Drones are more popular than ever. They are fun to fly and are excellent for taking aerial photographs. If you are going to invest in a drone, it is important to know how to properly maintain it. Below are ten tips to ensure that your drone stays in top condition and flies safely.
- Keep your drone clean.
One of the best things you can do for your drone is to keep it clean. You can easily put together a cleaning kit so that you always have everything you need:
- A small soft brush or pipe cleaners are ideal for getting dust and debris out of tight corners and crevices.
- Canned air is also great for removing dirt from hard to reach spots. It is the best option for cleaning near the motors and circuit boards since canned air will not damage the electronics.
- Isopropyl alcohol is perfect for cleaning the outer shell of your drone. Be sure that it is 99% so that you don’t do any damage to the circuit boards.
- A microfiber cloth is also useful for cleaning the outer shell. Use it with the isopropyl alcohol. A microfiber cloth is handy if you are experienced enough to disassemble a quadcopter motor and give it a thorough cleaning.
- Keep some 3-in-1 lubricant in your cleaning kit if your drone’s motor requires lubrication. Check with your manufacturer.
For a quick overview on cleaning your drone, watch this YouTube video from CLWTech
- Have the proper tools and parts for repairing your drone.
Having the right tool and parts is particularly helpful when out in the field and your drone crashes, a part comes lose or a propeller falls off. Here are some things to keep in a repair kit:
- Propellers are one of the first parts to fall off or suffer damage when you crash. You should keep one or two sets of extra propellers in your repair kit. Check with your drone manufacturer to ensure that you have the right size of propellers.
- A small tool kit is also recommended. There are several available and some are designed for use with a drone. Again, check with the manufacturer to determine what tools you might need for quick repairs. Your drone may even come with all the tools you need.
- A soldering iron can be necessary if your drone suffers serious damage to its wiring or electronic parts. If you are not experienced with using a soldering iron, there are YouTube videos that can help.
- If your drone has replaceable batteries, then extra batteries are a must in case your battery dies or gets damaged. Make sure you have the right model batteries for your drone.
- Do a pre-flight check.
You should always do a pre-flight check before flying your drone.
Check the propellers to make sure they are not damaged, and they spin freely and easily. Verify that the toggle switches and other settings are correct so that you don’t have any surprises when your drone is airborne. Confirm that the camera and gimbal are firmly attached.
Check your surroundings to guarantee you are in an open space without obstacles such as trees, buildings, cars and other people. It is also important to note that the United States requires that any drone weighing over 0.55 pounds must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration.
We recommend letting your drone hover just a few meters off the ground for 30 seconds to a minute so that if anything is wrong your drone won’t have far to fall and will only sustain minimal damage if it does fall.
- Take care of the batteries.
Most drones use rechargeable lithium-ion or lithium-polymer batteries. You should fully charge the batteries before flying and to remove them from your drone when you are done.
You should not leave batteries fully charged for more than two days so you should deplete the batteries if you will not be flying. If your drone uses lithium-polymer batteries, don’t fully deplete them.
You should never fly with damaged batteries as this can damage your drone. If you suspect damage, do not use the batteries.
- Remove the propellers and clean the propellers and motor housing after flying.
Dirt and debris can get into the motor housing where the propellers connect to the body of your drone. After flying, you should remove and clean the propellers and then use canned air to clean out any dirt from the motor housing.
If you let this dirt build up over time, it can cause the motor to work harder or cause it to lock up while flying.
- Take care of the motors.
Your drone’s motors can overheat or wear out if you run them too long. We recommend that if you have been flying your drone all afternoon, let the motors rest before you go back out for an evening flight.
Check out this YouTube video from Drone Race 101 on cleaning your drone’s motor.
- Have a suitable carrying case or backpack.
It is important to have a good carrying case to keep your drone safe during transport. There are soft-sided backpacks and cases that are easy to carry. Hard-shelled cases provide more protection, but they can be heavier to carry and are not flexible.
- Only fly in good conditions.
Always check the weather before heading out to fly. Your drone’s user’s manual should tell you the recommended wind speed for flying. Don’t fly your drone in adverse weather such as snow, rain or fog. If you do decide to fly in cold weather you should check out these tips.
If you want to use your drone for aerial photography, the first hour after sunrise and the first hour before sunset will produce more amazing shots because these hours present a natural-looking color and make the pictures easier to expose.
This YouTube video from DansTube.TV gives an easy to understand overview of drone cleaning and maintenance, checking for flying conditions and locations, and performing a pre-flight check.
- Keep drone software up to date.
Drone manufacturers will release software and firmware updates to fix bugs or add enhancements so check periodically for updates.
- Make sure your propellers are in perfect condition.
Propellers are crucial to keeping your drone in the air. Always check your propellers and replace any that are chipped, damaged or misshapen.
Your drone is more than just a toy. It needs the right care and maintenance to continue giving you hours of flying fun. We hope you have found these tips helpful and informative and that you will implement these procedures.