A few weeks ago I was flying my DJI Mini 2 (opens in new tab) when a massive gust of wind blew it straight into a tree. I had one of those horrible, heart-sinking moments where I imagined the worst and pictured my drone being stuck there forever. Lucky for me, it fell out of the tree (albeit hitting every branch on the way down) and landed on the floor looking pretty intact.
To my great surprise, not a single propeller broke, the camera was still working and other than a scuff of green, there were no signs of damage. That was until I checked the gimbal which was jammed right back into the underbelly of the drone unable to move freely.
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A working gimbal on a drone is paramount if you want to use it as is intended. While you can still fly without one, the camera glitches in an attempt to try and level itself and all of my footage was slanted from where the gimbal was stuck at a slight angle. Unfortunately, I stupidly didn’t take out DJI Care Refresh (opens in new tab) when I first bought the drone and boy have I spent some hours regretting that. If you take anything away from this let it be this - get insurance, you will thank yourself later.
Having worked at Wex for several years I have some knowledge of the DJI Repairs Service and from my experience, it’s not the best. For starters, there isn’t a repair center in the UK so you’ll need to send your drone somewhere in Europe. This can sometimes take weeks and feels like a complete waste of time if you’re told your product is beyond repair. This leads me to my next point, DJI isn't that good at repairing stuff… they generally just replace it so unless you have Care Refresh or insurance you might find yourself in a sticky spot… like me.
Thankfully you can pretty much learn how to do anything on YouTube including how to fix a stuck gimbal. I’m not really one to jump at the chance to take things apart, I’d much rather leave that up to the people who know what they’re doing but my choices seemed to be:
1) own a drone that doesn’t work properly,
2) have a go at fixing it and possibly end up with a drone that doesn’t work at all or
3) have a go at fixing it and be successful.
To my absolute delight fixing the problem was way easier than I thought and now I have a drone I can use again. All I had to do to fix it was remove the 4 screws connecting the base and top casing and then slide something small around the edge so I could pop the top section off. This relieved any tension in the gimbal allowing it to pop back into position and rotate freely.
Crashing a drone is no fun but it’s pretty easily done, all you need is a big gust of wind a little too close to a tree or a momentary lapse of judgment. The best you can hope for is it falls to the ground otherwise you’ve gotta be pretty good at climbing trees to retrieve it.
I loved my Mini 2 before I crashed it but I love it even more now and I’ve got to give it to DJI, it’s made of harder stuff than I thought. I now do have insurance and touch wood won’t crash it anytime soon but if I do, I might just give this trick a go before sending it off anywhere.
Editor's note: Attempting to repair or modify your own DJI drone will almost certainly invalidate your warranty. DCW does not recommend that you attempt to open, disassemble or fix your drone unless you are a registered professional. Fixing your own drone is done entirely at your own risk, and DCW takes no responsibility for any damage or warranty repercussions caused by servicing your own product.