3.0-alpha.zip for Windows. Extract the zip file and then run the .exe (Windows) or .app (MacOS) by double clicking it.

As of v0.5.0-alpha, the Windows bundle comes with an installer so you would install the software as you would any other program.

On MacOS you can move the .app to the Applications, although this is entirely optional. Either you drag it in the Finder or in a terminal move it as follows:

mv extractFlightData.app /Applications/
.app on MacOS

Depending on your OS settings and version, you may see warnings because you downloaded an app from the Internet or it hasn’t been signed, etc. That is to be expected.

If you’re a developer or you want to run this app on a different platform, you can download Python and then run the source file directly, for instance:

python3 extractFlightData.py

Feel free to provide feedback or suggestions, or contribute in the github project.

Back to: Micro Drones

5 Replies to “Parsing Potensic Flight Data Files”

    1. This is a false positive detection and is a known issue that seems to come up often around Python programs that are bundled into one large executable file. I will have to look at some different ways to bundle the code so that Windows Defender stops being a pest. I could have the code signed by Microsoft but that comes at a cost that I’m not willing to spend.

      Some references:
      https://github.com/pyinstaller/pyinstaller/issues/6754
      https://medium.com/@markhank/how-to-stop-your-python-programs-being-seen-as-malware-bfd7eb407a7

    2. A newer release is available. The Windows based binaries have been bundled differently and can now be installed through a more traditional “install.exe” process. Hopefully this will take care of the false virus detection that comes from the embedded Python bootloader.

  1. Hello!

    First I’d like to thank you for your amazing work here. I just recently got the new ATOM and have been trying to figure out how the F### do I view the flight logs that are conveniently saved after each flight each with an option to save the file? They must have thought the user would be able to utilize the logs since it’s save-able and share-able.

    It’s kinda crazy that so far you seem to be the only person able to figure it out and it took building a whole program. Potensic should really get with you and help you with figuring out all the information and should back you as there personal flight log viewer. I mean they have to know that their new ATOM at a price of only 299 for a standard drone, battery, and controller pkg and 399 for 2extra batteries and some accessories, that there largest market and audience are new flyers, and if they ever plan to truly hold the spot as the best direct budget option to DJI they need to start making things like this easier for the consumers. Most individuals won’t be able to figure out how to get this running on their pc even though you have done an amazing job at making it actually fairly simple. The fact that you have to go through github and have some since of coding will deter anyone from even trying. Hell I only found this from using ChatGPT Plus to search the web for any way possible to view the Potensic ATOM Flight Logs, you were the first thing it listed and the only one I’ve gotten to work!

    Not sure if you are still active in trying to decode the entire flight log files or not but if so I’d be happy to help and assist with anything I can, though i really don’t know what you even did to gather the information you have already but I have tons of logs, a bunch of which are Launched, flown, and landed from the same locations ( My back and front yard lol) if you need a bunch of similar logs. I can also try to do certain things differently for each flight to possibly show similarities or changes from others which could Identify the binary configuration that changes and matching to whatever it was that was purposely changed.

    I do hope to hear back from you, If not I still appreciate your efforts and work which now lets me see a large portion of the logs.

    1. Thanks for your feedback! It certainly is a bit annoying that there are no real apps or tools available to review the Atom log data, but at the same time I can understand. Based on the limited information I can find about Potensic, it is not a large company and while their Atom and Atom SE are definitely great products, they certainly are peanuts compared to the main player in the market, which is DJI. I am assuming that Potensic is mainly focused on perfecting and selling their Atom drones and providing customer support that they simply don’t have enough bandwidth to do much else, such as building fancy log viewers. I did reach out to them before, regarding their log files, but they never responded. I did once have a problem with my drone and they asked for my logs files and were able to respond to me with an answer. So I always wondered what kind of things are in those files, which is why I started looking at them myself. While I was only able to identify some major metrics, I know for a fact that there is a lot more in there but reverse engineering takes time, unless you’re the cool hacker in a TV show or blockbuster movie, then it only takes 10 seconds. I don’t always have much time to keep going back to this log format and for my own purposes I already identified most of the metrics I care about, although other things that I am guessing are in there are battery levels, power consumption, voltages, wind direction, drone orientation, wind speed, roll, pitch, yaw, speeds for each set of blades, etc. While all those metrics are certainly interesting, probably most people don’t care (too) much about those although I am still hopeful to identify those fields at some point, unless someone beats me to it, which is also why I am sharing my source code so everyone can see and perhaps feel compelled to explore for themselves. Part of reverse engineering these logs involves taking many very short flights with the drone where you do very specific manoeuvres or actions, then analyze the log files and look for patterns that sort of correlate with the things you just did during the flight. Visualizing the data certainly helps in looking for patterns, for which I used Excel where I would run a macro to create charts for each data point and then see if the shape of the chart made any sense. So far I have only mostly focused on logs for the Atom and Atom SE because that is what I have, but I have started a bit around the Dreamer logs as well. All I ever got was one single log file from someone’s Dreamer so I don’t really have much more to go on. That may be another area I could use help with; for someone to fly their Dreamer drone and send me the log files along with other details about the flight so I can cross-reference with potential data points.

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