Water is the arch-nemesis of all FPV drones.
If you crash your drone in a lake, it’ll sink to the bottom and almost be impossible to find.
If your drone gets wet, it can short-circuit and stop working, burn your electronics, or just rust.
I’ve flown over water a lot (and crashed in it!), and here are the best ways I’ve found to fly your FPV drone over water as safely as possible!
The best way to keep your drone safe is to prevent anything from happening in the first place!
Increase Connection Power
Make sure to turn your controller and your video power all the way up if you’re planning on flying over water.
If you lose video or lose signal on land, no big deal, you can just walk over and pick up the drone. When you’re flying over water though, losing connection can mean losing your entire drone! Turning up your power all the way lowers this risk.
From an FPV camera, it’s almost impossible to tell how close to the water’s surface you are. Since the water reflects light, it’s really tricky to tell how high you are, and it’s really easy to accidentally fly too low and hit the water’s surface.
Even if you’re really good at flying low and smooth, make sure to stay at least a couple of feet above the water’s surface.
I learned this the hard way the other day – I was cruising right next to the water’s surface, and one of my arms clipped the water’s surface.
Even though I had waterproofed my drone, something short-circuited and my drone fell into the water. The higher you can fly, the better!
How to Keep your Drone Findable if you Crash in Water
Accidents happen, and if you fly your FPV drone as safe as you can over water, you’re probably going to crash it at some point.
If you crash on land, it’s really easy to find your drone with a beeper, video, and DVR, but NONE of this works in water.
If you want to look as relieved as I did when I found my drone, make sure to follow these steps to get yours back safely as well!
Make your Drone Float
FPV drones are heavier than water, so they’ll sink. Unless you want to go diving around the bottom of a lake looking for your expensive drone and GoPro, I’d recommend strapping something on the drone to make it float!
The best way I’ve found to make my drones float is by strapping a water bottle to the bottom.
A water bottle is small enough so it doesn’t catch too much wind and affect your flying, it’s big enough to easily keep your drone on the surface of the water, and it’s really easy to strap tight onto a drone frame.
Stand By the Lake!
As simple as this sounds, standing right next to the water you’re flying over is one of the best ways to recover your drone if you crash into it.
If you crash a drone on land, you normally have a landmark like a tree that you know you crashed by that makes it easier to search.
When you crash in water, the only landmark you get is the ripples from the drone hitting the water, so stand as close as possible to the water so that if you crash, you can take your goggles off and see where you crashed.
Use a Lost Quad Buzzer
Buzzers are useless if you crash in the water, but most lost quad buzzers also have a LED light on them that blinks as well.
Since there’s no cover in a lake, it’s really easy to spot this LED light blinking from the water once the sun goes down, and then you can easily locate your drone for retrieval.
What to Do After your Crash your Drone in Water
Before you lift your drone out of the water, make sure to unplug it while it’s still underwater to help prevent a short-circuit.
If you’ve waterproofed your FPV Drone, you can just shake it off and begin flying again! If not, keep reading.
Freshwater is fairly forgiving, and chances are your drone will still work.
- Blow out any water on your drone with your mouth or compressed air. Unplug any plugs, and blow water out of these as well.
- Pour isopropanol alcohol over your flight controller and electronics to force any stubborn water out. If you don’t have isopropanol alcohol, continue to the next step.
- Put the drone in a food dehydrator, or a bag with silica gel packets to suck all of the water out of any cracks and crannies! If you don’t have these, put the drone directly in front of a fan and rotate the drone every couple of hours.
- Leave the drone drying for 24 hours
Saltwater is much more conductive than freshwater and more likely to rust your drone. It’s important to act immediately!
- Douse your drone with freshwater. Stick it under a tap, or pour bottled water on your electronics. Get all of that saltwater off immediately.
- Complete all of the Freshwater steps. Make sure to also clean out any plugs or connections with isopropanol alcohol to stop rusting.
Hopefully, this guide helps you feel more comfortable about flying over water! Although it is possible to fly over water safely, I’d still recommend flying around instead if you can help it.
If you haven’t already, make sure to waterproof your FPV drone with this guide to keep your drone protected from short circuits and rusting.
Comment below with any water encounters your drone has had!