Originally Posted by jforkner
It sounded like you were trying to find the limits of your equipment---you'd gone one mile; now you were going for two. I'm guessing if two was successful, you'd go for three. With that game-plan, it would seem likely that at some point you would reach and exceed the limits of your equipment. What did you expect would happen when you did?
Once the limit was exceeded, the aircraft is basically out-of-control. Sure, it may have responded to sick inputs; but if it's two miles away and you don't know where it is, it's essentially out-of-control. And being beyond your sight, you have no idea what the craft may crash into once it runs out of power. It just seems irresponsible to send an aircraft beyond it's known limits and not know who or what it may contact.
I apologize if this sounds harsh. But your situation has caused me to reflect on my flying. I'm just getting into FPV, and realize the potential risk that I'm about to undertake. Your unfortunate experience may have helped me prevent a similar one.
No. I don't think you're sounding harsh at all. I think we're basically in the same boat, that is relatively new to FPV, though I've been a long time R/C guy. The biggest difference I see between our perspectives is that I feel as though I was searching for my personal limit, not the equipment's. Let me explain:
All of my gear is well publicized to fly way beyond what I did yesterday as demonstrated by many-a-pilot on this forum. I'm using a long range (Dragon Link) R/C control system, top notch vTX and vRX (1.3Ghz) equipment from RMRC all of which have tested and flown way beyond the 2 mile mark by other folks. So theoretically I was flying within my equipment's limitations.
As for me and regarding personal limitations, how do you know how far out you can go until you go? I've read accounts of the reckless way and the prudent way. We've all read about the chucleheads with more money than common sense. They go out and buy a bunch of gear and blast off and are shocked when it doesn't end well. That's not what I did. I built this plane back in October. Test flew the heck out of it LOS with no auto pilot and no FPV gear. Then I added the Dragon Link ... flew it out to the edge of sight, so far, so good. Then I added the ArduPilot ... more flying to get the RTH, stabalization and all that mess working properly (not easy as previously mentioned). Then came the FPV gear. More flights (with a spotter) all under LOS rules.
Yesterday was the first day that I really pushed it, again searching for my personal best, not recklessly pushing marginal equipment. I'll paraphrase IBCrazy and something I read from him. He says that he often flies to the edge of reception to find limits and then coaxes the plane back into the zone. If I had had less than a solid drop off yesterday, that's exactly what I would have done and what I was prepared to do, but that's not how it went down. The video just bounced in and out for a few cycles and then just dropped out permanently. I don't know if it was a polarization issue, an electrical issue, an equipment issue an interference issue or what but whatever the case was: it is what it is.
So ... maybe I was reckless, maybe I wasn't. I'll let the community judge. I don't think I was as I really tried to take things in an incremental manner, did not move on to the next step until I felt like the current step was solid. If the consensus IS that I was reckless, I'd like to get opinions regarding what folks would have done differently.