As far as aerial photography and cinematography go, the drone’s gimbal is what makes it pop. It utilizes calibrated electronic motors and intelligent sensors which automatically compensate for any movement the computer detects across all three axes.
Gimbals also reduce vibration and keep your camera stable despite the drone’s movement. All these parts conspire together to give us some of the smoothest and most unique images captured today in pictures or videos.
Drone gimbals are very sensitive, and a variety of issues could develop when calibrating or flying your drone.
In this article, we’re going to help you identify and resolve the major gimbal issues encountered when piloting your DJI Mini 2. Don’t miss it!
To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.
Gimbal Motor Overload (Error code 40003)
The first gimbal error we’ll look at is a very common one and is also usually an easy fix.
It comes up when the gimbal struggles or is unable to support the camera or camera lens. This can cause the camera to vibrate or shake erratically, leading to poor images.
1. Gimbal Obstruction
The gimbal overload error could arise when starting up your drone and your gimbal is blocked by a foreign object.
This will affect the startup sequence and calibration of your drone gimbal and lead to an overload error.
To avoid this, ensure that before takeoff, there is plenty of clearance, and be aware of your surroundings to make sure the object is blown toward the takeoff point of your drone.
Get rid of any foreign objects found around your drone before takeoff and moving forward, try to get a landing pad.
I would say this is probably one of the most essential tools to have as far as drone safety and preventive maintenance is concerned.
2. Heavy Accessories
Adding third-party accessories such as ND filters and lens filters could add extra weight that the gimbal cannot support.
Improper installation of these accessories could also affect the weight and balance of the gimbal, leading to an overload error.
To resolve this, make sure all filters are properly fitted and installed onto the camera and make sure to only purchase accessories made by DJI or DJI-approved manufacturers for the DJI mini 2.
Generic filters (one-size-fits-multiple) are usually not the best options. Also, be more specific when selecting your accessories.
Weight distribution has a huge effect on the balancing and leveling of your gimbal. If you still see the overload, try taking off without the accessories.
Over time, as you fly your drone more and more, dust, dirt, and other foreign materials build up in between the gimbal arms.
This debris adds extra weight to the gimbal and impinges on the freedom of movement of the gimbal arms, leading to flutter(vibrations) and a gimbal overload error.
Get a compressed air duster or an air blower pump and use it to flush out any debris between the arms of your drone gimbal.
Be careful when holding or rotating the gimbal, and gently feel for any roughness or limitations when trying to rotate the gimbal about its axis. Then use the air duster appropriately to flush out debris.
You can find a very helpful tutorial video below to guide you.
4. Loose or Damaged Hardware
Hard landings, crashes, and landing on uneven terrain could damage or at the very least, knock parts out of alignment.
Inspect your drone, ensure no loose screws or fixtures, and adjust accordingly should you notice anything out of order.
If the damage is too much to fix with your tightening of screws or fitting parts in place, then a gimbal replacement would most likely be needed.
5. Gimbal Cover
It might seem silly to some, but this is actually one of the most common mistakes made by pilots.
If left on during startup, a gimbal cover will restrict the gimbal movement and give the overload error. The gimbal cover is only meant to protect the gimbal while the drone is in transit or not being used.
If left on, the gimbal calibration sequence will not be completed, and an overload error could be encountered. If this happens repeatedly, the gimbal motor is in serious danger of burning out, rendering it useless.
To prevent this, always take off your gimbal cover when setting up your drone for takeoff (make a takeoff checklist if you must).
The DJI gimbal stuck error appears when something hinders the gimbal’s movement. This is pretty similar to the gimbal overload error in terms of causes and solutions.
Still, the main thing to notice with this error is that the gimbal movement is restricted entirely.
Causes: Most of the causes of the gimbal stuck error are similar to those of the gimbal overload error, so please refer to the list above and resolve accordingly.
Note: The leading causes for error codes 40002 and 40003 are mechanical and hardware-based, but before and after troubleshooting, a successful gimbal calibration should be done. Before doing this, ensure your firmware is up to date to avoid any calibration errors.
Gimbal Calibration Error (Error code 40021)
As you would have as guessed, Error Code 40021 occurs when there is an unsuccessful calibration of the drone gimbal. This is commonly due to hardware issues such as those which could lead to the errors 40002 or 40003.
Visually inspect the gimbal and camera for damage.
Should your gimbal be in good condition with no physical damage to the hardware, then scroll up and follow the steps listed above and then recalibrate your drone gimbal.
How To Calibrate Your Gimbal Correctly
- Make sure the drone battery and controller are charged to an adequate level, preferably above 50 percent each.
- Place the aircraft on a flat, level surface and power on the aircraft.
- Clear the area of any obstacles or debris, and place the drone on the landing pad if available.
- Launch the DJI Fly app and ensure the app and firmware are up to date.
- In the Live View on your phone or smart controller, select the three dots (…) in the upper right corner to open the menu.
- Switch to the control tab, and scroll down to gimbal calibration.
- In the prompt that comes up, you can choose between Automatic and Manual Calibration.
- Your Mini 2 will automatically start to realign the gimbal. The calibration process is not a long one and should take no more than a few minutes. Once completed, the successful prompt should come up, and you can now fly your drone.
- If you are unsuccessful with the automatic calibration, or you find yourself dissatisfied with the results, restart the calibration process above, and when asked, select MANUAL instead of automatic calibration.
- On your screen, you should have two fields for horizontal and yaw angles with the possibility to increase or decrease the value.
- Pick an object or the horizon in front of you as a reference and adjust the gimbal horizontal/yaw angles till the view is level and to your satisfaction.
In the case where after a visual inspection of the drone, you noticed visible damage, you will need to replace your gimbal.
Replacing drone parts or making repairs on your own is very delicate, and we recommend seeking help from a professional, preferably by contacting DJI technical support or by reaching out to an authorized technician.
Some of you may choose to do the repairs yourself. We’d recommend avoiding that unless you’re very good with your hands, have the required tools, and can get access to authentic DJI parts.
DJI Mini 2 Drone Gimbal Replacement
Should you open up your drone and perform repairs yourself, you will most definitely void your warranty, so be careful! No matter how experienced you are, this is a semi-expensive piece of equipment, so treat the gimbal with care.
After the gimbal replacement, calibrate your drone and gimbal and then try to fly. If an error prompt comes up, try a full factory reset of the drone before seeking professional help.
Required tools: Amazon Basics 32-Piece Electronics Repair Screwdriver Set (see below).
How to Factory Reset your Drone and Controller
Before making any hardware changes to your drone and even after, ensure there are no software issues and the firmware of your DJI Fly app and drone are compatible and up-to-date.
A factory reset could also help. Here’s how to go about it:
- First, download and install the DJI Assistant 2 program on your device.
- Connect your drone to your laptop, and wait for the software to detect your drone.
- You’ll be able to see your drone on the Connected Devices screen. Select your drone.
- Click on Firmware Update.
- After that, you’ll be able to see the “Restore factory defaults” button.
- Click on the factory reset button and confirm when you are asked to confirm the reset. A progress bar will pop up. Do not disconnect until the process is completed successfully.
- Calibrate the drone and gimbal after resetting before use (follow the steps above).
Gimbal Unable to Connect (Error 40012) and Gimbal IMU data error (Error 40021)
Error 40012 and 40021 are issues that commonly arise after the replacement of the drone gimbal or the replacement of the camera.
If your hardware replacement was done by DJI or an authorized technician, then try updating or downgrading firmware depending on which is suitable for your drone and phone.
If problems persist, return the drone to the service center.
It’s most definitely a software issue, and DJI has its specific program for resolving issues like this. It arises because DJI parts have unique IDs, and changing parts leads to a desynchronization of paired components.
For example, the IMU–which is a device that measures and reports the specific gravity and angular rate of an object to which it is attached–has a unique ID attached to it that matches that of the gimbal attached to the drone from production.
Should the gimbal be replaced, the new gimbal will need to be synced with the IMU of the drone (the leading cause of error 40021).
If your gimbal replacement was a DIY project, refer to the videos below for some insight on how to resolve this.
If you’re more of a hardware technician than a software (programming) whiz, you will have to visit a professional.
Note: The average cost of DJI gimbal replacement with labor could be up to $400 with DJI or an approved technician, and if done by yourself could be about $100 to $200 cheaper.
Hopefully, you never run into any of these errors or at least any serious ones, but I hope we’ve been able to enlighten you on various gimbal-related issues on your DJI drone and how to fix them.