March 22, 2022
The #1 drone manufacture in the world makes a quality drone (go figure!)… but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect. In fact, a quick trip to nearly any drone forum on the web will reveal that there’s a ton of problems users run in to. This isn’t a knock on DJI. They make a fantastic product. I think it’s more accurate to say that the product, even at its most basic level (flying robots capable of transmitting and recording HD video in real time) is prone to failure due to its complexity and reliance on pre-existing components in order to keep costs low.
Most of the time, when you invest in a DJI drone, you’re going to have a good product that works unless it takes a dirt nap or hugs a tree. There are exceptions though, and those exceptions are usually linked to what we call “Generational Defects” that lead to malfunctions unrelated to pilot error or operation. These are problems that occur due to a design oversight and will eventually effect your drone if you own a model that has one of these “Generational defects”. In this article, we’ll be discussing the Texas Instruments DM365 chip for video processing and how it will probably effect your model if it utilizes this chip somewhere. We’ve listed the most common issues that surface with this chip and have tried to give you an idea of how to identify if your model is suffering from a generational defect.
Phantom 2 Vision and Phantom 2 Vision + “black screen” or “no vision” error. When the Phantom 2 launched it changed the consumer drone market forever. The P2V was the first consumer ready drone that offered a complete ready-to-fly camera drone capable of recording HD aerial video and streaming camera feed to your mobile device. Video downlink is made possible through a basic WiFi connection (drone to phone) and uses a Texas Instruments chip to process the video before it sends out to your mobile device. There’s an issue that can (and often does) occur involving this chip which causes the “black screen” error. To the Pilot, the drone is connected to the remote, the camera will tilt or move with yaw input and even record video but the drone will not live stream video to the pilot’s mobile device. Instead the pilot will see a spinning “loading icon” on a black screen.
This error can occur either by overheating (poor heat displacement in the early versions of the P2V+) or by letting your drone to sit on a shelf for a while without powering it on. Most of the time this issue can be resolved by repairing or replacing the NAND that the Texas Instrument Chip uses. Unfortunately this particular problem went undiagnosed by DJI for quite a while and unfortunately found its way into most early DJI products that transmitted video.
Phantom 3 Pro “No Image Transmission Signal” or “Black Screen” error. The Phantom 3 Pro was the first consumer drone capable of recording stabilized aerial video in 4k and impressive 3+ mile range was leaps higher than the both previous models and its competition at the time. The Phantom 3 Advanced model was an exact copy of the Phantom 3 Pro but without the 4k video and consequently without the “no image transmission signal” error so it doesn’t suffer from this same error.
Unfortunately, despite the technological leaps between the Phantom 2 Vision and the Phantom 3 Pro, DJI used the same Texas Instruments chip to process video before sending it to your mobile device. I’ve often wondered why it took DJI so long to address this issue as they did make modifications to their Phantom 2 Vision + WiFi units to allow for better heat displacement prior to the launch of the Phantom 3 series (but didn’t address the issues that can occur if you leave your drone to sit for several months at a time without using it.) Maybe they were unaware or maybe they were too invested in the tech to call an audible. Regardless, the same “spinning black screen” that affected the previous generation of Phantoms was back again to plague DJI’s flagship aerial platform. This time a “No Image Transmission Signal” error notification in the DJIGO3 app that will let the user know there’s a problem (if they didn’t know already by the lack of live video feed.) This particular error only affects the Phantom 3 Pro series, not the Standard or Advanced. If you’re getting this error on one of those models, it’s more likely a defect in hardware (Amberella chip on the Phantom 3 Standard) or a bad Ribbon Cable.
Bottom line; if your Phantom 3 Pro doesn’t show a live video feed but you didn’t crash or drop your drone, check to see if it records video or if the gimbal responds to commands from the remote. If it does both of these, just assume it’s caused by corrupt NAND Flash used by the Texas Instruments chip that processes the video.
GL300A “Device Disconnected” or Mobile device isn’t detected. The GL300A is the model of the default controller for the first generation of Phantom 3 Advanced and Pro models. This controller uses that same combination of Texas Instruments chip and NAND flash in order to talk to your mobile device via USB. While the purpose of the chip on the controller is different than what we see on the video processing side of the Gimbal Mainboards, a bad kernel on NAND will keep your mobile device from communicating to the controller. This can be a little trickier to diagnose as the user will just see that their mobile device isn’t recognizing their controller. It looks identical to trying to use a bad cable to connect, or trying to use an incompatible mobile device. If you can rule out both of those variables, and your mobile device wont connect to a GL300A remote controller, chances are its related to this Generational Defect.
The Good News is that if you’re device is affected by the Texas Instruments Generational Defect, it can be repaired at a low cost fairly quickly. We charge $55 plus shipping and can typically have the repair completed in 2 business days. To begin the repair process click on the “repair my drone” button and select the proper model and “No Image Transmission Signal”.