Flying FPV in the winter 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.
Further Reading: For other useful tools and spare for mini quads.
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, it’s true, but the cold can also be very bad for LiPo battery performance, this article explains in detail 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 around 35°C/95°F. Below 18°C/64°F the performance starts to decrease noticeably with much less power and possibly shorter flight times.
Voltage sag is so much worse in the winter, and it can actually feel like you are using a battery pack with lower C rating.
As an experiment, I flew my quadcopter around a race course and recorded the maximum power the battery gave out. The power reached maximum in the middle of the flight when it was warmed up.
While flying in the cold, it’s a good idea to put your next battery in your pocket to warm up before the next flight.
And your used LiPo is a great hand warmer too! :)
RC Transmitter Glove/Hood – No More Cold Hand
It’s hard to fly smoothly with frozen fingers in the winter. I found this transmitter glove the most effective way to keep my hands warm even on a slightly windy day.
Highly Recommended! ★★★★★ (5/5)
This transmitter glove goes over the TX and your hands to keep you snug and cosy. It also does a good job preventing cold wind getting in.
Where to buy
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/2D5Bjxp ($11, Orange)
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/2F5CeAA ($10, Black)
- Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Qkv24z
The mitten works very well, it feels warm and comfortable. 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 sometimes interfere with the fingers holding the sticks. Maybe using some cardboard insert could keep the cover away from the hands?
Hand Warmers – Keeping the Pilot Warm
Recommended! ★★★★☆ (4/5)
Just $1 a pack and each pack lasts about 10 hours (tested and confirmed!). The temperature feels like a LiPo after an intense flight on a mini quad.
The hand warmer looks like very large tea bag, very easy to use, take out it of the package and it will begin to warm up.
You can also use it for other outdoor activities apart from flying FPV. Putting one inside your transmitter glove or pockets works exceptionally well, a bit like an Irish coffee for your hands :D
Flying From Inside the Car
One way to keep yourself when flying in the winter is to do it from inside the car and turn on the heater. :D
However, you can’t just use the same gear. When you are flying from inside the car, your signals will be blocked. You have to extend your antennas or use external receivers and place them outside of the car.
For example, you could use an SMA extension cable with a magnetic base for your radio transmitter. These extension cables work for 900MHz (Crossfire & R9M) and 2.4GHz.
Buy SMA Extender with magnetic base: https://amzn.to/2RCYAdR
For video, you could put an external receiver on top of your car, and connect it to your goggles with a long AV cable. The FuriousFPV Dock-King is a good option because it has built-in magnet that will stick to metal.
Buy Dock-King: http://bit.ly/dock-king
Flying at Night
Days grow shorter in the winter, for people with a 9-to-5 job might miss the opportunity to fly in day light. So you might need a good low light capable camera to fly FPV.
Check out this article where we explain how to fly at night, and compared a few great FPV cameras for night flying.
Things Can Break More Easily – Get Spare!
Prepare to break more props and just stuff in general. Material can become more brittle in the cold and break more easily, and tape and glue can also lose stickiness. Things like durable props and TPU parts might be indestructible in the summer, but they can be destroyed much easier 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 options now 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.
Flying in Living Room
Too cold to go outside? Why not just get a micro quad and fly in your living room? :D If you want to know what Tiny Whoops are popular at the moment, check out my “best Tiny Whoop shoot out“.
Beware of Moisture
Extra moisture in the air and on grass will get into your model. After every flight make sure you dry the model thoroughly.
The best way to prevent moisture is waterproofing your electronics, especially 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. Here is my tutorial on waterproofing FPV components.
- 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
You still have a job to do even if you are not flying at all. If you are not flying for a long time, you should store all your batteries in a fireproof container/place, and make sure they are discharged to 3.8V (the storage voltage) to maximize their lifespan.
- Nov 2015 – Article created
- Dec 2017 – Added info about LiPo performance, Waterproofing, FPV simulator, and heat pack
- Nov 2018 – Added info about “flying from inside the car”, updated article
- Jan 2020 – Updated