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Flying in the Cold
1466 16 2021-12-26
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lennybabin
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Canada
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Has anyone tested the limits of flying in the cold?  What would you expect to happen if, for example, you flew at -25 C (-13 F)?  Clearly the batteries would deplete quickly; however, would any of the internals be affected?  Would the A2S crash precipitiously?  Would love to hear you experience.

Len (here in Alberta where it will be -30 C for the next week.)
2021-12-26
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Sean-bumble-bee
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Flight distance : 15515 ft
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United Kingdom
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Aside from what you mention I would have two concerns
1) the temperature at which the plastics used in the drone becomes brittle
2) condensation on the drone when you bring the cold drone etc. indoors. It might be an idea to, outside, put the equipment in ziplock bags that are sealed before you bring it into the 'warm'.

Is icing a concern at those temperatures or is the air, perhaps, too dry?
2021-12-26
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legendbb
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Canada
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Sean-bumble-bee Posted at 12-26 16:59
Aside from what you mention I would have two concerns
1) the temperature at which the plastics used in the drone become brittle
2) condensation on the drone when you bring the drone indoors, it might be an idea to, outside, put the equipment in ziplock bags that are sealed before you bring it into the 'warm'.

There are actually quite some words about precipitation in Volatus Drone Training Course.Ice, snow, rain are all obvious concerns according to their slides.
I think still it takes experience to make a judgement call to trade off risk and endurance.

Air2S temperature rating is 0C to 40C. I (a total novice) think going -20C is a bit of a stretch, -30C is like turbo. Commercial electronics are rated 0C to 70C, while operating internal temperature could be above ambient temperature, but how much? Operating out of its temperature rating, IC behavior is unpredictable. Risk of fly away or crash.

I don't know if DJI has internal temperature displayed or not.
2021-12-26
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Prairie Chicken
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Flight distance : 106526 ft
United States
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Howdy neighbour. I've flown my Spark in -15 C with no ill effects on it other than a bit shorter flying time for the batteries, but that's no guarantee that nothing will happen if I try it again. My aching, freezing hands were another story. That was here in dry Saskatchewan where it will also be -30 for the next week.
2021-12-26
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DJI Stephen
Super Moderator

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Hello there Len. Good day and thank you for reaching out. The DJI Air 2S has an Operating Temperature Range of 0° to 40°C ( 32° to 104°F ). Just a reminder that flying in heavy fog or clouds may make the gimbal wet, leading to temporarily failure. The gimbal will recover it's full function once it is dry. For reference I will post some Flight Environment Requirements. Thank you and fly safe always.

2021-12-26
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GaryDoug
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-30C at what altitude...ground? The temperature may be much lower higher up. The drone is somewhat heated by the battery, electronics and motors, but I would be more concerned about icing on the props. Would you be flying over any bodies of water?
2021-12-26
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Hrodnand
Second Officer
Flight distance : 1615984 ft
Romania
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I never fly at lower temps than -5 C and rarely below 0 C, even if humidity levels are low. As Sean-bumble-bee mentioned, temperatures lower than at which the drone is rated (0 C) can make the plastic behave differently, even crack. It's still an aircraft and there are still vibrations to which it has to remain resistant. Also, a high level humidity at that temperature (-30 C) can make ice form at any second on the rotors, causing the drone to behave unexpectedly, even crash. And there's the battery issue, at -30 C, even with a pre-heated battery I'd expect at least a 50% drop in performance.
2021-12-27
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Eoin 2021
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Flight distance : 101870 ft
Ireland
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Will be watching this thread with curiosity over the next week as your temperature drops. As was already mentioned plastics and metals subjected to cyclic loading can suffer premature failure by fatigue cracking when operating below temperatures they were not initially designed for. Maybe as  suggestion if you are going to take the plunge might be an idea to not fly over open water and or cliffs. but only areas that you can retrieve if it does a Humpty Dumpty!
2021-12-27
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lennybabin
lvl.2
Canada
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DJI Stephen Posted at 12-26 20:01
Hello there Len. Good day and thank you for reaching out. The DJI Air 2S has an Operating Temperature Range of 0° to 40°C ( 32° to 104°F ). Just a reminder that flying in heavy fog or clouds may make the gimbal wet, leading to temporarily failure. The gimbal will recover it's full function once it is dry. For reference I will post some Flight Environment Requirements. Thank you and fly safe always.

[view_image]

Thanks Stephen.  I know the officialese which is meant to protect DJI mostly.  I was interested in real-world experience.
2021-12-27
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lennybabin
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Canada
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GaryDoug Posted at 12-26 20:07
-30C at what altitude...ground? The temperature may be much lower higher up. The drone is somewhat heated by the battery, electronics and motors, but I would be more concerned about icing on the props. Would you be flying over any bodies of water?

Good points.  I am currently at about 1150 metres and I agree the it would be colder at altitude but maybe not much if just added the standard 120 m to it.  I would not plan to fly over bodies of water.  I am familiar with icing in aviation which usually occurs while flying through clouds.  I also understand that warming occurs on the interior of the drone from the electronics but I expect that would not be much.  The batteries warm up from use but they are pretty much isolated from the internals of the drone.

I am willing to try something colder just to see what the limits are but not at the cost of an expensive crash.
2021-12-27
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lennybabin
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Canada
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Hrodnand Posted at 12-27 05:11
I never fly at lower temps than -5 C and rarely below 0 C, even if humidity levels are low. As Sean-bumble-bee mentioned, temperatures lower than at which the drone is rated (0 C) can make the plastic behave differently, even crack. It's still an aircraft and there are still vibrations to which it has to remain resistant. Also, a high level humidity at that temperature (-30 C) can make ice form at any second on the rotors, causing the drone to behave unexpectedly, even crash. And there's the battery issue, at -30 C, even with a pre-heated battery I'd expect at least a 50% drop in performance.

Western Canada is currently going through a cold spell and when I got up this morning, the thermometer said -37C, so I don't care about the drone in that temp, I care about me.

It looks like things might warm up to -19 this week so that might be a good test.  I'll only fly it in the back yard near nice fluffy piles of snow.  Wish me luck.
2021-12-27
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lennybabin
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Canada
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lennybabin Posted at 12-27 16:02
Western Canada is currently going through a cold spell and when I got up this morning, the thermometer said -37C, so I don't care about the drone in that temp, I care about me.

It looks like things might warm up to -19 this week so that might be a good test.  I'll only fly it in the back yard near nice fluffy piles of snow.  Wish me luck.

Well... -32 C here this morning.  Looks like I'll have to wait.

Len
2021-12-28
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Hawkeye Dronography
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The gimbal may experience some fog but the drone overall should be fine, what I'd worry about is the props, at -30 the props become very brittle and sudden movements can make them snap mid-air leading to an uncontrolled descent.
2021-12-31
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lennybabin
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Canada
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So, I did it.  -12 C here today and I figured it would be a good time to give it a whirl.  I put in a fully changed battery and started from the back yard walking on a nearby path.  No sun, no wind, so perfect condits.  The battery gave me 18 minutes in the air and 6 minutes of residual when it wanted to land - 23 minutes is not bad for these temps and wind.  I didn't fly hard but used T mode.  Near the end of the flight, 2S was working faiirly hard as I was on an open Alberta hillside in the foothills where the wind can spring up at any moment.  I was going to do another battery but the wind was too strong.

I am pretty confident at this temp.  I will let you know if I get any condensation or if anything fogs up.  I'll have a look at the footage and let you know whether there is anything odd about that.  Next frontier:  -20C
1-1 13:23
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lennybabin
lvl.2
Canada
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Just noticed that the Smart Controller is rated to -20 C.  The Air 2S is rated to 0 C.  Let's see where it goes.

Len
1-1 14:36
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alaska42
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United States
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Real-world here in Alaska, I have flown at -30C plenty of times over the years. People ask how long do the batteries last at that temp and I tell them longer than my fingers.
If I flew under DJI recommendations, I wouldn't be able to fly for 5 months out of the year and some of our best light is in the winter as you know.
1-1 16:41
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JasonArizona
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lennybabin Posted at 1-1 13:23
So, I did it.  -12 C here today and I figured it would be a good time to give it a whirl.  I put in a fully changed battery and started from the back yard walking on a nearby path.  No sun, no wind, so perfect condits.  The battery gave me 18 minutes in the air and 6 minutes of residual when it wanted to land - 23 minutes is not bad for these temps and wind.  I didn't fly hard but used T mode.  Near the end of the flight, 2S was working faiirly hard as I was on an open Alberta hillside in the foothills where the wind can spring up at any moment.  I was going to do another battery but the wind was too strong.

I am pretty confident at this temp.  I will let you know if I get any condensation or if anything fogs up.  I'll have a look at the footage and let you know whether there is anything odd about that.  Next frontier:  -20C

Awesome report.  I constantly have overheating issues in the summer (southern Arizona) so it's great read a real-world report from the other end of the thermometer!
1-1 17:42
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