While most drones from today’s leading manufacturers are still quite costly, we from the The Gadget Reporter state prices have lowered enough that even amateur enthusiasts can afford them. The DJI Mavic Pro 2, for example, could be bought for just $1539 in 2021. Increased accessibility led to a boost in popularity, which has prompted experts to forecast a 66.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). By 2025, experts on the Business Insider estimate that the drone industry’s market size will be worth a whopping $63.6 billion.
However, as much as drones are becoming commonplace, the know-how needed to maintain them is not. Though major repairs are better left in the hands of a trained mechanic, you can extend the efficiency and longevity of your drone if you know how to do regular maintenance yourself. Should you be the owner of a drone, it’s best to invest in these maintenance tools and accessories that’ll save you money and time in the long run.
For Basic Upkeep:
1. Hex Drivers and Screwdrivers
During flight, your drone will experience a fair amount of vibrations. This movement will naturally loosen some screws that need to be tightened routinely. Since drone components are very small, having a set of hex and Philips head screwdrivers will let you tighten the tinier components and the more substantial parts like the gimbal and camera.
2. Long-nose Pliers
An incredibly versatile tool, long-nose pliers can be used to bend, cut, and move wires and components. Because it’s more slender than other pliers, you can use it directly on smaller parts, whereas other pliers may be too bulky.
3. Adhesive Tape
Think of tape as an all-rounder for drones. In a pinch, it can act as a band-aid and patch up any cracks, loose parts, or exposed wires. Meanwhile, if you need to attach an extra accessory in the field, like another camera, tracker, or lights, you can use tape to do so. These obviously aren’t meant to be long-term solutions, but they’re handy to keep on hand.
4. X-Acto or pen knife
A small and precise cutting tool like an X-Acto or pen knife can cut smaller pieces like wires, stickers, paper, and plastic. Though you may need a utility knife for bigger projects, for general maintenance, a more lightweight cutting tool like this will do the trick.
Since drones are made up of small, easy-to-lose electronics, having a pair of long metal tweezers is helpful. This tool can delicately and precisely lift, remove, and replace components without having to risk your fingers breaking them or dislodging other nearby parts.
6. Anti-static wrist strap
Our bodies emit static electricity, and although these are usually at a very low level, for sensitive electrical components it may be enough to cause electrostatic discharge (ESD) damage. In this case, it doesn’t hurt to use an anti-static wrist strap. Using this strap, the electrical charges between you and the drone’s electrical components are equalized. This is a welcome precaution, especially for expensive drones.
1. Compressed air
The camera is one of the drone’s most vulnerable components. Just a little dust here not only affects the quality of any images, but more importantly, it can settle in the drone’s internal parts. Though most drones today feature self-cleaning sensors and protective seals, some models have interchangeable lenses and filters that are more vulnerable to dust. Thankfully, you don’t even need to risk touching this area to clean it. A can of compressed air held at a distance can easily do the job, so long as the camera seal is intact.
2. Microfiber cloth
After every flight, you should also clean your drone. The hull can collect a lot of dirt, pollution, debris, and even bird droppings, so you should wipe it down with a damp microfiber cloth. This helps keeps prevent any build-up from getting into your motor.
3. Spare Parts
Of course, aside from having cleaning and repair tools, you should also have some spare parts for the main components and drone accessories alike. This is because, with regular use, your drone will naturally take some wear and tear that requires swapping out for newer parts. The selection of drone accessories on Adorama is so vast, that you can quickly find the one that will fit your drone’s configuration, visibility, and durability needs. Unless your drone has suffered serious damage, then you should even be perfectly able to apply these replacements yourself.
As one of the most “breakable” parts of a drone, it’s not unusual for propellers to need replacing after a while. Many drone manufacturers recommend that you change out your propellers every 200 flights, regardless if you’ve incurred any damage or not. That said, it’s better to have extra propellers on hand during every flight.
Though manufacturers do sell propeller replacements separately for this purpose, they are not made to fit universally. As such, do make sure that the propellers you buy are built for the model you have. For instance, the waterproof SplashDrone specifically needs the 1242 Quick Release Carbon Fiber Propellers since these are made to support the model’s aerodynamics, weight, and waterproof build. On top of this, you may also want to install propeller guards like the DJI Propeller Guard or DJI Mini 2 360 Degree Propeller Guard Set since these can reduce the chances of your propellers cracking prematurely.
5. Extra Batteries
As a rule of thumb, pilots should have around four extra batteries per drone. During flight time, having that many extra batteries can equate to almost three hours of extra airtime. Since batteries can also incur damage during flights, it’s even more important to have spares.
When buying spare batteries, you should consider the voltage and weight of these replacements. The higher the voltage, the more power. However, this often also means added weight which may be more than your drone can lift. Spare batteries also vary in price depending on the model, but these are typically anywhere between 5-20% of the drone cost. For example, the famous DJI Phantom listed on the IEEE Spectrum costs around $500 while its battery is around $100.
Though drones have become more affordable, many of the best models still come with a hefty price tag. To protect your drone, make sure to invest in useful maintenance tools.