Your drone’s propellers are perhaps the most important part of your entire drone. They help in steering and creating lift for your drone to breeze through the air. However, since they’re mechanical parts, they are prone to failure. This begs the question, what do you do if your drone propeller does not spin?
If your drone propeller does not spin, we recommend doing the following:
- Checking your battery
- Checking your propellers
- Inspecting your wiring
- Checking your propeller and its shafts
- Cleaning and checking your motors
- Recalibrating your gyros
In this article, we’re going to go over exactly what you need to do if your drone propeller stops spinning, alongside all the tangible reasons why that can happen in the first place.
How To Fix Drone Propeller Not Spinning?
My drones have often been the victim of their propellers suddenly deciding not to spin. Not to worry, though. This isn’t a major issue and generally isn’t indicative of a major repair. This usually occurs when you haven’t charged your drone for a very long time or if it has gone through a crash.
With that said, here’s what you should do if your drone stops spinning:
Check Your Battery
I’ve often seen people opening up their entire drones, checking their propellers to look for damage, only to realize their battery was the primary culprit. If your drone propeller is not spinning or is operating slowly, it is a telltale sign of low charging. If that’s the case, the most obvious fix would be to, well, charge your battery.
Now, before we delve into the nitty-gritty, let’s understand why exactly a battery is important for your drone propeller. Besides just adding as a reserve for the charge, it also transfers current to your entire drone. So, if your battery isn’t functioning properly – it won’t be providing adequate charge to your entire drone, which can lead to slow spinning or, in extreme cases, no spinning whatsoever.
The problem is that diagnosing a faulty battery can be extremely difficult. This is because there’s no way to accurately measure your battery’s discharge without specialized equipment. Therefore, to keep things simple, I’m going to be listing down a few signs that’ll help you diagnose whether your battery is at fault or not.
- Swollen Battery: After disassembling your drone, look for visible signs of protrusion or swelling. Moreover, if you have a flat rectangular battery, you can place the battery on a flat surface (such as your table) and try to spin it. If it spins, your battery is swollen. This is because the protrusion leads to deformities which cause your battery to have an irregular shape.
- Leakage / Corrosion: Take a close look at the contacts present on your battery. If they have a brown residue, wipe them off with isopropyl alcohol and reconnect your battery.
- Battery Drain / Slow Charging: If your drone immediately loses its charging after you’ve started it, or if it takes ages to charge – then you should check your battery’s age and manufacturing date. If your battery is older than 2-3 years or has been used heavily, it has probably been permanently exhausted, which is why it is exhibiting this behavior.
- Extreme Climates: Your drone’s propellers may not be operating because your battery isn’t able to pick up charge in extreme climates. This is especially true if you are using your drone in the hot sun. Batteries generate a lot of heat and therefore need to be near room temperature to function well.
Once you’ve nailed the issue, a quick battery replacement of your drone, and you should be up and running.
Check Your Propellers
Your propellers may have debris, dust, or some foreign object stuck inside them externally. You’ll be able to inspect your propeller by using a flashlight and then checking the shafts. Even if you don’t visibly see any dust, I still recommend cleaning your propeller up using isopropyl alcohol with a microfiber cloth.
If you have dust or debris stuck inside your propeller, they often still work but not at the optimal speed or performance. Therefore, cleaning them should help with your drone’s overall performance, especially if you use them outdoors.
Removing these foreign objects should start your propellers back up once again if that’s the issue.
Inspect Your Wiring
Drones are made to withstand a petty crash here and there. But, I’ve had my fair share of instances where a drone may seem fine from the exterior but has suffered through damage related to internal wiring that renders it operable.
This happens quite commonly if you use your drone near jungles where there are chances of it being stuck in a branch. Once that happens, your drone’s internal wiring may break as small sharp objects may enter its interior chassis.
If you do end up seeing torn or bent wires, I recommend taking your drone in for warranty instead of repairing it yourself. While yes, most drone warranties do not cover accidental damage – getting it checked out by a professional is much better than a DIY repair.
However, that also depends on the nature of the damage. If you are able to identify the issue and it’s just a missed connection or joint, connecting that back in shouldn’t be worth the trouble of claiming it for warranty.
Before you go on with your repairs, repairing your wires or interfering with them will void your manufacturer’s warranty. So, you won’t be able to send your drone for further claims even if you have an issue with it that comes under warranty later on.
If you are keen on repairing your drone yourself, I recommend consulting the paperwork your drone came up with to ensure you don’t accidentally void your warranty. In any case, removing or changing wires will void your warranty, while reconnecting wires does not.
Check Your Remote
If this is the first time you are using your drone for the first time or are taking it out for a spin for a while, your remote may not properly connect to your drone. And until your drone doesn’t establish a connection with your remote – your propellers won’t be spinning.
Moreover, even if your drone is connected to your remote, it still won’t operate aren’t synchronized properly. I recommend checking your remote’s batteries / charging before you start flying your drone. You really don’t want your remote out of charge midway.
So, if you are having trouble syncing with your drone, your propellers aren’t at fault. It is your remote that’s causing the issue. If that’s the case, I either recommend replacing your remote’s batteries or using a spare remote instead.
Once your remote starts successfully synchronizing with your drone, and your drone’s propellers still do not spin, then your remote is not to blame. This is because it sends the signal necessary to have your propellers spin.
Check Your Propeller And Its Shafts
Your propellers may not spin properly if they’ve been removed or aren’t inserted properly. When your drone’s propellers aren’t connected, it is quite obvious why they won’t spin. Here are a few common issues that occur with propellers and their drones:
- Loose Propellers: If your propellers aren’t tightened in properly, the motor won’t be able to move the propeller. Since there’s no physical connection, or quite a limited one, your motor won’t be able to drive the force to move the propellers.
- Tight Propellers: If your propellers are tightened a bit too much, the shaft will not be able to move freely. If that doesn’t happen, your propellers won’t be able to spin at their proper RPMs or do so without obstruction.
- Broken Propeller: If your propeller is broken, it’ll cause issues such as vibration or may not be able to spin at high enough RPMs, which may lead to it falling after certain altitudes. However, in most extreme cases, it just might not spin.
- Bent Propellers: Propellers are designed aerodynamically. They’re meant to create lift and also steer your drone when necessary. But, when they’re bent, your propellers may not be able to spin freely as their movement might be constricted from the shaft.
If you notice any of these issues on your propeller, a replacement is necessary. Even if your propeller ends up spinning eventually after a cleanup, a broken or bent propeller will always cause issues.
A propeller replacement is dependent on the drone that you have. However, I tend to pack a few propellers, especially on a long haul, just in case. Propellers get broken quite easily as they’re quite fragile. So, if you crash your drone quite a bit, you should definitely check your propellers before your next flight. This is because having broken propellers during a flight might cause your drone to fly erratically.
Clean And Check Your Motors
Your motors are the driving force behind your propellers. However, before you start opening your motor up, remember that it is quite a delicate part. And, you’ll have to be very careful disassembling it as a slight tug can break the sensitive wires present inside the motor.
Now, first of all, motors can get dirty very quickly. Since they rotate quite quickly, hair, grass, and various fibers can tangle inside your motor, causing it to get jammed. To get rid of them, I recommend blowing air on them using a compressed air can and then using a clip or tweezers to remove the residue.
If you aren’t able to get your motors cleaned, you will need to disassemble your propellers to clean the shaft alongside the motors. Next, the reason why your propeller may not spin on your drone is due to the motor’s wire being disconnected. This can happen due to a few reasons, such as your drone being crashed, a bump, or even turbulence at some times.
Depending on the drone, reconnecting your motor can be as simple as attaching a connector, or you needing to do a lot of disassemblies to get to the motor. In any case, you’ll need to tackle these issues on a case-by-case basis. So, check out your drone manufacturer’s warranty alongside the paperwork to get your motor back up and running.
Recalibrate Your Gyros
Your gyroscope is used to guide your drone. It is used to identify which propeller needs to spin at what particular point. If these aren’t calibrated, you’ll end up with a propeller not spinning even though it needs to. Now, to be fair, gyros don’t go out of calibration randomly. But, if they’re placed on an uneven surface for an extended period of time or have recently gone through a major crash, the gyro can go haywire.
Thankfully, calibrating it is quite simple. All you need to do is place the drone on an even surface for about 20-30 seconds. You can opt-in for a calibration through your drone’s application or your remote control. You’ll need to refer to your drone’s specific model to identify exactly how you can calibrate your drone.
Here’s one quick tip, if you’ve just recalibrated your gyros and now see a different propeller not spinning while the one you were worried about previously works fine, your gyro is at fault instead. Unlike the days of old, you don’t have a physical compass inside your drone. All the calculation is done through tiny vibrating chips.
So, there’s a very low chance that they end up getting damaged. However, it can still happen. You won’t be able to identify a damaged gyroscope. But, if you take your drone to a technician, they’ll be able to perform a series of tests that validates whether your gyroscope is calibrating properly or not.
A drone’s propeller not spinning is quite an easy fix, given that you have a replacement in handy and haven’t significantly damaged your motors. In either case, I recommend checking your warranty and manuals before you opt for any repairs. Otherwise, you may just end up voiding your warranty or causing some serious damage.