Penguin down, plane lost, what next? - Page 2 - RC Groups
Shop our Airplanes Products Drone Products Sales
Thread Tools
Feb 19, 2013, 04:26 PM
UAV Integrations
It doesn't sound reckless to me. It sounds like you followed the regular, consistent advice of those who have been FPV'ing for years.
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Feb 19, 2013, 05:41 PM
Registered User
Elcheapo's Avatar
I think your fail was not testing the autopilot enough. You have to make sure the autopilot is completely able to take the airplane back to range. This include keeping altitude or even gaining altitude while doing so.
Just doing one test of the RTH mode is not enough to go venture on testing the limits of your setup.
Feb 19, 2013, 05:50 PM
Registered User
Daemon's Avatar
Keep in mind though, that even with an autopilot that has set its home somewhere else,
a ground recording would have given him some idea where it was flying off to by itself,
and if the OSD shows you where it thinks home is, all the better.
I'll take a ground recording over an autopilot almost every time.

And to answer an earlier question, you definitely can find a plane by driving to
the area, and looking for the video signal, especially if there's no expectation
that it crashed vertically but just floated to the ground. I've used body blocking
and a couple different Rx antennas (high gain, omni, and none) to find lost FPV
planes a few times. If autopilot will have run the battery dead trying to
stay up, your window of opportunity is smaller though.

Feb 19, 2013, 05:58 PM
FPV Pilot
blueprint's Avatar
^^ Absolutely... i have found that recorded flights often yield the best results when recovering downed aircraft miles away.
Feb 19, 2013, 06:02 PM
Registered User
Deadstick 8409's Avatar
Sorry to hear. I have been RC for about 30 years on and off, and it is too cold to fly FPV for the first time. Built a Penguin with all the bells and whistles EXCEPT: UHF. My reasoning is that I don't want to tempt myself into going much beyond LOS. I have a frsky setup w/ cp antennas and hope to have a completely solid lock always within a mile or less. The thought of losing it a couple miles out, or in terrain I can't handle, scares me. I might be able to afford it once, but certainly not twice.
Here's hoping you find your plane!
Feb 19, 2013, 08:33 PM
Registered User
harfordhawk's Avatar

I feel your pain

I lost my Skywalker and it was gone for 3 months in a Maryland cornfield.. GoPro(naked), all sorts of other stuff.. I got it back when some farmers picked the corn. So don't give up hope.. Many of those electronics will survive.. ( My Gopro still works!)
Sure you could've done things differently, but you didn't. We are all learning.
I wonder if you had a separate BEC powering the APM, and I wonder if it was sufficient. It sounds like a brownout to me, and I have had them. The APM will essentially reboot in flight. This is a terrible thing to happen at 2 miles away.. Almost unrecoverable in my opinion..
Also, did you have any failsafes set? The APM has some and I don't know about DL. Is it possible your DL failed?
However, If you had telemetry radios feeding data back, you have yet another piece of very useful info concerning location. If the APM were to reboot, chances are telemetry would come back and you would see real time on your laptop ( that you brought to the field), where your plane was.

I can't offer any "finding the plane" guidance, I looked for mine for 3 months.. But I made friends with all the farmers in the area and kept hoping.. I suspect it went down pretty close to where you lost signal.
Feb 20, 2013, 04:52 AM
Aerial Operator
I'm sorry to hear about your penguin! I have a feeling though that you will find it! I was flying my quad FPV one evening and one of my props broke and the quad went haywire and flew away. I lost video and RC signal, I wasn't recording on at my ground station because I wasn't planning on going more then a 100 yards or so. When the I lost it I literally became sick to my stomach and tried to remember what the last things I saw were before the video dropped. I got into my truck and drove around with the Video RX and monitor to see if it picked up anything other then a black screen. There was an area that was about a .5 mile away that the video changed a bit, not even a picture but there was a change.

After 2 days of searching I went to the area that I didnt think the quad would be, but that was the area I had some change in video, and I literally walked up on to it. I was like a kid on Christmas, I can't tell you how excited I was.

So don't give up, Use google maps if necessary.

Now I use RTH, DVR recording OSD, and a GPS tracker on my Penguin just in case. I know it might sound overboard, but when you think the time, effort, and money you invest in a bird it is totally worth it. No matter what you do electronics arent 100% perfect, but they're steps to be taken in order to protect your investment.

I really hope you find your Penguin, and I know you wont make the same mistake again.

Feb 20, 2013, 05:02 AM
Registered User
My other money sucking hobby is high powered rocktery. Needless to say we have come up a variety of methods to recover after high flights.

I have used both 70cm trackers and GPS. My favorite is the Big Red Bee GPS that sends a APRS data stream on the 70 cm band (programable frequencies). It is nice to able to just walk right to your rocket that landed a couple of miles from the launch point. The battery lasts a long time. I never fly without it.
Feb 20, 2013, 05:49 AM
Closed Account
Last edited by 999vertigo; Feb 28, 2013 at 11:51 AM.
Feb 20, 2013, 07:51 AM
ror1's Avatar
Originally Posted by billyd60
Which osd did you have? All RTH autopilots I know of require extensive setups and careful calibration to work with a given aircraft. Sorry I know the horse it out of the barn already but it is what it is.

Alot of us have lost planes, and after that we either quit or get more diligent. I recommend a beacon such as this for future long range flights:

Also extensively test RTH LOS before attempting to try it long range.
+1 I have same tracking device..
Guy in our club has Rx and also someone else in city has Rx..

Put ad in local paper..
Last edited by ror1; Feb 20, 2013 at 07:56 AM.
Feb 20, 2013, 09:47 AM
USA: LakeGeorge, New York
a true RTH system is the RUBY from :-)
Feb 20, 2013, 10:50 AM
Registered User
Which still won't work right unless you wait for it to properly initialize the gps and set home right?
Feb 20, 2013, 10:57 AM
Registered User
peter.braswell's Avatar
Originally Posted by Jaynen
Which still won't work right unless you wait for it to properly initialize the gps and set home right?
First, thanks all for contributing and giving careful thought to my dilemma. I really appreciate the feedback and discussion. As of today, still no Penguin. I'm still optimistic though, it's only been a couple of days.

With regard to Ruby, I own one also and it's currently in my ZII. Great little auto pilot and I can't say anything bad about it. It did take a little work to get dialed in (don't they all?). The downside is that it is a closed, proprietary system and (at least at this point) the user has absolutely no control over the configuration of the unit. The upside though is that Jim Hall is absolutely wonderful to work with and spares not effort in making customers happy.

The Ruby has a calibration / initialization routine that the pilot executes prior to flying. At the end of the calibration routine (less than 30 seconds) the pilot gets a clear indication whether things are configured and ready to go or not. Jim does this by either nodding the elevator up and down (think nodding your head 'yes') or by wagging the rudder (think 'no'). I thought this was a clever and clear way of denoting the status of the system.

Of course the APM does not have this feature.

Feb 20, 2013, 11:13 AM
Pen's Avatar
I lost a plane over 5 miles out. I was recording the flight so had the last coordinates. I searched a few hours on foot in a hay field and could not find it. My friend took his plane and flew the area very thoroughly. I went home to review the video and found it about 1 minute into the first video. Went back and walked right to it. It was pretty close to the last coordinates.

I felt terrible so know how you are feeling. The recording was definately a life saver. Those super long flights have lost their appeal to me now. I have more fun proximity style flying within a mile now.

I'm also wondering what the RTH ratio is for causing a lost plane vs saving a plane. I bet it's not too good.
Feb 20, 2013, 11:28 AM
Registered User
peter.braswell's Avatar
Originally Posted by Pen
I'm also wondering what the RTH ratio is for causing a lost plane vs saving a plane. I bet it's not too good.
This question has come up several times in this discussion, so I figured it would be a good poll question. Take the survey here:


Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Discussion What plane next? leeno123 Parkflyers 5 Feb 21, 2013 06:12 AM
Discussion I've got 35+ planes, what's my next one rcalldaylong Electric Plane Talk 35 Feb 18, 2013 08:59 PM
Discussion Lost my HZ Super Cub, so what plane next? DeepBlueGray Beginner Training Area (Aircraft-Electric) 38 Aug 02, 2012 06:42 PM
Discussion lost direction. what next?? grayzeee Electric Sailplanes 23 Oct 14, 2008 10:59 PM
Devastor lost what next FullaFoam Foamies (Kits) 3 May 30, 2004 02:21 AM