How to Find A Lost Drone – 9 Tricks You Must Know

Losing a drone is such a painful thing that every drone pilot should never come across. If you already have lost your UAV, you know what I am saying (and my feelings).
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Losing a drone is such a painful thing that every drone pilot should never come across. If you already have lost your UAV, you know what I am saying (and my feelings).

Recently launched drones [with modern technology] comes with a set of safety functions, but few people are still flying their old drones without any tracker!

Several reasons are inevitable, like software glitches, communication interference, drained battery, malfunctioning, strong winds, and more. You cannot anticipate such issues right from the start.

Many times suddenly, the connection drops off, and everything becomes chaos. So it is a wise choice to have a tracking system installed on your drone.

This article contains list of instructions that you can follow to find your lost drone or avoid losing one.

If you don’t want to lose your hundreds or maybe thousands of dollars drone, then read this article till the end. It will help you out in the future.

Don’t worry! If you already have lost a drone that did not have a tracker. We have few suggestions for you that might get your downed drone back.

How to Find A Lost Drone

How to Find A Lost Drone - 9 Tricks You Must Know - ULTRAdvice

1. Using a GPS Tracker – is the key

This is the most common advice you will find in the drone community. It gives you the precise location of your drone in terms of longitude and latitude.

Few GPS trackers that work with Google Maps gives you more accurate and real-time location.

Modern DJI drones are equipped with GPS technology.

Do not worry if your drone lacks such technology because buying an extra GPS tracker will cost you $25-$30 (it is the starting price).

2. Doing an immediate screen capture

It is the quick action that you need to take once you realize that your drone signals are weak.

Immediately take a screenshot when there is sudden footage loss from your drone. This way, you will have your drone’s last known location.

This trick is proven to provide excellent results. But it will work only in the case of a drone with a camera.

3. Not turning off the controller

As long as the drone battery doesn’t die, there is a strong possibility that you might find your lost drone.

Follow these simple steps,

  1. Do not turn off the controller
  2. Look at the last telemetry co-ordinates at the bottom screen of the controller
  3. Press the RTH button on the controller
  4. Move towards the drone’s last known location or at least in the direction that the drone was flying.
  5. If you are lucky, the drone will get into the controller network area, and you will see the distance number on your telemetry screen start decreasing.

If the drone’s and controller’s battery is not dead and you’re lucky, this trick will help you a lot.

4. Using “Find My Drone” App

This nifty app will let you find your drone even if it has crossed the maximum flying range.

You might have heard about the MAVlink protocol used by the open-source autopilot programs. The “Find My Drone” app is free and uses the same protocol to locate and direct you towards your drone.

But unfortunately, this app is compatible only with iOS devices and not android or any other devices.

This app can save the drone’s last telemetry co-ordinates for the more flexible search of the lost drone.

The DJI drones can be connected to your smartphone using the “DJI GO” app. It has an excellent find my drone feature.

We highly recommend these apps to every drone pilot. So you as well don’t forget to install them!

5. Searching your drone using a drone

If you have an extra drone, then let it help you locate your wandering drone. It doesn’t matter if your extra drone is too old, but it is good to go until it can fly and capture few good photos.

Also, you can take help from your supportive friend who has a drone camera.

This trick will narrow down the searching time because it will allow you to have a bird’s eye view of the areas where you lost the drone.

6. Searching at night

Let the sun go down. Fly your second drone and try searching for the lost drone.

If the battery of your drone has power left in it, you are supposed to see a blinking paradise somewhere in the grass, trees, water, or rocks.

If you are lucky, you can quickly locate a lost drone.

But be very careful while flying your second drone, and remember you are flying it at night. Do Not let it go out of the sight and range as well.

7. Carefully observing the light and hearing the sound

This is not a direct trick, but it is an art of extra carefulness and wiseness while finding your drone.

Make sure that throughout your drone search, you will keep your eyes and ears focused. Try to focus on the blinking anti-collision lights and a buzzing sound coming from your lost drone.

This will help a lot for a drone that doesn’t have a camera and tracking system.

8. Download Log Files

In this article, we have discussed many safety features offered by DJI drones. Here is one more to add to the list.

The flight logs are beneficial. They record your every flight. Follow the steps below to see the flight logs,

  1. Head over to the DJI GO app
  2. Click on the “Me” section (find it at the bottom of the screen)
  3. Select flight logs
  4. Click on any one of the flight logs, and a map will open

This map will show you the exact path your drone was traveling.

You can use that and know the last location of your lost drone.

9. Additional Tricks

If you fail to recover your drone by any one of the above methods, then follow the instruction below as a final try,

  1. File a Police Report – Go to the local police station and file a report. Maybe a good person might handover your drone to the Policeman after finding it. Make sure to submit the serial number and FAA registration number at the police station.
  2. Spreading Lost Drone Posters – Posting your lost drone posters may sound weird, but it doesn’t have to be because you shouldn’t feel embarrassed to recover your losses.
  3. Spying local market places – Few wise people might find your drone and try to sell it. If you had noted the serial number and FAA registration number, go to the local market place and find your lost drone.

Take this Precautions to Avoid Losing a Drone

Precautions - How to Find A Lost Drone - 9 Tricks You Must Know - ULTRAdvice

 1. Install “Find My Drone App.”

These apps are free, so no reason should take you away from installing them.

Here are the links,

  1. Find My Drone
  2. DJI GO

Instead of just finding a lost drone, these apps provide a tone of other excellent functionalities like battery levels and current status.

2. Buy a GPS Tracker

As we mentioned earlier, “You drone must have a GPS Tracker.” If it doesn’t, then consider buying one right now.

Or you will regret it later.

Installing a tracker on your drone means using modern technology to find a drone.

3. Set RTH (Return-to-Home)

Many drones nowadays come with this feature. So make sure to check and configure it.

You just need to follow few instructions from the manufacturer to configure the RTH feature.

It is advantageous while finding your lost drone. Often many drones return home with just a simple click using this RTH feature.

4. Be careful at Night

Do you have the FAA permission to fly your drone at night? If yes, then be extra careful.

Make sure that you don’t let your drone fly out of sight.

Check the LED blinks on your drone are working fine or not before the take-off.

5. Gadget Insurance

You might think of this option as one more unplanned investment. But I will say an extra ounce of care is always good, at least during the initial days.

Make sure to check if any insurance policy is available by the provider or manufacturer.

Final Words

There is no worst feeling than knowing that your drone is out of your control and flying away from you. Followed by this painful realization finding your drone becomes an adventure.

We highly recommend installing the “Find My Drone” app and using a GPS tracker. Many people have lost their drones because of their careless behavior or newbie flying skills.

But you can avoid that by using and adapting to the above suggestions. Let us know if you will find your drone by using any of the above tricks.

Please do not feel like you have to take too many precautions while flying your bird; in my opinion, it is the matter of time and habits. Follow them right from the beginning, and eventually, they will turn into habitual behaviors.

If you are about to buy a drone, then don’t to check out our following articles,

  1. Best Drones under $200
  2. Best Drones under $500

Happy Flying!

Pia Jacobson
Pia is a tech enthusiast and software developer. She is a DIY geek who loves 3D Printing and Drones. Passionate about travelling the world and designing and 3D printing her stuff. Recently started sharing her experience and knowledge about Drones and 3D Printers at ULTRAdvice. Lives in Austin.