When Drones attack! (or more likely, when people attack themselves though stupidity)

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(Warning: This post contains graphic images that show blood and fresh wounds and my be disturbing to some people.)

The most dangerous part of any UAV is the operator or programmer. Failure to pay attention, or double-check your surroundings, or your power systems, or your control system, can have catastrophic results for you the operator or for innocent bystanders.

But to be sure, the person most likely to be injured by a UAV is you the operator. Fingers are cut or lost, arms and faces slashed all due to negligence on the part of the person most likely to get close to the craft while it is powered, once again you the operator.

SO how do we avoid the carnage?

Step 1: REMOVE ALL OF THE PROPS WHILE THE CRAFT IS NOT PLUGGED IN.

Step 2:  Once step 1 is complete, literally anything else! because nothing horrible can happen.

Drops-MicBy following these 2 rules the worst thing that can happen is a shock due to faulty wires (surprising but not likely to scar you.) Or if you have long hair, it could get caught in a motor. And that’s it! Problem solved,
mic drop.

If you follow the rules above, in order, you will avoid almost 80% of injuries that happen in the remote-controlled aircraft hobbies.

My incident:

(Warning: The images below will show in detail the injury that i suffered from spinning 9″ props. These images show blood and fresh wounds and my be disturbing to some people. Viewer discretion is advised.)

I was finishing up with a new UAV project in my kitchen one night and was showing it to my wife. (Yep, I had an audience for this one…) After showing her some of the cool remote-controlled features of the craft i realized that the motors were armed and thought “Hey, I’m done showing off the crafts remote features, i will just turn off the controller so i don’t accidentally bump the throttle!” Genius move, forgot about the “fail safe”.

Back story on the fail safe:
I have had crashes in the past due to a loss of signal so in an effort to avoid having craft fall from the sky like a brick, I set a “fail safe” in my receiver. This fail safe protocol meant that upon a loss of signal from my transmitter, my craft would pop the throttle to medium and go into a slow turn to allow me to regain control before it hit the dirt.

The instant my transmitter turned off the craft sprung to life. Before I even knew what happened I had about 10 very closely spaced cuts in my arm and one very deep gash. The angle of the prop had the craft digging trenches up my arm and towards my body. What saved me was the fact that as this project was incomplete. I had not yet built a holder for the battery and therefore was holding the pack  in my hand. Had I not been holding the battery, my craft would have kept going and reached my upper arm, face, and neck within fractions of a second.

once the craft reached the end of the battery wires it pulled loose of the plug and fell to the ground silent just as fast as it sprang to life. I looked down and saw that I had a gash in my arm deep enough to see my tendons, fat and open blood vessels. This was bad.  I was in shock and my wife, who was watching the whole show was frozen in fear.  My first reactions were pressure, elevate, lay down, so I did not pass out. a neighbor was called and a trip to the emergency room ensued.

I got the bleeding stopped and the emergency room doctor put me back together again as best he could. I have no feeling around the cut due to nerve damage in the tissue but the scar looks bad ass. (I have to create a better story for how it happened, I’m thinking “Shark attack”)

In the end, all of this could have been avoided if I followed the 2 rules above. None of what I was doing needed a prop on the craft. This was just me, in a hurry, not paying attention.

Be smart, take your time and NEVER arm you craft with props on while you are working on them. It takes just a few minutes to remove your props and can be the difference between a fun time working on your hobby and a long day/night at the hospital or worse.

Keep flying, and stay safe,

-Joe

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About Author

Owner at @HarperInc, CRM and sales Automation evangelist, Daddy, Maker, Photographer, and Blogger. Joe loves novel things and nuanced ideas. If you have one share it with me and i just might post about it! Location: Atlanta, GA

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