If you receive a drone for Christmas you will no doubt be eager to capture beautiful aerial shots of snow-covered areas.
Before you do that, there are a few things to think about to ensure you have a safe flight and capture great shots during the winter months.
Most drones use Lithium Polymer (LiPo) batteries and cold temperatures are known to cause a few problems by decreasing the chemical activity within the batteries. The following are a few recommendations that you should follow at all times:
- Only use fully charged batteries. If you take away nothing else from this post, this one piece of advice is worth it.
- Pre-heat your battery. Use a Battery Heater if one is available for your product or, if not, keep the batteries in a warm area such as the inside pocket of a jacket until needed.
- Hover for about a minute to allow the battery to warm up.
- Be very gentle with the control sticks. Violent actions can cause battery voltage drops which fool the drone into thinking it needs to land immediately.
- Batteries drain faster in cold temperatures. Always check your drone’s battery status during flight.
Weather / Moisture
- Check the weather conditions and avoid flying rain, snow and even heavy fog. Use an app or website such as UAVForecast to give you an idea of whether it’s a good idea to fly.
- Do not fly at temperatures below your manufacturer’s recommendations – often around 0°C (32°F). If you must fly in temperatures below this (as I often do for work) remember that your manufacturer is unlikely to honor your warranty if you crash. Personally, I won’t fly below 20f unless the client agrees to pay for any losses.
- Watch for propeller icing. If there is any moisture in the air you may find that ice forms on the propellers. This reduces their efficiency and ability to lift and manifests itself as a sluggish response to the sticks, difficulty climbing or hovering in one place. If this happens you should bring it home immediately.
- Avoid contact with the snow. Moisture can damage the motors. I recommended using a landing pad for taking off and landing your drone.
- Your tablet or phone may shut down if it gets too cold. Understand that drones with controllers can continue to fly normally without the app running, so DON’T PANIC if that happens. Some people avoid this by applying those chemical hand warmers to the back of the tablet to keep it working normally.
- Wear gloves. It is no fun at all flying with cold hands, and I speak from experience here.
Once you have that set you are ready to go and capture those beautiful winter scenes. Winter can be a great time to fly, as long as you are prepared for it. So let me see those winter scenes by posting comments below with links to your footage.