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How to Change Drone Blades (and When)

A quick guide to replace the blades on most drones! 

Introduction

As a novice Drone Pilot, I was thrilled to make it months without crashing my newly purchased flying machine.Unfortunately, that excitement didn’t last long when I mustered up the courage to fly my rather large device indoors to “show off” in front of friends and family members. 

You know how the story goes. All smiles and everyone was amazed until the unnecessary plant my girlfriend NEEDED in the house caught one of the blades and, like a venus fly trap, sucked my poor drone into its mouth and spit it on the floor. Propellers with huge gashes in the side and my favorite hobby came to a halt. 

Fast forward a weekend and I was researching how to change drone blades on the internet.

Many Google searches later, I finally found enough information to successfully replace my blades with extra blades for future repairs. 

Hopefully, I prevent you from doing the many hours of research that I had to do by giving you the steps outlined in this article. 

If you need to know WHEN to replace your Drone Blades scroll down to the end of the page! 

What can happen when you don’t replace your propellers?

To begin, let’s start with what could (and will) happen if you don’t replace your blades when you’re supposed to!

As addicting as they can be, Youtube videos of drones crashing have flooded the internet! Anything from them crashing into trees to being hit by moving cars.

All of these accidents could have been avoided by simple maintenance on your drone as well as properly flying them. (But who likes to fly slow and safe?!)

Personally, I trust my own piloting skills (except in the presence of plants) so when it comes to me crashing, all I worry about is ensuring my drone is maintained correctly. 

I’ve done lots of research about what happens when the propellers are not kept in the best condition and the results aren’t the worst, but things can always turn ugly. 

What seems to be the most common outcome of old, damaged blades is instability of the drone during flight resulting in the aircraft not maneuvering the way the pilot wants. When that happens it’s very easy to over-correct and come crashing down.   

You’ve spent a lot of money on your drone, keeping it maintained is the common sense thing to do. 

Steps to Replace Drone Blades

Let’s get down to business replacing those propellers! If you’re at this point you’ve probably already found the blades you are putting on your drone, but if not, feel free to check out the blades I bought on Amazon, here: https://amzn.to/2J345RC

Step 1: Clean the outside of the blade area!

This is probably one of the most important steps that most people don’t think about. Honestly, I didn’t either but when I took my propellers off I was shocked at the dirt that squeezed its way in there!

Carefully wipe down the outside area with a DRY cloth so dirt doesn’t get anywhere it can do damage.

IMPORTANT TIP: Only remove one propeller at a time! Don’t get them confused and place them in the wrong spots!

Step 2: Check the center of the propeller is there is a cap to remove.

Don’t force this step, some drones don’t have a screw. Most of the research I did shows that the propellers simply pop off or you press down and twist. 

If your blades don’t have a screw to remove skip to step 4.

Step 3: Hold propeller with one hand and remove center screw.

Carefully hold the propeller (preferably from the under side) and use a micro screwdriver to remove the screw in the center of the propeller.  

Needless to say, but don’t lose the screw!! They’re tiny and love to roll around on the table.. I know! 

Step 4: Compare new propeller to the one you’re removing.

This is another VERY important step! On a quadcopter drone each propeller spins in a certain direction. 

When you replace a blade, it’s imperative that the blade you’re putting on has the same angle as the one you’re taking off. 

The easiest way to check this is to hold the two propeller blades at eye level and position them so you can look from one side of the blade to the other. The angle of the blades should be identical, either from top left to bottom right like a slash mark \ or from top right to bottom left like this slash mark /.

Step 5: Make sure new blade is seated correctly before pressing it in.

After making sure the blades are the same if you look inside where the blade was sitting you can see the hole that the new blade needs to slide into.

Center the new blade above the hole and gently slide it in place.

For drones that don’t have a screw, once you’ve made sure it is lined up correctly, firmly click the blade in place. 

Step 6: Hold propeller from spinning then insert and tighten the screw.

Once again, hold the propeller from spinning and drop the screw into place. Tighten the screw down. 

These screws need to be tight but remember not to over-tighten them and accidentally strip them!

Step 7: Check the blade is securely attached and is clear from tough the drone.

Make sure there is a gap between the bottom of the propeller and the drone. You don’t want the blades rubbing against anything!

Step 8: Go for a test run!!

Just to be safe, don’t take off right away! You want to make sure everything is sturdy and the new blades weren’t put on backwards!!

When to change your Drone Blades?

After replacing my own propellers it got me thinking, when is the “right” time to change them out in the first place? If I accidentally knock them while carrying it in my hand, does that justify replacing them? How much damage needs to happen?

Once again, it was back to Google and searching through online forums for when I REALLY needed to. Boy, did I find a lot of answers! Some people said they never change their blades and some said they change them if they get too dirty. 

Ultimately, most drone manufacturers recommend every 200 flights the blades be changed.

Although your blades may look perfectly fine, the tabs that hold the blades in place may have worn down and could potentially break. Having a blade come flying off mid-flight is the worst thing that could happen!

Also, if there are any nicks or cuts in the propeller themselves, it’s time to replace them! 

When there is a nick or cut in the blade, when air is pushed down, it’s not as smooth as it is designed to be and could possibly make your drone tilt to one direction. 

Conclusion:

I hope this guide sums up exactly how to replace your Drone Blades and you don’t have to do any more research anywhere else!

If you haven’t bought replacement propellers for your drone yet, here’s a list of replacements at a discounted price on Amazon for popular drones:

DJI Spark: https://amzn.to/2NtlDe6

DJI Mavic 2 Pro: https://amzn.to/2XdN4Z7

DJI Phantom 1, 2, and 3: https://amzn.to/2XlbFzR

I really enjoy the art of flying and look forward to writing more about my drones and hope I can help you learn more about your own flying machine! 

If you have any questions feel free to comment below!