A Round-up of Drone Battery Maintenance Resources
References, resources, and sound advice for proper drone battery maintenance.
Jun 6, 2016
I came to the world of UAS via nitro powered RC airplanes. With the introduction of electrical power in our modern sUAS, I had some learning to do. Thankfully, there are parallels between the components of the two systems that helped me during this process; for example, I like to think of the electronic speed controller (ESC) on the UAV as the carburetor on the nitro system, allowing for the management of the motor/engine RPM. There are other examples too, but one of the hardest components for me to grasp in the beginning were the now-prolific LiPo batteries. What do all of those numbers and letters in the specs mean? Here’s how I do digging for more information –
Where to start?
As everyone does when looking for “unbiased and reliable” information these days, I went to the place where everything you read is vetted and gospel; the Internet! In all seriousness, it took some time to weed through the myths and hearsay of this ever-changing battery technology. Thankfully, I found a few sites that proved to be great resources that I refer to regularly for the purposes of drone battery maintenance.
Direction from Roger’s HobbyCenter
My favorite is a write-up found at Roger’s HobbyCenter titled A Guide to Understanding LiPo Batteries. If you truly want to learn about these batteries, you’re going to need a minimum of 30 minutes to read through a good guide; and don’t be surprised if you end up using your brain to do some of that stuff called “mathematics”!
Advice from The Drone Girl
What continues to stick with me the most about LiPo batteries is the extreme care and caution that must take place with the use, charging, and storage. The power is dense in a fully-charged battery; and frankly, they can be quite dangerous! The Drone Girl has this great post on 15 THINGS EVERY LIPO BATTERY USER SHOULD KNOW that covers a guide to safe ownership. LiPo batteries have been known to cause major damage and even burn down the houses of folks who did not heed the warnings!
Important, but often Overlooked
One last thing to mention – During the course of our work with drone-flying customers new to how things work in the air, we often get questions about increasing flight times of winged aircraft by switching to a larger capacity batteries (we’re talking more mAh). This is do-able, as long as you have the ability to payload a heavier and physically larger battery and have the ability and know-how to adjust the center of gravity of the wing (the point in which it is balanced). If the increased weight of a larger battery is not counterbalanced in the fore or aft of the aircraft, flight characteristics change which could lead to catastrophic results. While less critical with multirotors, weight and center of gravity are still factors that can negatively impact total flight times.
Do you have a resource you depend on regularly for drone battery maintenance? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!