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Shout Out To Alaskan Droners

Trox

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Wow, we qualify as having our own little piece of the forum as Non-Contiguous (disconnected) individuals. I guess they could have called us Alaska/Hawaii/PR & Territories. That would mean you too @Ansia.

Hoping to connect with other droners in Southcentral - any brand, any model really. Just would like to meet up and do some flying together to share the experience and learn from each other. You know, birds of a feather flock together! I've got some great ideas for filming adventures around our area including glaciers, old mining areas and operations, and other points of interest in the Last Frontier. I don't plan to let Old Man Winter stifle my desire to put the bird in the air when ambient temps are within decent parameters for winter flying.

I'm on the KP in Soldotna BTW. Have truck will travel. Fairly open schedule.
 

Ansia

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I've met 2 Evo flyers in this forum from PR. The first one crashed his Evo within a week and dissapeared. The second one I tried to meet him and fly together, but he wasn't really interested. I do fly with other drone pilots, but I am the only Evo flyer there.
 
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Trox

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I've met 2 Evo flyers in this forum from PR. The first one crashed his Evo within a week and dissapeared. The second one I tried to meet him and fly together, but he wasn't really interested. I do fly with other drone pilots, but I am the only Evo flyer there.
Well as any seafaring salty dog would say, "Any port in the storm" so I'm not going to be picky. LOL Beggars can't be choosers.

From my experience to date, going back say 4 years, I've seen TWO drones in the air around my home grounds or while on the road. Both actually visited me this summer on the same day about an hour apart while I was on the beach fishing. Small profiles; one seemed to be of the Mavic persuasion, the other was a slimmer design in silver. No idea where they came from other than from one or two of the houses along the beach bluff. So my prospects don't appear to be encouraging for finding a local co-pilot. Can't hurt to try.

But I guess in a "worst" case scenario, I could consider myself a pioneer in the field of drone photography and cinematography for my area. Already lined up three clients next spring after I finish my 107 quest this winter.
 

YYC_Ron

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Wow, we qualify as having our own little piece of the forum as Non-Contiguous (disconnected) individuals. I guess they could have called us Alaska/Hawaii/PR & Territories. That would mean you too @Ansia.

Hoping to connect with other droners in Southcentral - any brand, any model really. Just would like to meet up and do some flying together to share the experience and learn from each other. You know, birds of a feather flock together! I've got some great ideas for filming adventures around our area including glaciers, old mining areas and operations, and other points of interest in the Last Frontier. I don't plan to let Old Man Winter stifle my desire to put the bird in the air when ambient temps are within decent parameters for winter flying.

I'm on the KP in Soldotna BTW. Have truck will travel. Fairly open schedule.
Hi Trox, great to hear of opportunities. I get to Alaska once or twice a year - usually anchorage area. I would love to find some great flying and filming locations.
 

Trox

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Hi Trox, great to hear of opportunities. I get to Alaska once or twice a year - usually anchorage area. I would love to find some great flying and filming locations.
Hey YYC_Ron
The last few days have been wet here on the Peninsula at 44°F tonight and bare ground. Three cheers for climate change! So to keep my enthusiasm flowing while grounded I've been doing a lot of Google Earth research for future flight projects, both this winter and next year. The list continues to expand as I let my mind wander.

I have been plotting out some glacier exploration filming next year of the Matanuska Glacier, Portage Glacier and a "hidden" glacier in Whittier's backyard....Leonard Glacier. Mileage and range of EVO should be able to provide some decent opportunities to capture the essence of an ice age.

As far as this winter once the spring seeps along Turnagain Arm begin changing from water to ice falls there will be some opportunities to film the ice climbers along the road as well as perhaps some of the Dall sheep that live in the area and come down to the road to eat the salt from the sanding trucks.

Spring provides some good possibilities. Filming paddle boarders and surfers riding the bore tides of Turnagain Arm on the big minus tides is on my bucket list. There is also a fair size group of kite surfers that 'fly' the waters at the end of the arm and provide some nice filming opportunities. And during the hooligan run in Turnagain Arm there are opportunities to film the beluga whales following the schools of smelt heading for their spawning stream where a lot of Alaskans participate in dip-netting for the smelt for food and fish bait.

Ha, that's just the tip of the ice berg! There is one more 'exotic' adventure I've been dying to get out to film.....humpback whales bubble net feeding ever since I saw that from the air in the Bahîa de Banderas while flying into Puerto Vallarta. Now I have the drone for that project. Just need to come up with a plan that will provide the best opportunities which won't be easy when dealing with such a wide expanse of ocean for the critters to feed. But there is a lot of scenery as well as other wildlife to film not to mention fishing too.

Keep in touch as to your AK travel itinerary and maybe we'll get a match.
 
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Alaska

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Valley Evo flier here. I don't get out much, but I am trying to change that.
I will say that I found out the hard way you can't fly in ice fog. We went for a drive Friday trying to get out of the wind and ended up at Eureka before it stopped. But then we had fog instead. Props iced up and it fell out of the sky, but luckily it was only a couple feet off the ground and landed in a little snow. No harm done. Flew all last winter in temps as low as 18 below and never had an issue. Lesson learned.
 
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Ansia

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You can use a spray to prevent ice buildup on the props. I forget the name of the product, but it's made by RainX.
 

Alaska

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Don't know, never encountered it before, it was 28 degrees and foggy right on the deck. Not sure I would chance it to go anywhere in those conditions now even with spray. Suppose I was over water, a canyon or just a long ways away? Not worth it.

Luckily I was hovering near the ground after flying around a bit. I was going to stay below the frost covered brush then rise up to view some frost covered spruce. Unfortunately instead of rising when I hit the toggle it sank and flipped upside down in the snow. After cleaning it off I ran it a bit to see what the issue was (I didn't see the ice at the time) it flew a little ways, then it started veering off course and I couldn't make it gain altitude. It kind of bunny hopped across the parking lot so I put it away before something bad happened. That's when I saw the ice. It was stuck on pretty good and pretty thick. Really surprised me.2019-11-08 Drone ice fog at Eureka, AK (3).jpg
 
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Agustine

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Ice build up is really bad with carbon fiber props. I have them installed on two of my UAV's. I was flying over the water falls down the road in winter and when I landed the props had a layer of ice on the underside. I got lucky and it flew just fine and landed but it could have been worse if the flight was any longer. Any kind of anti freeze sprayed on them will keep the ice from forming.
 

Trox

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Valley Evo flier here. I don't get out much, but I am trying to change that.
I will say that I found out the hard way you can't fly in ice fog. We went for a drive Friday trying to get out of the wind and ended up at Eureka before it stopped. But then we had fog instead. Props iced up and it fell out of the sky, but luckily it was only a couple feet off the ground and landed in a little snow. No harm done. Flew all last winter in temps as low as 18 below and never had an issue. Lesson learned.
Hey Alaska, Thanks for the heads up on the ice fog threat. I hadn't even considered that on a drone scale even though I have a number of friends who are bush pilots that must watch out for icing on their aircraft. I'll have to look into the treatment chemicals as an added safeguard.

Soldotna flyer here on the Kenai in town. I'm hoping to document the river jamming and freezing up this winter (IF it gets cold enough) using the drone as well as my hand cam. At 20 below zero for a short flight I hope I can dodge the bullet. But you are well aware of how the hoar frost forms on the trees at those sub-zero temps so I wonder if the same thing could occur on the props even without visible ice fog. Perhaps some near ground level hovering would be wise to do for a trial run. Not looking to order another EVO for a replacement Christmas present.

When I hit the road to do some shooting up in your neck of the woods I'll give you a shout out in case you have the time or desire to meet up on those ventures. A friend drove back from Anchorage last week and said there had to be 100-150 swans in the flooded area between the highway and mountain when you get past Portage before you head up the mountain. That would have been a sight to see and photograph.
 

Alaska

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I have flown a lot in very cold and below zero temps since I acquired my Evo last October (2018). If I didn't fly in the cold I wouldn't have gotten much in. I never had a single issue with ice, but it just wasn't humid at all. There were ice crystals in the air as well as the fog when I was flying this time so I think it was just the perfect combination. Just glad I wasn't over a canyon. It didn't drop like a rock, just lost lift and settled down and wouldn't respond to the stick to climb. It was a little heavy on one side so that side hit the snow first and caused it to flip.
I have gone out when we have the big ice fog events that covers the trees, but I do it on a clear sunny day so I get the prettiest pictures. Never had an issue on those days.
I will try wiping the props with something next time I think it might be an issue.
Where the swans are I think is in the Chugach National Forest, but I am not positive. Might check for restrictions there. That and those big power lines. Those could ruin your day.
 
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Trox

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I have flown a lot in very cold and below zero temps since I acquired my Evo last October (2018). If I didn't fly in the cold I wouldn't have gotten much in. I never had a single issue with ice, but it just wasn't humid at all. There were ice crystals in the air as well as the fog when I was flying this time so I think it was just the perfect combination. Just glad I wasn't over a canyon. It didn't drop like a rock, just lost lift and settled down and wouldn't respond to the stick to climb. It was a little heavy on one side so that side hit the snow first and caused it to flip.
I have gone out when we have the big ice fog events that covers the trees, but I do it on a clear sunny day so I get the prettiest pictures. Never had an issue on those days.
I will try wiping the props with something next time I think it might be an issue.
Where the swans are I think is in the Chugach National Forest, but I am not positive. Might check for restrictions there. That and those big power lines. Those could ruin your day.
Thanks so much for your confirmation on cold weather operation for the EVO. You have a winter up on me so I'm jealous. Beautiful hoar frost photos! I'm looking forward to those days this winter when both tree-lined banks of the Kenai are pure white like in your photos with the low angle of the sun lighting them from the side. As you know after a hard cold snap creating the frost we will get that golden opportunity where the temps break and you have the frost in 20° temps for a short bit. An ideal time to film. And another opportunity when the breeze starts shaking the frost off the branches as frost avalanches. :)

The Drone and component specs are all over the map when it comes to their "operating temperature limits." Gimbal good down to 14°F but camera only 32°F. The comforting thing was the drone battery says its discharge temperature range is -4°F ~ 140°F. I was concerned about the material inside a Li-Po battery at low temps but apparently the drone battery itself is the toughest component. I've operated my SPOT personal satellite tracker with Lithium AA batteries in it at -30°F and the unit never missed a check in or ten minute interval for tracking my location.

With the EVO camera having a focus range of <1m to ∞ I'm hoping to fly the EVO down frosty trails between the trees with the sun low and shining through the tree branches. And maybe capture some of those crystal sparkles by shooting at a high frame rate and then slowing it down in post.

So far all we have on the KP is green grass and running water with the lakes still open. The crappy thing is we are losing so much daylight forcing me to explore more still photography at longer exposures during low light conditions. Its a bummer the video mode only drops to 1/25th sec shutter speed. I have a Sony camcorder that can slow down to 1/4 sec shutter speed to create some wild imagery effects. Don't ask me how it can shoot 30 fps with each frame exposing at 1/4 sec. HA. That's breaking the laws of physics!!
 

Trox

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I will try wiping the props with something next time I think it might be an issue.
Where the swans are I think is in the Chugach National Forest, but I am not positive. Might check for restrictions there. That and those big power lines. Those could ruin your day.
I forgot to mention these points. As far as treating the props, I am going to try using a can of silicone spray that is commonly used to waterproof tents and outdoors gear. I've used silicone lubricants and non-conductive greases in electrical applications with success. Can't hurt to wipe some of the spray on the props and see if it helps. One of the products is called Scotch Guard.

As far as the Chugach National Forest, which BTW is the second largest national forest in the USA next to I believe the Tongass which is also in AK, there are no restrictions on flying your drone where the land is designated only as Chugach forest. In my case on the Kenai Peninsula we have a huge majority of the peninsula incorporated into the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge which is just like a national park and a total No Fly Zone. One side of the Russian River is off limits, the other side is forest and flyable! From the ferry crossing and upstream. Any of the federal national forests are OK to fly in as long as you don't fly into parts that might have a national momument, park, or refuge within or part of its lands.

There are some other considerations: there is a Federal law, and often state laws too, regarding harassment of wildlife. And a drone is capable of violating that law if you "spook" the animals and cause them to react other than in a natural way. So even flying over a stretch of ocean beach over a bunch of seagulls and causing them to fly away or avoid the drone is a violation and can cost you your gear and a fine and/or jail time. So filming with a drone has some considerations when you encounter wildlife of any kind. Your video could be what convicts you in a court of law if you posted the wrong clips to Youtube or Vimeo, FB or Instagram. Smoking gun! HA
 

Alaska

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Beware flying down frosty trails. If it decides it needs to return to home it will shoot up through the branches. Pretty sure you can force it down if need be. You can definitely hold the pause button and stop it, but you might not have that much time.
 
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Trox

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Beware flying down frosty trails. If it decides it needs to return to home it will shoot up through the branches. Pretty sure you can force it down if need be. You can definitely hold the pause button and stop it, but you might not have that much time.
You are SO correct in that warning. And in fact I have been mentally "scouting" some of our X-country ski trails and bike paths that can provide a clear ceiling to avoid the dreaded overhanging branch that a number of others have encountered from pilot error and a trip to the repair shop was the penalty.

I guess that is another VERY good reason not to fly EVO in Follow Me mode on bike paths and running paths which have large trees on the sidelines. Its kinda ironic that all the marketing videos by all the drone makers frequently show their aircraft following joggers, bikers, hikers and even vehicles on wooded routes with congested overhead airspace. (Maybe its a plot to generate repair service revenue!) ;)

The Skydio 2 appears to be the only drone coming out with a plethora of redundant sensors in all six directions to avoid an activated RTH crash into overhead branches from low battery or lost signal. Both scenarios could easily occur if you are engaged in a one man show filming yourself and are not keeping track of signal strength or battery power.
 

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