How to increase drone flight time
How to Increase Flight Time Drone
RCBenchmark Drone Tester : Want to extend drone flight time? We have the tools and accessories to make it work.
15 years ago, drones and UAVs were still only used by the military.
But now, thousands of professionals and scientists around the world are piloting drones for a living. Whether they use them for photo, video, surveillance or exploration purposes, flight time is a key-element when it comes to productivity and money. The longer a drone can fly, the higher the ROI (return on investment) might be. Pilots who find a way to extend drone flight time get the upper hand and may work without the burden of getting stuck early because their batteries drained too quickly. Another advantage is to prevent an expensive drone to make an emergency landing in a stranded area because its pilot extended the boundaries of its range for too long. Recovering an expensive unmanned aerial vehicle might pose a challenge sometimes, especially in the wilderness, in highly populated cities, or nearby no-fly zones (like an airport or a hospital).
1. Reduce drone's weight
Yes, the actual weight of your drone affect battery life. How to decrease it? 1. By replacing parts with more performant ones (made of kevlar or carbon) 2. Replacing the camera itself with a lighter one 3. NiMH (Nickel) or NiCd (Nickel & Cadmium) batteries are more expensive but can be a bit lighter than typical LiPo batteries.
You need to be aware that even 200 grams can make a huge difference. Less weight = motors requiring less electricity to lift the load. So, you save on power. Only two minutes of additional flight time means more pictures, longer videos, an extended flight distance by up to 100 meters, or a higher altitude.
2. Recharge your batteries just before using them
Most recreational drone users ignore this fact: as soon as you disconnect your batteries from their charger, they start losing some of their charge. Especially if you shake them while driving off-road or explose them to the sun before use. The best way to make sure your batteries are 100% full is to use a 12V charger in your vehicle. Only a few minutes may be necessary to fully charge them.
3. Never drain a battery to 0%
Yes, the automatic return-to-home point is a cool feature found on high quality UAVs. It allows it to make its own decision and to get back home safely when battery charge has dropped to 5% or 10% (following your specs). The problem here is that by exhausting the battery, you damage vital lithium-polymer components (beyond repair). If you keep repeating late landings, flight time will start to decrease fast. Your today's 30 minute flight could become a 20 minute flight after several days of use. Even if your meter shows 100%, it doesn't mean your battery stores as much juice as a brand new one.
4. Tether your drone to the ground
You can connect an extremely long cable (1000m or 1500m) to your drone, which is lightweight and almost entirely invisible on camera. What you need is to plug the other end to your 12V vehicle power outlet or to an extra large battery. That way, your quadcopter can remain in the sky for hours. Why woud a pilot do that? For surveillance purposes on a work site, for example. Or to record or broadcast an important event from altitude. Several manufacturers of drone testing tools offer those lightweight ultra long cables.
5. Turn off the cam
Yes, the camera drains some extra juice. Don't use it while taking off from the ground and you can save 15 seconds of flight time to be used later.
6. Install a larger propeller
It might sound like heresy but a larger propeller could extend the flight time of your drone. First, a larger propeller can actually weigh less than the "stock" propeller initially made by your drone's manufacturer because it's made of a lighter material. Second, a larger propeller increases lift capacity. Since you're not adding weight (and even reducing it by replacing parts with other lighter aftermarket ones), extra lift capacity should normally extend drone flight time. Third, a larger propeller will spin slower and consumes less power (though voltage remains the same).
7. Improve battery performance with a controller
The best batteries you can find on the marking are pretty smart by today's standards. Why? Because they come with an integrated controller that monitors several key elements related to health of their cells. This controller can be used in combination with other measurement and performance tools (like a drone calibration software) in order to adjust internal resistance and/or eliminate useless high current bursts (among other things, please read the instructions).
Maximum flight time using the best possible configurations and batteries (drones sold for less than $2000 USD):
- Chroma Flight-Read : 40 minutes
- Yuneec Q500 : 29 minutes
- Parrot Bepop : 24 minutes
- DJI Phantom 3 : 42 minutes (can reach an altitude of 6 km / 3.8 miles, wow!)