A lost drone signal is one of the scariest things that can happen to any drone pilot while flying. If you are an inexperienced pilot, this situation could lead to a crash. This could potentially damage your quadcopter, meaning you have to get it repaired or replace it, both of which could cost a lot of money.
There are various reasons why a drone may lose its signal, but perhaps one of the most perplexing is when the drone loses signal after updating. So, what is the reason behind this? What could cause the drone signal to drop out after updating?
Updates are carried out on drones to fix bugs in the firmware and to add new features. Sometimes, however, firmware updates can have some problems if it’s corrupted, and this may cause the drone to lose the signal when flying.
If you’ve experienced a signal dropout just after updating your firmware (which is supposed to fix the problems, right?), it’s a very frustrating experience! Let’s get into more detail about why this can happen.
Why is my drone’s signal dropping after updating?
Firmware is the software that is at the heart of your drone. It is responsible for controlling everything from the flight sequence to battery management and everything else. So having firmware that is up to date is essential if you own a drone that you fly regularly.
The reality is that firmware is important for the safe operation of your drone. Updates often fix bugs related to flight stabilization and battery management, which may cause your drone to crash. For the most part, drone pilots are aware of all this, so they always download firmware updates for their drones as soon as they are available, which is a good practice by the way.
Firmware is the bridge that connects your drone’s hardware technology to the Operating System of your drone. Drones are very much like flying computers, and, therefore the firmware has to be in prime condition for your drone to operate flawlessly.
Firmware can either fix or be the cause of drone problems. Most drone manufacturers like DJI make amazing drones. However, on some occasions, these manufacturers can release firmware updates that have some problems.
Firmware updates are meant to fix bugs on your drone and add new features but not to break it. Sometimes, firmware updates can be responsible for signal dropouts, especially if these updates are corrupted for some reason.
For one thing, downloading firmware when you don’t have a stable internet connection can be problematic if the download fails or is interrupted. This can cause signal dropouts once the firmware is installed on the drone. This is one reason it’s so important to have a good internet connection when downloading firmware updates. If the download happens to be interrupted, delete it from your device and download it again.
If, for some reason, the firmware is corrupted and you install it onto your drone, then you will almost certainly have a signal loss and, in extreme cases, perhaps a crashed quadcopter.
The potential for bugs is one reason, you should never be the first to test out any firmware updates released by your drone’s manufacturer. It may be wiser to wait a few days or weeks for others to confirm that the firmware is safe to use, and then you can go ahead and download it for your drone.
If you update your firmware and experience drone signal dropouts, the best thing to do would be to roll back to the earlier version you were using as you wait for the manufacturer to fix the corrupted firmware.
Why does my drone keep losing signal?
Apart from faulty firmware updates that cause signal dropouts, there are other reasons your drone may lose signal. These include:
- Extreme weather conditions – Extreme temperatures and high humidity can affect the quality of signal transmission to your drone. Moisture in the air can act as reflectors and deflectors of radio signals, causing signal dropouts in drones. Also, radio signals get weak at high temperatures, and they can transmit at significantly smaller ranges.
- Electromagnetic interference – Electromagnetic interference results from other strong sources of electromagnetic signals near your drone or remote controller. The most common of these “strong sources” is power lines. The current flow along a power line creates a field of electromagnetic signals that can disrupt the radio waves that your drone receives, thus causing signal dropouts.
- Large obstacles – Radio waves can penetrate virtually any non-conductive materials such as wood, concrete, and bricks. However, they cannot pass through conductive materials like metal and water, and they are instead reflected. This is why if you fly your drone somewhere with many buildings or cars, you may experience signal dropout. Other obstacles that can cause signal dropouts in drones include communication towers and electrical pylons.
- Flying out of range – Radio signals, like other forms of electromagnetic radiation, get weaker with increased distance. Drone transmitters have a limited range and flying further than the range limit can cause signal loss.
- Interference from other devices– Drones use a similar radio frequency as most other wireless devices. This could be an issue if you are flying your drone in an area with a lot of cordless phones, smartphones, and other wireless devices. Flying your drone in an area with several active Wi-Fi hotspots can also cause signal loss.
We should, however, mention that, at times, updating your drone can cause signal dropouts if the firmware is faulty or corrupted in any way. So, if the firmware is in perfect working condition and you still experience signal dropouts, the reason behind this phenomenon may be any of those mentioned above.
How far can a drone go without losing its signal?
Some people like to fly their drones for long distances just to see how far the drone will go without losing its signal. For years now, the range of drones has increased, with some drones being capable of going surprisingly long distances before experiencing signal dropouts.
Mid to high-end drones can fly up to 3 miles (5 km) or more before experiencing signal loss. It isn’t uncommon for drones to be able to fly up to 6 miles away (10 km) before losing signals. Some higher-end drones like the Mavic Air 2 can fly up to 11 miles (18 km) before signal dropout.