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Brownouts, first time

Old 02-07-2012, 01:12 PM
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Tony Iannucelli
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Default Brownouts, first time

My buddy and I have flown at a local private field for the last seven months, about three times a week, 7-10 flights each day by each of us. I fly a JR9303, he flies a Spektrum 7 and now a 7s. We fly various receivers in EDF jets, Strykers, seaplanes, and helicopters. All electrics. The field and our equipment have been bulletproof until today. On his second flight, his Polaris seaplane quit completely and nosed in. The battery tested at 3.95 per cell across the board, and it was cold, just like the ESC. The battery was ejected in the crash. When he reconnected, he got a receiver light. Within 30 seconds, it started blinking. He put that plane away. His transmitter is the new 7s. He switched to a Habu. This time he got a blinking light immediately when he connected. On a re-try, it did connect with a solid light. He got a solid range check. He flew and when he landed he had a blinking light. Both of those planes have had many successful flights with no issues prior to today. My turn with my JR9303 2.4, previously bulletproof. I connected a Zagi. It has a satellite out on the wing. Within 25 seconds of connecting, the light on the satellite started blinking after being solid, but the internal receiver kept a solid light. The same thing happened on my Phase 3 F-16. Both of our Strykers were OK. This all happened today, out of the blue, never any issues before.

We are in Florida, and it was humid today, but there was a nice breeze. It wasn't just one plane, it was four of them. All have flown extensively, never crashed except the Polaris today. Range checks were well beyond 30 paces. So it wasn't just one receiver in one plane, or with one transmitter.

We were nowhere near cell towers, but there is a pump tower nearby. But it's been there before we ever flew seven months ago. Never an issue. Any thoughts gentlemen? Thanks, -Tony
Old 02-07-2012, 01:56 PM
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jmohn
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

Probably something pulled the voltage below the minimum (which varies a little) 3.4 - 3.8 volt will drop it.

You need to be using DXM2 or DSM2 receivers so you get the quick connect feature that minimizes the problems with low voltage brownouts.


Jeff
Old 02-07-2012, 02:04 PM
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RonR214
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

Do you know who owns/operates the pump tower? They may have just added equipment to remotely monitor/control the pump(s)/level and that could be causing a problem. I have not done any work in that area since I retired, but some of the monitoring systems use 2.4. They also use other frequencies which may be getting in through the servo or power leads.

I have had an incident recently where 4 different batteries, 2S45s would not carry my little 32" foamie YAK for more than 2 minutes or so. New batteries the next week cleared things up. The voltage reading you got, where they taken under load or free standing?

Ron
Old 02-07-2012, 02:09 PM
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Tony Iannucelli
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

Thanks for responding John. Your answer is what we thought too, but we are left with why? We are using quality equipment. Mostly 3-4 cell lipo batteries that are 40-70C rated, some higher. BECs have been completely dependable, as have the ESCs in these planes. Four planes in one day, when for 6-7 months, no issues? Two diffferent transmitters? I need something else for an answer. It's not our equipment. We don't use 4.8 volt flight packs in our planes. There were no other R/C fliers within miles.
Old 02-07-2012, 02:23 PM
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Tony Iannucelli
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

Ron, thanks, that's more like it. That pump station is a definite possibility. We never thought of it before today. We will check it out. Regarding our batteries; we test before and after with no load, but trust me, the batteries are fine. Under load occasionally, on the bench and at the field, never an issue. We also flew a total of 18 times today, mostly jets, 3-5 minute flights, and we are very careful with throttle. Our batteries never come down hot. Never. We don't like it when every flight is an adventure regarding the radio link, but we pressed on.

I'm really happy I didn't sell my 72mhz 9303.
Old 02-07-2012, 02:33 PM
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jmohn
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

Are you running a seperate flight pack (LiPo pack) on a BEC or is it supplied from your ESC?

My problems happened when I was using the ESC for my receiver power and started using retract servos. The retract servos pulled the voltage down for a split second and caused the brown outs. If you have the new receivers with DSM2 or higher with quick connect you don't have that problem.


Jeff
Old 02-07-2012, 03:09 PM
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RonR214
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

Actually Jeff, I think he would still have the problem, just should not see it. And if he is using Actual Spektrum receivers, I think they are still doing the updates to them for postage. I sent a couple of 6100's in late last year along with a 4100 and satellite and they updated the 6100s and replaced the 6200 and satellite and shipped them back.

As far as checking the batteries under noload, that doesn't really tell you anything. You need to look at the under load. Set up to monitor the batteries via the balance plug and then load the system down, motor WOT or close and start moving all the servos like you were doing something crazy in the air. You need a meter that will show you very quick spikes in either direction to pick up the drop outs.
Old 02-07-2012, 03:40 PM
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jmohn
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

The best way I found to check them is to hook up a switch on the power to the receiver and hook up one servo and turn on the power. Start moving the servo with the transmitter and keep it moving while you switch off the power then right back on and see how long it takes for the servo to start moving again. If it's less than a second or two then it has the quick connect, otherwise you need to upgrade or replace.


Jeff
Old 02-07-2012, 04:17 PM
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

Tell me about your batteries. Was the same battery used in all the planes that issues? Was the battery new or had it been in use for some time? Was any other part used in more than one plane.

The internal connections on a bettery are not always the best. An intermetent fault may fail during flight and then pass with a voltage checker after a crash.

Sherman
Old 02-07-2012, 04:45 PM
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Tony Iannucelli
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

First, thank you for your input guys. I'm not sure I was clear on some things. The quandry we have is that everything always worked, bulletproof, until today. Today we had FOUR planes with issues. We are flying electrics, most of which use between two and four servos. We use high quality batteries and ESCs. The motors and fans on the little jets do have a high draw, but they have had the SAME draw for the last six months. We have dozens of batteries that are all like new in terms of output. None have been abused. It's not logical than suddenly four planes are blinking... We never charge at the field. We GO to the field armed with batteries that are freshly charged and balanced. Believe me, the batteries are not the issue. Neither are the ESCs, most of which are heat-sinked and matched to the planes. When a setup calls for 30 amps, we run 40. As an example, the Strykers use the 40amp ESC that come with the plane. The Phase 3s use the factory ESCs. The receivers are all top quality. Only one plane crashed. The others either blinked 20-30 seconds after startup on the ground, or landed safely blinking with cold batteries reading 11.5 volts, some higher. The problem is a lost signal which I do not think is caused by low power input. The question is WHY? Best answer so far I think, is the idea that another 2.4 source at the field - NEW - is messing us up. The test will be Thursday when I fly the same planes and equipment at another field. I will surely let you guys know the results of that, and thanks again for your input. -Tony
Old 02-07-2012, 04:52 PM
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jmohn
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

Tony,

Are you using DSM receivers or the newer ones with DSM2 or DSX? I thought mine were from some other interference source, but they weren't and were all caused by a brief pull down or disruption of power from the ESCs BEC. Some recovered in-flight some crashed. I tested about 20 new receivers and they all has delays to "re-boot" after brown outs of 4-13 seconds.

Good luck and hope you figure things out.


Jeff
Old 02-08-2012, 07:03 AM
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

If the Dx7s has the same data as a Dx8 (I'm pretty sure it does) you should look at the performance screen and check on the frame drop outs.  This will help you analyze the RF environment a little better than the old "Does it work or does it not work?"

I am still trying to understand the data, heck, I'm still trying to understand the Dx8 programming capabilities and how they interact.


KKKKFL
Old 02-08-2012, 07:25 AM
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

If you've got rx's which are blinking on landing, they are DSM2 and you had a power brownout not an RF issue.

Sorry but I've been down the "batteries are good" road before and that generally turns out to be the issue with electric powered models. Next most common issue is a failure of the BEC section of the ESC to feed adequate power to the rx under load. There can also be cold solder joints etc. You say this stuff is six months old with what appears to be LOTS of flights? These things don't last forever.

These kinds of problems are what the DSM2 Quick Connect firmware was designed to address and the original version reconnects in less than 1/2 second after a power brownout. The second version of Quick Connect has the flashing light power brownout indication to show there is a problem hopefully before a crash.

Bottom line; blinking lights on landing with DSM2 (DSMX does not have it when running in DSMX mode) rx's means you had a power system failure.
Old 02-08-2012, 07:41 AM
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

What Zeeb said.

Also, if you're getting a blink on the remote and not the main chances are you have an issue with the cable, they are somewhat fragile
Old 02-08-2012, 08:26 AM
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Tony Iannucelli
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

Again, thanks for the help guys. The batteries are fine, several are new and have a dozen or so flights on them. I'd like to think the "power brownout" is the answer, but logically FOUR fully functional operating aircraft from a few days before, don't overnight turn into weak link, brownout lemons. I can't buy that. One maybe, even two? But FOUR. No, not the issue. You're talking about four different ESCs, four different receivers, four different satellites, four different battery packs, and two different transmitters. The math probabilities are better to win the lottery.

By the way, I started with electrics in the dark ages of can and "cobalt" motors. I've been flying for almost 40 years, planes and helis both. Not too many crashes in there, most pilot error. Futaba, JR, Spektrum, Airtronics, Hitec, and the mongrel brands I've flown them all and they are all good in my experience. I can't think of one time I had a radio failure flying on 72mhz. Not even one. And it gets better. I can't think of one time in the last 3-4 years on 2.4 with Spektrum and JR I've ever had a glitch or a brownout. NOT ONE. So now my buddy and I get FOUR in one day? Hope you see the problem here.....

I also fly 2.4 in a larger Ultimate, a 65" Spitfire, and others. Never a problem. -Tony
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Old 02-08-2012, 08:38 AM
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Tony Iannucelli
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

One more fact that might help the discussion. In two instances I remember from yesterday, turning on resulted in positive links as normal. Now the draw on a plane just sitting there is only a couple of mils on a battery. What would explain a plane sitting there, turned on, after about 20 seconds, (with NOTHING working.... no motor, no servos, etc...) go from a solid light to a blinking light? Two different planes? And then, a reconnect, and all works fine? Sounds like interference from some source to me. And these planes only have two-four servos. It's not like a UBEC is needed at all and hasn't been for six months.

I know, I know, I almost don't want to think about the possibilities either. Ron's input yesterday of 2.4 pump station software is weighing on me. Tomorrow I fly at a different field. Can't wait to see what happens. I have a feeling everything will be working as normal. It will be the same planes as yesterday, and the same transmitter, and the same batteries. I will report tomorrow night. Tony
Old 02-08-2012, 09:01 AM
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jmohn
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

I am sure most everyone that flew on 72 mhz had "glitches". When you get a "glitch" on 2.4 the receiver needs to reboot (the old DSM) and with the newer software it just holds on the last two good frequencies instead of a reboot so you really don't see the glitch like you did with 72 mhz radios.

I have had some people in the military test my 2.4 stuff and they were only able to get the signal interupted at very close ranges, so it you have another strong 2.4 transmitter close (full spectrum) it may interfer, but chances are it's something else. These guys were hitting the receivers with some pretty stong jamming devices and could only get them to interfere at close ranges (under 100 yards).


Jeff
Old 02-08-2012, 09:06 AM
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

I want to reitterate what Zeeb said, you dont get blinking lights from "glitches", "interference", or even complete loss of signal.

Interference doesn't cause a reboot. It will cause a lockout if its really swammped, but not a reboot.
Old 02-08-2012, 10:33 AM
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Tony Iannucelli
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

A "glitch" to me is when the plane does something unexpected for a second that can't be attributed to wind gusts or pilot input. I might be getting old and slow, but I never noticed any over the years, although I'm sure there have been some. I've been lucky I guess, and careful with my installations as well.

I just tried a couple of hookups in the garage. No issues whatever. I linked up one of the planes from yesterday's flying, shut the transmitter OFF, the lights went OUT in the receivers even though the flight battery was still connected; when I turned the transmitter back on, the lights came back on in the receivers solid lights, no blinkers. The only way I could get the lights to blink was to disconnect the flight battery and reconnect it, as you would expect. They hook up instantly. Next I'll test some of my batteries randomly, under the load put out by the planes, and see if I can go full throttle to cause some blinks. I need to gain some confidence before I put these up in the air tomorrow.

This is an interesting lesson for me. I've always taken my radios for granted, although I do keep them fresh and maintain them properly. I also have a better appreciation for some of the other guys who have had issues. I've tended to blame them for their troubles in my head, but no more. I get it now.
Old 02-08-2012, 10:40 AM
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Tony Iannucelli
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

Franco above, wrote this on another string...
"I fly with a bunch of Gypsie flyers, and one of their locations was near the end of a busy International Airport runway. I can't be certain, but I believe there were times when the 2.4Ghz airport terminal surface search radar swamped the band of frequencies as it painted a Model just after lift off. The guy was about 100' in the air. This is pretty extreme. I would re-check all of the connectors looking for a broken wire inside the plastic connector. Also pay attention to the orange light indicator. To my way of thinking, you should NEVER land and see it blinking. The last time I flew at that location I describe just above, I landed and the receiver was flashing indicating there had been a link loss. I never recognized any erratic flight behavior, but it sure gave me angst about flying at that location again."

This is what I was afraid of, and still am, with the pump station nearby.
Old 02-08-2012, 10:44 AM
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

Wow, a post that may or may not prove 2.4ghz is not the "golden goose". Most if not all the problems associated with this new techonolgy usually occur in a high "noise" enviroment where the 2.4ghz band is being shared by multiple sources and since you have flown at this location prior to this date than something electronic has moved in. I still fly on 72mhz and I use a commercial frequency scanner, not the model variety, to sniff the air prior to flying.
Old 02-08-2012, 10:55 AM
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

If you are using a switch for the battery pack that was one of the most common problems with mine and others. Take it out of the plane and see if it's fixed.


Jeff
Old 02-08-2012, 11:27 AM
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time


ORIGINAL: Tony Iannucelli

Franco above, wrote this on another string...
''I fly with a bunch of Gypsie flyers, and one of their locations was near the end of a busy International Airport runway. I can't be certain, but I believe there were times when the 2.4Ghz airport terminal surface search radar swamped the band of frequencies as it painted a Model just after lift off. The guy was about 100' in the air. This is pretty extreme. I would re-check all of the connectors looking for a broken wire inside the plastic connector. Also pay attention to the orange light indicator. To my way of thinking, you should NEVER land and see it blinking. The last time I flew at that location I describe just above, I landed and the receiver was flashing indicating there had been a link loss. I never recognized any erratic flight behavior, but it sure gave me angst about flying at that location again.''

This is what I was afraid of, and still am, with the pump station nearby.
Most of Spektrum's receivers have firmware that indicates, with a Blinking Light, when power has been lost to the receiver or the receiver suffered a Brownout. If you disconnect the power to the receiver and reconnect it (or turn the Switch Harness Off and On) and the light is Blinking, you know what that Blinking light means.

If you had Interference, and the receiver lost the Link to the transmitter, the receiver goes into Failsafe and the Throttle goes to Idle until the Link is restored.

This is how you differentiate between a Brownout and a Link Loss.

I have flown 72Mhz for 34 years. There has never been a year where I did not get a Glitch once in a while. Common sources were routing the antenna too close to servos, electronic ignition in gas engines, unshielded wire to the kill switch on magneto gas engines, electric motors, metal to metal, carbon fiber pushrods rubbing together, trucks with illegal transmitters nearby, high voltage power lines, engine vibration, etc.. In most cases, we found the cause or rerouted the antenna. One year I could not fly at all, on Ch44 and Ch46, without glitches. We thought that someone was jamming those frequencies at our field. We did not have a Frequency Scanner at our field. There were those who would get anxious to fly and forget to get the Frequency Pin before turning on. I find it hard to believe that anyone could go for years, on 72Mhz, and not have Glitches. PCM, with it's Failsafe, just Masked the Glitch, and as long as the Link loss was short, you might never know it occurred unless to moved the sticks and nothing happened.

For me, 2.4 has eliminated most of the issues faced while flying on 72Mhz. While we know we have some different challenges with 2.4, we have the tools to help define what is causing most of the issues (Blinking lights on the Rx, Flight Logger, Telemetry, and Failsafe). Correct placement of the Main Rx and the Satellite Rx's is important as poor placement can lead to Link Loss. Batteries with adequate Voltage and Capacity is important.
Old 02-08-2012, 11:39 AM
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

I'm impressed with your knowledge pertaining to interference on the 72mhz band. I also have been there while flying on FM only. When I switched to PCM the rain stopped and the sun emerged. You are also right about PCM masking interference and not eliminating it.
Old 02-08-2012, 11:43 AM
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Default RE: Brownouts, first time

Ok, I'll open the door to conspiracy.  Have you considered that your problem might be external and intentional?  Two pilots, two planes each?  The only common area is, in fact, the "area"?  Yes it could be the pump house.  But it could also be someone jamming you.  You might want to get an RF meter and see if there is anything else around.

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