In most cases, new drone operators are diligent in preparing for their first launch. They develop a thorough pre-flight checklist and examine every detail. While this is a good thing, we cannot overlook the importance and creating a post-flight checklist as well.
Many experienced drone pilots believe the things you do after your flying sessions are most important. The reason is that your post-flight activities are what extends the life of your drone and its components. Also, post-flight tasks are what sets the stage for having a successful take-off on your next outing.
Creating your post-flight checklist is not that difficult, but as a minimum, it should address the following items:
- Power off your drone
- Inspect drone body
- Inspect propellers
- Examine propeller guards and protective hulls
- Remove and inspect the battery
- Check out the fittings
- Examine the landing gear
- Inspect wiring
- Download flight data
- Download camera data
- Clean off the camera and lens
Your Drone’s Post-Flight Checklist
Now let’s go over each of these items one-by-one and address their essential aspects:
Power off your drone
Before proceeding with any of your post-flight checks, ensure that it has been powered down. While this may seem obvious, it hasn’t become second nature when we are new to the drone game.
Just keep in mind the fact that an armed or live drone can cause serious injury.
Inspect drone body
Examine the entire body of your drone, and look for dirt, bugs, dust, water, or any other build-up. When you keep your drone clean, it becomes easier to spot these things. Use compressed air to blow away the debris. You can use a lightly damp cloth for wiping, but dry it immediately.
Some drone owners use isopropyl alcohol for cleaning the body – since it evaporates – but you have to be extremely careful because this can badly harm rubber bands.
Always remember the high rate of speed that your propellers are spinning to create the lift necessary to get your drone airborne. On top of this, they are precisely balanced to work in unison with one another. Each propeller has a specific function.
For these reasons, you not only examine them for the apparent problems – like cracks and breakage – but you also look for the less than obvious. Any small bends or distortions can cause your drone to vibrate during flight and create other problems. A suspected propeller problem should always be replaced.
If your drone has experienced collisions or even a minor crash, its propellers are always most vulnerable.
It is also a good idea to keep track of the flight hours on a set of propellers. Doing so will give you an idea of how long they will last, and you’ll be able to play it safe by replacing the entire set routinely.
Examine propeller guards and protective hulls
You’ll want to give your propeller guard the same attention as the drone body and propellers. Installing propeller guards is an excellent idea – especially for beginners. But they’ll also be subjected to bumps and collisions, so take care of them accordingly.
Remove and inspect the battery
Your drone’s Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery is the heart of the entire unit. Everything on your drone depends on the energy that is stored within its cells. However, your LiPo battery is also posing the most significant hazard to the entire unit as well.
This is why it must be handled with care. Under the right conditions, your drone could crash into someone’s house and burn it down – very unlikely, but possible. Also, handle and dispose of your battery per the manufacturer’s instructions.
If your battery looks good, then let it cool down before recharging it again. If it’s damaged, it must be replaced. Never use a damaged battery; always take it to your hobby shop and let the experts handle the disposal.
Check out the fittings
The things to look for here are loose fittings. With the high rotation speeds of their multiple propellers, drones are incredibly prone to vibration. And this can quickly shake something loose and cause even more vibration. So you’ll want to make sure that everything is still snug as it should be.
Examine the landing gear
This is especially important if you happen to have retractable landing gear. Retractable units have several moving parts, and common sense tells us how essential your landing gear is to any drone.
However, even if your drone has fixed landing gear, you need to examine it closely. Always remember that hard landings are almost like having a crash – which is not good.
Drones depend on wires to send the proper signal and power to their various components. So you’ll want to give your wiring a look over. You will want to pay particular attention to the wire harnesses.
Specifically, you should look for any signs of naked wires, cracks, breaks, burns, or scorch marks on neighboring components. There’s no limit to the damage that faulty wiring could inflict on a drone, so don’t blow this off.
Download flight data
Depending on your drone model, many of them today track and maintain flight info for reviewing later. The type of data it tracks are items like altitude, speed, and GPS locations. This data keeps gathering with each flying session.
Flight data is beneficial, as it lets you become more accustomed to the environment as it relates to your drone. For instance, you’ll get a feel for how high your fly your drone and how fast it travels.
However, you must remember to download this flight data so that more data can be stored for future flights.
Download camera data
If you take images and footage with your drone – which is definitely recommended – the storage room will become even more prominent than storing flight data. It would be best if you got in the habit of downloading your camera data routinely. It sucks being in the air and running out of room for that awesome video you’re dying to shoot.
Clean off the camera and lens
Finally, you’ll want to be sure and clean off your camera and especially its lens after every flight. You can use any ordinary lens cleaner for this purpose. This way, your camera is ready to create more images and footage on your next flight.
There should be two main objectives in setting up your post-flight checklist. The first objective is to extend the life of your drone. All these little routine checks are designed to prevent more significant problems down the road.
Secondly, you are actually preparing your drone for its next flying session. Always keep this in the back of your mind as well. The more checks and precautions you take after flying today means the less you have to do before flying tomorrow.