If you’re interested in drones you will have no doubt seen all the spectacular crashes on YouTube and heard about drones flying away by themselves. Drones like the Inspire 1 or Phantom 3 are highly complex devices that rely on various systems to perform properly. While there’s no way to guarantee against a hardware or software problem there are a few things you can do to minimise the chances of crashing. Here are my top tips that could save your drone.
1. Know when and when NOT to calibrate the compass
A lot of people recommend calibrating your drones compass every time you fly it at a different location. While this seems to work for some I think it introduces unnecessary risk. Let me explain why…
When you perform a compass calibration your letting your drone test it’s surroundings for magnetic force and once the calibration is complete it stores that data and assumes that those forces are normal for the current location and will be constant throughout the flight. But what if there’s a large electrical cable or metal pipework buried below the paving your standing on? If that were the case then the calibration you’ve just performed will have taken those effects in to account and the moment the drone takes off it will be flying with incorrect compass data.
Unless you’ve travelled a long way (hundreds of miles) since your last flight there’s no real need to re-calibrate the compass if you already have a good calibration locked in. If you find yourself in a nice open undeveloped area then it’s a good time to grab a clean compass calibration, otherwise why replace a clean calibration with one from an area where you have no idea what unknown forces are at play.
2. Know when and when NOT to calibrate the IMU
An IMU calibration resets the gyroscope and accelerometer data to tell the aircraft when it’s perfectly level and not moving. I only do an IMU calibration after a firmware update or if I’ve travelled to another country and the drone could have suffered knocks or large atmospheric changes.