Flying in freezing weather

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How cold can it be and still fly my P3?
That depends on how cold you mean. As long as you keep the battery warm before flying you should be ok below freezing. But watch it carefully. Batteries do not like cold.
 
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Its been advised here to as Fly Dawg suggests..above ^ and to further warm the battery....Take Off...and houver at 5 feet for a few minutes to even more fully warm that battery that is putting out all the energy it can to keep that drones 4 props and electronics going nicely ! and as Fly Dawn suggests..^^^.."WATCH that Batterys levels in the Go App " !
 
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Last winter I had a job (in Chicago) in February. Flew 4 or 5 batteries time in 15° weather.
Kept the batteries inside my coat until needed.
Started & lifted off & hovered 6’ off the ground until the battery temp
Came up to maybe 25c.
No problems whatsoever.

My Feet and hands had problems, but not my P3P...
 
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Ok ... I have a few sheets I pass on to new guys in our club / flight site ... nothing difficult but based on over 55yrs in this hobby.

Here's a cut and paste of the Cold Weather Sheet (Note my English is Queens English - not Bill Gates version !!)

Quote :

My Cold Weather routine.

Many people ask about flying in cold weather and is it possible. The fact is that we can fly in cold and hot weather but we must take care about physical parameters not only of the models, but also ourselves.

We need to consider how we as the pilot can stand out there and survive. Its no fun if you start getting cold and the model is out there with a long flight back. Therefore wrap up warm, sort out suitable gloves that can let you feel controller sticks and buttons. With Touch-screen tips as well for any phone / tablet. Don't forget a decent hat as well ... preferably with ear flaps but the flaps loose enough so hearing is not impaired.

OK - so you have sorted what to wear to stay warm yourself. Now to think about the model.

With RC general models - its simply about keeping LiPo's warm. But often you can actually take a LiPo and put it into a model and fly. It may be reduced power initially but battery often warms in first part and it improves a bit. Warming will often only give initial boost as most RC models - the batterys are cooled in flight.

With Multi-Rotors which have external or open mount batterys - same story really - battery is cooled in flight and will not deliver as on a summers day.

With Multi-Rotors such as the DJI Phantoms though we have a closed mount battery system. The FW is also such that cold drone or battery will prevent flight. Therefore it is necessary to provide warm battery and preferably warming of the drone itself.

My setup is to carry the drone outside its case in the warm car and have batterys similarly warmed or placed into a LiPo warming sack such as the Turnigy LiPo Warmer. This can be powered by any 3S battery or 12v source.

On arrival at flight location it is imperative that the drone and battery not be brought out into the cold until absolutely necessary.
I first prepare myself. Then power up controller and tablet with them ready to accept Drone signal and lock-on.
Once that's all ready then out with drone and battery from warm car ... power up drone ... get Green links and as quickly as possible start up and take-off.

Some people advise to hover for a minute or so to make battery warm. Personally I do not as the FW itself takes care of that. If the battery is not warm enough - it will not take off. I only hover for long enough to check how steady the drone is, as i do in every take-off - this tells me if anything untoward with it. Such as if it shows Toilet Bowl effect - then somethings wrong. But it only takes a few seconds and if all OK - its away on its flight.

With extreme cold - such as -5C or lower - I do reduce my flight times to be safe. My usual summer flights are about 18 mins, but in real cold - I will usually cut back to about 13 - 15mins just in case. I always keep a watchful eye on the power line to make sure battery is not draining abnormally fast or catch me out.

Overall - with planning and sensible approach, flights in extremer cold can produce incredible results. My wish when we finally get real winter where I am - is to film out in the country along a rarely used road... with all the trees white and heavy with glistening snow / ice in the sunlight. If I was to not fly because of the cold - I will never have that shot.

Good luck to all and plan carefully, fly safe.

Nigel

Unquote.

Lets mention another matter ... The AC itself when calibrated remembers various factors during that calibration. With IMU - it remembers the temperature while calibrating, this then means that if you calibrated in summer ... when you power up in winter - you will be waiting for the AC itself to warm up - wasting time and battery energy.
It is much better to have a cold AC and do IMU calibration in that cold - then winter / summer - you will have a faster start to your flights. I calibrated my IMU outside in -10C weather ... now I can go out there and literally have instant flight ... as long as my battery was warmed before putting in the AC.

As to how cold you can fly in ? I have flown in -15C but it was not the AC that failed ... it was me !! I had to land and go in to the warm.
Also - note that your screen touch capability reduces dramatically in the cold. Unlike your phone which spends much of its time in your warm pocket and screen works fine - the screen you use with your DJI is sitting out there in the cold ... so i strongly advise to learn the controller buttons !!

Nigel
 
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THE key issue to keep in mind when flying in the cold weather is.........

Keep a sharp eye on your battery's status during the flight.

Batteries do not like operating in the cold and they lose efficiency a lot faster than they do in warm temperatures.

Example:

You take off on a clear day when it's 25 degrees F ( 7 degrees below freezing ) and you climb up to 350 feet. The air temperature at altitude is colder than it is at ground level, so, really, the temperature where your Phantom is operating is about 23 degrees.
You check your battery's status five minutes into the flight and it says 91%.
You continue your flight for another 5 minutes and are shooting video.....

You check the battery status and see now that it says 67%.

5 minutes later, it could be 43%.


The point here is that battery efficiency drops a lot faster in colder temperatures than it does in the warm weather, so keep a good eye on how your battery is doing.

You don't want to be up over a tree line somewhere and a 7 minute flight from home and up 400 feet and then see that your battery status has dropped down to 22%.

That's a pretty tight flight back with little in reserve and your battery rapidly losing power in the cold air.
 
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One of the fundamental aspects overlooked by many and I did mention it in my 'pasted sheet' .... the Phantom has an ENCLOSED battery .... not external as many other models. This gives the Phantom owner an advantage in the cold weather.
The matter of flying in colder air as you ascend in fact is a relatively minor point and in my experience does not reduce flight times as some claim. I regularly fly in -5 ... even -10C temps and my flight times are in fact hardly different from summer time ... second that the batterys come out warm just as they do in summer.... just a few degrees different that's all.

How many people here who fly in winter cold do not have their battery come out warm after a flight ? I bet the answer is ZERO.

There is nothing wrong with playing safe ... hover for a minute ... only fly a shorter time. They are safe routines - but in reality are not needed. Once the screen shows warmed up and ready to fly ... she's fine to fly. Flight time - just watch the battery line on screen and play safe as you should whether winter or summer.

Nigel
 
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Agreed...Batteries do not like cold and consider you are concentrating the ambient temp. with your airspeed. I took my P4P up to get this rare Eastern North Carolina snow last January to 100', temp. was 8 degrees F. I only stayed up for 8 minutes, I'm sure I could have stayed longer...but why? Go home safe and stay warm works for me....Peace
 

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This video was taken on New Year's Day in the mountains of Colorado. It was 12 deg out. I went up to an altitude of 396'. It was my 3rd flight. I drifted behind(and above) some trees once, and had a panic attack, hit RTH and there it was.

 
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One other thing I would add to operating your Phantom in cold weather is to ALWAYS fly with fully charged flight batteries!
This is important in ALL temperature conditions not just in cold weather.
DJI actually mentions this in their manual.......they advise against using a partially charged battery.

Experience is always the best teacher.

A year ago, I was out flying in 'slightly above freezing temperature' and I was down to my last battery and there was a shot I wanted to get before sundown.
My final battery was partially discharged and when inserted in my P4P, it registered 60%.

I thought that would be fine.......the flight I had planned would take maybe 8 minutes.

I powered up and let it warm up for about 30 seconds and then went up over some trees to get a shot of a railway track going through some woods.
I got my Phantom into the exact position I wanted and had taken a few shots when the 'Low battery" warning indicator came on.
20%. (It had taken little time for the battery to go from 60 to 20%).
At this same time, my Phantom was set to go into RTH mode(which I have programmed it to do once the battery status reaches 20%) and I had to quickly over ride that, otherwise my Phantom would have climbed straight up and likely came into contact with some overhead telephone lines. :(

So.......

Lesson learned........and that is.........Don't fly in ANY temperatures with less than fully charged batteries.........for every flight.
 
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Ok ... I have a few sheets I pass on to new guys in our club / flight site ... nothing difficult but based on over 55yrs in this hobby.

Here's a cut and paste of the Cold Weather Sheet (Note my English is Queens English - not Bill Gates version !!)

Quote :

My Cold Weather routine.

Many people ask about flying in cold weather and is it possible. The fact is that we can fly in cold and hot weather but we must take care about physical parameters not only of the models, but also ourselves.

We need to consider how we as the pilot can stand out there and survive. Its no fun if you start getting cold and the model is out there with a long flight back. Therefore wrap up warm, sort out suitable gloves that can let you feel controller sticks and buttons. With Touch-screen tips as well for any phone / tablet. Don't forget a decent hat as well ... preferably with ear flaps but the flaps loose enough so hearing is not impaired.

OK - so you have sorted what to wear to stay warm yourself. Now to think about the model.

With RC general models - its simply about keeping LiPo's warm. But often you can actually take a LiPo and put it into a model and fly. It may be reduced power initially but battery often warms in first part and it improves a bit. Warming will often only give initial boost as most RC models - the batterys are cooled in flight.

With Multi-Rotors which have external or open mount batterys - same story really - battery is cooled in flight and will not deliver as on a summers day.

With Multi-Rotors such as the DJI Phantoms though we have a closed mount battery system. The FW is also such that cold drone or battery will prevent flight. Therefore it is necessary to provide warm battery and preferably warming of the drone itself.

My setup is to carry the drone outside its case in the warm car and have batterys similarly warmed or placed into a LiPo warming sack such as the Turnigy LiPo Warmer. This can be powered by any 3S battery or 12v source.

On arrival at flight location it is imperative that the drone and battery not be brought out into the cold until absolutely necessary.
I first prepare myself. Then power up controller and tablet with them ready to accept Drone signal and lock-on.
Once that's all ready then out with drone and battery from warm car ... power up drone ... get Green links and as quickly as possible start up and take-off.


Some people advise to hover for a minute or so to make battery warm. Personally I do not as the FW itself takes care of that. If the battery is not warm enough - it will not take off. I only hover for long enough to check how steady the drone is, as i do in every take-off - this tells me if anything untoward with it. Such as if it shows Toilet Bowl effect - then somethings wrong. But it only takes a few seconds and if all OK - its away on its flight.

With extreme cold - such as -5C or lower - I do reduce my flight times to be safe. My usual summer flights are about 18 mins, but in real cold - I will usually cut back to about 13 - 15mins just in case. I always keep a watchful eye on the power line to make sure battery is not draining abnormally fast or catch me out.

Overall - with planning and sensible approach, flights in extremer cold can produce incredible results. My wish when we finally get real winter where I am - is to film out in the country along a rarely used road... with all the trees white and heavy with glistening snow / ice in the sunlight. If I was to not fly because of the cold - I will never have that shot.

Good luck to all and plan carefully, fly safe.

Nigel

Unquote.

Lets mention another matter ... The AC itself when calibrated remembers various factors during that calibration. With IMU - it remembers the temperature while calibrating, this then means that if you calibrated in summer ... when you power up in winter - you will be waiting for the AC itself to warm up - wasting time and battery energy.
It is much better to have a cold AC and do IMU calibration in that cold - then winter / summer - you will have a faster start to your flights. I calibrated my IMU outside in -10C weather ... now I can go out there and literally have instant flight ... as long as my battery was warmed before putting in the AC.

As to how cold you can fly in ? I have flown in -15C but it was not the AC that failed ... it was me !! I had to land and go in to the warm.
Also - note that your screen touch capability reduces dramatically in the cold. Unlike your phone which spends much of its time in your warm pocket and screen works fine - the screen you use with your DJI is sitting out there in the cold ... so i strongly advise to learn the controller buttons !!

Nigel
Hi I had very long waiting times on my summer holiday, down the south west of England it was the first time this imu warming up problem had appered it was a hot summer for England but still wasted a lot of battery I am hoping doing a calibration in the litchi app out in the cold may solve the problem but with all the traveling around a lot may not work.
 
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Hi I had very long waiting times on my summer holiday, down the south west of England it was the first time this imu warming up problem had appered it was a hot summer for England but still wasted a lot of battery I am hoping doing a calibration in the litchi app out in the cold may solve the problem but with all the traveling around a lot may not work.
Calibrating IMU in the cold is well worth the effort. Once done - you will no longer be standing there freezing your proverbial s waiting for it to warm up !

Nigel
 
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Calibrating IMU in the cold is well worth the effort. Once done - you will no longer be standing there freezing your proverbial s waiting for it to warm up !

Nigel
Hi i only have litchi installed can the imu be calibrated in this app i will be looking for a way to do this. It is a great time waster most times like to be out the bag and up in less then ten minutes down the south west cornwall England it seems for some reason they seem very anti quad i spotted signs all over the place and for some strang reason the national trust have banned quads /drones so you have to have your eyes open far from a car park or just off there land and just fly to to monumet or sea cliffs of course they only have two or 3 people to take your money so by the time you are up do a fly over and back not much chance of any one even spotting you of course i had no idea they was banned but the car atendent had a word and i had done my flight any way so i packed up said i was very sorry and i will not be renewing my membership. thanks for your advice. my best daz
 
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After a cold flight I put the drone in a cool place in my backroom giving it a few hours to get warmed up slowly to prevent condensation .
 
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I flew in some 10 degree farenheit weather last week. Batteries fully charged. no issues, other than when my battery hit 50% it went to 30;% faster than 'normal'. ALWAYS fly with a fully charged battery starting out!! Other than that, no issues at all...drone was warm in the car...so little warm up time. Fingers got cold before drone got cold...lol
 
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"....other than when my battery hit 50% it went to 30% faster than 'normal'."

That's just the point........the flight batteries in your Phantom lose their efficiency quicker in cold weather than they do in normal, warmer weather.
Some out there do believe there is little difference between summer and winter flight operations;however, I have never found that to be the case.
My flight batteries are not as efficient in cold weather as they are in the warmer weather.
I fully agree with others who have consistently found their flight batteries discharge faster in cold temperatures than warm temperatures.
And it doesn't matter much how warm you keep your flight battery beforehand.........if it is operating in minus 15 Celcius, it will lose efficiency faster.

This problem is compounded if you decide to fly with a flight battery that is partially discharged to begin with.

Bottom Line:

If you decide to go flying in the colder weather.........ALWAYS lift off with a fully charged battery..AND keep a sharp eye on your battery's status throughout your flight.

Safe flying.............
 

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