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How to Calibrate a Drone? (Detailed Guide)

A drone is an expensive instrument that needs to be maintained, but if you want it to last long, you need to take care of it properly and ensure that the precision with which it flies remains in check. Calibrating a drone can be done by anyone without spending too much time on it. In this guide, we will tell you how to calibrate a drone so that you can do it yourself without any problem. 

Drones are amazing devices whether you want to use them as a hobby or for your business. Below we will tell you some steps that will help you calibrate your drone perfectly. Thus, continue reading if you want to calibrate a drone efficiently. 

What is Calibration?

To ensure that your drone is flying correctly, it is essential to calibrate it before each flight. This process involves checking and adjusting the various sensors on the drone to work correctly. The most important sensor to calibrate is the gyroscope, which helps the drone maintain its balance in the air. 

In addition, you will also need to check the compass and GPS readings to ensure that the drone knows where it is and can return home safely. A compass points North and shows how much the heading is off from North. For example, if you turn left too much, your heading would be 10 degrees off from North. 

GPS coordinates show what country or region the drone is currently in. If both of these readouts say that the drone is in China when it’s supposed to be in America, then something has gone wrong! You should recalibrate both of these systems to fix this problem.

Drone Calibration Equipment

Before you start the calibration process, you’ll need to gather a few things. You’ll need the drone itself, of course, as well as a laptop or desktop computer. Moreover, you’ll also need a microSD card and reader and a USB cable. 

You’ll also need an RC transmitter or a mobile device running the DJI GO app. Finally, ensure you have plenty of space to fly; an open area free of obstacles is ideal. Make sure you charge your battery before you begin. 

Turn on your smartphone’s Wi-Fi capability and connect it to the same network as your laptop or computer, then launch the DJI GO app on your phone. Open up any recent flights with this drone, tap DJI Assistant 2, then tap calibration. Follow the prompts on the screen, entering information like height off the ground in meters or feet when prompted. 

Why Do You Need to Calibrate Your Drone?

Just like any other electronic device, a drone needs to be calibrated from time to time. The process is not complicated and only takes a few minutes, but it is essential to do it regularly to keep your drone flying safely and smoothly. 

There are a few different reasons why you might need to calibrate a drone: 

  1. If you crash your drone or otherwise damage it, calibration can help ensure that the sensors are still working correctly. So you don’t have a problem flying the drone later on. 
  2. Calibration can often fix the problem if your drone is behaving oddly or not flying as well as it used to. 
  3. If you are having trouble with your drone’s GPS, calibrating the compass can sometimes help. 
  4. In general, calibrating your drone every few weeks will help, make sure everything stays running at its best.
  5. In case you had a hard landing of the drone, there is a chance that the sensors will move out of place. Thus, to keep them in check calibration is important for a drone. 
  6. If, while taking a flight, you see that your drone is losing altitude, that means, it’s about time you calibrate the drone. 
  7. It is important to calibrate your drone if you notice it hovering badly in the air when there is little to no wind blowing. 
  8. If your drone goes anywhere near a magnet there is a chance that it will lose its calibration; thus, keep the drone in check and calibrate it after any encounter with a magnet. 

These are some of the basic reasons; why you should calibrate a drone; however, there can be other reasons as well. But calibrating your drone is important to make sure that it will work properly. 

Read: Why does the drone lose GPS signals? 

How to Calibrate a Drone?

While most of your calibration needs can be taken care of with simple software, some larger or more expensive drones may also include tools that make calibration easier. Calibrating your drone is as easy as playing around with these different tools to ensure everything on your drone is working correctly. 

Generally speaking, you’ll need to follow a few simple steps, and you will be able to calibrate your drone without any problem. 

Step 1. On-Board Parameters Setting in the APP

First, you must download the app that is compatible with your drone and connect your phone to the remote control. Then go to the On-Board Parameters section and enter your drone’s information such as model, serial number, etc. 

In this section, you will also need to set up the failsafe function. This is important in case your drone loses connection with the remote control. Next, you need to set up the flight modes. There are usually three flight modes: GPS, Atti, and Manual. GPS mode is for when you want the drone to fly autonomously using GPS signals. Meanwhile, in Atti mode and manual mode, you will have to control the drone manually. 

Step 2. Finding and Fixing IMU Error by Yourself

You can find and fix IMU errors yourself without taking your drone to the store or waiting for someone else to do it. To do this, you’ll need an IMU tester and some patience. First, make sure that your drone is powered off and level. 

Then, connect the tester to the IMU and turn it on. The tester will show you how much error is in the IMU. You’re good to go if the error is less than 0.5%! If not, you’ll need to recalibrate the IMU. Connect the IMU tester again and power up the drone. 

After booting up, wait until there’s no motor vibration before pushing the calibrate button on your remote controller. Make sure you are looking at either GPS satellites or satellites with a line of sight because they help with calibration. You can also use auto-calibration if available but be warned: Your distance may be incorrect after using auto-calibration, so always double-check before flying far away. Now reboot, and everything should work properly.

Step 3. Aircraft Position Adjustment with Propellers’ Orientation on Ground

Place the aircraft on a level surface with the nose pointing away. The propellers should be installed and tightened according to the diagonals method. For more information, see the Propellers Installation section. 

If the ground is not level, ensure it is balanced by adjusting the legs, so the aircraft is level. Now you are ready to turn on the aircraft: press the power button for about two seconds until LEDs flash or sound signals start playing. 

After this, push the left joystick up-down-left-right repeatedly to verify that your control system is working correctly. If this fails, recalibrate the controller following steps 1-4 again. As long as the aircraft responds as expected, there will be no need to calibrate the controller. 

Step 4. Setting Off-Board Parameters through PC Software

When you’re ready to start setting off-board parameters, the first thing you’ll need is a computer that can connect to your drone. To connect your drone with the computer, you must purchase a DroneBridge. This piece of hardware allows you to connect your drone with your computer. Once you have the DroneBridge, follow these steps:

  1. Connect the power cable from the DroneBridge to the PWR port on the back of the flight controller.
  2. Connect the video cable from the VIN port on the DroneBridge to the VOUT port on the back of the flight controller.
  3. Connect one end of the USB cable to the USB port on the DroneBridge and connect the other end to an available USB port on your computer. 

Once you have connected your drone to the computer, it’s time to move forward. The software you’ll use will vary depending on your drone type, but many of them are accessible online. Once you have the appropriate software and follow the instructions. In general, you’ll need to set the following parameters: 

-The maximum roll and pitch angles. 

-Maximum yaw rates. 

-The maximum thrust. 

-Minimum throttle. 

-The center of gravity offsets.

How to calibrate the IMU on your drone?

Every drone has a different calibration process, but in this guide, we will use a DJI drone to tell you how it’s done. Now place your drone on a flat surface until the drone gets to room temperature. 

Now make sure that you have a decent amount of battery left on your drone download and open the dedicated app of the drone. Now, connect the drone with its controller. Using the app, go to the controller settings, where you will find the advance settings option. Click on it and start by following the instructions that the app is showing you.

Move the drone around as the app instructs and once you are sure that you have completely calibrated the drone, restart it, and you are good to go. 

How to calibrate the compass of your drone? 

If you want to calibrate the compass of your drone, you will need an open space to start with. Now remove the propellers on your drone, switch it on, open its dedicated application on your mobile, and in the aircraft status bar, select the calibration option. 

Now clicking on the start option, you will start the calibration process of the compass. The app will instruct you on how you should handle the drone, follow it, and hold the drone accordingly while the calibration is taking place. 

If you see the green light in the end, that means that the calibration process was successful, and now you have properly calibrated your drone’s compass. 

How to calibrate mini drones?

If you own a mini drone, calibrating most of them is similar. Follow the steps thoroughly to calibrate your mini drones effortlessly. The first thing that you need to do is connect your drone to the controller. After you have paired both the devices with each other, now you can start calibrating a mini drone. 

Geomagnetic Calibration

To perform the geomagnetic calibration, press the left and right joystick on the controller towards the bottom right corner, after which you can see the green lights turning on at the front of the drone. This shows that the calibration process has started. 

Now pick the drone up and rotate it horizontally in a clockwise direction three times, and the drone will make a beeping sound. Now vertically rotate it three times in the counterclockwise direction until you hear the drone making two beeping sounds. 

After it, if you see the green lights at the front of the drone while the blue lights at the back are beeping, it means that your calibration process is complete and successful. 

Gyroscope Calibration

Using the controller, pull both the joysticks inwards in a diagonal direction and hold them there for a couple of seconds. Doing so, you will hear a beeping sound, and the lights on the drone will start flashing. This means that you have successfully calibrated the gyroscope of your drone, and it is now ready to take flight. 

Do you have to calibrate a drone every time?

There’s no need to calibrate your drone every time you fly, but it’s essential to do so regularly. Doing a calibration is simple and only takes a few minutes. Plus, it can help prevent crashes and extend the life of your drone. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to calibrate your drone: 

First, make sure that you have turned off your drone. Now plug it in after connecting the battery to the charger. Once the battery is fully charged, disconnect it from the charger and install it in the drone. Now, turn on the drone and let it warm up for a few minutes. 

Hold the power button until all four lights are lit, then release the button. The top left light should be blinking. Take note of which direction each light is pointing towards when they’re on, as you can use this to set the quadcopter’s position later. 

How do I reset the calibration on my drone?

To reset the calibration on your drone, ensure that you have turned it off. Next, remove the battery, and then reinsert it. Once the battery is back in, press and hold the power button for 10 seconds. After 10 seconds, release the power button and turn on your drone. Finally, fly your drone in a figure-eight pattern until the calibration is complete. 

You will know when this happens because the LED lights will blink and flash randomly as you fly. After completing this, you should be able to use your drone without issue. However, if you notice that the camera or altitude doesn’t seem right, then recalibrating your drone may be necessary. 

Conclusion

If you’re experiencing any difficulty with your drone, the first step is to check and see if you need to calibrate it. The calibration process involves leveling the flight controller on all three axes so that you can avoid crashes. 

This process is relatively simple, and you can do it at home with just a few tools. By following this guide, you should be able to get your drone flying smoothly and safely in no time.  

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