Calling all WaterProofers! Water Proof Your Drone

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Introduction:
I'd like to start a constructive thread on achieving the goal of water proofing a drone.
I've come across threads in the past, and sadly to say there was a lot of naysayers & negative posts of discouragement toward those who were asking.

If you participate in this thread please be constructive. I believing water proofing is possible for DJI drones, and drones alike. This is an important obstacle to address for the future of drones, and drone delivery, as delivery systems will need to be able to fly in rain.

Objective:
To waterproof a drone enough to fly in rain to heavy rain for 15+min, if we can take it further than that as in being even more wet for longer, even better! While sustaining stationary flight in 30+MPH wind.

Open to waterproofing any DJI Drone other than older models such as p2, p1.

What has previously been done:
There is several chemicals on the market that can be applied to electronic equipment to make them water proof. There was a company years back that used to waterproof older Dji drones with liquidpel but they no longer offer this service on newer models, not really sure why, but perhaps it was the complexity?

Questions:
Many questions remain, such as what parts needs to be waterproof, details on rotors and the type, and if they need to be waterproofed etc..

Your invite!
This is an open invitation to the drone community to any who would like to contribute to this community project, and especially to those would like to waterproof your done, so please chime in if this interests you or if you have some ideas, suggestions, or questions relating to this main topic. Please keep this thread focused on the main topic of this thread. I will also try to keep a running list of solutions, ideas, and questions that still need to be answered.


My shopping experience & Project Requirements:
  • Fly in Heavy Rain for 12-15 minutes
  • Maintain and hold position in general area in windspeeds of 30+MPH
  • Carry payload of at least 1+lb.
While I hope this thread serves the needs of other waterproofers. I will detail out what I'm looking for.
I'm looking for a drone that I can buy, or mod that can fly in rain, and sustain a decent amount of wind around 15MPH+. I'm not really interested in a gimbal or camera, all though that would be nice, it should be able to lift at least a 1lb, or more.

I'm attracted to the DJI drones because they are feature rich, large community etc... I've looked at other drones like the new Swell Pro, but it looks kind of cheap for the price and what you get. I've also looked at the QuadH2O brand but they are too expensive... :/

Open to have any suggestions of comparable drones that I could fly in the rain.





Thanks,
 
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Thanks for the post! I've seen many chemicals that can do this, but looking for anyone that has experience with successfully doing this to their DJI drone, or similar, and looking for fellow waterproofers who are willing to attempt a waterproof mod on their DJI drone.
 
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According to the video the spray should work nicely for flying in rain or at the least protect the ESC's and main board enough to land if it starts raining.

If you are looking for complete "Waterproofing" that can withstand being submerged with power and no damage then you are in for some serious work.

The batteries would need to be taken apart and "Treated"/"Mod", the ESC's would need to be sealed in some manor or another.

I think the best option is to protect the the electronics making the more water resistant rather than waterproofing them.

Motors will run under water so they don't need waterproofing.
 
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That simple huh? Wow so I didn't know that, so the motors don't need waterproofing? I thought that might be the biggest challenge, though I do worry about rust over time it's not a big concern. How hard would it be to waterproof the electronics on the DJI 4?

I should also mention I will be needing to fly for up to 15+ minutes in heavy rain, maybe longer with a battery swap..
 
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the lens can be coated with rain x, but another lens company went against applying rain x on their lenses because it made it more prone to scratches apparently, but that'll do for hydrophobic coating.
 
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I imagine thunder/lightning capturing shots with this water proofing technology. This can be great for surfers too looking for a closer shot. This way they don't have to worry about getting their drone soaked.
 
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As posted above I think you biggest issue would be the camera.

That simple huh? Wow so I didn't know that, so the motors don't need waterproofing? I thought that might be the biggest challenge, though I do worry about rust over time it's not a big concern. How hard would it be to waterproof the electronics on the DJI 4?

I should also mention I will be needing to fly for up to 15+ minutes in heavy rain, maybe longer with a battery swap..
Yes the motors can run under water without any real damage aside from the bearings rusting over time. That spray seems to prevent rust as well so I think those items listed in the video are a pretty good start for most users.

Heavy rain may be a problem but if the ESC's are sealed and the rest of the electronics are treated I would think you could be in business.

I have seen a number of videos of untreated Phantoms flying it heavy rain (Unintentionally) and were able to fly and land safely.
 
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What DJI drone in it's stock form is more water proof / resistant?

Been Looking at
P3
P4
Maverick
and Inspire
 
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I have a little JJRC H31 and it is waterproof. You can land it in water and take off again with no adverse effects. Perhaps it would be possible to ask its manufacturer how it's done.


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I think it was said somewhere that it is easier to waterproof rotors on smaller drones because they don't generate as much heat... where as larger ones have more heat and waterproofing them could make them more prone to overheating... I don't know if that's the reason but just the little that I know.


I have a little JJRC H31 and it is waterproof. You can land it in water and take off again with no adverse effects. Perhaps it would be possible to ask its manufacturer how it's done.


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I think it was said somewhere that it is easier to waterproof rotors on smaller drones because they don't generate as much heat... where as larger ones have more heat and waterproofing them could make them more prone to overheating... I don't know if that's the reason but just the little that I know.

Waterproof "Rotors"? Did you mean the motors? Or did you mean the Rotors/props/blades?

I would think that a squirt of that spray on the bearings before and after a "Wet" flight would be enough to keep the motors in good condition.

Drying the Phantom after would be a good idea as well. Hair dryer would be a good way to get it done.
 
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Just some thoughts from my experience. (I have built several waterproof quads.)
Brushless motors are not bothered by water although the bearings may rust especially if exposed to salt water.
ESC's can be easily sealed but may require cooling.
The flight controller will be difficult to seal because of the barometer which has to be exposed to outside air pressure.
Cameras and gimbals are another issue. If the camera is waterproof (GoPro 5) then you only need to have the electronics sealed up. The gimbal motors are brushless and not bothered by water. The Phantom cameras would be a bigger challenge.
Even if you seal up the Phantom shell, it will not float. It does not have enough volume. Adding floats floats increases weight, wind resistance and affects performance.
Proprietary batteries such as those in the Phantoms could be a challenge to seal.
Other things such as the ultrasonic sensors are not easily sealed.

If your goal is just to transport a load in wet weather and don't need a camera, then a Phantom may not be your best choice, although you might be able to move the Phantom guts to a waterproof shell. The Phantom is not designed to be a heavy lifter. It has a long flight time because it is light weight.

Your requirement for flying in 30 mph wind will be a challenge. Also, you must consider that heavy clouds will obscure satellites and lightning will create create electrical disturbances which may affect the compass.
 
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Just some thoughts from my experience. (I have built several waterproof quads.)
Brushless motors are not bothered by water although the bearings may rust especially if exposed to salt water.
ESC's can be easily sealed but may require cooling.
The flight controller will be difficult to seal because of the barometer which has to be exposed to outside air pressure.
Cameras and gimbals are another issue. If the camera is waterproof (GoPro 5) then you only need to have the electronics sealed up. The gimbal motors are brushless and not bothered by water. The Phantom cameras would be a bigger challenge.
Even if you seal up the Phantom shell, it will not float. It does not have enough volume. Adding floats floats increases weight, wind resistance and affects performance.
Proprietary batteries such as those in the Phantoms could be a challenge to seal.
Other things such as the ultrasonic sensors are not easily sealed.

If your goal is just to transport a load in wet weather and don't need a camera, then a Phantom may not be your best choice, although you might be able to move the Phantom guts to a waterproof shell. The Phantom is not designed to be a heavy lifter. It has a long flight time because it is light weight.

Your requirement for flying in 30 mph wind will be a challenge. Also, you must consider that heavy clouds will obscure satellites and lightning will create create electrical disturbances which may affect the compass.
Agreed. The phantom is designed for its attended use... Photography. The motors are designed for the phantom's weight. Any add-ons = stress, and stress = cracks in shell.. etc.

IMO, you need to build a craft for its attended use. But like I said, only an opinion. It's different if you have money to invest in testing/failures.

I built floatation for my P4, tested in the tub and along side a creek bank, then thought of the P4's intended purpose, and haven't used them since. Though less than a pound, it carried them, but it just wasn't made for weight other than its own.

I'm throwing this at you as one of those people b/c I know there's more out there like me that had to save a while to get a phantom. Using it for anything other than what it's intended for is out of the question for me. Still, interested to see what you come up with.

Happy flying dry.

JB



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Edit: apologies to OP if you think this post is against thread rules. Not trying to be a critic against your idea in any way. Just seemed to be a worthy consideration to be thought of while coming up with your solution.
 
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Some thoughts about payload. You suggested carrying a 1 pound load for 15+ minutes. This is certainly doable with larger quads having bigger, slower props and lower Kv motors. The Phantom could certainly lift a one pound payload, especially if you removed the camera. The question would be flight time and stress/heat on the motors. In designing several multirotors, I have often used the ballpark figure of 1 gram of weight costing 1 second of flight time. I know this is not linear or very scientific but for a rough estimate, lets see what that would give. One pound is 453 grams so about 7 1\2 minutes of flight time lost.
I don't have a P3 or P4 right now. What are the real flight times users are getting? I have heard 20 to 21 minutes. Maybe someone will do a test lifting a water bottle and see if it is possible to get 15 minutes with the P3 or P4 and see if motors get hot. The new P4 Pro is claimed to have 30 minutes flight time.
 
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I don't have a P3 or P4 right now. What are the real flight times users are getting? I have heard 20 to 21 minutes. Maybe someone will do a test lifting a water bottle and see if it is possible to get 15 minutes with the P3 or P4 and see if motors get hot. The new P4 Pro is claimed to have 30 minutes flight time.
20-21mins is extreme for a stock P3 in normal weather. I have gotten 1 20min flight out of 80 flights. The average is 18mins and 16 in windy conditions unless making an attempt to fly with the wind.
 

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