I’m in the “laboratory” getting ready for an aerial shoot tomorrow. My hexacopter is good to go, but in case I need another flight or backup I was getting my DJI Phantom ready to fly. I had just balanced some new props and was walking up the stairs when the doorbell rang. Quad in hand, I answered the door. It was a neighbor kid.
“My rocket is on your roof.”
He had launched a rocket from his yard and miscalculated the wind. The parachute was hanging off the edge of the roof and the rocket was on the roof. I told him I’d be happy to try taking the Phantom up there and seeing if I could get close enough for the wind from the props to blow the rocket down. He, his father, and three other neighbor kids thought that was a brilliant idea.
I was a little worried. I just spent a bunch of money on new props. I’d hate to break them AND leave the damn Phantom on the roof.
I piloted up to the roof and positioned the quad above the rocket. It was a bit breezy so I had to manipulate it a bit to keep it in position, despite being in GPS mode (that’s another discussion). I lowered to the point where the prop wash hit the rocket and voila! The rocket blew down and I was the hero of the neighborhood.
The neighbor kids raved how cool the Phantom was to which I said, “you should see the BIG bird!”
I then busted out the big hexacopter and did a neighborhood flight with a very attentive audience. They loved it, and I got a test flight in on the big bird after having to reset the gimbal settings.
After a recent road trip which I brought my Phantom and my hexacopter, I found that the Arris CM3000 3-axis camera gimbal on the Phantom became stuck. The pitch motor would only move about 1/16 of an inch. Something was blocking it. I didn’t want to give it too much force for fear of breaking it.
I found a replacement for the motor online for about $18. But before I ordered one from China and had to wait 17 million weeks for it to arrive, I thought I’d tear apart the broken brushless motor and see if I could fix it.
I’ve never torn apart a brushless motor before. It was not hard. I popped the clip on the drive shaft and unscrewed the shaft screw. Then the outer cover came off with a little force. It did not want to come out because of how strong the magnets were.
The problem was visibly obvious as soon as I had the cover off. A couple of the magnets had broken and a piece of them came off, lodging between two other magnets (above). I’m guessing the magnets were cracked during a Phantom crash, and eventually the piece broke loose. You can see the loose chunk below:
I cleaned out the debris, put it back together and it appears to be working again. I just hand tested it though. A real flight test is up next.
Many DJI users are concerned about the “flyaway” problem, where their multirotor craft seems to take on a mind of its own and tries to to fly China, never to be seen again.