Routine drone maintenance and repair – Checklist

drone maintenance

UAV systems (drones) require regular maintenance checks to ensure everything is in working order. They are subject to wear and tear from continuous use, especially when deployed as part of a larger fleet.

This checklist can be used as often as required to meet the needs of routine maintenance checkups, but it is more effective to perform maintenance on a per-flight basis rather than over a predetermined period. Scheduling will then more accurately reflect how likely the drone will need maintenance.

In any case, you probably already have your processes to determine when and how to perform maintenance. Check all of the items on this list to ensure that everything is in working order and that any necessary repairs or replacements can be made before the next flight.

Clean chassis of mud and dirt

Your drone will gradually accumulate layers of debris and material due to flight, transportation, and storage strains. The entire unit should be cleaned frequently. Most dirt and buildup can be eliminated using an air duster, a microfiber cloth, and a little water. More thorough cleaning methods might be necessary for tougher stains, but be cautious when working with delicate electronic parts.

Inspect chassis for cracks

Check the chassis closely for any damage. Regularly carry out these inspections and ensure all parts are maintained as necessary. If ignored, even the smallest crack can result in serious issues. Check each component carefully while performing routine maintenance, and record any damage you find.

Check for loose screws

Make sure all of the parts are firmly fastened. Some components will likely need to be removed and replaced during maintenance or repairs. Verify the fastenings and bolts in this situation and even in older components. Avoid over-tightening. Joint damage may result from excessive strain on them as a result of this. The joints should be fastened with moderate force, but they should be snug and secure.

Check propellers for damage

Some of your system’s more delicate components are the propellers. They must be carefully inspected for cracks to ensure they are not loose. Regardless of how smoothly your previous flight went, you should still conduct a very thorough examination. The last thing you want is for your unit to malfunction in the middle of a flight due to a small crack you missed noticing during routine maintenance. Propeller damage can go undetected until it becomes critical. Replace damaged components and continue to thoroughly test the motors.

Check propellers are free-spinning

Before completing this check, make sure the battery pack is completely disconnected. Check to see if any additional obstacles restrict the full range of motion by rotating each propeller in turn. The propeller should ideally rotate smoothly and without resistance. If the propellers have trouble spinning freely like this, refer to your unit’s manual for instructions on disassembling the propellers and thoroughly cleaning each part of the motor-propeller module.

Check motors for debris and obstructions

Debris, like grit or dirt, or even organic material caught in the openings around the top of the armature, can obstruct the motor chamber. Make sure there are no obstructions in the space between the propeller and motor, and clean the casing. You should remove the propellers to gain direct access to the motor chamber and thoroughly clean out all foreign objects. To remove challenging debris, it might be necessary to further disassemble the drone; in this case, refer to your model’s instruction manual for the right way to disassemble and reassemble the drone.

Check the state of the wiring and solder joints

Since it will be at the greatest risk of damage, you should check any exposed wiring in your unit first. Verify that nothing is loose, and look for obviously worn or frayed points. You must also inspect the internal wiring by opening the chassis. Before soldering any loose connections, consult the unit’s manual. If you solder a wire incorrectly or do not take the necessary precautions when working with internal components, you risk breaking or damaging the circuitry.

Check unit camera is clean

Clean the camera’s lens, and wipe off any dust or debris from the body and frame. This component should be thoroughly cleaned as part of a routine check because insect splatter and other environmental factors can contribute to a significant debris buildup.

Check the landing gear condition

Verify that none of the rubber shock absorbers are damaged and that none of the unit’s legs or feet are bent or cracked. The drone could not safely land without this module. Any damaged or missing parts must be purchased from your manufacturer and fitted again.

Inspect antennae

The antennae are in charge of preserving wireless signals between the mobile drone unit and the ground control station. A fatal loss of control can result from reduced connectivity by damaged or improperly fitted antennae. Make sure the screws holding each antenna to the device are tight.

Battery check

The docking station for each battery pack is frequently disregarded. This component is surprisingly frequently the root of battery-related problems and frequently goes for years without receiving proper maintenance. You should make sure the voltage specified by the dock is compatible with that of the battery pack and visually inspect it.

Next, give each battery pack a close inspection. Bulges or deformities indicate leakage, and the affected packs must be changed immediately. Proper maintenance should be performed as needed to preserve and increase the lifespan of battery packs. Checking and replacing active packs and spares as necessary.

  • Inspect drone batteries for damage
  • Inspect controller batteries for damage
  • Inspect additional component batteries for damage
  • Replace damaged batteries (if necessary)

Before finishing this task, ensure each pack still has at least 75% of its charge after inspection and replacement, if necessary. Batteries shouldn’t be overcharged or allowed to discharge completely. The charge should ideally fall between 30 and 90%.

Software/firmware update

By updating the firmware on your drone, you can be sure that everything is current and operating as it should. Maintaining system updates lowers the risk of security flaws and generally ensures smooth operation. Your firmware can be updated easily by plugging your drone into a computer (via USB or a similar cable) and manually updating with the unit-specific software. You can also update your firmware wirelessly using an application or the control station interface. Apply the most suitable technique to update the system firmware before moving on to the subsequent task. Always consult the documentation for your particular unit to learn how to update the firmware. Different procedures will be used depending on the model and manufacturer.

Custom software is essential to the smooth operation of your control station. This can be updated similarly to the drone unit, and your control station will typically have built-in mechanisms. For instance, control applications running on mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets will automatically update unless otherwise instructed, but you should still check.

Use the best technique to update your control station’s software if necessary. Similar update mechanisms will be built into larger modules, like transportable laptop computers running proprietary software. Once everything has been updated, you should be all set. The unit must undergo a few simple testing procedures before preparing for its upcoming flight.