Flying near military bases?

I have had five unexplained crashes shortly after engaging the autopilot at a project site. The site is not far from a military air force base. I am thinking that they might have something that is jamming or scrambling the 3dr quad with 2.6 APM.

What is a good distance to stay away from these areas?

I am probably going to have to rent an R22 to get the pictures that I need for the project. Right now the area is 83 acres of pasture land with nothing but brush and cactus. The air force base that is near is closed to air traffic so there is not a hazard for other aircraft. The base is a air force fire training school.

I really don't care to know what they have as far as security, I just want to know how far I need to stay away from it with the autopilot.

I have flown over this base many times in a cessna 150. There are no restrictions as far as general aviation is concerned.  

Thanks in advance for serious replies,


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  • It's hard to imagine how an microwave weapon, or other kind of jamming could dirsupt your autopilot, but not disrupt the normal operation of it before auto-mode - after all, even stabilize is heavily depending on correct processing.

    Jamming GPS is not something they'd do in peacetime - and - that should not result in a crash, besides, you'd see on any civilian GPS.

    Injecting thru the unencryptied mavlink could be done, but then again... chances for that are slim.

    It would be nice to see some of the crashlogs, I bet you'll find a decent explanation there.

    • They most likely aren't transmitting or jamming anything. Even some of the more sensitive bases don't do this. 

    • Thanks for taking a look, I am wondering about a few things,

      1. When I flipped the switch on my transmitter from stabilize to auto, all props stopped for about 2 seconds and it was in freefall for that time. then the autopilot kicked in and it popped up to the first waypoint.

      2. I did notice that I was going faster than I had it set. It was just acting weird all around. 

      3. I am wondering if i have the logging rate set too high and it is taxing the processor?

      4. Can I pay someone to have a webinar or web meeting to show me on my screen what to look for when diagnosing the log files?

      Thanks in advance,

      2014-02-16 11-35.log

      2014-02-16 11-35.log.gpx

      2014-02-16 11-35.kmz

      • If you used defaul logging, more would be readable.

        I do not think it's related to what you chose to log.

        You do not seem to have battery voltage montoring, but I think the cause is clear:

        See attached log: at ~1:10  you switch to AUTO, which often causes the motors to slow down for a brief moment, (as PID's that control it build up)  - the machine is apparently supposed to climb and does that for a while, then at ~1:45  altitude starts to decrease, APM responds by applying full throttle,  - but you still loose altitude.    - then , at 2min  - your VCC (5V for the logic)  drops as far down as 3v5 - barely enoght to keep APM running.

        Everything suggests that you  were out of power, and/or battery cannot keep up with demand.

        You also seem to need to apply very much throttle to take off.  (?)

        Screenshot from 2014-02-17 19:48:43.png

        • Thank you for taking a look!

          I will try a turn on the voltage monitoring.

          The battery was straight off the balance charger. I am wondering if there could be something broken on a circuit board. 

          I did notice that the wp target speed was set too high at 1500 cm/s, way too fast.

          I am wondering if the quad was trying to achieve that target speed and could not maintain altitude. Is there a way to prioritize the autopilot to maintain altitude over all other movements?

          Have you seen a set of default parameter for a 3DR quad that I could compare?

          Thanks Again,

          • Save your settings to a .param file.

            Go to terminal, do a reset.

            save new settings so you have factory defaults as a .param file.

            if you wish, you can do a compare against your old param file , then import only the PID's you know are good, good RC calibration etc.

            I suggest that you start with defaults all over again.

            Start using the new ,  great tutorials/instructions there.

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