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Compass Calibration Guide

msinger

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Why Calibrate?
A good compass calibration is important to ensure a safe, controlled flight.

Warning Signs
The Spark can only detect when the compass is providing extremely poor (implausible) data. This typically occurs if you place it near a strong magnetic field. It will flash red and yellow lights and the Spark will indicate a compass error in the app.

IMPORTANT: The lack of a compass error does NOT mean your compass is working and calibrated properly.

Compass Interference
You can view the current compass interference in the "Main Controller Settings" --> "Advanced Settings" --> "Sensors" section of DJI GO. The colored bars should be in the green (Excellent) range when the Spark is in a location that is away from magnetic influences. If the bars are in the red (Poor) range or close to it, move the Spark to a different location and check again. If the compass interference is still in the red (Poor) range or close to it, the compass could need calibrated or it could be magnetized/damaged.

IMPORTANT: A good compass interference value does NOT mean your compass is working and calibrated properly.

When Should I Calibrate?
You do not need to calibrate before every flight and in some cases you definitely should not calibrate. That doesn't mean you shouldn't ever bother doing it. It only takes one time for it to go very wrong.

IMPORTANT: The ideal place to calibrate is an open field with nothing metallic in a 20 ft radius. Keep away from drainage pipes, irrigation systems, rocks, etc.
  • DO Calibrate
    • Compass interference values are out of whack or compass error is reported (check area first).
    • Circling in flight (also check for other possible causes).
    • New metallic equipment added or removed.
    • If you just degaussed your compass (BTW, don't degauss unless instructed).
  • DO NOT Calibrate
    • If near concrete, buildings, and hidden or overhead power lines/pipes/etc.
    • If you're indoors, on a paved surface, on a stone surface, on the beach, on a boat, on a balcony, near a car, near speakers, etc.
    • If there are magnetic metallic objects nearby or you're not sure
  • Pre-Calibration Checklist
    • Everything used in flight should be powered during calibration (e.g. GPS tracker).
    • Remove all metal from your person that could potentially be held near the Spark while you're calibrating (e.g. watch or rings).
    • Calibrate on grass or dirt and not on concrete/asphalt (unless you know the concrete/asphalt does not contain rebar).
  • How to Calibrate
    • Power up your Spark and accessories as normal.
    • Wait until your Spark is ready to fly.
    • Select CALIBRATE under AIRCRAFT STATUS | COMPASS. Click OK.
    • Confirm solid yellow rear lights.
    • Pick up the Spark and turn it smoothly and steadily a full 360 degrees until the lights turn solid green.
    • Point the front of the Spark straight down and repeat until the lights turn off and resume normal flashing.
      Note: Don't be concerned if your gimbal reacts poorly to being face down, keep turning as normal.
If for any reason you do not complete any of the above steps smoothly and evenly, restart the process.

─────────────────────────────────────────────────────────
Note: A lot of this information was copied over from ianwood's thread in the Phantom Pilots forum.
 
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Jeplane

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So I will be traveling a lot with it, in the lower 48 of the US. From day to day, I will be as much as 1000 NM away from the last position.

According to this, I should recalibrate?

Thanks
 

msinger

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So I will be traveling a lot with it, in the lower 48 of the US. From day to day, I will be as much as 1000 NM away from the last position.
Recalibrate if the DJI GO app prompts you to do so. Otherwise, your last stored compass calibration will likely be just fine.
 

Jeplane

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I am assuming that for a trip across the pond, like Europe-USA, it might be a different story....:)
 

Dudge Jredd

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I am assuming that for a trip across the pond, like Europe-USA, it might be a different story....:)
I'd say if you are traveling through time zones, you should calibrate the compass (for every 100 miles or more you travel from last calibration point). Magnetic North is not some perfect pinpoint spot on the Earth but a big blob that has different intensities depending on where you are. This will help ensure your drone doesn't start drifting in a circle or perform crazy stunts trying to orient itself.

Also - Purpose of Compass Calibration
 

Peter

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The image in Go4 shows the Spark being held on its side not pointing down. Does it matter which way it's held?
 

msinger

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WillSparky

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So would it be recommended to do a calibration when first using the Spark after unboxing it?
 

msinger

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So would it be recommended to do a calibration when first using the Spark after unboxing it?
You probably won't need to calibrate it. If you'd like to do so anyhow, you won't hurt anything as long as you do the calibration in an area that is free of all magnetic metal objects.
 
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FatherXmas

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  • Remove all metal from within 10 ft radius (e.g. watch, phone, ring, belt, coins, controller).
Is that really necessary?
 

FatherXmas

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I'd say if you are traveling through time zones, you should calibrate the compass (for every 100 miles or more you travel from last calibration point). Magnetic North is not some perfect pinpoint spot on the Earth but a big blob that has different intensities depending on where you are. This will help ensure your drone doesn't start drifting in a circle or perform crazy stunts trying to orient itself.

Also - Purpose of Compass Calibration
Good advice, I live in Alabama and went to my sister-in-law's in WV and my Mavic acted really wonky, did a compass calibration and he flew perfectly again.
 

msinger

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Remove all metal from within 10 ft radius (e.g. watch, phone, ring, belt, coins, controller).
Sometimes. It's just a suggestion to ensure there is no possible interference with items on your person.
 

FatherXmas

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Sometimes. It's just a suggestion to ensure there is no possible interference with items on your person.
OK, there for a minute I was thinking I had to calibrate in the middle of a field wearing my pajamas. :D
 
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msinger

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Well, that would be the most ideal scenario :D
 

Kentech5

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OK, there for a minute I was thinking I had to calibrate in the middle of a field wearing my pajamas. :D
I definitely make a point of taking off my apple watch, bluetooth headphones, and moving my phone away. I have had bad calibrations from wearing these.
 

WayneMHK

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OK, there for a minute I was thinking I had to calibrate in the middle of a field wearing my pajamas. :D
That would be nearly ideal, and you'd probably not need to do it again.

The compass is quite sensitive to ANYTHING metal or with a magnetic field.
 

srcrain

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For some reason I am unable to complete a compass calibration. I have attempted it in different locations, making sure to remove all metal (watch/phone/etc), and I continually get an error.

Interestingly, the Spark has not asked my to calibrate, but I am trying to see if this fixes my issue of how long it takes to gain a GPS signal. Not sure if those things are related, but I when I power up it can take 5-10 minutes before I gain a GPS signal. I also get both before and during flight a strong interference error. I have already one crash were I had GPS and lost it mid-flight where the wind took the Spark in a tree and crashed.

Not sure if the crash caused the problems as it was bad before that. I do have the Refresh plan but don't want to send it in until I know they have the inventory to replace if needed. I am scared with the demand as high as it is to send it in.

When it has a GPS lock it flies great, no issue at all.
 

Zezrum

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I'd recommend pulling the black box data and submitting to DJI support. 5-10 min is a problem. It should take less than a minute to get enough satellites to fly.

Interestingly today I was flying around an amateur radio field day setup and when getting near transmitting antennas I would get interference, compass and gps errors in flight.

Only other time I have seen compass errors on the Spark is if I try to launch off the hood of my truck.
 

Palderic

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Hello,

Thank you very much for this post. Very helpful for a rookie like me!

After reading this, I've an explanation to the error which occur for 2 days now. I've calibrated my compass in a "don't do it area" after a compass error message from the app.

My questions are:

- Do you think that calibrate the compass again in the perfect area (dressed with my pyjama :) ) would be sufficient? Or did I damage it for good?

- when "compass error" appears in the Dji app, should I do it only if I'm in the good environment and go over it for the rest of the locations (beaches/balcony in this recent case)? This error occur very frequently (I'm travelling a lot currently)

Thank you in advance:)
 

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