Multicopter for polar aerial photography

Hi i'm organising an expedition to the far Canadian North on a sailing boat to stay there the winter frozen in by the ice.

I'm interested in building a multicopter for several reasons:
-aerial photography
-video recording
-as a reconnaissance device for ice patterns

I see several aspects that might be a problem:
-Temperature : we want to be able to film inn temperatures down to -15C
-GPS : the signal is not very strong in those regions... Are there alternatives to GPS navigation? Can my multicopter still fly even when the GPS stops working?
-magnetic field: the copter uses a compass for positioning and orientation. What other possibilities are there?

Does anyone have any experience or ideas on these topics



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  • Hi Kalle,

    The cold can be a real barrier to aerial photography, but it's not related to flying.  If you use a camera with a separate battery, it will only work for a short period of time in negative temperatures.  Even keeping the copter/camera warm doesn't help, because the camera batteries are quite low in mass and cool quickly.  Best to supply the camera from the flight battery.  When I fly at -10C, I keep the batteries on my body, under a jacket.  Once the flight battery starts to drain, it will stay warm enough for a good flight time.  The flight time is reduced, but no more than 15% or so.

    GLONASS, the russian gps equivalent, has better coverage for northern latitudes.  I suspect there are GPS modules that support both GPS and GLONASS.

  • Hi Kalle,

    -15C should probably be no problem. I have flow helicopters down to -10C.  Multirotors are even simpler, so they should be fine if you use good quality components.

    You can see one of my winter flights here.

    - You might look into using one of the M8 GPS units.

    - Magnetic Field will absolutely be your biggest problem. It probably won't be usable.  If you are skilled in flying, then you can definitely fly manually.

    • Moderator

      Heck, its colder than that here right now, and winter hasn't even started! (-18 C)

      Over the years I thought of several schemes to keep my hands and batteries warm, but when it came down to it I just said F&^% it, its a good time to get back to building another model in the nice warm shop.


  • Hi Kalle, for some of our customers we have run extreme low temperature tests on our laser altimeters (below -32C). If you are thinking of buying one to stay above the ice then we can verify the low temp performance for you at no charge.

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