complete in-flight motor shutdown in cold teperatures - RC Groups
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Nov 11, 2017, 03:06 PM
Lifetime Member
JohnM's Avatar

complete in-flight motor shutdown in cold teperatures

I recently purchased a quad from the RCGroups for sale listings and have been experiencing complete in-flight motor shutdowns. I am a newbie with CleanFlight/ BetaFlight but have been flying a Traxxas Alias for a long time and have over 20 years of RC aircraft experience.
All appears to work great hovering inside my house but as soon as I bring the quad outside, it fails with complete motor shutdown and will no longer successfully arm. I did some extensive testing to replicate the issue and the only thing I can attribute it to is the colder outside temperatures.
If I hover the quad inside the house to heat up all the components and immediately bring it outside, it will work for about 30 seconds and then exhibit the same problem described above. I haven't yet disassembled the quad but I guess that is my next move. I am hoping to find a cold solder joint, but I expect that it is a component failure. Has anyone experienced an issue like this?
Realacc X210 frame
Rev 6 Naze32 Acro flight controller
Lumenier 20A OPTO Little BLHeli ESCs
Lumenier FXC1806-14 2300 KV motors
Diatone V8.3 LC Filter Power PDB Board
RCX09-180 DSM2/DSMX Spektrum satellite RX
Spektrum DSM2 DX7 (older version) TX
Last edited by JohnM; Nov 11, 2017 at 04:08 PM. Reason: updated title
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Nov 11, 2017, 03:23 PM
Fan of just about anything RC
SoloProFan's Avatar
What batteries are you using?
Nov 11, 2017, 03:53 PM
Registered User
zeros's Avatar
They are 2100 mAh hyperions, 3s. I was the seller on this one and want to do whatever I can to get him going. They are a little puffed but worked OK when I flew it last, which was probably 6 weeks ago. Solo do you think it could be the cold?
Nov 11, 2017, 03:56 PM
Lifetime Member
JohnM's Avatar
Originally Posted by SoloProFan
What batteries are you using?
I meant to add that this is not a battery issue. I have uploaded a video to youtube that displays the following:
Hyperion 2100 mah pack fully charged with cell monitor attached
Props removed for test
Quad moved outside after testing fine inside
Note the following in the video
@~30 secs, the motors start to pulse
@~1min 50secs, I disarm and rearm the quad (notice the blicking green LED)
The quad will no longer rearm until I bring it back into the house

Outside temp is ~40F

Quad motor shutdown in cold temperatures (2 min 41 sec)
Nov 11, 2017, 06:12 PM
Lifetime Member
JohnM's Avatar
I disassembled the quad and removed the FC and examined both the FC and PDB under my magnifying light. I found that a couple of loose wire strands from the positive battery power lead on the PDB were resting on or very close to touching the VTX pad. I cut them off and I am going to perform a retest and see what happens.
Nov 11, 2017, 06:28 PM
Lifetime Member
JohnM's Avatar
Test results unfortunately are the same as before
The funny thing is that I bought this quad to use for winter flying
I do have a rev 5 Acro Naze 32 and another PDB that I was going to use to build a quad but this was a fully assembled one at a good price that I could get up and flying quickly. It looks like I may have to do some swapping if I want to get this in the air.

Just completed a solid 3 minute hover indoors. It is very bizarre that is works so well indoors. Too bad that I really only have enough room to fly my Inductrix safely in the tiny are that I have indoors.
Last edited by JohnM; Nov 11, 2017 at 06:38 PM.
Nov 11, 2017, 06:42 PM
Registered User
zeros's Avatar
I agree that it is very odd and honestly I've only ever flown it when it was warm or normal temperatures out.

Irreguardless I sent you a PM about it.
Nov 11, 2017, 07:12 PM
Lifetime Member
JohnM's Avatar
On a very positive note, this quad has given me the motivation to finally delve into learning how to utilize cleanfight/betaflight and how the Naze FC is wired up correctly, It has been a great and rewarding learning experience
Now the next challenge is to figure out how to attach the satellite RX to the rev 5 Naze FC.
Nov 12, 2017, 08:26 AM
Lifetime Member
JohnM's Avatar
Installation of the rev 5 Naze32 was successful and now I know where to attach the Spektrum satellite leads. The 3.3 volt and gnd pad is easy to find but after researching I found that the signal wire is attached to the channel 4 pad.
Test hovering inside was fine just as before but unfortunately again after bringing it outside (~30F) the results were the same as before so now I will swap the PDB board.
Nov 12, 2017, 09:31 AM
Fan of just about anything RC
SoloProFan's Avatar
I've never heard of the cold affecting electronics. In fact, most electronics run better at lower temps because heat is a big enemy of chips and other components.

LiPo batteries on the other hand, are not fond of low temperatures. And the better the battery, the worse these may do in the cold. A better battery usually heats up less under use, and/or is better able to dissipate heat to the outside. So a really good battery won't heat up itself under use in cold conditions, whereas a lower performance battery might struggle more, but as result heat up faster, and get to better working temp. I've seen this happen on my small Solo Pro 1S powered heli, the batteries that came down the hottest after flight during summer, were the ones that performed best in winter.
Nov 12, 2017, 02:31 PM
Drone Pilot (Trainee)
Originally Posted by SoloProFan

LiPo batteries on the other hand, are not fond of low temperatures...
I wonder if a temporary adjustment in the low voltage limits, say a few tenths of a volt, might demonstrate if this is the issue? If setting that down .2 volts suddenly let's it fly in the cold, a least for the moment, that would point toward the battery as an issue.

Cold can affect a circuit, though. A potentially failed gap that is just adequately bridged at room temp can open if chilled. There's other possibilities, although I'd agree all more rare and happenstance than those with heat as a factor. That's part of what makes cold-related issues a difficult diagnosis.
Nov 12, 2017, 09:09 PM
Lifetime Member
JohnM's Avatar
I previously worked as an electronic technician for 14 years at Motorola and I can assure you that electronic devices can fail with both heat and cold, especially crystals that set the frequencies. I realize now that I made a critical error in my approach to troubleshooting this problem. If I had only had a can of freeze spray, I would have found the problem without spending hours swapping out the FC and PDB.

After replacing both the FC and PDB, the quad was still exhibiting the same failure outside. I then decided to build up my original quad that I had planned on building a few years ago since I now had confidence that I could wire up the rev 5 Naze32 and my PDB.
As before I hover tested the 250 size Quad indoors and then proceeded outside. After about a minute of hovering the motors shutdown and the quad fell to the ground. It finally hit home of where I went wrong. The Spektrum satellite RX had never been tested prior to installation into these 2 quads.

I then reluctantly set about wiring a 6 channel Lemon-RC receiver to the rev 5 Naze32. It was a PITA but I wanted to verify what I had suspected. The mystery has now been solved. I successfully hovered outside for about 4 minutes without any signs of motor shutdown. I would imagine that a loss of a good RX signal was what was causing the motor shutdowns followed by the inability to rearm the motors.

I have had my fill of quad wiring and soldering for a long time and I still need to wire in the camera setup to test out the FPV to my monitor ground station. I also need to read up on the whole PID tuning as it is all new to me. The funny thing is that I now have the quad built that I was putting off since the fully built one I purchased was very similar and was supposed to get me in the air quickly.

Specs on the 250 size Quad:
Diatone A250 Mini Quadcopter Frame
Acro Naze32 (rev 5)
RCX 10 Amp SimonK ESCs
6 channel Lemon-RC receiver
Last edited by JohnM; Nov 12, 2017 at 09:15 PM.
Nov 12, 2017, 09:58 PM
Drone Pilot (Trainee)
Hooray! Glad you found the culprit. So you purposely had the GPS disabled to fly inside, which is why the failure wasn't obvious there?

Yep, I slapped my forehead when you mentioned the spray cold. An ex-GF who was a broadcast TV engineer taught me about that very handy diagnostic tool and so easy to use .
Nov 13, 2017, 03:07 PM
Registered User
Wiring mess... Huge understatement haha. Pick yourself up a impulse rc helix sometime if you want a tidy treat.
Nov 14, 2017, 05:55 PM
Lifetime Member
JohnM's Avatar
Yes, I was trying to get this built in the short amount of time I had because it was driving me crazy trying to figure out what was causing my problem. I will be doing a major cleanup job on that quad as soon as I have some free time.

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