How to buy a second hand drone and not die trying (guide)

  • Compare prices and be suspicious of bargains:

This point is so basic that it really is absurd to have to explain it, but nobody gives anything away. Never. Once you have felt the ground and chosen one, two or three drone models that fit what you need, search the second-hand market: there are countless online portals for the sale of second-hand goods, so you should have it easy to see in what price range the drones of your choice move. If you find one much cheaper, it is an indication that the owner wants to get rid of it as soon as possible and that he does not expect to get too much of it. Why? You are probably not interested in finding out for yourself.

  • Talk to the owner by phone:

Don't miss the chance to talk to the seller on the phone. In addition to asking any questions you may have, at this time you must make sure that the day you go to see the drone, it will be forewarned as to what you are going to ask for:

  • Find out if it is professional or amateur.

The professional tends to take more care of their work tool because it is what they earn a living, and they are more likely to want to sell their drone simply to upgrade to a more modern model with better specifications. The hobbyist, on the other hand, may want to sell it because it does not really use it as expected and the drone is collecting dust on a shelf (GoPro syndrome) or because the drone has been badly treated and is not in good condition. Do not be emboldened if you are sure that it is the first case, since even if the drone is like new the LiPo batteries of the drones are delicate, and having had an incorrect storage for a long time can reduce its useful life.

  • Let him know what you are going to need bills; not only of purchase, but also of repairs and of reviews. This way you will save yourself the trip in vain if you go to see the drone and the seller has forgotten to take them.

With the purchase invoice, make sure the serial numbers match and that the drone you buy is actually the drone the owner claims to sell.

The maintenance and repair invoices will give you very useful information about the life that the appliance has led. Drones intended for professional use they must undergo periodic reviews. The owner will securely keep the invoices and the results of such reports. A drone that is two years old and with two favorable reviews gives greater guarantees of being in perfect condition.

  • Ask him the possibility of obtaining the flight logs of the drone. For this you will need a laptop, an internet connection, some time and surely pay for a specialized program. By doing so you will be accessing their flight data; so it's okay for the seller to be forewarned. As it is a more complex step, we will detail it later.
  • Meet him somewhere where you can try the drone. Ideally, it should be in an open area and far from any airport, so if you live in the city it is quite certain that you will have to move. Although it is something that you can fault, it is very important to you.

If after this conversation on the phone you feel comfortable and there have been no surprises, you will be ready to arrange a time and place. Congratulations, because you are now ready to meet the seller.

Once we have agreed with the buyer:

  • Ask, ask and ask:

Do not be afraid to ask: someone honest and with nothing to hide about the product they sell should be willing to answer all your questions. You can examine their behavior and responses to assess whether the salesperson gives you a “good feeling” or if they seem to be trying to hide something from you.

  • Take a look at the visual status of the aircraft:

A drone may have taken a hit and not suffer major mishaps. The opposite can also be the case: that a drone has been hit but the helmet has been repaired or changed, and have a good exterior appearance. In any case, the presence of cracks, bumps or scratches on his helmet is an unequivocal sign that he has taken a hit.

On the other hand, propellers of drones are usually the first to break on impact. Most drones are sold new with two sets of propellers. If the seller only has one or has games made by third parties, it may mean that the drone had collisions at some point.

Finally, a glance will help you to see if the lens of the camera has any type of scratch or damage.

  • Do a manual test of the motors:

It is a simple and effective test: hold the motor between your thumb and middle finger, and turn it hard, paying attention to the sound, which should be a smooth and even hiss. Repeat the process for each engine, as they should all sound the same. If one of them does not sound as it should, it may be the result of an accident or wear, and it is an indication that the engine is not in perfect condition. If an engine fails mid-flight, the entire drone will crash, and in that case the broken drone might be the least of your worries.

  • Take a flight test:

A flight of A few minutes It should be enough to give you an idea of ​​how the drone works. Pay special attention to gimbal and its operation, since it is one of the most delicate elements and with a more expensive repair. Also check if the drone does strange movements not attributable to the wind. If there is very little wind and you feel confident, you can even test it in Sport mode and fly it a few meters in different directions. With Sport mode the GPS system is deactivated, so the drone is at the mercy of its mechanics, and you can see if it tends to pitch from any particular side despite its position with respect to the direction of the wind. Of course, keep in mind that this flight mode is more complicated, so if you do not feel fully comfortable or do not have previous experience, it is better not to take risks.

  • Check the Flight Logs:

This step is a bit more cumbersome, but it can be very useful: modern drones store a lot in their internal memory data on flights performed. As it is a small memory, this data is being overwritten, but you will always have available the data of the last flights.

Accessing and interpreting them requires programs that are frequently paid, as well as uploading them to online site servers, some of these files weighing several hundred megabytes, so it is very likely that you will not be able to make a detailed study of them. flights of a device before purchasing it.

Although the information on these is very complete and we will be able to know where it has been flown, what types of flights have been made, if the pilot is more or less reckless, etc., if we have the opportunity we must pay special attention to the battery status, the alerts received by the sensors or some kind of malfunction and, most importantly, if a flight has ended abruptly, since this will be an unequivocal sign that the drone has had an accident.

Flight files can be interpreted using https://app.airdata.com/, a free resource to show the most basic information, where there is also a lot of information available that will help you export and interpret these files.

  • Sign a contract of sale between individuals:

Finally, this step will cover your back against unpleasant unforeseen events, allowing you to cancel the purchase in case of hidden defects. This is recommended for anything you buy second-hand that amounts to a certain amount. In addition, it will also be important for the seller, since in the event that you made a Gatwick and the authorities found the drone with its serial number, he could prove that it is no longer his property.

This is our particular decalogue to buy a second-hand drone with all possible guarantees. It's a bit more involved than just meeting a stranger and paying him X for his drone, but going this extra mile is infinitely better than buying a broken drone and having to eat it.

Of course, all of this is advice drawn from our experience in the world of drones. There may be other very useful tips that we have missed. Do you want to share yours? We will be happy to receive you in the comments section.

Drone Videography covers the whole UK Visit our drone location page for more information. Should you need any type of Drone Services including Aerial Photography or Aerial Video please contact us or book a visit using any one of the links on this page.

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