Play It Safe, UAV Operations Checklist For Beginners, Enthusiasts, and Professionals

This checklist is considered a guide and not definitive checklist for all UAV's. Use common sense when operating UAV's, consult local flying groups and RC enthusiasts for information regarding local regulations if you fly outdoors. This guide assumes you are flying indoors there will be no guidance given to outdoor flying other than please be safe. Flying can be dangerous and automation can fail which will result in very quick changes in the vehicles position. Always read your owners guide and consult your vehicles support team. Check and test your batteries so that you have sufficient power for your mission. If you followed this checklist your batteries should have been charged the last time you put your vehicle away. Turn on the navigation system if applicable and verify the appropriate settings to localize the satellite signal. Check for solar flare information and gps outages in your area that are connected to your mission.

I. Preflight Checklist

  • Tighten props
  • Tighten screws
  • Inspect for cracks
  • Prepare log book
  • Review mission
  • Check batteries
  • Prepare nav system
  • Radio RX/TX distance test
  • Satellite localization 

Inspect the vehicle for previous damage like cracked chassis, loose props, motors and wires, this will ensure the safe operation of the vehicle and not a catastrophic failure of parts. Tighten all screws and record which ones are becoming loose over time. This will indicate problems with the vehicle structure and you should use more CA or thread locking liquid to keep this problem to a minimal. If you are repeatedly tightening the screws in the same spot then there is a problem with the screw hole and should be tapped or corrected. Prepare a logbook, this will ensure that you are recording the proper flight times and will indicate battery health, saving you from a failure and possible loss of vehicle. Pull out the document you use for logging your flight fill out the information that is most important: date, time, and mission information. Weather affects the performance of a vehicle and should be calculated to ensure proper weights given to your flight and battery time totals. Weather information to include as follows: Temperature, wind speed, maximum gusts, ambient temperature, humidity, dew point, barometric pressure, and any solar information that can effect your GPS. Review your mission so that you know exactly what you plan to do and what data you will gather. Check and test your batteries so that you have sufficient power for your mission. If you followed this checklist your batteries should have been charged the last time you put your vehicle away. Turn on the navigation system if applicable and verify the appropriate settings to localize the satellite signal. Check for solar flare information and gps outages in your area connected to your mission. 

II. Flight

  • Turn on transmitter
  • Set throttle down
  • Connect battery on the vehicle
  • Wait for lights and safety light to turn green
  • Throttle up slowly

You should always be near your transmitter so that in the case of a failure you can control the vehicle to the best of your abilities and get the vehicle safely to the ground. First turn the transmitter on, with the throttle turned all the way down. Next walk over to the vehicle that you plan to fly and connect the battery. You should connect the battery in a way that does not disturb the vehicle from sitting on the ground, when you plug the vehicle up it is calibrating the flight system and powering up safely. When the light goes from red to green it is safe to either pick up the vehicle safely and move it or walk away from it with your controller in your hand. To begin your flight move the sticks up slowly until the vehicle leaves the ground, enjoy your flight.

III. After Landing

  • Unplug battery on vehicle while near the controller
  • After battery is unplugged turn off the controller
  • Fill out log books

Once the vehicle has returned to the ground, walk over with your controller and disconnect the wire to the vehicle battery, this will essentially kill the power and render the vehicle in the safe to transport mode. Next you can power the controller off to save the battery life. Return the vehicle to a safe place and then locate your logbooks and recover your data.

IV. Debrief

  • Fill out logs
  • Complete calculations for batteries and flight times
  • Put away gear, vehicle and log books

This is the most important step where you gather data and learn about the flight you just made. Fill out your logbooks in a neat and logical manner so that you will have accurate information to review. Complete the calculations on the battery and flight times. A healthy battery is something to respect and cherish, if you do not monitor your batteries you run a risk of catastrophic events shall the battery go dead in flight. This is easily avoidable if you follow the checklists; learn all you can about batteries and the health of your batteries. Put your logbooks, controller and vehicle in a safe place without a lot of people or traffic around. Curious onlookers might want to look at or damage your vehicle and not tell anyone, this refers to our first step inspect the vehicle before each run up, don’t assume that the vehicle is good and you are ready to fly without the use of this checklist.

V. Battery Charging

  • Plug in charger to the wall
  • Plug in battery to the charger
  • Choose the correct battery setting for your battery
  • Select interface mode on the balancer (if you are using one)
  • Set the charger to charge
  • Wait for beeps and lights to complete
  • Log battery rates

Only charge batteries if you plan to remain insight of them, batteries that are charging can be dangerous if not respected and treated with caution. Always read the manual of the charger if you are uncertain of anything please do some research or ask someone. Do not just hook up a battery, plug in the charger and leave the charging station, this is asking for problems. Navigate the menu system on the charger to find the proper type of battery that you are using. Next determine the type of battery you are charging and set the proper milliampere-hour (mAh) it is written on the battery, please verify this information before connecting to the charger. After the correct settings are chosen set the batter to charge, once you connect the battery to the charger select interface mode on the balancer. Interface mode selection is located on the small board on the charging wire, not the actual charging unit. Listen for the beeps to know that the charge is complete, then write those times down and transfer them to the battery logbook. Look at your charging times for consistency or inconsistency; this will clue you in to which batteries are healthier than others. This will also let you know which batteries you should think about replacing.

Thoughts, comments, suggestions or to add and amend content please send a message or email rthompson242@gmail.com

For personal use only

Quick Checklist

1) Preflight Checklist

  • Tighten props
  • Tighten screws
  • Inspect for cracks
  • Prepare log book
  • Review mission

2) Flight

  • Turn on transmitter
  • Set throttle down
  • Connect battery on the vehicle
  • Wait for lights and safety light to turn green
  • Throttle up slowly

3) After Landing

  • Unplug battery on vehicle while near the controller
  • After battery is unplugged turn off the controller
  • Fill out log books

4) Debrief

  • Fill out logs
  • Complete calculations for batteries and flight times
  • Put away gear, vehicle and log books

5) Battery Charging

  • Plug in charger to the wall
  • Plug in battery to the charger
  • Choose the correct battery setting for your battery
  • Select interface mode on the balancer (if you are using one)
  • Set the charger to charge
  • Wait for beeps and lights to complete
  • Log battery rates

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Does anyone have an example of what the logbook that is talked about here, looks like?

Filling in a logbook seems like a nice idea but what is logged? I download my APM log files after every flight and currently still trying to figure out what all the information in the APM logs mean. What else is there to log besides what's in the APM logs ?

Kind regards 

Logbooks are dependent on what system you fly, data recorded and any other events you may want to personalize. 

Vehicle:

Date:

Mission:

Time:

 

Notes on mission:

 

Vehicle Weight:

Indoor or Outdoor:

 

 

Weather:

            Temperature:

            Wind Speed:

Ambient:

            Humidity:

            Dew Point:

            Barometric:

            Solar:

 

Preflight Inspection: refer to article

 

Flight Observations: unusual behavior

 

Flight Times:

           Frame:

              Arm:

            Motor:

          Battery:                                   Example (Max 3200 mAh)

 

Total Time:

 

Charge Time:

            Battery #:                                           Example 2

            How long:                                           Example 011 minutes

            Input charge:                                      Example 000810 mA/Min

            Estimated flight time:                          Example 80% of battery 

I made a Logbook for mapping drone with the followign check-list (for fixed wing UAV)

https://www.ebay.com/itm/323197692194

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