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One sector that has experienced significant innovations and technological advancements in the past two decades is the drone sector. From GPS, Follow-Me technologies, and task-specific drones for fishing, filming, and surveying, drones can do it all.
Now the innovators have done it again by building waterproof drones. It’s not a new tech since it has been around since 2014. But wouldn’t you want to learn more about how it works and some of the latest advancements in this tech?
But the question is, are drones waterproof?
Not exactly. What most manufacturers do is seal most of the gateways that water can use to get into the drone and damage the electric parts. But there are some high-end drones designed to submerge into water and still fly like the usual drones.
I will discuss how exactly these drones work, the best waterproof drones in the market, and some tips on waterproofing your drone.
What Are Waterproof Drones?
If you’re wondering if these drones are really waterproof, some of them are.
Waterproof drones are coated with unique materials (mostly silicon) to allow them to work underwater or spend time in the rain or snow without getting damaged. There are two types of waterproof drones.
Difference Between Waterproof and Water-Resistant Drones?
Waterproof drones are entirely sealed with sealing materials such as silicon. Both the internal electrical components and the rotors are sealed.
This allows the drone to submerge underwater up to a depth that’s allowed. The rotors will often feature an anti-corrosion coating in addition to the silicon coating.
On the other hand, water-resistant drones aren’t completely sealed, and they can’t submerge underwater. Instead of a silicon coating, they will often have a rubber that wards off splashes of water.
They are usable in the rain and snow. You can now purchase water-resistant wetsuits for various drones from the manufacturers.
How to Waterproof a Drone?
Waterproofing a drone isn’t that complicated, especially if you’re dealing with a toy drone. Advanced drones need technical knowledge about the various electric components, but it’s nothing you can’t do.
To waterproof a drone, all you need is a silicone conformal coating (you can get this for as little as $20.
You will also need an anti-corrosion/rust spray and rubbing alcohol to clean the drone parts before sealing them. This rubbing alcohol is also very useful in removing the coating when necessary.
Steps to waterproofing a drone-
- Start by removing the battery from the drone.
- Open up the drone to access the electric parts.
- Using the alcohol, clean the circuit board thoroughly to get rid of the dirt. This is to ensure the coating covers only the circuit board.
- Using a small brush, apply the silicone conformal coating. Avoid applying on the connectors (such as the battery connector), buttons, sensors since it may lead to an obstruction.
- Leave it for at least half-a-day to dry. Using a black light, check the areas you didn’t apply the coating, and reapply it.
- After you’ve covered all necessary sections, spray the rust preventer on all the areas you avoided, including the rotors.
NOTE: If you waterproof the drone yourself, you may not be eligible for the warranty if you end up damaging the drone.
How Do Waterproof Drones Work?
Drones are electrical devices. And if they come into contact with water or any other destructive liquid, it could lead to short-circuits and even rusting.
The water doesn’t necessarily have to be from rain or snow. The atmosphere has lots of moisture that could make your drone wet.
And if you’re flying early in the morning or after rain, you could be landing your drone on damp grass. And you risk damaging the drone’s electric components.
The silicone coating prevents the water from accessing any of the electric parts, avoiding any damage that may occur from that.
While you could waterproof your drone with the steps I just explained, it’s better to purchase a waterproof drone. Not forgetting that you may not be eligible for the warranty if you go down the DIY road.
Unfortunately, most of the drones that claim to be waterproof today are actually water-resistant.
Some manufacturers find it expensive to seal the drones. But some have gone through all the trouble to make the drones withstand some rain, snow, or splashes.
Stick around since I will review some of the best waterproof/resistant drones later in the article.
What Are the Uses of Waterproof Drones?
Waterproof drones have a wide range of uses.
Flying in Adverse Conditions:
Ever observed rain droplets flow on your windowpane and wished you were out there? Waterproof drones are a good recreational tool that allows you to fly in such situations.
They are also built to withstand strong winds and snow, making them useful in industrial applications. For instance, they’re also widely used in the agricultural sector.
Marine researchers use them to monitor nature underwater. Archeologists, search and rescue teams, and other professionals can also use waterproof drones to monitor inaccessible areas.
Thanks to the latest payload releasing mechanisms, waterproof drones are now suitable for fishing or filming kayaking and surfing events.
Can It take Photos and Videos Underwater?
If you want to take underwater shots, you can get one of these waterproof drones with a camera.
For a long time, photographers have been using underwater photography platforms. But now we have underwater drones that have cameras for underwater photography and videography.
When you think of it, controlling a drone underwater is easier than flying it in the air.
You would be better off with an underwater drone for a better exploring experience since you can easily control where it goes.
Underwater drones with cameras are common in inspecting ancient and modern shipwrecks and filming marine life.
But if you’re using the flying drones, yeah, you can comfortably take underwater shots as long as you have the right equipment.
You can purchase floating gear to allow the drone to float on the surface as you use the camera.
Some drones will also come with landing gear and a camera mounted at the bottom to make it easier for you.
How to Fix a Drone That Got Wet or Drowned?
So what if your drone crashes and sinks into the water body? Before we discuss how to fix it, let’s discuss how you’ll even get it back.
If it’s a shallow water body, you can use a fishing hook to retrieve it. You can also use nets, fishing rods, or any other fishing gear and could even swim to the bottom and get it.
You can also use a retrieving device such as the Getterback. This device is depth-activated.
You attach it to the drone, and when it crashes and goes below 6 feet, the device will dislodge a float. This float is brightly colored, allowing you to trace it and pull the drone out of the water.
Once you have your drone, start by switching it off and remove the battery. Just like in cellphones, leaving the battery in the device causes more damage. If it fell in salty water, rinse it with fresh water.
After disconnecting it, use a dry cloth to dry any water left in the external and internal parts. And then let your drone dry in a warm area for at least 48 hours. Blow-drying also helps.
You should test if all the components are working. But if you’re not sure how to do it, or want to prevent further damage, take the drone to a technician as soon as possible.
If your drone isn’t waterproofed, I think it’s necessary to waterproof it if you’ll often be flying around water bodies. You’ll also have a better chance of saving it if it crashes and sinks.
Top 5 Waterproof Drones:
Below are some of the best waterproof drones you can buy.
One drone that has received a lot of hype since it was released is the Gannet Pro and Gannet Pro+ drones. And they stand up to this reputation, as I’m going to discuss below.
Waterproof drones rely on barometric pressure to control their altitude. This means that they have to be expelling some air during the flight.
Now, most commercial waterproof drones only feature a membrane, which is not always practical. But this drone has a tube that draws in any extra air as the drone changes altitude and expels it.
The same case applies to water. If it’s submerged and some water tries to get to the electric components, this tube traps the water. It then expels the water once the drone is back in the air.
Since it is specifically designed for fishing, this drone also has a very effective bait-release mechanism.
This release mechanism is also useful in search-and-rescue to drop life vests and other utilities. There’s a lot you can do with the Gannet drones.
How about the camera? It features a 2K/1080 p, alright for recreational and professional still photos and videos. You can also attach a better camera if you need 4K videos.
Thanks to the 5.8GHz radio frequency, this drone can achieve a 1 Mile range (1.6 KM). I find this useful, especially if you’re flying from your fishing boat since you’ll be moving as well.
The controller is also rigged to resist sand, splashes, and rain. You can use the screen on the controller or attach a smartphone and use the app.
Now, this is where the manufacturers exceeded my expectations. While most drones can achieve up to 40 minutes if they’re lucky, this drone can last up to 5 hours.
Imagine all the activities you could do in 5 hours. If you have two batteries, that’s 10 hours of flying. I think they’ve achieved the most people’s dreams of how drones should be. But it comes at a cost.
- Extended flight time.
- It’s a very powerful drone.
- It’s versatile.
- It’s expensive.
Suppose you want to take high-quality photos when fishing, kayaking, or surfing. This is the drone for you, thanks to the 4K/60FPS camera.
Featuring an entirely sealed, waterproof, and splash-proof body, this drone is suitable for areas experiencing extreme conditions. Better yet, it features a landing float that allows it to land and take off from the water surface.
You’ll love how well it glides through the air at 40 Miles per hour, thanks to the powerful rotors.
And for a better filming experience, this drone comes with AI facial recognition technology, which you can also use as a handheld device.
So like other handheld drones, you’ll also get obstacle-avoidance sensors that let you focus on the most critical aspects of the trip.
A good waterproof drone would be useless if the controller isn’t waterproof. Thankfully, this drone’s controller is built for harsh conditions.
You also get a range of up to 3.7 Miles thanks to the GPS/GLONASS satellite system. And flawless communication between the drone and the controller.
I loved how well the battery held up even in strong winds. You get up to 30 minutes of flight time, and the manufacturer includes two batteries in the package. How cool is that?
- Extended battery life.
- It can survive strong winds.
- It’s suitable for professional filming thanks to the AI camera.
- It’s easy to use and fly thanks to the auto take-off.
- Some users reported issues with the camera and the firmware.
Parrot makes a wide range of powerful drones, this is more of a toy-drone. But it’s relatively cheap and a good way to have fun at a calm lake or even at your pool.
The sturdy waterproof build makes sure it doesn’t get damaged, but you can only use it in freshwater water bodies.
Being a 2-in-1 means it can work as a drone or as a toy-boat. All you have to do is detach the boat attachment if you want to fly.
I love how easy it is to use. Using the FreeFlight app, you can accomplish various stunts to spice up your time outdoors. Just connect it to your app, and have fun with the drone.
And with a speed of up to 11 MPH per hour when flying and 6 MPH when sailing, there isn’t much to hate about this drone.
Unfortunately, the range on this drone isn’t that impressive since it’s only 20 meters.
A 9-minute flight time isn’t that bad, considering it only takes 25 minutes to charge one battery.
You can buy several of them and fly continuously. Featuring an accelerometer and a gyroscope, this drone achieves some stability.
However, since it’s quite light, I wouldn’t take it out in strong winds.
- Easy to use.
- Relatively cheap.
- It’s a 2-in-1 drone.
- You don’t need FAA registration to fly this drone.
- It has a very short operating range.
If you’re looking for a drone to have fun in the water or on the mainland, you’ll love the JJRC H31 waterproof drone.
The drone may not have an advanced camera (2MP) or any other advanced features like some drones, but it’s a good addition to your gadgets.
You can pull a wide range of stunts with this drone, thanks to the 6-axis gyro-stabilizer. It also has a fun 360 degrees rolling feature, one-key return when in an emergency, and a headless mode that makes it easier to fly.
However, this isn’t exactly a waterproof drone. It’s a water-resistant drone, which is still great considering its price range.
With an 80 minutes flying range, this drone is lightly better than the Parrot Hydrofoil Minidrone. And you’ll have lots of fun at that range.
You’ll also love the sturdy controller that gives you lots of control over how to fly the drone.
An 8-minute flight time isn’t that long either, but it’s good enough for a toy drone. The battery takes 60 minutes to charge, so you’re better off with extra batteries if you want to fly for a long time.
- Fun and easy to fly even for total beginners.
- Sturdier and water-resistant.
- Relatively cheap.
- Limited battery life.
If you’re a filmmaker who works in extreme conditions, this drone is for you. Being splash-proof, you can fly in rain, snow, or close to the water surface without worrying about damaging the drone.
For starters, it features a 4K camera and a 3-axis gimbal, which is what a professional filmmaker would need for high-quality footage.
You’ll love that it not only withstands extreme weather it also withstands magnetic interference thanks to the SecureFlyTM protection. And that’s not all. It’s GPS-enabled for better navigation outdoors.
You’ll need to connect your smartphone to use the gimbal and camera, but using this drone through the Starlink app is as easy it can be.
A 2Km range is not that bad for such a drone, allowing you to cover more ground.
I also think the 25 minutes flight time is quite impressive. Since it comes with a smart charger that charges the batteries in 1 hour, you can spend hours filming if you have extra batteries and a charging station.
- It’s durable.
- High-quality and stable footage.
- Extended battery life.
- Good value for money.
- It’s quite expensive.
- Some users complained about poor customer support.
Considering the Gannet drones, there’s a huge demand for waterproof drones or drones that can withstand extreme conditions such as wind, rain, or snow.
The other products I’ve reviewed also show that more companies are venturing into making drones waterproof.
Having to wait for a sunny or calm day isn’t very attractive. But even though some companies claim to have waterproofed their drones, always check if they’re IP6 certified.
And just because a drone says it can withstand extreme weather conditions, don’t take it out in such conditions unless you have to.