When out flying at the local field quite a few people ask about the durability of a quadcopter. After all, if there is any kind of failure, a quad is going to drop from the sky like a lead balloon. An airplane can glide to a landing, a helicopter can auto-rotate, but there is no backup on a quad is something goes wrong. This was put to the test at the local field this past weekend in grand style.
In trying to tempt fate, I was showing how well the Walkera MX400 handled in a strong wind and although I am not certain what exactly went wrong, I think something in the auto-leveler freaked out when trying to correct for a strong gust of wind and the copter tilted over at about a 90 degree angle and lawn darted at full speed into the asphalt.
A Sight To Behold
Seeing anybody’s bird do a nose plant into solid ground is never a good thing, and when you see small parts fly in all directions, your first thought is always going to be “how bad is this going to be”. In this shot you are looking at the total extent of the damage:
- Broken landing skid $3.65
- Broken camera mount $24.90
- Bent landing arm $0
- Broke back cover on camera $0
So the total cost of repairs was $28.55 for a crash that no helicopter would have survived.
Why So Little Damage?
You may be thinking that the quad just didn’t hit hard enough. Rest assured, it tried it’s best to auger into the pavement as best it could. What did help is that the auto-leveler on MX400 seemed to kick in but it was too late and the quad came down extremely hard, but…it came down flat. The landing gear did exactly what they were designed to do, and that is flex on a hard landing. Had the camera mount not been there to cushion the rest of the landing, there probably would have been more bending to do to get the landing gear legs straightened out.
In comparison to a helicopter having the same impact, the helicopter would have mostly been destroyed…why…kinetic energy. A helicopter has large spinning rotors and a handful of smaller gears all spinning at high RPMS and with a lot of mass moving around. A quad has four lower RPM props without any gearing at all. It is an absolute certainly that a helicopter that hit the ground the way this quad did would not only have broken props but also a broken main gear, probably a handful of broken linkages, a bent main shaft, bent rotor shafts, and probably a busted servo or two. Even on a small 450 sized helicopter, this would easily have been a $100 – $150 repair bill. A quad, with only four moving parts, moving at slower speeds, is far less likely to sustain massive damage in a crash.
Total Repair Cost
As I mentioned, the total cost of the replacement parts was $28.55 which included a second landing skid which got put away for future repairs if needed. A little muscle to bend the landing leg back into shape, and putting things back together. The total amount of time was 3 minutes. This would have been quite a bit less but when I went to plug the camera mount servo back into the board, there were some bent pins that needed to get straightened before I could plug the servo in.
So there you have it, are quads durable? You bet they are and it is one of the reasons why I enjoy flying them so much, it greatly reduces the pucker factor when you know that a bad crash is probably not going to cost you much, if anything, to repair.