This is a guest post from Keith Perry, founder of Hudson Valley Drones. Keith is an instructor in the free course, “Solar + Drones: Site Surveying and 3D Mapping Around Trees“. In his previous post, Keith offered up a Solar Company Guide to Drone Hardware.
So you crashed your drone. It happens. It’s an anxiety ridden experience and can be super frustrating, but there’s a few things that are imperative to help minimize the damage.
1) Turn off the propellers. I’ve seen people try to grab drones that are still on in a panic and it’s never worth risking injury.
2) Evaluate the crash site for any damage that might have been caused by the drone– tree branches, power lines knocked loose, or other risks.
3) Retrieve the drone (and any pieces that might have fallen off). Collect them back in your case as best as you can.
4) Evaluate the damage. Is the drone significantly damaged? Is it just superficial? More on this in a few slides. 5) Document the damage. Take photos of the drone, the crash area, and damage that may have been caused.
You’re stuck in a tree. Now what? I’d argue that this might even be a more common occurrence.
1) Locate the drone. If you’re doing a PoI or a survey, it should be pretty close to you. If it’s gone further or flown into the woods, try to find it before the battery dies– you’ll have the benefit of trying to follow the flashing lights. Drop a pin on your phone so you can retrieve it later.
2) If there is any risk of the drone falling out of the tree and hitting someone, take the time to secure the area below it. Use some cones, caution tape, or have someone stand nearby to make sure no one strays underneath it and becomes at risk of being struck.
3) If you can safely retrieve it on your own, try to do it. A long pole might help, or climbing the tree if it is something that you are able to do. Most importantly, don’t make the situation worse by getting hurt.
4) If all else fails, contact a tree service. They’re generally helpful and can retrieve the drone for a few hundred dollars.
After you’ve retrieved the drone, you’re going to want to inspect it for damage. Remove the propellers and run your fingers over them to ensure that there are no cracks. Twist them gently to confirm that they’re still in good shape. Inspect the arms, camera, landing gear, battery, and lights for any signs of damage. If everything seems intact, bring the drone to a controlled environment for testing.
Note: I’d recommend not testing it in the client’s yard. The only thing worse than crashing your drone is crashing it again… in front of a client…
Test all of the features and simulate a site visit. Review the deliverables as well. If there is any damage, contact DJI or a local and reputable repairs shop.
A few notes on repair shops: generally speaking I’m a believer in sending the equipment back to the manufacturer if possible, but sometimes it’s not a viable option due to turnover time.
With DJI at least, there’re often situations where there is a language barrier and it can become frustrating or impossible to deal with them. Ultimately, go with a repair service that you feel most comfortable with. Ask about prices and their policies up front and make your decision based on who you feel like you’d like to work with and who will cause the least amount of stress.