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High Altitude Mods

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Odiedog, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. Odiedog

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    I was hoping to get some ideas on useful modifications to a stock Phantom for flying at high altitude (and in the cold) I have been flying my Phantom with a GoPro Hero2 since June at altitudes around 6,000 feet (western slope Colorado) I did some shooting for a video last week at 11,000 feet in temperatures in the single digits. I expected shorter flight times but not 2 -3 minutes per battery. I pulled the gimbal and FPV equipment off and changed to a Hero 3+ to make it as light as possible.

    I kept the batteries warm until flight time. It might just be too much work in that air density but wondered if carbon props would help or other modification would be useful. Different size prop?

    Maybe it's just more than it can reasonably handle. A hexcopter is in the plans but I might have the same issues of weight/time ratio.

    Despite the limitations, some of the shots were amazing. I'll try to post when I get the raw footage back from the guy creating the videos.

    Thanks
     
  2. kenskid

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    LOL...Sorry I can't help you with any mods but I almost choked on my chicken noodle soup when I saw 6000 feet! I thought that was at a sea level start!


     
  3. Gizmo3000

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    With the thinner air, you should def consider larger props that push more air.
    I'd try 9" x 5 (or maybe even try the new Vision props), and maybe even give tri-blades a try. CF wouldn't be necessary.
     
  4. WReimer

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    agreed. stiffer props aren't what you need; bigger ones are. You've got the worst of all conditions there; thin air (at least thin for an aircraft this sized), and cold air.

    To maximize your power density in your batteries, they need to be kept as warm as possible for as long as possible. I fly in very cold temps a lot of the winter, and my batts stay on the charger until the last minute. Then they go in an insulated lunch bag with a couple of hand warmers pre-heated tossed in with them. Then, keep them either in a warm vehicle, or worst case keep the bag with the batteries in it, inside your coat. Add some more prop, and you should regain a couple minutes of battery at least
     
  5. Peter Patricelli

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    You mention changes to lighten the load but make no mention of what exactly your ALL UP weight IS. Changing to a GPH3B + WILL NOT be any lighter than a standard GPH3B UNLESS you were flying with the GP H3 protective case on. in the "+" model the weight reduction was ONLY in the "+" protective case. the cameras themselves weight the same. And....if you WERE flying with the protective case on.....which adds 100 gms to the weight of the bird....then I wonder what other mods were made with no regard to overall weight. In high altitude thin air the time reductions for every gm of weight carried are likely to be magnified and further quickly drain your cold-challenged batteries. And, if you do have a full-up heavy bird, I am surprised you hadn't see or researched the many threads on this site about heavy birds and larger/better propping.

    Good luck.
     
  6. hjscm

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    should be able to fly longer. i start at 7,200ASL and have gone to about 10,800 ASL with stock props and go pro 3black and get about 4 minutes. colder is better i think, summer time i only got about 3 minutes. usually when it gets hotter the air is thinner even for big helis in summer months if it is too hot it will ground our search and rescue crafts. i do have CF props on but just so i could balance them better, don't think it makes a difference. on another note, my discover had a hard time on 8" props and 3s. i changed to 42 and 9" props and it would fly great so bigger would be better for the props.
     
  7. Odiedog

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    Thanks for the thought and ideas. That will give me some things to look at. I did do a search but didn't think of the correct terms to search by.

    Here is the video that I donated my footage to. https://vimeo.com/81898143

    One thing I considered was stuffing a small handwarmer inside the battery compartment but I figured the additional weight would negate the effect of a warm battery. The denser cold air must be helping but not as much as the elevation effect. Good to see others are flying in these extreme conditions. I use my mine in the summer to investigate smoke reports and support searches but the temps are usually below 90 degrees.

    Thanks again.
     
  8. Yeager

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    To improve your Phantom's battery life, you could fit a helium balloon big enough to loft your Phantom to 6000/11000 feet (Heck why stop there?) to give yourself enough juice to get back ... LOL!. You can trigger a cutter remotely to sever the balloon once up to your desired altitude and then spool up and fly around. Add a parachute too just in case. :) Seriously though, for safety and legal reasons, I would avoid flying BVR and obey the flight rules for remote controlled aircraft in your area. Sounds like you are standing at those altitudes and flying though so you probably aren't flying BVR from 0 to 6/11000 feet. :)
     
  9. TheMattSanner

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    Can't help you, but the video was awesome. Love the shot flying through the trees, and over the people on the overlook deck!

    Well done.

    Did you shoot the rest, too? What did you shoot it with?
     
  10. Vinacol

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    I have a P3Advanced and fly over 6000ft often. I live in northern California. I have the DJI carbon blades and noticed an increase in velocity and climb as well as better stability. The Phantom is designed to fly up to 18000 feet before it can't generate lift. I'm no expert but I've flown in the winter at temp of about 15F on the ground (3000 above sea level) and had the drone max at 1640ft trying to top an adjacent mountain. Also flew over a 4600ft mountain in similar weather. I got a battery output warning after a few minutes in flight. The battery got too cold. My guess is the altitude is not the main problem. I wonder if there is a chart on output vs temp out there for the batteries...My friend put his phantom in the freezer to reset the sensors because he kept getting a forced warmup period before takeoff even at 100 deg F ambient temp. Something to think about... Does the drone try to warmup before takeoff? There are several vents on the body of the drone that could be taped shut. It may buy you more battery time. Mt Shasta is close by and I can do some higher altitute tests there. I can drive up to 8000ft and try flying from there. that would put me at 9600 ft.max altitute. Ill see how long I can fly. 2-3Min battery sounds pretty bad. The wind takes some juice out of my batteries but nothing like that...
     
  11. Meta4

    Meta4 Moderator
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    6-11000 ft shouldn't be a serious issue for the Phantom - but cold is a big issue for batteries.
    Don't expect any difference from carbon props - prop flexing isn't what's causing the issue.
    P3 and P4 series can fly at up to 18000 feet without the need for different props.
    You don't say whether you were using a P1 or P2 and the battery technology has advanced beyond what it was back when those models were current.
     
  12. blackcrusader

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    I fly at 11000 feet in cold weather with temps around -10c at height and maybe 0c at launch. This flight at sunrise facing the mountains that peak over 14000 feet.

    I get my normal 20 mins flying time, however in the video I posted, I was hovering in a strong wind so got critical battery warning at 35%. Brought my drone home from max height and about 2500 feet distance at over 50mph with a tail wind and got back with 26% and green power levels. I do not understand what you may only get a few minutes.

     
  13. blackcrusader

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    I took this photos with my P3S at over 10,000 feet altitude in the mountains where I live.


    DJI_0014.JPG DJI_0020.JPG
     
    #13 blackcrusader, Jul 17, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
    lookin4pain likes this.
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