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DJI Mini 2 SE No GPS (Explained)

The DJI Mini 2 SE is one of the most affordable drones ever released by DJI.

DJI Mini 2 SE No GPS (Explained)
Image: Dan Bayne

As a successor of the Mini 2, the Mini 2 SE packs some newer technologies, and it’s a great beginner drone, which we utterly recommend.

But sometimes, with drones, we may have issues. As this issue is not particularly the fault of your DJI Mini 2 SE, if you get no GPS on your drone, don’t panic.

We’re here to help.

But why would the DJI Mini 2 SE fail to acquire a GPS signal or enough satellites to benefit from its functions?

DJI Mini 2 SE relies on GNSS: GPS + GLONASS + Galileo for its return-to-home, hovering, and many other functions. The drone may fail to acquire a signal for many reasons, ranging from obstacles, metal structures, or GPS module failure to even solar storms or atmospheric interference.

Let’s troubleshoot this together and see why your Mini 2 SE is failing to acquire any GPS signal.

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Why do I need GPS on my drone?

A GPS module on a drone is a crucial part that makes it fly the way it’s supposed to.

With a sufficient lock onto satellites, the DJI Mini 2 SE can provide reliable location data for many functions and safety features.

When you launch your Mini 2 SE, you should get at least four satellites but should ideally lock on to at least seven for a solid, stable connection.

Having GPS on your drone will help you with the following:

  • The drone’s return-to-home function can be used, and the drone autonomously finds its way home (take-off point) and lands. Without this module, you will have to bring the drone back manually and land, which is not always a good option.
  • When you lose signal with your drone (e.g., get out of range), your Mini 2 SE should kick in the GPS failsafe rescue and bring the drone back to you. With no GPS, you’re in trouble if you lose signal to your drone; it will either hover or land instead. Or hover until the battery is depleted and then land in a location far away from you.
  • Stable hovering depends on many functions, swift calculations from the drone, sensors, and, mainly, a strong GPS signal. Without the signal, your drone will have an issue hovering or flying steadily and can easily drift off.
  • Some intelligent functions will work only based on a solid GPS signal. So, forget about QuickShots if your drone lacks any satellite signal.
  • You will also lack the mapping solutions, flight log, altitude, and geo-restriction unlocking.

These are only a few of the core characteristics that can be out of play on your DJI Mini 2 SE if no GPS signals are present. 

So, always keep an eye on the numbers near that little sign of a satellite on your drone’s live view mode.

» MORE: DJI Drones: You Need This Many GPS Satellites to Fly

Can I fly my DJI Mini 2 SE without GPS?

Any drone can be flown without a GPS signal, not only the DJI Mini 2 SE. 

However, doing so may come with disadvantages and overall risks.

Remember that your drone may drift slightly, especially when flying higher above the ground where the downward vision sensors do not work. 

Also, you will have to take off and land your drone manually, and always keep your drone within sight for a robust video and radio link with you.

As we mentioned above, the worst part is that you cannot use the RTH function, nor will your drone return to you if you get out of range.

This could be problematic for beginners and advanced pilots alike. We rely on this function to fly our drones on a daily basis, as it is the most crucial safety function to keep our drones safe in the skies.

When flying indoors, the DJI Mini 2 SE and most drones will fail to acquire any satellites. But sometimes they do; that’s why disabling the return to home function is essential in this case.

You don’t want your Mini 2 SE RTH to kick in and attempt to ascend to the set altitude, requiring your light bulb to cope with rotating blades at over 10,000 RPM.

» MORE: Can You Fly a DJI Drone Without GPS? (Explained for Beginners)

Why doesn’t my DJI Mini 2 SE have a GPS signal

Now, if you are indoors and your DJI Mini 2 SE does not acquire any satellites, that’s normal. Usually, buildings, especially metal structures, block GPS signals. So, no panic here.

But if you’re outdoors and you see a big zero near the GPS icon, then it’s a problem.

So, let’s see what may cause this and how we can fix it.

Check the environment and possible obstacles

Sometimes, the location where you want to take off your DJI Mini 2 SE may be the problem.

Did you try to take off in an empty field with no structures or obstacles nearby? Or was it in an urban environment?

Buildings and trees can significantly impact your DJI Mini 2 SE and how it acquires GPS signals.

If you try to fly inside a large city, consider that a congested area with so many devices locked into GPS satellites may create a blockade where you won’t be able to acquire as many GPS satellites as in an open field.

Interference can also cause your GPS module to go haywire. With many WiFi routers and radio signals in congested areas, it will affect your ability not only to fly the drone long-range but also to acquire satellites.

If this is the cause, try again to go to an empty field or hill with fewer obstacles around and see if this impacts your drone’s ability to acquire a GPS signal.

Generally, GPS satellites are available in most parts of the world, but there always could be gaps.

Have you ever driven your car with a navigation system that sometimes loses its GPS signal? The same can happen with a drone or any other device trying to acquire enough satellites to make it work.

So, consider high-interference areas, obstacles, and sometimes satellite gaps that have an impact on your DJI Mini 2 SE’s ability to acquire a decent number of satellites.

» MORE: DJI Mini 3 Pro No GPS (Explained)

The compass can affect your GPS signal near metal structures

Flying a drone near a metal structure (e.g., dome) impacts your drone’s ability to acquire a GPS signal. 

The compass can go haywire near metal structures, and with the compass being affected, the GPS module will have a hard time locking on to satellites. 

Calibrating your compass while flying near such structures could solve the issue, but only partially. Many times, it solves nothing, and the best approach would be to move away from such metallic structures.

If changing location is not an option as you have to use the drone there, fly cautiously without GPS, but be aware your drone is at risk.

» MORE: How to Calibrate a Drone (Ultimate Guide)

Issues with firmware updates

Here, we have two scenarios, which are more likely why you cannot acquire any GPS signal with your Mini 2 SE or you’re getting weaker signals.

  1. You recently updated the firmware of your drone, or, 
  2. It has been a while since you updated your drone.

With our DJI drones, we rely a lot on firmware updates from DJI to fix and improve their products. Unfortunately, not all the updates are perfect, and sometimes, they can affect the drone’s ability to fly as intended.

If you have updated the Mini 2 SE recently and suddenly you get no GPS signal, that may be the cause. On the DJI forum, many drone pilots often raise these issues with random drones from the entire DJI drone line, so these issues could be widespread.

Sometimes, rolling back the firmware to a previous version can fix the issue.

On the other hand, if you have not updated your drone in a while and one or more firmware updates have been released for the DJI Mini 2 SE, but you’re still having issues with the GPS, then it is time to update the drone.

Remember that this is one of the most common issues: DJI drones fail to acquire enough satellites or GPS signals because of outdated firmware.

If this is the case, it’s time to update your DJI Mini 2 SE and remote controller.

» MORE: How to Downgrade Firmware on a DJI Drone

Your GPS module could be disconnected

Have you recently crashed your Mini 2 SE or transported it over long distances in a backpack, car, or other form of transportation that could impact the drone’s integrity or electronics?

The GPS and IMU module could come loose and have inadequate contact, rendering it useless.

However, this would be easy to notice as, when you turn on your Mini 2 SE, you will get a series of errors with specific codes.

All errors will have a designation, so it’s an good approach to note those and search for the specific error to find its meaning.

» MORE: What Are GPS Drones, and Why Does It Matter

Less likely scenarios

Did a recent solar storm happen?

If you remember, not so long ago, a major solar storm brightened the night skies across a lower latitude, making the aurora borealis visible from almost any part of Europe and more. 

Such solar storms have significant impacts on GPS satellites. In fact, any solar storms affect the satellites, and many devices will have a hard time acquiring any GPS signal.

If you were trying to fly your drone during that time, I would be surprised if you managed to get a lock on any satellites.

While stronger solar storms can even affect power grids, weaker ones often affect the GPS satellite system.

While this is a less likely scenario, if you found yourself in the middle of the field trying to take off your drone and nothing else is wrong with it, but you can’t lock in any satellites, this could be a possibility.

» MORE: DJI Transmission System (Everything You Need to Know)

Atmospheric conditions may impact GPS signal

Photo by Gabriel Mihalcea

This is yet another less common cause, but sometimes, in areas with overall weak GPS signals, clouds and other atmospheric conditions can have minor to moderate impacts on your Mini 2 SE, or any other drones, to acquire satellites.

Electrical storms can also have moderate to significant impacts on acquiring satellites.

But I guess you may already realize that if there’s a thunderstorm and you want to take some epic lightning shots while getting an error code 30007 or 30008 (GPS signal low or no GPS signal), then this could be the cause.

» MORE: Drones and Thunder Storms Don’t Mix

Failed GPS module

Yet another less likely scenario that could happen with your Mini 2 SE is that the GPS module is “fried.” 

Any type of electronics has a lifespan; although they’re supposed to last for many years, from a manufacturing defect to literally one million reasons, the GPS module could fail.

This probably is the ultimate less-like scenario, as it’s infrequent for a GPS module to be rendered useless. It’s more common for the flight controller and motors to get defective over time, though.

Even with a defective GPS module, you should still be able to fly the DJI Mini 2 SE without GPS, but you’ll probably get a series of errors pointing the issue out – and this is the most crucial part:

If you get any errors on the DJI Mini 2 SE live view screen (on your phone, DJI Fly App, connected to the DJI RC-N1), search for those error codes as they may hold your answer.

» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in the Rain? (Explained for Beginners)

What happens to DJI Mini 2 SE if I lose GPS when flying?

When you launch the DJI Mini 2 SE or, for that matter, any DJI drone, and you get a warning that there’s a low satellite connection, you have to think twice about how far you should fly.

That’s because two scenarios could happen here: 

  • The GPS module will be able to gain connection to more satellites, and your drone will fly as expected
  • You can lose connection to the already-locked satellites, so you may get no GPS.

In the event you get no GPS signal when on flight (always check the number of satellites and color-coded satellite icon), you should manually return your Mini 2 SE back to you as soon as possible.

In this case, if you lose connection to satellites, the return-to-home function will definitely not work, and the same goes for rescue by RTH in case you lose signal with your drone and all the other smart features that rely on GPS.

Your drone will also start drifting because it can no longer depend on GPS for good hovering stability (unless you’re flying low above the ground to rely on the downward vision sensors).

But don’t worry; your drone will not fall out of the sky. 

» MORE: How Drones Can Hover (Explained for Beginners)

DJI Mini 2 SE and GPS – what else you need to know

The DJI Mini 2 SE GPS module functions on a Global Navigation Satellite System: GPS + GLONASS + Galileo. But shortly, what are those?

  • The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a U.S.-owned utility that will indeed work globally and can pinpoint any device locked into it with great accuracy.
  • GLONASS is another global navigation satellite system, but it is of Russian origin and is an alternative to GPS.
  • Galileo is the global navigation satellite system created by the European Union and went live in 2016, so it’s relatively new. The Galileo system has greater accuracy than the GPS, within less than one meter, and a signal-in-space ranging error (SISRE) of 1.6 cm.

Therefore, the Global Navigation Sattelite System (GNSS) is fully functional on the DJI Mini 2 SE.

All three global positioning systems can work together, helping the drone (or other devices) pinpoint accurately on a centimeter level almost anywhere on the planet.

» MORE: Is DJI Mini 2 SE Good for Beginners? (Hands-on Review)