So you've just unwrapped a brand new drone that was under the Christmas tree, only to look outside and see, it's pretty wintery out. It's cold. It's snowing lately. And you're wondering if you can even fly your drone in those types of conditions. Good day, folks. My name is Shawn, and this is Air Photography.
If you like this style of content, please consider subscribing and hitting that Bell notification. Now, the simple answer is yes. Yes, you can. These drones are fully capable of flying in very cold temperatures, even if there is light snow, and it doesn't matter whether you're flying something like the new DJI Mini 3, the Mini 2, the Mavic 3, or even the DJI Avata.
They're all capable of flying in those types of conditions. Now, unlike flying on a warm, sunny day, there are some extra precautions that you need to take. In this video, I'm going to go over some tips and things you should be aware of if you're going to be flying your new drone in cold and wintery conditions.
Winter tip 1: drones have an minimum operating temperature
Now, the first thing you should be aware of, all drones have a minimum operating temperature rating. For example, the Mini 3 is rated to fly all the way down to negative 10 degrees Celsius (14F). Something like the DJI Mini 2 is rated for zero degrees Celsius (32F). You can find this information on the manufacturer's website, but in my experience, I have flown in temperatures much colder than that. Now, if you do so, you are doing so at your own risk.
In fact, depending on what country you live in, it could be illegal to fly in temperatures colder than what the drone is rated for. So just keep that in mind. I'm not saying you should, or you shouldn't fly in colder temperatures. I'm just sharing my experience.
Winter tip 2: drone battery management
So the second thing you should be aware of if you are gonna be flying your drone in cold temperatures, and that is battery management. The batteries that come with drones or other electronics don't operate very well in cold temperatures, so that is a key thing to keep in mind for a safe and successful flight.
You want to keep your batteries warm. It is as simple as keeping them in a warm car. If you're driving to a location, if you do have to hike into a location, you can put your batteries inside of your jacket in an inside pocket. Your body temperature will help keep them warm.
Now, if that's not an option and you do have to hike into a location, you can pick up a device like this. This is an electronic hand warmer. It has a built-in battery, and you can power it on, and it will generate a small amount of heat. You can place this right inside your camera bag close to your batteries, and that'll keep them at a safe temperature.
In addition, this also acts as a power bank (5,000 mA). So it's always a good device to have with you anyways. What happens is that a cold battery will be drained a lot quicker if it's extremely cold. The drone could possibly not get enough power from the battery. I believe the term is called “battery sag.”
When it gets really cold, the battery just can't output enough power. So keeping your batteries at a nice temperature is very important for a safe and successful flight.
The other thing I do before I actually go for my flight is I put the drone up in the air, let it hover for a little bit, move it, and that also helps warm the battery back up as well.
Winter tip: ice built up on drone props
Now, the third thing you should be very aware of is that you can get ice built up on your props. If there's a lot of moisture in the air, a light snow, or a fog, you can easily get a layer of ice built up on these propellers. This can become a dangerous situation that can cause a lot of vibrations in the drone.
And in some instances, it could actually cause your drone to crash. So I always recommend, in between flights, inspecting your propellers to make sure there's not a thin layer of ice built up on them or on the edges.
Winter tip 4: shorten your drone flights in the winter
And that leads us to the third point is keeping your flight short. Keeping your flight short. This allows you to bring the drone back more often so you can inspect it, and it helps minimize the risk of you accidentally losing your drone because the battery drains too quick.
As mentioned, when it's cold outside, the battery will drain a little bit more quickly. So for myself, when I'm out doing a winter flight, I usually don't let the battery go below 50%.
As mentioned, the battery will drain a little bit quicker, especially near the end. But also, even in good conditions, you don't have as much power, the last little bit of your battery. So, you don't want to be out too far only to find that you don't have enough power to get back home. So keep your flight short. Don't go out too far, and inspect the propellers frequently.
Winter tip 5: get a landing pad for your drone
Now, if you are going to be flying in snowy, wet, or slushy conditions, it's a really good idea to invest in a landing pad or at least learn to hand launch and hand catch your drone. Now, if you're a brand new pilot, I don't recommend hand launching and hand catching yet. Wait until you're a little bit more experienced, but a good accessory to always carry in your camera bag is a foldable landing pad.
They're not that heavy. They're not bulky. They don't really take up a lot of space. And in a lot of situations, they do come in handy, especially if there's snow on the ground. You want a nice hard surface to take off from, so you can just throw this down, even on top of snow, and take off and land without having to worry about it.
Winter tip 6: get a good pair of gloves
Now, if you are going to be flying a lot in the winter, I would highly recommend investing in a good pair of photography gloves. There are many different ones. You can choose from all different styles to suit your own needs and tastes. These ones here are gloves by PGY Tech. They're fairly thin and fairly comfortable to wear, whereas this style here is a mitt style, so this is if you're gong to be out in really, really cold temperatures for long periods of time.
This particular set here comes with a thin liner for the inside. So if you do need to pull them off, you still have some protection. And, of course, they are touch-sensitive, so you can still use your touch screen. The thing with photography gloves, compared to regular gloves, usually, the thumb and the index finger can come out, and that allows you for nice, precise control on the sticks.
It's really important because frostbite is something that can happen quickly, and sometimes when you're flying a drone, you have your adrenaline going. You're enjoying yourself. You don't realize just how cold your hands are getting. It just makes for a much more enjoyable flight when you're warm and comfortable.
Winter tip 7: fly your drone from inside a warm car
And that actually brings us to our last and final tip, which is fly from your car. Quite often in the winter, if it's really cold outside, I'll just stay in my car where it's nice and warm, and I can still get all the shots that I want to get. The transmission systems used in today's drones are very strong and powerful, so you don't really get any signal loss or interference while flying from your car.
Just keep in mind that visual line of sight is important. So make sure you have your car lined up where you can see it out of the front windshield. Being in a nice, warm, comfy car will definitely make the flight a little bit more enjoyable, and you can sip on a nice coffee at the same time. So those are basically my tips for flying a drone in the winter.
Being a Canadian drone enthusiast, it's very important to learn to adapt to winter flights. Otherwise, the flying season would be very short. If you're watching this and you have any other tips you think would be beneficial to a new drone, When it comes to flying in cold and winter conditions, please leave them down in the comments. I'm sure new pilots would be very grateful for any other tips and information you can share.
Well, folks, I hope you enjoyed this video and got some value out of it. Give it a thumbs up if you did. It's always greatly appreciated. Don't forget to subscribe to my channel, so you don't miss any of our upcoming videos, and we'll see you on the next one.
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