How to recover drones or other things stuck high up in a tree!

How to recover drones or other things stuck high up in a tree!


If you have hobbies which involve things that fly, then chances are that you’ve had something like this happen to you. Getting your projects down when they become stuck in trees is difficult and frustrating. We’ve had this experience a number of times in the past, and we wanted to share our solution with you so that you may benefit from our design, no matter what project you need to rescue from a tree. In this video we will show you how to build and how to use our Tree Recovery System, which is easy and inexpensive to make and works amazingly well. Stay tuned, that’s all coming up next! To make your own Tree Recovery System you need to obtain a few simple supplies. Latex Surgical Tubing Electrical Tape A fishing reel with line String Rope Some dowels for the projectiles. A 1″ Diameter Pipe about 3 feet in length. We use PVC. Now we can begin the construction! The first build step is to fasten the fishing reel to the pipe about a foot from the bottom. Use electrical tape strips to hold it in position and then give it a good tape wrap to make it a permanent joint. Next, take about 2 feet of the surgical tubing, fold it in half to find the center, and temporarily tape the center over the end of the pipe just below the fishing reel. Fold the ends of the latex tubing along the sides of the pipe and hold them in position with a strip of tape. Leave 2 to 3 inches of latex protruding past the tape. Now you permanently tape the latex tube to the sides of the pipe with a firm wrap of electrical tape about 3 to 4 inches wide. Fold the loose ends of the latex tube back over themselves and apply another tight wrap of tape to cover the folded ends completely. Remove the temporary tape from the middle of the surgical tubing and the launching device is complete. Now you just need to make some projectiles for it. The projectiles are made by cutting the dowels about 2 feet in length. To improve the range and accuracy of the projectiles you can tape a weight onto the tip. Screws, washers, coins, or a even a small stone will work well for this. You only need one projectile, but it’s always a good idea to make some spares in case they get lost when using them. The Tree Recovery System is finished, and now ready for use. When we were filming our Mobius Tower Camera video, we had the opportunity to put the system to use and show how it works when a large tree decided to grab our Water Rocket, including 3 onboard cameras and our Homebrew Altimeter, which we really wanted back. Tossing a rope at pull the rocket down proved to be a futile effort, so we had to drive all the way home and fetch out Tree Recovery System. The general idea with this system is that we can very accurately place our rope so that we can either hook the rocket directly, or hook the branches supporting it and shake it loose. Here is a demonstration of how the system is operated. Take one of the projectiles and tape the line from the fishing reel to the tail end. The line should be taped firmly but should pull free in the event that the projectile gets stuck in the tree. The projectile is inserted tail first into the top of the launcher. Grasp the projectile as it comes out of the bottom of the launcher and pinch it with the latex tube. Pull back and stretch the latex tube, similar to the way you would arm a slingshot. Take aim down the barrel of the launcher and release the projectile. If you miss the shot, you can quickly reel the projectile back in and try again. Once you have placed your projectile in the desired location, you can let if drop to the ground and pull it off then tie a string to the fishing line. Then, you tie a rope on the other end of the string. When you reel in the fishing line, it pulls the string through the branches, then the string is used to pull the rope through the branches last. When you have the rope where you want it, you can then use it to pull your object or shake your object loose from the tree. With a little patience and persistence, you can recover just about anything. We got lucky and our rocket was set free without a lot of violent shaking. But when we did recover it we noticed that one of the onboard cameras had been knocked loose. We were very fortunate to find it on the ground underneath the tree. When searching for the camera we noticed that sometime in the past someone else with a rocket must have fallen victim to the same tree. If this happens to belong to you, drop us a line and we’ll return it if you want it back. Before the end of this demonstration we just want to remind you to use common sense and be safe when using this device. Do not use it where the projectile could hurt someone or damage property, and never use it around power lines! If you liked this video, you will definitely like some of the other videos on our channel, like the examples shown here. If you like these types of videos, then don’t forget to subscribe to our channel, and as usual: Thanks for watching! See you next time.

100 thoughts on “How to recover drones or other things stuck high up in a tree!

  1. Thnx guys, I recovered the drone of my son with your recovery system !!! I have one very, very happy son thnx to you guys !!!

  2. Thanks for sharing your idea….I stuck a new drone in a tree at a height of 50+ feet. I tried throwing sticks, rocks and baseballs at it and luckily missed. There was no way I could even come close to hitting it. It got dark and so I had to quit the rescue attempts. I got online and found your video. I made the identical device with parts I had at home and $4 for the PVC pipe and dowels. The next morning, I used the device as shown in your video and I got the drone down in 4-5 shots. It was very accurate and it took a couple of tries to place it properly. A quick inspection of the drone showed no damage and I was back in the air. Thanks again for posting this video.

  3. I have drone about 65' up in a oak tree it's a few days later now. It a little to high for an acurit throw with a rope. I though my only other hope was to send another drone up with a sky hook on it. ha ha sounds way too risky. can't wait to try this. thanks for the great idea.

  4. Retrieved my "new" drone 40' up in a tree using your design this morning. Had to try 3 times to go over the right branches due to windy conditions. Drone crash landed on pavement and was destroyed. Anyhow, i needed the remains to claim insurance that covered the replacement. Works out perfect. Thanks for the video.

  5. Thanks so much! I got my drone stuck in a tree yesterday 70 feet up. We went out and bought all of the supplies and made the launcher. It was very time consuming and took a lot of tries but it worked!

  6. Looks like a great idea for rescuing a drone
    Do I need to suspend a tarp or light netting under the tree to prevent hitting the ground and damaging my drone?

  7. Great video – I had a drone in a tree about 50 ft up. Made your device and in two shots later I was catching the drone as it fell from the tree.

  8. Built one today. After reading all the comments I thought I'd add my 2 cents.

    I wound up building mine with about 12" of surgical tubing exposed on each side.. After re-watching the video today, you can see that he only had to pull back about a foot to launch. He recommends starting with about 2' in total and that's probably optimum. You want to be able to fully load the tubing in a shorter distance than the length of your projectile. (I was using 36" 5/16" dowel so I could stretch it about 2.5 feet.) I might be able to get a little more distance but with 8" per side you can get plenty high and it will be easier to shoot. I may clamp mine shorter.

    After reading a few other solutions, I bought 125yds of 50lb test SpiderWIre coated braided fishing line. ($11 at Walmart.) It has same diameter at 17lb mono and it plenty strong enough for shaking most branches (I'll probably prove myself wrong next flight.) Just know that it's strong enough to cut you, so wrap it around your launcher or a stick or something before you start shaking. It spools great on a spinning reel. I think in many cases this will let the user skip the steps of dragging heavier line and rope up into the tree.

    I already had my dowels in the car, but when I was at Walmart they had some "youth" arrows in sporting goods with a nice blunt weighted end. They were about 2.50 each. I'd probably buy those and trim the feathers next time out. small diameter and very straight. Notch might be a problem, but I haven't ruled out putting a small string loop on the tubing. Hopefully I'm done fishing in trees and this thing will gather dust. I had to buy 10' of surgical tubing so I may experiment a bit. I like this method because you're not going to knock someone out or break a window (hopefully) with a a light dowel free falling. A little weight on the end gives accuracy. The main reason I'd want to go heavy is if I was concerned about the dowel not falling down. If you can shoot past the branch to open sky it shouldn't be an issue.

    In closing, thanks to USWaterRockets for sharing this video. It's a good concept. I considered a cheap crossbow and may still try one, but this launcher is effective and legal everywhere.

  9. After having my quad stuck in a treetop for 3 days during some really bad weather I was finally able to get it down today, thanks to your simple yet effective contraption!
    Thanks a lot for making this video!

  10. Very genius, I've been an avid target archer all my life, and when I was a young kid we used to shoot arrows out of a wrist rocket sling shot. I have several of those and am thinking about adapting a reel to it and using an old arrow.. Thanks for the video.

  11. Great video guys, I can't wait to try this tomorrow. Quick question, why are do you recommend tying the String to the fishing line, then the rope to the string? Why not just stick with the string?
    Thanks for your feedback.

  12. Just a Thank You for taking the time to post your idea and device build. Had my toy quad land in a pine 30-35' up, stuck, and this made it so easy to get it down. Lucked out and 1st shot looped the branch and was able to shake it loose. Thanks again.
    https://youtu.be/46zhmn4Fa1E

  13. Excellent! Potentially one of the more valuable videos on youtube and that's saying a lot.

  14. you guys saved my hubsan h501s got it from a 100ft tree. It took only 1 hour with 6 attemps. much love for your idea!

  15. Has anyone tried a medium sized fishing rod and reel with heavy line 25/30 lb test works well .this combo has not failed me yet ,hell I climbed one Tree to get a thirty dollar toy but i do not recommend climbing it is ,to dangerous stick with the fishing pole or make one of these OR STAY AWAY FROM TREES WHEN FLYING PERIOD .THANKS happy and safe flying to you all

  16. Far out man, I just got my drone MaVIC stuck in a tree about 100 feet up I wonder if this thing will shoot that  highThanks a lot

  17. Great! Just need to get the supplies!
    "…And never use it around power lines."
    What did I watch this video for?

  18. Pull mine out of a 70 foot tree … even slid right down the para cord. No damage other than the GPS holder. Great video!!!

  19. Just saved mine from a 140' high in a tree. Thank you for this! I used a bow and arrow though, took 2 hours but was well worth it!

  20. Is there any reason you couldn't use an inexpensive bow and arrow to achieve the same result? Functional youth bow-and-arrow sets can be purchased for less than $20, and would be a lot easier to aim.

  21. Hey, quick question for USWaterRockets or anyone who has built this device, what is the approximate range of this? My drone is stuck in a tree probably 80 feet up, and I was curious as to whether or not my efforts to build this would be in vain or if it is worth the trouble. Thanks in advance!

  22. I use a pistol sized crossbow with 50 lb firewire fishing line, it is much lighter than regular 50lb fishline. Your idea is probably much more legal than mine but I doubt yours would reach a 60 foot target. I am looking at mabe making a C02 type recovery system using air instead of a rubber tube or actual weapon. I had to recover on school grounds once,good thing it was summer and a very rural school. Still made me nervous using a pistol type cross bow on school grounds, but hey, I bagged two rabbits and a squirrel for dinner( just kidding)

  23. Thank you for this video!!! A friend got his drone stuck in a tree, and we retrieved it with about 7 shots into the tree. We ended up with two ropes crossing over the top of the drone, and it came down and was caught before it ever touched the ground. It was actually kind of fun using this.

  24. I can't thank you enough; brilliant, awesome, cheap, easy, effective, got my drone out of a tree fifty feet up in limbs over-hanging a busy road; third shot went right through the prop guard and I was able to gently lower it to the ground, drone works fine, and your invention works AWESOME! Thank you again, I went from total sadness to total happiness, because of your effort, thank you, very, very appreciative 🙂

  25. How high do you think this device will go? I got a drone stuck about 75 feet and im searching for rescue options.

  26. ok thats weird because i’m pretty sure i found a drone in a mountain it was bigger than yours i’m only 10! i have proof i will make a video on it

  27. Not sure if anyone is still answering to this video, but here goes: I've got my drone stuck in a tree with pretty dense branches. Would this method work to retrieve it? Doesn't the projectile constantly get stuck in the branches?

  28. Just tried this. Drone got stuck 50 feet high in tree and this video was very helpful. Have my drone back safe and sound.

  29. Thank u so much for this i bought an inexpensive (70) drone i love it had it for 3weeks I've gotten it stuck in 4 different trees each time until the fourth tree i managed to get it out this last tree over 50 feet grabbed em 2 days ago i got on line day1 and found this video and built tha device i did see a comment suggesting using a 28 inch dowel and armed it wit 8 washers to tha center of tha tip and i managed to get over 100feet no bs amazing i couldn't get the fishing reel to work so i drilled a tiny hole through tha tail of tha projectile and tied mason string to it and laid it on tha ground right nx to me and fired i got it down after 2 shots and shook it out lucky there weren't but one other branch jus under it to go through but it came down and this device is A1 thank u for this i will keep builing on tha one i have

  30. Thank you so much for sharing this. I followed your instruction and made one myself with slight differences. Recently we had a drone stuck on the tree and this kit works great in rescuing it. Thank you so much once again.

  31. Awesome! This just worked to get my X-vert VTOL out from 60 feet up! Thanks so much for this great project. Now we are trying to get my buddy’s quad out. We sorta wrapped it around the top of the tree while trying to bring a line up to the branch mine was on last night. A bigger challenge and we are currently on a sunstroke break but we’ll hit it again soon, almost there…

  32. Probably safer than my pistol cross bow. It works great, but considered a legal weapon so make sure if you use a pistol cross bow, never use it on school property or in a park.

  33. Just want to thank you dearly for this. I used a 40lb fishing wire and didn’t use a fishing reel…after 5 attempts got the spot I needed to be, threaded the rope broke the branch off and got my drone and RC plane out of the 50ft tree they got stuck in. Got the plane stuck first and then the drone I used to try to recover the plane. Can’t express my happiness right now haha

  34. Got my quad stuck up a huge tree yesterday and after making your recovery harpoon today I was able to get it!!! Thanks a lot, great vid 🙂

  35. Been trying to use this method, with no luck yet – close though. How do you manage to get the string and rope through without getting the line snagged up on surrounding branches? I'm having a difficult time with this! Is it just a matter of time and patience?

  36. Did something similar but have used a crossbow pistol or a slingshot shooting a fishing weight. Your idea looks much safer.

  37. Yep I'm learning to fly a drone and today it went to close to a tall fir tree,, I think I will try and build you drobe retriever,, thanks for the info!

  38. What a genius idea, I crashed my DJI Mavic Air while testing out Sport mode (highly not recommend for beginner) last weekend. I lost control of the drone, it crashes into the pepper tree about 30 high. I spend hour try locate the device, but have to give up before it is getting dark, desperately I drive home afterward. Then my brother shows me your video, I come back a week later with the tool setup as your instruction. I have to break down some big branches to clear the area, there it is, sitting on top of a Y branch just like a perfect landing. One, two and three attempts I get the arrow and the fishing line over the branch where the drone sits with the (second arrow) – I would not make it with one arrow as you suggested. Long story short, any one has had crashed your drone into a tree, this is the ultimate inexpensive home made device. It costs me $30 for all the material to build. 
    Thank you for sharing – what a day in the wood!

  39. Nice solution to have always with you in the car 😉
    Just another option: good old bow and arrow set from kids store does the same if you are in a hurry 😉

  40. Thanks for this video My Drone And New 4K Camera was stuck in a tree about 60 feet for 4 days and I tried everything, found this Video built the same setup as you guys and got my drone down on the second shot and was able to catch the drone before it hit the Ground. Awesome helpful video. Thank you.

  41. Thanks USWaterRockets! My drone was 90 feet. I couldn't get the dowel that hight, but used a bow and arrow instead. Followed all the other advise and got my Mavic Pro down! It had footage from a music video pro shoot I had just finished when I got stuck, so this saved my professional rep as well! Brilliant ideas from smart people, I thank you very much!

  42. Just wanted to Thank You for your post. I watch your video and made the exact same rig and retrieve my drone out of a tree that was about 30 to 40 feet up in the tree. I really appreciate you making the video.

    Thanks Again

  43. Got my h501ss stuck 60 feet up in top of a live oak tree. Found your excellent video, made a dowel shooter and recovered my drone after only two shots. Thank you for the great idea! Drone only suffered one damaged prop😊

  44. Building this today! I was thinking of making a potato gun, but that's overkill. This is much easier to make and use. Thanks!

  45. I made one of these. It seems to work well but it did cost me 35 bucks to make and I have no fishing reel either. The latex is expensive and I got this from Home Depot because no other place sold the latex. It seems to work well. It would still save me from buying a new drone in case it works.

  46. brilliant!, easy and effective. Worked first time! drone was 40 ft in the air! smashed to pieces when landed. Might want to figure out a safety catch net. The only thing I would add is I used 3/8" diameter dowels.

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