Hi guys,

   I was asked to come film in avoriaz, france to film for the volcom rail jam, video above. 

   I have flown in snow storms and temperatures down to minus 10 with no problems, but i discovered on this day is the dangers of "freezing fog".   You can see from the video that it was only snowing a little, wind was gentle and it was a positively warm 5 degrees. I thought this was going to be a good day to get the most out of my hexa and show people what we can achieve using a drone.

   However, on my first flight after just a couple of minuets i was in real trouble. I was at full power and coming down. Luckily i was near my landing zone and i managed to make a hard controlled landing. Normally i can fly for 20 mins no problem so was a little perplexed at my loss of power.

  A quick inspection revealed the problem. A thick layer of ice on the underside of the props. My drone hovers at about 60 percent throttle, but with just a millimetre of ice on the bottom of each prop i can't even take-off! In hindsight it was an obvious danger, but be warned the dangers of freezing fog.

Unfortunately the weather got worse and my first flight was the only shot used in the video edit, they used as their intro. I was disappointed  but the clients were happy,and impressed that i flew at all in the conditions. I have been asked to com and do the tour next winter perhaps!

   What i need now is a solution to freezing props. I know that real choppers use heated blades, but i can't see that being available to us for a while. I think if i had a heated cabin and 2 hexa's flying in rotation with pre heated props that it might be possible.  If anyone's got any ideas i'll happily test them....

   Thanks tristan





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  • what kind of power pack you use to get 20 min of flight with your hexa? thanks!

  • T3

    If you can figure out how to keep them from icing up in freezing fog conditions, you would be a very rich man as the aviation world it trying to figure it out as well. Post if you do figure it out!

  • Pre-heated props will cool down in fractions of a second.  dipping them in some sort of anti-icing solution will get you tens of seconds, tops, before it is all blown off the prop.  There is no hobby-grade solution that will work for you - this is simply outside the flight conditions that your gear is able to fly at.  Sorry.  Extreme flight conditions require extreme equipment to cope.

    There are two avenues for custom solutions, both involving custom made props AND motors.

    #1: Heated prop.  Custom mold a prop (or mill out of aluminum? Magnesium  Titanium?) with a POWERFUL heating element installed in each blade.  Power it via a slip-ring on a custom motor shaft.  This will take a lot of power and decrease flight time accordingly.  When I say powerful, I mean powerful - keeping the tips of jet aircraft pitot probes from freezing over takes hundreds of watts, and you're trying to heat a much larger area.

    #2: weeping prop.  Design a prop with a hollow channel inside and pinholes on the leading edge.  Couple this with a motor that features a hollow shaft, terminating in small tank of de-icing compound under the motor.  Centrifugal force from the spinning prop sucks the fluid up and expels it out of the leading edge of the prop, keeping it ice free.

  • Developer


    Gao Research Group | Applied Nanomaterials and Surface Science Laboratory | University of Pittsburgh
  • Nice!! that 360 nose press was tight. oh and the 50-50 to front flip... love it

  • Hi,

    I think a heated cabine might not be the solution. As the props are relatively thin, they get cold quite quickly, therefore even though you heat them up, they will cool down in the first few seconds of your flight.

    Perhaps you can try to apply some anti-ice coating? Something like this. I have no idea whether this works or not, I am just throwing out ideas. Another idea might be to take very soft blades like these from x-ufo. The idea would be that the flex induced by variable load of the propellers will throw off the ice, though this might not work.

    Thats all I have for now... Good luck


    Icephobic Coatings, Anti-Ice Coating And Paint From Ecological Coatings
    Icephobic, Anti Ice Coatings from Ecological Coatings offer non-stick, slip and abrasion resistance for anti-ice applications.
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