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Going through the clouds ?

dizzy33

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Hello,

I did flight today, the clouds were at a low altitude, I would say near 400 meters. One of my dreams would be to fly higher than the clouds.
I was wondering, do you think it's safe for a drone to go through a cloud ? Isn't there too much humidity in a cloud for the drone ?
 
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rktman

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Tomk_

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I believe that legally you must remain 500 ft below clouds (and 2000 ft horizontally). I realize that doesn't answer the question "can a drone fly through the clouds?" I think humidity could be an issue. But I also believe that the "humidity" in clouds can vary. Some will cause heavy condensation to form immediately. Others not so much. I think it would come down to spread of the dewpoint and the temperature of the drone to allow condensation.
 
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A.O.

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I believe that legally you must remain 500 ft below clouds (and 2000 ft horizontally). I realize that doesn't answer the question "can a drone fly through the clouds?" I think humidity could be an issue. But I also believe that the "humidity" in clouds can vary. Some will cause heavy condensation to form immediately. Others not so much. I think it would come down to spread of the dewpoint and the temperature of the drone to allow condensation.
So where do you think this law exists? and if you have to stay 500 feet below and the clouds are at 400 like the OP was talking, are you grounded?? Just curious, first I've heard of cloud laws..
 

Tomk_

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In the FARs. From AC 107-2 -Small Unmanned Aicraft Systems:

5.10.3 Visibility and Distance from Clouds. Once the remote PIC and VO have been able to reliably establish the small UA AGL altitude, it is incumbent on the remote PIC to determine that visibility from the CS is at least 3 sm and that the small UA is kept at least 500 feet below a cloud and at least 2,000 feet horizontally from a cloud.​
I suppose that because this is from part 107 that it may not apply to recreational pilots.​
 
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mrmund

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In the FARs. From AC 107-2 -Small Unmanned Aicraft Systems:

5.10.3 Visibility and Distance from Clouds. Once the remote PIC and VO have been able to reliably establish the small UA AGL altitude, it is incumbent on the remote PIC to determine that visibility from the CS is at least 3 sm and that the small UA is kept at least 500 feet below a cloud and at least 2,000 feet horizontally from a cloud.​
I suppose that because this is from part 107 that it may not apply to recreational pilots.​
Yes, it applies to all UAS within FAA jurisdiction
 

mrmund

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And if you try it and there are downward facing sensors on your drone they definitely can fog up and cause difficulties bringing down the aircraft.
Please don't ask me how I know this...
 

dizzy33

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I didn't make this thread to talk about legal rules, but technical things. I would like to know if a drone can technically go through the clouds or not. I saw some Youtube videos of people going close to the clouds, or through the clouds (the one I saw going through the clouds had a problem : the drone, which was not a DJI FPV, refused to go back below the clouds, so finally the drone felt ...).
I saw another video of someone saying sensors may be a problem to go through the clouds, we need to deactivate them. But on the DJI FPV, in sport mode, all sensors are deactivated (I mean they will not stop the drone).
Finally I think I will try to go close to clouds, but without going through them.
 

Tomk_

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That sounds like a good decision.

I'm the one who took this off track - so to answer your question cleanly... Technically speaking your drone can fly through clouds, at least until condensation shorts out the electronics.
 

mrmund

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I didn't make this thread to talk about legal rules, but technical things. I would like to know if a drone can technically go through the clouds or not. I saw some Youtube videos of people going close to the clouds, or through the clouds (the one I saw going through the clouds had a problem : the drone, which was not a DJI FPV, refused to go back below the clouds, so finally the drone felt ...).
I saw another video of someone saying sensors may be a problem to go through the clouds, we need to deactivate them. But on the DJI FPV, in sport mode, all sensors are deactivated (I mean they will not stop the drone).
Finally I think I will try to go close to clouds, but without going through them.
Technically, the problem when it comes to sensors is that when condensation forms on the downward facing sensors and the qwad thinks that it's seeing the ground and doesn't want to descend. With the DJI FPV you'll be ok as long as it stays in Manual and doesn't try to RTH. I'm not saying that you shouldn't try it but definitely stay within "LOS" so you don't lose your TX signal. If that happens all bets are off.
As far as FAA regs, their concern is a manned aircraft flying IFR through the clouds won't see you and you won't see them so you can't "stay clear".
As long as you try it in a place where you won't have a conflict with manned aircraft you'll be fine(unless your Youtube posting gets lots of clicks...) The footage you can get above clouds looks so great and is a perspective that we're not familiar with so it stands out. Also try to find a place where there's something that sticks above the clouds for perspective like a mountain or tower.

And Good Job! Tomk, this forum is about education. The more we all know the more fun we can have and safer pilots we can be.
 

Kilrah

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No problem going through clouds, just do NOT do that if it's close to freezing temps or you risk prop icing. Might be less of a problem on the FPV since the props spin so much faster but there are countless people who crashed mavics etc because of that.
 

rktman

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A lot of uninformed speculation here... @Kilrah is correct – freezing is pretty much the only concern.

Got my repaired goggles back, here's playing God on the edge of the fog bank yesterday :cool:

 
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rktman

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@dizzy33 400m is not low altitude for a drone. I wouldn't fly in clouds or fog like this any higher than 500ft (about 170m) AGL with clouds obscuring much of your view of potential other aircraft.

Also, if you can dance around the edge it's a lot safer too. And, that's where all the fun is any way. Being in the clouds is as boring (and nerve wracking) as simply flying blind.
 

Phantomrain.org

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You're right, thanks a lot

From a Technical level we have been flying the DJI FPV in the Rain , the lens is somewhat difficult to keep clear of the moisture , and the battery although it did not dis connect in the flight ,
we were surprised that we could not use it again after the First flight , as it would not take a charge after the first hard down pour it was flown in.

So when we designed the Wet Suit for the FPV , much of the Focus was to Water Proof that battery Power Button being the weakest link.
The Sensors do get affected with Low Light Warning but do not effect the drone itself.

If your going to fly in the Fog / Rain we recommend the Wet Suit to keep the Drone battery safe from harm.


Phantomrain.org
Gear to fly your DJI FPV in the Rain .
 

dizzy33

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OK thanks a lot, but in fact I will not fly in the rain or wet conditions. I will not go through the clouds.
 

inno

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Back to the OP
Hello,

I did flight today, the clouds were at a low altitude, I would say near 400 meters. One of my dreams would be to fly higher than the clouds.
I was wondering, do you think it's safe for a drone to go through a cloud ? Isn't there too much humidity in a cloud for the drone ?

Back to the op's original question... It's been discussed in many other threads on PhantomPilots and MavicPilots that the downward obstacle avoidance of the drone when going up through the cloud or fog for that matter is no issue. However trying to come back down through a cloud or fog depending on density may confuse the obstacle avoidance and not allow the drone to come back down through the cloud or fog thinking it's an obstacle. If this happens and battery runs to the point of Failsafe RTH, well it's coming down regardless of altitude, UNSAFE. However if you do fly up and through, then make sure you are flying at least in Sports mode, this turns off the obstacle avoidance but then technically it's still unsafe and illegal depending on what your laws are, because now your beyond VLOS. I will say though you can get some pretty cool video or pics up there and I'm not saying I advocate it it either. Taking the 5th on that one.

Happy and safe flying!
inno
 
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rktman

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I've done it so much without any issues at all I have no concerns at all.

Some caveats: Never through clouds higher than 200–300 ft, above that the risk with other aircraft goes up substantially.

Also there's nothing interesting about flying up through a solid cloud deck and seeing what's above it. Yeah, it's really pretty for about 60 seconds and it's boring. There's nothing interesting about flying over the tops of clouds more than once or so.

The interesting cloud flying is all along the edges. You can see it in the videos I posted. You have much more visual situation awareness, the imagery is much more interesting, and flying FPV through those wispy edges where you can see things below is a lot more fun.
 

inno

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I've done it so much without any issues at all I have no concerns at all.

Some caveats: Never through clouds higher than 200–300 ft, above that the risk with other aircraft goes up substantially.

Also there's nothing interesting about flying up through a solid cloud deck and seeing what's above it. Yeah, it's really pretty for about 60 seconds and it's boring. There's nothing interesting about flying over the tops of clouds more than once or so.

The interesting cloud flying is all along the edges. You can see it in the videos I posted. You have much more visual situation awareness, the imagery is much more interesting, and flying FPV through those wispy edges where you can see things below is a lot more fun.
Totally agree with you. However, i fly a lot in the sierra mountains and at times i am at cloud level but try to stay above when taking off. But weather is weather. the cloud deck is constantly changing. The scenery above can be breath taking at times especially when the clouds are hugging a mountain peek and flying the edges of the clouds is sometimes very cool. However, if there is nothing above the clouds other than blue sky, then totally boring.

Been flying the mavic and phantom series drones for awhile now and just now the DJI FPV. I can't speak yet to the sensitivity of the DJI FPV sensors, but my others have picked up distance between the drone and clouds many times.

PS
Can't speak for recent months due to the fact that mother nature I think forgot about us again this year. Not much weather, just fires. Hopefully this will end this year
 
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