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Is Autel Evo 2 Waterproof (& Can You Fly It in the Rain)?

That fantastic orange brick of a drone! The Autel Evo 2 is an outstanding camera system, with the option a 6K or an 8K version camera system. It is hands down the best currently on the market.

Image Credit: Phantom Rain

Is it an outstanding drone system? Yes, No, maybe! It’s pretty outstanding all around. But if it’s your first time using an Autel Drone, there’s a learning curve. Getting around the app can take some patience and time.

Once done though, you will be impressed.

The Autel EVO 2 has some crafty design features that really set it apart at the time of its release, Autel threw everything they had at it. Like its 40min flight time, and its ability to handle winds up to 46 mph (74 km/h).

That is certainly going to take some intrepid pilot to put that to the test! And with complete 360-degree obstacle avoidance, the Autel EVO 2 is one to always consider as an addition to one’s hanger.

Is the Autel EVO 2 waterproof?

No, the Autel EVO 2 is not waterproof. In actuality, most drones are not waterproof. You may hear the term water-resistant sometimes, and some companies try to use the two interchangeably. They are not the same and mean very different things.

There is a coding system for all electronic devices on just how water-resistant said electronic devices are. Before we get to that, let’s cover the difference between Waterproof and Water-resistant.

Waterproof vs. Water-Resistant

Waterproof means the device is completely impenetrable by water when immersed for a period of time. Not just a simple dunking, but a period of time. Water Resistant, on the other hand, means that the device is waterproof up to a certain limit.

Oh, I know right, you could have a whole fun family holiday argument over that one! It’s legalese and marketing language.

Since electronics companies can never claim a product is waterproof, a term like water-resistant was created so the manufacturer of an electronic device could have protections against claims.

I can hear Grandpa now, oh boy! Get the popcorn ready.

Water-resistant is a term we have come to live with, and this is one of those that’s been there since the very earliest days of personal electronics.

This leads us to the way our modern electronics are rated/coded for water resistance today.

With consumer and prosumer drones such as the Autel EVO 2, the manufacturer doesn’t by law have to list the IP Code for the device. When you jump up to the Enterprise level systems though that rating is usually listed somewhere in the specs.

What is an IP Code?

An IP code is a number rating system that applies to dust and moisture/water. It is represented by two numbers.

The first number is for Dust and small particles.

The second number represents the device’s water resistance or “how much” it is resistant to water and moisture.

So, here an IP 68 would represent the very best of everything with dust and water being completely kept from the interior components to a specified depth and for a length of time listed by the manufacturer.

You would be hard-pressed to find any device out there with that coding.

For example, most cell phones have a code of 68. However, if you’ve ever had the misfortune of dropping your phone into water, you’ve learned the hard way the difference between waterproof and water-resistant.

Even with an IP of 68, a device still isn’t waterproof. Thankfully, the rice trick usually works.

For drones, let’s look at the DJI M-300, which has an IP of 45. The reason for this choice is it’s one of the systems with the highest IP code next to a specialty system.

Are there drones out there that are waterproof?

Is there a drone system out there that claims to be waterproof? Well, yes there is, and for the most part, it is. That would be Swellpro’s line-up.

They make drones systems that have extra protection and other design elements that get them nearly there with a well-trained focus on the areas that count.

Once again though, there is a difference between waterproof and water-resistant.

Swellpro

Swellpro is a company whose focus is on creating and always improving its Waterproof Drone Systems. With the Splash Drone 4 and the Spry+ and their most recent addition the Fisherman FD1, they are the leader in this specialty marketplace.

Once again though, the term waterproof is used in these systems. Out of curiosity let’s look at the above three systems’ IP codes and maybe you can get Grandpa fired all back up again.

Splash Drone 4IP 67
Spry+IP 67
Fisherman FD1IP 67

Even here we don’t see a 68. It’s a 67, meaning it is protected from dust and capable of withstanding water immersion between 15 cm and 1 meter for 30 minutes.

Overall, that’s pretty good, and remember the M-300 only has an IP rating of 45.

Specialty drones vs. consumer drones

Swellpro is a specialty drone manufacturer with hopes of getting more into the consumer marketplace. It’s one of the reasons for the Spry+ with its relative affordability. Whether they’ll bridge that gap, we’ll see, we’re watching.

As specialty drone systems, however, there is an added cost that frankly puts most off. There are some other tradeoffs as well in the camera systems and range. All things you’ll want to be familiar with if looking into this specialty market.

If you’re a pilot and will be frequently flying over water, there are drone-saving benefits to consider that may make it worth the extra cost and other trade-offs.

With consumer and prosumer drones such as the Autel EVO 2, the focus was on an excellent camera system and a drone that flies and responds properly to controls. With that in mind, Autel flew the EVO 2 out of the park.

Is it waterproof? No! The Autel EVO 2 is not even very water-resistant. If you’re caught by a surprise rain, I would recommend bringing it in as quickly as possible. It is a powerhouse of technology and as such doesn’t get along too well with moisture at all.

In a caught in the rain situation, you should be alright if you get home fast. The prop design is just so, that most light rain will be pushed away from the craft and sensitive areas.

Is it a situation to push your luck? Not usually. Water is very intrusive and can get into the smallest of openings. Even a small amount can cause damage to sensitive warm or hot operating electronics.

Will we ever see water-proof consumer drones? Swellpro is giving it a go and will probably be as close as we ever get. As for other more mainstream drone manufacturers, not likely. It’s an added cost that they don’t need to add.

As we have seen by way of camera improvements and size reduction, the drone manufacturers have their focus and with it pretty much guarantee that waterproofing won’t be possible, especially as more airflow and venting will be needed as we go even smaller to stay under 250grams.

One Last Thought! (Or, how to make your Autel EVO 2 water-resistant)

So, you may or may not have heard about a product called Silicone Conformal Coating. It is an amazing product used for waterproofing electronics, or that’s the claim.

The reality is that conformal coating will increase the device’s water resistance, which it does do and does it well.

As we’ve learned above, completely waterproofing a drone is tough and not even on the radar for most companies.

There will always be certain components like the barometer, plug sockets and switches, and gimbal motors that are best left untouched.

When this is mentioned by pilots in regard to their drones, they are meaning FPV quads. Not the consumer, prosumer drone systems.

Simply put, to apply this product to say an Autel EVO 2, you would need to completely disassemble the craft and reassemble the craft after treating the circuit boards and other sensitive parts.

An additional needed change would be the replacement of all wires and cables with a waterproof equivalent.

Even then, there would be some issues with some of the above-mentioned components, such as the gimbal motors and barometer and such, which are best left uncoated.

What does Conformal Coating do? Conformal Coating is a chemical application that can be applied to and around circuits. It can be applied by either a brush (best method) or by a spray. It forms a thin protective layer around the applied object that repels water.

For FPV quad systems this is a fairly straightforward process, due to most of these quads having much of the circuitry exposed or easily accessible.

Although even here you will want to be cautious in what you’re coating and not coating.

As for systems like the EVO 2 or similar, well, it is always good to protect your investment. Be aware that doing something such as conformal coating will in most cases void the craft’s warranty.

Fly Safe, Fly Always, Always Fly Safe!

Image Credit:
Phantomrain.org