Nearly at the same time drones became popularized, another technology was introduced…electronic weatherproofing. The service and chemicals applied can in some cases allow electronics to be completely submerged with no interruption of operation. This weatherproofing is certainly ideal for any drone operation as they are routinely exposed to significant levels of moisture on misty mornings. For public safety operations, weatherproofing is even more recommended as operations may occur in a wide variety of weather conditions.
As we all know, drones can be a lifesaving tool for both rescue and tactical operations. As a veteran peace officer and drone pilot, should a drone under my control be required to save a life, I would fly regardless of weather conditions. In such a circumstance, if the drone was not treated to resist weather, the drone in all likelihood would sustain operation for several minutes and possibly for the entire mission. Afterward though, with little doubt the drone would incur a great amount of electronic corrosion and would probably never fly again. However, if the drone could have saved a life, any damage sustained would be worthwhile.
Drones that are treated to resist the effects of weather do not provide a guarantee of operation during inclement conditions. However, the treatments greatly enhance two things, that the drone will continue to operate during the mission, and that corrosion will not occur. Obviously, a drone used for public safety operations should always be weather treated.
Weather treatments for drones are typically chemical based and either make a polar bond with metallic components or create a physical barrier against water. In the case of motors, polar bonding compounds are the most widely used as they do not add any unwanted friction or residue. In the polar bonding process, the chemicals adhere to the metal in a similar fashion that a magnet is attracted to metals. This polar adherence causes water to be blocked, and of course minimizes corrosion.
In the case of drone electronics such as IMU’s (inertial measurement unit), auto pilots, power controllers, etc., a conformal coating is applied that produces a physical barrier against water. In essence, the electronics are sealed in a special coat of plastic that is especially designed for high current electronics. Coating used for drone electronics are also thermally rated to not to breakdown when exposed to heat, and also to allow the transfer of heat away from electronics.
Regardless of the specific chemicals used, because of the way drones are made, the completely drone must be completely disassembled for a proper treatment. As with almost any electronic device, the real tricky part is putting it all back together and making it work as if it just left the product line. To make things easy, I highly recommend my colleagues at the Drone Doctor Team.
A few weeks ago, I was with the Drone Doctor team and they walked me through the entire process. The fun part was testing a drone under a garden hose….well, at least the first minute was fun. After five minutes of seeing water poured over a hovering drone, it actually became boring. However, it was cool to see the magic happen and knowing that without the treatment the drone wouldn’t have survived.
If you’re looking to get your drone protected against water, please reach out to the Drone Doctor team…they’ll take care of you.
1-855-778-6363 (M-F 9-5 CST)
Thanks for reading!