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Winter flying - Is it as risky as I am being told it is?
880 35 2017-12-8
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Walk The Dog
lvl.2
Flight distance : 111955 ft
Canada
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I did a quick search but didn't really turn much up.

Who fly's their birds during the winter months? Im from Canada where most of the winter months dip down below 0 (32F) and stay there.  

I've read the posts here: https://forum.dji.com/thread-121989-1-1.html

I've watched some spectacular footage filmed during the winter months and would like to capture some of my own.

I can keep batteries warm, possibly purchase a battery heater and am aware of the side effects that can come with a cold battery.  Is there anything else that I should take into consideration?  (Keeping the bird dry is an obvious one, lol)

I doubt I would be flying any colder that -10C, but wonder if the risks are as great as I have been communicated locally.  Some of the best winter drones scenes I have seen must have been filmed at -15 or more on a calm sunny day.

Thanks for any feedback, I'm sorry if this is beaten on every year and I just couldn't find any information here

Cheers!
2017-12-8
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dayviduk
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United Kingdom
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As far as im aware as you are ,its the batteries being warm , sorry i cant give you any better advice
2017-12-8
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PaulSouthport
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United Kingdom
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I have flown in many winters with various machines, the last 2 with Phantoms.
Keeping batteries warm before flight is important. I keep the one I intend to use next in my inside coat pocket. On take off, hover nearby, check the status for battery temp - above 15C and all good. The battery will warm itself during flight.
If the humidity is high then be aware of icing on the props.
Avoid doing any hard power punches if possible, you may get battery warnings as the voltage sags.
Check the lens for condensation - can happen when taken from a warm environment to cold.
Wear thin, conductive gloves - cold fingers are unpleasant and can be hard to control.
Your mobile device may struggle - iPhones can shut off mid flight as the battery over cools. iPads are more resilient and I leave mine in it's case for a little extra protection.
Don't test your range - if batteries start to sag you want to be able to bring it back.

The coldest I've flown a Phantom was -5C, it's can be pretty uncomfortable but the shots can be spectacular.
2017-12-8
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VE7ABR
Second Officer
Flight distance : 317651 ft
Canada
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Keep your device tablet warm as well as the batteries,I have flown at -28c but don’t recommend it as your fingers wil freeze. I am in northern BC
2017-12-8
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Dockater
First Officer
Flight distance : 139649 ft
Germany
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I use a battery warmer bag that runs off a car electrical socket, controller and ipad in a warm place in the car, the ac can be a little colder, as mentioned condensation is a factor. Do the set up and checks you can do before you leave, then battery in, final checks and go. The governing rule is now BE CONSERVATIVE, cut everything in half, don’t go as far and for as long as you would in warmer conditions. Watch the wind for the return flight. You might consider two flights rather than one. I had my closest escape after a 15 minutes flight with the battery at 15%; start was at 100%.

Check out the diagram, -10 C (14 F in US) will give you less than one third of the normal capacity.

If you freeze it’s your own fault.
2017-12-8
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Mark The Droner
Captain
Flight distance : 2917 ft
United States
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I fly all year round.  My coldest flight is 22F which is -6 C.  I warm the battery and the AC before flight.
2017-12-8
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OP
lvl.1
Iceland
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I've done a few sub zero flights here in Iceland without any problems (apart from cold fingers) the coldest was -13C and everything was fine. I keep the spare batteries warm in the car so they don't need warming up in the drone.
2017-12-8
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M.C. Pilot
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OP Posted at 2017-12-8 15:35
I've done a few sub zero flights here in Iceland without any problems (apart from cold fingers) the coldest was -13C and everything was fine. I keep the spare batteries warm in the car so they don't need warming up in the drone.

Wow, this is by far an excellent example of how the MP can manage flying in really cold temps.
2017-12-8
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Lucas775
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Probably the battery life would suffer a bit due to the cold temps.
2017-12-8
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Dirty Bird
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Not super cold but it was 26° F when my P3S ventured out on this 40,813' journey.  She completed the mission with 15% battery remaining.


2017-12-8
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fans417abfbd
Second Officer
Flight distance : 434593 ft
Thailand
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As the guys have said above. Also most carry cases have foam inside. I usually put mine somewhere nice and warm for a few hours, this way it holds the temperature for a good long while when you go out and you can supplement that with heat packs.
2017-12-8
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Walk The Dog
lvl.2
Flight distance : 111955 ft
Canada
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Great information, thanks very much

In summary what I am hearing...

1) Keep the batteries warm
2) Reduced flight time should be anticipated
3)Be mindful of the relative humidity
4)Try to keep the mobile device warm as they can shutdown
5)Be careful with range, the battery can drop off quickly in the cold.
6)Avoid hitting the throttle, as the battery may not handle the call for voltage as well.
7)Find gloves that are conductive, touch screen capable.
8)Insulated cases help keep the ac up at operating temp before take off.
9)Be mindfully of the prevailing wind.  

There is some great advice in these reply’s and I appreciate the input.  

What else should be taken into consideration?
2017-12-9
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Walk The Dog
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Canada
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Dirty Bird Posted at 2017-12-8 20:18
Not super cold but it was 26° F when my P3S ventured out on this 40,813' journey.  She completed the mission with 15% battery remaining.

https://youtu.be/K-Ct5V2YK1M

Wow, that’s a great looking flight DB.
2017-12-9
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Walk The Dog
lvl.2
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Dockater Posted at 2017-12-8 14:04
I use a battery warmer bag that runs off a car electrical socket, controller and ipad in a warm place in the car, the ac can be a little colder, as mentioned condensation is a factor. Do the set up and checks you can do before you leave, then battery in, final checks and go. The governing rule is now BE CONSERVATIVE, cut everything in half, don’t go as far and for as long as you would in warmer conditions. Watch the wind for the return flight. You might consider two flights rather than one. I had my closest escape after a 15 minutes flight with the battery at 15%; start was at 100%.

Check out the diagram, -10 C (14 F in US) will give you less than one third of the normal capacity.

Thanks Kindly for the graph, it really shows how the battery deteriorates over the different  temps.

I am assuming that it would need to be quite cold out for the battery to actually drive down below the freezing point.  The bird’s battery will typically get warmer over the duration of the flight vs colder, yeah?
2017-12-9
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hallmark007
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Few tips might help...

Ensure batteries are fully charged: Some drone batteries include technology that automatically discharges battery power after a certain period of inactivity. This maintenance feature helps extend the battery life, but if you haven’t flown for a few weeks it can be easy to forget that your batteries may no longer be at the levels you expect. Before you head out the door, take a minute to verify that your batteries are fully charged.


Minimize heavy control inputs: Flying at high speeds or at full throttle requires a heavy current from the battery and can cause a sudden voltage drop. Avoiding full throttle, especially during the first few minutes of your flight, and minimizing heavy control inputs will help extend the flight time.

Avoid draining the battery: Under normal weather conditions, maxing out the flight time and flying to a low battery level is common. But when you’re flying in cold weather, completely draining the battery can be risky. Fly until the battery drops to 30-40 percent capacity, and then bring the drone back down. Pack a few spare batteries if you know you’ll need a lot of time in the air.
Bring a portable charger for your mobile device: Many popular drones stream live video to a mobile device on the controller. Remember that the battery in this device will also be impacted by cold weather. You may want to purchase a small portable charger to power up your mobile device if needed.

Steer clear of precipitation

Most drones aren’t waterproof and precipitation of any kind can damage the camera and gimbal, short out a motor, or cause other malfunctions to the drone or controller. If your drone does get caught in the rain or snow, land it as soon as possible. Make sure to dry off the props and body of the drone. In particularly cold weather.



2017-12-9
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Walk The Dog
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Canada
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hallmark007 Posted at 2017-12-9 07:30
Few tips might help...

Ensure batteries are fully charged: Some drone batteries include technology that automatically discharges battery power after a certain period of inactivity. This maintenance feature helps extend the battery life, but if you haven’t flown for a few weeks it can be easy to forget that your batteries may no longer be at the levels you expect. Before you head out the door, take a minute to verify that your batteries are fully charged.

Another great reply, thanks for the video.   Lots of great information in there.

It’s a shame old posts can’t be edited, I’d love to add more to the list.
2017-12-9
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hallmark007
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Walk The Dog Posted at 2017-12-9 09:08
Another great reply, thanks for the video.   Lots of great information in there.

It’s a shame old posts can’t be edited, I’d love to add more to the list.

Just copy and paste to word or notes and add what you think it all helps.
2017-12-9
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solentlife
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Latvia
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I use the Turnigy warming bag that connects to any 11 - 14V source ....

https://hobbyking.com/en_us/turn ... mer-bag-12v-dc.html



I fly in weather that often drops to -10C or so ...

The biggest headache actually apart from ME personally getting cold - is the touch screens don't like the cold and often fail to work properly. Unlike a phone - its not in the pocket staying relatively warm. I've tried 'special gloves' with all different types of tips - one style does not work all screens !!  Still problems.

So make sure you know how to command with the buttons / toggle switches of the controller !!

Nigel  
2017-12-9
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Montfrooij
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Dirty Bird Posted at 2017-12-8 20:18
Not super cold but it was 26° F when my P3S ventured out on this 40,813' journey.  She completed the mission with 15% battery remaining.

https://youtu.be/K-Ct5V2YK1M

Nice one!
2017-12-9
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Mark The Droner
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United States
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Great recommendations - the only one I'm not crazy about is the gloves.  I like to be able to "feel" the sticks with my fingers.  If I was going to wear gloves, I'd use the ones with the finger tips cut off.  But the truth is, I don't use gloves at all.  I wear a hoodie and tough it out.  Lots of layers with the hood up.  The excessive heat from your body goes to your hands and fingers.  Most of my flights are straight out and in and I have a mod so that my right stick stays full out.  So I can just stand there with my controller on the tripod or table and put my hands in the front pocket of my hoodie to keep them warm while I watch the FPV.  This system works very nicely for me.   
2017-12-9
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hdlou94
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Dirty Bird Posted at 2017-12-8 20:18
Not super cold but it was 26° F when my P3S ventured out on this 40,813' journey.  She completed the mission with 15% battery remaining.

https://youtu.be/K-Ct5V2YK1M

I friggin love the end of this!!!
2017-12-9
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hdlou94
First Officer
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United States
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hallmark007 Posted at 2017-12-9 07:30
Few tips might help...

Ensure batteries are fully charged: Some drone batteries include technology that automatically discharges battery power after a certain period of inactivity. This maintenance feature helps extend the battery life, but if you haven’t flown for a few weeks it can be easy to forget that your batteries may no longer be at the levels you expect. Before you head out the door, take a minute to verify that your batteries are fully charged.

great video thank you for sharing
2017-12-9
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Joe D.
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PaulSouthport Posted at 2017-12-8 12:23
I have flown in many winters with various machines, the last 2 with Phantoms.
Keeping batteries warm before flight is important. I keep the one I intend to use next in my inside coat pocket. On take off, hover nearby, check the status for battery temp - above 15C and all good. The battery will warm itself during flight.
If the humidity is high then be aware of icing on the props.

Good POST. I have often wondered the same.
2017-12-9
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Joe D.
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Dirty Bird Posted at 2017-12-8 20:18
Not super cold but it was 26° F when my P3S ventured out on this 40,813' journey.  She completed the mission with 15% battery remaining.

https://youtu.be/K-Ct5V2YK1M

Great video. You said 40,000'+, I assume that was round trip? So, over 3 miles away from the RC? That's impressive
2017-12-9
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Dirty Bird
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Walk The Dog Posted at 2017-12-9 06:36
Wow, that’s a great looking flight DB.

Thanks buddy.  Did that one a while back hoping to catch the sun rise.
2017-12-9
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Dirty Bird
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Mark The Droner Posted at 2017-12-9 13:49
Great recommendations - the only one I'm not crazy about is the gloves.  I like to be able to "feel" the sticks with my fingers.  If I was going to wear gloves, I'd use the ones with the finger tips cut off.  But the truth is, I don't use gloves at all.  I wear a hoodie and tough it out.  Lots of layers with the hood up.  The excessive heat from your body goes to your hands and fingers.  Most of my flights are straight out and in and I have a mod so that my right stick stays full out.  So I can just stand there with my controller on the tripod or table and put my hands in the front pocket of my hoodie to keep them warm while I watch the FPV.  This system works very nicely for me.

When the weather is rough I fly from in my truck.  Just face the vehicle in your flight direction, hook the controller on the wheel by its kickstand, & let her rip.  Hot or cold it's a great way to fly & it seems to have no effect on RC range.  Plus you have a built-in cup holder!  
2017-12-9
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Dirty Bird
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hdlou94 Posted at 2017-12-9 13:57
I friggin love the end of this!!!

Lol the credits?  I like have a bit of fun with my amateur movie attempts.  
2017-12-9
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Dirty Bird
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Joe D. Posted at 2017-12-9 17:37
Great video. You said 40,000'+, I assume that was round trip? So, over 3 miles away from the RC? That's impressive

Correct round trip was 40,813' (7.73 miles).  The battery was down to 15% on return due to the cold temps.
2017-12-9
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hdlou94
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Dirty Bird Posted at 2017-12-9 20:07
Lol the credits?  I like have a bit of fun with my amateur movie attempts.

yes the credits, very creative,,
2017-12-10
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Walk The Dog
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I got out and put my nerves to rest, there didn't seem to be any issues that arose from flying at -9 then -13 below freezing (Celcius)

On the 2.5km leg "Pearl" came home at 70 something % which was an ideal outcome.  

Thanks for all of the great feedback that I recicved, greatly appreciated.






2017-12-16
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DJI Elektra
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China
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Walk The Dog Posted at 2017-12-16 19:05
I got out and put my nerves to rest, there didn't seem to be any issues that arose from flying at -9 then -13 below freezing (Celcius)

On the 2.5km leg "Pearl" came home at 70 something % which was an ideal outcome.  

Hi, sir. Please note that the battery capacity will decrease significantly when the Intelligent Flight Battery is used at low temperatures, especially below 10 degree Celsius. I would recommend you warm up the battery to 20 degrees Celsius before flight for better flight performance.
2017-12-17
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blackcrusader
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This sunrise flight was done at -10c in winter at around 3200m altitude.  Yup it gets cold up there

I was doing a flight mainly hovering and with a very strong wind from behind. After about 15 mins I got a critical low battery warning at 35%. P3S hit 52mph in GPS mode on the return home. Was at max height around 2km distance so flew drone at max descent in full throttle forward and before drone was back battery was back to normal green status.  

2017-12-19
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hdlou94
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I love to fly, winter,spring summer and fall!!!.. and occasionally inside when doing small projects..
2017-12-20
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Walk The Dog
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DJI Elektra Posted at 2017-12-17 19:32
Hi, sir. Please note that the battery capacity will decrease significantly when the Intelligent Flight Battery is used at low temperatures, especially below 10 degree Celsius. I would recommend you warm up the battery to 20 degrees Celsius before flight for better flight performance.

Absolutely, some of the first advice I received was to keep the batteries warm.  I’ve seen the “you’re battery is cold” warning once.  I left the battery outside during flight 1 by accident, had to warm it back up in the truck, lol.
2017-12-20
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Walk The Dog
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blackcrusader Posted at 2017-12-19 18:09
This sunrise flight was done at -10c in winter at around 3200m altitude.  Yup it gets cold up there

I was doing a flight mainly hovering and with a very strong wind from behind. After about 15 mins I got a critical low battery warning at 35%. P3S hit 52mph in GPS mode on the return home. Was at max height around 2km distance so flew drone at max descent in full throttle forward and before drone was back battery was back to normal green status.  

That’s some beautiful stuff, really impressive footage.
2017-12-20
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blackcrusader
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Walk The Dog Posted at 2017-12-20 06:02
That’s some beautiful stuff, really impressive footage.

Thanks.  I got a bit unlucky with some cloud blocking the sun as it was where it would have cleared the mountain peak.

2017-12-21
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