Waterproofing a drone is far more than just gluing the frame. In fact, it is much more complicated than you could imagine, takes lots of bucks and time, especially when it comes to high-end GPS drone. This article is not going to unveil the secrets of Splash drone. Instead, we will let you know what challenges you will meet if you want to make a fully workable waterproof drone by yourself.

How Does the Simplest Waterproofing Technology Work?

Back in 2014, Flitetest post a Youtube video about waterproofing a mini helicopter. In the video, Peter and Josh used several brands of aerosols and lubricants to dip on the FC, PCB, receiver and motors to make them anti-conductive and anti-corrosion. Regarding the ESC which is the easier to burn after getting wet, they use some sort of film to wrap it up and seal with glue. What they did are overall proper whereas there were things they failed to foresee.

 

1. Since they only waterproofed the electronics but leave the frame naked, the helicopter will definitely sink and may be gone forever in deep waters.

 

2. The thin coating may go off by heat or through a few washes. Josh also noted that they didn’t build it to last but merely get wet for a short moment.

 

3. Later in the video, they tested the electronics in salt water and everything seemed to work fine. However, after some time the metal surface will get rusted anyway.

 

Being water-resistant and being waterproof are completely two different concepts. I would say their ways may be sufficient for small toys or racing quadcopters. However, spray coatings cannot cover the entire surface. For larger GPS drones, there is a whole lot more to secure.

 

Things You Must Know Before Waterproof a Drone

 

Frame

The quadcopter frame is the most crucial part. Normal plastic frames can be easily out of shape against water pressure. You may have no idea how much power there is when the drone crashes into the water from a few meters above or gets blasted by the waves. A tiny distortion may lead to mass leakage. It is necessary to make the frame thicker using more durable plastic whilst control the weight.
In fact, there are some waterproof frames sold alone for DIY purposes. Most of the frames are either too fragile or too heavy. Some are not formed out of precise CNC mold. What is worse, those frames will block the radio signal after being closed off. You may just go 20 meters or so before you lose the control and FPV video. Oscar Liang experienced similar problems while building its own underwater quadcopter.

 

waterproof-frame

 

FC

Your FC has a barometer? Most of the frames are completely stuffy. There is no vent to equate the air pressures inside and outside so that the barometer cannot sense the altitude as it should. The drone may keep bouncing or even crash down. Apart from the barometer, the entire FC has to be customized to adapt to tough watery environments.

 

Motor

As you may know, the motors are waterproof themselves, but what about the bearings inside?  Normal steel bearings are very easy to rust a while after touching salt water. The rust or salt condensation may overwear the motors and even kill the motors. The same problem will happen to the motor of gimbal as well.

 

waterproof-motor

 

Screw

Stainless screw is not enough. You have to put conformal coatings on every screw, which is one of the factors that increase the material cost.

 

There are many other potential risks that I cannot cover in this article. It is not recommended to build a waterproof drone all by yourself or seal a non-waterproof drone, despite that you are an RC tech savvy. A tiny mistake may ruin the whole. Swellpro has gone through countless researches, developments, modifications, and even frustrations, to make Splash drone free of the issues mentioned above. So, don’t be surprised the next time you find out the average cost of high-end waterproof drones ranges from $1000 to $2000.

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