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DJI Mavic Pro Gimbal Repairs

Mavic Pro Repairs

In this post we will be replacing the DJI Mavic Pro camera gimbal ribbon cable. While the DJI Mavic Pro is rapidly becoming one of the most popular drones among enthusiasts and pro’s alike, it’s also among the more difficult drones to work on, and replacement parts are nearly impossible to come by. Despite sporting forward facing obstacle avoidance, the Mavic Pro’s camera is incredibly prone to damage. In fact, nearly all Mavic Pros we see on a daily basis have some type of camera related damage.

Mavic Pro camera connections

In this post we will be removing the gimbal to perform a repair. Gimbal damage can cause some extremely small and fragile connections to become severed resulting in a loss of video, loss of stabilization, or both. This customers Mavic still had a working video feed. We sourced a replacement gimbal ribbon cable to restore the gimbal’s stabilization to factory performance. In this image we have removed the top of the Mavic to reveal the very thin ribbon cable connections.

mavic Pro Gimbal

After removing the screws that secure the gimbal mount as well as the electrical connections, the gimbal can be removed from the aircraft. To separate the gimbal from the mount, we use tweezers to carefully unhook the vibration isolators. The ribbon cable we will be replacing is easily recognized by the white writing.

DJI Mavic Pro Gimbal

With the gimbal removed and rotated, the interconnect panel above is visible. Notice the multi-strand cable toward the center left. This is the HDMI ribbon cable which carries the video. Fortunately this cable is intact. These individual strands are nearly impossible to repair if broken.

DJI Mavic Pro Ribbon Cable

With the mount separated from the gimbal, the ribbon cable is more easily seen. This cable is approximately six inches in length and has numerous connections which must be routed carefully through various openings. Since all 3 axis of motion rely on this cable, any damage will render your mavic useless. The design leaves much of the cable completely unprotected as it wraps around the lens with slack to allow for unrestricted movement. Pictured here is the end of the cable prior to removal.

Mavic Pro ribbon cable

With the cover removed, the multi-strand HDMI cable is exposed. Notice the black ribbon cable which wraps around and across before terminating into a silver tab located in the open rectangle. This is just one of several connections which must be carefully handled both during removal and reinstallation of the new ribbon cable. It’s worth mentioning that the HDMI cable can easily be damaged from handling or while reinstalling the covers which can pinch the strands.

Mavic Pro disassembled

With the ribbon cable replaced, we reinstalled the gimbal and reconnected the wires. We powered it up, confirmed the gimbal was operational, and went the extra mile for our customer by updating the firmware. After the update, all sensors were calibrated and the aircraft was test flown. Best of all, the entire repair was completed the same day our customer dropped it off for repair.

For guaranteed repairs in record time contact AerialPixels or visit our Los Angeles location in person. 800-411-9635

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Inspire 1 Repair

We received this Inspire 1 for repair and thought it would be cool to show a few images of the repair process. The crash damage was extensive and is a perfect opportunity to get an inside look at the Inspire 1. Once we received the aircraft, a detailed estimate outlining all the repair costs is emailed to the customer for approval. We sourced the internet for replacement parts and received them in 3 days. This repair took aproximately 90 minutes to complete and the customer was back in the air in less than a week!

Inspire 1 retractable mechanism repair

The crash damaged the retractable landing gear lead screw. Unfortunately this component cannot be repaired and must be replaced. This part routinely sells for nearly $400 dollars. We were able to locate a brand new one for our client for $160.

Inspire 1 battery compartment repair

Also damaged in the crash is the forward battery compartment upright. This component is located directly below the copper tabs that engage the battery pack. The pins displayed here align with holes in the Inspire 1’s white canopy and keep it aligned. Since these are bent, the Inspire canopy appeared to be twisted.

Inspire 1 battery compartment replacement

The electronics distribution PCB board was transferred from the plate with the bent pins. Due to the location of this component, all electrical connections in the Inspire 1 must be carefully reconnected. The cables going to the GPS and the vision positioning system are especially fragile due to their length being “just long enough.” The GPS cable on this aircraft was damaged and was repaired in house to brand new condition since a replacement was unavailable.

N1 Lightbridge antenna connections

The N1 flight controller includes four antennas. These must be carefully removed before setting the N1 aside to replace the retractable landing gear mechanism. Any sharp bends or kinks in these cables will result in decreased range.

Here we can see the Inspire 1 with the N1 flight controller removed.

Inspire 1 repair

After completing the repair, a full system check is performed. Firmware updates are installed, followed by an IMU, GPS and camera calibration. A test flight is then performed.  This Inspire 1 is ready for action once again. Total repair time including shipping of parts was 4 days and we saved the client $250 off the parts.

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Obstacle avoidance – The end of crashes?

DJI Mavic Pro

Are crashes a thing of the past? While obstacle avoidance should reduce the likely-hood of piling your aircraft into the ground, there are many scenarios where these safety measures will fall short. When in doubt, consult the manual included with your aircraft or at least watch some crashes on YouTube for your model. While this post doesn’t address every possible scenario, I do hope to outline the majority of reasons you should be on the alert even when flying an aircraft with avoidance.

Small obstacles

Tree branches and twigs are a nightmare for avoidance systems. Their round shape and small cross section are practically invisible to sonar. Forward facing avoidance cameras are unlikely to lock on, especially if they enter the field of view suddenly or from slightly off center.

When it’s off ( No kidding )

Sounds crazy but yes, people often will disable the avoidance because they’re intentionally trying to fly through or near something on purpose. A good example of this would be when you’re trying to get a close look at the roof of your house or want to fly past an object of interest to jazz up your next video clip. Often avoidance will ruin these shots, causing your aircraft to stop suddenly when you don’t want it to. Pilots in these scenarios will disable avoidance and forget it’s off.

Indoors

Avoidance systems rely on an array of sensors with different capabilities. Low light or low contrast surfaces have posed issues in the past and will continue to in the future. Avoid surfaces that are glossy, all one color or places poorly lit.

High Speeds

Depending on your model, flights at high speed can render avoidance useless.

Over Water

Water is especially good at confusing downward facing cameras and sonar, especially if there are waves.

Backlit shots

All cameras must have good exposure to work well. While sunsets are glorious, the glare can defeat even the most robust systems currently available.

Pilot Error

The biggest problem with avoidance systems is that pilots get a false sense of security. Assuming a crash is impossible causes many pilots to fly without fear. Even worse, some pilots will make it game to fly towards objects or people to demonstrate the avoidance capabilities. Always consider these avoidance systems to be emergency backups to safe piloting practices.

 

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Joe Papa joins AerialPixels!

Joe Papa

Listeners of his original Multirotor Podcast and the current dronelife podcast know Joe as one of the most well respected drone gurus around. The technical expertise and piloting experience he shares has helped thousands of listeners around the globe. After nearly a year of preparation, Joe has made the 3200 mile trip across the country to Los Angeles to join the AerialPixels team as our Operations Manager and in house drone instructor! Stop by and meet Joe in person at our location in LA!

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Soldering Workshop for Radio Control Models

Soldering service for headers

Are you tired of feeling like your hands are tied when it comes to soldering wires on your radio control model? Come join us at AerialPixels for a hands on workshop. In just 90 minutes you’ll learn how to solder like a pro!

Learn to solder the most common R/C related components such as:

  • Bullet connectors
  • Deans 
  • Motors
  • Speed controls
  • FPV gear
  • Wire extensions
  • Capacitor packs

In addition, we’ll cover soldering iron maintenance, care, safety and accessories. Students attending are invited to bring their own irons if desired. Shop soldering irons will be available. The soldering workshop is limited to 10 students. Just $99

Soldering workshops will be held on Saturdays at noon. Please arrive 30 minutes prior to start time for setup.

To reserve your seat, call 800-411-9635 or go to AerialPixels.com and look for Training under our Services.