Wintertime is my favourite time of yr. I like the snow and the outside actions that come together with it. Nonetheless, on the subject of flying a drone within the snow, there are some things you want to take into account earlier than popping within the battery and taking off.
Are you able to safely fly a drone within the snow?
Sure, you may, however it’s not beneficial. There are drones that may stand up to some rain and snow, so examine your proprietor’s handbook to see what the producer has to say about flying in harsh climate. Chances are high fairly good they may advise in opposition to it.
That being mentioned, there are steps you may take to make sure a protected and profitable flight when it’s snowing, so I’m going to stroll you thru some tricks to preserve your drone protected and dry when flying in snowy situations.
1. Consider the shorter battery life
Temperature impacts battery life in all electronics, together with drone batteries. One in all my drones will pop up a warning on the display whether it is too chilly to fly and it’ll not take off till the batteries are warmed as much as at the very least 15°C.
My different drones will give me a warning that battery life can be shorter attributable to chilly temperatures. I’ve observed a couple of 20 % lower in battery life when flying in freezing temperatures. Plan to have a a lot shorter flight than in hotter temps.
2. Heat your batteries earlier than flight
One factor I often do when flying within the wintertime is conserving my batteries heat for so long as I can. I’ll often put the drone battery case close to a radiator an hour or so earlier than I head out, to be able to get the batteries good and heat. I’ll then preserve them in my automobile till I load them into the drone to make sure they keep as heat as potential for so long as potential.
I additionally make sure the batteries are totally charged earlier than use, particularly when it’s beneath freezing, and can begin my return to dwelling course of prior to I’d in heat climate. That is simply achieved by setting the low battery warning to return on at 35% as a substitute of 25-30% and as quickly as that warning comes on begin bringing the drone dwelling.
3. Be careful for shorter battery life in controllers and gadgets
One of many greatest points I’ve skilled when flying within the winter is the battery life on my pill or cellphone is considerably shorter. When flying within the spring or summertime, the pill or cellphone will final for a few hours of flying.
In below-freezing temperatures, it has a tough time staying on for greater than 30 – 45 minutes and has turned off mid-flight, mid-mission a number of occasions. That is at all times a scary expertise. Fortunately, I’ve not had any drones drop out of the air as a result of pill or cellphone turning off, and have efficiently landed them each time.
Be prepared for any such occasion, and have an emergency touchdown process in thoughts beforehand.
4. Maintain the pill heat
I used to be in Massachusetts flying a job on the finish of December and had already postponed as soon as earlier than attributable to climate, so I wanted to complete on this journey. It was about 15°F and I used to be capable of preserve most of my gear heat contained in the truck, however the pill was getting used out within the chilly.
To lengthen the lifetime of the pill battery within the chilly, I strapped some hand heaters to the again of it. The heat created by the hand heaters helped it to remain on lengthy sufficient to complete the 40-minute flight, after which some.
5. Maintain shifting
Flying a drone whereas it’s actively snowing can result in some nice footage. Flying via the air whereas the snow is flying by the digicam lens seems very cool, and in the event you incorporate slow-motion results, it will get even higher.
The drone creates a form of “bubble impact” round it whereas it’s shifting ahead which retains snow from build up on the physique of the drone. If the drone is stationary for too lengthy, snow will begin to construct up on the drone which may result in moisture, and that’s when issues get broken.
I’ve discovered that so long as I preserve the drone shifting, I shouldn’t have any points with snow buildup or moisture.
6. Clear the takeoff / touchdown space
One other consideration that must be addressed is, the place are you able to safely take off and land the drone? Is there an space of clear floor that may be an excellent place to take off from? Wouldn’t it be higher handy launch and hand land?
I personally don’t like handy launch and hand land so I constructed a 30” diameter plywood helipad. I even have one of many gentle foldable helipads, however I’ve discovered the plywood makes it a lot simpler to pat down the snow across the helipad in case the drone misses the pad whereas touchdown. The dimensions of the plywood helipad is slightly cumbersome, nevertheless, it has labored nice for me out within the snow.
In case you are not opposed handy launching/touchdown your drone, then that may most likely be one of the simplest ways to do it within the snow. It could assist preserve snow from stepping into the motors or the gimbal when taking off, and would additionally preserve the touchdown gear clear. The drone I fly usually is slightly bit large handy launch, which is why I choose to make use of the helipad.
7. Pay attention to positioning sensor points created by snow glare
A number of drones use optical sensors to assist with altitude maintain, impediment avoidance, and touchdown. These sensors are “vision-based”, so very shiny or reflective surfaces can typically trigger them to go on the fritz.
It is strongly recommended to fly the drone increased than 15-20ft above reflective surfaces or snow to forestall the sensors from malfunctioning. Fortunately, I’ve by no means skilled sensor points attributable to snow, however am at all times conscious that there’s a higher probability of malfunction within the snow.
8. Bear in mind the drone is barely as protected because the pilot
I bear in mind once I first began flying drones, I heard somebody say “Should you’re chilly, the drone is chilly”. This has been one thing I take into consideration at any time when I’m flying within the winter and it’s an incredible reminder that temperature has a extra vital impression on the drone than I initially thought.
Core temperature is essential and can assist preserve the physique’s extremities heat, which is why I layer my clothes earlier than I head out to fly within the snow. I additionally put on touch-screen-friendly gloves whereas flying.
That is very a lot a private desire, however I’ve discovered that I can nonetheless management the drone as wanted with a light-weight glove on. Whether it is actually chilly out, I’ll drop a hand hotter into the glove to maintain my arms good and toasty heat.
9. Ensure you can see
One other situation that may come up when flying within the snow is snow blindness. Whether it is sunny out and there’s snow on the bottom, I throw my sun shades on to forestall any glare from the snow. I’ve forgotten my sun shades earlier than and had a headache by the point I bought dwelling from squinting whereas flying. I at all times preserve a pair of low cost sun shades in my drone equipment now and so they have saved me greater than as soon as.
10. Do a post-flight inspection
After flying my drone, I at all times carry out a post-flight inspection. This fast examine contains propeller inspection, gimbal/digicam inspection, and I’ll wipe any grime or moisture off of the drone.
The post-flight inspection after flying within the snow is similar, however I can even wipe any moisture off the skin of the drone, and ensure the touchdown gear can be away from snow.
There’s a danger of condensation forming when the drone is introduced in from the chilly which is why I’ll go away it out of its case for a number of hours or in a single day. This permits any moisture which will have fashioned on the within of the drone to dry up earlier than the following flight.
Drone pictures within the snow
The auto settings in your drone will work fairly properly for a lot of the photographs you need to get underneath regular situations. Relying on the climate you would possibly want to regulate your digicam settings to make the pictures brighter or darker.
Whether it is sunny out with snow on the bottom, the pictures have a greater probability of being overexposed. If the drone is flying whereas it’s actively snowing, the digicam would possibly have to be adjusted to forestall the pictures from being too darkish.
When the Auto-settings aren’t slicing it
Digicam settings are one thing that may be adjusted in a lot of the higher-grade client drones out there. I often decrease my shutter pace if I’m taking stationary photos with the drone on a sunny winter day, or I’ll decrease the aperture if it’s snowing out to brighten the picture a bit.
That is one thing that varies by location, climate, private desire, and so on. There isn’t a proper reply so long as the picture seems good to you.
Flying within the snow and chilly is an effective way to get a wintery really feel in your photographs, and in the event you comply with a number of additional steps, it may be finished safely and efficiently time and time once more.
I like flying within the wintertime, which is an efficient factor since I stay in Vermont and we get an extended winter than quite a lot of locations in the US. So long as I costume appropriately, preserve my gear heat and dry, and perceive the battery life can be shorter, I do know I’ll proceed to have profitable wintertime flights.