The Dog Ate my Drone: How to keep your equipment safe and in good working order

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When your drone is new and you first start flying, everything is shiny and in working order. Then, things happen, trees, pets, concrete, lakes, buildings. All the things that your drone can meet that will turn them from a finely tuned machine into pieces, parts, and debris.

All kinds of calamities can befall a hobbyist drone operator. Even pros like those of us at Sky Eye can have mishaps that require drone repair. Besides, it’s good practice to know some basic drone maintenance to keep your drone operating well. You’ll also want to know how to modify your drone to carry different types of equipment, depending on your needs.

Additionally, if you don’t want your neighbor’s dogs to devour your drone like, what happened to this drone in Australia, don’t fly where you aren’t supposed to be flying. In this post, we’ll take a look at some basic ways to keep your drone safe and operating correctly.

Keep Out of Reach of Children and Pets

It might go without saying, but drones are not toys. But they sure can look like toys to kids and pets. The whirring propellers, blinking lights, and the lure of the controller itching to be touched. Keep your drone out of sight and protected in a case if you can. At the very least, place it out of reach on a high shelf or closet.

Don’t Fly Your Drone Where It’s Not Allowed

Dogs did indeed eat a drone when it crash-landed in their backyard. The dogs did their duty destroying the threat to their territory, and the owner was out an expensive piece of equipment. But the drone shouldn’t have been flying over private property, anyway. Keep your drone safe by ensuring that you are following regulations and laws for drone operation.

In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration publishes Small Unmanned Aircraft Regulations, also known as Part 107. These regulations state that you must register your drone with the FAA, and you must fly with the drone in your visible line of sight. You may only fly under 400 ft altitude, during daylight or twilight, and not within five miles of an airport without prior written permission.

Also, you may not fly your drone directly over people without their permission. Many instances where drones were damaged, or in some cases, shot down, have been due to not following these regulations. Take heart though, because it is illegal to shoot down a drone.

Keep Your Drone in Good Repair

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Like with your automobile or another piece of equipment, keeping your drone well-maintained will help keep it safe and lower your chances of failure or crash. Basic drone maintenance and simple drone repair will help keep your drone working well and flying safely.

Inspect your drone regularly

Before and after every flight, look over your drone for propeller damage, cracks to the hull, and dirty sensors or cameras. If you see chips or cracks on any of your propellers, replace them. Just like with tires, it’s best to replace all props at the same time to ensure smooth, balanced flight. Check out this pre-flight checklist as a guide for your drone inspection.

Clean your drone

Keep your drone clean by trying to avoid landing in dusty or muddy areas, and by avoiding flying in bad weather. After flying, wipe down your drone with a soft damp cloth, such as a lint-free microfiber cloth. Do not spray liquid directly onto your drone. If dust gets into your camera sensor, a can of compressed air will do the trick in most cases.

Replace propellers regularly

A good rule of thumb is after every 200 flights. Even if you don’t see any cracks or chips, at this point your drone’s props are in greater danger of failing during flight, leading to a crash. It’s a good idea to keep at least one set of replacement propellers on hand at all times.

Propellers are the most frequent drone part that needs replacing. All you have to do is cut it a little close to an object to clip the edge or come in a bit hard on a landing, and your propellers can get chipped, cracked, or broken. Prop damage can happen at any time, so many drone operators take a replacement set with them into the field, in case of unexpected accidents.

You can find replacement propellers for your drone on your manufacturer’s website.

Update Your Drone’s Firmware

Before you fly your drone, check to make sure the firmware is up-to-date. Your drone manufacturer will issue updates from time-to-time to fix any bugs, reported errors, and improve safe flight. IMPORTANT: always remove your drone’s propellers before doing any repairs, including firmware updates. A drone without propellers can’t suddenly take off and crash -- which has been known to happen accidentally during a repair.

Major Drone Repair

If you need drone repair that goes beyond firmware update, cleaning, or propeller replacement, it’s a good idea to send it to your manufacturer or a certified drone technician. Be careful not to do anything that would void your manufacturer’s warranty, such as taking your drone apart or modifying it with unapproved parts. Make sure you keep your proof of purchase so you can access your warranty repairs.

If you need to send your drone back to the manufacturer, you can expect to be without it for a few weeks. Before you head down that road, check out online drone repair forums, where other drone operators give advice and answer questions. You can also check your drone manufacturer’s website. They may have a list of authorized repair centers or retail partners that you can take your drone to for possibly faster repair.

We’ve Been There

Of course, if the dog does eat your drone or you experience another interesting drone mishap, you can contact us at Sky Eye Films. We might be able to offer advice for parts, replacement, or resources. At the very least, we can commiserate. We’ve seen our share of drone misadventures over the years. How do you think we came up with this advice?