Sunday, November 19, 2017

I've had better days at flying field. Rough Nova RTL landing with damage.

TL;DR - Pilot error and high-winds results in rough off-target RTL landing, with Nova's egg-shell body cracking in previously repaired spot.

With my life schedule and the weather, it's been a couple of months since I've had a chance to go fly.

I started watching the weather, and this weekend looked good, except for a cold-front blowing-in on Saturday. Since we had plans for Sunday, it was Saturday or try again next week.

On Saturday, it was Clear and 75f, but winds at 2:00PM were 22mph (with gusts to 30mph). I'm a little rusty, so I don't think I will do good enough in 22/30. And since it's likely faster higher-up, I'm not so sure about stock Nova/CX20 either. About 4:00PM I saw that winds had calmed to 12/20 so at the last minute, I decided to go for it after all. Over the years, I have successfully flown the Nova "in some wind".

At the school's big flat football field, it seemed really windy after all. I installed my small 2200mah battery. Within a few minutes I had 11 SATS and HDOP=1.5. All systems go. It was a little scary at first, but I flew through the first small battery successfully. I kept it fairly low, flew Alt-Hold, tested Loiter (noticed it fighting from being pulled down-wind),  and practiced my manual Landings in Stabilize.

Second battery was my larger 3000mah. Still had SATS and around HDOP=1.5. Flew around the field at little further out now, and trying some other flight modes on the Taranis. Then, I heard it ... "Proceeding to WayPoint-2". I was like "What The Hell is Happening!". I looked down and I had apparently accidentally flipped the Auto-Mission switch on the Taranis somehow.

At this point, the Nova was pretty high and heading for the back-corner edge of the school property ... the baseball diamond about 150 meters away. This was an old mission from a couple of years ago. It was programmed at high-altitude due to the metal high-power towers in that back corner of the school property. Across the street corner, there is a tall church and houses all around. I PANICED since I've never un-intentionally started an old Auto-Mission. I turned the Auto-Mission switch off and switched to Loiter, but the quad was now high and far away ... it seemed to be drifting away.

I tried to control it back closer, but it seemed I was making it worse. At this point, I'm pretty frazzled and I just want this flight to be over, so I switch on RTL and it starts coming back really fast (with the wind) but still pretty high since IIRC, my RTL altitude is set to 40meters (to prevent hitting anything along the way). When it gets above the Landing spot, it starts to descend finally. But of course the wind decides to start gusting. The quad is fighting it, descending, and drifting down wind.  It finally lands, but brushed-up-against a small tree (on the other edge of school property now) so the last few feet was a little too fast :). To tell you the truth, I was just glad the ordeal was over. Tower informed me of the crash (thanks Tower) and the Nova was still on and sending telemetry.

The only damage was the Nova's egg-shell body cracked and broke where I had glued it back together 3 years ago. The props, motors, ESCs , landing-gear, (everything else really) looks fine. If it wouldn't have been for that tree (in the way of that off-target RTL) I think it would have survived un-damaged.

So, I guess I have plenty of spare parts for my other Nova now :) Time to get that one calibrated-up and flying again ( EDIT DONE ). Also, a spare FrSky-X8R-RX for a different quad. Can you tell I'm trying to look a the "bright side" and stay positive? :)

I've tried to evaluate this flight and plan to be more prepared to do things differently next time. I also notice my ANGLE_MAX,3000 .  I had it raised a bit, but still kinda low to be docile. I plan to raise it higher since that would have probably allowed the RTL to land more on-target on the football field (even in the steady 20mph wind).

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