Guest Post by Tim Jennings, President of Custom Case Group
If you just spent hundreds of your hard-earned dollars on a top-level quadcopter, you’re probably hoping it’ll last for more than a few flights, right? Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to increase the odds that you and your drone will be flying high well into the future. Check out these six Do’s.
Do #1: Follow a Flight Checklist
A few simple pre-flight checks can make a huge difference in the longevity of your drone. Before takeoff, make sure you answer these questions:
- Are your batteries charged? I’ll talk about batteries in greater detail below, but for starters, you always want to make sure they’re charged. Nothing spells “crash and burn” like a dead transmitter.
- How are your moving parts? Drones vibrate, and vibration shakes things loose over time. Check your antenna (if your drone has one), your propellers, your camera and camera mount, and anything else that might have come loose in transit or during your last flight.
- How’s your sensor? Check to make sure it’s calibrated and functioning.
- Is your transmitter in working order? Before liftoff, double-check that your sticks are moving freely and properly.
Do #2: Apply Hydrophobic Coating
Flying over water is awesome, but risky. One false move can leave you lonely and drone-less in a matter of seconds. Fortunately, inventors are also awesome, and have made sure there is now a huge selection of hydrophobic drone treatments out there to help protect your drone from water damage. Most of these products come in spray or brush-on formulations and are relatively easy to apply.
Do #3: Avoid a Hack Attack
Nothing will make your heart sink like watching your drone fly off into the distance or come crashing to the ground as you stand there helpless to intervene—especially if it means people are in danger. Unfortunately, this is a real risk if you get hacked, and it’s a real risk for drones controlled by mobile devices or computers. Fortunately, safeguarding against such peril is simple: Just make sure your operating device has good malware protection.
Do #4: Take Care of Your Battery
Battery care is important for a couple of reasons. Not only could a poorly maintained battery cause your drone to malfunction and come plummeting to the ground, it could also set your house on fire during charging. Not good. So the first battery rule of thumb for drone pilots is this: Keep a fire extinguisher in your house. That said, the next three rules should help ensure you won’t need to use that extinguisher in the first place:
Inspect your batteries pre-flight. Damaged batteries are a major fire hazard. So if you see any sort of damage on a battery, err on the side of caution, and don’t use it.
Let your batteries cool before you charge them. Your drone’s battery can really heat up during flight and during charging. Combining this heat by charging too soon after a long flight is a recipe for fire. To avoid overheating, take your flight time and double it. Then let your battery cool down for that amount of time before charging. For example, if you flew for 10 minutes, let your batteries cool down for 20.
Let your batteries cool before you fly. The same rule applies here. You want to make sure you don’t generate heat on top of heat. So let your batteries rest away from the charger for about 15 minutes before you fly, and you should be good to go.
Do #5: Get Drone Insurance
This one’s pretty straightforward—if it breaks, they fix it or replace it. And, as drones grow in popularity, more and more insurers are offering good, affordable policies. You may also find that your existing homeowner’s insurance already has you covered. It’s worth looking into.
Do #6: Get a Case
Disclaimer time: Yes, we are a drone case manufacturer (incredibly awesome, attractive, affordable, and custom cases, I might add), but that doesn’t change the fact that storing and transporting your drone, quadcopter or UAV in a high quality case is the single best step you can take to protect it from damage. It’s just common sense. For ideal protection, make sure the case you choose fits your drone like a glove. Cases with water jet-cut foam interiors are definitely your best bet for achieving that kind of fit. And, depending on where you and your drone may venture, you’ll want to decide whether to go with a hard or soft case. Soft cases are just fine for most hobbyists, but for drones taken to extremes (such as mountaintop filming), hard cases will provide that upper edge of protection.
Above all, remember that the most important thing we can do is make sure we have drones to protect. So let’s fly responsibly and keep them legal! Happy flying!
The author, Tim Jennings, is a drone enthusiast and President of Custom Case Group, creator of DroneHangar PRO & LITE cases for drones, UAVs and quadcopters.