NEVER, NEVER, NEVER again over water!!! UPDATE!!!

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Hey Guys,
First post here in a looooooong time. That's because I haven't flown in a long time. But today was an unusually warm day for the end of December, so I decided to charge everything up and go for it. It had been so long in fact, that it took four attempts to get the flight battery hooked up correctly to the charger without errors. I forgot totally to plug in the balance leads and couldn't figure out why it kept going into alarm. Anyway, I got a good charge on my 4S Multistar 8000 and decided it was time to try to remember the launch sequence for the DJI F550. Everything went great, including firing up the FPV, so it was up, up, and away. I flew for what seemed like a really long time and the voltage telemetry still showed 14.8V. So I flew back to the rear of the house, walking behind it, where the pond is located. The pond is only about a half acre, so once I flew up and down once, I was almost done, when I decided to go to the other end, right over the middle of the pond and hover. I hadn't checked my voltage since being out in the field where it was 14.8V, so I figured I still had plenty, no need to check: WRONG. As I rotated the nose of the craft facing me, I was about to push the stick forward and it started to descend very slowly. I started screaming NO NO NO NO, over and over, but that didn't help. So I went immediately into panic mode, as many of us do, and just stood there watching it get closer to the water. When I realized it was going to get wet, I started moving all the sticks like crazy, but no effect at all on the craft. I looked down at the Black Pearl monitor and the screen was dark, even though I had just charged the monitor battery. Now I was totally confused and kept pushing the stick up for more altitude. It lifted maybe an inch or two then submerged. I got rid of my wallet and shirt and plunged into the water. Now I know why people drown from hypothermia so quickly. The water was about chest deep, but my feet were so cold and hurting from the cold water, I could hardly walk. It had been in the thirties and forties for weeks before this warm spell, so that water was cold. I finally found the place where I thought it went down, but it wasn't there. I tried a few others, ...no luck. Then my foot hit something and I reached down and felt one of the six arms. I pulled it out of the water and four of the six props were STILL SPINNING! My hands were too slippery to disconnect the main battery cable so I used my teeth. Lucky for me, the two props that had been jammed by debris were on the arms I was grabbing. If I had reached for the other arms, I would have been sliced up nicely. I waded back through the cold water and could feel nothing but pain in my feet. I was getting pretty scared by now.

After seeing that a hair dryer was doing absolutely nothing to get rid of the water in the motors, I decided to use compressed air, which worked great. Everything "looks" dry now, after a thorough blowing out, but I'm not going to apply power for at least three more days and let it stay in the warm house until then. Direct sun is not an option, as we are slated for five consecutive days of rain. The only thing I can come up with is that the voltage in the battery dropped off very quickly, and that's why the craft could not maintain altitude and descended very slowly. I learned two lessons today. 1) I ain't EVER flying over water again!!! and 2) I'm going to watch that voltage reading on the screen like a freaking hawk! Even if she won't start up again, I have a total loss replacement policy with State Farm, so I'll be able to build another one from scratch.

I thought I would post this, hoping someone could learn from my mistake, and come out better than I did. Mods, if you think this needs to be moved, have at it. I just thought it might get more exposure here than in another forum. Oh, I learned one other thing, ...don't go swimming at the end of December!!! Y'all have fun now, ya hear? :cool:
 
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I have a S500 and two Phantom 2 - I can relate to watching my drone doing something and feeling helpless. Haven't tried flying over water and think I will refrain after reading your post. Thank you for sharing - your post is a good read - no matter what kind of drone you have.
 
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Hey Guys,
First post here in a looooooong time. That's because I haven't flown in a long time. But today was an unusually warm day for the end of December, so I decided to charge everything up and go for it. It had been so long in fact, that it took four attempts to get the flight battery hooked up correctly to the charger without errors. I forgot totally to plug in the balance leads and couldn't figure out why it kept going into alarm. Anyway, I got a good charge on my 4S Multistar 8000 and decided it was time to try to remember the launch sequence for the DJI F550. Everything went great, including firing up the FPV, so it was up, up, and away. I flew for what seemed like a really long time and the voltage telemetry still showed 14.8V. So I flew back to the rear of the house, walking behind it, where the pond is located. The pond is only about a half acre, so once I flew up and down once, I was almost done, when I decided to go to the other end, right over the middle of the pond and hover. I hadn't checked my voltage since being out in the field where it was 14.8V, so I figured I still had plenty, no need to check: WRONG. As I rotated the nose of the craft facing me, I was about to push the stick forward and it started to descend very slowly. I started screaming NO NO NO NO, over and over, but that didn't help. So I went immediately into panic mode, as many of us do, and just stood there watching it get closer to the water. When I realized it was going to get wet, I started moving all the sticks like crazy, but no effect at all on the craft. I looked down at the Black Pearl monitor and the screen was dark, even though I had just charged the monitor battery. Now I was totally confused and kept pushing the stick up for more altitude. It lifted maybe an inch or two then submerged. I got rid of my wallet and shirt and plunged into the water. Now I know why people drown from hypothermia so quickly. The water was about chest deep, but my feet were so cold and hurting from the cold water, I could hardly walk. It had been in the thirties and forties for weeks before this warm spell, so that water was cold. I finally found the place where I thought it went down, but it wasn't there. I tried a few others, ...no luck. Then my foot hit something and I reached down and felt one of the six arms. I pulled it out of the water and four of the six props were STILL SPINNING! My hands were too slippery to disconnect the main battery cable so I used my teeth. Lucky for me, the two props that had been jammed by debris were on the arms I was grabbing. If I had reached for the other arms, I would have been sliced up nicely. I waded back through the cold water and could feel nothing but pain in my feet. I was getting pretty scared by now.

After seeing that a hair dryer was doing absolutely nothing to get rid of the water in the motors, I decided to use compressed air, which worked great. Everything "looks" dry now, after a thorough blowing out, but I'm not going to apply power for at least three more days and let it stay in the warm house until then. Direct sun is not an option, as we are slated for five consecutive days of rain. The only thing I can come up with is that the voltage in the battery dropped off very quickly, and that's why the craft could not maintain altitude and descended very slowly. I learned two lessons today. 1) I ain't EVER flying over water again!!! and 2) I'm going to watch that voltage reading on the screen like a freaking hawk! Even if she won't start up again, I have a total loss replacement policy with State Farm, so I'll be able to build another one from scratch.

I thought I would post this, hoping someone could learn from my mistake, and come out better than I did. Mods, if you think this needs to be moved, have at it. I just thought it might get more exposure here than in another forum. Oh, I learned one other thing, ...don't go swimming at the end of December!!! Y'all have fun now, ya hear? :cool:
Wow that really sucks. That feeling of knowing you're helpless is terrible. Also cold water is deadly. I'm glad you managed to get out of there without harm.

Having said that, I do love flying over water and do it probably more than anything else. Great scenery, nice cool breeze, and the ability to fly without worrying about cars and people down below. I do always fly with good batteries, fully charged, and monitor them closely! It could have been worse than a pond though. I'm usually flying over the ocean or fast moving rivers, so if it goes down there's no way I'm getting it back.
 
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Hey Y'all, thanks for your replies. It's good to see this helped someone and that someone else could relate to the helpless feeling that comes at panic time.
 
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Good on you for disconnecting the battery asap. Remember to throw it away, no matter how good it seams. It could still surge and fry your drone.
 
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Well definitely off topic but I need an easy to use video promo software I can own. Everyone is offering sas but i want to create with my drone clips but still want to use a template, anyone help??????
 
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Hey Fox, thanks for the advice on the battery. I couldn't wait to fire up the drone after 3+ days of drying out. So I turned on the transmitter, then the Black Pearl and got snow, as expected. Then connected the fully charged battery to the drone. I got my init flashes from the LED, then got the 3 reds as it was searching for sats (BTW, I"m indoors during this test). Next I checked the monitor and had a perfect HD image from the camera, so the cam and video transmitter were working great. Next I just HAD to try to start the motors, so I did the stick command and every motor started at the same time and all six spun evenly and smoothly. I immediately disconnected the battery and was totally surprised that not one function (so far) was impaired by the drowning.

So Fox, I really can't see paying another $70 for a new Multistar 8000 on a slow boat from China. What are the implications of using this one and how does it surge??? Thanks in advance...
 
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Hey Fox, thanks for the advice on the battery. I couldn't wait to fire up the drone after 3+ days of drying out. So I turned on the transmitter, then the Black Pearl and got snow, as expected. Then connected the fully charged battery to the drone. I got my init flashes from the LED, then got the 3 reds as it was searching for sats (BTW, I"m indoors during this test). Next I checked the monitor and had a perfect HD image from the camera, so the cam and video transmitter were working great. Next I just HAD to try to start the motors, so I did the stick command and every motor started at the same time and all six spun evenly and smoothly. I immediately disconnected the battery and was totally surprised that not one function (so far) was impaired by the drowning.

So Fox, I really can't see paying another $70 for a new Multistar 8000 on a slow boat from China. What are the implications of using this one and how does it surge??? Thanks in advance...
Glad to hear this news! I'm sure that's quite the relief.
 
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Sorry to hear about your experience, especially the helplessness. I've felt that as well. Also, glad to hear that you recovered the craft and that it may fly again -- many aren't so lucky.

However, and this is mostly for other readers that become alarmed at the title of this thread, there's nothing wrong with flying over water. In fact, it's often safer than flying over land. I suggest that perhaps a more accurate title would be "When you're flying an old craft / batteries, pay closer attention to the voltages until you are more confident".

Because water below the craft had nothing to do with the failure. I wonder how old the batteries are and how they were stored when not in use.

Note to readers: if you fly a craft with an iffy battery, it will not usually slowly drift to earth as it did for rebekyellNC. It more typically just stops flying and falls rapidly to the ground. So solid earth is not any better for the craft than a body of water. It might be easier to recover over ground without hypothermia, but it is more likely to be in pieces too. (This may depend on the model type -- I'm not familiar with the F550 as much as I am with Phantoms.)

As an aside: I lost a friend 2 months ago to hypothermia. He was winterizing his boat when a dingy got lose. He made the mistake of trying to swim to it to retrieve it. This was a tragic and avoidable loss of life — I hope most of the readers here will realize the dollar value of your lost craft isn't equal to the snuffing out of your existence, or the pain and sadness for the people who grieve for your passing.

Chris
 
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@Chris, sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. You sum it up well about the dollar value of lost (replaceable) object to life.

I have experienced cold water and being "trapped" in fierce surf. Even with a 20mm neoprene wrap and full scuba kit, it was a lesson on the chances of survival of anyone falling into rough or cold water.

"The pond is only about a half acre, so...."
@rebelyellNC
Aaaah! You mean a £*^% big puddle. We get them all the time here in Scottishland. ;)
You must not be using the correct phraseology of screams.
I have a vast library of effective sweary words such as (Mod Removed..) or .. (Mod Removed..) and the all time fail me not of Scottishland favourites ..(Mod ABSOLUTELY @%*§*€ing NOT Removed..):eek:
:p;)

Tutorial Swearyword Lessons Available ... for a reasonable price of course.
 
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Not sure why you had a problem, I wasn't there and won't comment on what you were seeing. I fly a Phantom 4 over the ocean on a regular basis as part of my departments Ocean Rescue / Swimmer in distress support. At times I am no more than 10 to 15 off the water more than 1500' out. Never had a problem. Not say it won't ever happen, but it is nothing I am overly worried about.

Part of understanding and flying your drone is what to do in emergency and unusual operations situations. Each bird is different and I suggest you review the manufacturers information and test the lost link and Autoland features (and how to cancel them) on a regular basis.
 
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Liking the story too, particularly the realisation that shouting at the phantom made no difference.
Much like yelling at your golf ball when it's going where you don't intend it to go.
 
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Sorry to hear about your experience, especially the helplessness. I've felt that as well. Also, glad to hear that you recovered the craft and that it may fly again -- many aren't so lucky.

However, and this is mostly for other readers that become alarmed at the title of this thread, there's nothing wrong with flying over water. In fact, it's often safer than flying over land. I suggest that perhaps a more accurate title would be "When you're flying an old craft / batteries, pay closer attention to the voltages until you are more confident"
Chris
Totally agree! this has noting to do with the water. The only problem was how to retrieve the drone in the cold water. As the drone recovered completely it was even better that it fell into water as fall on the ground would made much more damage.
Usually the best pictures and video are over or around the water so it would be a pity not to fly over. And flying over the water usually get you more space without obstacles and the level of surface is always completely flat (LOL) - not any ascending or descending ground level. The only thing you must checked before flight are the wires over the water. And it is more likely that you'll not eventually fly over the people which you sometimes can't see on the ground.
If the drone eventually falls down it could happen that you can't retrieve it particularly in the salt water. But that's life, isn't it?
I congratulate you for your brave rescue in the cold pond and because of survival of the drone. Happy ending and a lot of experience.
 
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As an electronics guy with decades of experience:
a - rice will never work.
b - the best way to treat a water dousing is with Isopropyl alcohol.
IA will absorb many times its volume in water.
Get a few bottles of the stuff and drench your electronics and such in it. Let soak. Agitate. Soak. Drain. Repeat as many times as you think necessary.
You can dry with a hairdryer since alcohol evaporates readily.
 
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As an electronics guy with decades of experience:
a - rice will never work.
b - the best way to treat a water dousing is with Isopropyl alcohol.
IA will absorb many times its volume in water.
Get a few bottles of the stuff and drench your electronics and such in it. Let soak. Agitate. Soak. Drain. Repeat as many times as you think necessary.
You can dry with a hairdryer since alcohol evaporates readily.
I agree 100%
 
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I have a S500 and two Phantom 2 - I can relate to watching my drone doing something and feeling Xender Discord Omegle helpless. Haven't tried flying over water and think I will refrain after reading your post. Thank you for sharing - your post is a good read - no matter what kind of drone you have.
Much thanks to you.

This is abundantly valued and I will forward to anybody considering or as of late bought an automaton
 
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Hey Guys,
Thanks for all the encouragement and good wishes, along with some sound advice. I did a test flight and even though the battery was a full 16.8v, it went to 14.2 or so almost immediately. So it will take a charge, but won't hold it. With that in mind, I had no choice but to pull the trigger on a new one. Tracking info says it arrives today. YEEHAW! Now if I can only be patient enough to wait for the 25 to 30 mph wind to die off. :p
 
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I plan on flying my Spark over water when spawning season gets here for bream. Probably in May. There are generally close to the bank and you can see them good from the air. I figured I would locate them with the drone. I could take off and land from the boat. I could pull up to the bank and fly from there. Wonder how high I should keep the Spark while flying. Any suggestions.
 

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