Guest Post by Tim Jennings, President of Custom Case Group —
Drones continue to take an increasingly critical role in our daily lives, doing everything from giving us awesome entertainment at family gatherings or collecting incredible aerial shots of our kids’ football games, to gathering epic film footage, dropping life-saving resources into disaster zones, and helping protect us from terror attacks. But, despite their varied roles, there are two things all drones share in common: 1) They’re not cheap, and 2) they’re really easy to damage.
That said, having the right case for your high flying investment is essential. But before you decide on a case, you need to make sure your money is well spent. As you set out on your research journey, keep in mind the following basic, critical factors—the first of which is this: Don’t assume a drone case is a drone case.
Your Drone’s Job Matters
First, consider what your drone will do for you. Will you be shooting footage at 15,000 feet above sea level several times a month? Or are you planning to join a drone club that meets once a week at the local airport? Are you managing a new life-saving drone program at the sheriff’s search and rescue? The answers to these questions are critical, because your drone’s application type and frequency should determine its most critical characteristic: the outer case material.
Hard vs. Soft Drone Cases
The Hard Case
The hard case will be your heavier hitter—both functionally and on the pocket book (at least compared to a soft case). Typically manufactured with top quality injection-molded plastic exteriors, these drone cases are airtight, watertight and crushproof. They are also pressure-regulated and include shock-resistant features, which are essential for use in harsh environments, including search and rescue, disaster zones, and rugged film sets, just to name a few. Hard cases also meet a wide range of standards and certifications, and are fully compliant for airline travel.
The Soft Case
If it passes muster, a case with a soft exterior can give your drone a level of protection that is equal to that of a hard case—just in less intense environments where crushing, pressure changes, and bad weather are unlikely. These lightweight cases are perfect for drone enthusiasts and professionals who need to protect their equipment from the rigors of daily life, but who aren’t likely to travel by airline, or encounter anything too intense along the way.
Other Case Features to Consider
Both hard and soft drone cases have certain built-in or customizable features you’ll want to consider. Following are a few of the most common of these, broken down into features that are optional and those I consider essential.
There are certain details you can work with to make sure your case has a good balance between cost and functionality. The case’s outer material is always the first of these details to consider. For example, as mentioned above, in contexts like a disaster zone or an on-location ocean film shoot, features such as waterproofing, crush proofing, and shock resistance are essential. So you’ll want to stay within the hard case realm. Again, depending on your drone’s job, you’ll then want to consider whether you’d benefit from customizations such as nameplates, logos, dustproofing, or a specialized foam interior design.
However, if you’re a drone enthusiast like me, you also have the cost effective option of a standard soft case. For you, the hard case may be a bit of an overkill, and you’ll end up paying more for features you really don’t need. And, given your drone’s planned applications, a soft case will provide protection equal to that of a hard case, just without any unnecessary bells and whistles.
Just like a hard case, a soft case’s foam interior can be custom designed if you have specialized needs, such as oddly shaped parts or extra accessories you want to carry along.
A drone case that’s truly worth your hard-earned money will include a few standard, essential features. The first of these relates to carrying capacity: All cases should provide adequate storage for your drone, controller, propellers, flight batteries and chargers. Room for non-essential accessories is awesome, but if you’re looking to trim your costs, this is a safe (albeit somewhat inconvenient) place to do it. The second feature you should insist upon is foam interior cushioning. With its inherent shock-resistant characteristics, there is, hands down, no material that will protect your fragile equipment like cut foam. Plus, it’s strong, sturdy, and long lasting, yet will cradle your drone like a cloud, regardless of the bumps you encounter on the way to the take-off site. Accept no substitutes!
To give your drone the protection it needs, be sure to keep all the above factors in mind when shopping for your next case. But, even more importantly, remember that the best protection you can provide for your drone—and the world of drones in general—is safe, responsible flying. Let’s keep this amazing, fun, and incredibly beneficial technology flying high!
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.