The Art of Drone Maintenance and Repair Part 1
Tips and best practices for keeping your UAV in good working order
Take care of your drone, and it will take care of you.
Like any other piece of equipment on your farm, job site, or mine, drones should undergo routine maintenance and inspection. Regular UAV maintenance lowers the chances of accidents, saves money down the road, and reduces the risk of liability for your team.
If you recently purchased a drone for your business, or are considering a purchase, you may have some questions. What should I look out for? What are the most common types of drone repairs? Where do I get my drone fixed if I crash it? These are all good questions.
Read on to learn three things to keep in mind when practicing the art of UAV maintenance.
1. Inspect Your Drone Before and After Each Flight
Consider inspecting your drone for issues before and after each flight. Some everyday things to look out for include: cracks in the hull, damage to the propellers, and dirty cameras or sensors.
Cleaning the Drone
You should always try to keep your drone hardware clean and free of dust, debris, and dirt. One way to limit the amount of dust and debris is to avoid changing your camera lenses in windy conditions or landing in dusty patches of grass when you can. But sometimes it’s not possible, and your drone will need to cleaned.
Cleaning the Hull
If dirt, mud, or dust collects on your hull, wiping it with a damp rag or cloth should do the trick. We recommend using a microfiber cloth. Pick one up at your local auto parts or hardware store for a few bucks and keep it with your drone. For difficult stains, consider using a plastic-safe cleaning solution.
Cleaning the Camera or Sensor
Any photographer knows that dust is the enemy of a camera. Luckily, many of today’s drone cameras have self-cleaning sensors, protective seals, or filters covering the sensor itself. For models that have removable lenses, such as the DJI X5 camera, dust can become more of an issue. If dust does get on the protective glass filter covering the sensor, pick up a can compressed air or a sensor swab from your local camera shop and wipe it clean.
If a camera seal breaks, dust can get on the sensor. When this happens, send off your drone to the manufacturer for repair (more on this below). Cleaning the sensor requires taking apart the hardware, which often voids the factory warranty. Make sure you check out your manual and warranty information before making any repairs yourself.
Replacing the Propellers
As a general rule of thumb, you should replace your UAV’s propellers after every 200 flights — even if no damage occurs.
Need help keeping track of your flights? Take advantage of apps like Skyward, Airdata UAV Sync, NV Drones, and Drone Logbook to log flight data, so you know how many flights you’ve completed. This will make it easier to know when it’s time to replace propellers. Check them out in the DroneDeploy App Market.
If you see chips or crack on the propellers, you can order new propellers from the manufacturer. Check out the DJI Online Store to order replacement propellers for any DJI drone.
2. Update the Firmware
Before you go out and fly any mission, it’s always important to make sure that your drone firmware is up to date. Firmware updates are issued for drone hardware and fix any reported issues or features to support safe flight.
Not sure how to update your firmware on a DJI aircraft? Check out DroneDeploy’s Zero-to-Hero video tutorial series for a complete walkthrough.
Keep in mind that when you are updating the firmware, it’s best to remove the props from the drone beforehand.
3. Repair Your Drone
If your drone becomes damaged, you should send it off to the manufacturer for repair before flying again. Operating a broken drone increases the chances of an accident occurring.
Depending on the manufacturer, you may also be able to take advantage of a certified reseller or retail store for maintenance and repair. DJI offers online and in-store repair requests and equipment pickup. Visit the DJI Repair Services Center for more information.
Not sure where to find your local DJI retail store or recommended service center? Use this online tool to find one closest to you.
Where to Learn More
- Read the next installment in this series to learn tips for buying, storing, and maintaining your drone batteries.
- Interested in getting more information on fleet maintenance and repairs? Check out our free eBook to learn more about drone repair and battery maintenance.
- Just getting your in-house drone program started? Read this post and learn 5 tips to get your operation off the ground.
- New to drone mapping? Read these 10 tips for success during your first flight with DroneDeploy.
- Print off our pre-flight checklist to make sure you never miss a thing during your next pre-flight inspection.
Get Started with DroneDeploy
Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit www.dronedeploy.com to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.