What can I do with an old drone? [10 awesome ideas]

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Upgrading your drone is one of the best days that drone enthusiasts have. You may be upgrading your drone because you have reached the limitations of what you can do with it, and you need a new drone with a new feature set. It could be that you are excited about owning the latest drone on the market and there is nothing currently wrong with your current drone. I know that when I feel like upgrading, I often ask myself if it is because I want the latest gadget or because there is a genuine requirement in terms of the feature set that I currently have.

There are many things you can do with an old drone such as selling it, using it for parts, using it as a backup drone for critical missions, attaching a bait release and turning into a fishing drone, and you can also use it for projects like making a hovercraft and turning it into a kite camera.

Ultimately, you need to decide whether or not you want to keep your drone in its current form which will allow you to sell it for a reasonable price to another drone enthusiast or, if it is broken, you can decide whether or not it is best suited for parts or a DIY electronics project.

If your drone is in perfect working order and you want to offset the purchase of your new drone one of the first options you have is to sell your drone.

Sell it

If your drone is in good working condition and you think that you can help someone launch their drone hobby with a secondhand drone you may want to consider selling your drone privately.

There isn’t too much that you need to do if you are selling your drone privately apart from cleaning up the drone and removing your personal photos and videos from the internal memory.

I’m registering your drone from any official registrations that you have will also be a good idea as the new owner will not be able to get you into trouble.

Preparing your drone for sale can be tricky. What do potential buyers want to know about the drone? What facts and figures should you give them about the drone? And where do you find the best buyers that will give you the best price?

For a full run down on these answers check out my other article – what to do before selling a drone [a complete guide] where I run you through everything you need to know to get the best price for your old drone – click here to be taken to article.

What to do before selling a drone

When you are selling your drone these are the sorts of facts and figures that people want to know:

  • flight time – the longer the flight time the less amount of money you can ask for your drone. When I purchased my DJI Mavic air it only had four hours of flight time on it that is why I was willing to pay a little bit more.
  • Battery cycles – for each battery that you sell the drone you are able to see how many times it has been charged. If you have multiple batteries the Bible want to see the information for each battery.
  • Details of usage – potential purchasers will want to know if the drone has been used commercially or for private and hobby purposes. A commercial drone will not have been as well looked after as a privately owned drone.

With some good photos on marketplaces such as drone trader I’m pretty sure that your drone will be sold in no time. For a complete rundown on what to do before selling your drone check out my video on my YouTube channel, below.

Use it for parts

If your drone is not in good working order you have the potential to use your drone for parts. There are plenty of online hobbyists who will buy drones which have had minor accidents and are unable to fly because they can use them for parts.

Simply head over to the forum dedicated to the type of drone that you want to sell for parts. There are plenty of options such as:

In each of these forums you will be able to find someone that would be interested in purchasing your old drone for parts. As long as the drone has not had a serious electronic issue I’m sure that there will be plenty of interest in your drone.

Rent it out

Your drone doesn’t have to sit in a drawer underused. There are plenty of people willing to hire a drone because they don’t want to purchase one for the project they have in mind.

Even though you have upgraded your drone I am certain that the capability of your old drone will be suitable for a load of different projects.

It could be a real estate agent looking to take their own aerial photographs, someone who just wants to try out different drone, or a cash-strapped individual who wants to explore a new hobby.

Whatever cause reasons for wanting to rent a drone – you could provide it at a reasonable rate.

Some sites have the ability to use their rental agreements and insurance whilst for other options such as private listings on Craigslist and Facebook marketplace you will need to come up with your own rental agreement and make sure that you take a security deposit in case they do not return the drone to you.

Here are the sorts of prices that you can expect to get for common DJI drones per week.

Example weekly rental prices

DroneDollars per week to rent ($)
DJI Mavic 2 Pro250
DJI Inspire1013
DJI Mavic Air 2210
DJI phantom pro300
DJI Mavic Air190
DJI Mavic Mini135
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom250

You can see that you can earn a fair amount of money even from relatively old drones such as DJI Mavic air and any of the phantom or Mavic series drones. A lot of drone enthusiasts have a number of drones sat around and it could be the perfect way to make a fair bit of money.

Use it as a back up drone

There are some missions which you cannot fail at. If you are using your drone to earn money as a pilot for hire or aerial photographer, you may have only one chance and opportunity to capture the perfect shot.

This may be at a wedding or another event where there is a particular moment you have to be certain you have captured.

For those of us that have been flying for a while you will have come up against issues that would have stopped you from taking off. Whether it is your oversight or a technical issue – sometimes a drone just will not take off and perform like you want it to.

Using your old drone as a backup drone means that you have a level of redundancy to your service.

If your brand-new drone doesn’t perform in the way that you want – or maybe you are too inexperienced with this new tool – you will have the old one as a backup.

Better safe than sorry!

Push the limits of your skill

When you have a new drone you want to make sure that you are as safe as possible with your new gadget. This means that you are playing it safe during your flights.

This means that you are not developing your skills as a drone pilot. If you have an old drone that you do not mind likely crashing or being a little bit carefree with – you will be able to push the limits of your piloting skill with a lower level of anxiety about crashing.

Becoming a better drone pilot means practising the different skills required and pushing out your zone of capability. You need to do this so that even the hardest of manoeuvres become second nature.

Just like riding a bike as you start to get more and more confident you are able to do more and more things. If you want a full rundown on how to get better flying a drone check out my other article where I go through the skills and steps that you need to go through to get better at flying a drone – click here for the article.

How can I get better at flying a drone - header

Learning to fly your drone better in the shortest amount of time involves:

  • deconstructing what you actually want to achieve
  • learning how to self correct
  • joining a community of drone flyers that can help you
  • taking breaks

I go through all of the steps in the article, above. It may take a little bit of time to really push your skills but with an old drone your get there faster than if you are using your brand new precious drone.

Fishing drone

You could use your old drone as a fishing drone. Flying out over water can be a relatively scary proposition for drone pilots. If you make even the smallest of mistakes it could end up in the water and be completely irreparable.

If you have an old drone it is likely that your anxiety around losing it is much lower. As long as you have a drone which has got a dedicated third-party bait release system.

There are an increasing number of attachments for common commercial photography drones that can carry and drop bait. Here are some of the most popular:

Gannet release systemsWebsite link
O’woda Mavic 2 Drone Airdropper Clip Amazon link
Top Race Drone Clip Remote Control Object LauncherAmazon Link
Sky RiggerWebsite Link

You have to make sure that with all of these gadgets that they are compatible with the model of drone that you are using and that they are fully tested before heading out into the ocean! A couple of dry runs on land will make sure that you won’t have to suffer the pain of watching your drone swimming because of a silly technical error.

If you want to know more about the best drone for fishing check out my other article – the best drone for fishing the top products and information.

Trade up your drone

Another option for you other than selling is to use DJI’s trade up service. This service allows you to trade in your current DJI drone and receive in-store credits towards the purchase of your new DJI drone.

You almost certainly won’t get as much money for your drone using this service but if you want it to proceed smoothly using this service means you don’t have to deal with annoying buyers or customer service when people are asking for information about the drone.

If you don’t mind a little bit of administrative work and dealing with customers I think that the best route is for you to sell your drone privately which means that someone gets a drone for a reasonable price and you get to use more money to purchase the drone of your dreams.

Electronics projects

Just because your drone no longer works as a drone doesn’t mean that there aren’t valuable electronic components inside your drone. If you have a camera drone there are plenty of options for you and some of my favourites have been found on YouTube.

Typically, for small electronic projects you need a micro screwdriver set as well as a simple and basic soldering iron for connecting wires and other components together.

When I was a child, I really enjoyed taking apart electronic items to see how they would work. Sometimes, I would be able to get them working again but other times I just had fun trying to make sense of all of the components as they were coming apart.

With a little bit of supervision some of these small drone electronic projects are perfectly suitable for children. You can turn this into an educational experience as well as a fun project for both you and your children.

Kite camera

One of the easiest projects to start with is using the camera component of the drone to capture footage and photos from a Kite.

If your drone is small enough – like a pocket drone – you will not need to do anything other than strapped the drone to a kite and, as long as the wind is strong enough – your drone will be taken up into the air.

If your drone is a little bit heavier you may need to strip back the components to the camera and a light lithium polymer battery. With a little bit of soldering and electronics knowledge you will be able to create a custom unit to send up into the sky on a kite.

Here is a YouTube video where people were able to do exactly that:

sending your drone camera up into the sky, weight is meant to be, can be a very rewarding experience for everyone involved.


Drones fly because they displace a lot of air. If one of the propellers on your drone is not working it is unable to fly because of the imbalance of forces. However, that doesn’t mean that the other propellers can’t be put to good use.

In this YouTube video, below, you can discover how to turn a broken drone into a hovercraft. The team at Make Science Fun have been able to turn a common inexpensive drone into a hovercraft which is fun to drive on flat surfaces such as a sports court.

For a full rundown on how they do this you can watch this YouTube video:

With an old donut container, some bamboo skewers, a little bit of garbage bag, and some creative gluing the team is able to turn a gadget destined for the bin into an exciting new toy.

Spy/CCTV Camera

The camera is an incredible component of the drone. Depending on the type of drone you have it can be up to 4K resolution which means that this is perfect for turning into a spy cam or a CCTV camera for your home.

By extracting the camera and gimbal module from the drone you may be able to get up to a USB cord and allow you to record and watch the first person view camera stream on your mobile device – just like you would during your flight.

By connecting to a lithium polymer battery – or a USB power source – you may be able to fashion yourself a very crude and rudimentary camera.

In this YouTube video, they were able to run a drone camera simply by connecting to the battery.


There are plenty of things you can do with an old drone. Really, you need to ask yourself whether or not the drone is in a workable condition – this tells you whether or not is capable of being sold or rented out to bring in a little bit of money to offset the purchase of your new drone.

You can also use the drone to extend your capability as a pilot and also turn into efficient drone by buying a simple and relatively inexpensive dropper to send out over the water. Using your old drone will drastically reduce the amount of anxiety you feel about sending your drone over water.

If you are feeling more adventurous you can also take the drone apart and either sell the parts on several forums or you can take the drone apart and turn it into a new gadget altogether.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton is a Drone pilot, Writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. His drone footage has been featured on TV (ABC Documentary) and he has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He has been a drone pilot for many years and has flown many types of drones.