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Can I be fined for losing my plane?

Old 07-10-2022, 08:28 PM
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baerster
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Default Can I be fined for losing my plane?

Hello, this might seem like a stupid question, and maybe it is. I recently lost my foam plane (thanks to a brownout, I have had bad luck with those lately) over a forested wetland. I tried to avoid flying over it, but I had lost control. I searched for it and did not see it anywhere, and it's likely that it's lost in the woods somewhere that I could not get to it. The land isn't national forest or anything like that. It's likely either privately owned or county-owned, bordering on a city park where I was flying. Can RC pilots ever get fined for some kind of "littering" or some FAA offense for something like this? I ask because I was thinking of posting to a neighborhood website to ask if anyone has seen my plane.
Old 07-11-2022, 03:02 AM
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Doubtful

Is your contact info on it? We have had a couple fly aways over the years, one landed on federal wet lands, they just called the number and gave the guy his plane back
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Old 07-11-2022, 05:22 AM
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speedracerntrixie
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I’ve certainly never heard of such a thing. However, you need to get those brownouts fixed. Can you tell us what equipment you were using?
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Old 07-11-2022, 10:33 AM
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I have to agree with Speed on this one. If you were having multiple "brown outs" there was something that needed attention. In addition to the radio gear used, what were you doing when the "brown outs" occurred? Were you doing loops, consecutive rolls, max power climbs? Something was pulling a lot of power or, for that matter, could it have been too small of or worn-out battery? I had a receiver pack that I thought was good turn out to be bad when I hooked it to a diagnostic charger this past Saturday.
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Old 07-11-2022, 12:27 PM
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Thanks everyone!

The brownouts have happened for me on two different planes, and given the comments above, they might not have been brownouts at all but some other form of loss of signal or control. For both planes the transmitter is a Spektrum DW6e.

The plane that I just lost, that one hasn't had many brownouts. It's an E Flite Conscendo, and I think what I did was not follow the "three mistakes high" rule, and there was a momentary loss of signal due to the angle of the plane and my transmitter antenna, and it happened while the plane was dropping down a bluff face in front of me. (I was flying at the top of a 50-foot bluff). Another possibility - sometimes that ESC "cycles" itself so that when I give it throttle, nothing happens, and I need to cycle the throttle stick from max to min, then the throttle works again. So maybe at first it was not a brownout at all. So the plane dropped too low and the ground blocked the signal (I think) and it was lost in some wetlands below. I plan to fly my drone over the wetlands to see if I can find it. But basically I was too careless in letting the plane get too low at the wrong time.

But the plane that has had more problems is my Great Planes Kunai, and I think it's because I used carbon fiber rods and fiberglass cloth to fix a fuselage break. The receiver is
this one this one
. I have wondered if the brownouts would be solved if I did two things: 1) have the antenna wire stick out of the plane, 2) drill a hole in the fuselage so that signal can get in that way as well.

Thoughts?
Old 07-11-2022, 01:34 PM
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I’ll address the Kunai first. The thing I would never do is use 3rd party receivers on Spektrum. There are literally pages of failures. The fiberglass cloth and carbon fiber rods will not be enough to create an issue. Next is the ESC shutting down. Could be over amping the ESC causing this. I assume you are using the BEC off the ESC to power the receiver. Could it be another off brand? My first impression is to replace the receiver and the ESC with ones with a solid reputation.

On receiver placement, you want to keep the receiver away from other electronics whenever possible. That little antenna works best with zero bends in it. Never point the transmitter antenna directly at the model. It’s signal is best out to the sides.
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Old 07-11-2022, 01:49 PM
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Not a Spektrum guy, so I'll let others comment on the equipment. But RF radiation is strictly straight line. The Kunai itself is fiberglass, which is essentially transparent to the RF signal. So, if you can see the plane, likely it will get a good signal. But there can be complications -
Yes, the signal can be weaker with the TX antenna pointed in one direction vs another. Typically in a line straight out from the base to the tip, although that varies with specifics of the design. BUT, if you have adequate visual view of the plane to tell what it is doing, you should expect always to have more than enough signal strength, even at its weakest. Of course, if the bluff blocked your line-of-sight, then it may have blocked the signal, too. Or if it was too tiny to see.....
The receiver antenna also has it's strong and weak orientations. But again, even with both the RX and TX at their weakest orientations, if you can easily tell what the plane is doing, you should always expect to have full control.
Carbon fiber, metal, wires, electronics, etc. can block the RF signal, either partially or fully. So if that happens, especially with "weak" orientations, then you can get loss of control. This may happen only when the "stuff" is between you and the receiver antenna.
If you cut a hole, you are removing parts of the plane that don't matter to the radio (the fiberglass). And signals won't "leak" into the hole any better. Routing the antenna outside would be best. Since this is a single wire antenna, get it out of the bottom of the Kunai, with the maximum length possible. Leave as little inside as is absolutely minimum. Have it run straight back along the bottom. If there is blocking of signal, there are still orientations where it might happen, but less frequently than most other positions.
Me? I would more likely suspect the receiver. Some alternative brands have a pretty poor track record. But that is something for others that have used one to fully comment on.
Read up on how to set "failsafe" for your receiver. There may be an option for it to go to preset control positions when you loose signal. Set the plane for a no power, gentle bank, with a bit of up. If it then starts doing that, then it is a clue to the frequency/severity of the loss of signal.
Consider replacing the receiver with a true Spektrum one.
If you know someone who is willing, you could consider having them setup the plane in their transmitter, and using that to fly a few flights. That may assist in defining that it is not a transmitter issue.
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Old 07-11-2022, 03:02 PM
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I'm going to "go home" on this one. Since I race scale hydroplanes, I see a lot of what the other guys are talking about. These come to mind real quick:
  • FG is a nonfactor when it comes to radio signals. If it was, there would have been boats hitting the bank all day yesterday.
  • CF, on the other hand, requires the antenna to be outside of the hull, engine cover, etc, or you're asking to see your boat wrecked and yes, been there seen that. If you're using a 2.4GHz system, all you really need is to have the bare end of the antenna fully outside of the fuse to have it work properly. Since the antenna is actually a coax cable, just like the cable used on a cable TV system, going too much outside of the fuse could damage the cable and cause it to not work properly. If you're using an older 72MHz system, getting as much antenna out of the fuse as possible is by far the best route, especially if the plane is of composite construction
  • Electric boat is screaming along and just dies. Give it 10-20 seconds, it's up and running. It's almost always an overheated ESC. Granted, marine ESCs are water cooled and enclosed in a water tight radio box but they still can overheat. They are therefore equipped with a thermal switch to keep the unit from melting down the solder connections. I would assume an aircraft ESC has something similar to prevent damage
  • Using off or no name branded electronics is a NO NO. I use Futaba gear in everything so I don't have to worry about a $10 receiver failing and seeing my $1500-2500 boat destroyed. I see it as cheap insurance to spend $70 on a Futaba receiver that I know will work with my 4PLS transmitter while others will take it a step up to a Diversity series Futaba receiver at $100. Either way, I would have a fail safe integrated into the receiver that will shut down my boat in the event of a radio issue, other than a power switch or battery failure.

Last edited by Hydro Junkie; 07-11-2022 at 03:13 PM.
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Old 07-11-2022, 10:59 PM
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Thanks everyone! This is all very helpful! I have an update on the Conscendo - it was found! It landed on the porch of a house near the beach, below the bluff where I was flying. I put a notice in NextDoor.com asking if anyone had found it, but at the same time, the lady whose porch was the crash site also put a notice in NextDoor. She was very nice about it and said "what a wonderful toy! I hope you get it into the air again!" I was laughing inside, and also grateful that she did not mind. I gave her a Starbucks gift card for helping me get it back. It's somewhat damaged but it's all fixable with glue.

From now on, I am putting my phone number on any plane that I own and fly.

As far as the loss of signal (what might or might not be brownouts) I will read this thread carefully. I will also shop for a better receiver for the Kunai. Also I will have the antenna wire extend outside of the fuselage.

Last edited by baerster; 07-11-2022 at 11:02 PM.
Old 07-11-2022, 11:05 PM
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@Hydro Junkie, would you mind telling me what FG and CF are? I have a lot to learn.
Old 07-11-2022, 11:45 PM
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No problem. Always try to be helpful.
One of the things you will notice in the internet forums, not just this one, is acronyms and abbreviated names. Some of the common ones are
  • CF, being carbon fiber
  • FG is fiberglass
  • Ply is short for plywood
  • 2.4 is short for any radio gear that transmits or receives on the 2.4GHz band
  • LiFe is a lithium and ferrous oxide battery
  • LiPo is a lithium polymer battery
There are so many more that it would take me pages of posts over several days to list them all. Hope that helps a bit
Old 07-12-2022, 06:06 AM
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Donít bother with external antennas, it wonít make a difference. Here are a couple pictures of my models. Both have a fair amount of CF. The sailplane has itís antennas right under the wing pod and the helicopterís antenna is the yellow wire. Iíve been flying the sailplane for three years. The helicopter is new but it has a couple dozen flights. My biplane is a year and a half old and has hundreds of flights with internal antennas as well.

IMO you issues are the off brand RX and your ESC. What brand is the ESC and can you confirm that the RX power is coming off the ESC.






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Old 07-12-2022, 11:38 AM
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Sorry Speed, we are going to have to agree to disagree on this one. Seen and heard about too many boats crashing due to CF covered antennas to take a chance on it. With your helo, you might have gotten by because the antenna is on the outside of the framing, don't know about the two planes. As far as any other materials used to build a model, I would agree, internal is fine but I won't risk it with CF.
Just had another thought. The first Spectrum 2.4 I saw used in a boat failed due to signal reflection off the water, the boat was a brand-new FG 1980 Budweiser with an internal antenna. Several other boats used internal antennas on 75MHz with no issues. Just last weekend, I was racing with many boats using internal antennas on 2.4 inside FG with no issues. Just wondering if the water's proximity to the antennas is degrading the signal enough to make a difference with a full CF build or a boat with parts reenforced with CF? Either way, I'm not going to risk using CF around an internal antenna

Last edited by Hydro Junkie; 07-12-2022 at 11:41 AM.
Old 07-12-2022, 12:53 PM
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I seriously hope this doesn’t turn into an argument. First off I don’t think that reflection off of water is actually a thing. With that said, water can block the signal and if the antenna was below the water surface then I would agree that water was involved. However we aren’t talking about water here when trying to diagnose the OP’s issue. The fact is that the receiver and antenna need to be encased in CF for it to be an issue. Using CF rods to re enforce a fuselage is not going to be an issue. On my helicopter the antenna is external to one side only. The signal has to pass between two 2.5mm frame plates when I’m on the left side of the heli. Since I use a Jeti radio, I can see signal strength on all my models. I’ve never had it dip below 90%. The one that should provide the worse case scenario is the sailplane which has CF on two sides. As you know from the other forum that model is flown very far from me. Still signal strength has always been 100% . The OP’s issue is not having a little bit of CF.
Old 07-12-2022, 02:24 PM
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No arguments on this end, other than water reflecting a radio wave. Let me give you a few reasons why I disagree:
  • I was listening to a Texas Ranger's game on an HF radio back in 1985. The catch is that I was sitting in the cockpit of an EA-6B Prowler IN THE MIDDLE OF THE INDIAN OCEAN!!!! You ever heard of transmitting "on the skip"? It's using the atmosphere to reflect signals to increase the range to over the horizon rather than just line of site. Granted, the conditions have to be just right to work and, since I was on a relatively low frequency range, it was working. Using the same theory, why wouldn't a frequency hopping 2.4GHz do the same thing using water like a mirror? You already said radio signals can't penetrate water and, depending on the band, that would be basically true. The angle the signal is hitting the water is also relatively low so it could be looked at like a rock skipping of the water surface
  • Submarines use radios to communicate between them, again using a specific frequency band that can and will penetrate the water with sufficient power to do so
  • R/C submarines, using 27MHz band radio gear, have been fully controllable under water for decades, again with limited range and depth due to the low power of our radio gear along with the relatively small area the antenna has to be limited to
Old 07-12-2022, 07:59 PM
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I don’t think signal reflection can happen with our gear for 2 reasons. One the frequency, 2.4 ghz and secondly the coding will be altered just enough the the receiver will simply ignore it. YMMV

Subs use ULF wave guide.

Old 07-12-2022, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by speedracerntrixie View Post
I don’t think signal reflection can happen with our gear for 2 reasons. One the frequency, 2.4 ghz and secondly the coding will be altered just enough the the receiver will simply ignore it. YMMV

Subs use ULF wave guide.
I believe that was what led to the issues right there. The other issue was that the early Spectrum systems didn't have fail safes in them so the boat was doomed from the moment it was launched. Futaba was, apparently, paying attention and figured out how to prevent the issues before they released their first 2.4 ground systems. To this day, I still see mostly Futaba sytems with several Airtronics thrown in. I don't think I've seen more than a couple of Spectrums used since the Bud crash. I also know that's not the case with aircraft systems. Since there wasn't the issues with Spectrum, like the surface systems had, they became a major force in aircraft radios

Last edited by Hydro Junkie; 07-12-2022 at 10:46 PM.
Old 07-13-2022, 08:28 AM
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It seems plausible.
Old 07-23-2022, 07:44 PM
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Just to chime in, This is what was told to me by an employee of the park service working at Yosemite. When I brought up this very question. The short answer is NO you cannot be fined if the park service finds your rc in their park. In fact they are obligated to do their best to contact you and return your property. TO fine you I, was told you would have to be caught in the act and even then if you are flying a little park flyer you will most likely be told too stop and have a nice day..
If on the other hand you sneak into the park boundry and fire up your nitro get ready for a ticket and a temp trespass from that park
Old 08-19-2022, 11:09 AM
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Glad you got your plane back.
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Old 08-22-2022, 08:42 AM
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I put an address sticker on the outside (under the wing) of my sailplanes. Paid off on a UMX Radian that I lost in a powerful updraft. Three days later it was on my front porch. I never did learn who returned it.

Also learned a lesson about trying to keep in the shade of a tree while flying. Can limit visibility.

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