How do I make my drone more visible?
December 31, 2017 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Bought the kids a quadcopter for xmas. The trouble is, when it's more than 20 or 30 yards away, it's hard to tell which direction it's facing, so it's hard to fly it back. I've got some ideas for how to remedy this, but heaps of questions about those.

One idea I've had is to spray paint the front something like reflective safety yellow and the back a matte black. Do you think that would work? I have no idea how much weight a coat of spray paint might add, but it's a very light drone (can't find *anything* in the manual about actual weight, I'd guess about a quarter~to~half pound) and I'm concerned this could be significant.

My other concern is taking it apart to paint the shell. I'm reasonable handy, but I'd hate to get it halfway apart and not be able to put it back together. How likely are things like the motor assemblies for the rotors going to just fall out all over the place once the shell is off?

Any other ideas?

posted by colin_l to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total)
Please post the manufacturer and model number. That will help understand the options!

Some people fly with a different color props on one side. My LOS birds have orange in front, black aft, for this reason.

In general practice will help. Poke the controls a bit, see what happens, adjust from there.
posted by Alterscape at 8:54 AM on December 31, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks, Alterscape, it's a Potensic F181DH

I had thought about just painting the props and prop guards, but worried that wouldn't be enough. If it works for you, that's certainly an easier first go than the whole shell.
posted by colin_l at 8:59 AM on December 31, 2017

Does the drone have "headless mode"? In headless mode the directional controls of a drone change to "away from you" and "towards you", rather than being relative to the direction the drone is facing. This makes it easier to fly when you can't tell which way it's pointing.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:03 AM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes - seconding "headless mode". Even though experienced drone pilots recommend not getting too used to that, because it can prevent or slow your learning to control it in normal mode. Also, my drone has red tail-lights and blue front lights, which also start to flash as power reaches a critically low level. (I'd rather have had the standard red for port and green for starboard, but I have the same reluctance as you to dismantling and trying to reassemble.)
posted by aqsakal at 10:13 AM on December 31, 2017

If you can find little coloured LEDs and something to power them, maybe rig your drone up with international conventions compliant navigation lights?

The actual article is pretty fascinating, and there's a wicked picture of an F-22 Raptor by being refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker at night.
posted by porpoise at 7:23 PM on January 1, 2018

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