It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon, you’re having a blast flying your DJI Phantom drone when suddenly you lose control of it—and there you are, watching your $1,000-plus investment slowly go away. Losing a newly bought device is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone. But here’s how you can avoid losing your drone.
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1. Don’t get your sight off your drone from the ground
This is considered the most foolproof way of keeping track of your device and avoid losing your drone. Every time you fly, watch it like a hawk, and if you think you’re not up to the task, ask someone to do it for you. So if the unfortunate thing happens, like your drone flies away, you will be able to retrieve it quickly. It may be broken, its blades, motor, gimbal, and all, but at least you have it again. The problem with this method is, this is only applicable if you’re flying within 200 meters and in an open field.
2. Log your drone’s flight
This is so you can document every detail of the flight. In case your drone crashes or flies away, you can review the places where you have flown your quad and the duration of each flight. Using these data and with the help of Google Earth or similar app, you can pinpoint the possible crash site. Note the starting point of the drone, mark it with a circle, then draw a line from there to the direction of the drone. If your estimate is correct, you will most likely find your quad within 10 meters from the junction where the circle and line meet.
To be able to do this, you need to install a first-person view (FPV) camera and connect it to a video transmitter and a Google or Screen connected to Receiver. The gear will be your eyes from the ground. So whatever your drone sees in mid-air, you see it too. Be sure not to fly outside the range of your FPV kit. The range of your FPV equipment is dependent on the type of antenna it is using and the interference between you and your quad as well as the power of the video sender. Include also an iOSD (on-screen display) so drone flight details such as battery status, speed, location, and more can be displayed. It’s a bit complicated but sure is needed to avoid losing your drone.
Considering that most amateur flyers lose their cool when their quads start descending, it would be better to have an FPV and iOSD video signal taped with a mini digital video recorder. They can play the recorded video on the FPV screen to view what happened. If despite the footage, you still lose your quad, at least you get to document your drone’s last fly.
Here’s another suggestion on how to find lost quadcopter without using an additional kit (and burdening your drone with additional weight). If you have a DJI Groundstation (either on a PC or iPad), you will be able to view the last known location of your drone on the ground-station map. A much better option, right? But this method is useless if you lose contact with your drone.
3. Install a GPS tracker to avoid losing your drone
This is probably the best option for you to avoid losing your drone. Mounting a GPS tracking device on your drone like Trackimo will improve your chance of finding your drone in case you lose it. The device is small and lightweight, so you don’t have to worry about its weight. It’s the same device that is used as animal tracker.
Some GPS devices have GSM on them. To locate a drone equipped with GPS, simply call the device and you will instantly receive an SMS containing the GPS location of the tracker. If fully charged, the tracker’s battery can last for a couple of days, enough for you to look for your lost drone. The device is also waterproof so you don’t have to worry about it and your drone getting wet in the rain. However, if your drone has dropped into a body of water and sunk, it’s as good as gone since GSM doesn’t work underwater.
To sum this up, there’s a very convenient and reliable way for you to avoid losing your drone and that is by mounting a GPS tracker on your drone.