Drones are an exciting thrill to navigate stunning landscapes but are relatively fragile. Most drones break during use (heavy landings, inexperienced pilots, and unpredictable weather) or storage and transport. Quality drones are durable and have smart features that prevent crashing—invest in one. However, If your drone is low quality, use reinforcements and decals to make it less fragile and follow the shared tips to prevent crashing. Anyways, don't let the fragility of your drone stop you from learning how to fly it safely!
Drones are relatively fragile not just because of their design but also the materials used in designing them. Therefore, the need to fabricate them with durable materials that can withstand severe impacts and weather conditions such as high temperatures and wind.
A typical drone frame consists of magnesium alloy (90% Magnesium, 9% aluminum, and 1% zinc). Magnesium is light; thus, the higher composition in the frame. The top is covered with an impact-resistant plastic case, an acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or High Impact Polystyrene. Although this shell protects the electronic and internal parts of the drone, it’s also the easiest element to break.
Drones are made of lightweight materials, thus, highly susceptible to breakages upon impact. Most recreational drones have foldable pieces to ease storing and transporting them; thus, continuously folding these pivotal points makes them weak and easily breakable at the slightest impact. Some of the features that make drones fragile include:
The lightweight materials used to construct drones highly contribute to their fragility and flying capabilities. Ironically, the plastic shell that protects the technical components of the drone is the most delicate part. The frame and propellers are plastic high-impact polystyrene (HIPS) and Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene – is prepared by reacting acrylonitrile, polybutadiene, and styrene, creating a more robust physical component than polystyrene. ABS contributes to the rigid, chemical resistance and fatigue resistance features that aid in protecting drones against harsh temperatures during operations. The styrene adds to the waterproof and shiny features and improves processing capability.
High impact polystyrene – Styrene does not mix with polymers; instead, it forms a mix of materials that transfer into rubber particles when under a high impact. Thus, used on the drone’s shell since it can withstand any high impacts.
Drones use resistors and capacitors on a printed circuit board that mechanically wires and electronically links the components using motors that make them fly. This circuit board is easily breakable upon impact. The open ventilation allows air which can corrode the electronic components making them more fragile.
It’s not possible to make a drone entirely durable or less fragile. However, you can reinforce the most vital components using decals and stickers. This helps spread the impact force across the frame reducing the chances of cracks and the likelihood of joints snapping. So, here’s how you make drones less fragile:
Your wires and electronic components are constantly exposed and can easily be nicked by the blades upon crashing. Ensure you attach the propellers on top of the wires or use a 3D printer to create a guard and protect the delicate wires.
The antenna lobe can easily break during a crash exposing the antenna and eventually breaking it. To avoid this, use melted heat shrink with glue on the inside to wrap the lobe—it will prevent seams from splitting upon impact. In addition, mount the antenna with a flex point to prevent it from snapping and extend the impact force on the flexible parts.
Assemble the batteries correctly using two straps instead of one to prevent an ejection mid-flight. If a battery becomes loose and ejects, it’s hard to pin the drone's location,e and that’s a considerable loss—take precautions. Ensure the electronic stack is appropriately mounted to avoid a potential fall-off. Instead of using the nylon standoffs, get a metal one that combines all the boards in the stack.
Soft mounting boards like rubber grommets absorb shock upon impact, thus, increasing the durability of electronic stacks—which makes the drone less fragile. Bumpers are also recommended to prevent the arms from splitting during a crash. Using 3D printed bumpers to wrap the arms ensures the vital elements are protected and the damage transferred to cheaper parts that are easy to replace.
Most experienced pilots enjoy doing tricks, and thus, using landing pads prevents the bottom part of a drone from getting torn or scratched, making them durable for longer. Landing pads (foam style) absorb the hard impact but wear off because of the glue used. However, landing skids have hard plastic that allows smooth landing and protects the drone.
Conduct a pre-flight inspection to ensure that your drone is good enough to fly. The critical things to check are cracked or bent propellers arms, loose wires, or loose batteries. Less obvious checklists include battery charge, GPS reception, and compass recalibration. Always conduct a pre-flight routine to keep you and your drone safe.
Survey and assess your surroundings before flying. This helps you identify potential obstacles in the area like power lines, wires, and trees that may not be instantly visible. Be familiar with the weather condition at that particular time. Flying in places with high winds and temperatures increases the chances of crashing.
It’s mandatory to keep your drone within sight at all times. In reality, you’re faced with many distractions like people or objects around you. Thus the need to fly with a spotter to maintain a visual line of sight with the drone. They also help navigate the landscape for obstacles like powerlines or birds. However, don’t be over-dependent on them as obstacle sensors.
Tweak your drone setting to automated flight mode to ensure it flies to a designated home point if the battery drops below a critical level or the communication sensors are disrupted. Turn on GPS lock to automate the above feature.
Practice in a flight simulator before flying outside if you’re a beginner. Additionally, use the manual to understand your drone's functions better. These combinations will make learning easier and faster.
Flying too close to the ground is one common mistake by drone pilots. It might seem safer, but you’re risking a big crash, especially for beginners or if you’re in a new location. When the drone propellers spin, the air is pushed downwards to create a thrust to rise off the ground. If the drone is too low, it becomes hard to bounce off, thus becoming unstable and quickly crashing.
Drones are fragile due to the materials used to construct them. Additionally, cheaper drones without smart flight technology tend to break more easily than Expensive and durable ones. Invest in a quality and stable drone to avoid easy breakages if accidents. Alternatively, Use decals to reinforce the drone.
It’s recommended to change the propellers after 200 flights. However, replace them immediately if they are scratched or damaged during a crash. You can use decals and reinforcements to make the propeller arms less fragile.
Inexperienced pilots may face drone crashing a lot compared to veterans. However, low batteries, signal interference, and obstacles generally cause drones to crash for both types of pilots. To avoid crashing, conduct a pre-check your drone and the location and have the necessary tools needed before a flight.
The article has elaborated on the weak points and what you should do to avoid expensive damages. Drones are damaged by several factors which can easily be avoided, as shared above. Learn to pilot your drone steadily and gain experience before navigating rough terrains or unfamiliar locations. Have a fantastic experimenting session.