Winter flying problems!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by stony99, Mar 13, 2018.

  1. stony99

    stony99 Well-Known Member

    A friend of mine and I have a collection of different quality and style drones. We fly all year long. Lately we both found that our Syma x5's and my X5 clone are very sluggish in the cold weather. Even if we keep the drones, the controllers, and the batteries warm right up until we fly.

    We can literally step out of a warm vehicle and put them in the air and they are REALLY sluggish. To the point that they do not even want to take off. We have to literally toss them into the air and then they are very slow and unresponsive. But even flying very slow and sluggish, the batteries seem to last longer than we expected them to. The batteries seem to last as long as they do in warmer weather.

    Could it be the motors are cold and don't function well? Or is it the cold somehow effects the accelerometers? My Syma X8's, my Aerosky X350, my Walkera X350 all seem normal. But the Syma X5's are sluggish or almost not flyable. My friends Hubson 501 also flies normal even in very cold temps. We have flown, in temps just above zero degrees F. But our Syma X5's and my hot-rod X5 clone does not hack it in the cold. Also, can it be the barometric pressure that may come in to play?

    My friend even went as far as replacing all the motors in his Syma X5, thinking it was that.

    Who can explain the physics of this?
  2. RENOV8R

    RENOV8R Well-Known Member

    I don't fly in the winter snow.jpg
    mozquito1 likes this.
  3. LoneRCRanger

    LoneRCRanger Well-Known Member

    One thought here which is applicable to fixed wing aircraft is that flying in cold air causes greater lift because cold air is denser than warm air. It may be the case that the rotors on the quads may be cutting into denser air thereby they are sluggish because of that. Of course, that may be an "all wet" theory, too. Let's see if some of the other pilots on rthis forum respond to this.
  4. LoneRCRanger

    LoneRCRanger Well-Known Member

    You could, as long as you are able to get to the quad. In your case snowshoes and a snowmobile may be advantageous.
  5. RENOV8R

    RENOV8R Well-Known Member

    My very technical explanation as to the physics of the affect of subzero temps on these toys quads is that they
    're gear-driven and the grease is stickier.
  6. stony99

    stony99 Well-Known Member

    Well, Ren I removed ALL the grease from all my Symas. Since the gears are plastic on plastic, they do not need lubrication. Even the pot metal pinion gears riding on plastic drive gears- no lubrication needed. And in the case of the X5, the grease tends to attract dirt and sand and one small piece of dirt or sand in the gears, causes problems. Before I removed all the grease, I carried "push pins" in my flight box to pick sand out of the gears. Very helpful until I removed all the grease.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  7. stony99

    stony99 Well-Known Member

    Lone Ranger, some of us HAVE to fly in the winter! We can't stay way from the damn drones! I can't let a few days go by without flying something somewhere! Hence the Syma X5 and X5 clone. IF you are going to lose a quad in the snow, it may as well be an "under $30 drone"!
  8. Spork

    Spork There is no spoon

    I am not a physicist, but if your X5 is anything like me, it probably wants to sit by the fireplace instead of being outside in the cold.
  9. War Chest

    War Chest Well-Known Member

    I've read all the replies and I'm inclined to say that "Everything" is a factor here.

    1. The colder the air the denser it gets. There is a sweet spots for all propeller based propulsion. If the air is too thick, the motors have a harder time pushing through the dense air. If it's too thin, the propellers have nothing to push and you get no lift.

    2. Cold air affects batteries very quickly. The colder it gets, the more the electrons slow down, the more they slow down, the less current / voltage you're going to get which again slows down the motors. Your motor speed (RPM) is dependent on the voltage you give it.

    3. You mentioned something about your motors using plastic gears to transfer power? Plastic becomes very brittle in extreme cold and gets very soft in high heat. If you are flying in below freezing conditions with plastic gears, you may be inadvertently shredding the plastic to the point that it's no longer meshing properly anymore.

    Bottom line: For many reasons, your quad-copter is not producing enough power to get enough lift to comfortably fly itself around. My bet is that it's the culmination of every reason mentioned that's brough these issues on.

    I fly fairly powerful, brushless mini-quads on 4S batteries and I notice a difference in performance under cold conditions as well.
    Gyro Doctor likes this.
  10. GlassKnees

    GlassKnees Well-Known Member

    "The colder it gets, the more the electrons slow down, the more they slow down, the less current / voltage you're going to get which again slows down the motors." Uh, maybe you can get some tiny scarves to keep them warm! Actually, the colder temperature increases the battery's internal resistance and thus decreases capacity.
  11. Jackson

    Jackson USA member at large

    Another good reason to avoid those relics.
  12. LoneRCRanger

    LoneRCRanger Well-Known Member

    I find that this forum is the site you want to go to when you need advice, even if you don't know what they are talking about.
    mozquito1 likes this.
  13. mozquito1

    mozquito1 Well-Known Member

    Which is pretty much most of the time :D
    Purely down to cold weather & the battery's ability to cope in cold weather.
    As soon as it is on the quad & up a few feet it's cold again. That's why I don't fly much in winter. I'm like a lipo I hate cold & can't function properly.
    dragger201 likes this.
  14. stony99

    stony99 Well-Known Member

    It's my experience that as a lipo battery is used and drained, it heats up. Even in extreme cold weather (I've flown in single digits this year) the battery still gets warm. My guess is that the warming effect of battery use is greater than the cooling effect of the cold air. I keep my batteries in an inside shirt pocket to keep them warm right up until I use them. So when I put them in and fly the drone, the heating process starts, and then counters the cold air effect.

    I was really hoping an "expert" might be able to comment on how cold affects the accelerometers.

    Jackson, like I said, I have a lot of drones (18-20 maybe?) but I always have fun with the Syma X5's! They are a blast and sometimes I finding myself doing stupid things I wouldn't want to risk doing with a more expensive drone.

    For example, I ended up sinking my favorite Syma X5 clone in the Kinzua Reservoir. It went all the way to the bottom in 20 feet of water. Since the blinking lights stayed blinking. I was able to put a heavy spoon on my fishing line and I hooked it and retrieved it. The camera kept recording all through the ordeal. And I pulled the drone to shore, shook the water out of it and it flew again ..... right after being pulled out of the lake! How many drones can you expect to do that with? At worst I would have lost about $24.00 or so! And just about anybody can keep a Syma X5 running for very little money! NO other drone has as many sources of parts available for it at such low prices .... none!
    Rick M likes this.
  15. RENOV8R

    RENOV8R Well-Known Member

    I'm sure there's tons of info online regarding piezoelectric crystal accelerometers, how they function and the affect of cold on them that would be more comprehensive and easier to understand than we could explain. One tip that could be handy though. Calibrate your quad (accelerometer, compass, etc.) outside in the same environment you'll be flying in, not in the warmth of your house. Your batteries on the other hand, should be kept in your pocket or some other warm place until the very last second. Arm your quad and let the props spin at an idle for 30 seconds to let the motors and other components warm up. Might give you a little better performance and longer flight times.
    mozquito1 likes this.
  16. stony99

    stony99 Well-Known Member

    Well, I just figured someone here could help out, before I did my own extensive research. I thought there might be others who had experience flying in the winter and extreme cold.

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