Early on in my MTU hunting career it became apparent that the majority of abandoned MTUs are either empty, or hold very little loot. I wanted to keep some steady ISK trickling-in to help pay for ammo and other expenses, so I wouldn’t completely burn through the liquid ISK I had set aside for this project. I decided, then, that it was a good idea to subsidise my MTU hunting with the additional activity of scanning down and scooping abandoned drones.
Drones have many uses, from aiding you in combat, to increasing your mining yield, and beyond. One thing that all drones have in common though is that they are often left abandoned, intentionally or otherwise, by the person who deployed them. I like to think of them as lost children, orphans, who need someone to help them find a new home, that home being the Jita marketplace. Most often they are abandoned because someone was careless and forgot to retrieve their drones before warping off from a mission and completing it, but there are other possibilities too, such as the person dying in a mission. Abandoned drones along with an abandoned MTU, in a mission site that still has active rats in it, is a good indicator that the mission runner died in the mission and their wreck was sucked into their own MTU; I’ll go into more detail on this phenomenon in later posts.
Scanning down drones is a lot harder than scanning down MTUs, unless you’re trying to scan down a ‘Magpie’ MTU, those are notoriously difficult to scan. Because of how time-consuming it can be, it’s worthwhile setting yourself a limit on which drones you should scan down, and which you should ignore. I personally go for any T2 or faction drones I see on scan, I only go for T1 drones if they’re medium, heavy or sentry ones, and only if I’ve had bad luck finding anything else that day. I’ll only scoop T1 light drones if I had accidentally scanned them down instead of a different set of more expensive ones.
Note: You do not gain Suspect Status (yellow blinky/flashy) for scooping drones, so you can do this ad infinitum with very little risk.
Cleaning a system of all those extra scan signatures can be a very satisfying thing indeed, it can also be very profitable. One time, whilst exploring an empty system on the outer reaches of Amarr highsec, I found 5 ‘Augmented’ Vespa drones, which sell for around 12m ISK each (at the time of writing this). That’s 60m ISK earned in a couple of minutes, just from scanning down random stuff. I also found an abandoned Occator just 2 systems away, that day was a profitable one to say the least.
Incidentally, the best places to find abandoned drones tend to be the systems that have level 4 security agents, and the systems surrounding those.
Whenever I pop an MTU filled with loot, or scoop a large amount of drones, I dump it all in the nearest station and then I use a hauler to go around collecting all that loot later on. After spending some time (read: a few days) hauling over a month’s worth of stashed loot back to Jita, this is what my hangar looked like:
That’s over 600m ISK from casually scooping drones in highsec, over a period of around a month and a half. Not a bad little side-income, and yes, people do leave Geckos out there too.