Thread: Discussion Flying around cell towers?
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 09:19 AM
arnav is offline
Find More Posts by arnav
I live my life 12oz at a time
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United States, FL, Miami
Joined Nov 2011
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Ha! The story of my life! Here is the thread I have started not so long ago discussing the specific situation if you want the gory details. In a nutshell:

I have an AMA sanctioned field 30 mins away with a runway, amenities etc'.

However there is also a virtually empty, large city park 5 mins away...
Myself and many others fly there just becuase it is so close so it is hard to beat.
The only Catch?

There is one cell tower right there, another one fairly close, and a total of 9 (!) huge towers near by. Some we know are cell towers, other are tv, others are leased, and some we have no clue.

The bottom line? Signal is challenging. 72MHz/FM gets shot down right away. DSM2 get shot down right away as well. I was able to mostly get away using DSMX for 8 months (despite everyones' warning) before I got fed up and noticed intermittent issues. Now please lets not make this yet another RCG toddler fight of futaba vs. spektrum vs. brand X. There is nothing wrong with Spektrum. In fact I love those radios and especially their UI. I simply believe some radios may preform better in certain environments. In this particular field Futaba seems to do much better.

Just recently, two buddies of mine crashed there with Futaba. One of them blames the signal and how "even Futaba is no longer bullet proof in this field." However, I am not convinced it was a signal problem. There are so many variables at play and not enough information to conclude. The first buddy who crashed still flies 100CC planes there...

My suggestion?
- If people already fly there, go and ask around what system they are using. Whether it is spektrum/Futaba you want to be using what is known to work well in that particular field.

- Don't fly expensive models in the beginning or even after months of flying there. We have noticed that you can simply have days where the signal is blocked and many weeks/months of no issues. This may depend on who may have leased the towers, what are they transmitting, etc'. Similarly, there could be a broken "tower"/transmitter that occupies the whole spectrum and creating issues, who knows. Don't get a false sense of security.

- Do an extensive range check before flying there for the first time and with each new Plane. Have someone carry what you are flying as high and as low as they can get thought the entire area you intend to fly and check for holds.

- Range check before each flying day. This may help catch the bad signal days like above but there are no guarantees. I must admit I hedge my bets and don't do it.

- Program fail safe. You want to make sure you prepare for the eventuality of losing a signal... An Rx that supports setting fail-safe on all channels will do better than one which only supports motor/throttle.

- If you start having issues get telemetry. This has multiple advantages in this context:
1. It would allow you to really optimize your antenna setup. A lousy antenna orientation may be just fine in a field where there are no known signal issues, however, in a challenging environment is it may mean the difference between crashing or not.
2. It would allow you to confront your TX manufacturer with empirical data if and when you have issues. Try and report it without it, and they will say "well not enough data." Report issues with it, and eventually they may at least be willing to acknowledge the issues. If you Tx supports it, make sure you save the telemetry logs.

- Fly close. There is no reason to fly far and push your luck

- Follow best practices relating to TX antenna orientation, Rx antenna orientations, 2.4 GHZ in relation to flying low and flying over surfaces which induce interference, etc' Things you may be able to get away with in a perfect field, may make a huge difference in a challenging field.

The above may not relate to cell towers alone. As per the above, some fly next to cell towers with outany issues. In our field it may be due to the other towers, combination of both, or other factors altogether (e.g. FD near by?).

Then? Have fun! Despite all the above, many of us choose to fly there and have a blast. If you have limited time to devote to flying, having the ability to fly close by is really great. I only go to the AMA approved site maybe 10 times a year, just becuase I like the closer site despite its signal challenges.
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Last edited by arnav; Jan 11, 2013 at 09:28 AM.
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