GPS might restrict you from flying freely, but it’s also important. So what do you do when you lose the GPS signal on a drone like the DJI Mini 3 Pro?
Having no GPS signal on the DJI Mini 3 Pro doesn’t mean it’s off or disabled but that this component is malfunctioning due to external circumstances, such as atmospheric conditions or obstacles blocking the signal.
In this article, we’ll explain what you can do to solve the “no GPS” problem in your Mini 3 Pro. Check it out!
Why is GPS crucial to my drone?
Everything related to aviation has high safety standards.
Flying a drone can interfere with commercial airplanes or helicopters, resulting in serious accidents that can damage infrastructure and the environment.
The primary GPS in the Mini 3 Pro can prevent these scenarios. A DJI drone allows pilots to fly only in the safest conditions without affecting other people, businesses, or industries.
You can fly in an Authorization blue zone by submitting information and accepting the prompts in the DJI Fly app. You will need Internet access and a verified DJI account.
Altitude gray zones won’t let you fly above a certain height. However, that max altitude is generally very high.
If you want to go above the Altitude Zone or fly in a Restricted Zone, you must submit an Unlocking Request to DJI via the Fly Safe website or the DJI Fly app.
Here is a link with a further explanation of the GEO Zones.
» MORE: How to Unlock Geofencing on Your DJI Drone (Step-By-Step Guide)
GPS lets your drone know where it is and where it takes off from.
It enhances the drone’s safety by self-calculating its position. So if the wind moves it, the drone returns to its initial position in the air.
Also, it helps the drone to self-stabilize, maintaining its position in light wind conditions. This aids the Mini 3 Pro in not losing control and flying away from you at a distance where you will lose it.
The ability to know accurately where it takes off helps the drone automatically return to that spot. This feature is useful when facing a critically low battery.
What can your Mini 3 Pro do without GPS working?
Now you know that GPS is crucial for our drone safety. But is it mandatory to use?
You can fly your Mini 3 Pro without GPS, but understand you lose the self-stabilizing aids that help the drone maintain its position and route.
So, can I pilot my drone?
Sure, you can. The downside is that you need to have experience flying without stabilizing aids, or you will certainly crash the drone.
The Mini 3 Pro is a consumer-oriented drone, meaning it’s made for the masses and not for acrobatic pilots.
Drone Racing League pilots know to maneuver non-stable drones, performing impressive moves. FPV drones fly without those aids because they are built that way.
But not all is lost for low altitudes of about 12m or 40ft, as the hovering self-stabilization works with the Downward Vision System sensors.
Above this height, you should avoid flying, as the Mini 3 Pro can’t self-stabilize horizontally, and the Downward sensor can’t sense.
Also, you won’t be able to spot the drone quickly, losing control.
Use Intelligent Flight Modes
One of the most exciting attributes of this drone is the FocusTrack, Quickshots, MasterShots, and Hyperlapse modes.
From these modes’ perspective, there is no GPS restriction as they are optical functions.
The camera finds the target and follows it in the case of FocusTrack. But use it only in open spaces with no obstacles in sight.
The only mode you won’t be able to use is Waypoints, as those are GPS points.
The reason behind this is that the drone won’t fly stably. In these modes, the drone achieves heights and distances above the capabilities of the Forward, Backward, and Downward sensors.
Then you won’t be able to control the drone completely, again losing control.
What can’t your Mini 3 Pro do without GPS working?
There are fundamental functions you lack without GPS. Let’s take a look.
For this function to work on the Mini 3 Pro, you need at least 10 satellite signals. The drone can’t return home without satellite signals or what DJI calls weak or unavailable signals. It will hover in that airspace.
Fly your drone at 50 percent and above battery to avoid the drone crashing. Also, ensure the RC and mobile device have a minimum of 75 percent battery.
No Altitude and Restricted Unlocking
GEO Zones use GNSS signals. The GPS is vital for unlocking Altitude and Restricted Zone data.
There are no GEO Zones restrictions when the GPS signal is unavailable, so you can fly in these zones, even though it shouldn’t.
Your drone will attempt to regain the signal continuously, as the GPS receiver is never off. The aircraft will automatically land once it recovers the GPS signal if you are in a Geo Zone.
Therefore, you might put your drone in danger as it will lose and regain the GPS signal, losing control and falling.
Please only fly in Warning and Enhanced Warning Zones, as you only need to follow the Fly App prompts. You can also submit an Authorization Zone request to fly in this area without issues.
No Flight Logs
Without GPS, the Fly app cannot save Flight Logs, as there is no data. Consequently, you won’t be able to track your drone if it lands inadvertently.
Also, you will lack the information DJI asks you to submit for warranty purposes.
Although the Mini 3 Pro still lacks an SDK, users expect their release.
One of the reasons is that this drone is good at mapping. It lacks the 1-inch CMOS sensor to qualify, but the 48MP camera makes it ideal for mapping small areas. Here is a link with an in-depth explanation.
» MORE: DJI Mini 3 Pro for Mapping (All You Need to Know)
Solving the No GPS issue
Flying without GPS is a limiting factor for the above reasons. Here is a step-by-step procedure to fix the no GPS problem.
Step 1: Check atmospheric conditions or obstacles
If you lack a GPS signal, the first thing you need to do is review the environment. Are there lots of trees, buildings, or metal structures nearby? Are you trying to fly indoors or underground?
According to GPS.gov, the above two factors are the main reason for no GPS signal.
Go to a place where you can avoid these issues. The best location would be an open area.
Atmospheric conditions can interfere with the signal but are less common. A cloudy sky isn’t a strong reason for no GPS signal.
After going to an obstacle-free area, check the GPS signal.
Has Step 1 solved your issue? If not, go to Step 2.
Step 2: Recalibrate the compass
If you attempt to fly in an environment with metal structures and wiring, the electromagnetic signals interfere with the compass.
The compass can affect your GPS signal. Recalibrate the compass as follows:
- Tap the three horizontal dots in the top-right corner of the Fly app camera view.
- In Safety, go below and find sensors.
- Below, you’ll spot the Compass Normal option. Tap Calibrate, found at the right.
- Follow the on-screen procedures to complete the calibration.
After this calibration, restart the DJI RC or Drone or RC-N1, mobile device, and drone.
Does Step 2 solve the issue? If not, go to Step 3.
Step 3: Reset your Internet connection
Wi-Fi signals might interfere with the GPS signals, but this isn’t typical.
However, you can’t use GPS due to the lack of a current map. The reason is that the Fly app lacks the maps cache, meaning it lacks the map information to be navigable with GPS.
The only way to download that cache is with an internet connection.
So, if the error is no maps, you must connect your DJI RC or mobile device to Wi-Fi or cellular Internet to get those maps. Proceed as follows:
- Connect your DJI RC or mobile device to the Internet.
- In the Fly app camera view, go to the left-bottom side of the screen.
- Tap the map icon and check the map has loaded completely.
- Finally, check if you can use the GPS function.
Step 4: Update firmware
Update to the latest firmware in your RC and drone. Reinstall the Fly app on your mobile device if applicable.
Although firmware doesn’t affect the GPS connection, it can change functions that affect it.
For instance, DJI implemented a firmware update that disables Wi-Fi once you enter the camera view. The result is the issue we covered in step 4.
Update your firmware according to this video:
Now check what changed with the new update that can interfere with the GPS connectivity.
Does this firmware update solute your issue? If not, go to the final step.
Step 5: Contact DJI
If nothing above works, you could have a damaged GPS module.
Please don’t remove the module from the drone. DJI will know if you have attempted to, and you can lose the warranty.
You must send an Online Request to DJI with a quick video showing the issue. Emphasize if the issue happens when the aircraft is on the ground, flying, or both.
If the problem started after a firmware update, mention that.
Expect a response in up to 24 hours.
Also, contact DJI Online Support. They will advance the procedure so you don’t lose any time.