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How to Collect Water Samples Using Your Drone (Cheaply)

Updated in 2023 by Paul Posea

We all know how regular water sampling and analysis are crucial. Thing is, these samplings tend to be logistically-complex, labor intensive and just plain costly…

And sure, after a couple years of development we’ve finally started relying on drones to conduct water sampling procedures, with a small problem though… While these new solutions are cheaper than the traditional alternative of having a 4-man crew in a boat, they’re still not that affordable to small companies and individual researchers.

Most of these solutions rely on enterprise drones like the DJI Matrice 300 or Matrice 600, which could go well over $10,000 in cost!

This is what makes SwellPro’s latest product, an affordable drone water sample collector, a god send for some people. It’s priced at $49 and doesn’t require an enterprise drone or specific EPA certified bottles. 

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What Exactly Is it?

As the name suggests, it’s a water sample collector. Though that name can be misleading. SwellPro’s product is more of a “stand” in which you’ll have to put a water bottle. It’s made of Aluminum and has an adjustable rail giving you the option to use bottles from 350ml to 550ml.

As for the diameter of the bottle, it’s fixed at 66mm, which is a pretty standard diameter (you won’t have a problem finding compatible bottles).


Since it’s made of Aluminum, it weighs a measly 56g making it light enough to not interfere with your drone flight (you should take the added water weight in consideration though).

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Though being made of Aluminum, it’s quite fragile and might be prone to bending (or even breaking).

Drone Sampling Vs Traditional Water Sampling

So let’s do the math… The New York Department of Environmental Protection ALONE conducts 30,000 water samplings per year. That’s usually done with a captain and 3-man crew who need to get on a boat and prepare their trip before they actually conduct these samples…

I’ll spare you the details. The average cost of a traditional sample is $100 per sample. That’s right, a $100 of taxpayer money per small bottle of water.

Comparing that with drone samplings which aren’t only 75% faster than traditional ones but 95% cheaper, and we’ve got a clear winner.

And applications for these include oil & gas, mining and spill mitigation as well. All are situations that make it hard for crews to approach and conduct any meaningful samples.

Is The SwellPro Sample Collector Worth It?

That depends, while it’s quite cheap at $49 for large sampling operations it’s not something that’s very durable. It’s aimed more at small research companies or individual researchers (or freelance drone pilots working with researchers).

You’ll also have to keep in mind that at this moment, the water collector is only compatible with SwellPro’s SplashDrone 4.

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So yeah, if you’re someone who can afford a drone in the $3000 range and needs to conduct water samplings, non complicated ones, it’s definitely worth it. 

Otherwise if you’re in a large company, you may need to look at other options.

Hi, I'm Paul.
A big drone enthusiast, reviewing, comparing and writing about drones since 2015. I'm all about helping people enjoy and even monetize their hobby.

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paul posea
Paul Posea
Hi, I'm a long-time drone reviewer and I hope my articles and comparisons on this site as well as Dronesgator's youtube channel are of as much help as possible.
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