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Solar Flares

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by foiler, Mar 2, 2015.

  1. foiler

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    I was going to fly this morning until I seen this, not sure if these spikes could have an effect on things? If I understand it correctly they can effect GPS signals if they spike high enough. How high can it get before it not safe to fly?
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Meta4

    Meta4 Moderator
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    There's lots of hype about this but no evidence it has had any effect on Phantoms or GPS.
    Take it with a large grain of salt.
     
  3. Narrator

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  4. foiler

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    Well I hope so, it would be one less thing to have to worry about. It's really getting nice outside, it would be a shame not to fly today.
     
  5. N017RW

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    I have never looked for or cared about the K-index, GPS SV count, or anything other than the wind when I go out to fly.
    Best to just not worry about it as you suggested.
     
  6. foiler

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    I ended up flying 2 times today with no problems at all. Very nice sunny day with almost no wind.
    Thanks guys
     
  7. N017RW

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    Well there you go then :)
     
  8. PhantomFanatic

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    Solar flares can and do have an effect on radio signals. The effect, I believe, is more pronounced on lower frequencies. But, if it is a rare, major event, it could have an effect.

    But, for the most part, don't worry about it. :)
     
  9. NM_Quad

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    Should be safe to fly with K=7 or less.

    A little primer on geomagnetic storms and GPS.

    A geomagnetic storm is when a shock wave from a solar flare smacks into the earth's magnetic field, which triggers a lot of disturbances in our ionosphere due to a wiggling magnetic field and increasing the electron density. Huge geomagnetic storms (K index 8-9) are rare. The triggering flare has to be huge (an M or X class flare), located near the center of the sun to directly strike the earth, and one that produces a strong coronal mass ejection (CME) - or the shock wave. The CME usually takes about 3 days to strike the earth following the flare. If conditions are right, it can trigger a major geomagnetic storm which usually has a duration of several hours.

    During a major geomagnetic storm, GPS signals from the satellite to our Phantom GPS receivers gets bent by the increased electron density, which increases the path length and introduces position errors. The disturbed ionosphere can also cause degraded signal-to-noise problems, meaning your receiver may loose lock on one or more birds. Also, the bending of signals can also cause "phase slips," which can also cause the receiver to temporarily loose lock on the GPS, taking a few seconds to tens of seconds to relock on the dropped satellite.

    Scientific experiments done during strong geomagnetic storms shows the bending of the path length can cause up to about 30M (100 foot) errors in position at mid-latitudes (like the US/Europe and Australia), and slightly worse near the equator. Again, this is during a MAJOR geomagnetic storm of K=8 or 9. Thus, I would expect no effects to a Phantom below K=7.

    With K=8 or 9, I would expect the following effects to a Phantom:
    A position error of around 100 feet would not normally be catastrophic. The position error is not going to make your Phantom fly a mile away; just 100 feet or so. This would only affect your RTH position and landing point. It might skew the onboard compass off a few degrees, but probably not noticeable. If you're still tracking 6+ satellites, just bring it home (assuming you even notice anything).

    With poor signal-to-noise or phase slips, the Phantom GPS receiver will loose lock and drop into the ATTI mode, just like it does when you drop below 6 satellites. Bring it home in ATTI mode.

    We constantly track GPS where I work for precision timing to check the stability of a hydrogen maser. I have only seen a few times where a geomagnetic storm caused a slight shift in timing errors in the past 15 years.

    Again, I wouldn't expect any effects until a MAJOR K=8 or 9 geomagnetic storm, and nothing that is going to cause the Phantom to not know where it is more than a 100 feet in error (not a fly away). Go here to see what the K index and general space weather is:
    http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ These are the guys that measure things every hour.
    Do not listen to warnings issued by the major news media. Every flare lately seems to be an end-of-the-world news story, and furthermore, a solar flare means a POSSIBLE geomagnetic storm 3 days later, not right after the flare.

    We have enough to worry about to keep our Phantoms flying safe from proper calibration, good batteries, pre-flight check-out, and the various things that can go wrong (a weak ESC, smacking into a tree, loosing LOS, etc.). The geomagnetic storm concern doesn't even make the top 10, in my opinion. Let's focus our worries and concern elsewhere.

    Happy and safe flying to all,

    Paul
     
    Mario_SB, dukesxm, RemusE and 2 others like this.
  10. lake_flyer

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    I enjoyed reading this, thanks!
     
  11. Hughie

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    Very informative, should be a sticky.
    Thanks for posting.
     
  12. morph000

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    Orstralia is our norf island !
    Generally don't bother checking space weather on flying day but my desktop gadget tells me what's up the day before just in case things are 'hotting up'
    Just wait for 9+ sats and away...
    I normally get 12 sats BTW with my new V3.0 setup
    Also, random events can happen,like this:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/n ... Earth.html
     
  13. sdtrojan

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    Well, look at the brain on this guy! This is a forum where if you ask a question you wil definitely find a smart person with an answer.
     
  14. foiler

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    Thanks for that Paul, very impressive and informative information.
    Although not related your hydrogen maser, I make hydrogen for a living.
     
  15. jumanoc

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    Modified graph according to Scientific Explanation :ugeek: :lol:

    [​IMG]
     
  16. StanJez

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    Thanks Paul. Nice post.
    I have a non Phantom quad and belong to the Blade 350qx User group and just as with Phantom quads the Blade has had it's fair share of fly-aways along with the disappointment, frustration and theories as to the cause.
    I followed this with interest, because I do realize that this is not a problem associated with just one manufacturer and indeed, fixed wing aircraft have also been known to do a runner.

    Of course, everyone including the dog and cat have had an opinion on this and the causes have been blamed on human error, poor calibration, faulty transmitter/receiver, RF interference from wifi, camera noise, inherent hardware issue, software glitch, and of course Solar activity (K-Index).

    Looking through the forum posts I counted about 30 incidents (more than 40 now) but there was no organised database, so I took it upon myself to put one together and invite owners of flyaways to fill in the data, hoping that there might be an issue that was common. Well, the database is still too small to be statistically significant, but makes for some interesting observations. Some "reasons" for flyaways aren't supported by the current evidence.

    Data from reports gathered can be viewed in part in the following link

    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1rtD591x093YvzjM1cI_IURhCVCHaFQjBXVKoJxy2UJk/viewanalytics

    Now, this is a long winded way by introduction to ask you a question about K-Index. I'm aware that a posted K-Index on the day is Lattitude dependent. (Am I correct?) For example, a person checking an app on their SmartPhone might see it as a K-Index 4, but what if person A is in Vancouver and person B is in Dallas and person C is in Adelaide, South Australia. The effect, if any would be different... am I right? If so, people who have a strong belief that the K index plays a significant part in GPS accuracy might be right... and wrong.

    I've had some requests asking me to include K-Index in the Flyaway database. I'll add it, but I want to get my facts right.

    I am aware of the possibility of a quad locking in an incorrect home coordinate, So if the quad engages a RTH it goes to what it thinks is the Home position and that might be hundreds of metres away (Bye Bye). This seems at least feasible because there are times when my car GPS system shows me driving a different route that I am on. It eventually corrects itself I'm please to say and it's quite rare.

    Any further thoughts would be appreciated.

    Kind regards. Stan
     
    JKDSensei likes this.
  17. GadgetGuy

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    Guess I better stay out of the satellite orbit altitudes!
    There's a lot of flying trash up there!
    Bummer! :eek: