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Curious About Power Lines

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Mar 22, 2017
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#1
I was curious, is there anything harmful about using a drone to inspect power lines, transformers, switches, etc.? I have been within 3 feet of such equipment with no issues, but was curious if anything impacts the drone's performance other than physical contact. Thanks!
 
Joined
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#2
Power lines have pretty strong electro-magnetic field surrounding them that could interfere with the compass. I don't know if there is any kind of radio interfence (I don't think so).

I believe there are quite a few pilots (including the power companies) that are doing that so I don't think there are issues with that. However, I think it's illegal to fly close to power lines (they are private property owned by power company) unless you have permission. It's also against the AMA rules (not that it matters) and I don't recall what the rule is with FAA (if there is one). I know full scale planes are required to stay a certain distance from them (for obvious safety reasons).

The issue is that if you hit the power lines, it could be a bit of a problem since you could take out a transformer and cause a LOT of damage. And if you do it without permission, you would be held liable.
 
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#3
Power lines have pretty strong electro-magnetic field surrounding them that could interfere with the compass. I don't know if there is any kind of radio interfence (I don't think so).

I believe there are quite a few pilots (including the power companies) that are doing that so I don't think there are issues with that. However, I think it's illegal to fly close to power lines (they are private property owned by power company) unless you have permission. It's also against the AMA rules (not that it matters) and I don't recall what the rule is with FAA (if there is one). I know full scale planes are required to stay a certain distance from them (for obvious safety reasons).

The issue is that if you hit the power lines, it could be a bit of a problem since you could take out a transformer and cause a LOT of damage. And if you do it without permission, you would be held liable.
Thanks for responding! I work for a power company so the permission part is not a problem. We are looking into doing inspections sometime soon.
 
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#4
I just finished a Flir class and there were folks from several different power companies. They are using Thermal for inspection.
 
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#5
I am currently flying power poles with an M210 with an X5S and an XT thermal. Occasionally I will get a compass and strong magnetic interference warnings which go away as soon as I create distance from the pole. It is weird that some lines are very clean with no interference and some are plagued with interference.
 
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Feb 4, 2016
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#6
The strength of the magnetic field around a transmission line is proportional to the amount of current flowing through it and not the voltage , so the amount of interference to a compass will depend on the load on the line at the time - which will vary throughout the day and also how the load is being spread.
 
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#7
I was curious, is there anything harmful about using a drone to inspect power lines, transformers, switches, etc.? I have been within 3 feet of such equipment with no issues, but was curious if anything impacts the drone's performance other than physical contact. Thanks!
I'm no RF expert, but my experience says, "No." Electricity is transported @ 60Hz. Your drone operates in the 2.4GHz frequency band, so there should be no problems. You'll have issues with cell towers, which operate in the same frequency band as your drone, but @ 40+ watts.

I customized a drone to run @ 900MHz. So I'm able to fly around 40 watt cell towers with no problem.


Don't try that with stock DJI offerings.

D
 
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#8
I Have by accident flown an inspire 1 Pro between the power lines (only 2 cm clearance top & bottom) with zero interference but some steel structures or poles defiantly give me a compass error. OK background story I was employed to film 5 grain harvesters working an open field I stood in one corner of the field to check it out & operation the drone from I asked the manager of the operation if there were any obstacle that I could hit like trees or poles he said NO, so I flew the job getting amazing images at sunset of multiple grin harvesters lines up when I first see a wire power line go over the drone then immediately another wire goes under the drone I gently continued my course then turned the camera to see what I had just flown through & to make sure I was clear of everything. Yes I was recording, I then with some very colourful word said to the manager, I asked if there was anything that I could hit in the field & I was told NO, so he then goes oh thats right we knocked one of those down a few weeks ago with a harvester... bugger me so I now not only ask I fly over at a safe altitude & check the entire area before I start any low work it costs me a battery but could save my drone & an incident. This was private property & private lines on farm property. yes I do have images but I'm hesitant to post any negative imagery about drones as I don't know where they will end up.
 
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#9
I'm no RF expert, but my experience says, "No." Electricity is transported @ 60Hz. Your drone operates in the 2.4GHz frequency band, so there should be no problems. You'll have issues with cell towers, which operate in the same frequency band as your drone, but @ 40+ watts.

I customized a drone to run @ 900MHz. So I'm able to fly around 40 watt cell towers with no problem.


Don't try that with stock DJI offerings.

D
Yes. I was commenting on compass interference not control frequency interference.
 

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