I have a small Bugs 3 quadcopter. This is a neat quadcopter that is perfect for learning to fly because its inexpensive and its 100% manual flight. There is no GPS receiver on board and no automated features.
Another plus is that for a “toy” class product, it is easily repairable. In an earlier crash I destroyed a motor and burned out an Electronic Speed Controller (ESC). The Bugs 3’s top pops off easily and I replaced the ESC and the motor with parts I bought on line.
Today, while flying the Bugs 3 at the model aircraft airfield, twice, it just stopped and fell out of the sky from about 10 feet (3 meters) high and about 75 feet (25 meters) upwind of me. The winds were gusting – in fact, I was at the max limit of what this quad could handle as I had it tilted over forward and travel into the wind was very slow. I had just decided to give up flying for the day when it fell to the ground.
But why did it lose signal?
One common cause of signal loss is bad batteries in the remote control transmitter unit but that was not the problem for me.
Eventually I found the problem: The Bugs 3 has a camera holder that can carry a GoPro camera. While I had previously flown the GoPro , this was the first time I used the GoPro’s WiFi feature and the GoPro app on my smart phone so that I could remotely turn the GoPro camera recording on or off.
And this is where we run into a control signal problem!
- The Bugs 3 uses a 2.4 Ghz radio link to send flight control signals to the quad.
- Simultaneously, the GoPro uses 2.4 Ghz to send data signals from the quad back to my smart phone.
See the problem!
Even though they are apparently not on the same frequency, the very close proximity of the GoPro WiFi antenna to the Bugs 3 control receiver antenna means the GoPro is desensing the Bugs 3 receiver.
In simplest terms, the GoPro’s WiFi link is interfering with the quad’s control link, causing the quad to lose the control signal. When that happens, the Bugs 3 turns off and falls out of the sky. Perhaps not the best response but it is what it is!
Hopefully this information is helpful to others who may encounter signal loss problems with their Bugs-brand quadcopters.
Safety – I was doing my test flights at a model flying club airfield where we have the space and the safety features to do this. Today I was also the only one there and flying over an open field. We also have fire extinguishers and water on site, and sand buckets to douse Lithium battery fires.