DJI drones over the surf? Salt, sand, or wind problems?


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Apr 24, 2024
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Texas, USA
I would like to get a drone to run over the shore line and look at the surf while fishing mainly.

I wonder about their ability to withstand gusting wind to 35MPH and steady wind of 30MPH. Also whether salt and sand exposure will destroy them or cause unreasonable maintenance needs. I suspect the rotors will be trashed regularly so, that is a given due to the air borne sand.

Sid looking to use one on the Gulf Coast beaches about 70 yards or so from shore ...
I saw somwhere on Ebay somebody selling covers for the top of DJI brushless motors. I recall it was quite inexpensive for a set.
I believe that the motors DJI uses on most of their drones are already waterproof. The president of the company that makes the "wet suits" that you can buy for various drones said that the motors used on DJI drones are the same motors used on underwater drones. I think i tead somewhere that these motors have an IP67 rating. You should definitely do your own research though because I'm not positive.
Brushless motors are naturally waterproof, but like anything made of metal, salt water will play havoc with it over time. I shudder every time I see someone launching or landing from concrete, grass, bitumen or any surface which harbors sand or grit. Always use a landing mat, because although the air from props is flowing downward you'd be surprised at how much small particles are thrown upwards and sucked into your motors and inside the Quad itself. Over the years I've had possibly 15 or 20 Brushless motors brought to me to be repaired. You'll know when a stray piece of gravel or grit has found it's way into the motor. You'll notice a change in the sound the motor makes, That's a minor case. A more serious problem is a seized motor where the piece is wedged between the motor's outer case and the Stator (the piece which spins). That requires a complete dismantling to remove the offending Grit.

Avoid flying over salt water, especially on windy days or very hot days. Moisture evaporates from any body of water and again it gets into the quad itself and the motors. The same with flying in clouds, mist or fog.

I recommend coating your electronics in Conformal spray. I used to coat ESC's and anything else with electronic components attached. With this spray, as a test, I've run ESC's, flight controllers video transmitters underwater after coating them. It puts a waterproof coating over motherboards and components which keeps moisture, dust etc. from interfering with whatever the boards are designed for. Basically it's a silicone based protector and it's simple to apply, just spray the entire board, both sides. I spray it once, leave it for a few hours and spray again changing the angle of spray to ensure every component gets full coverage.

A word of warning. It's best done outside or in a room with doors and windows wide open. One whiff of it and you're in LaLa land.. It knocked me out the first time I used it, it'll take your breath away very quickly, also keep it well away from naked flames. I buy mine from a local communications shop, and it's not that expensive. What surprises me is it's never mentioned anywhere. Something which can save you quad from a miserable death should be used by anyone who flies near water, especially salt water. It may not kill your quad immediately, but salt water will dry out and leave a coating of salt on your electronics. This will eventually eat away at the copper tracks and the components themselves. Your expensive quad will end up with the equivalent of cancer. Stu
Motor covers no matter how elaborate won't keep moisture, dust and dirt out of the body of the quad. In fact the least troublesome are the motors. As mentioned, they will happily run underwater and the occasional clean out with compressed air will get rid of dirt and sand. Taking off and landing on a mat or clean, flat surface will take care of foreign bodies lodging in the motors. Except a rare piece of gravel of course and that is taken care of by dismantling the motor.

If you can't afford to buy a landing mat or forget to take one with you, a flattened out cardboard box does the same job, or perhaps a sheet of wood or similar will do. Don't forget, some quads have fans which keep things cool within the quad so dust, debris and moisture will manage to get sucked inside the body.

Personally I prefer to keep the motors as is, Putting covers on them not only stops debris getting inside, but also affects the air doing likewise, especially in the heat out here in the Aussie outback. A simple landing mat takes care of the entire quad, even the props, except, of course, moisture. Correct maintenance and care should keep your quad flying for hopefully, many years of safe and trouble free flying.

Now if DJI would take care of those mysterious "FlyAways" we'd all be happy.

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