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Drones are more formally known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Essentially, a drone is a flying robot that can be remotely controlled or fly autonomously through software-controlled flight plans in their embedded systems, working in conjunction with onboard sensors and GPS.
Have you ever looked outside on a rainy day and wished you could be outside with your drone?
Most normal drones are not waterproof or even water resistant, but there are a few that are able to be even fully submerged in bodies of water without you having to worry about damaging them.
The drones that are waterproof have electronic components that are completely sealed off so they do not make direct contact with the water. Water resistant drones, however, are not sealed off completely and therefore cannot be submerged.
Drones are already amazing due to how they can maneuver through the air and show you a normally unreachable view of your surroundings with their cameras. When you add waterproof qualities on top of this, the ways you can use them expand even more.
To see the most popular drones just click here.
How Do I Choose A Drone That Can Operate In or On The Water?
The first thing to do when choosing a drone that will be operated in or on the water is to check the IP rating of the drone.
IP stands for Ingress Protection. An IP rating measures how well the outer covering of the electronic devices will keep out the water and other wet substances that might damage their internal parts.
The IP code is an international standard that drone users can trust to specifically define the degree of waterproofing or water resistance that a drone has.
Usually the rating will start with the letters IP and then be followed by two consecutive digits. The first number indicates the level of protection that the drone has against solid objects and electrical dangers. This number goes from zero to six. The higher the first number in the IP rating, the more waterproof it is.
The second number in the IP rating tells you how much water the drone can withstand. Numbers from zero to six indicate an increase in resistance to general water exposure.
Numbers 1 and 2 represent drip resistance, 3 and 4 represent splash resistance, 5 and 6 indicate resistance to jets of water.
Beyond this, 7 and 8 indicate the drone can handle being submerged, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that it will not sustain damage from jetted water.
Be aware that 7 and 8 do not go hand in hand with 5 and 6. If your drone can survive dripping, splashing, jets of water, as well as submergence you will see two IP ratings separated with a slash. For example you may see a rating of IPX6/IPX8 to show the drone can withstand strong jets of water along with complete immersion in the water.
Which Brands of Drones Do Well In The Water?
The SwellPro Splash Drone 3 can land on the water.
The Splash Drone 3 Plus is a great drone and it is a completely waterproof drone that is also very suitable for fishing. It can easily fly in the rain and comes in 2 versions.
Released through Kickstarter in 2015, the SwellPro Splash Drone 3 is built with complete waterproofing in mind. The latest versions of the submersible drone is the Auto. It comes with a nicely equipped 4K camera.
The other version is the Fishing Drone with a payload release system. Be sure to check your local FAA rules though before using it. 16 minutes of airtime will keep you entertained while flying over, or dunking under the water.
Also, you’re good to fly in the rain as well, which is a bonus.
The recently released agricultural drone, the DJI Agras T16, is water-resistant and has a high tolerance to dust ingress, making it ideal for this type of work. Other DJI aircraft, such as the Mavic and the Phantom series, do not have an IP Rating so they are not water resistant or waterproof.
The Power Vision Power Egg X Wizard Edition is another great waterproof drone. The Goolsky JJRC H31 is also a waterproof drone that is a great value for the money.
Is There A Drone That Can Land on Water?
The Loon Copter drone is one that can actually land on the water. At a glance, the Loon Copter drone looks much like a conventional quadcopter, just with a taller, barrel-like body.
This drone can land and float on water, much like other craft, but it also has the ability to fill it’s buoyancy chamber, causing it to safely sink to a few inches beneath the surface of the water.
Another drone that can land on the water is the HexH2O Pro V2 from the makers of QuadH2O. This drone has a folding hexacopter design. It utilizes many DJI components, including their Zenmuse X3 cameron, Lightbridge radios and controller.
You can even fly the HexH2O using the DJI GO App.
This drone has a powerful 4K camera in a waterproof housing that will sit below the surface of the water. You can land on the waves and then see below the water.
This is an impressive professional drone that has the added bonus of being weather resistant and able to land on the water.
How Can I Make My Drone Waterproof?
There are two popular solutions when it comes to waterproofing drone electronics: silicone and acrylic.
The main advantage with acrylic is that it is easily removable. You can burn through the coating simply with your solder iron.
To make your drone waterproof you will have to go through the tedious task of stripping down the circuit boards and applying a thin layer of the coating you choose with a brush similar to a nail polish brush.
You will also need to coat all the exposed electronic ports with a rust and corrosion preventer.
Lastly, you may need to make modifications to your drone to save it from sinking. This would be achieved by adding something such as a Getterback or floating drone landing gear.