First Drone Flight of Spring – Things you’ll Need To Check
Buddy hang in there Springs gon na, be here soon we'll be outside flying. Don'T worry, but either way the drones been sitting idle for a number of months and there's. Some things you need to check before you put it up in the sky for the first time, because even sitting in a case protected physics takes over now it's either. The second or third law of thermodynamics that says it's the law of entropy that says all organized matter eventually falls apart. So systems fall into decay, we're just having the drone. In the case and sitting there, you've got batteries that are gon na get weaker. Chemical reactions are gon na happen, the plastic starts to atrophy and you get issues with cracks and things like that. So it's always a really good idea to give it a thorough inspection before you put it up in the sky for the first day, because you want to make sure you have a good day flying now. I'Ve divided these tips and tricks into two categories: one I'm going to call critical things you need to check, and those are things that will bring a drone out of the sky. So those are single points of failure on the drone that if these systems fail, the drones coming down so that's a really bad day, that's a disastrous day, the other category I'm going to call annoying things that you want to check, and those are things that let's Say, for example, you're gon na fly in a Saturday morning.
The weather report is beautiful, it's gon na be sunny, 60s mid, 60's sunshine all over the place, and you go out to fly and you're driving 45 minutes away. To get to your first location, you pop open the case. You get ready to fly and something isn't there, something isn't working, you're missing a component and it's frustrating, because now you've got to drive all the way back home, you're gon na waste the day driving between those locations, so the annoying stuff or things that you just Want to check and make sure that are in your kit that may have been there when you closed up the kit at the end of the last summer, but they're not there. Now so I'll give you both of those categories really quickly. Now I do this kind of deep inspection or this deep preparation if you will typically twice a summer and I'm, not that smart. So I like to pick dates that I can remember the first one is April 1st, which is April Fool's Day that's easy. So my first inspection happens on April 1st or the first day that I'm going to fly now this year we got a little bit warmer weather earlier so I'm doing the inspection all nitrones this week before I go out and fly, but if I haven't flown yet April 1st is when I do the deep inspection. The other date is the fourth of July, another easy day to remember that sort of midsummer.
That gives me three more months to fly before we get into the colder months. But these inspections are super critical, because, even though you can normally pop you're drawn out of the case, put it up in the air and fly if you want to avoid things like crashes fly aways and your precious little drone being damaged. You definitely want to check these things, so I'll go through the two critical ones first and then I'll talk about the annoying ones after that, and maybe even talk about a couple of accessories that might help make this a little bit more fun for you. So the first thing I'm going to talk about other propellers that's, one of those single points of failure I mentioned before there are four propellers on the quad. If one of these propellers fail the drones coming out of the sky, so there are a few things you need to check on the propellers and I'll show you that now, when you're inspecting the propellers you're looking for any kind of Nicks and dings along the edges, So run your fingers along there. If you feel any roughness it's a good indication, you probably mix something last season, didn't notice it. If you can't, really feel anything because your fingers are calloused, you can use a cotton ball and rub it along the end. You'Ll see it actually snag on the edge where there's cuts. The other thing I recommend is definitely remove the propellers because you want to inspect underneath the two little ears that hold it onto the motor really can fatigue over time.
And you got to make sure that they're on there, nice and tight now here's a good example of one that didn't survive. First off, you can see a huge ding right here and see how it's split the propeller it's actually ripped the propeller. I hit a branch on that one I was out flying yesterday, so that definitely has to be changed, but the bigger issue is when I pulled it off, look underneath only two of the years are intact and once disappeared, so it's really critical, especially with a smaller Quad like this, that both of those ears are intact and you look to make sure there are no cracks along either side because again, as this is spinning in the air, the fatigue is really here. The torque is really on those two things holding them down on the motor, so pull them off, give them a good inspection and then once you have them off, give them a good cleaning, because, where they're up in the air, your quad is going to be flying Through the air there are bugs up there, you're running in things, you're gon na get all kinds of bug juice on them. What I like to use there is something you'd use for cleaning your glasses it's, an alcohol wipe. One of these will cover four propellers. Just take it out actually clean, both propellers both ends underneath make sure everything is nice and clean and smooth on both surfaces and again that may not bring your quad down, but it definitely affects the performance, but I can guarantee, if you're missing one of these ears, Pretty good chance that props gon na fly off in the air and this thing's coming out of the sky.
The next thing you need to inspect are your batteries, because these Power Cells are the only thing that's keeping your drone aloft and if they start to do strange things, bad things can happen to your drone. Now a couple things to keep in mind. First off they're not forever, they have a lifespan and how you charge them, how you store them, how you transport them all determine how long you can use these batteries with your drone and even if you're, not using them. That lifespan continues, so the decay inside the battery is happening, even if you have it tucked away in a case for the long winter, so it's very important that you do an electrical and a physical inspection on those batteries. The first time you start using them again in the spring now inside the battery there's, an intelligent circuit called a controller. So inside this case there are the lipo cells, lithium, polymer cells and you've got a controller, that's monitoring and controlling the in russia' current to charge. Those cells, the exit of that current back to the drone to fly it's, balancing that charge across all the cells, that's checking temperature it's checking any kind of abnormalities between those cells it's looking for a well balanced battery pack and it reports that to your drone and Your drone reports that back to you through the application, so if you're ever flying your drone – and you get some kind of battery error, laying that drone immediately pull the battery out set it aside and you can pop another battery in and go fly, but that battery Needs to be better inspected once you get back home now, in addition to that, the chemistry inside there doesn't, typically blink out like a light, bulb it'll, complain an awful lot before it dies and the danger is, if you fly with a battery that's compromised, you may Not be getting the correct voltage or current to your drone and strange things can happen if the battery does fail completely the drones going to drop out of the sky like a brick, but typically the battery decays enough to where the drone starts doing strange things.
So it may impact the GPS coordination, the IMU, the compass. All of those are bad things to have happen because that's when flyaways take place now, the good news is again that you can physically inspect the battery, because that chemistry, when it's complaining, starts to swell and you'll notice the battery crack or bulge. Now, the best way to do that is to give it a physical inspection, feel it make sure you don't feel any bulges on it and if you look at most battery packs, what you'll find is the case itself is typically made out of a single piece of Plastic it's cast as a piece of plastic and then they'll drop the cells in there, the lipo cells in there and they'll drop the controller in it and then they'll snap one side onto it. Now, in the case of the Mavic air battery, both of the sides are all three of the sides and the top or oh one piece. This bottom piece is snapped on there once it's been assembled and if it's gon na swell it's, typically gon na swell in this direction, against that soft side, and these two batteries went in the case and the beginning of the winter I've charged them a couple times Over the winter, everything looked fine when I took them out of the case to fly the other day physically. I looked at and they looked okay to me, but one test I'd like to do with the Mavic air batteries is I'll.
Take the side that they've snapped on put it up against the table and try to rock it now this one's nice and solid it's not moving, but watch what happens with this guy, which didn't make it through the winter. I put it on the table, see how it's pivoting like that. That means there's a bubble someplace here in the center. Now, if I look at her really close, I probably can see it, but I didn't notice that when I first charged it up or after I finished charging it but doing that table test, I now know that batteries got to go. Don'T fly with a defective battery. If it's compromised, it's gon na do nothing but cause your problems, and I know these are expensive, but if you think about the cost of the drone, if this batteries in there and it starts to go nonlinear you're gon na lose the drone, you don't want to Lose a drone over an 80 battery, so the key is, if it's bad, take it to a disposal site. I think Home Depot or Lowe's takes defective lipo batteries. You can drop them off there but replace that battery, because if it decides to go nonlinear because lithium polymer is a very volatile combination of chemicals. That, if the battery does decay to the point where those two chemicals touch each other, you could have spontaneous combustion, which means the battery's gon na burst into flames and if it's inside your drone, it's bad enough losing a battery.
But if that burst into flames, you've lost the drone, so don't play around with batteries that are definitely swollen. If it's swollen it's got to go, you got to get rid of it and then you can replace it with another battery all right. Another thing you want to look at physically are the connections here, because that circuitry inside is monitoring the cells. So it knows exactly how much current potential is available inside the battery, but that current and potential has to get out through these connections to the drone. And if you put this battery down in grass or debris or inside your case, you picked up fuzz on these connections. You won't have a great electrical connection between the battery and the drones. So what I recommend is take a toothbrush, not one you've used. Take a new toothbrush and clean ezel off run that toothbrush across these contacts do the same inside the drone. Be gentle when you do it but clean those off, because if debris gets on there, especially if it's, wet or if it's, salty it'll corrode those contacts and over time, even though it makes a physical connection, you're, not getting all the current through those contacts that you Would normally get, and the funny part, is the actual controller inside thinks that it's got a fully charged battery, but it's not deliver and all the current it should to the drone and again strange things can happen so physically clean it and make sure physically it's, not Swollen and you'll be in really good shape now, one other thing: I'll recommend if you've got a hard case, you're in really good shape, slide your batteries in there and protect them, but during transport, it's super important that you keep these things protected.
So if you're gon na throw them in the back of your car, make sure you get one of the lipo cases, one of those fire explosion, proof cases you can put them in there small little flexible cases, but just slide the batteries inside that will keep it Safe because the other thing, in addition to a decaying, is, if you puncture the side and those chemicals get exposed to air to or to each other you're gon na have a lot of issues that the battery, so just be smart about that. So between the propellers and the batteries, those are the two single points of failure that concern me the most about this. The next part I'll talk a little bit about the annoying stuff that when you get on site – and you haven't done it, you're gon na be so frustrated. So these are things that you want to check before you leave the house now that you've done those first, two critical inspections I'll cover a few more things that you'll definitely want to check before putting your drone up for the first time this spring. Now these aren't things that put your drone in danger, necessarily they're small annoying things that can still ruin a great day of flying. The first one is firmware updates. Now, if you've been flying for any length of time, you already know that firmware updates are a fact of life. Manufacturers are constantly pushing out new versions of micro code.
They want you to apply to the drone and they're really designed to do one of two things. They'Re either gon na squash, a bug on the drone that's been uncovered through testing or better yet they're. Improving the drone by introducing new features that weren't there when you first bought the product. So if you're like me, you probably love firmware updates and you hate them. I love them because if they've uncovered a problem with the drone, then I don't know about and they fixed it with this new version of firmware. I definitely want to apply it because I don't want the drone behaving strangely and the second reason I love it is because if the drone can do something magical after the firmware update it, couldn't do or the firmware update, that's a good thing. It sort of makes the drone future proof for me, so I love him for those reasons. I hate them because it seems like every two weeks, there's a new firmware that comes out and then I'm wondering do. I really need it, and usually, when it happens, is on that beautiful Saturday morning, when I'm getting ready to go outside and fly, I've got blue skies and sunshine. I power up the drone and ding there's a new firmware, update and then I'm thinking. Do I really need to do the firmware update? I mean it was flying great yesterday. Do I really need this firmware, so my recommendation is before you go out for the first flight, this spring I'm promising you that, while your drone was tucked away in sleeping all winter, the manufacturer probably released a couple new versions of firmware.
So when you power up the drone, you're gon na get that message saying: hey there's, a new version of firmware out before you download the firmware and apply it. I always recommend going to the manufacturers website when they push that new firmware. They put out release notes that explain exactly what that firmware does and read through those release notes, because, if there's something critical in there about the IMU, the compass, the lensing system, you probably want to apply that before you start flying, because those are critical things that You want to correct on the drone, so it behaves when you got it up in the air, but if there are features in there too, that you want to implement in the drone and the firmware is able to do that. Maybe you want to download it there, but if it's nothing critical you may want to pass on it. Wait till it's been out a little while check the forums to see if other people have applied that firmware and it's working fine I'm, not a big fan of just taking every version of firmware and applying it to dharana mmediately. Because for me, if the drones flying and there's nothing critical in the firmware, I might wait a couple of weeks before I apply it, but it's super important that you check before you go out to fly because nothing's worse than getting out in the field finding out There'S been a critical version of firmware released and you have no way to download and apply it to the drone, because even if you haven't entered a connection over your phone, most of the firmware packages are really big which take forever to download.
So you definitely want to do it when you're home on the Wi Fi. Now, when you do the firmware updates, this is something else. People trip over a lot most of the firmware updates affect the drone, the controller and some affect the batteries, because there's an intelligent controller inside the battery and the firmware has to be applied to all of those. So when you do the firmware update, make sure you do the drone. Do the controller do the battery, but then power down the drone put in another battery and if you've got five batteries cycle all those batteries through the drone? Because, if you do it with one battery in it, it's going to apply the firmware to that battery if it's, something that has to be applied there when you get out in the field, the other four batteries you brought along, have the old version of firmware on And you're going to get a warning to do the firmware, update again and I've. Had so many people say to me Rick. It seems like every time I go out and fly and change a battery. It wants me to do a new firmware, update and that's, because when you did the firmware update you didn't rotate the batteries through and only one of the batteries got the update. So just get all that out of the way before you head out to fly that day, all right. The next thing I'll talk about is the memory card.
Now you've had this thing sitting in a box, all winter it's been sitting there doing nothing, but basically sleeping my recommendation is every spring just break down and buy yourself a new memory card. These are not that expensive and the densities are doubling every year. The price is cut in half over. You can pick up a 32 gig or 64 gig card for less than 20 bucks in most cases always start with a fresh memory card and keep the one you've got in the drone with you. So you've got a second memory card in case something goes bad with the card when you're out in the field. Now one thing I like to do is usually go with a 32 or 64 gig I'm, not big on the 128 or 256, because if the card fails, I've lost everything. So for me, if I'm flying for a long day, I'll take two cards typically 64's. With me, I'll use one for half a day pop it out pop another one in and that way heaven forbid I lose the drone or something horrific happens to the recording I've still got the morning footage to take back and enjoy that afternoon. So do yourself a favor and buy a new memory card it's, not that expensive and it's something I always recommend. The next thing is, if you register your drone and I'm, a strong recommender of registering your drones, so just get on the FAA website cost you five bucks, ten bucks to register your drone register.
It then make sure you've got your label on the side of the drone that's something new this year that may have changed over the winter. You weren't aware of you, have to label your drone in the outside now and I recommend as well, printing out your registration and bringing that, along with you, keep a little folder in my car. That'S got all the laws in New Jersey in there. So if I have anybody asking me questions about hey how come you're flying here, I've got all the statutes right there in the car with me and I'm, a registration for all my drones. So again, it just eliminates a lot of those 20 minute conversations where you're trying to convince a park ranger or something that is really a fact, but you can't prove it so having the paperwork, you can just show on the paperwork on most cases that ends very Politely and you just go off and fly so make sure you do the FAA registration another one I want to talk about are cables now. Cables are something that can get stiff over the winter. So most of the cables that come with the drone are pretty flexible, but if you pack them away, especially if you wrap them too tight and then you try to break them, open, they're, gon na be stiff and they may crack. So my recommendation is check those cables before you leave and if you need new cables, buy them before you leave and again memory card cables are not that expensive to edit your kit, maybe they're.
Okay, maybe you can go a year or two with them, but again getting out in the field and finding out you've got an intermittent cable where the controller's talking to your phone and then it's not talking to your phone it's, just a headache. I always recommend, if you replace the cable, keep the old cable with you just in case you've got a defective. You got a spare with you so that again everything I'm talking about in this section eliminates the need for you to get in your car and drive back home to get whatever you need that isn't working when you're out in the field, so cables are something that Can definitely fail. You want to clean your camera that's another important thing you have to treat this like a DSLR, so if you're using any of the more expensive DSLR cameras, Earnie camera, really that lens can get smudged, especially over the winter. So you want to definitely clean that really. Well now I use a cleaning kit. This is a bit overkill. You can use almost anything to clean it, but you don't want to use your fingers don't just take a rag to spit on it and go in there, because you're gon na get streaks across that. But remember that lensing system is the one thing between the image sensor behind it and what you're trying to photograph. So if that's, dirty and gunked up and it's gon na give you a kind of a goofy picture.
So this is a cleaning kit. I think it cost me 20 bucks to get all this stuff, but there's a spray there's, some lint free, cloths I've got a puffer and a brush in there. So I can clean everything up and just sort of make sure it's in good shape and then once you clean up the camera power up the drone and a desk and pointed it something that you're gon na view on the on the tablet or your phone. Just to make sure you don't see anything funky going on there and that we put your gimbal guard back on and you're ready to go in and get out in the field all right. The last thing I'll talk about is when you get out in the field. Even though it's been a great winter and maybe even flying indoors, all all the winter, your stick skills have gotten a little bit sloppy, probably or a little bit rusty over the winter. So my recommendation is the first time you put up the drone, even though you trust it and you flew it. Last fall when you put it away, start slow, bring it up in the air. Let it hover for a couple of minutes. Spin it around. Do a 360 with it have it elevate? Have it sink, send it off maybe ten feet in each direction. Do a square make sure that you've got everything working that you expect to have working because they see so many pilots in the springtime friends of mine, even that are so excited to get out and fly that they're on the edge of a lake.
They put. The drone up ten feet in the air they start flying out over the lake and all of a sudden. It makes a strange noise and it snows diving into the water. So that would have happened over the land, which would have still been bad because you would have busted some propellers, but it wouldn't, be. You know ten feet underwater at this point, so go slow start off slow through the ten foot square, like I like to do. Put it up 30 feet in the air, bring it down, make sure the cameras, working focus and everything else just to make sure you're doing a prep on the quad, because commercial pilots, if you've ever taken a flight, you'll see the copilot get out of the cockpit Before he actually takes off and he or she will walk all the way around – that plane and they'll inspect all the different aspects of it and the joints and the fins and all the other stuff I'm, not a pilot but I'm sure they're inspect. Then all the important stuff in that plane before they take off with the plane, even though always just land it, and it flew fine, and maybe they had somebody inspect it when it landed, they want to inspect it themselves. You should do the same thing here because all kidding aside you're a pilot, so you got to be in charge of your aircraft and know that it's in really good shape.
The inspections I've talked about will get you there, but then, once you put it up make sure that it's flying straight and it's level and everything's good with it. The last thing I'll talk about is accessories now I'm, not here to push accessories, but there are some accessories that would help an awful lot and again it's spring time. So if you're gon na you know splurge a little bit, these are things that you definitely want to have in your kit, I'm, a huge fan of having a landing mat. I know a lot of people out there like to hand launch and hand catch. I put tons of clips together talking about the benefits of landing that the first thing it does is give you an identifiable place that other people know you're flying a quad, so it's sort of like a diving flag. You put out to let the public know: hey I'm flying a quad don't, get too close to this landing mat because that's, where the quad is gon na, come down later on so it's a courtesy, it's a lot. Other people know you're flying the other thing. It does is, it protects all the undercarriage of your quad when it's landing. So if you're flying in a field – and there are tall grass – there are tall grasses, there – you've got dirt or you're landing on macadam you're gon na kick up dust and dirt. Having a landing mat gives you first of all an identified place to take off.
So people know you're flying and second, it protects your drone when it's landing. It also helps with precision landing, because the drone takes in some cases takes a picture down when it takes off and when it comes back, it's. Looking for that same picture so having a nice, blue or orange landing, that gives it that identifiable target to land on the next thing I'll talk about are the cables like I've mentioned before, so you can replace the cables pretty straightforward. We have cables on the website. If you want to get a little better, crepe cable we've got these power flex cables and our nylon on the ends, and these are you know, available for Android and Apple and all the different products out there. We also make some accessories for charging and I've talked about these in a channel before this is a Hydra. Cable it's, especially made cable for your Mavic mini that's, got two micro USBs on it, as well as the USBC, with adaptors for your phone and your tablet. So these are just things you can add to your kit to make it easier. What'S nice about this Hydra cable is that you can plug it into a cigarette lighter in your car and charge your batteries and your other devices, your controller and stuff when you're driving between locations. Another thing, if you don't have it is a case. A really nice case, I, like small cases like this, that allow you to put the drone a couple of batteries in the controller in it.
I don't really like the big heavy cases for smaller drones, like this with the Phantom 4 and some of the Maverick products. I fly I have hard cases, especially if I'm traveling, but if I'm flying locally around home. I want to have a case like this. It would be easy just to sit this on my seat in the car, but then you hit the brakes fast and slides off and hits the ground so get a decent case like this and again, none of these are terribly expensive accessories, but they're just a great Way for you to protect the investment that you've already got now, I did mention before about the battery bags that's, something else you might want to consider. This is one for the Mavic and again it's, oh it's, a fire retardant bag that allows you to slide the battery inside of it. You can even charge it inside the bag as long as you leave the flap open and that just protects it from getting punctured. Getting dinged if something goes, nonlinear with the battery it's, not going to be a fire in the back of your car or in your trunk, it's it's going to protect it. So just a couple things to keep in mind and that's, pretty much it for today. So I went through these pretty quick if there's any questions or comments, you've got, please drop those in the comments below and I'll get back to you as quickly as I can.
I love doing these kind of clips and I'm hoping you guys are getting outside and flying. I know this has been a really tricky time for the world with all the stuff going on out there with the virus, but it's one of the solitary things you can do you and your family to get out if you're allowed to travel get out into the Beautiful outdoors and just have some fun flying because spring is here, it's been a long winter and I've loved flying. I know you guys too, but this is the time to do it so that's all I had for today thanks enough left for watch it. If you haven't, subscribed to the channel, make sure you hit that button down there and subscribe, because we've got a lot of drone giveaways coming up and if you're subscribed to the channel you'll hear about all those it'll be a great time to get out there and Fly and we're gon na call it the summer of drones, we're going to do a bunch of reviews of all the drones that are out today to explain the differences between them and some of those drones will actually be giving away, and some really expensive ones as Well, so stay tuned to the channel you're definitely want to get in on that and that's it.