Flying a drone in snow: Tips and tricks

By V Kadamatt | Misc

Feb 15

“O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?” – Percy Bysshe Shelley. Is winter right around the corner (or already here) and unlike Shelley, you can’t wait for bright colors to spring up again before you have your fun? Let’s face it – winter has its own beauty and especially if you own a drone with a camera, you don’t want to lose the opportunity to film all that!  In this post, we shall look at some tips and tricks and things you need to keep in mind before you head out flying a drone in snow! These tips apply to all manner of RC crafts – including quad-copters and other multi-rotors, RC helicopters and RC planes.

Make sure you have visibility

flying a drone in snow - visibility

In winter, everything is hazy. And this means less visibility and more difficulty in keeping your heads up while flying a drone in snow.

Even if you have an FPV camera, it is necessary to make sure you have visibility, in case of any connection loses! Flying out of your line of sight is not recommended during winter.

It is pretty easy to lose sight of your drone even if your flying skills are top notch and your eyes are as sharp as an eagle’s. Winter is unpredictable and it can get hazier and windier pretty quickly than when you just headed out.

Installing an LED light on your drone is the easiest way to improve visibility. Fly in the part of the sky where the sunlight is, for more visibility.

If possible, giving it a red repaint (or over-paint) or vinyl might help (longer wavelength, remember?). This can be especially useful if your drone is white. A black repaint might also be a good idea, though not as great at night.

Keep your hands warm

flying a drone in snow - warm hands

 

You can do everything you want to alter your drone for the winter, but if your hands (and you yourself) are cold, it will not be pleasant flying a drone in snow.

Numb fingers can not only be unpleasant, but can drastically have an impact on your flying skills and you don’t want your flying skills to be sub-par, ESPECIALLY during winter when you will be flying a drone in snow with reduced visibility and increased potential for damages!

Getting gloves and hand warmers can go a long way if you are headed out for flying during winter. Transmitter glove (no affiliation) is a great RC specific option if you find that it is difficult to fly with gloves on.

Coat your craft before flying it out in winter

Before you go out flying a drone in snow, coat the electronics within your craft with something to protect it from not only melted snow, but also from the cold.

Some of you may have drones that are already ‘waterproof’ straight of the box, but for those of you who don’t, coating your electronics with Corrosion X or Never Wet can go a long way.

Here is a video by Flite Test on how to waterproof your electronics:

There are plenty of potential ways by which you can add protection to the inner part of your drone. There are a lot of suggestions out there in the community including using Tupperware to cover up the entire quad-copter! Make sure to do some research!

 

Expect lower flight times in snow/winter

Cold weather can really take a toll on your Li-Po batteries. If not well taken care of, expect to damage and puff up your Li-Po during winter. After you are done flying a drone in snow, it is very important to note that you should never immediately charge a battery that has been in the cold. Wait for it to warm up!

Use a battery heater or place the batteries on top of a car heater to warm up it up before you head out. This will make your batteries have a good start with its temperature. Cover up your Li-Po with some sort of warm cold resistant substance to ensure further cold resistance.

Even if you have all of the above in place, expect lower flight times. It is also necessary to save up some amount of battery life in case of emergencies like heavy wind or haze build up to safely bring your quad-copter back to the ground.

 

Calibrate appropriately

 

Sensors and gimbals within your drone can act weird in colder temperatures. You shouldn’t be surprised if the ESCs and gimbals calibration of your drone is off.

Ideally, you should do the calibration and flight adjustments outside, in cold weather in temperatures where you will be flying.

Doing this will ensure that your drone is ready to fly within that specific condition, rather than the temperature indoors where it would be typically heated up.

 

Use wooden or carbon fiber props

 

Mid-flight prop failures and crashes from it can be catastrophic, not only to your craft but also to objects and people nearby. Plastic propellers fail pretty easily, even during spring and summer.

With flying a drone in snow, it would be correct in assuming that the prospect for a prop failure is even higher from all the chilling.

If possible, replacing your props for a more durable carbon fiber prop or even a wooden prop can go a long way in avoiding a potential mid-flight crash.

Replacing your existing prop for a slightly larger propeller may also help reduce the RPM required for your drone to fly, thereby reducing the risk for propeller based failures. Make sure not to overdo it overload your motors though!

 

 

In Closing

 

Although it is possible to fly your during snow and winter, it is recommended that you do so discreetly. Drones have plenty of electronic parts and even with the best measures, they are quite easily damageable.

It is also pretty easy to make mistakes and lose your drone during bad weather. We are humans after all.

Having a GPS or RTH/RTL system on your drone can help a lot with potential damages. If you just cannot resist the temptation for flying a ton, maybe try flight simulators till the end of winter.

That’s all! Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed this post on flying a drone in snow. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions please drop them below!

 

 

 

Flying a drone in snow: Tips and tricks was last modified: August 2nd, 2017 by V Kadamatt

About the Author

Artificial Intelligence , UAV and RC enthusiast. Software professional, part time philosopher and star gazer. Also loves physics, mathematics, economics, psychology, fantasy, Sci-Fi and futurology.

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(1) comment

Naveen Kulkarni June 27, 2017

Excellent guide Kadamatt,
Flying a drone is easy, however flying with regulations in mind? Not easy 🙂

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