Running a drone photography business in Wyoming has its own set of challenges such as wind, cold, a traditional market, and heavy seasonal work. During the typical slowdown in the winter, I adjust my drone maintenance routine to make sure when things pick back up in the springtime, my fleet of DJI drones are ready to rock.
- Battery care. This is the #1 thing you can do to for wintertime drone care. DJI batteries aren’t cheap, so I’ve always babied them and this has paid off. I always store them at a storage charge and during the winter I ensure they’re kept at room temperature. No garage storage here. My old workhorse Inspire 1 Pro drone will be five years old this year and all six batteries are still at least 90% total capacity.
- Software updates. Drone giant DJI is notorious for frequent, unannounced software updates. As great as their hardware is, DJI’s software QA bubbas leave a bit to be desired. There’s a lot of things that you should to with your drone to make sure any latent bugs don’t affect your drone.
- Recalibrate the IMU and compass each time you update the firmware.
- Make sure each battery’s software is updated with the firmware (this is particularly important with the TB50s from the Inspire 2).
- Double check the C1, C2, and other customizable button settings to make sure they haven’t been reset.
- Restore Advanced flight modes if the toggle was turned off, which happens frequently during DJI firmware updates.
- Optics care. Let’s face it, the reason we’re flying drones in the first place is to get the data provided by the sensors. Whether it be the X5S on the Inspire 2 or the Hasselblad L1D-20C (!) on the Mavic 2 Pro, these sensors need to be well cared for. Winter downtime is a good opportunity to check the and clean the gimbals, dust the sensor in the X5S, and make sure everything is good to go.
- Airframe inspection. While DJI builds a pretty high quality product, it’s important to check all the hardware to make sure nothing’s come loose from the constant vibrations. During one of these inspections I found that the shroud covering on my Inspire 2 anti-vibration mount had come off at some point, leaving the thin, fragile wires exposed.
I hate not being able to fly my drones during the winter when Wyoming winds are at their highest, but taking advantage of the downtime allows for some much-needed life extension maintenance of the drone fleet.