The drone industry is getting bigger than ever. While most drones are now capable of defying rain, some can deliberately go for a true dive. This opens the potential for more versatile applications with lots of different perks.
Today, I’ll talk about one of the most acclaimed drones in today’s market. The DJI Mavic Mini is valued for its high-quality video transmission and the small, convenient size.
Does the Mavic Mini float? No, not on its own, however, there are several helpful float kits that can be installed to make your Mavic Mini float. In this article, I’ll review some of them and give you general tips for a better experience. Let’s see!
How do Float Kits help?
A float kit can be the saving grace for your Mini. Firstly, it is just really neat to be able to land on the water, turn the camera down, and look to see the fishies below. Secondly, it can be a great fail safe when flying over water even when you don’t intend to land.
Take a look at Jonathan Leal’s youtube video below. His Mini had some sort of error and went into a slow automatic landing. Luckily, the old rice trick saved his drone and it lived to fly another day. Some may not be so lucky and if he had a float kit the drone would simply be floating on the water.
The first float gear in my list is released by StarTrc, a Chinese company that has been in the RC field for about 8 years. However, they don’t actively sell their products in the US anymore. That’s why you’ll see this kit under a bunch of different sellers on Amazon. None of these sellers does any adjustments, though. All these kits are 100% similar. They run you just over ~ $20 ish.
The only reason why I picked Tomat was because of the fact that it has the least negative reviews. That should decrease the possibilities of shipping faulty parts and whatnot. And it’s prime…who doesn’t love prime shipping?!
The StarTrc kit comes as 3 parts: a plastic frame and two foam cylinders.
Over the top of the frame, there’s a removable arch with a width and height that perfectly fits the fuselage of the Mavic Mini.
Installation couldn’t be simpler. You’ll just adapt that arch over the drone and fix it in place with the attached screws. There are no special tools needed in that process.
Lucky for us, the plastic frame is designed with lots of holes to keep the weight as low as possible.
With 2.5 ounces, this kit won’t affect the maneuverability of the drone. Nevertheless, StarTrc advises against using this kit when your battery goes below 30%. This is actually understandable because even those couple of ounces can pose a risk if the propellers lose momentum.
In his video, Phillip Skraba landed his StraTrc-equipped Mavic Mini two times onto a local lake. The process went smoothly without major problems. Still, there are some points that you should take into consideration.
Compatibility With the Sensors
When you install the kit in its ideal position, you’ll notice that the frame covers a tiny part of the sensors. That might prevent the Mavic Mini from landing properly on its own. Skraba had to manually pull his drone down to successfully complete the process.
But to be fair, this might have to do with the sensors themselves. Their ability to detect the water surface can be hugely affected by water reflection, depth, and the presence of waves.
You can’t expect zero problems with the wind after installing those large foam cylinders on each side. The bigger surface area will leave your Mavic Mini more prone to being carried away by strong breezes.
That said, you can’t really trust this kit to go for high altitudes. If something goes wrong up there, you might not have enough time to react before the drone hits the ground. You should use this kit at a reasonable height directly over the water surface. Once you’re ready to get back to the land, take it off.
There’s nothing that secures the foam floats to the frame aside from the expandable arms. Generally speaking, that setup is acceptable. The floats can never be detached while the drone is flying.
However, if you have a rough landing that moves the floats without you noticing, this might compromise your drone’s balance when it takes off again.
Think about it. Having the floats shifted a bit toward the front or back will shift the drone’s center of gravity. StarTrc should’ve used a more secure method. Make sure you adjust the floats and have you Mini perfectly balanced before you attempt a water landing, otherwise you will be flipping into the water!
In one of the Amazon reviews, a pilot proposed a clever trick. You can use a couple of zip ties to squeeze the floats securely onto the frame. You can also follow Skraba’s advice and mark the perfect position of the frame over the floats to instantly notice if something goes off.
There’s a well-known English manufacturer for drone parts with the name “RCGeeks”. They don’t make floating kits, though. Although RCGeek seems like a knock-off, it has enough positive reviews to be trustworthy.
At first glance, the RCGeek kit looks way cooler than StarTrc. The frame is made of plastic, but it’s colored in a silver tone that gives the impression of sturdy metal construction. When installed, this kit fits stunningly with the drone. Unexperienced folks might even think this kit is an integral part of the Mavic Mini.
Less Splashes With Higher Frame
The most notable difference between the two float kits is the frame height. When the Mavic Mini lands on water with the RCGeek, its base will be away from the water by about 2.3 inches. This should guarantee the least amount of damage due to water splashes.
This also opens the potential for more versatile use. Be it grass, snow, or even sand, the sensors and camera will steer clear of any damage.
In an attempt to cut down on the weight, RCGeek didn’t include any screws in their design. The frame parts attach via quick-release buckles and the drone is held in place with a rubber band.
As you can tell, such a design isn’t the best in terms of safety. As mentioned above, the taller frame can make the center of gravity higher and therefore make the drone more likely to tip over upon landing.
Does the Mavic Mini float? No, but it can with a standalone float kit. The TOMAT Mavic Mini Water Landing Kit is the current best. It ensures safety and performance at the same time.
If you want a more versatile potential, the RCGeek Landing Gear Floating Kit should help you land over snow, grass, and sand.
Remember, the Mavic Mini isn’t waterproof. So it’s better to avoid pushing it deliberately onto the water. Think of those kits as life vests to save your drone after unplanned accidents.