I crashed my drone somewhere in the middle of a woods, on the opposite side of a lake, almost a mile away and I actually found it.
Here’s why my drone crashed, what I did to handle the situation (and yes, I made a big mistake), and the tactics I used that you can as well that allowed me to successfully find my drone.
How I Lost my FPV Drone
The flight I was taking was just going to be a fun, relaxing flight along a little ridge on the opposite side of the lake, but it turned into quite an ordeal.
I flew up to about 350 feet in the air, and was going to do a couple of cool flips, dive down, and fly back over the ridge that I was aiming for.
All of a sudden, my VTX just cut out, and I had no way to control my drone.
I flipped a switch to turn my drone into angle mode, so it would level itself out, and gave it a bit of throttle to try and hover it. In the meantime, I was running down to the edge of the lake to try and fly the drone back line-of-sight.
I gave the drone a burst of throttle, so I could try and hear where in the sky it was, so that I could hopefully spot it. Sadly, I couldn’t see the drone, so I just disarmed and let it fall out of the sky.
Interesting Drone Parachute Effect
Now, I want to take a second and talk about something super interesting that happened during the fall.
The drone didn’t tumble out of the sky, but rotated slowly while upside down because when the props started to spin due to the fall, it stabilized the drone in an upside down position.
Believe it or not, the fall actually took 36 seconds.
If we plug that fall time into a simple calculator, it shows that the drone was 20 thousand feet high when it started to fall.
However, we know this isn’t true. I was flying at 350 feet, and then when I switched the drone into angle mode, it flew up slowly for about another 30 seconds. This drone wasn’t possibly any higher than one thousand feet.
Even if we punch 2000 feet into the calculator, it shows that we have 11 seconds of fall time.
This means that when the drone started to fall, when the props stabilized the drone it also made it act as a parachute, and made it fall well over three times slower than it normally would have.
And as you can see, the only thing that broke on my drone was the bracket that holds the FPV camera on. The GoPro is in perfect condition, and I didn’t even break a prop.
4 Methods to Find a Lost FPV Drone
So let’s talk about the methods I used to find this drone and what I did wrong, and more methods that you could use to find your lost FPV drone.
The DVR Method
First of all, switching the drone into angle mode was a really bad idea of mine. I was over a swamp, so if I would have just disarmed when I lost video I would have been able to check my DVR, and know exactly where my drone fell.
However, the drone ended up drifting quite a far way away from where I lost video, so I couldn’t use the DVR finding method.
Even though I had no idea where the drone was and my DVR didn’t help, I still had two good things going for me that would help me find the drone: I had a lost quad beeper on the drone, and I was still getting a little bit of signal from my crossfire, so I knew that my battery was still connected and I could use the signal to help find the drone.
The “Signal Strength” Method
I started walking across the lake in the direction I knew the drone had crashed, and as I got closer to the other side of the lake I lost signal completely. I was able to turn the power up on my crossfire from 100mw to 1 watt and regain that signal, so that was a good clue that my drone was on the other side of a hill that was blocking my signal.
I kept walking until I had four bars of signal on 1 watt, then turned it down to 250mw kept walking until I had four bars, then repeated this process until I was at 25mw with four bars, which meant the drone was fairly close.
Lost Quad Beeper/Buzzer Method
This is where my lost quad beeper came into play. I set up the beeper to beep when I flip a switch, so I flipped the switch and was able to hear a faint beep, and I followed the beep until I found the drone.
Now if you don’t have a lost quad beeper, I’d strongly suggest getting one. They’re only like seven bucks, and they’re a great cheap insurance to help you find your 200 dollar + drone.
You can program them to beep when you flip a switch, when you lose signal, and they can even beep for like twelve hours if your drone battery gets disconnected.
Video Antenna Method
The last method for finding a lost drone that works really well is using a directional patch on your goggles to find where your video is coming from.
Directional patches normally have about an 80-degree range that they work in, so you can just spin in a circle, see what direction you get good video from, and walk in that direction to find your drone.
Finally, if you’re planning on flying long-range a lot, a GPS is the most fool-proof method to prevent losing your drone.
They’re cheap, only 20 bucks or so, and with a GPS your drone can fly back to you if you lose signal, or if anything goes wrong.
If you’re a visual person, I made a video as well to help explain how to find your lost fpv drone!
If I missed any methods of recovering a lost drone, please drop a comment down below! Happy flying!