Extreme Conditions (cold and windy)

I am planning on building an airframe for extreme conditions.Specifically: High Wind; Extremely cold.

The wind is something I can calculate and experiment with, but the cold is something I don't have much experience with.

  • Electronics - not too difficult to control environment. ESC could be issue?
  • Motors - if these are kept warm before start, probably not a huge issue?
  • Batteries - What are LiPo like in cold temperatures? Is there a better alternative?
  • Airframe - some form of water resistance.

What is the coldest you have flown? What were the problems you experienced? How strong a wind did you fly in? General advice on design?

Thanks

Scott

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  • Let's presume that you want to go for the most extreme possibility, like you want to fly around Antarctica on its coldest day of the year or something, lol...

    Some components actually put off heat, that can be used.

    Insulation helps, and can be extremely lightweight.

    Components concentrated in a small space can share heat, and it is easier to keep a small space warmer.

    So, I would suggest not using alum,inum whenever possible of course, as it can act as a heat sink. Then I would concentrate components in a small space, in an insulated shell. Next, the motors - they can be helped if you use some form of hollow body/frame, like the Aquacopter, but maybe using a material that is more flexible in cold conditions to avoid rigidity and brittleness.

    But after all that, tiny incandescent light bulbs, maybe even what is used in mini maglights.

    Incandescent bulbs have been used to provide extra heat in various ways, the light being being unimportant unless you want stealth, and otherwise might be usefull. They could be mounted in a way to provide heat, and the end barely facing outward if you want to use them for flight lights, etc. They would use a little more power than LEDs, true, but they could provide extra heat, significantly improving the resistance to cold.

    Beyond that, there would be the issue of the rotors/blades frosting up, which is a problem that planes and even helicopters have had to deal with, and I'm sure there is a wealth of info out there about that sort of thing.

    Otherwise, there would be the factor of the density of the atmosphere in extreme cold, but that might  possibly be potentially useful in some way for all I know.

  • I was unable to do my flying planned due to the US rules (long story)...

    However we did some ground testing (no propellers) and at one point I lost control (as in dropping power would still keep full power on etc)... After a bit of investigation in the logs I found that the voltage had dipped below the safety and had switched to land mode - but land mode hovers to 10m - as it wasn't add 10m it tried to go up.

    Anyway, I would recommend in cold conditions, where the battery voltage curve isn't the same, you disable automatic land/RTL on safety and just monitor it yourself.

    Scott

  • batteries should be the most issue they have a min and max operating temp.

    for cold condition you could use the ESC as a heat source to warm it up..in a insulated airframe

    then there is the moisture when you bring the unit indoor to room temp. that you should completely shutdown the unit before bring it in.

    water resistance that up to your canopy. also some guys do shrink wrap the electronics for better protection.

  • Hi Scott,

    Agreed, the X8 needs some form of water resistance. Anybody out there find a canopy that can be modified?

    TKS,

    Bob

  • I have a mostly stock 2014 3DR Y6 (pixhawk) and have flown it in temps down to 0 deg F.  I've brought it outside and flown immediately (room temp) as well as cold soaked with not problems in either case.

    • Thanks Shad, looks like I don't need to worry about electrics too much then - might be colder, but I can experiment. I have a 2014 3DR X8 so I am going to start experimenting in stronger and stronger winds, see where my limits are. Thanks.

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