Have you ever seen a drone drift without wind present, or hover at an angle? It is often the IMU that causes stability issues, which means it's very important to properly calibrate your Mavic Air 2 IMU for stable flights.
The quick instructions for calibrating the Mavic Air 2 IMU are as follows:
- Find a level surface.
- Power on the drone, RC and open the DJI Fly app.
- In the settings menu, go to the “Safety” tab.
- Under “IMU”, tap on “Calibrate”.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to proceed with the calibration.
The above instructions are a very condensed version of what you'll find below. At the end of this post, I'll provide more in-depth calibration instructions with images. Before we get to that, it's important that you first understand what an IMU is and when you should calibrate it. Read on!
What is an IMU?
An IMU (Intertial Measurement Unit) is a type of sensor that measures angular rate and force – or speed and acceleration.
IMU's are found in mobile phones, VR headsets, drones, and other electronics.
For us drone operators, it's the IMU's job to keep our aircraft stable while in flight. The IMU works in conjunction with a properly calibrated compass and GPS system to accomplish this.
The sheer amount of simultaneous mathematical calculations made by the drone's flight controller is really quite impressive. The flight controller (the drone's brain, if you will) receives information from the IMU, which then passes the information to the ESC's (electronic speed controllers). The ESC's will speed up or slow down as necessary to maintain stable flight.
Related post: How to Fix DJI ESC Status Errors – The electronic speed controllers are in charge of telling the motors to speed up of slow down.
When should you calibrate the Mavic Air 2 IMU?
If I haven't convinced you by now how important the IMU is on your Mavic Air 2, you either need to read the last section again or I need to bold some more font!
Okay, so it's important, but when should I calibrate it? If you read the Mavic Air 2 manual, you saw the letters “IMU” exactly two times. The first is when DJI tells us that a status indicator light that blinks red is indicating an IMU error, and the second mention is telling us where to find the calibration section in the Fly app.
DJI doesn't even explicitly say “if the status indicators are blinking red, calibrate the compass”. So, based on my few years of drone experience, working in the drone industry, and common agreements amongst other drone pilots, here is when I would recommend calibrating your Mavic Air 2 IMU.
See my Mavic Air 2 review and other helpful MA2 tutorials here!
Four times you should calibrate the IMU:
- When you first take the Mavic Air 2 out of the box. Your drone traveled a long way to get to you and likely fell into the hands of some not-so-careful package-handlers along the way. I'd suggest doing an IMU and compass calibration before your first flight.
- Status indicator lights blinking red. A status indicator light that is blinking red means that you should definitely calibrate the IMU. Just keep in mind that a low battery and critically low battery will also cause the indicator lights to blink red. Refer to the image below to read more about the blinking frequencies.
- If the Fly app prompts you to. It's never a good idea to ignore warnings within DJI flight apps. You can also check to see what the current status of the IMU is in the Fly app by going to Settings -> Safety, and you should see “IMU normal” if calibration is not needed.
- Hard landing or a crash. If you have had the misfortunate event of crashing your Mavic Air 2 or landing a bit too hard, it really is a good idea to calibrate the IMU – even if there are no errors present.
Related post: DJI Mavic Air 2 Compass Calibration – Complete Guide – The compass on your Mavic Air 2 is responsible for knowing which direction magnetic North is. The compass, IMU and GPS systems work together to allow stable flight.
How to calibrate the Mavic Air 2 IMU
Before we get into the steps of calibrating the IMU, I want to encourage you to find a very flat surface – this is imperative. Once you've found your flat surface and the drone is sufficiently charged, you're ready to begin.
- With your mobile device connected to the powered-up RC, power on the Mavic Air 2 – go to settings, which is the three dots in the upper right-hand corner.
- Under the “Safety” tab, go to the “Sensors” section.
- When you tap on “Calibrate”, the app will take you to a screen with instructions. Tap on “Start” to proceed.
- The first calibration position is with the Mavic Air 2 resting on its bottom side, with the arms folded in, just as the image on the Fly app demonstrates.
- When the image changes to a picture of the drone on its right side, proceed to rotate the drone accordingly.
- Next, rotate the drone onto its left side.
- Then, stand the drone up on its rear end, as pictured in the app.
- Lastly, flip the drone onto its topside.
- If the calibration is successful, the Mavic Air 2 will automatically restart.
Would you rather watch a video on the Mavic Air 2 calibration process? Check it out below.
Calibrating the IMU is too easy and quick to ignore. Seeing as how you now know what the IMU is, when to calibrate it and how to calibrate it, you're pretty much an expert – and experts don't skip the easy (but very important) tasks. Have you had any IMU errors with your Mavic Air 2?