Welcome to PhantomPilots.com

Sign up for a weekly email of the latest drone news & information

  1. AGreenway

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2016
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Australia
    So I've had the P4 for only 3 days and I've already managed to crash it. It flew without incident the first 2 km, then on its flight today, of no more than 5 metres, an unexpectedly strong gust of wind came up when the drone was at an altitude of about 2.5 metres, and it collided into a wooden post. Two pieces of white plastic near the top of the landing gear popped off, and the battery came clean out. Then it landed onto grass.

    At first I thought the worst, but the plastic snaps back in (albeit not quite as flush with the rest of the landing gear as it used to be). The camera also still records and transmits data. However the gimbal is now limp. It doesn't even move when I power on the P4 (it did when I first powered it on after the crash, but hasn't for a while now). It also doesn't respond to RC controls in the slightest. It doesn't make any strange noises, it just simply hangs there and does nothing except transmit video.

    I'm just wondering what is the best course of action from now? I have tried such things as gimbal calibration, but to no avail. Does anyone have any helpful suggestions about what I could possibly do before seeking professional repair?
     
  2. happydays

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,858
    Likes Received:
    663
    Location:
    Warrenpoint, Ireland
    I would check that all of the cables plugs are correctly seated.
     
  3. Air Ontario

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2016
    Messages:
    1,271
    Likes Received:
    493
    Location:
    U.S./ Canada
    also check that all motors are not separated slightly. Meaning they look fully pressed together with no obvious gaps between the cases and rotors.
     
  4. AGreenway

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2016
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Australia
    I disassembled the gimbal support (the entire grey section) and checked in there first. (The reason I went in there first was because the black rubber collar that surrounds the shaft had popped out on one side after the crash, so I pushed it back in, but it led me to believe there might be something loose or damaged in that area). As it turns out, there was no obvious damage to any of the cables, nor did any appear to be unseated or loose. After I reassembled everything and started up the drone, the gimbal did its usual start-up dance and I became quite hopeful, but the camera was pointing at the floor rather than horizontally. I rebooted the drone again, and the camera didn't move at all.

    The intermittent nature of the gimbal moving during startup sometimes and not during others leads me to believe there is something loose or damaged in the gimbal mechanism itself (like you suggested Air Ontario). I haven't yet had the time, but the next thing I will do is take apart the gimbal mechanism itself and check for further loose connections, as well as motor separation.
     
  5. fstoplabs

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2015
    Messages:
    85
    Likes Received:
    23
    Do you have any pictures of it/video? DJI just released some parts (Buy Phantom 4 Spare Parts | DJI Store) Is anything on the gimbal bent?
     
  6. Air Ontario

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2016
    Messages:
    1,271
    Likes Received:
    493
    Location:
    U.S./ Canada
    When you boot it and it does its dance, with the camera facing forward(properly) is there slack or movement when you try to move the camera upwards and downwards?

    I ask because, running from the left, horizontally from the camera pitch motor thru the two screw ribbon cover is a shaft with a set screw. Perhaps it is loose.
     
  7. AGreenway

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2016
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Australia
    I noticed no bending. Unfortunately I didn't think to take any photographs. Thanks for the spare parts link.
     
  8. AGreenway

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2016
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Australia
    The camera only did its dance one time. It hasn't done it since. And when it did do it, it never faced forward, only downward.

    I did notice a strange sound though when I do move the camera up and down, like there is some loose tape inside the hinge. Don't know if that's normal. I will have another look tonight.
     
  9. Air Ontario

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2016
    Messages:
    1,271
    Likes Received:
    493
    Location:
    U.S./ Canada
    May be a bad spot on the ribbon cable.
     
  10. AGreenway

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2016
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Australia
    I pulled apart various sections of the gimbal to check for any kind of damage. I have found none. The ribbon cable is intact, with not a single scratch, nick or tear. After I reassembled everything, the camera started working correctly, facing horizontally as it should, and even pressing C1 caused it to toggle between the downward and horizontal positions. I turned the drone off then on again, and once again, it does not work! It is a frustrating intermittent problem which probably points to a damaged cable, despite the fact that it looks fine to me.
     
  11. AGreenway

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2016
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Australia
    Update: I seem to be able to get the camera to operate correctly if I manually "help" it to complete its initialization dance. It seems to be incapable of completing it on its own. Once it goes through all the motions, it operates perfectly normally, responding to the RC exactly as it always did, recording video without fault. I even managed to get it to level properly by performing an automatic calibration (which it remembers each time I start it up and help it through initialization).

    Update 2: I didn't correctly reassemble the back of the yaw arm when I took it apart last night There is a little tab at the top-rear which is meant to be inside the cap covering the back of the yaw arm, but it was sticking out. So I fixed it tonight. When I did this, the camera now automatically aligns on its own about 85% of the time. The other 15% of the time, the camera points downwards and seems to get stuck. I simply nudge it upwards and then it works fine.

    Does this still sound like a damaged flex cable? Or something to do with the motors?
     
    #11 AGreenway, Mar 25, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2016
  12. AGreenway

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2016
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Australia
    Here is a video of what I have to do before most of my flights to get the Phantom 4 to work:



    I am not sending it in for repair as it still works quite well, and I don't want to wait several weeks for it to get fixed. I have ordered a spare gimbal flex cable and will replace that to see if it fixes the problem.

    My major concern now is that I damaged one of the compasses, which occurred when I was trying to glue the small plastic hatch back in that popped out during the crash (even though it should have snapped back in properly, some distortion of the surrounding plastic occurred and it didn't sit flush with the rest of the landing gear). I think that some of the glue must have damaged the compass inside, even though I thought I used hardly any. And by damaged, I mean that the Advanced Sensor Settings tell me that Compass 2 is "disconnected", making calibration now impossible.
     
  13. Jussaguy

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Messages:
    1,483
    Likes Received:
    385
    Before you do anything, call DJI 1-818-235-0789, tell them what happeed and see what they will do for you. They can infer the wind, just tell them maybe you had an unexpected motion that you don't know why happened and see what they say. They might just fix it for you.

    Sorry, bummer.
     
  14. AGreenway

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2016
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Australia
    DJI were never going to believe it was a spontaneous error, as there was evidence of landing gear distortion from the impact. And I have now well and truly dismantled the gimbal as well as the entire drone body, so there is evidence everywhere that it has been tampered with! Still, I've learnt a lot about its internal workings. If only they had spare compasses to buy, I'd easily be able to replace the damaged one.
     
  15. Jussaguy

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Messages:
    1,483
    Likes Received:
    385
    Because of the DJI care, they probably aren't doing this anymore but in order to gain all the market share, DJI since about 2014 used to fix anything if it was under warranty with almost no questions asked. I would still try even with the tampering. You may be wasting time at this point. See if you can get them to get an authorized dealer to fix it for you and maybe you'll have a better chance. If you can do that, the shops want the business so they wont say anything but it might be too late now.

    Sorry. It wont cost too much to fix hopefully. No DJI Care or insurance?
     
  16. AGreenway

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2016
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Australia
    Sadly, living in Australia, DJI Care is not yet offered. When I went to purchase this product online, I was fully prepared to pay for DJI Care, until I discovered they don't offer it. I will just have to fix it myself, or get it repaired professionally and pay the associated shipping, parts, and labour costs. :(
     
    #16 AGreenway, Apr 1, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2016
  17. AGreenway

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2016
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Australia
    I just thought I'd revive this old thread to update what has become of my Phantom 4 which was damaged at the end of March (one of the compasses got damaged, and the camera failed to do its initialisation dance without manual intervention).

    I have finally restored the quad to its former glory, all through sourcing the spare parts I needed to fix it (some directly from DJI, others through drone repair stores). This included spare screws, a new set of landing gear (containing the compasses), plus a new ribbon cable. I have now disassembled and reassembled the drone several times, so feel I know a lot more about the inner workings than I did before! I also have a whole new appreciation for the ingenuity of the quadcopter. And if there are any accidents in future, I feel I will probably be able to repair many of them myself.

    The gimbal assembly I found to be the most complicated to disassemble, removing the old ribbon cable which is glued on in many places, then putting it all back together. One of the most challenging parts of installing the new ribbon cable was the way that it spirals around the pitch axis of the camera before going into the camera itself. Tiny screws, small metal plates holding things down, and tiny black clips keeping the cables seated in their plugs all added to the challenge.

    Disassembling the main body of the drone to install the new landing gear was also certainly a challenging experience. After the grey gimbal assembly is removed, the four LED light protectors near each motor must also be removed and the three screws beneath each one must be removed, as well as the two screws from each arm. Several screws inside must also be removed before the whole drone chassis can be split apart. Screwing the new landing gear onto the body was quite difficult, especially since one of the screws on each leg is hard to access with most screw drivers.

    Many times during the repair process, seeing screws of all different types and parts lying everywhere, it crossed my mind that I may never see the drone fly or take video ever again, and it certainly had me worried. But I kept the parts organised with their appropriate screws, took photos along the way, and managed to put it all back together in the right order. There were a couple of teething problems after re-assembly, but after a process of elimination, it was determined that a couple of the ribbon cable connectors were not seated fully.

    So anyway, after a long couple of months, I am very happy to see the drone flying with full functionality once again. Yes it was still flying and recording video for the past two months, but the compass error and the faulty camera bugged me enough that I had to do something about it. (And the compass repair especially was fairly high on my priority list.)

    Yes I could have got it repaired by a drone specialist, and while it would have cost me a fair bit of money, it is true it would have saved me a lot of time and stress. Nonetheless, I don't regret going through the repair process myself for reasons I've already stated above.

    IMG_1777.jpg IMG_1778.jpg IMG_1781.jpg IMG_1782.jpg IMG_1777.jpg
     
    Jussaguy likes this.
  18. Jussaguy

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Messages:
    1,483
    Likes Received:
    385
    Would just make me nutty.
     
  19. Broadlandboy

    Joined:
    May 26, 2016
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    0
    Worst case buy the replacement camera & gimbal ( I know expensive) & replace your self, only a couple of cables to connect. Easy to do as have done it myself after crash bent vertical arm, camera still worked but gimbal at an angle so bit the bullet & replaced.
     
  20. AGreenway

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2016
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Australia
    Lol, I agree that not everyone has the patience, perseverance or determination that I do!