When it comes to flying your Phantom 3 there are a lot of wonderful features. With the high resolution photography, the stunning first person view option, and the calculated, precise controls you are guaranteed to know that you are flying a high end piece of machinery. If you are experiencing problems in your flight or views, however, it might be time to recalibrate and you will be happy to know, if you do it a certain way you can even increase your warm-up time so that it doesn’t eat into your flight minutes. Today, let’s talk about how to calibrate IMU for your Phantom 3 so that you can correct these issues. We’ll start off with a little information about the IMU itself, followed by your standard steps, and then we are going to throw in a little trick that can REALLY speed up your warm-up time. Have we piqued your interest? Let’s get started!
What is the IMU?
IMU is an acronym that stands for ‘Inertial measurement unit’ and it is a popular aircraft term for good reason. IMU utilizes gyroscopes and in some cases, a magnetometer in order to interface with your navigational system to determine elevation, acceleration, rotation, angular rates, and global positioning. Without it your drone would be useless but it is not a completely automatic function. It needs to be properly calibrated. If you are seeing problems and have already calibrated, then you will want to do it a second time. Your drone’s stability depends on it.
The importance of calibrating the IMU on your Phantom 3
Are you seeing those red and yellow warning lights on your drone a lot? Recalibration can fix that. It is also good for horizon views issues, erratic flight in response to your controls, and it also affects your warm up time. The process for recalibration only takes 5 to 10 minutes so there is really no excuse not to recalibrate it. Let’s go through the process so that you are familiar with the steps and thus equipped to perform it whenever you feel the need.
How to calibrate the IMU
Calibrating the IMU is really a piece of cake and can fix a score of issues. So, how is it done? Well, first you want to make sure that your power is at least set to 50%. Calibration takes 5 to 10 minutes and you DO NOT want your drone to shut down during the calibration. If it does, you will need to recalibrate it and if you don’t, your beloved Phantom 3 might end up flying camera first into the nearest tree. So be sure to charge your drone up to at least 50% and this should be a non-issue.
Next, while powered off, you will want to place your drone on a flat surface. It is important that the surface is completely flat and level, so if you have a bubble-style or laser level available in your garage then get it out and test to make sure that the surface which you are using is not askew. You want the calibration to be as accurate as possible and while it is a little inconvenient, borrow a Level if you have to in order to ensure that your drone calibrates it’s settings perfectly.
One thing of note, it is important not to move your drone during what comes next until the calibration is complete. Moving your drone will disrupt a proper calibration and you will need to start over, so make sure that the drone will not be moved by you or anyone who interrupts the process.
The calibration process should proceed as follows:
- Power on your remote controller and the Phantom 3 drone as well. You will not need to power on the motors at this time, we simply want the drone to be receptive to commands from the controller.
- Select your DJI Phantom 3 piloting application. From here you will want to select your ‘Camera’ option.
- Select the ‘Mode’ icon next. It will be located in the upper left-hand corner of the screen.
- Choose ‘Sensors’ from the menu that comes up and then select your option for ‘IMU Calibration’
- From here the process is mostly going to be automatic. Simply select ‘Okay’ when you are prompted each time and within 5 to 10 minutes your Phantom 3 should be officially recalibrated.
A little-known trick to speed up your warm up time
There is one trick that is useful for those of you who are experiencing warm up times that seem a bit excessive. In order to do this you will want to place your drone in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes or if you are in a chilly environment already you can simply take the drone outside if there is a level surface which you may employ for the calibration. Turn on your controller and navigate to the calibration menu
“Once your drone is chilly then you are ready to go.”
following the selection options which we mentioned in the previous section. Do not turn on your Phantom 3 yet until the 5 minutes of cooling have passed. Once your drone is chilly then you are ready to go. Immediately turn on the Phantom 3 and then start the calibration process and your warm up process will be noticeably (in fact, dramatically) reduced. Try this and you will see!
In this article we have discussed not only how to calibrate your Phantom 3 Inertial Measurement Unit component but we have also provided a little trick that can reduce your warm up time in a most appreciable way. Remember, your drone is useless if it is not calibrated. Flying it in such a state puts you in danger for hitting power lines, trees, and all sorts of other potential mishaps, so recalibration should be done as often as you feel that it is needed. Protect your Phantom 3 and you will be able to enjoy your aerial adventures in confidence but if you neglect this… it is at your own peril.