The 7 Best Waterproof Drones
7. WLtoys Q353 Triphibian
- bright nose and tail leds
- pricey for a beginner model
- no camera included
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
6. SwellPro Splash Drone 3
- water-based launch and landing
- smartphone app integration
- comes with a steep learning curve
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
5. GoolRC T6
- performs 360-degree eversions
- automatic return-to-home feature
- excellent entry-level value
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
4. JJRC H31
- durable to withstand hard landings
- optional hd camera
- readily available replacement parts
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
3. LiDiRC L15FW
- 720p hd wi-fi fpv
- headless mode and automatic return
- compatible with syma x5 series parts
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
2. Power Vision PowerRay ROV
- fish-finder technology
- fpv headset included
- comes with wheeled carrying case
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
1. GP Toys Middax F51
- 6-axis gyroscopic stabilization
- capable of 360-degree flips
- one-key return-to-home feature
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
Understanding Waterproof Designations
For all its life-giving properties, uses in cleaning and recreation, as well as farming and cooking, water has the potential to do an incredible amount of damage. In the long term, flowing water can erode even the most robust landmasses, as evidenced by phenomena like the Grand Canyon. On a smaller, more immediate level, water poses a significant threat to our modern electronics.
Electricity in any modern-day electronic device is very carefully directed, and even a small charge in the wrong place at the wrong time can irreparably destroy one or more vital components. Over time, the industry has developed techniques and treatments that can limit the amount that water can squeeze between cracks in a structure, as well as the degree to which that water can come into contact with an electrical charge.
As the science of waterproofing evolves alongside technological revolutions, the way we understand how and how well a given waterproofing system works requires a system. That system produces a lot of jargon that you’re liable to encounter any time you attempt to research a category of devices that are designed to get wet and keep performing. Understanding these designations and how they apply to certain types of gear or clothing will go a long way toward making your shopping experience run much more smoothly.
Waterproof ratings for electronics are represented by something called an IP rating, and it has absolutely nothing to do with how your computer’s internets location (IP address) is identified. IP ratings are often expressed with a pair of numbers, reading, for example, IP68, or IP46. The first number refers to physical egress by anything from a finger to a grain of sand or a particle of dust. The second number is the one with which we’re most concerned, as it regards the egress of water.
Waterproof ratings in the IP system range from zero to nine, with a few additional ratings in between numbers. It’d be wise to familiarize yourself with the list, but what’s most important for you to know is that the conditions under which many electronics items are tested are largely controlled by the manufacturer, so it’s wise to aim for the highest rating your budget will accommodate, even if it seems like overkill, as the results of these ratings might be somewhat embellished.
Which Waterproof Drone Is Right For You?
If you’re in the market for a waterproof drone, the odds are that you intend to fly it in areas where water is present. The big concern for you is what might happen to the drone if it falls from the sky and lands in a lake, a pond, or even a deep puddle.
If the bodies of water over which you intend to fly are deeper than one meter, you’re going to want a waterproof rating of eight or higher, as the increased water pressure beyond one meter of depth will force water through the seals of less water-resistant aircraft. If you reserve your flying for clear days over solid ground, you can afford to save a little money on water resistance.
From there, the same variables that would guide the purchase of any drone apply. The most important question centers on the unit’s intended use. A vast majority of drones are purchased for the purpose of attaining stunning aerial photography. If you fall into this camp, whether you’re more interested in video or stills, you’ll want to ensure that your selection has the highest-quality camera you can afford.
If you’re looking for a photography drone in particular, you’re going to want to investigate the way you control the camera. A dedicated screen built into the controller is convenient, but it can’t upgrade over time. If your controller or drone can interface with your smartphone or tablet, then you can continuously upgrade your screen as better devices come out over the years.
Other features to look out for include radio distance, a return-to-home function, and an automatic landing and shutoff feature that kicks in if you lose control to a dangerous degree. Many waterproof drones cease to be waterproof if you spin their rotors while they are in contact with water, so the ability for a unit to completely disengage after going down in a body of water could save the unit’s life.
A Brief History Of Drones
Drones can be rather difficult to control at first, and this is actually tied into their history. The earliest drones were developed by the Austrian military in the middle of the 19th century. These devices were merely large balloons that carried bombs across enemy lines. They proved relatively impossible to control, as shifting winds sent some of them back across the line of fire into Austrian territory.
Drone technology developed alongside advancements in flight through the beginning of the 20th century and into WWI. In WWII, the V-1 flying bombs caused a tremendous amount of damage in London.
The radio-controlled quadcopters that populate the vast majority of the commercial drone market developed from a model designed in the 1950s. For the majority of their existence, they were relegated to small clubs interested in racing and model technology.
More recently, the decreases in size and corresponding increases in quality coming out of the camera industry allowed drone operators to equip their flying vehicles with devices capable of capturing in-flight footage. This led manufacturers to install permanent cameras and camera mounts on many of their models. Meanwhile, the film industry began to use large, powerful drones outfitted with stabilizing gimbals and full-size film and digital cameras as a significantly less expensive alternative to the aerial shots that otherwise would have required a helicopter to capture.