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Floats for water landings suggestions and ideas requested

DB1

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Hi All,

I plan on flying my H Pro with RealSense from my pontoon on a 2 mile long and half mile wide lake. I should be able to land it on the 6 foot x 6 foot bed (rear deck) of my pontoon but if there are a lot of boats on the water landing on a rolling deck would probably not be possible because a flat level surface is required to land normally. In this situation a hand grab which is a subject in another forum discussion would probably be the better option. However I want to add some kind of float skids to the landing gear to land on water -at least in an emergency situation to keep the H from sinking. Damage to the camera and other electronics would still be a concern but at least I would still have my H Pro for mechanical replacement parts.

I watched a neighbor's DJI Phantom just drop out of the sky while hoovering about 50 feet over the water taking pictures of his house. He ended up with a full set of spare parts when he recovered it. Mechanical spare parts only - the electronics were a total loss after sinking immediately 15 feet to the bottom. DJI would not warranty the repair because of the water even though it was not pilot error rather a problem with the drone. The lake has a depth of 40 - 70 feet in most areas so recovering the drone without scuba gear at those depths would probably not be an option.

I was thinking of using some of those 4 inch diameter foam tubes that you can buy for swimming cut to about 18 inches long strapped to the landing gear. I need to make sure that the low hanging camera stays as far from the water as possible so another 4 inches of height would be advantageous. Landing on rough wavy water would still be an issue but in an emergency landing I may not have a choice. I figure I would have to kill the motors just above the water in rough waters being that wavy water would not be flat and level. Landing on the lake in calm waters shouldn’t be an issue though but it still shouldn’t hurt to kill the motors just above the waters.

I am assuming that the floats would vastly increase the wind resistance and stability with normal flights. The H is normally very stable in winds up to about 20 MPH I have found.

The landing gear would probably pretty much have to stay down because they may also block most of the air flow required to fly from 2 to 4 of the props which would make the H un-flyable. This would only be evident if the landing gear was raised and that would be too late. So with the landing gear down they would also block the camera view and limit it to forward, down and rear. Possible lengthening the vertical length or height of the landing gear would keep the float outside of the props when the landing gear is raised and allow them to clear the airflow from the props.

It is winter and the lake is frozen. Testing this out on flat land just to see how stable and workable it is; is possible. Being that the snow can get pretty deep here in Michigan the foam floats would be very helpful also. Actually anything over an inch or 2 is an issue. I always lay down a 2x2 foot piece of plywood to land on in winter. In the case of an emergency landing in the snow however the float skids are also needed because any snow over a few inches will bury the camera and at least take it out. In the snow just wider flat skids might work to distribute the weight and keep the H from sinking in the snow kind of like snow shoes.

At this point I'm still thinking out a design and would appreciate any thoughts, ideas or suggestions on the project. Especially from anyone that has already designed some type of float skids. –Thanks in advance.
 
R

Rayray

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Great idea for your situation, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the project. No reason why it won't work, but you will probably have to do actual tests. Would a circular float work?
I ran across this similar project which may give you an idea or two. Floating Outrigging For a Drone - All

Kindly keep us informed as you go along. Progress is our most important product.
Good luck:)
 
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The Instructables post.. I hope the author meant 3cm x 50cm, not 3x50 inches...

Silly thought... What if...
Use landing legs long enough that the retracted skids are beyond the reach of the rotors. Use balloons similar (preferably not so pricey) to what is shown in the Instructables post. Fill them with HELIUM to at least partially compensate for the weight of the balloons. Usable?
 
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I have tried all kinds of floats on a Phantom and found that anything with enough volume to keep it out of the water, acts like a sail in the wind. The H is top heavy, so don't expect it to stay upright even if you were lucky enough to land that way. If you have any kind of failure that falls out of the sky, then the "buttered side down" rule would likely apply. I fly a lot over water and built several waterproof/floating quads for this purpose. I have had one water crash with one of these and it survived just fine. Even the GoPro worked after it dried out.
I don't see a good way to make the H waterproof or floating. You might consider adding some "Getterbacks" to the LG to at least mark the location in case of a water crash.
GETTERBACK
 
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Great idea for your situation, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the project. No reason why it won't work, but you will probably have to do actual tests. Would a circular float work?
I ran across this similar project which may give you an idea or two. Floating Outrigging For a Drone - All

Kindly keep us informed as you go along. Progress is our most important product.
Good luck:)

A circular float.. There's an idea. Make it of foam, large enough in diameter to act as a propguard when retracted. That large, it would be very stable in the water or on the ground, and could be kept to a minimal thickness for less sail effect when retracted. A bit of ... creative engineering could arrange for the retracted ring to be even with propellers and the extended ring to be below the skids.
 
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If you want cheap temporary floats, four plastic water bottles will do it. Remove the lit and press bottle over end of foam on gear leg and tape in place. One on each end of each gear leg. Larger bottle, more stability on the water but more drag in flight. Be sure to leave the gear down.
 

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