Winters can be hard on RC pilots and models, low temperatures can even lead to such profanity as “Nice weather for flying, but it’s too cold to go out there!” Here are a few tips and products that can help you and your quad survive those winter FPV sessions.
Freezing Temperature = Bad Performance?
Is cold temperature better for your quad because the motors and battery are less likely to overheat, and the denser air can help propellers to work more efficiently?
Yes, but the cold can also be very bad for LiPo battery performance, this article explains why LiPo batteries don’t do well in low temperature.
In a nutshell, the chemical reaction inside batteries can be greatly affected by temperature.
For LiPo batteries in particular, they perform the best at about 35°C/95°F. Below 18°C/64°F the performance starts to decrease noticeably with less power and shorter flight times. Flying in very cold conditions can actually feel like you are using a battery pack with smaller capacity and lower C rating.
Therefore you should pay extra attention to your battery voltage, accidentally over-discharging LiPo batteries is a distinct possibility in winter, because the effective capacity is less than normal.
While flying in the cold, it’s a good idea to put your next battery in your pocket to warm it up before your next flight.
Waterproofing your electronics is a good idea if you plan to fly in the snow or rain.
Many electronic parts are likely to stop working and burn out if they come into contact with moisture, especially salt water which is more electrically conductive than fresh water. Waterproofing can really help to protect your components when you are flying (or crashing) in a wet environment.
FliteTest did a great video on waterproofing multirotor electronics:
- Servos – open up the housing and spray inside all of the components with Corrosion X HD
- ESC – use Epoxy to seal the ESC inside heatshrink, hot glue will not work because it doesn’t stick well
Keep the Pilot Warm
It’s hard to fly smoothly with frozen fingers in the winter.
One way to keep yourself warm is to fly from inside your car and turn on the heater. If you can’t do that, you might find the following products helpful.
RC Transmitter Glove/Hood/Mitt
Highly Recommended! ★★★★★ (5/5)
I found this the most effective way to keep my hands warm when flying in the winter. This “Transmitter glove” goes over the TX and your hands to keep you snug and cosy, and it also does a good job preventing cold wind getting in.
Where to buy
The mitten works very well, it feels warm and comfortable, and the transparent plastic allows you to see the TX screen inside the glove. I am pretty sure I would complain more about having frostbite, but the plastic cover can collapse and interferes with the sticks. Maybe using some cardboard insert can keep the cover away from the sticks?
Recommended! ★★★★☆ (4/5)
Just $1 a pack and each pack lasts about 10 hours. You can also use it for something else apart from flying FPV. Putting one inside the glove works exceptionally well, a bit like an Irish coffee for your hands :D
Where to buy: Amazon
Peacock Hand Warmer
A little pricey but an effective, reusable solution ★★★☆☆ (3/5)
The Peacock hand warmer is another great item for outdoor winter activity, which runs off lighter fuel, and it can stays warm for hours each charge.
Where to buy? Amazon
The plastic filling cap has two lines for measuring out fuel, first line is around 6mL, second line is around 12mL. The cap does seem to come off the peacock hand warmer very easily, which it shouldn’t, but with 12mL of Zippo fuel it stayed hot for an impressive 10 to 12 hours.
You do have to put the hand warmer in a Velveteen bag though, because it gets quite hot and you could burn your hands by holding it for too long.
There are tons of tutorials and demonstrations on Youtube showing how the hand warmer works, make sure to check them out.
Things break more easily
Prepare to break more props and stuff, because material becomes more brittle in the cold and break more easily. Especially durable props and TPU mounts, they can crack easily when they hit something in the winter.
Maybe you are sick of flying outside in the cold, why not just stay warm and comfy at home, and fire up the FPV flight simulator?
There are now so many different options with a tons of tracks and maps you can practice on, they will last a long time before you get bored.
Check out our review on all the popular FPV sims.
- Nov 2015 – Article created
- Dec 2017 – Added info about LiPo performance, Waterproofing, FPV simulator, and heat pack