Drone lovers tend to have this major concern with their drones that they become underperforming over some time. Although this is quite natural as machines do go under wear and tear, there are plenty of ways in which you can lower the rate of this wear and tear. All you need to do is to care for the drone and maintain it regularly as this will help in prolonged life and minimum issues with the drone.
Ultimate Guide to Drone Maintenance
Many companies are investing in drone technology to add value to their business. In some ways, the consumer drone market is still in its early years. RPVs are involved in almost every field. Whether in some oil refinery or for infrastructure inspection.
Like any other investment, you have to protect and maintain your drones as well. Regular maintenance is essential for drones to work effectively. Some of the key aspects to be considered for drone maintenance include drone cleaning, drone maintenance cost, drone component checkup, drone camera evaluation, and others as well.
Basic Tips for Drone Maintenance
Like other electronics with moving parts, motors, and batteries, continuous use of RVPs will cause some wear and tear. Drones should be scrutinized before and after every flight rather than on some scheduled calendar date.
Here are some tips for drone maintenance.
Fix-It If It’s Broken
Often people have this mentality for technology that I’ll fix if something broke-down, which has now long gone for drones. Drone owners must follow proactive maintenance methods. They have to follow proactive measures, so they can manage costs and eliminate any problem beforehand.
Drones have many small parts like screws, nuts, etc. Every component needs to be checked carefully before a flight. Always take out the battery before checking as you are dealing with an electronic device. Make sure that you don’t interfere too much with the motor or circuit.
Be familiar with your RPVs and their components so you can recognize any performance changes or odd sounds. Before flying off, hover your drone in the air for 20 to 30 seconds to ensure everything is working.
After every flight controller must clean the drones. Sometimes your drones won’t look dirty, but there is always some residue on them. The cleaning liquid is available in the market which can be sprayed on the drones and then wiped off with a microfiber cloth. This will make sure that no stain marks are kept behind.
Most of the dust can be wiped out by compressed air. However, for mud, it is recommended to use an anti-static cloth. You can use Isopropyl Alcohol to clean the outer part of drones, but avoid UV filters and lens glass from Isopropyl Alcohol. Although it matters how much volume you are getting, a small packing of Isopropyl Alcohol would cost you less than $20.
Cleaning dirt from the chassis is an essential part of drone cleaning as everything that flies in the air can gather inside creating a buildup of muck and pollution. The motor can be cleaned by simple air pressure. However, high-pressure air is not recommended. Use the low-speed setting so that no components are damaged.
If any amount of dust is blown inside the drone it may affect the sensor, to ensure the sensor’s safety avoid changing lenses in an open area. Use a soft bristle brush for drones to keep them shiny and clean.
Cleaning Camera Sensor
It is common knowledge that dust can destroy any drone camera or simply ruin the photography experience. However, some of the latest drones have a self-cleaning program, protective seals, and sensors covered with filters. The problem arises if a collision breaks the seal of the camera which enables dust to get inside. If, in any case, this happens, you shouldn’t be cleaning it by yourself. Send it off to repair to avoid any further damage.
After Flight Visual Inspection
After each flight check the outer shell of the drone for any damage. In case of any collision with trees or birds make sure the propellers are spinning freely, they are not bent or broken. Scrutinize the lens after every flight to check for any cracks. Furthermore, Antennas need to be assessed for any damage or residues. Maintaining more than one RPV is not an easy task. Companies or individuals should create a clear strategy for daily visual inspection.
People often ignore the batteries of drones which are a significant part of maintaining functional drones. In the case of drones, you can’t wait for the batteries to break down to change them. That is because in case of batteries malfunction during the flight your drone will fall causing you a broken drone or damaged property. Besides, old batteries are also a problem. Therefore, you should replace them as soon as you feel that they are not working optimally. Don’t worry about the cost as drone maintenance cost and battery costs are quite low.
Here are some points to give your batteries a long life.
Never fully drain your LiPo batteries, always keep them above 20%. If you are traveling for multiple days don’t leave your batteries fully charged. Your battery charging must be full before every flight. However, discard warped or broken batteries immediately.
Drones must be turned off before changing or removing a battery. Remember to charge and discharge a drone every three months. Find out more ways to prolong the drone battery life.
Never put a battery near any flammable liquids. Besides, safeguard your battery from all liquids that can cause permanent damage. Always check the status of the battery during a flight. In any case, a warning or low battery error shows up, abort the flight immediately. You can also use some apps to check battery status like the DJI GO app. All batteries have different prices. A new battery should cost around 100 to 200 USD depending upon the company and its capacity.
Different batteries require different temperatures to work properly.
- Inspire 2 needs -20 to 40 degrees Celsius
- Mavic Pro, Inspire 1 and Phantom 3 needs -10 to 40 degree Celsius
- Spark and Phantom 4 requires 0 to 40 degree Celsius
Batteries can explode if overheated before charging allows them to cool down. Avoid charging outside the mentioned temperature range.
- For Inspire 1 and Phantom 3 temperature must be between 0 to 40 degrees Celsius.
- For Spark, Mavic, Inspire 2, and Phantom 4 temperature must be between 5 to 40 degrees Celsius.
Whenever transporting or storing a drone, always keep it in a good quality case. It may be expensive but well worth every penny. A hard case will work best for this purpose instead of a backpack. Usually, a hard case comes in between 30 to 100 USD. Remember to remove batteries and propellers from the RPVs before transportation to avoid any damage.
Propellers and Landing Gear Replacement
It is a thumb rule, that after every 200 flights your propellers should be replaced even if they aren’t damaged. Many companies offer a logbook along with a new set of propellers so you can easily keep a track of your flights. Propellers could charge you around 10 to 30 USD.
Inspect your propellers for cracks and chips after every use. If you see any damage, order a new one before a new flight. Faulty propellers can lead to catastrophic consequences.
The landing gear of a drone must be up to date and needs to be checked before and after every flight. The last thing you want is to damage your drone during landing. Some drones don’t come with landing gear rather they have a stand below them which is perfectly fine too.
Update the Firmware
Before flying a drone it is important to ensure that your firmware is updated. These updates are sent by the manufacturer to fix any hardware-related issues. Every drone manufacturer offers their software and a regular update would help you in having minimum errors, as well as better control and stability as well.
The firmware makes sure that all the features in a drone are working properly to support a safe flight. There are many videos available online on how to update the firmware. Keep in mind that before updating remove all the props from attaching to the drones.
We hope that the above-mentioned drone maintenance list helps you out in maintaining the drones. Just remember that even the micro details matter a lot. Focus on every aspect rather than missing out because this is what would help you in getting the drone in a working condition for a long time. In case, you are unable to maintain your drone at home, you can take it out to a technician every few months who would service it for you, identify any possible problems, and do the repair work while you don’t have to undergo any of that hassle.