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Batteries and Cold Weather – Our Solution

The drone, the crew, the backpack

We fly our DJI Inspire 1 Pro with TB47 and TB48 batteries.

These Lipo batteries do not like cold weather. DJI spec says the operating temperature range is -10° to 40°C (14° to 104°F), but if you operate below +5°C, the app will give a scary warning. And, in general, a cold battery means reduced capacity.



Here is our solution. We considered making an electric heater using old Lipos, but that means yet more complexity, timers, th

ermostats and another charger. Some people suggest using a microwavable pad (or a bag of rice), but we couldn’t always guarantee access to a microwave on assignment.

But when we’re travelling, there IS always access to hot water. So the answer was an insulated picnic backback with a hot water bottle, and a secure compartment for the batteries.


The batteries are stored in a plastic box (I found one from Hobbycraft for £5) and packaged in foam (from ebay). My cutting out skills leave a lot to be desired; a hot wire cutter would have done a better job.

The seal on the box will keep the batteries safe even if the hot water bottle has a leak.



backpack5The whole kit is carried in an insulated picnic backpack, which also gives convenient storage for any odds and ends that don’t fit in the DJI Inspire carry case.

It’s important that the batteries don’t get too hot either. The maximum storage temperature for the batteries is 45°C (113°F), which is achieved by having both the hot water bottle and the batteries insulated. There is no need to use boiling water. Somewhere around ‘hot’ will ensure that the the batteries don’t exceed their maximum storage temperature of 45°C (113°F)



All in all, this seems a better solution than the DJI electric heater (which one could easily accidentally leave on). As it’s currently the middle of the English summer, we haven’t been able to do a cold weather test, but it seems to stay warm for at least 8 hours, so we’re pleased we have a solution to the problem. Put the kettle on!

A 3D Model Build

tower - ground photoA lot of experimentation has gone into our 3D model builds. The work starts with choosing a suitable subject, where we can achieve good 360° photography, legally, safely, and without sun flare. This can be more difficult than it sounds!

Remake can create movie files and fly-throughs which synthesise spectacular views that never existed in the first place. The mesh can be exported in a number of industry-standard formats, such as FBX, OBJ, OBJ (QUADS) and PLY mesh file formats for further design and engineering workflows in Autodesk Fusion360 or other design/engineering products.

Other editing and clean-up tools such as Meshlab can also be used on the cloudpoint, using for example, an obj file export and re-import.

All this work produces a film:

Prop guards, yes or no?

Mavic with prop guards

Prop guards, some protection, but at a cost

We try to avoid close quarters manoeuvring – it’s stressful and involves risk, and for survey work, is generally not necessary. But sometimes, the drone could come into close proximity …  with the ground, a wall, a tree, or heaven forbid, a person. Worth flying with prop guards?

It’s should be recognised that prop guards themselves add risk. They reduce flight time, meaning more landings for battery changes, more manoeuvring and more crew stress.

Prop guards are a compromise; to be lightweight, they can only be strong enough to protect against light impacts, which you could argue, shouldn’t happen to an experienced pilot.

The one situation where I would always fly with guards would be indoors, with no GPS. Here in a malfunction, such as loss of control link, the drone could drift uncontrollably until it slides into a wall. Our RAMS for indoor work reflects this. Elsewhere, fly with care, and enjoy the best possible battery flight time!