Few things are as frustrating for drone pilots as a gimbal motor overload error. After all, the gimbal is a key piece of equipment that allows the drone pilot to navigate, shoot video, and take photos. Thus, a malfunctioning gimbal essentially renders the drone useless.
So, what exactly is a gimbal overload error, and what causes it? In this guide, we will discuss this common error in-depth, and we will also provide a troubleshooting guide so you can fix the problem and get your DJI Mavic or Phantom up in the air.
What Is The Gimbal Overload Error?
When the display shows that there is a gimbal motor overload, it simply means that something is inhibiting the gimbal’s movement which causes the gimbal motor to be strained. It is important to address this error quickly, as excessive strain can cause lasting damage to the gimbal’s motor.
It is also worth mentioning that this error can happen both on the ground and in flight.
What Causes Gimbal Motor Overload?
There are several things that can cause a gimbal motor overload error. Here we will discuss these culprits.
Launch Site Obstruction
The most common culprit is tall grass or something else on the ground in close proximity to the gimbal. If the drone is attempting its startup sequence in tall grass, the grass can prevent the gimbal from achieving the full range of motion necessary to properly calibrate.
Forgetting To Remove The Gimbal Cover
You can also get a gimbal motor overload error if the gimbal cover is still on while the drone is powered on. The gimbal cover is only meant to protect the gimbal while the drone is in transit or not being used. If the cover is still in place when the drone is turned on, it will limit the gimbal’s range of motion, preventing it from completing its calibration sequence.
It will happen to every drone pilot eventually—excitement gets the better of you, and you rush through your preflight checklist, turn the drone on, and are ready to get up in the air…but the gimbal cover is still on. You realize your mistake when you hear the gimbal hitting up against the cover as it tries to calibrate, and a gimbal motor overload error flashes on your device. I speak from experience here…
Debris Stuck In The Gimbal
If you take off from sandy or dusty surfaces, it is possible for small pieces of debris to get lodged in the gimbal. The gimbal is a very sensitive piece of equipment, so even the smallest of obstructions can prevent it from moving correctly which will trigger this error message.
Using non-approved third-party accessories on the gimbal can also result in this error message.
Third-party accessories are accessories that are not produced by the drone manufacturer. If the manufacturer releases an accessory for a drone (in this case, the Mavic or Phantom), it is guaranteed that the accessory will not adversely affect the drone’s performance or operational capabilities.
However, third-party accessories can sometimes cause problems. While they might fit the drone perfectly in terms of dimensions, the material used might be too heavy or might otherwise compromise the drone’s performance. For example, some ND filters might add too much weight to the gimbal, causing excess strain on the gimbal motor.
Strain On The Gimbal During Flight
You can also get this error message while in flight. Sudden movements—namely yaw movements—while flying fast (such as in Sport Mode) can trigger this error. Remember, the gimbal and the gimbal motor are extremely sensitive, so the g-forces associated with fast flight maneuvers can strain the gimbal motor as it tries to keep up.
Lastly, you might get this error message if the gimbal and/or gimbal motor have faulty or broken hardware. If your drone has crashed at some point, the gimbal likely sustained damage.
How To Fix Gimbal Motor Overload Problem?
Here we will discuss the troubleshooting steps you should follow if you experience a gimbal motor overload error on your DJI Mavic or Phantom.
Step 1: Ensure That The Ground Is Clear Of Obstacles
When powering on your drone, if you get a gimbal motor overload error, the first thing to do is ensure that the ground around the gimbal is clear of obstacles. If the drone is not on flat, clear ground, power it off, move it to a flat and open area, and turn it back on. If the error is gone, it means something on the ground was previously interfering with the gimbal’s range of motion.
To prevent this altogether, we suggest always powering the drone on when it is on flat ground or a launchpad. It is a good idea to always visually inspect the area around the gimbal for anything that might interfere with the gimbal’s movement. This will ensure that the gimbal will be unobstructed during its calibration sequence.
Step 2: Check For Debris In The Gimbal
If motor overload error persists after you confirmed that the launch site is clear of obstacles, there might be debris in the gimbal. As mentioned, sand, dust, and other small particles can get lodged in the gimbal’s joints. Power the drone off and blow on the gimbal to remove any debris. Then, turn the drone back on.
Step 3: Ensure That Third-Party Accessories By The Gimbal Aren’t Too Heavy
If you are not using any third-party accessories with your drone (i.e. ND filters, an anti-glare hood, etc.), go ahead and skip to the next step.
If you are using a third-party accessory, turn the drone off, remove the accessory, and turn the drone back on. If the error message is no longer displayed, the third-party accessory was the likely culprit.
If you are using several third-party accessories located by or on the gimbal, turn the drone off, remove one accessory, and turn it back on. Repeat this process until you have identified which accessory was causing the problem.
If there is any doubt about what might have been causing the gimbal motor overload error, check online forums and reviews of the accessory in question to see if other people have had similar issues.
Step 4: Calibrate The Gimbal
As with most electronics, some errors seemingly happen for no reason at all. If this error has persisted up to this point, chances are it can be fixed by simply calibrating the gimbal.
Calibrating the gimbal is a quick and easy procedure that can be done on the DJI GO 4 or DJI Fly app. The gimbal calibration process is virtually the same for the Mavic and the Phantom. Just follow these steps:
- Tap on the three dots in the upper right corner of the screen.
- Tap on the gimbal symbol.
- Select gimbal calibration.
- A message will appear prompting you to ensure that the aircraft is level and that nothing is obstructing the gimbal’s range of motion. Ensure that the drone is level and that nothing is obstructing the gimbal.
- Select OK, and the gimbal calibration process will begin.
Step 5: Fly Less Aggressively
If you get a gimbal motor overload error while your Mavic or Phantom is in flight, it is more than likely a result of aggressive flying. To remedy this, simply fly slower, and refrain from conducting quick maneuvers that might strain the gimbal.
While the Mavic and Phantom are incredibly adept at flying, it is important to remember that they are not racing drones; they are first and foremost flying cameras.
Step 6: Send The Drone To DJI
If all else fails, unfortunately, your drone will need to be repaired by DJI.
It is possible to fix faulty or broken hardware on your own, but it requires a high level of skill and competence working with electronics. Since most people simply do not have the experience or skill required for such repairs, it is better to send it in for repair.
Furthermore, there could be an underlying software issue causing the error, and this is something only DJI can fix.
We hope this guide has helped you better understand what the gimbal motor overload error is, what causes the error, and how to troubleshoot it on the DJI Mavic and Phantom.