Just don’t blow!
Not every drone comes back from summer vacation unscathed. In the interview, the drowning professional gives tips on how to avoid some mishaps.
JOURNALIST: Drone Hospital, you repair broken drones. Is the business on summer break?
Drone hospital: on the contrary. We always have a lot more to do in summer than usual. On average, we record 30 percent more damage in the summer than in the rest of the year.
JOURNALIST: Why is that?
Drone hospital: We suspect that people use the devices differently when they are on vacation or with friends. Often it is impact damage, and the device often falls into the sand or water.
JOURNALIST: What to do if the drone is in the sand and there are grains of sand in all openings?
Drone hospital: just don’t blow! This often pushes the grains deeper in and possibly provides moisture. That makes everything worse. Better to vacuum a little at home with a vacuum cleaner at half power. A soft brush works best to get dust and sand out of the openings. We also use something like that in the workshop. Sometimes a toothpick helps too.
JOURNALIST: And if she falls into the water, is everything over anyway?
Drone hospital: it depends. Salt water is especially bad because it can corrode more quickly as it dries. In any case, remove the battery and SD card immediately and let the water drain off. In the case of salt water, the affected areas can be carefully rinsed with fresh water. The drone is then left to dry for several days. When the drone is dry you can insert the battery and see what else is working. If something burns, remove the battery immediately and bring the drone over to a specialist for assessment.
JOURNALIST: Can the data or photos and videos be saved?
Drone hospital: In most cases, the SD card is not damaged and the photos and videos previously recorded can be transferred from the card to the computer. If the SD card has been damaged, we can try to save what can be saved, but the effort and income are often no longer worthwhile.
JOURNALIST: What tip do you have to avoid such damage or loss?
Drone hospital: sandy beaches should be avoided if possible, as grains of sand whirl around in the air even when there is little wind. If you can’t avoid it, you at least take off and land on a sand-free place or a pad. It is best to save your photos and videos after every flight, especially when you are over water or in inaccessible areas. In the end, the data is often of greater value than the device.
JOURNALIST: Can you even repair anything on modern drones yourself?
Drone hospital: Hardly. Today you can only get the devices open with special tools and damage other components if you don’t know what to do.
JOURNALIST: What was the most glaring damage you ever got on the table?
Drone hospital: During filming, the drone first crashed into a rock face at high speed and then fell into the muddy lake below. The device was hardly recognizable as a drone and apart from the video recordings nothing could be saved.
JOURNALIST: You don’t have to fix every little thing immediately. What damage can you leave that way for now?
Drone hospital: scratches and dents usually do not affect flight behavior and can be left as they are. Problems with the gimbal / camera do not have to be fixed immediately if you can still live with the image quality.
JOURNALIST: What kind of damage should be repaired immediately?
Drone hospital: All damage that affects flight safety must be repaired immediately and before the next flight. These include creaking motors, problems with GPS or attitude stabilization and problems with radio remote control. Damaged propellers should also be replaced immediately, because the risk of subsequent problems is very high here, but you can easily do that yourself. Defective or bloated batteries should also no longer be used.
JOURNALIST: How do I recognize a bloated battery?
Drone hospital: As soon as the battery no longer has its original mostly cubic shape and shows curves, it is bloated.
JOURNALIST: What exactly should one do then?
Drone hospital: bloated batteries cannot be repaired. You may not charge them under any circumstances, especially not indoors, or use them for flight. Inflated batteries may also not be shipped. If the battery has to be transported, then only in a fire-proof box, especially in the car. The battery is brought to the local disposal site, where it is handed over to an employee for professional disposal.