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Are fishing drones waterproof?

In this article we explore in some detail about the water resistance of fishing drones, which ones are and are not water resistant, and also discuss what an IP rating actually means. You will notice that we prefer to use the word water resistant, and you can read more about why we do this below.

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The SwellPro models have a good level of saltwater splash resistance

Fishing drones fit into two groups: those that are designed to handle some rain and water spray, and those that are not.

Fishing Drone models not designed as water resistant

Models such as:

..are not water resistant and should therefore not come into contact with saltwater. It is worth noting also that some of the models above like the Aeroo range do have a level of corrosion resistance and are mentioned as weather resistant in the specifications.

Fishing Drone models with some level of saltwater resistance

Alternatively, are these models:

..are all designed to take some level of contact with saltwater.

There are different opinions as to how important it is for a fishing drone to be water resistant. The jury is still out on this point and it really comes down to personal preference at the end of the day.

The Water Resistance of a Fishing Drone

The fishing drone models on the market (from the list above) are technically classed as water resistant, meaning that they will “resist water entry” but are not 100% sealed. Generally this means that they will take water spray and splashes over external parts, as long as all external doors are all tightly closed (ie. battery compartments, seals, and all screws are done up properly).

One reason that fishing drones can’t be sealed is that these drones are fitted with a Barometric Membrane (or some sort of valve) – we discuss this in more detail in another article.

Important to look for in a fishing drone is if the battery has a good seal protecting it once it is locked into the drone. Models like the new Swellpro Fisherman Max have excellent battery sealing.

So, what is waterproof?

Often, internationally, products are referred to as waterproof. However, there is a big variation in opinion as to what that actually means. It is always best to instead reference the IP ratings. Some refer to the “waterproof rating”, which is actually just the IP rating (discussed below). For these reasons we prefer to use the terminology “water resistant”, indicating that it will “resist water entry”, but is not likely to be 100% sealed against water ingress.

Manufacturer’s marketing information

Some overseas manufacturers sometimes mention that their products are waterproof, and are IPX6 or IPX7. From our own experience, we have not found a fishing drone that you would risk fully immersing underwater.

Even IPX6, which is a slightly lower rating than IPX7, requires that the drone stands up to high power jets (ie. being in surf conditions), and still keep water out. However, we don’t personally think it is possible to keep water out of the inside of a drone under these conditions. Yes, maybe you get lucky… but bear in mind that any drone that takes reasonable water force is likely to get water inside it.

These days, we see several New Zealand local agents for fishing drone brands indicating that their models are IPX4 or IPX5 in their marketing material for their drones. In our opinion, this is a smart move as it doesn’t over exaggerate what the drone is capable of.

Both of these ratings (IPX4, or IPX5) mean that the drone will stand up to rain, and some degree of water splashes, but not water immersion or reasonable water force. Please bear this in mind if you are looking at a fishing drone, and please use information provided by the local drone agents or local manufacturers rather than anything from overseas.

IP Ratings

IP actually stands for “Ingress Protection”, so let’s go into some more depth with information around IP Ratings.

It is an international standard for rating to what degree a product will take dust and water contact before there is finally some level of water (or dust) ingress. It’s pretty easy to understand what these numbers mean, generally the lower the number the less it restricts water (or dust) and the higher the number the more it restricts water (or dust).

The first number is a dust rating. This is the level that a product will take dust contact before it becomes a problem. The higher the number the more dust resistant the product is.

The second number is a water resistance number. Like the dust rating, the higher the number the more it will inhibit water entry into the product. This number can go from 1-8, with 8 being a pretty impressive, where a product can be immersed in more than 1 metre of water for 30 minutes.

So you might find a drone is IP65, meaning that it has a dust rating of 6, and a water resistance rating of 5. Sometimes, if the Dust rating is less important, a product might just be mentioned as IPX6.

A helpful article, with more information on IP levels and what they actually mean, can be found here.

Corrosion resistance

When choosing a fishing drone, another important factor to consider is: how the drone’s external parts stand up to a saltwater environment.

As many people know, Saltwater is extremely damaging to metal. So it’s important that fishing drone manufacturers think about this when deciding on motors, wiring, cameras, screws, bolts and other external parts. The use of non metal parts and materials like stainless steel can really help limit corrosion on the external parts of your drone.

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