Waterproofing your drone is an excellent way to ensure its longevity. There are multiple scenarios where waterproofing your drone will come in handy but there are not as many ways to waterproof said drone.
In this article, we will discuss several methods you can use to make sure your drone is waterproof or at least water-resistant.
Why waterproof a drone?
Why would you want to waterproof your drone in the first place?
While as a pilot, you should never fly in the rain or snow unless given clearance or an emergency is occurring, there are situations when you have to.
That’s reason enough to waterproof your drone if you ask us!
Moisture can collect in, on, and around the drone otherwise, and that could result in some sort of light malfunction.
While this isn’t a huge problem, another issue is that moisture could get on the camera, ruining a shot. Again, not a huge problem, per se, but still a problem.
Another example of how waterproofing your drone is valuable is when you’re flying over water, possibly taking off or landing from an island or a boat.
You would need to first make sure the boat is stationary, but even when the engine is turned off, the drone has a possibility of landing in the water.
This is because wind can push the boat in one direction or another causing the drone to land in the wrong spot, or possibly in the water.
The best thing for a pilot to do when waterproofing the drone is to inspect where moisture could get in. Areas like the motor, propellers, battery compartments, and more are all viable areas to waterproof.
Unfortunately, if your drone has ventilation holes, you might want to steer clear of waterproofing it.
By clogging the ventilation holes, your drone may overheat and have burnt circuits, flight malfunctions, and possibly an exploded battery.
On the bright side, some drones these days don’t even have ventilation holes on the main body. Most of these are inside the battery so you can waterproof the drone as you wish.
Drone waterproofing methods
If you’ve decided to waterproof your drone, here’s how you can do it.
Waterproofing by spray and brush
There are certain sprays and brushes you can buy for drone waterproofing. Most of these are meant to waterproof shoes.
The spray is a gloss and will coat any surfaces that have small holes in them such as a gimbal.
Make sure that you cover up the lens with a piece of tape before spraying.
It’s impossible to know whether you’ve waterproofed your gimbal completely, so the best thing to do is make sure the spray is applied well.
The conformal coating spray is a thin, flexible film that wraps around circuits to protect them from the elements.
Because silicone conformal coating is more resistant to chemical shocks and mechanical shocks than acrylic, it repels water more effectively
It’s possible to use acrylic conformal coating if you don’t have any. Although it will provide some protection, if you use too much, it can be difficult to get it off the circuit board, in case you need it to solder or renew the coating.
As for waterproofing the interior of the drone, you’ll have to disassemble your drone to the point that you’ve singled out the anticorrosive ports, sockets, and other parts that can’t be covered with a silicone coating.
If you accidentally drop too much on one port, corrosives will disrupt the flow of electricity and can cause damage to your drone.
CorrosionX HD or Shake’n Bake CorrosionX are recommended products for this stage.
Forms a dripless, dynamic, non-hardening, self-healing film that stubbornly resists erosion by splash or spray - including complete submersion in saltwater.
Make sure that the silicone is dry before applying anti-corrosives.
Remember that anti-corrosion lubricants are often available in spray form. The substance is also messy.
You can’t afford to miss a spot with anti-corrosion lubricants, and you might spray more than you need. Get to know how the spray comes out and at what consistency before you coat your drone.
If you’re not planning to use the SD card slot, don’t apply any anti-corrosion coating or lubricant. You may have to take it off.
Make sure that you apply the waterproofing generously to protect the GPS and barometer from water. As covered in Can Drones Hover in One Spot? the GPS is extremely important to the drone working properly. Protect it at all costs.
Waterproofing by filling in holes
Another option, but a much riskier and more permanent one, is to fill in the rotor holes on your drone. This is the area next to the propellers.
The reason why this is a permanent solution is that once this filler has been cemented into place, your propellers will not easily come out.
You’ll need to squirt a small amount of silicone into the rotor hole, then push down on the silicone to fill in the hole.
This will fill in all the way down to the bottom of the rotor if too much silicone is applied. You’ll need to make sure you’re conservative with the amount you use.
Blow-dry the silicone to dry the rubber cement faster so that it doesn’t fall down to the bottom of the rotor hole.
Once dry, inspect the rotor, making sure that the propellors can fit in place. Check that the rotor spins as fast as it did before, and then test-fly your drone in a safe environment at a low altitude.
Is it possible to waterproof an FPV drone?
Although an FPV drone is more complex than a quadcopter, the waterproofing process works in the same way.
A conformal coating can be used to waterproof an FPV drone, but it is important to avoid damaging ports. You must also coat the receiver and VTX.
Motors coming in contact with water are the only danger. Rust can cause damage to your equipment.
The ultimate waterproofing
This guide had two main goals: to review some basics about drones and water and to help drone owners like you make your equipment more resistant to water damage.
You probably know the benefits of waterproofing your drone. For a low cost, you can prolong its life and protect its electronic components.
You should have learned the basics of conformal coating and realized why a wetsuit may not be the best choice, even though it is the easiest.
Combining anti-corrosion on sensitive ports with silicone coating your PCB will give you the ultimate waterproofing.