Wondering how to find lost drone without tracker? Here are a few methods you can use to locate your drone without the help of the drone’s tracker.
As a drone owner, you have made a significant investment in your flying companion. Naturally, you must be highly passionate about your possession.
Therefore, it is beyond doubt that the safety and health of your drone are your top priorities. A drone without a tracker flying away on its own can be one of the worst nightmares you may face.
If this describes your situation or if you would like to stay prepared with a definite action plan to face any such unfortunate event in the future, you will find this post very useful.
In this write-up, you will learn some simple steps to trace your lost drone that does not have a tracker attached to it.
How To Find Lost Drone Without Tracker?
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Your drone can be lost due to different reasons like a drained battery, strong winds, software glitches, and flying out of range.
Especially when there is no tracker fitted to your drone, losing your drone can be a heart-wrenching experience you will never want to happen.
However, if this happens in the worst case, you may ask the question, “How to find lost drone without tracker?”
Honestly, no one on the earth can suggest a straightforward method to trace your lost drone without a tracker.
However, if you are lucky, the practical tips I am giving below may help you win back your lost companion. So, gain your spirits and prepare yourself for an adventure.
Ascertain why the drone got lost
It is hard to figure out where and why your drone was lost. But, some important bits of information can help surface some possibilities in these lines.
If the drone had to fly in unfavorable conditions, losing GPS connection is quite common. Otherwise, software or hardware issues or batteries dying out during flight could be the reasons to blame.
Since you are familiar with your drone, you might feel any one of these reasons explain your case more than the others.
Going with some pointers in your mind can be more helpful when it comes to applying the right strategy.
Narrow down the search area
When you have lost your drone, you will never know where it is. However, depending on where it was operated last, you will be able to narrow down the search location.
It will also help in choosing the right strategy. If you find your drone still hovering in the air, it must be your lucky day.
If your drone is lost in unsearchable areas or into water, your recovery mission will gain from a few methods we will learn below.
You can avoid the scenario of losing your drone and never seeing it back by operating it in open spaces free from any such hazards.
Getting started with your search mission
To begin your search mission, go through your camera feed and pin down the last location captured. This will help you decide on the best perimeter within which you may have to search for your drone.
Keep your remote controller ON and start a search on foot. In this way, there are chances that the remote controller will reconnect with the drone if it is found somewhere in proximity.
Metal detectors will be highly helpful in grassy areas. In wooded regions, you will also need to inspect the treetops from the ground.
Simple search for the lost drone without a tracker
Succeeding in your mission of finding the lost drone without a tracker will depend on a few aspects. Under broad daylight, the likelihood of finding your drone is more.
If some of your friends and relatives can assist you in your search, it is all the better. When you go as a team, your search becomes easier while your safety is also ensured.
To track your lost drone during the night, you are at an advantage if the drone is powered on as its lights can beacon you to the drone’s location.
Though the reasons for losing your drone could be many, it is very important that you must never turn off the controller, which will maximize the chances of locating your drone.
As long as possible, it is good to maintain the controller’s connection with the drone. If you ensure this, you have few more ways to try while searching for your drone.
Also, if the controller is disconnected when the drone is still at flight, the drone might power off and fall down from the air.
Boost up the signal and try return home mode
The first strategy you must try is to set Return Home Mode on the controller. If your drone is still within a comfortable range and the connection between the controller and the drone are established, the drone may find its way on its own.
If this can happen successfully, you are the luckiest among those that have lost their drones as this is a rare scenario to expect.
There are some DIY methods to boost up the controller’s signal. Place the controller inside a big metal pot and point the setup towards the drone’s possible location.
The other ways to try are using signal boosters, remote controller antennas, satellites, or drone extenders.
This will help increase the drone’s range and create a possibility to use the Return Home mode more effectively if the drone still remains powered on and is in good flying condition.
Check the flight logs or the data in last known coordinates
If battery draining out is the cause of losing your drone, probably this tip can help you locate your drone. In the majority of cases, the remote controller would have stored the last known coordinates of the drone before it got disconnected.
If you can pick up this data, it will help you or the search team to search in the right location.
In some drone models, it is possible to view the flight records. This data can help in a similar fashion like the last known coordinates if you depend on the data found at the tail-end of the flight log.
Input these coordinates into the GPS app on your smartphone or any other device to find your way to the right location to search for the lost drone.
Though you will have to do the search manually, this information can help you focus on the right location to search.
Scan the area using another drone
If you have another drone with a camera that can fly at a comfortable distance from the controller, you can save a lot of time on your search mission.
By flying the other drone in the area demarked for the search and examining its camera feed, you can survey the entire ambiance including air, land and water.
This method will be especially helpful during the night if the drone is still powered on and its flashing lights are signaling still.
Check the controller’s telemetry information
Irrespective of using any electronic device, a smartphone or a remote controller to operate your drone, most controller apps and displays store telemetry information.
A drone’s telemetry information can throw more light on the distance and direction in which the drone was flying at the time of getting lost due to some reason.
In cases of flyaway drones, telemetry information has proved very useful during many times. This information can guide you in the right direction when you have to search for your lost drone.
If you can reconnect with the drone, you will see the telemetry figures decrease when you approach the drone, making your search easier still.
While searching for your lost drone, telemetry information is crucially important data you can bank on. You can use this information coupled with the flight logs or last known coordinates gathered from the controller.
The whole idea is to use the information about the drone’s last known location and direction so that you can focus on the right area where the drone could be found probably.
Trace your drone using some apps
In some lost drone scenarios, all of the above methods could fail in tracing the lost equipment. In such cases, you may try using some apps to support your mission.
Find My Drone app is an open-source app that is available for free to use on iOS. By connecting your iPhone to your UAV, this app helps in identifying your lost drone’s location.
This app is found very effective in finding lost drones as it works through MAVlink protocol which is similar to the ones used in several autopilot programs. This app can help track your lost drone even when it is out of range.
Find My Drone app can also be depended on to know the current status of your drone like its battery levels. It can also work in cases of drones that have drained batteries since this app is guided by the last known coordinates.
As this app gives out a map of the lost drone’s current location, your search gets easier when you are nearing the drone. By setting the app to manual mode, you can try out different telemetry and autopilot functions.
If you are using iOS, this app is a great companion for you during troubled times. Those owning a DJI drone can use the DJI Go app to recover their drones in the event of losing them.
DJI Go is also an open-source app that you can use to track your lost drone. If you have installed DJI Go app on your smartphone, you will find many of Find My Drone app features in this app too.
How to retrieve the lost drone
If any of the methods we learnt above can be successful in tracking down your lost drone, the question of recovering it is still waiting to be tackled.
If you had operated your drone in a safe area, retrieving your drone can be a simple and straightforward task once you find it.
If your drone is lost in a location that is dangerous or difficult to reach like waters, a tall trees or a steep cliff of a hill, you must ensure that you and your team do not invite any harm during the process of retrieving the drone.
However, since you will be able to ascertain the drone’s exact location, you can adopt some safer and more effective ways to recover the lost drone depending on the situation.
If all of the above methods do not work in your case, you can always try to launch the traditional search methods like creating notices and posts to seek community help. This method can be especially beneficial if your community has a drone enthusiast group.
There are several effective ways to find your lost drone without a GPS tracker attached to it. In most cases, lost drones have been recovered successfully.
When you choose the appropriate strategy that best suits the condition, you can hope to succeed in your search mission and unite with your best companion very soon.
Jon is a passionate photographer and videographer who has been flying DJI drones for over 5 years. He loves the freedom and creativity that comes with capturing aerial footage and the unique perspective it provides. Jon is always on the lookout for new locations to explore and capture with his DJI drones. His favorite DJI drone is the Mavic 2 Pro, which he uses to capture stunning 4K footage with its Hasselblad camera. Jon is always eager to share his knowledge and experience with other drone enthusiasts and is a member of several online drone communities. When he’s not flying his DJI drone, Jon enjoys hiking, camping, and spending time with his family.