Did you know that more than half a million drones have been sold to consumers in the US in the last three years? Needless to say, drones are the go-to toy not just in America but all over the world.
Unfortunately, drones are machines and just like any other machine; they are prone to errors and breaking down!
Between mid-air collisions and crash landings from amateur piloting, we’re pretty sure that there are thousands of drones (some costing thousands of dollars) lying abandoned somewhere in many households that can longer fly. So, what do you do when you have a broken drone?
In this post, we tell you how to fix your drone, read on to find out more!
As an aspiring drone pilot, you need to understand situations that can render your quadcopter obsolete. In most cases, it is due to crashes and there are several reasons why people crash their drones:
While most mini quads are marketed as indoors drones, the truth is not many drones are designed to be flown indoors. The flying zone is too confined and crashes and collisions become all too familiar, especially when the pilot is an amateur.
While using the FPV function to fly, it is pretty easy to get excited by the video screen and lose focus of the flying environment. It gets even worse when you’re wearing FPV goggles because crashing is almost automatic in an obstacle-heavy environment.
For a rookie pilot, it is very easy to assume that you’re flying in a certain direction when in truth, you’re flying oppositely. Crashing becomes easy in such a case and that’s why many entry-level drones come with the “Headless Mode” feature.
Sometimes, drone pilots get too ambitious and try to push their quads to the limit. This results in flying the drone beyond its range and possible crash landings once the controller signal has been lost.
If you happen to crash your drone while flying, the first thing to do is to note the location of the crash so that you can safely retrieve your device. You also want to ensure that both the drone and the controller are turned off before trying to pick it up as this can easily lead to injury when the propellers turn.
Now, several components of the drone are more prone to damage in the event of a crash, and these are what you should concentrate on. Typically, they will include:
If you’re lucky to own a warranty when the drone crashes, you can take it back to the manufacturer for repairs. However, if you don’t have one and don’t want to spend money on a technician, you may have to conduct the drone repairs on your own.
Luckily, these are basic drone repairs that any DIYer can conduct without seeking professional help. Let us look at the some of these repairs:
If you notice that the propellers on your drone are bent or broken, this should prompt you to make replacements. Usually, the propellers of smaller cheap drones are attached using either a friction fit or a screw that holds them to the drive shaft.
To replace the broken propeller, just pull vertically near the midpoint to remove it then press your new propeller on the rotor shaft. Be sure to use the appropriate propeller when making the replacement because there are “A” and “B” propellers, and these rotate in opposite directions to enhance the stability of the drone.
Usually, the drone motor needs to be replaced after extended usage or flying. So, if you notice that your motor is quiet when testing after the crash, this becomes the inevitable course of action. For those who’ve never done this before, you can search for YouTube videos explaining the process.
Nevertheless, some drones have motors that connect to the electronics board by simply plugging in. Others may require soldering of the motor leads to the main circuit board. In most cases, it would be possible to solder the replacement motor to the cutoffs of the spoiled motor.
However, you may have to dismantle the drone booms to get to the motor!
The insulation between the circuit board and battery in most mini quadcopters tends to get easily dislodged, and this may very well happen after a crash. If you see that your battery is no longer charging or has an unusually short life, then there may be possible shorting issues in the battery.
To resolve this, remove the battery casing and the piece of insulating plastic from underneath the battery. Attach the insulating plastic to clear tape then wrap the battery in clear tape to stop any short-circuiting.
The impact of the crash can cause small fittings like screws to get dislodged. You may notice tiny amounts of silicone at the end of the screws that came from the quadcopter. In this case, hot glue can serve as a ready alternative to the silicone when fitting back the screws.
However, you want to make sure that glue is not too hot as this may cause clumping. If you’re dealing with loose propellers, dip the screw tips into the glue before screwing them into the reattached clips on each rotor.
This will keep the screws from getting dislodged during flight.
If the crash causes one of the LEDs to come loose, you first want to find the original LED. This is no mean task, especially when you consider the minute size of the LED (appr. 1mm by 1.5mm). If you can’t find the diode, it will cost you just a few cents to get a replacement from the electronic store.
Note the direction markings at the back of the diode and circuit (they should point in the same direction when you install them on the board). Use a pair of forceps to put the LED back onto the contact points and solder it to position with a fine-tipped soldering iron.
Once the solder has cooled, turn on your drone to check if the new LEDs are working before encasing them as some small adjustments might be necessary.
If you suspect that there are broken wires in the drone, you can confirm this by turning on the device to check whether the propellers are functioning as required. In case one of the propellers is not spinning at all, the connecting wires may be detached.
Find the broken wire on the motor circuit board and hold it in place using a pair of tweezers. Use a small amount of heat on a soldering iron to reattach the wire and restore the use of the propeller.
Just because you crashed your drone; it doesn’t mean that you should start budgeting for a new one. This post provides you with easy yet crucial tips and tricks that you can follow to try and repair your drone.
However, some damages may be beyond your pay grade and will need the services of a professional. If you’ve tried all the tricks in the book but nothing seems to work, you can always take your quad copter to a technician.