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Wanted: a waterproof Phantom

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by GearLoose, Jun 25, 2013.

  1. GearLoose

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    I'm dismayed by the growing number of crash reports into water. Having plowed my own Phantom into a river (miraculously, it somehow survived) I have now become quad-hydro-phobic!

    I also live in an area of abundant wetlands, rivers, and other enticing bodies of water. In fact, I got into this hobby for the express purpose of photographing the wetlands next to our cabin. And now, having evaluated my bumbling progress as a pilot, I find that I'm very reluctant to venture over anything deeper than a mud puddle.

    Which leads me to ask... is it possible to transplant most or all of the Phantom's working parts to a waterproof frame? Or should I sell the Phantom and take the plunge, so to speak, for an off-the-shelf "aquacopter" style quad? Money is definitely an issue, as I have accumulated lots of bits, bobs, and batteries and would rather use them in another quad than try to sell them off at a loss.

    Suggestions?
     
  2. BruceTS

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  3. GearLoose

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    BruceTS: I watched the Liquipel video and was quite intrigued. In order to make the Phantom waterproof, however, I think you'd have to seal the shell's top and bottom halves together, which obviously isn't practical. I would try Liquipel for rain and high humidity protection, perhaps with some kind of breathable (Goretex?) material over the Phantom's air vents.

    The Aquacopter frame looks good, even though switching out the battery might be something of a pain. I'm surprised that they don't have a better, quicker way to access the interior.

    I haven't seen any reports of transplanting Phantom components directly to an Aquacopter.
     
  4. Darrell1

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    Are you suggesting that your problems come from not being a very good pilot? Pick up a small practice quad for $50 or $100. My kids and I now have several Helimax 1SQ's. They are a blast to fly (more fun than the Phantom since you have no stress of crashing) and since they are more difficult to fly than the Phantom, you get great practice!

    After at least 150 flights, I have yet to crash the Phantom (knock on wood) and I think it's due to not needing to think about how to fly. It just comes naturally. I have no fear of water (with a full battery). :D
     
  5. GearLoose

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    Darrell, after about 150 Phantom crashes (well, maybe just 50....) I anticipated your good advice. Two days ago I ordered a tiny quad for some remedial flight practice. I will still fly the Phantom but very cautiously and never over water. The hazard here is clipping a tree -- all of the ponds and streams around us are surrounded by forest, with occasional trees growing on hummocks of soil within the wetlands.

    My concern, even if I was a skilled pilot, is the inherent risk of a crash when flying in these conditions. I am seeing more and more reports of serious or fatal water crashes from previously confident pilots. Even the aquacopters crash -- I saw a video yesterday where a prop broke in mid-flight, plunging the h20quad into a lake.

    Since I really want to do a lot of flying near water or over it, I think a crash into water is probably a question of "sooner or later?" If I could have a quad with the Phantom's positive features -- size, IOC, Naza -- but also waterproof, I'd be very happy!
     
  6. Audaciter

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    I thought of buying an Aquacopter frame, and transfering everything , just for the fact that it is made of Kydex, which is
    so much stronger than the Phantom's shell. But I like the size of the Phantom, and that everything fits nicely in the
    Phantom case. The Aquacopter is larger, and as a bare frame, doesn't come with anything to mount the electronics to.
    Logistics would be a nightmare, and almost impossible to do neatly. You wouldn't be able to mount the compass, or gps,
    easily at all, and the heat and pressure are a problem for the Naza. (yeah, they have a pressure vent available)

    Liquipel, is so expensive, and unreliable, and definitely won't keep your Phantom from sinking.

    If you are really interested in a water capable craft, QuadH2O seems a better choice.
     
  7. GearLoose

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    I wonder if some kind of float plane landing skids could be created with 3D printing? Something that would allow a water landing if necessary and yet not add much weight.

    Based on my extensive crashing experience, I believe that the Phantom tends to end up on its back, upside down. Skid floats wouldn't save the electronics from a ducking but at least you'd have a good chance of recovering the quad and camera.

    Sinking is the worst case scenario.
     
  8. Smort78

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  9. Gizmo3000

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    DLSRpros.com was selling a liquipelled Phantom,. for like $440 extra.
    (unsure what liquipel would charge if you were to bring it to them yourself)

    But at that price, it's barely worth it, and more importantly, it would still sink unless you took other precautions.

    The NeverWet seems like a much more viable option, especially since it seems that many Phantoms fare ok even after a dunking if they're recovered fairly quickly and rinsed in fresh water.
    and it might even protect a gimbal as well.

    The Aquacopter tho, does seem like a very viable option for those flying over water on a regular basis, especially if you just shoot with your GoPro in a waterproof housing.
     
  10. Yeager

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    Wrap it in Cellophane and seal the motor mount cable holes so only the motors can get wet. Or create a sensor that, on contact with water, deploys a rocket motor to rocket the Phantom to safety. I'm no engineer, but it sounds plausible ... uh ... well maybe that's why I'm not an engineer. :)

    -Y
     
  11. Roadkilt

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    add some skid floats to keep it floating so you or someone can get the camera and you've got back almost half your investment. Maybe you can even salvage the shell and a few parts....picture of my system...
     

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  12. GearLoose

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    Roadkilt: I think your floats are probably the most practical solution to saving as much as possible of the Phantom if it ditches into the "drink". I wonder if you've tried floating it yet, such as in the bathtub?

    I'm going to experiment with other foam noodle configurations, perhaps extended to the sides, to provide more stability and less interference with the GoPro's field of view. This might slow the Phantom down a bit but I'm not into this for speed.

    thanks!
     
  13. Diz

    Diz

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    Sat in the office pondering this issue. Why not just cut two lengths of the noodle and zip tie across the underside of the arms. If it hits the water it should then float with the electrics sitting above water level. Of course this assumes that it hasn't reached the water at the end of a screaming dive and or inverted.
     
  14. GearLoose

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    Diz, unfortunately I have quite a bit of experience with crashes -- and I've noticed that the Phantom almost always ends "belly-up". Unless there was a significant counterweight under the shell, I doubt that a wider configuration of the foam noodles would prevent a flip. Then again, it might work just fine -- so please, feel free to test that idea for us, eh? ;)
     
  15. Roadkilt

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    I think a broad cross noodle below the arms is clever. Aerodynamics is not such a big deal, this is not a plane and speed is not the issue. In fact my best video is when I'm holding a shot and going dead slow, just drifting with the wind. The size of my floats will hold 1000 gms of rocks, ie zero buoyancy, in salt water. So the floats don't need to be bigger, but placing them high on the quad should keep it from flipping upside down...maybe. I liked the idea of the floats on the skids with the hope of a stable landing holding the whole rig out of the water but I haven't dared try it, it may not work!
     
  16. BruceTS

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    Considering how easy it can tip over on dry land, safe to say it'll most likely tip over in the water. Probably adding additional floats under each motor will help keep it afloat.
     
  17. denodan

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    By wanting to make it water proof, would be a bad idea. The phantom has air vents for a reason, to keep things cool. Blocking the Vents may lead to over heating.
     
  18. GearLoose

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    The suggestions to mount additional foam noodles inspired me to give it a try. I ziptied an 18-inch length of noodle to the Phantom, running under two arms, right below the motors. This matches the span of the Phantom's props and allowed me to carry the Phantom in its usual plastic tote.

    I added the additional noodle on both sides. (This is in addition to the shorter noodles I've been using on the bottom of each landing strut.) It does not block any air vent.

    Well... it is definitely a lot of noodles and it sure won't win any beauty contests, but I don't have any doubt that it will float the Phantom, right side up or otherwise!

    Unfortunately the flight test had to be done in a rather stiff breeze, not the sort of conditions I would probably choose for flying over water. Nonetheless... even with considerable "windage" from the noodles, it seemed to do OK. However, there was a significant reduction in flight time. I believe the battery was fully charged so I'll have to repeat the test in calm weather before drawing any conclusions.

    As odd as the Phantom looks with the extra noodles (their total weight was 68 grams) I definitely like the protection they offer from total loss in the water.
     
  19. denodan

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    The reduction of flight time will most likely be, they cause extra drag and wind resistance.
     
  20. Roadkilt

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    I did go for a tree fall and river dunk last week, see my other post "disaster into river and happy ending" for the full story. Bottom line was the phantom immediately turtled with the noodles on the skids floating and the rest underwater. Didn't sink, and a few hours on low with a blow dryer and a recalibration and all is working again. Yay fresh water! I should have tried that noodles under the cross bars idea. It still would have had a momentary dunk but then it should be above water. However, even without the gopro (it broke off and sank) the floats were barely above water so I think that under the cross bars may not give the "freeboard" you really need to keep the guts dry. Floats that big would need to be fatter, not longer. One ugly looking quad!