Welcome to PhantomPilots.com

Sign up for a weekly email of the latest drone news & information

Cold weather flight

Discussion in 'Pro/Adv Discussion' started by phantomized, Jan 4, 2016.

  1. phantomized

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2015
    Messages:
    164
    Likes Received:
    52
    Location:
    Toronto & Hong Kong
    I did some searches and noticed some have flown in cold temperatures and reported no problems, others have crashed because their motor froze.

    Currently it's -13c or 8f and I did not want to risk the flight since DJI says the Phantom can operate between 0 to 40c. I am definitely a risk taker but not sure it would be smart to fly with these temperatures.

    I know folks have mentioned less battery life but my worry is crashing due to component failure.

    Does anyone regularly fly their bird in extreme cold?
     
  2. LuvMyTJ

    LuvMyTJ ADMINISTRATOR
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2014
    Messages:
    6,811
    Likes Received:
    4,374
    Location:
    Live! From New York!
    The motors don't freeze, the batteries are usually the weak link when flying cold. Please read up on LiPo batteries as they are not like traditional home use alkaline's.
    I have flown in sub zero temperatures with no issues. You will want to keep your batteries warmed up prior to use and expect shorter flight times due to rapid battery drain.
     
  3. Newly

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2015
    Messages:
    124
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    BC
    I flew in -8 F, the aircraft performed flawlessly, but I did not stay up for more than 5 minutes, my iPhone 5 battery drained faster than the aircraft battery. I don't think I would make a habit of this extreme weather flying
     
  4. msinger

    Approved Vendor

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2014
    Messages:
    18,782
    Likes Received:
    5,530
    Location:
    US
    DJI has some good advice on cold weather flying here and here.
     
  5. phantomized

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2015
    Messages:
    164
    Likes Received:
    52
    Location:
    Toronto & Hong Kong
    So why would DJI say that the aircraft operating temperature is between 0-40c? I will give it a go but I'm a bit nervous.
     
  6. RoyVa

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2015
    Messages:
    2,246
    Likes Received:
    449
    Location:
    Virginia
    O-40c is optimum operating temperatures. Above and below have different effects on flying and battery operation. Simular to flying in dry snow or wet snow, the effects are different. You can fly in colder temperatures but battery needs to be kept warm right up to flight time. It also will have deminished flight time as it get colder during flight. The motors and camera are the only moving parts and they are grad less bearings so they won't freeze. Fly and enjoy... Stay warm and avoid frostbite. Shorter flight times!
     
  7. phantomized

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2015
    Messages:
    164
    Likes Received:
    52
    Location:
    Toronto & Hong Kong
    Thanks for all the info to everyone. I won't be standing outside. Short distance flight controlled from inside my car, just happy that the motors or gimbal or any other parts won't freeze and cause damage possibly crash. I'll also warm the Phantom in my car until it's ready to fly. Then shut her down and put her outside and turn her back on, hover for 60 seconds and take off.

    Thanks again for info, makes me feel much more confident about flying in extreme cold.
     
  8. phantomized

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2015
    Messages:
    164
    Likes Received:
    52
    Location:
    Toronto & Hong Kong
    You mentioned grad less bearings, I'm assuming you meant grease less right?
     
  9. tcope

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2015
    Messages:
    3,508
    Likes Received:
    1,386
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    I would recommend that you install the 1.6 firmware before flying in colder temps.
     
  10. phantomized

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2015
    Messages:
    164
    Likes Received:
    52
    Location:
    Toronto & Hong Kong
    Thanks I've already done so.
     
  11. shockwave199

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2014
    Messages:
    1,066
    Likes Received:
    405
    I wouldn't warm up the phantom by turning it on in the car. Too many things can get out of whack doing that. If you wish to eliminate imu warm up times pre flight, do a cold imu calibration at some point before going out to fly. It really does the trick. But in a typical situation, your phantom is warm in the house, as is the batteries. If your car is warmed up your gear will remain warm enough traveling to the field. What concerns me more than anything in very low temperatures is the tablet. My air2 is cold just sitting in the house. I know it wouldn't take long for it to have a problem in the cold. Maybe for one flight, but I wouldn't count on it performing well after that. It's the tablet you need to consider when standing out for prolonged flight times in very cold temperatures. I might try flying while in the car this winter. It sounds great but I've never done it and I wouldn't really be comfortable flying much beyond a forward position of the car. I tend fly and cover large areas that I wouldn't be comfortable doing from inside the car. It sure would be warmer though!
     
  12. phantomized

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2015
    Messages:
    164
    Likes Received:
    52
    Location:
    Toronto & Hong Kong
    I did this a few days ago. I would turn on the bird and let it get ready in the car, then I would shut the bird down and take it outside. Then turn it on outside again. Worked good. Perhaps I should do a cold IMU calibration on my balcony as your suggested. As for flying from inside the car, I use FPV and don't go to far and try to keep an eye on it as best as possible.
     
  13. shockwave199

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2014
    Messages:
    1,066
    Likes Received:
    405
    I wouldn't personally boot up the phantom in a vehicle. It should not be necessary to do that. There's a lot of info about doing a cold imu calibration to read. I would only suggest that you don't need to leave the phantom out for prolonged times to get it cold, especially if the temperature is very low outside. I did mine when the temperature dropped to 34f one night and left it out for 20 minutes and it probably didn't even have to be out that long. Much lower than freezing out, I would think 10 or so minutes out there is plenty. Then bring it in and get into the imu calibration menu and turn the bird on and do a calibration right away, quick as possible. That eliminated my warm up issues completely in the cold and even moderate chilly like 40f which isn't cold per say, but chilly enough to bring on imu warm up. Coming off of summer and having never done a cold imu calibration, around 40f and when the bird sat on the ground for 5 minutes is when the imu warm up messages started kicking in. That's when I decided enough of that. Good luck.
     
  14. Viper989

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2015
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    50
    Location:
    Canada
    I did my first flight in cold weather on January 2nd , it was about -5c . Like mentionned before , i did the lastest firmware on the P3P AND the batteries . I had left my P3P on the porch to do a cold IMU , then did the compass dance .

    Flew for one complete battery ( about 16-17min ) , landed at 30% power . Went perfectly . However , with my fingers very cold , i opted to call it quits . I did not feel confortable flying with gloves or mits .

    Here's the result

     
  15. phantomized

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2015
    Messages:
    164
    Likes Received:
    52
    Location:
    Toronto & Hong Kong
    WOW, loved your footage, nice flying and you were so close to some of the trees. Good skills for sure.

    I just did an IMU on my balcony at -11c. Hopefully that should do the trick. I will also do a compass cal prior to my next flight.

    I'll send you a PM right now about something off topic.
     
  16. phantomized

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2015
    Messages:
    164
    Likes Received:
    52
    Location:
    Toronto & Hong Kong
    Hmmmm. I can't figure out how to send a private message for the life of me.

    EDIT: figured it out
     
  17. Solar Deity

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2015
    Messages:
    268
    Likes Received:
    144
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    Man, that was really low and close to some of those trees. Actually looked like you were in between some of them? Balls big as church bells Viper.

    SD
     
    phantomized likes this.
  18. phantomized

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2015
    Messages:
    164
    Likes Received:
    52
    Location:
    Toronto & Hong Kong
    This video is my coldest flight, about +5c (except for the last clip). I didn't experience any issues at all. Although about 2 weeks ago I did a short flight to cover a story and I got a critical battery voltage warning.
     
    Ken Hanks likes this.
  19. Newly

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2015
    Messages:
    124
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    BC
    Was it a misty day when you did the winter vid on the lake? Good footage, would a cam polarizer filter improve the clarity?
     
  20. Viper989

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2015
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    50
    Location:
    Canada
    Thanks , but actually it was much more about luck than balls , well maybe some balls .........

    I used DJI GO POI and kinda miscalculated the height of the slope behind the cottage .
    Well one live out of nine gone for the Phantom
     
    #20 Viper989, Jan 4, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2016