I spent years and years on toying with towels that I used for excursions to beaches, boxes made of cardboard and virtually anything that I happened to get in my way, I decided to construct a dedicated drone landing pad.
Most of the locations that I use to fly my multi-rotor drones in, tend to have rather rough surfaces. Hence, more often than not, I find myself caught in the grips of a dilemma where I have to decide which spot would be suitable enough for a proper drone takeoff and landing. Even if by sheer force of good fortune, I am able to unearth a piece of land with a level surface, I cannot end up launching my drone into the air without kicking up a huge cloud of dust as soon as the propellers start rotating. I spent years and years on toying with towels that I used for excursions to beaches, boxes made of cardboard and virtually anything that I happened to get in my way, I decided to construct a dedicated drone landing pad.
Here are my requirements
I scoured through the market to find a commercially viable drone launching pad that I could use before latching onto the idea of building my own pad. I did come across a number of drone launching pads on the market, however, none was good enough to suit my needs. Firstly, all of them were too small in size in accordance with my preferences. If I decided to go with circular drone launching pads of 16 inches (406mm) or 20 inches (508mm) diameter, there was no way to avoid kicking up large clouds of topsoil in the air when I decided that it was time to fly my larger machines. Moreover, most of the commercial pads that I came across were not solid enough and so I thought that they might not be able to sustain the hardships of a rugged, rough terrain.
As soon as I came to the decision to construct my own drone launching pad, I had a look around in my surroundings to ascertain which materials did I have in my armory. Since I wanted a sort of drone launching pad that was weather resistant and could not be affected by variations in weather, so I decided not to choose wooden materials at all. On one of my trips to the local Tractor Supply Company store, I was suddenly hit by a superb idea. There in the store, stacked in the shelves for sale was a 0.5 inches (13mm) thick rubber mat with dimensions of 4” (1219mm) x 3” (914mm). This is quite a huge size and I never wanted a launching pad of such a large size. So, I thought to myself that it could work if I cut it down to the size that I needed. So, I paid $20 for it and decided to see how it went.
When I picked up the mat to load it onto my truck, I was shocked by the fact that it weighed around 40 pounds and I certainly was caught by surprise. This was quite a big piece of recycled rubber pad. I hoped that once I cut it down to my required size, it was easy to transport from one place to another. I took it to my home and there I figured out that I could cut it down to build three drone launching pads of substantial sizes. I constructed one larger pad of dimensions 3” (914mm) x 2” (610mm) and two pads of dimensions 2” (610mm) x 1.5” (457mm). I was of the view that the larger pad could work really well for drones of the 350mm class and larger sized multi-rotor ships in rough terrains. I could use the smaller pads for relatively smoother surfaces or specifically for my racing quadcopters.
I employed a commonplace cutting knife to make the two cuts. I had to make a number of swipes of the knife to cut all the way down through the thick recycled rubber. But it was quite easy. If you are someone who believes that something is better than nothing, you may consider your project done and dusted here. Cutting a big piece of mat to transform it into three smaller mats is not a big ask or shouldn’t take a lot of time. However, I decided to use some of my creativity to further personalize my pads.
I have quite a big collection of spray paint in my garage. I planned to use them to add some color and vigor to my drone landing pads but I was quite skeptical about the fact that paint would remain there permanently. In the past, whenever I tried to paint flexible objects, I found out that the paint tend to flake all too soon for my liking. However, then I discovered that rubberized spray paints had been introduced on the market to paint flexible objects in addition to other types of things. I made my way to the Home Depot and purchased three cans of
Now, I needed to prepare the pads for the paintjob. So, I scrubbed them real hard with a brush and a dish soap. Once the mats got dry, I began to mask off my design utilizing a 2” (51mm) wide FrogTape. The top layer of the recycled rubber boasts a prominent texture. So, it was always going to be a big ask to get an edge seal of good quality with the help of the tape. I was kind of hoping and keeping my fingers crossed that the paint was thick enough so that it didn’t bleed through the tape and render the painted lines mugged up.
White, red and grey paints are what I went for. I was quite skeptical that the red paint would be able to cover the black underneath appropriately. In order to prevent this from happening, I applied a few coats of white paint to the rubber mats. This turned out to be an undercoat for the spots that were painted red and grey in the later iterations. Simple masks of foamboard severed really well to keep white areas that were to remain white.
Almost when I was finished applying the white base coat, I found out that I had masked one of the edges incorrectly. I had, by mistake, managed to paint an area that was supposed to stay unpainted. However, it wasn’t an issue since you could easily pull off the paint onces it was dried. Once I was done with the paintjob, I cut the edge border in accordance with the shape that I wanted and pulled off the part of paint that should not have been there. Notwithstanding it didn’t get peeled off in a single sheet, it was quite a mundane affair to be candid.
I took care that I closely paid heed to the instructions stipulated on the paint can and was quite satisfied with the result. The texture of the painted along with the unpainted was quite similar. While removing the tape that I had used for masking, paint didn’t get peeled off from some of the areas. So, I used an X-Acto blade along each of the borders of the painted areas before removing the tape. The painted borders were not as brightly colored the way I wanted them to be, but I thought that I could live out with them. I might go for a liquid mask for my next pad so that the rubber mat’s texture does not cause any trouble the next time.
I have only managed to paint one of the drone landing pads so far. However, I plan to decorate my other pads in the future. I have used landing pads of both sizes and I have been quite satisfied with the result that I got. Despite a weight of 20 pounds, the larger pad is not that difficult to handle. As a matter of fact, due to the weight of the pad, it can lay rather easily on top of long grass on the ground. Another exciting thing about the larger pad is that it is able to get fit in the rear compartment of my van rather easily. In fact, more often than not I leave the pad on my vehicle to ensure that I do not forget it whenever I go out for my drone adventures. It also acts as a handy surface that does not let other things slip when I am hauling them in.
If you are someone who has had difficulty locating an appropriate drone landing pad, you could go for the similar type of pad as mine. As is the case almost invariably, adopting the Do-It-Yourself approach always turns out to be affordable, easy and churns out results the way you want in contrast to the options available on the market. However there are plenty of cheaper options available in the market when it comes to drone/helicopter landing pads, you can grab them, check out best drone landing pads below.
If you go for the abovementioned models, you will certainly not end up losing your investment. You can check out our blog to get access to more reviews on the latest products on the market.