Have you ever wondered when you are supposed to calibrate the compass on your Mavic Air 2? According to DJI, there are three instances when you should calibrate the compass on the Mavic Air 2: 1) If you are flying at a location that is greater than 31 miles from the last spot you flew, 2) If the aircraft has not been flown for more than 30 days, and 3) If the aircraft status indicator lights blink red and yellow and/or you receive a compass interference warning on the Fly app.
Read on to find out what can cause compass interference and why it's so important that your Mavic Air 2's compass is properly calibrated.
Lastly, I'll provide a step-by-step illustrated guide to properly calibrating the Mavic Air 2's compass.
This is one of many posts/videos that I made on the Mavic Air 2. Click here to see why I think this is the best hobbyist drone.
What is the compass's role on Mavic Air 2?
Before we proceed, I feel that an overview of the drone's compass is in order.
Why does your drone need a compass? The compass on your drone is responsible for knowing where Earth's magnetic north is. The GPS module on your drone may have a very strong signal, but if the compass is not functioning properly, you may experience erratic flying behavior as the drone doesn't know which way is which.
It's the combination of properly functioning GPS, compass, and IMU systems on a drone that allows for stable flight and safe Return-to-Home maneuvers.
What causes interference with your Mavic Air 2 compass?
Now that we've established why the drone's compass is necessary, let's talk about what interferes with proper compass operation.
DJI states that “Tall structures and large metal structures may affect the accuracy of the onboard compass and GPS system.” They then advise that you keep the aircraft at least 5 meters (15 feet) away from structures.
I'd like to add that you may receive a compass error after a hard landing or a crash. This is not all that uncommon, and proceeding to calibrate the compass may eradicate the error.
When to calibrate the Mavic Air 2's compass
In the opening paragraph, I provided the three different times that DJI recommends calibrating your Mavic Air 2 compass – but I'd like to elaborate.
Traveled more than 31 miles:
The first circumstance was if you have traveled more than 31 miles from the spot you last flew. Why does it matter where I flew last?
Declination is the angular distance between magnetic north and true north. Because our drone's compass aligns with magnetic north, and magnetic north will vary by your current location – this is why DJI recommends compass calibration if you travel more than 31 miles.
Haven't flown in 30 days:
DJI recommends that you calibrate the compass if it's been more than 30 days since you have flown. Is this absolutely necessary? Well, it depends on who you ask.
Personally, I think this is a little overkill. I've gone a few months without flying a drone without any compass issues upon it's reemerging to the blue skies.
A common point that I see often is that there is more of a risk in messing something up while calibrating a compass that had no errors to begin with.
Related post: How to Calibrate the Mavic Air 2 IMU – the IMU (inertial measurement unit) is responsible for keeping your drone stable while in flight. Calibration is quick and easy.
Status indicator lights:
When your Mavic Air 2's status indicator lights alternate between blinking red and yellow is the one time you absolutely must calibrate the compass. The status indicators are the two lights attached to the rear prop arms.
In addition to the blinking lights, you will likely receive a compass error within the DJI Fly app as well.
This is your drone's way of telling you that something is wrong with the compass, and attention is needed ASAP.
How to calibrate the Mavic Air 2's compass
Now that we know what role the compass plays, what often causes interference, and when you should calibrate the compass, let's talk about how to calibrate it.
It's strongly advised that you do not calibrate the compass when you're near anything metal (cars, metal structures, bridges, etc.).
Additionally, DJI recommends that you should not carry a device that has ferromagnetic materials (i.e. mobile phones) when you calibrate the compass.
- Power on the RC, then the drone while you are in an open area.
- Open the Fly app and navigate to Settings (three dots in upper right-hand corner).
- Tap on the “Safety” tab.
- Under the “Sensors” section, tap on “Calibrate” next to the compass.
- This will take you to a page that instructs you to keep the aircraft about 1.5 meters off the ground during calibration and to stay clear of metal objects. Press “Start” when you are ready to begin.
- When you press start, the rear status indicator lights will turn solid yellow. Hold the Mavic Air 2 horizontally and begin to rotate it 360°. The rear status indicators will turn solid green, which indicates that you can proceed to the next step.
- Turn the drone vertically with the camera facing down, and proceed to rotate 360°.
- When the rear indicator lights go from solid green to slowly flashing green, the calibration is complete.
- If the rear status indicators blink red at any time, the calibration has failed and you need to restart.
You now know what the role of the compass is on the Mavic Air 2, what often causes interference, and how to calibrate it. I strongly encourage you to heed any compass warnings, should they appear in your Fly app. Calibrating the drone's compass takes just a couple of minutes and it could be the difference in a having a drone return home safely and a drone that resides with the dolphins.