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Xtra 300 flying over snow lost video signal and plane, tips, advice how to find
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Published
Feb 05 2012 by FaTe
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I've been waiting over a year to fly in and/or over snow. The last 7 days have seen a massive drop in temperatures across Europe with the Netherlands covered in snow bringing big parts of the country to a halt at first.

I took my chance and went to go fly FPV (First Person Video) with my Xtra 300 when things went very wrong. Remember I am wearing video goggles when flying so I'm watching a screen, I can hear the plane but as long as it's in the local area to me. About 3 minutes into my flight I release I've drifted very off course and flying behind my location and getting very low. This is super bad for 5.8GHz video signals especially with metal structures in the line of sight (if looking). Check out the video:
When totally lost and lost reception my last flicker of picture showed me I was about 3 meters high and decided to cut throttle and pitch down ditching the model in snow. Now I'm in a panic, taking my goggles off looking around I have no clue at all where the hell it went. I spent about 2 hours with what little sun light was left looking in fields but no luck, I had to give up and go home when the sun went in.

The one thing I did have was the recorded video stream (thankfully). I spent a good few hours with AVS video editor watching the end of the video Frame by Frame trying to plot my flight path. In the end I had a rough idea which direction it was but still a massive area to search. Now I turned to the very last video image frames captured looking for local landmarks (it's all flat) or buildings, I took the following 3 images from the video which are all in the last 5 seconds of video.
/media/lost/snapshot 001
Here you can see 2 sets of trees both with farm houses with a gap in the middle.
/media/lost/snapshot 002
Now facing the total opposite direction (eek) I can see 2 farm houses with the trees this time in the background.
/media/lost/snapshot 003
Finally and I didn't realise this at the time this view is actually looking at Pegasus where I was!!! it's one of the last views. Notice you can see 3 fields on the right side of the image split by rivers, an excellent visual marker.
/media/lost/search area
Now using the frames above and doing things like count how many fields I can see between the plane and say the farm house I can begin plotting the view line AND roughly where the plane was at the time. This results in the above image, so I marked out my search area.
/media/lost/search result
Today is Sunday the day after and I went out, asked the farmer permission to venture on his fields and went off in the direction I thought it was. After 20 minutes I found the Xtra 300 upside down in the snow indicated where the yellow arrow head is!
I found the model exactly where the first (1) point begins not where it's pointing at. Using nothing but Google maps, video frames and common sense I found my model!!!

Damage report:

* The main 500mAh lipo battery is 0%, won't charge so it's dead. It's only 4 weeks old...
* The 150mAh FPV battery was also 0% BUT using my Nine Eagles hack adapter the Nine Eagles transmitter charged it back to 95% yay!
* ALL the plane electronics (3 servos, 12A ESC, 1650KV brushless motor, RfSky 4CH RX) are totally working fine after 16 hours in the snow!!

There is no actual plane damage with ditching from such a low height into snow. So all in all I lost 1 battery pack (about £10 / $20 / 8 Euro) and that's it. Lucky? or Did common sense prevail (for once) ?
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