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Prevent a crash or flyaway with your DJI drone (the complete guide)

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This guide will teach you everything you need to know about preventing a crash or flyaway with your DJI MavicPhantom, or Spark. If you follow the advice in this guide, you will learn how to fly your DJI drone safely and will greatly reduce the chance of a flyaway or crash.

The tips have been organized into the following categories to allow you to easily jump to a section of interest:

Below is a complete list of tips that’ll be covered in this guide. Either scroll down to start at the first tip or click a specific tip to jump to that section of the guide.

  1. Read and understand the DJI manual
  2. Use the battery level indicator in DJI GO to monitor the battery charge level
  3. The low and critically low battery level settings in DJI GO are only used to display alerts
  4. Understand how the RTH (return to home) feature works
  5. Use OEM DJI props and batteries
  6. Some 3rd party props and batteries look a lot like OEM DJI parts
  7. Accessories installed below the drone can trigger the downward sensors
  8. Compass calibration best practices
  9. Understanding the current altitude and VPS altitude values in DJI GO
  10. Plan ahead for tracking a lost drone
  11. Power on the remote controller first and off last
  12. Verify the vision systems are active
  13. Disable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on nearby electronic devices when flying a drone that uses Wi-Fi
  14. Let the battery warm up when flying in cold weather
  15. Ensure the home point is set before taking off
  16. Accidentally flying into a no fly zone when taking off before GPS data is used
  17. Don’t install new firmware/software when out in the field or right before heading out
  18. Make sure the props are attached to the correct motors
  19. Enable airplane mode on your mobile device to avoid distractions while flying
  20. Use Google Earth to find high obstacles in unknown flying locations
  21. Charge all of your batteries before flying
  22. Check the weather to find any nearby storms
  23. Make sure the drone battery is secured properly
  24. Set the RTH Altitude before taking off
  25. Cache the maps in DJI GO so they can be used while flying
  26. Keep magnetic metal objects away from your drone while it’s powered on
  27. Keep strong magnets away from your drone at all times
  28. Verify the compass is not being negatively affected by nearby interference
  29. Position the remote controller antennas properly
  30. Inspect the props for damage
  31. Make sure the remote controller sticks are properly calibrated
  32. Ascend at full throttle when taking off
  33. Use the attitude indicator to judge the wind speed
  34. Use the Precision Landing feature to allow for a more accurate auto landing
  35. Exiting an automated flight mode
  36. Don’t accidentally initiate auto land in DJI GO
  37. Make it easier to locate your drone in the sky
  38. Don’t fly close to the surface of the ground or water
  39. You’ll likely lose your drone if it crashes into water
  40. Sensors are not active on all sides of the drone in all flight modes
  41. Beware of nearby birds, drones, or other unknown obstacles
  42. Understand how your drone flies when switching between GPS and ATTI mode
  43. Manually reset the home point after moving away from original home point
  44. DJI drones cannot stop on a dime
  45. Loss of live video doesn’t mean the remote controller is disconnected
  46. The controls are backward when the drone is facing you
  47. Flying toward the sun can trigger the front obstacle sensors
  48. Fly VLOS
  49. Always fly LOS
  50. The color of remote controller light show if it’s connected to the drone
  51. Use the map path feature in DJI GO to navigate back to the home point
  52. Use the attitude indicator to steer your drone to the home point
  53. Pay attention to high wind warnings in DJI GO
  54. Strong wind might prevent your drone from making it back to the home point
  55. Use the data on the remote controller screen to navigate the drone back home
  56. Full throttle down can cause an auto landing when using the Landing Protection feature
  57. Sensors don’t work well at night or in poor lighting conditions
  58. Sensors cannot detect all objects
  59. Automated features are not foolproof
  60. Stay clear of no fly zones
  61. Shutting down DJI GO on your mobile device does not disconnect the remote controller
  62. Don’t fly underneath anything that could block the drone’s GPS signal
  63. Pay attention to the messages displayed in DJI GO while flying
  64. Avoid an accidental CSC mid-flight
  65. Don’t assume the altitude displayed in DJI GO is 100% correct
  66. The RTH button on the remote controller still works after the downlink drops
  67. Point the camera down to help find a safe landing spot
  68. Manually take over landing when the drone is in sight
  69. Use a landing pad for Precision Landing or when landing on undesirable surfaces
  70. Point the drone away from you when landing for easier control
  71. Hand catch your drone if it’s not safe to land on the ground
  72. Don’t fly indoors
  73. Use lights when flying at night
  74. Fly with a recommended mobile device
  75. Set up your mobile device properly

Getting started

Before attempting to fly your DJI drone, here are some important things you should know:

1) Read and understand the DJI manual

The DJI drone manuals are full of great information and a must read if you want to have a deep understanding of how your drone works. The manuals are only available in PDF format and must be downloaded from the download pages in the following sections of the DJI website:

Take the time to carefully read the manual in its entirety and learn all of the features and functions within. And read it a second time if you don’t feel like you’ve understood everything the first time around.

Note: DJI created the DJI GO manual to explain the features of DJI GO. It contains a lot more information than you’ll find about DJI GO in your DJI drone manual.

If you have any questions about anything in your DJI drone manual, please ask for help in the DJI Drone Help forum. I’m there 7 days a week (along with many other DJI drone owners) and it’s a place where you can be sure you’ll receive expert and accurate information about your DJI drones.

2) Use the battery level indicator in DJI GO to monitor the battery charge level

The battery level indicator is displayed at the top of DJI GO (see the screenshot below). It shows the current battery charge level and when it’s expected to reach the low battery and critically low battery levels.

It’s important to understand when the battery is going to reach these levels since the drone is programmed to return to the home point or auto land at those points.

Watch this video for an explanation of how to use the battery level indicator in DJI GO.

3) The low and critically low battery level settings in DJI GO are only used to display alerts

DJI GO contains Low Battery Warning and Critically Low Battery Warning settings (see the screenshot below) that allow an alert to be displayed in DJI GO when the current battery charge level reaches those percentage levels.

These settings do nothing but display an alert in DJI GO when the battery percentage reaches the set levels. They do not control when the drone starts returning home or auto lands.

The actual low and critically low battery levels are determined by the drone’s current altitude and distance from the home point and are continuously recalculated throughout the flight. Use the battery level indicator at the top of DJI GO to monitor the battery level and ensure you’re able to get your drone back to the home point by the time the low battery level is reached (or at least before the critically low battery level is reached).

4) Understand how the RTH (Return To Home) feature works

The RTH feature is one of the most complex features of a DJI drone. While it works very well and rarely fails, it can do unexpected things if you’re not sure how it’s supposed to work.

Here are some important things to know about RTH:

  • Make sure you’re certain you know where the home point is currently marked before initiating RTH.

  • RTH can be activated or cancelled from the RTH button (or toggle switch on the P3S or P3SE) on the remote controller. Press and hold the RTH button until the remote controller starts beeping to activate RTH. Press and release the RTH button quickly to cancel RTH.

  • RTH can also be activated and cancelled from the icon on the left side of DJI GO.

  • When RTH is activated, your drone will ascend from the current altitude displayed at the bottom of DJI GO to your set RTH altitude before returning home. If the current altitude is negative, your drone will ascend to 0 feet and then up to the RTH altitude. If your drone is already above the RTH altitude, it will immediately start returning home at its current altitude.

There are many other possible scenarios that could occur when RTH is initiated. Carefully review the RTH section of your DJI manual so you fully understand what to expect.

5) Use OEM DJI props and batteries

Batteries and props are the most important drone accessories since they are the two pieces of hardware that are most often involved in drone crashes. While OEM DJI accessories always cost more than 3rd party accessories, they are known to work very well and they will last a long time if you care for them properly.

If you choose to use 3rd party props or batteries while your drone is still covered under the DJI warranty, your warranty might not be honored if you attempt to make a warranty claim and DJI determines the props and/or battery was to blame. 3rd party props are usually not made as well, are often responsible for erratic/unstable flight, and have shattered mid-flight in some cases.

6) Some 3rd party props and batteries look a lot like OEM DJI parts

If you purchased a used drone or a drone from a seller that is not an authorized DJI dealer, you might have 3rd party props or batteries if your drone came packed in an unsealed box or came with extra props and/or batteries. Inspect your accessories carefully to ensure you’re using OEM DJI parts (if that’s your goal).

You can match your accessories up against the accessory photos in the DJI Store to figure out if they are OEM DJI parts. Carefully comparing the photos side-by-side is usually enough to figure out whether or not your accessories are genuine.

7) Accessories installed below the drone can trigger the downward sensors

If the Landing Protection setting (see the screenshot below) is enabled on your drone (if applicable) and any 3rd party accessories are installed below the drone (e.g. extended landing gear) or are dangling below the drone (e.g. a tracker antenna), the downward sensors could detect those items as an obstacle and be triggered mid-flight.

This accidental triggering of the downward sensors could cause the drone to slowly ascend or switch to forced landing mode and start landing. A sign that this is occurring is when the VPS value at the bottom of DJI GO (see the screenshot below) is showing a value of less than several feet when the drone is high in the sky (or at least above the range of the downward sensors).

If you run into this issue, either remove the offending 3rd party accessory or disable the Landing Protectionsetting if you’d like to keep the 3rd party accessory installed.

8) Compass calibration best practices

In most cases, the compass does not need to be calibrated before flying (even when flying in new locations). While calibrating the compass before each flight won’t cause any issues, recalibrating often does not fix/improve anything.

See the following compass calibration guides for the best known compass calibration practices:

9) Understanding the current altitude and VPS altitude values in DJI GO

The current altitude displayed at the bottom of DJI GO shows the height above the takeoff point (not the height above the ground where the drone is currently flying).

Note: As you can see in the diagram above, the altitude might not be a good indication of how high the drone is in the sky when flying over terrain that is not flat.

If your drone has downward sensors, DJI GO will also display the VPS altitude at the bottom of DJI GO when the downward sensors are close enough to detect the ground (or closest obstacle) below. When the VPS altitude is showing a reading, that’s the best value to use when trying to determine how high your drone is above the closest obstacle below it.

Both of these altitudes are estimated using the on board barometer (for the altitude) and downward sensors (for the VPS altitude), so you should never assume they are 100% accurate.

10) Plan ahead for tracking a lost drone

In many countries (like the US), the law requires hobbyists to fly within VLOS (visual line of sight). That means you must be able to clearly see the drone with your eyes at all times. Even when flying within VLOS, you could lose your drone if it accidentally lands or crashes in grassy terrain or a dense forest (for example).

Consider using some type of tracker if you’re going to be flying in a location where retrieving a lost drone might be difficult. The Marco Polo radio tracker or Trackimo GPS tracker are good options if you could potentially be tracking a lost drone from one mile or more away. The Loc8tor radio tracker is another good option that can be used to track a drone from up to 400 feet away.


Preflight Checks

These tips will help you prepare your DJI drone for its next flight:

11) Power on the remote controller first and off last

Get into the habit of making sure the remote controller is always powered on before the drone is powered on and powered off after the drone is powered off.

When flying your drone, RTH will be initiated if the remote controller connection is lost (like when the remote controller is powered off). While powering off the remote controller shouldn’t cause any problems when the drone is on the ground, there have been rare cases where drones have lifted off and attempted to return home. So, play it safe and make sure the remote controller is powered on any time the drone is powered on.

12) Verify the vision systems are active

The vision systems icon at the top of DJI GO (see the screenshot below) shows whether or not the various drone sensors are being used to detect and/or avoid obstacles. The icon will be green when the sensors are active and red when they are inactive.

If flying in poor lighting conditions, the sensors will be auto disabled. If you’re going to be relying on obstacle avoidance to help you during your flight, then double-check that the sensors are turned on and active before taking off.

13) Disable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on nearby electronic devices when flying a drone that uses Wi-Fi

When flying a drone that uses Wi-Fi (like the Spark and Mavic Air), nearby Bluetooth or Wi-Fi signals can interfere with the remote controller’s connection to the drone. That could create a weak signal, limit your max distance, and/or disconnect the signal and cause RTH to be initiated. To prevent any potential issues, enabled airplane mode on other nearby electronic devices or power them down.

14) Let the battery warm up when flying in cold weather

When flying in cold weather, it’s important to keep the batteries warm. Store the batteries in a warm place (like your pockets) or in some kind of container that’s capable of trapping heat (like in a thermal container).

After taking off, ascend to about 10 feet and let your drone hover in place for a minute or two so the battery has time to warm up.

Note: Batteries will not last as long when flying in cold weather, so plan ahead to make sure your drone is able to make it back to the home point in time.

15) Ensure the home point is set before taking off

If your drone is connected to enough GPS satellites, the home point will be automatically set when the motors are started. DJI GO normally announces when the home point has been set (if the volume is turned up on your mobile device), but you should also look at the map in DJI GO to verify the home point has been set. The home point will appear on the map with an “H” symbol like this:

Verify that the “H” symbol is displayed on the map and that it’s in the correct location. If the home point has not been marked due to a poor GPS connection, then it would be safest to wait until it has been marked (or try manually setting it).

If you must take off before the home point can be set, the home point will be automatically set at the drone’s current location mid-flight as soon as it’s able to connect to enough GPS satellites. That location might not be a desirable landing spot, so you should manually reset the home point if that happens.

Note: If RTH is initiated before the home point has been set, your drone will automatically land at its current location (since there is no home point to return to).

16) Accidentally flying into a no fly zone when taking off before GPS data is used

As long as the GPS receiver in the drone is connected to enough satellites, the drone will be able to track its current location and prevent you from flying into a no fly zone. If your drone manages to fly into a no fly zone while flying in ATTI mode (flying without GPS assistance) and it realizes it’s in a no fly zone after it starts using its GPS data (when switching from ATTI mode to GPS mode), it will auto land at its current location.

Check the GEO Zones map in following section of DJI GO before taking off so you’re aware if there are any no fly zones nearby:

Note: The GEO Zones map is also available on DJI’s website here.

It’s also important to make sure you do not get into a situation where a no fly zone comes between you and the drone’s current location. If RTH is initiated in that situation, the drone would approach the no fly zone and stop once it reaches it since it’s not able to fly into that location. It would then eventually auto land at its current location when the battery reaches the critically low level.

17) Don’t install new firmware/software when out in the field or right before heading out

DJI firmware and software updates are optional, so don’t be in a rush to install them when you haven’t set aside sufficient time. And don’t install those updates right before heading out for an important flight (just in case something doesn’t update as expected).

After installing new updates, take the time to review everything to ensure all is ready to go for your next flight. Installing new firmware usually resets the settings on the drone, batteries, and remote controller, so double check all of your settings in DJI GO after installing new firmware.

18) Make sure the props are attached to the correct motors

On most DJI drone models, it’s not possible to easily attach the props to the wrong motors. However, if you somehow manage to do that, your drone will most likely tip over on takeoff and the props will strike the ground.

The props and motors are color coded so you can easily match up the props to the correct motors. Your DJI drone manual will contain a section like this that explains how to attach the props:

19) Enable airplane mode on your mobile device to avoid distractions while flying

If you don’t want phone calls, text messages, or Internet connected apps to interrupt you while flying, enable airplane mode on your mobile device before taking off.

Note: Your drone is flown with the remote controller, so an incoming phone call or text message on your mobile device will not prevent you from controlling your drone (even if DJI GO is minimized). You’ll be able to control your drone as long as the remote controller is connected to the drone.

20) Use Google Earth to find high obstacles in unknown flying locations

Before flying in an unknown location, you should scout it out so you’re aware of any nearby obstacles or areas where it’s not safe to fly. In many locations, Google Earth can be used to vritually fly over the area and estimate the elevation of the surrounding terrain and obstacles.

21) Charge all of your batteries before flying

Fully charge the drone batteries you’re going to use the day before or day of your next planned flight. While it’s okay to fly with a remote controller or mobile device that’s not fully charged, you should make sure both are sufficiently charged for the flight(s) you have planned.

Note: Your drone will auto land at its current location if the battery reaches the critically low level mid-flight. Always starting with a fully charged drone battery will help ensure the critically low battery level is not reached sooner than expected.

22) Check the weather to find any nearby storms

Flying in rainy/windy conditions can be dangerous. Make sure you check the weather forecast so you don’t accidentally get caught in a storm mid-flight.

NoteDark Sky can be installed on both Apple and Android moble devices. It’s a good source of hyperlocal weather information and it offers down-to-the-minute forecasts. You’ll be able to see exactly when the rain will start or stop, right where you’re standing.

Weather Watcher can be installed on any Windows computer. It’s a good option if you’d prefer to watch the weather from your home computer.

23) Make sure the drone battery is secured properly

Many DJI drones can be powered on even when the battery is not secured properly. The fact that the drone is powered on is not a sign that the battery is secured properly. It’s important to ensure the clips on the sides of the battery are properly snapped into the the drone’s battery compartment so the battery is not able to slide out mid-flight.

Note: If the battery disconnects mid-flight, the drone will drop like a rock from the sky. Such an incident will likely result in a lost drone or a repair bill that costs more than the drone is worth.

24) Set the RTH altitude before taking off

Before taking off, check the Return-to-Home Altitude setting in DJI GO to ensure it’s set high enough for the area where you’ll be flying. Find the tallest obstacle above the takeoff point, and set it to 50 feet above that height. The altitude is usually not 100% accurate, so that extra 50 feet of padding will account for any error in that estimation.

Note: The Return-to-Home Altitude setting is always displayed in meters. Since there is no way to change it to feet, you must always set it in meters.

25) Cache the maps in DJI GO so they can be used while flying

When flying with a mobile device that’s not connected to the Internet, the maps in DJI GO will not be displayed if they have not been cached (downloaded and stored locally). If you know your mobile device won’t be connected to the Internet while flying, then cache the maps in DJI GO like this in a location where you have Internet access before heading out to fly.

Having the maps will allow you to do a few vital things like verify the home point is set in the correct location on the map and see the last known location on the map via the Find My Drone feature if you happen to lose your drone mid-flight.

26) Keep magnetic metal objects away from your drone while it’s powered on

Magnetic metal objects that come too close to the drone will negatively affect the compass. That will confuse the drone and make it impossible for it to determine which direction it’s facing.

To avoid a potential issue, power on your drone when it’s sitting on the ground in a location that you know is free of any nearby magnetic metal objects. Keep in mind that metal could be hiding in nearby objects (like rebar in a concrete sidewalk or driveway).

27) Keep strong magnets away from your drone at all times

Never store your drone near magnets like a subwoofer in a car or on top of a home theater speaker. That could cause the compass to be permanently magnetized until it has been manually degaussed.

28) Verify the compass is not being negatively affected by nearby interference

Check the status message at the top of DJI GO and make sure it’s not reporting a magnetic interference error (like in the screenshot below). If you see this warning, that’s a sign that your drone is near some type of magnetic metal object. After moving your drone to a different location, that warning message should go away.

DJI GO does not always show a warning when the compass is being negatively affected by some type of external magnetic force. So, it’s important to always do these checks before taking off:

  • When your drone is on the ground at the takeoff spot, look at the map in DJI GO and verify that the red aircraft symbol is pointing in the same direction as the drone. If the drone and arrow are not both pointing in the same direction, that’s a sign that your drone is near some type of magnetic metal object.

  • Make sure the red aircraft symbol in DJI GO is not slowly rotating as your drone is sitting on the ground. If the red aircraft symbol is rotating, that’s a sign that your drone is near some type of magnetic metal object.

29) Position the remote controller antennas properly

The remote controller antennas need to be positioned as shown below so the signal remains strong between the drone and remote controller. You might need to reposition the remote controller antennas mid-flight depending on where the drone is positioned in relation to your current location.

Watch this video for to see an example of how the remote controller signal is emitted when the antennas are positioned at various angles.

30) Inspect the props for damage

Carefully check the props for damage prior to each flight. Make sure the edges of the prop are not chipped or cracked and check the hub area (center of the prop) on the top and bottom for any cracks or wear. Replace any props that show any signs of damage.

31) Make sure the remote controller sticks are properly calibrated

If the remote controller is not calibrated properly, the drone could drift when the sticks are in the center of the remote controller or it might not respond quite as expected when the sticks are moved.

When the remote controller sticks and wheel(s) are properly calibrated, the current stick/wheel locations will show 0% in all locations (as long as the remote controller sticks are in the center positions) when viewed in the following section of DJI GO:

Note: The above section of DJI GO can only be accessed if the drone is powered down and the remote controller is connected to DJI GO.

In this example, you can see the right remote controller stick needs to be calibrated:


Taking off tips

Use these tips to safely get your DJI drone off the ground:

32) Ascend at full throttle when taking off

The ground is the largest obstacle you’ll encounter when flying. In order to get your drone away from the ground as quickly as possible, move the throttle stick to the full up position until you drone is about 10 feet above the ground when taking off. At that point, your drone will be safely hovering above the ground and you can perform any needed preflight checks.

Note: DJI GO has an auto takeoff feature that allows the drone to automatically take off and hover above the ground. While this feature is usually safe to use, you won’t be 100% in control of your drone like when using any of its other automated functions.

33) Use the attitude indicator to judge the wind speed

The wind high up in the sky is usually a lot stronger than the wind on the ground. You can use the attitude indicator in DJI GO to judge the strength of the wind by how much the drone tilts as it hovers in place. Watch this video for an explanation of how to use the attitude indicator.

Your drone won’t be able to travel as fast when it’s flying into a strong head wind. If it’s flying slower than usual, that’s another indication that the wind is strong.

34) Use the Precision Landing feature to allow for a more accurate auto landing

When flying a drone that’s equipped with Precision Landing (like the Mavic Pro and Mavic Air), you can enable the Precision Landing setting in DJI GO (see the screenshot below) to allow the drone to land closer to the marked home point when it returns to the home point automatically.

After enabling the Precision Landing setting, you just need to make sure you ascend straight up over top of the takeoff point for at least 23 feet before moving the drone horizontally. That will allow the downward vision system to scan the ground below and remember the location of the drone so it’s able to land in the same spot when it returns.

This feature could be useful if your drone gets into a situation where it needs to automatically return home and land. You might not be able to take over control in such a case, so this will ensure your drone is able to land as close to the home point as possible.


Mid-flight tips

Use these tips to ensure a safe flight with your DJI drone:

35) Exiting an automated flight mode

If you run into trouble when flying with an automated flight mode (like ActiveTrack), toggle the flight mode switch (or sport mode switch) to quickly cancel the automated mode and take back full control of the drone. Canceling the flight mode is a better option than attempting to fight the automated flight maneuver with the remote controller sticks.

36) Don’t accidentally initiate auto land in DJI GO

The RTH and auto land icons are right next to each other on the left side of DJI GO.

When tapping either icon, DJI GO will display a prompt to allow you to confirm the selected action. Read the prompt carefully before confirming it to ensure you did not accidentally tap the auto land icon when attempting to return the drone to the home point.

37) Make it easier to locate your drone in the sky

DJI drones are commonly manufactured in colors that are hard to spot in the sky. You can wrap the outside of your drone in a brightly colored vinyl skin (like a DecalGirl skin) to make it easier to see. This could also make your drone easier to spot if it crashes and/or lands in an unexpected location.

You could also attach strobe lights to the body and/or legs of your drone to make it easier to see. STROBON Cree LED strobe lights are currently the smallest and brightest lights available. Firehouse ARC lights are another good option since they use the same Creee LED lights.

38) Don’t fly close to the surface of the ground or water

The ground is the largest obstacle, so stay clear of it whenever possible. If you must fly close to the ground (or water below), make sure you can clearly see the drone with your eyes. Also, be aware that your drone might descend a little bit when flying quickly along the ground (which could be fatal when flying low).

39) You’ll likely lose your drone if it crashes into water

Flying over water is just as safe as flying over ground. The difference is that it’s easy to lose your drone if it crashes into water or auto lands when flying over water.

Make sure you have sufficient battery power when flying over water and get your drone back to the home point before the battery is too low to make it back. Play it safe and take extra batteries with you so you don’t have to try using every last possible minute of battery power.

40) Sensors are not active on all sides of the drone in all flight modes

The sensors on the exterior of the drone used to avoid and/or detect obstacles are not active on all sides of the drone when using certain flight modes. Also, they can be automatically deactivated if lighting conditions are poor or the drone is tilted at an angle that prevents the sensors from pointing in the direction they are designed to face.

Carefully read your DJI drone manual so you know when the sensors are active, their effective distance, if they are only designed to detect obstacles (instead of also avoiding them), etc.

41) Beware of nearby birds, drones, or other unknown obstacles

If not flying VLOS, you could easily impact other objects in the sky since the live camera view only allows you to see directly ahead of the drone. If you can see your drone with your eyes, you will also be able to see nearby obstacles.

42) Understand how your drone flies when switching between GPS and ATTI mode

When your drone is flying in GPS mode (the default mode when it starts), it’ll be able to hover in place and hold both its vertical and horizontal position. When in ATTI mode, the drone will hold its vertical position (like usual), but will drift horizontally with the wind.

The status at the top of DJI GO will show when the drone is flying in ATTI mode.

Note: While most DJI drones do not have a remote controller switch that allows the drone to be manually switched to ATTI mode, all DJI drones are able to fly in ATTI mode. ATTI mode is automatically selected if the drone’s GPS receiver is not connected to enough satellites or the compass is not working as expected.

43) Manually reset the home point after moving away from original home point

If you move away from the original takeoff point (like when flying from a boat), you should manually reset the home point (as needed) to ensure it’s in a safe landing spot. The home point can be reset to your current location (if your mobile device contains a GPS receiver) or the drone’s current location. Both of those options can be found in the following section of DJI GO:

Or swipe to the left on your mobile device screen to access those features from this panel:

Note: When flying with a Wi-Fi only mobile device, you could attach a Bluetooth GPS receiver (like one of these) to your mobile device. That will allow your drone to find your current location and allow you to manually reset the home point to that location mid-flight.

44) DJI drones cannot stop on a dime

The time it takes the drone to brake will depend on things like the speed at which it’s flying, whether or not it’s using GPS to hold its position, and your brake setting in the following section of DJI GO:

You can adjust the brake setting to make your drone stop quicker (which can be violent if you quickly let go of the remote controller sticks) or more smoothly (causing the drone to coast as it comes to a stop). Make adjustments to the brake setting while your drone is flying in the sky above all nearby obstacles so you can safely see how it reacts with the new setting in place.

45) Loss of live video doesn’t mean the remote controller is disconnected

The uplink (remote controller connection) and downlink (video connection) travel through different signals between the drone and remote controller. That means it’s possible for the remote controller signal to still be connected even when the live video is no longer displayed in DJI GO.

Most DJI remote controllers display a green light on the front of the remote controller while the remote controller is connected to the drone. If you’re flying the Mavic Pro or Mavic 2, the screen on the front of the remote controller will show you if the remote controller is connected.

If you run into this scenario where only the downlink disconnects, you’ll still be able to initiate RTH from the remote controller. If you cannot see your drone and you’re not sure how to pilot it closer to your location (to attempt to reestablish the downlink), then initiating RTH is a good option.

46) The controls are backward when the drone is facing you

When the front of the drone is facing you, the remote controller sticks need to be operated in the opposite direction. That means forward becomes backward and left becomes right.

can be disorienting if you’re not used to flying drones. Practice in a wide open location until moving the sticks is like riding a bike.

47) Flying toward the sun can trigger the front obstacle sensors

When the sun is shining directly into the front sensors, the drone will sometimes detect the sun as an obstacle and prevent you from flying forward. If this happens, you can work around this issue by doing one of the following:

  • Yaw (turn) the drone away from the sun

  • Fly in a different direction

  • Disable obstacle avoidance in DJI GO

48) Fly VLOS

Many countries require flying VLOS. This means you need to be able to clearly see the drone with your eyes at all times. Make sure you understand your country’s laws before flying.

49) Always fly LOS

Always keep the path between the remote controller and drone clear.

The remote controller signal will weaken and/or completely disconnect if an obstacle comes between the remote controller and drone. You should never attempt to fly your drone behind obstacles like a dense patch of trees or around a building.

50) The color of remote controller light show if it’s connected to the drone

Most DJI remote controllers display a green light on the front while the remote controller is connected to the drone. You can use that status light to determine if you still have control of the drone in a case where the downlink (video connection) drops and the remote controller is still connected to the drone.

51) Use the map path feature in DJI GO to navigate back to the home point

As you fly, a flight path will be drawn on top of the map in DJI GO to show where your drone has flown. If you lose sight of your drone, you can retrace that path backwards to bring your drone back to the home point.

52) Use the attitude indicator to steer your drone to the home point

The altitude indicator in DJI GO can be used to figure out which direction your drone is pointing. With that information, you can navigate your drone back to the home point even in cases where you cannot see it.

Watch this video for an explanation of how the attitude indicator works in DJI GO.

53) Pay attention to high wind warnings in DJI GO

DJI GO will often display a high wind warning when it detects the drone is flying in strong winds. If you see those warnings, it’s a good indication the drone is flying in strong winds (even if the wind is calm on the ground).

54) Strong wind might prevent your drone from making it back to the home point

When your drone is flying into a headwind, it will fly slower than usual and will use more battery power than usual. And if the wind is too strong, the drone will move further away from the home point as you attempt to fly home. If run into that scenario, descend to a lower altitude (if it’s safe to do so) where the wind is not as strong and continue flying home.

55) Use the data on the remote controller screen to navigate the drone back home

If the downlink (video disconnects) disconnects and the remote controller is still connected to the drone, you can use the data on the remote controller screen (when flying a Mavic Pro or Mavic 2) to navigate your drone back to the home point.

The distance value at the bottom, right corner of the remote controller screen shows the current distance from the home point to the drone. Fly forward slowly and continue slowly yawing (turning) the drone until the distance value starts decreasing. At that point, you’ll know the drone is flying closer to the home point as it moves forward.

Note: Before attempting to blindly fly the drone back to the home point, you should ascend high enough to clear any obstacles the drone could encounter on its way home. Use the altitude value at the bottom of the remote controller screen to see the drone’s current altitude (the altitude above the takeoff point) and figure out if its current altitude is too low.

56) Full throttle down can cause an auto landing when using the Landing Protection feature

When the Landing Protection setting is enabled in DJI GO, the downward sensors detect the drone is close to the ground, and the throttle stick is in the full down position (all three of those things combined), the drone will auto switch to Forced Landing mode and will automatically descend until it lands. While this normally works as expected (only when the drone is actually near the ground), it could cause the drone to accidentally land in a case where the bottom sensors detect an object below the drone (e.g. extended landing gear) as the ground.

Do one of the following things to prevent a potential disaster like this from occurring:

  • Disable the Landing Protection setting in DJI GO

  • Make sure all 3rd party accessories installed below the drone aren’t interfering with the downward sensors

  • Don’t hold the throttle stick in the full down position in any locations where an accidental auto landing could be fatal (like when flying over water)

Note: If you decide to disable the Landing Protection setting in DJI GO, you’ll have full control of the drone until it touches the ground. You’ll need to go easy on the remote controller sticks when the drone gets close to the ground so it does not slam into the ground.

57) Sensors don’t work well at night or in poor lighting conditions

The sensors will most likely be auto disabled or won’t be able to detect obstacles well when flying at night or in poor lighting conditions. Without the use of the sensors, the drone could crash into obstacles that it would normally be able to avoid or might not be as stable as usual when hovering near the ground.

58) Sensors cannot detect all objects

The sensors are not able to detect small objects like power lines or small tree branches. Be aware of the obstacles in your flying area so you can manually avoid them without having to rely on the sensors.

The sensors are not foolproof. They can sometimes fail to detect obstacles that are normally easily detectable. For example, the sensors could be confused by an obstacle that is reflecting light or the sun could be shining at just the right angle to cause the sensors to malfunction.

59) Automated features are not foolproof

When using any of the automated features of your drone, always be ready to manually take over if something does not go as planned. Most automated flight modes and functions can be quickly exited by toggling the flight mode switch (or sport mode switch) on the remote controller.

60) Stay clear of no fly zones

While your drone should not be able to fly into a no fly zone, it will auto land at its current location if it does manage to enter a no fly zone. That could happen if you take off with a poor GPS signal and then acquire a strong GPS signal after entering a no fly zone. Review the map in DJI GO (or the GEO Zone Map on the DJI website) so you’re aware of any nearby no fly zones prior to each flight.

61) Shutting down DJI GO on your mobile device does not disconnect the remote controller

If DJI GO disconnects from the drone, crashes, or your mobile device shuts down, the remote controller will still likely be connected to the drone. Since the drone is flown with the remote controller, you’ll be in full control of your drone as long as the remote controller is connected to the drone.

62) Don’t fly underneath anything that could block the drone’s GPS signal

The drone uses its internal GPS receiver to track its current location. Flying under obstacles will block the GPS signal to that receiver and cause the drone to automatically switch to ATTI mode (where the drone does not hold its horizontal position). In ATTI mode, the drone could drift into a nearby obstacle when flying in close quarters.

63) Pay attention to the messages displayed in DJI GO while flying

DJI GO might display important message mid-flight, so pay attention to what is going on in the app while you’re flying.

You’ll also be able to see the current flight mode at the top of DJI GO. That’s important to monitor in case your drone automatically switches to ATTI mode (for example).

64) Avoid an accidental CSC mid-flight

A CSC (cross stick command) is used to start the motors. It can also be used to stop the motors when the drone is on the ground or even mid-flight.

Out of the box, most DJI drones will not allow you to accidentally do a CSC mid-flight. And some drones have an alternate CSC command that must be executed in order to stop the motors when the drone is in flight.

See your DJI drone manual for more details on how CSC works on your drone.

65) Don’t assume the altitude displayed in DJI GO is 100% correct

The current altitude displayed in DJI GO is the height above the takeoff point (not the height from the ground at the drone’s current location). This altitude is estimated using the drone’s internal barometer.

If your drone has downward sensors and you’re flying close enough to the ground, the distance to the closest obstacle below your drone will be displayed at the bottom of DJI GO.

The VPS value is usually fairly accurate when the drone is flying completely level. If flying quickly in any direction, the drone will be tilted and that will skew the distance since the sensors will be pointed at an angle.

66) The RTH button on the remote controller still works after the downlink drops

As long as the remote controller is connected to the drone, you can press and hold the RTH button (or toggle the appropriate switch if flying a Phantom 3) on the remote controller to initiate RTH. The remote controller will start beeping after RTH has been successfully initiated.


Landing tips

These tips will help you safely land your DJI drone:

67) Point the camera down to help find a safe landing spot

If the battery reaches the critically low level, your drone will start auto landing at its current location. While it’s possible to steer the drone to a safer landing spot, there is no way to cancel the auto landing. Holding the throttle in the full up position will allow you to stop the drone from descending and give you time to reposition the drone for a better landing.

If you point the camera staright down, you’ll be able to quickly spot the safest available landing spot. You can think quickly navigate your drone to that location and then allow it to finish auto landing.

Note: The battery will eventually shut off mid-flight if you keep the drone in the air too long. At the point, the drone will drop to the ground like a rock.

68) Manually take over landing when the drone is in sight

If using an automated landing mode, you can quickly press and release the RTH button (or toggle the appropriate switch if flying a Phantom 3) on the remote controller to cancel the auto landing when the drone is in sight. That will allow you to take over and manually land the drone.

RTH usually works just fine if the drone is landing in a wide open area, but nothing is safer than a manual landing if you’re comfortable controlling your drone. Not only will a manual landing allow you to land in the best spot, it will also allow you to gently touch down.

69) Use a landing pad for Precision Landing or when landing on undesirable surfaces

If you need to launch or land from a wet and/or dirty surface or in a location with tall grass (or anything that could potentially come into contact with the camera, gimbal, or props), a landing pad will give you a flat/clean/dry platform. A landing pad could also be used to create a unique pattern on the ground for Precision Landing in a case where there is no distinct pattern on the ground (like when taking off from a large grassy area).

Here are a few commonly used landing pads:

Note: Lightweight landing pads can tip over in the wind, so make sure you’re using a landing pad that’s weighted or can be pinned down in the corners. If you’re using a landing pad often, investing in a Hoodman landing padwould be well worth the investment since it contains steel weights around the perimeter of the landing pad.

70) Face your drone away from you when landing for easier control

Before descending to the ground, yaw (turn) the drone so it’s facing away from you. That will likely make it easier to control since the controls feel more natural when the drone is pointed away from you.

71) Hand catch your drone if it’s not safe to land on the ground

As an alternative to using a landing pad or when landing in a location where it’s not safe to land on the ground, you can catch the drone in your hand. This can be dangerous since your hands will be close to the props, so map out a plan of action before you attempt a hand catch.

Note: If your drone has downward sensors and the Landing Protection setting is enabled in DJI GO, the drone could forcefully pull away from your hand if you attempt to grab it and pull it down.

Here are a few videos that show how to safely hand catch a DJI drone:


Safety tips

Here are some general tips to help you safely fly your DJI drone:

72) Don’t fly indoors

Unless you’re flying in a large open building like a gymnasium, flying indoors is usually not a safe thing to do. Poor lighting, tight quarters, lots of surrounding obstacles, nearby people, and/or lack of a GPS signal are all ingredients that could result in an expensive disaster.

Note: If you must fly indoors, use props guards to help prevent the props from coming into contact with nearby obstacles. You can find OEM DJI prop guards for your drone in the DJI Store.

73) Use lights when flying at night

When flying at night, you can attach lights to your drone to allow both you and other people to easily spot your drone in the air.

STROBON Cree strobe lights are a popular option since they are currently the smallest and brightest strobe lights available. Firehouse ARC lights are another good option since they use the same Cree LED lights.

74) Fly with a recommended mobile device

To ensure good performance when flying with DJI GO, it’s important to use a mobile device that is known to work well. A list of supported and commonly used tablets and phones can be found here. For best results, choose a mobile device that has decent specs and a bright screen.

75) Set up your mobile device properly so it performs well

Apply these tips (for Apple devices) or these tips (for Android devices) to ensure both your mobile device and DJI GO are configured to run as efficiently as possible.


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Guides

HOW TO: Buying DJI Care Refresh for your DJI Drone

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What is DJI Care Refresh?

DJI Care Refresh is a service plan that covers accidental damage to DJI drones. It’s valid for up to 12 months from the activation date and will cover up to two drone replacements (after paying a small fee). When you request a replacement, you’ll need to send your drone to DJI and they will send you a new or refurbished drone in its place.

Is DJI Care Refresh worth it?

The DJI Warranty only covers damage caused by product defects (things out of your control). With the addition of a DJI Care Refresh policy, you will also be covered if you accidentally damage your drone (the most common type of damage). A DJI Care Refresh policy will greatly reduce the costs you need to pay out of your own pocket due to accidental damage.

Which DJI drones can be covered by DJI Care Refresh?

A DJI Care Refresh policy can be purchased for the following DJI drones:

DJI offers a similar replacement policy called DJI Care for older DJI drones. A DJI Care policy can be purchased for the following DJI drones:

Note: The main differences between DJI Care and DJI Care Refresh is that (1) DJI Care offers an unlimited number of repairs during 1 year policy period; and (2) there is no fee when requesting a replacement. The policy will expire after the repair cost has exceeded the policy coverage amount (between $599 – $3,399 depending on which drone you own).

Which parts of the drone does DJI Care Refresh cover?

DJI Care Refresh covers the following parts of the drone:

  • Mavic and Spark series drones: the aircraft, gimbal, camera, battery, and props

  • Phantom series drones: the aircraft, gimbal, camera, and props

  • Inspire series drones: the aircraft, gimbal, and camera

Note: The remote controller is not covered by any DJI Care Refresh policy.

What doesn’t DJI Care Refresh cover?

Here are some of the common things not covered by DJI Care Refresh:

  • Lost/stolen aircraft and/or accessories

  • Damage caused by flying in unsuitable flying conditions (see your DJI drone manual for a list of suitable flying conditions)

  • Deliberate damage

  • Damaged caused by 3rd party accessories or software

See a full list of exclusions in the DJI Care Refresh TOS or DJI Care TOS.

How to request a replacement with DJI Care Refresh

Follow these steps to replace your drone through your DJI Care Refresh policy:

1) Submit a repair request from the Online Repair Request page to explain why you’re requesting a replacement.

2) DJI will email you a free shipping label so you can ship the requested items to them.

3) DJI will send you an email as your drone goes through each step of the replacement process. You can also check the repair progress on the Repair Progress page.

Note: DJI will transfer your DJI Care Refresh policy to your replacement drone since it will have a different serial number.

Easiest way to buy DJI Care Refresh

If you buy your drone directly from the DJI Store, you’ll see the option to add DJI Care Refresh during the checkout process. When purchased together with your drone, DJI will automatically activate your DJI Care Refresh policy two days after your drone has been shipped.

Note: When you buy DJI Care Refresh, make sure you have the location in the DJI Store set to the country where you want to have your drone serviced. For example, you cannot buy a DJI Care Refresh policy for the US and use it in Europe. DJI will make you ship your drone to the US to be serviced.

Purchasing DJI Care Refresh separately

You can purchase DJI Care Refresh from the DJI Store, here on Amazon, or from other authorized DJI dealers. After receiving your DJI Care Refresh activation code, you can bind it to your drone by entering the activation code on the DJI Care Activation page.

Buying DJI Care Refresh after 48 hours

After activating your drone in DJI GO, you’ll have 48 hours to buy and/or activate your DJI Care Refresh policy. After 48 hours, you’ll need to submit a video to DJI to show your drone is in working order before DJI will allow you to buy a DJI Care Refresh policy and/or bind DJI Care Refresh to your drone.

Follow these steps to buy DJI Care Refresh after 48 hours:

1) Create a video like this to show your drone is in working order (or follow these steps). It’ll be easiest to record this video if someone else is able to operate the camera while you go through the required steps. If you must record the video yourself, set your camera/phone on a tripod so you’re able to keep it steady and pointed in the required direction while you’re performing any steps where you’re not able to hold the camera.

2) Create an account at YouTube and upload your video. It’s okay to upload it as a private video.

3) Go here, tick the “I have read the DJI instructions…” box, click the “Submit” button, and complete the form to submit your video to DJI.

4) Wait for DJI to email you with the results of your video verification.

Can DJI Care Refresh be renewed?

DJI Care Refresh expires after one year or after two replacements have been requested. Up until the point where your DJI Care Refresh policy expires, you can extend it for another year by purchasing DJI Care Refresh +. With the purchase of DJI Care Refresh +, you can extend the DJI Warranty for one more year and add one more replacement to your DJI Care Refresh policy.

Can DJI Care Refresh be purchased for a used/refurbished DJI drone?

You can buy DJI Care Refresh for a used or refurbished drone as long as a DJI Care Refresh policy has not been purchased for that drone in the past. And if the previous owner purchased a DJI Care Refresh policy, you’ll be able to use the remainder of the policy (if it hasn’t already expired).


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Guides

HOW TO: Use Precision Landing with the Mavic 2 Pro/Zoom

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When the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom drones were released in August, the Precision Landing feature was not included. Many people who upgraded from other DJI drone models were upset that this feature was not carried over to the Mavic 2 and a long debate started over in this thread in the DJI forum. DJI eventually gave in and decided to add Precision Landing in the latest Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom firmware release.

Prerequisites for using Precision Landing

In order to use Precision Landing on the Mavic 2, you’ll need to install firmware version 1.00.02.00 (or higher). Follow these instructions to update the firmware using DJI GO or the DJI Assistant 2 application. You should also install the current version of DJI GO 4 from the app store on your mobile device.

Differences when compared to other DJI drones

When using Precision Landing with other DJI drones, you need to enable it in the following section of DJI GO:

And when using the auto takeoff feature, you need to tick this box to ensure the takeoff point is recorded:

Neither of these settings are displayed in DJI GO when flying the Mavic 2. The takeoff point is automatically recorded each time you take off. All you need to do is ensure you take off properly and are flying in conditions where the Precision Landing feature can be used.

How to use Precision Landing

In order for the drone to be able to precisely land, you’ll need to do the following:

1) Fly during the day when there is sufficient light

The Mavic will not be able to record the takeoff point if the ground is not sufficiently lit. That means you’ll need to fly during the day or in a location that has bright lighting (like a baseball stadium).

Note: The lights on the bottom of the Mavic are not bright enough to illuminate the ground when flying at night. If you rely solely on those lights for illuminating the landing area, the Mavic will likely land in a random location that is within a 10 foot circle of the takeoff point.

2) Choose a takeoff spot that has distinctive features.

When the Mavic returns home, it’ll need some type of landmarks on the ground to use as a reference point. If taking off from a location that has a large span of uniform ground (like a large grassy field), you’ll need to lay some kind of marker on the ground beneath the Mavic. You can use something like a 3×3 inch piece of brightly colored Plexiglas or a landing pad — like one of these:

3) Make sure the terrain does not change after taking off.

When the Mavic returns home to land, it’ll attempt to match up the previously recorded terrain to the current terrain. Any significant changes in the terrain could reduce the accuracy of the landing.

4) Wait for the home point to be set.

If the Mavic has a good GPS signal, the home point should be automatically marked after the motors have been started. Check the map in DJI GO to ensure the “H” symbol is marked in the correct location.

5) Ascend straight up when taking off.

When taking off, it’s important to ascend straight up above the home point for at least 23 feet (7 meters) before moving the Mavic in any direction horizontally. That will allow the Mavic to properly record the takeoff location. There is no need to hover in place after the Mavic has ascended to at least 23 feet (the takeoff point has already been recorded at this point).

Note: The speed at which you ascend (slow or fast) will not affect the accuracy of the landing. You can even take off in Sport mode.

Landing Procedure

Precision Landing is only used when Return To Home (RTH) is initiated and the Mavic automatically returns home and lands. That can occur if either you manually initiate RTH by holding the RTH button on the remote controller (until the remote controller starts beeping) or the Mavic automatically returns home due to a low battery or lost remote controller signal.

After the Mavic returns back to the home point, it will correct its heading (point in the direction it took off) and begin descending. In most cases, the Mavic will be too high in the air for the downward sensors to detect the ground below. Until the downward sensors are within range of the ground, the Mavic will likely not be descending directly over the takeoff spot.

As you watch the Mavic descend, a Locating Landing Point message will pop up on the left side of DJI GO (like in the screenshot below) and you’ll see the Mavic correct its position as needed. It will do further corrections (if necessary) when it gets even closer to the ground. And if all works as designed, it should end up landing within about 6 inches of the takeoff spot.

Cancelling the landing

In some cases, the Mavic might not be able to precisely locate the takeoff point when landing. When that occurs, it could end up landing as far as about 10 feet away from the home point. If you notice that’s about to happen and that location is not a safe landing spot, you can cancel the auto landing by quickly pressing and releasing the RTH (or pause) button on the remote controller. At that point, the Mavic will hover in the air and wait for you to manually finish landing.

Note: It’s best to cancel RTH when the landing is not going as expected. Don’t try to counteract the landing procedure by pressing the throttle up or attempt to steer the Mavic to a different location. Always cancel RTH first so you are able to take full control of the Mavic.

Using Precision Landing at night

Precision Landing will not work at night even if the downward lights are set to auto on or on when taking off. While those lights are extremely helpful when taking off and landing in poor lighting conditions, they do not produce enough light for the downward sensors to record the takeoff area.


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Guides

DJI Spark compass calibration guide

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A good compass calibration is important to ensure a safe, controlled flight. Follow the tips in this guide to determine when and how to calibrate the compass on your DJI Spark.

Why should the Spark compass be calibrated?

The only purpose of compass calibration is to measure the components of the aircraft’s magnetic field so that they can be subtracted from the total measured magnetic field. Rotating the three-axis magnetometers allows the aircraft’s flight controller to separate the surrounding magnetic field from the magnetic field of the aircraft itself. It’s able to separate them since the aircraft’s magnetic field remains constant (in the frame of reference of the magnetometers) while the surrounding magnetic field rotates.

No amount of measuring will allow the aircraft’s flight controller to determine the deviation or declination at a location (since it has no idea where true north is located). Declination is determined from a global declination model within the firmware. There is no way to compensate for deviation since it’s unmeasurable. That explains why taking off in areas of significant magnetic deviation will lead to unstable flight.

Warning signs

The Spark can only detect when the compass is providing extremely poor (implausible) data. This typically occurs if you place it near a strong magnetic field. It will flash red and yellow lights and the Spark will indicate a compass error in the app.

Note: The lack of a compass error does NOT mean your compass is working and calibrated properly. You should always do these checks before taking off to ensure the compass is not being negatively affected by some type of external magnetic force.

Compass interference

You can view the current compass interference in the “Main Controller Settings” –> “Advanced Settings” –> “Sensors” section of DJI GO. The colored bars should be in the green (Excellent) range when the Spark is in a location that is away from magnetic influences. If the bars are in the red (Poor) range or close to it, move the Spark to a different location and check again. If the compass interference is still in the red (Poor) range or close to it, the compass could need calibrated or it could be magnetized/damaged.

Note: A good compass interference value does NOT mean your compass is working and calibrated properly.

When should the Spark compass be calibrated?

You do not need to calibrate before every flight and in some cases you definitely should not calibrate. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever bother doing it. It only takes one time for it to go very wrong.

Note: The ideal place to calibrate is a wide open location that is free of anything metallic within a 20 ft radius. Keep away from drainage pipes, irrigation systems, rocks, sidewalks (or other concrete structures), etc.

DO calibrate the Spark compass if:

  • Compass interference values are out of whack or DJI GO is displaying a compass error (check area for magnetic metal objects before calibrating)

  • The Spark is circling in flight while hovering in place (also check for other possible causes)

  • New metallic equipment has been attached or removed from the Spark (e.g. GPS tracker)

  • If you just degaussed your compass (don’t degauss the compass unless instructed)

DO NOT calibrate the Spark compass if:

  • The Spark is near concrete, buildings, and/or hidden or overhead power lines/pipes/etc.

  • You’re indoors, on a paved surface, on a stone surface, on the beach, on a boat, on a balcony, near a car, near speakers, etc.

  • There are magnetic metallic objects near the Spark or you’re not certain there are no such objects nearby

How to calibrate the Spark compass

  • Remove all metal from your person that could potentially be held near the Spark while you’re calibrating (e.g. watch or rings).

  • Find a location on grass or dirt and not on concrete or asphalt (unless you know the concrete or asphalt does not contain rebar).

  • Power up your Spark and any attached accessories (e.g. GPS tracker).

  • Wait until your Spark is ready to fly.

  • Click the “Calibrate” button in the “Aircaft Status” section of DJI GO. If the “Calibrate” button does not appear there, then you can calibrate the compass from the “Advanced Settings” section of DJI GO.

  • Confirm the rear Spark arm lights are solid yellow.

  • Pick up the Spark and turn it smoothly and steadily a full 360 degrees (or a little bit more) until the rear Spark arm lights turn solid green.

  • Note: While it’s okay to turn the Spark in your hands, it’s easier to hold the Spark steady and turn your body in a circle like this.

  • Point the front of the Spark straight down and turn it smoothly and steadily a full 360 degrees (or a little bit more) until the rear Spark arms start flashing green.

  • Note: Don’t be concerned if the Spark gimbal reacts poorly to being face down. Continue to smoothly and steadily turn the Spark. If for any reason you do not complete any of the above steps smoothly and evenly, restart the process.


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Guides

DJI Mavic compass calibration guide

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A good compass calibration is important to ensure a safe, controlled flight. Follow the tips in this guide to determine when and how to calibrate the compass on your DJI Mavic.

Why should the Mavic compass be calibrated?

The only purpose of compass calibration is to measure the components of the aircraft’s magnetic field so that they can be subtracted from the total measured magnetic field. Rotating the three-axis magnetometers allows the aircraft’s flight controller to separate the surrounding magnetic field from the magnetic field of the aircraft itself. It’s able to separate them since the aircraft’s magnetic field remains constant (in the frame of reference of the magnetometers) while the surrounding magnetic field rotates.

No amount of measuring will allow the aircraft’s flight controller to determine the deviation or declination at a location (since it has no idea where true north is located). Declination is determined from a global declination model within the firmware. There is no way to compensate for deviation since it’s unmeasurable. That explains why taking off in areas of significant magnetic deviation will lead to unstable flight.

Warning signs

The Mavic can only detect when the compass is providing extremely poor (implausible) data. This typically occurs if you place it near a strong magnetic field. It will flash red and yellow lights and the Mavic will indicate a compass error in the app.

Note: The lack of a compass error does NOT mean your compass is working and calibrated properly. You should always do these checks before taking off to ensure the compass is not being negatively affected by some type of external magnetic force.

Compass interference

You can view the current compass interference in the “Main Controller Settings” –> “Advanced Settings” –> “Sensors” section of DJI GO. The colored bars should be in the green (Excellent) range when the Mavic is in a location that is away from magnetic influences. If the bars are in the red (Poor) range or close to it, move the Mavic to a different location and check again. If the compass interference is still in the red (Poor) range or close to it, the compass could need calibrated or it could be magnetized/damaged.

Note: A good compass interference value does NOT mean your compass is working and calibrated properly.

When should the Mavic compass be calibrated?

You do not need to calibrate before every flight and in some cases you definitely should not calibrate. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever bother doing it. It only takes one time for it to go very wrong.

Note: The ideal place to calibrate is a wide open location that is free of anything metallic within a 20 ft radius. Keep away from drainage pipes, irrigation systems, rocks, sidewalks (or other concrete structures), etc.

DO calibrate the Mavic compass if:

  • Compass interference values are out of whack or DJI GO is displaying a compass error (check area for magnetic metal objects before calibrating)

  • The Mavic is circling in flight while hovering in place (also check for other possible causes)

  • New metallic equipment has been attached or removed from the Mavic (e.g. GPS tracker)

  • If you just degaussed your compass (don’t degauss the compass unless instructed)

DO NOT calibrate the Mavic compass if:

  • The Mavic is near concrete, buildings, and/or hidden or overhead power lines/pipes/etc.

  • You’re indoors, on a paved surface, on a stone surface, on the beach, on a boat, on a balcony, near a car, near speakers, etc.

  • There are magnetic metallic objects near the Mavic or you’re not certain there are no such objects nearby

How to calibrate the Mavic compass

  • Remove all metal from your person that could potentially be held near the Mavic while you’re calibrating (e.g. watch or rings).

  • Find a location on grass or dirt and not on concrete or asphalt (unless you know the concrete or asphalt does not contain rebar).

  • Power up your Mavic and any attached accessories (e.g. GPS tracker).

  • Wait until your Mavic is ready to fly.

  • Click the “Calibrate” button in the “Aircaft Status” section of DJI GO. If the “Calibrate” button does not appear there, then you can calibrate the compass from the “Advanced Settings” section of DJI GO.

  • Confirm the rear Mavic arm lights are solid yellow.

  • Pick up the Mavic and turn it smoothly and steadily a full 360 degrees (or a little bit more) until the rear Mavic arm lights turn solid green.

  • Note: While it’s okay to turn the Mavic in your hands, it’s easier to hold the Mavic steady and turn your body in a circle like this.

  • Point the front of the Mavic straight down and turn it smoothly and steadily a full 360 degrees (or a little bit more) until the rear Mavic arms start flashing green.

  • Note: Don’t be concerned if the Mavic gimbal reacts poorly to being face down. Continue to smoothly and steadily turn the Mavic. If for any reason you do not complete any of the above steps smoothly and evenly, restart the process.


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Guides

Do these important compass checks before taking off

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DJI GO does not always show a warning when the compass is being negatively affected by some type of external magnetic force. Before taking off, you should always do the following:

1) Find a takeoff spot that you know is not near any magnetic metal objects (e.g. rebar in concrete sidewalks).

2) Make sure your drone is never near magnetic metal objects after it has been powered on. It’s best to power on your drone in the exact location where you plan to take off.

3) Check the status message at the top of DJI GO and make sure it’s not reporting a magnetic interference error (like in the screenshot below). If you see this error, that’s a sign that your drone is near some type of magnetic metal object. Move your drone to a different location.

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4) When your drone is on the ground at the takeoff spot, look at the map in DJI GO and verify that the red aircraft symbol is pointing in the same direction as the drone. If the drone and arrow are not both pointing in the same direction, that’s a sign that your drone is near some type of magnetic metal object.

5) Make sure the red aircraft symbol in DJI GO is not slowly rotating as your drone is sitting on the ground. If the red aircraft symbol is rotating, that’s a sign that your drone is near some type of magnetic metal object.


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Guides

DJI Phantom compass calibration guide

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A good compass calibration is important to ensure a safe, controlled flight. Follow the tips in this guide to determine when and how to calibrate the compass on your DJI Phantom.

Why should the Phantom compass be calibrated?

The only purpose of compass calibration is to measure the components of the aircraft’s magnetic field so that they can be subtracted from the total measured magnetic field. Rotating the three-axis magnetometers allows the aircraft’s flight controller to separate the surrounding magnetic field from the magnetic field of the aircraft itself. It’s able to separate them since the aircraft’s magnetic field remains constant (in the frame of reference of the magnetometers) while the surrounding magnetic field rotates.

No amount of measuring will allow the aircraft’s flight controller to determine the deviation or declination at a location (since it has no idea where true north is located). Declination is determined from a global declination model within the firmware. There is no way to compensate for deviation since it’s unmeasurable. That explains why taking off in areas of significant magnetic deviation will lead to unstable flight.

Warning signs

The Phantom can only detect when the compass is providing extremely poor (implausible) data. This typically occurs if you place it near a strong magnetic field. It will flash red and yellow lights and the Phantom will indicate a compass error in the app.

Note: The lack of a compass error does NOT mean your compass is working and calibrated properly. You should always do these checks before taking off to ensure the compass is not being negatively affected by some type of external magnetic force.

Compass Interference

You can view the current compass interference in the “Main Controller Settings” –> “Advanced Settings” –> “Sensors” section of DJI GO. The colored bars should be in the green (Excellent) range when the Phantom is in a location that is away from magnetic influences. If the bars are in the red (Poor) range or close to it (or the “Mod” value is not between 1,300 and 1,600 if using DJI GO 3), move the Phantom to a different location and check again. If the compass interference is still in the red (Poor) range or close to it, the compass could need calibrated or it could be magnetized/damaged.

Note: A good compass interference value does NOT mean your compass is working and calibrated properly.

When should the Phantom compass be calibrated?

You do not need to calibrate before every flight and in some cases you definitely should not calibrate. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever bother doing it. It only takes one time for it to go very wrong.

Note: The ideal place to calibrate is a wide open location that is free of anything metallic within a 20 ft radius. Keep away from drainage pipes, irrigation systems, rocks, sidewalks (or other concrete structures), etc.

DO calibrate the Phantom compass if:

  • Compass interference values are out of whack or DJI GO is displaying a compass error (check area for magnetic metal objects before calibrating)

  • The Phantom is circling in flight while hovering in place (also check for other possible causes)

  • New metallic equipment has been attached or removed from the Phantom (e.g. GPS tracker)

  • If you just degaussed your compass (don’t degauss the compass unless instructed)

DO NOT calibrate the Phantom compass if:

  • The Phantom is near concrete, buildings, and/or hidden or overhead power lines/pipes/etc.

  • You’re indoors, on a paved surface, on a stone surface, on the beach, on a boat, on a balcony, near a car, near speakers, etc.

  • There are magnetic metallic objects near the Phantom or you’re not certain there are no such objects nearby

How to Calibrate the Phantom Compass

  • Remove all metal from your person that could potentially be held near the Phantom while you’re calibrating (e.g. watch or rings).

  • Find a location on grass or dirt and not on concrete or asphalt (unless you know the concrete or asphalt does not contain rebar).

  • Power up your Phantom and any attached accessories (e.g. GPS tracker).

  • Wait until your Phantom is ready to fly.

  • Click the “Calibrate” button in the “Aircaft Status” section of DJI GO. If the “Calibrate” button does not appear there, then you can calibrate the compass from the “Advanced Settings” section of DJI GO.

  • Confirm the rear Phantom arm lights are solid yellow.

  • Pick up the Phantom and turn it smoothly and steadily a full 360 degrees (or a little bit more) until the rear Phantom arm lights turn solid green.

  • Note: While it’s okay to turn the Phantom in your hands, it’s easier to hold the Phantom steady and turn your body in a circle like this.

  • Point the front of the Phantom straight down and turn it smoothly and steadily a full 360 degrees (or a little bit more) until the rear Phantom arms start flashing green.

  • Note: Don’t be concerned if the Phantom gimbal reacts poorly to being face down. Continue to smoothly and steadily turn the Phantom. If for any reason you do not complete any of the above steps smoothly and evenly, restart the process.


Top DJI Drone Resources

Buy a Drone:  Buy from DJI  |  Buy from Authorized Dealer  |  Buy Refurbished Drone
Accessories:  Tablets & Phones  |  Cases & Backpacks  |  Strobe Lights  |  FAA Labels
Help:  Forum  |  Drone Tips  |  DJI GO Manual  |  Firmware Install  |  Flight Log Viewer

Continue Reading

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