Whilst that white layer of frost can be eye catching, lower temperatures bring warnings for the drone operator.
We have tried to capture some of the most important points here;
- Crew Fatigue. Everything takes longer in the cold and that means everything gets colder again. Crew will want to chase along a little quicker and can be inclined to miss important things. Find ways to keep warm and, captains, spot the blue mist fogging up good decision making in your crew.
- Battery Performance suffers below +10C deg. Get to zero degrees and a LiPo can reduce its performance by 50%. Get to minus 10C and a LiPo can have nothing to offer. The good news is that once in use and flying, lipos generate their own heat. The skill is getting them warm enough before flight. We recommend keeping them on a car dashboard with the heat on. Or even body heat. Anything to keep their temps up before installing in the drone. Of course laptop batteries are different, but the laptop can still stay in a warm car as long as possible.
- Glues and tapes don’t stick. Glue might take a lot longer to set. Materials become brittle, propellers break more easily, rubber becomes harder and plastics become brittle.
- Snow and frost gets everywhere, especially on landing. It’s not a problem until warming happens, and that could be from the sun or from warm air. Snow becomes water and infiltrates places that might affect electrics. Have a big paintbrush to hand and after landing brush the snow off. Try and knock it out of the camera bay otherwise the next operation could have moisture on the lens.
- Camera CCDs don’t like the cold. If a CCD goes below zero it might stop working. Keep the camera warm before flight and spot the signs of CCD failure ( unusual colour densities in pictures, blurring and eventual blackout ).
- Servos reduce performance and ailerons hinges become stiff. Check you have a good performance before launching.
- Excuse the pun but dropping your nuts and small tools in the snow isn’t fun. You will only do it once!!