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There is one eternal truth that you as a drone pilot know. Eventually, you are going to crash your drone. Sometimes it is because it is your fault, and sometimes it is due to conditions beyond your control. It is helpful for pilots to have some drone repair knowledge, so they know what to do, and can save on the time and money needed to get the drone flying again. However, sometimes the damage is extensive enough that you will need to get in contact with the drone manufacturer for drone repair help.

Why Drones Crash

It is important that you as a drone pilot understand what situations can cause a drone to crash so you can take steps to avoid them. To help you understand what can cause you to crash, break or lose your drone, we have compiled a list of common reasons why drones crash. Note, that the following does not account for mechanical failure. The following are what you as the pilot has control of.

Flying Indoors – Some smaller drones are marketed as indoor drones, but the reality is that most drones are not meant to be flown indoors. Crashes are all too common because of the tight flying area. Also, flying indoors risks causing harm to your friends, family, and your possessions so its best to be flying your drone outside.

First Person View – When you are flying in FPV, it is very easy to lose track of where your drone is because your attention is focused on the video screen and not the flying environment. If you are wearing FPV goggles, this makes this situation even worse. It is best that you have a friend with you who can keep an eye on the drone and make sure that you are flying safely.

Lose Orientation – When you are first learning to fly, it is easy to lose track of the orientation of your drone. You think that you are flying one way, but when you try to fly left, you drone goes the other way right into a tree. It is best that you fly in an open area, like a park, so you can get used to understanding which way the drone is oriented.

Flying Too Far Away – It may be tempting to see how far, or how high you can fly your drone. This is not a good idea from both safety perspective, and in terms of the FAA flying guidelines. You must always fly within line of sight, and never fly higher than 400 feet. If you get caught violating these rules, you could face fines. Also, you could endanger aircraft flying above this altitude. Flying outside of your line of sight can lead to crashes and possibly the loss of your drone.

Recover Your Drone

If you are following proper drone flying protocol, then you know approximately where the drone went down based on your last visual sighting. On a more advanced drone with GPS navigation, you can use the drone app to see where your drone has crashed. One more advanced drones, such as the DJI Phantom series, the GPS navigation may still be active, and you can get a live fix on where your drone went down.

When you are retrieving your drone, inspect it for damage. You may want to document any damage by taking a few pictures with your smartphone. This is especially important if you have a warranty on your drone.

Before you try to pick up the drone, be sure that it is powered off. Also, be sure that your controller is also turned off. If your drone is not powered off properly, the propellers may turn on to stabilize the drone when you go to pick it up or move it. This can result in serious injury. Always be sure your drone is powered off before handling it.

Inspect the Body of the Drone

When you find your drone, you may notice that there is some dirt on the body of the drone. Cleaning the drone makes it easier to find any damage that may have otherwise be hidden. Look closely over its entire body to check for any cracks or breaks.

Inspect the Propellers

The propellers rotate at a high rate of speed to move air and create lift, which causes your drone to fly. Propellers are carefully balanced to ensure that at high speeds, they do not create any unnecessary vibration that could make your drone difficult or unfit to fly.

Any sort of damage, such as chips or cracks no matter how big or small will result in your propellers needing to be replaced. When your drone crashes, the propellers are most likely to be damaged. Crashing into a building, or a tree will almost always cause damage to unprotected propellers. This can also happen if you fly through bugs.

Pay special attention to the leading blade edge. Any nicks or chips, no matter how small, can affect the thrust generation efficiency of the propellers.

Inspect the Fittings

The drone motors produce a lot of vibration. If any of the motor mounts are loose, the vibration will be dramatically increased. Any loose fittings can cause rotating parts such as motors and propellers to shake, rattle, and roll causing your drone to be aerodynamically unstable. Check that all of the fittings are snug so that nothing comes loose during your next flight. If after a flight you notice an increase in flying instability, check the fittings.

Inspect the Landing Gear

Most drones have fixed landing gear, but more advanced models have retractable landing gears. If you have retractable landing gear, be sure to inspect the extension and retraction mechanism to be sure it is working properly. The shock of a hard landing can have the same effect as crashing your drone. Be sure to inspect the landing gear to make sure that there are no cracks or breaks.

Inspect the Wiring

Your drone has numerous wires that send power throughout the device. The main wires you will come in contact with are attached to a harness that quickly connects your battery to your drone. When you check your drone after a flight, check the wiring harness to ensure that there are no loose connections. It is also good to check all visible wires for cracks, breaks, burns, or any other sort of damage. There is a lot of juice flowing through your drone and any sort of wiring issue could cause your drone to fall from the sky.

Basic Drone Repair

Propeller Replacement

If any of the propellers are broken, or bent, you should replace the propellers. Smaller drones have propellers that attach using a friction fit, or a single screw holding the propeller to the drive shaft.
Microdrones use a friction (ie push on) propellers that only need your fingers to remove and replace them. Mini drones use a small Phillips head screw, so you will need a small screwdriver kit in order to replace these propellers.

Motor Replacement

Your motors may need replacement after extended flying and usage. If you have never done this type of drone repair work before, you may want to research the procedure by watching a few YouTube videos. Some motors are connected the electronics board by simply plugging in, while others may require that you solder the motor leads to the main circuit board. Usually, it is possible to solder the new motor leads to the cutoffs of the old ones. You may need to disassemble the drone booms to gain access to the motors.

Drone Repair Troubleshooting

If you are lucky and don’t notice any exterior damage on your drone, except for perhaps a broken propeller, you need to conduct some tests to make sure your drone is fully functional.

Remove all of the propellers, use a different battery, power up your drone and attempt a flight sequence. Obviously, without the propellers, the drone will not fly. However, you can observe to see if all of the motors are responding. By going through the drone boot sequence, the internal checks will examine the firmware, sensors, and camera.

The next step is to attach the propellers and go for a simple flight test. Don’t fly too high, and don’t attempt any high-speed maneuvers. If your drone is responding correctly, then you can keep flying.
If this flight test fails, then something was damaged during the crash, and there is an internal problem with your drone.

Hire a Professional

If you are not comfortable in your own ability to repair your drone yourself, then it may be time to hire a drone technician. If you bought your drone from a major drone manufacturer such as DJI or Parrot, then you should check if the repairs are covered under your drone’s warranty. Check your instruction manual or go online to the manufacturer’s website. If it turns out that the repairs are not covered by the warrant, you may need to pay for the parts and labor yourself.

Make sure you don’t void your manufacturer’s warranty by doing something inadvertently. To make sure you’re always in compliance, check the manufacturer’s website. It is generally a good idea to not dismantle your drone, fly it in the rain or crash into water, modify your drone with unapproved parts, or lose your proof of purchase.

Depending on the backlog of the number of drones the technician is working on, it may take a bit of time for you to get your drone repaired. This mean an extended period of time that you will not be able to go flying. Before sending in your drone, see if you can get local help by looking online to see if the manufacturer has a listing of local retail partners, or authorized repair centers. You can get in touch with these local locations to see if they can repair your drone faster.

Drone Repair Summary

When you do crash your drone, hopefully all you need to so is replace a propeller or two and you can get back to flying. If your drone is under warranty, you can contact the manufacturer to get your drone repaired.

Otherwise, it is possible to repair your drone yourself. It is usually cheaper to repair your drone yourself and you can get most parts online. This is assuming that you are comfortable with performing drone repair tasks. There are plenty of YouTube videos available online that can guide you through the process of fixing your drone.

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