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Strobe Placement

mwkelly109

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Going after m daylight waiver. Wonder about strobe placement on the aircraft.

I have read things about placing the strobe in the wrong place potentially interfering with the nav systems...
 

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Electromen

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I have FireHouse Technology ARC XL mounted to the arms on a Mavic Air 2. They are excellent.
 

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DO NOT put on top of drone, that is where you GPS antenna receiver is. Put on leg Struts. Put facing backwards from camera, 1st you mostly fly with camera facing away from you, 2nd, the light and or flashing strobe shows up in your photos and videos. I have a night waiver and teach a class at SoCal university on it.
 

mwkelly109

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The official word from DJI tech support is;
"According to our engineers, we don't recommend carrying the light. However, if you really must, please don't block the downward vision system.

Thank you for understanding."

Picked up a couple of the Firehouse leg mounts. The material is very pliable. Looks like a prototype that came out of a 3D printer. Still need the velcro to hold the light in the mount. The light pops out a little too easily for me. Haven't checked the fit on the Phantom leg yet. Overall...better design than execution IMO
 
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Vic Moss

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The reasoning for adding strobe to your drone at night is for manned aircraft in the area to be able to see you. So it needs to be positioned on the top of the drone.

I fly quite a bit at night, teach night classes, teach 107.29 classes, and am probably responsible for more 107.29 waivers that anyone else. I instruct every student to put the strobe on the top of the drone.

In all of my flights, as well as from information garnered from student feedback, I know of no instances where putting a strobe on the top of the body of the drone blocked GPS. If it does interfere, it doesn't do it very much. Minimal at best.
 
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mwkelly109

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Placement on top of the quad makes perfect sense for maximum visibility but still a little apprehensive.

Playing the devil's advocate, shouldn't you be able to see a lower GPS signal strength in the DJI Go4 app?
 
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Vic Moss

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Placement on top of the quad makes perfect sense for maximum visibility but still a little apprehensive.

Playing the devil's advocate, shouldn't you be able to see a lower GPS signal strength in the DJI Go4 app?

In all the tests we've done with strobe placement, it's never shown up. Granted it's only shown in the telemetry, so I don't know how accurate it is, but we've never had any issues with GPS when flying at night. We'd need a much more accurate GPS testing system than simply watching the info coming from the GPS puck in the drone.

Anecdotally, it does nothing. I reality, it probably does nothing to very little.
 
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Props Up

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Placement on top of the quad makes perfect sense for maximum visibility but still a little apprehensive.

Playing the devil's advocate, shouldn't you be able to see a lower GPS signal strength in the DJI Go4 app?

I agree, if you have enough satellites locked, you should be fine. That’s the metric I use.
I have a Mavic Pro, and I place one strobe in front and on top of the craft, and one facing down on one of the rear arms. Never noticed any change in the number of locked satellites before and after attaching the strobes.
My choice of placement is to maximize visibility from above and below, without interfering with the camera and other functions. The top strobe is to make it visible to other aircraft, and the bottom is to make it visible to me.
I intentionally avoided placing the bottom-facing strobe on the main body, to leave the heat sink and downward-facing sensors unobstructed.
 
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vindibona1

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I'm new here, but now own 4 strobes, all from Firehouse Technology, just receiving my 4th, an ARC V a few days ago.

I don't know if it's new, but I hadn't seen it before, but the Arc V, a self enclosed, waterproof strobe, similar in function to the Lume Cube, but less expensive. I also have an Arc II, that is unenclosed and two smaller strobes, one red and one green. I have a Mavic 2 Pro and I mount the Arc V on top [1" x 1.5"x 0.54" weighing 9 grams] , the Arc II on the bottom, ahead of the sensors and behind the gimbal and the colored strobes on the front arms. I use my strobes regardless of the time of day because they help me keep track of my drone in LOS when it becomes a speck in the sky. I'm sure a Phantom would be much easier to spot with the naked eye. The colored strobes help me with orientation at distance. FWIW, I placed the ARC II and ARC V side by side and found the ARC V to be perceptibly brighter than the ARC II, but not by much. To be honest I have only used them at twighlight once but I was very close to the drone at all times during that one filming. The ARC II and ARC V are supposed to fulfill FAA regulations for visible distance.

I suspect that if used for collision avoidance a top mount would be the best place to mount a single strobe. Firehouse Technologies offers a reasonable discount for buying multi-packs.
 
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I have a Mavic Pro, and I place one strobe in front and on top of the craft, and one facing down on one of the rear arms.

Props Up - I'd like more info and a photo of your setup, if you have any. I'm considering 'anti-collision' lights for my Mavic Pro. But also, I think it would help when I lose the aircraft against certain backgrounds. I never fly BVLOS, but it's amazing how fast a UA can get lost in the clutter... Hoping to find something less clunky than Lume cubes and bright enough to stand out in daylight. Thanks and happy flying!
 

vindibona1

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Props Up - I'd like more info and a photo of your setup, if you have any. I'm considering 'anti-collision' lights for my Mavic Pro. But also, I think it would help when I lose the aircraft against certain backgrounds. I never fly BVLOS, but it's amazing how fast a UA can get lost in the clutter... Hoping to find something less clunky than Lume cubes and bright enough to stand out in daylight. Thanks and happy flying!

Like you I never fly BVLOS. What I started with and works well is the ARC II strobe which I mount with velcro on the bottom of my M2. I also use it that way on my Mavic Mini. It's low profile, but not as protected as the ARC V. PM me and I'll give tell you an ordering secret.
 

MapMaker53

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I always fly with a single CREE strobe centered on the top of my P4P even during daylight hours as a bird deterrent. I've now had two instances with birds, which seem to confirm my theory that the bright strobe and flash spots mess with their vision, and they don't like it. I have always locked onto 14+ satellites even with the tiny strobe velcroed smack in the center of the top shell.

strobe.jpg
 
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Just a quick update and a few user notes on this: Thanks everyone for their input on the OP's topic. It took a while for shipping, but I finally recv'd (3) Arc V's from Firehouse Technology. Nice discount for the 3-pack; and got one each red, white and green lights. The placements were pretty obvious, given the size of the lights and the available flat, empty spaces on the UA. I put the white on top and the green on the front bottom at about 45-degrees, with the red on the back. The green can be seen better at a distance, but the strobes all work well out to about 400 ft. After that, if you lose sight of the UA, the lights won't help to pick it out much, but if you keep the bird in sight, you can still see the flashes past 600 ft. More importantly (to me) the UA really stands out at a typical 25-100ft away and doesn't get lost in tree or other dark clutter, even when sideways to the viewer. The strobes are insanely bright at arm's length, so I close my eyes when energizing them. The front/bottom light is too thick for where it is placed and the UA rests on the bottom of the light instead of the front legs. Doesn't affect takeoff performance, or landing, but if that's a concern, leg extensions would take care of it. The top light did not affect satellite reception as far as I could tell. Started the first flight with 9 sats and quickly picked up a total of 17 as soon as I was above vertical obstructions. Starts up with all available sats when launching from an open field. The front/bottom light was not visible on video unless the UA was close enough to a surface to reflect the strobe back into the camera. The gimbal cover on my Mavic Pro could not be removed once the light was stuck to the Velcro. Checklist now reflects that ("...remove gimbal cover before strobe placement"). Weight of the lights is negligible and I couldn't perceive any performance decrement in Program mode. Haven't flown the lights in Sport mode yet. Will probably mount the lights for every real estate shoot I do, but can easily imagine turning off the front strobes to avoid window reflections. Very happy, so far. See photos for strobe placements. Cheers. IMG_4672.jpg IMG_4673.jpg IMG_4674.jpg IMG_4675.jpg
 

MapMaker53

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Holy crap. Each unit has 5 LEDs? My unit has 4 and I thought THAT was insanely bright. Don't burn out your retina. I have to shield my unit with my hand in order to see the tiny button that turns it off. Nice setup.
 
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vindibona1

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Just a quick update and a few user notes on this: Thanks everyone for their input on the OP's topic. It took a while for shipping, but I finally recv'd (3) Arc V's from Firehouse Technology. Nice discount for the 3-pack; and got one each red, white and green lights. The placements were pretty obvious, given the size of the lights and the available flat, empty spaces on the UA. I put the white on top and the green on the front bottom at about 45-degrees, with the red on the back. The green can be seen better at a distance, but the strobes all work well out to about 400 ft. After that, if you lose sight of the UA, the lights won't help to pick it out much, but if you keep the bird in sight, you can still see the flashes past 600 ft. More importantly (to me) the UA really stands out at a typical 25-100ft away and doesn't get lost in tree or other dark clutter, even when sideways to the viewer. The strobes are insanely bright at arm's length, so I close my eyes when energizing them. The front/bottom light is too thick for where it is placed and the UA rests on the bottom of the light instead of the front legs. Doesn't affect takeoff performance, or landing, but if that's a concern, leg extensions would take care of it. The top light did not affect satellite reception as far as I could tell. Started the first flight with 9 sats and quickly picked up a total of 17 as soon as I was above vertical obstructions. Starts up with all available sats when launching from an open field. The front/bottom light was not visible on video unless the UA was close enough to a surface to reflect the strobe back into the camera. The gimbal cover on my Mavic Pro could not be removed once the light was stuck to the Velcro. Checklist now reflects that ("...remove gimbal cover before strobe placement"). Weight of the lights is negligible and I couldn't perceive any performance decrement in Program mode. Haven't flown the lights in Sport mode yet. Will probably mount the lights for every real estate shoot I do, but can easily imagine turning off the front strobes to avoid window reflections. Very happy, so far. See photos for strobe placements. Cheers. View attachment 2736 View attachment 2737 View attachment 2738 View attachment 2739
Nice review. If I may add, the Arc V is different from the Arc/Arc II as it has a fully enclosed housing where the Arc lights are essentially "shrink wrapped", so have a lower profile- but only by 1/8" (3.2mm). I don't think the Arc V's were available when I ordered my other lights. It seems to me that these are as good or better than similar Lume Cubes, but for a lot less money. I found the Arc V's to be slightly brighter so I like to place it on the bottom. It seems to me that it's better to have your brightest strobe on the bottom for daytime use as a top mounted strobe won't be seen as well from 100+ feet below it.

Bottom clearance can be tricky with the Arc V's, or really any strobe without leg extensions. I have short to medium length extenders that I keep on, but also have some longer extensions if needed. The way I see it is if I land in any grass without extenders my drone becomes a weed whacker.

A week or two ago I took some snapshots to illustrate height clearances on my M2P. From the photos you can see that with the shorter leg extensions there is adequate clearance with the strobe mounted on the bottom. With the longer (PGY) extensions there is very good clearance. I just took a quick snap to see if the Mavic 2 had longer legs than your Mavic Pro. It seems that they are similar in bottom clearance.

PGY extenders vs others_v2.jpg M2P_no-extensions_SM.jpg
 
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vindibona1 -​

I bought extenders and used them once. I launch and recover from a collapsible pad, so weed whacking/wet ground isn't an issue. At this point, my only concern with the lights is the strength of the velcro - seems pretty weak for a 40 mph UA. Thx for the photos! I'd buy an M2P, but if I did, an unannounced M3P would become available the next day. Just my luck. I bought a Mini and enjoy flying it, but a few days after I bought it, the Air 2 came out. I could actually use an Air 2 for photos in a pinch (the Mini doesn't shoot RAW), so I was pretty bummed at that turn of events. Bet that Hasselblad in your M2P is a nice camera though...

Cheers.
 

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