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FPV drones for tornado research...

harleydude

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Hey doods!

Since DJI packaged the FPV drone into a neat, little, user-friendly package, I suspected a long time ago that storm chasers would consider using them for storm chasing. I can't think of a better camera or a better, safer way to become "intimate" with a tornado. And because these FPV drones are relatively cheap, I honestly would be tempted to just plow right into a tornado just to see what happens. Remember, the drone will be tossed around in the same direction and velocity as all the debris. So I think that as long as the props are protected, the chances of survival are relatively high. 50/50??? And because a tornado is a vortex, I assume the drone might be lifted and eventually pushed to the top of the tornado (aided by the pilot perhaps), in which case a nadir shot right down the gullet of the tornado might be very interesting. A skilled pilot MIGHT even be able to keep the drone in the EYE of the tornado. How amazing would THAT be???

Meteorologists have been trying to gather tornado data for decades. And now we have this small, robust platform with GPS and a flight log! Assuming the drone is recovered, the amount of data and footage it would net would be amazing. Even if not recovered, the iPad (or goggles) data/footage might be useful. And what the heck...send 3 or 4 or 5 into the tornado. Chances are at least one will survive.

To me, this seems like an OBVIOUS idea. But there are no tornadoes in my neck of the woods. So I haven't been able to test this idea. I assume that even if someone had the idea LATER than I did, but lived in a tornado environment, that they would put it into motion before me. I know there are guys who have already gotten close to tornadoes with other drones, but to go INSIDE a tornado and survive??? Wow...that would be something.

Interesting food for thought.

Discuss.

D
 

thetechnobear

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I ran (well flew) away from a dust devil the other day.... so can't say Id want to get anywhere near a tornado.

I'll admit, I did think, for a fleeting second, I wonder what would happen if I flew into it ;)
 
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harleydude

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I ran (well flew) away from a dust devil the other day.... so can't say Id want to get anywhere near a tornado.

I'll admit, I did think, for a fleeting second, I wonder what would happen if I flew into it ;)
THAT's the moxie this industry needs!....<;^)

D
 

okw

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An F5 tornado can produce wind speeds in excess of 300mph. Even an F1 can produce winds that are faster than the top speed of a DJI FPV quad. As soon as you flew into it, the quad would become uncontrollable and just another piece of debris. If the controller managed to stay connected until the quad hit the ground, there might be a chance of recovering some of the pieces of the wreckage.

It would seem that it would be much cheaper to just make a transmitter module with a GPS receiver and maybe some other sensors (temperature, pressure, etc) and throw it up into the tornado. Kinda like in the movie Twister. You'd probably be looking at less than $25 worth of parts, as opposed to $700+ for the DJI FPV.
 

harleydude

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An F5 tornado can produce wind speeds in excess of 300mph. Even an F1 can produce winds that are faster than the top speed of a DJI FPV quad. As soon as you flew into it, the quad would become uncontrollable and just another piece of debris.

Exactly. But that's the point...to see where the tornado takes the drone or "debris."



If the controller managed to stay connected until the quad hit the ground, there might be a chance of recovering some of the pieces of the wreckage.
The only thing that will destroy the drone is a collision. Wind alone - even 300 mph wind - won't destroy the drone if it doesn't smash into anything. I'm thinking that, since all the garbage is in the same vortex, that all the garbage is traveling at the same velocity. Ergo, there might not be a "collision" per se. At last not a 300 mph collision. But who knows1 That's the phun of launching a drone into the vortex.



It would seem that it would be much cheaper to just make a transmitter module with a GPS receiver and maybe some other sensors (temperature, pressure, etc) and throw it up into the tornado.
Throw? How about "throwing" from like 1/2 mile away? That would be a drone.



Kinda like in the movie Twister. You'd probably be looking at less than $25 worth of parts, as opposed to $700+ for the DJI FPV.
People have been trying to conduct tornado forensics for decades. The FPV drone gives hope for getting close, getting IN, and gathering data.

D
 

JoostGT3

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You're not the first one:

Basically, the drone records a fews seconds of nice footage, then is encapsulated in grey debris then never found again.
You'd be better off just chucking a 360 camera with a little parachute and a GPS tracker, let it get sucked up by the tornado and try to recover it afterward, right?
 

Kilrah

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This isn't in manual, the whole point is that in manual/acro you would go with the wind instead of it trying to hold position when it clearly can't.

It definitely would be fun to try.
 
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okw

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Throw? How about "throwing" from like 1/2 mile away? That would be a drone.
A small ball with sensors inside could be launched with something like an air cannon from quite a distance away. Or just put the sensors in the path and let them get sucked up.

If it needs to be a drone, there are much cheaper options rather than using the DJI FPV. But if you have tons of money to throw into the wind (literally), have at it.
 

harleydude

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This isn't in manual, the whole point is that in manual/acro you would go with the wind instead of it trying to hold position when it clearly can't.

It definitely would be fun to try.
Exactly. ATTI mode and let 'er drift with the wind. Hopefully, the drone will keep itself aloft (not smash into the ground once the vortex is done with her), but fighting a 300 mph wind would be an exercise in futility.

D
 

Kilrah

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ATTI wouldn't be any good, it still tries to hold altitude which would probably not work well at all. But full manual no problem, come close slowly and you can get the "feel" for when it becomes too hairy, and the video transmission should be good enough to circle around. Should make for awesome images, would give it a try.
 

harleydude

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ATTI wouldn't be any good, it still tries to hold altitude which would probably not work well at all.
I don't know. Clearly the drone would lose in any altitude contests with the tornado, but I don't think it would harm the drone. It would just insure that, once spat out, it wouldn't drop mercilessly to the ground.


But full manual no problem
I haven't seen "full manual" since I flew gasser helicopters in the '80s. Even building your own drone, if you're using a Flight Controller, which is absolutely necessary for a 4-motor vehicle, it will only have a couple modes, none of which will be "full manual." So...are you talking about a helicopter?



, come close slowly and you can get the "feel" for when it becomes too hairy, and the video transmission should be good enough to circle around. Should make for awesome images, would give it a try.
Well....my original point is that there exist a lot of footage OUTSIDE the vortex. My objective would be to shoot INSIDE the vortex and - with a lot of luck - maybe even hang out long enough in the eye of the beast to get interesting nadir footage right down the gullet.

Honestly, if I lived in a tornado area, I would absolutely seek sponsorship for such a project and have a contingency of drones and drone pilots to attempt to get that footage. Given the budget of any well-funded storm-chasing endeavor, sacrificing drones would be peanuts.

D
 

PTMC

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Good tornado drone adventure here; gotta love the guys crazy annoying enthusiasm!


I would totally charge strait at a tornado with my FPV Drone, as long as I felt I was at a safe distance. It would be an amazing FPV experience! I realize some have the opinion that its too risky with a $700 dollar drone but the reality is flying FPV with this done is just a risky venture.
 

Kilrah

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haven't seen "full manual" since I flew gasser helicopters in the '80s. Even building your own drone, if you're using a Flight Controller, which is absolutely necessary for a 4-motor vehicle, it will only have a couple modes, none of which will be "full manual."
What DIY quad FCs call Acro is called Manual on the DJI FPV.

Clearly the drone would lose in any altitude contests with the tornado, but I don't think it would harm the drone.
ATTI also severely restricts what you can do, you wouldn't have enough control authority to do much. But yeah if I was to do that I'd remap one of the mode switch positions to ATTI just in case, but not plan on using it.

My objective would be to shoot INSIDE the vortex and - with a lot of luck - maybe even hang out long enough in the eye of the beast to get interesting nadir footage right down the gullet.
Sure, with a bunch of backups that would be great. I'd still take it in steps, get a feel for how it becomes when coming closer and whether power seemed sufficient etc and see how it goes. Main issue would likely it being hit by debris, 2nd is whether this thing has enough power. Might need to come from higher in a dive to get in.

Honestly, if I lived in a tornado area
Eh you said you're just 300 miles away, shouldn't be a problem? Certainly compared to us on another continent where that doesn't happen :)
 

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