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Parrot Anafi gimbal replacement - tested and working solution [but not so easy]

obsid

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Yesterday I made a successful replacement of the gimbal in the Parrot Anafi drone, so I decided to share my experience with other users of this drone. There is a great deal of conflicting or even confusing information on the Internet [as well as, unfortunately, on this forum] regarding whether such a replacement is possible.

In my drone, the gimbal was mechanically damaged (broken L arm) and the main arm was damaged. In addition, the tape connecting the gimbal to the ESC board (a vertically mounted board in the compartment behind the gimbal and camera assembly) was broken.

A complete camera and gimbal assembly was purchased by me to make the repair possible. Unfortunately, repositioning such an assembly to the drone is not possible because:
1) the camera module is paired with the drone's motherboard,
2) each of the modules powering the motors in the gimbal is also paired with the drone's board.

In my drone all elecotronic parts (motherboard, ESC [motor module], camera module, gimbal two motor electronics are from originaly mounted parts - so they are original part from my drone, only gimbal frame and flex are exchanged.

Replacing just the camera module [from original module from your drone] alone will result in a camera view, but will fail to calibrate the gimbal.

Regarding the last point [2]: I found information that the motor power modules in the gimbal do not have components capable of storing the motherboard key. This is untrue - the passive components (resistors, capacitors, etc.) visible on the top of the motor boards are only part of all the motor electronics, which are located on the bottom of the board:

IMG_20221023_124728.jpg

The way to repair the gimbal is as follows:
1) Remove the camera module from the damaged gimbal (after removing the white camera body) - the camera module is attached to the frame with 3 screws, this module will be installed in the new gimbal frame,
2) Remove the two plastic cable covers (each of them is fixed with one screw), then dettach the plugs of the power strip for the motor modules,
3) The next step is quite difficult: very carefully peel off the gimbal flex - it should be done very gently (personally, I advise against heated, but you can moisten a little with isopropyl alcohol the flex itself - this should make it easier to peel the flex from the motor body). Do not remove the flex completely from the gimball - being careful not to break it. Dont wash off the glue residue.
4) This stage is the most difficult: we need to peel the motor (I mean the motor located behind the camera if you are looking at the camera from the front) from the body of the gimbal). This motor, along with the electronics, can be removed, in my opinion, only by very gently sliding it out of the gimbal body (the shiny part of the motor is glued into the round ring). The glue can be heated a bit with a hairdryer, a rather time-consuming process, but I managed after about 30 minutes to separate the motor without damaging the structure of the gimbal. Theoretically, there is an easier way to remove the motor along with the electronics - by knocking the motor shaft out of the bearing, but nevertheless it is troublesome, because at this point the frame of the gimbal is very fragile and there is no good possibility of a point impact on the motor shaft (after removing the lock pin) and knocking the shaft out of the motor bearing.
5) The second motor which rotates the frame with the camera module should also be peeled from the ring holder located on the L-shaped arm
(if it is necessary to replace the gimbal component on which this motor is located). This motor must be dismantled in a different way: here it is necessary to knock the motor rotor shaft out of the bearing holder. In the case of this motor, this is made easier because you can support the motor seat and with a single blow on the motor shaft from the bearing side, knock the shaft out of the bearing. After that, you can replace the motor rotor along with the electronics (to the one that is paired with the motherboard).

After completing points 1 to 5, we proceed to reassemble the gimbal.
1) In the frame we mount the camera module from our damaged gimbal, dont yet put on the white camera body.
2) The detached motors [from the damaged gimbal] should be glued back into the "new" gimbal.
3) Carefully place and guide flex to the gimbal (the leftover glue on the body will now come in handy). Once this is done, connect the plugs located at the ends of the tape to the power supply of the gimbal's motors, and then put on the plastic covers. Here a note: the T-shaped shield covering the camera's signal cable tends to line up a bit diagonally - if this happens, the gimbal will have a limited steering angle in one direction, so check the gimbal's range of motion after attaching this shield.
4) Arrange the camera signal cable in such a way that it is not damaged by the attached body and does not block the movement of the gimbal.
5) Put on the white camera body.
6) Mount the gimbal to the drone, after that, we should calibrate the gimbal (as a rule, the message "Calibration Recomended" appears). If at this stage the message "Put your drone on the stil surface..." appears. this may mean that the part of the gimbal assembly has become twisted during crash - the gimbal will work, but its calibration will require the drone to be placed horizontally. This last "calibration part" not always is possible to complete - if mechiancal parts of the gimbal are twisted after crash. As a last resort, you can ignore this message "Put your drone on the stil surface..." - camera in the drone will be stabilised already.
 

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Jagerbomb52

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Wonderful write up and thanks for sharing it to the forum. I think I know my limitations and would have stopped at 3) The next step is quite difficult: and went out and bought a refurbished one if I could find one. ;)
 
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obsid

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Thank you very much. I will be replacing another gimbal assembly soon and will try to add some photos to illustrate the process. My post was intended to give an idea of how complicated this repair is - quite a few Anafi (and non-only Anafi) drone enthusiasts sometimes wonder about buying a drone with a damaged camera and/or gimbal, hoping that all they need to do is simply replace the damaged components and enjoy a fully functional drone. Unfortunately, drone manufacturers have made it so difficult as to be unprofitable to repair a drone after any major damage. PS. I apologize for any language errors - I live in Poland and use one of the translators.
 

Jagerbomb52

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Thank you very much. I will be replacing another gimbal assembly soon and will try to add some photos to illustrate the process. My post was intended to give an idea of how complicated this repair is - quite a few Anafi (and non-only Anafi) drone enthusiasts sometimes wonder about buying a drone with a damaged camera and/or gimbal, hoping that all they need to do is simply replace the damaged components and enjoy a fully functional drone. Unfortunately, drone manufacturers have made it so difficult as to be unprofitable to repair a drone after any major damage. PS. I apologize for any language errors - I live in Poland and use one of the translators.
You did a very good job of explaining your process so no need to apologize. Other drone manufactures also like Yuneec are the same. Unless you have access to the needed software and firmware to mate the process you end up with a camera that will not calibrate. Been there done it.
 

Stathi

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Yesterday I made a successful replacement of the gimbal in the Parrot Anafi drone, so I decided to share my experience with other users of this drone. There is a great deal of conflicting or even confusing information on the Internet [as well as, unfortunately, on this forum] regarding whether such a replacement is possible.

In my drone, the gimbal was mechanically damaged (broken L arm) and the main arm was damaged. In addition, the tape connecting the gimbal to the ESC board (a vertically mounted board in the compartment behind the gimbal and camera assembly) was broken.

A complete camera and gimbal assembly was purchased by me to make the repair possible. Unfortunately, repositioning such an assembly to the drone is not possible because:
1) the camera module is paired with the drone's motherboard,
2) each of the modules powering the motors in the gimbal is also paired with the drone's board.

In my drone all elecotronic parts (motherboard, ESC [motor module], camera module, gimbal two motor electronics are from originaly mounted parts - so they are original part from my drone, only gimbal frame and flex are exchanged.

Replacing just the camera module [from original module from your drone] alone will result in a camera view, but will fail to calibrate the gimbal.

Regarding the last point [2]: I found information that the motor power modules in the gimbal do not have components capable of storing the motherboard key. This is untrue - the passive components (resistors, capacitors, etc.) visible on the top of the motor boards are only part of all the motor electronics, which are located on the bottom of the board:

View attachment 6156

The way to repair the gimbal is as follows:
1) Remove the camera module from the damaged gimbal (after removing the white camera body) - the camera module is attached to the frame with 3 screws, this module will be installed in the new gimbal frame,
2) Remove the two plastic cable covers (each of them is fixed with one screw), then dettach the plugs of the power strip for the motor modules,
3) The next step is quite difficult: very carefully peel off the gimbal flex - it should be done very gently (personally, I advise against heated, but you can moisten a little with isopropyl alcohol the flex itself - this should make it easier to peel the flex from the motor body). Do not remove the flex completely from the gimball - being careful not to break it. Dont wash off the glue residue.
4) This stage is the most difficult: we need to peel the motor (I mean the motor located behind the camera if you are looking at the camera from the front) from the body of the gimbal). This motor, along with the electronics, can be removed, in my opinion, only by very gently sliding it out of the gimbal body (the shiny part of the motor is glued into the round ring). The glue can be heated a bit with a hairdryer, a rather time-consuming process, but I managed after about 30 minutes to separate the motor without damaging the structure of the gimbal. Theoretically, there is an easier way to remove the motor along with the electronics - by knocking the motor shaft out of the bearing, but nevertheless it is troublesome, because at this point the frame of the gimbal is very fragile and there is no good possibility of a point impact on the motor shaft (after removing the lock pin) and knocking the shaft out of the motor bearing.
5) The second motor which rotates the frame with the camera module should also be peeled from the ring holder located on the L-shaped arm
(if it is necessary to replace the gimbal component on which this motor is located). This motor must be dismantled in a different way: here it is necessary to knock the motor rotor shaft out of the bearing holder. In the case of this motor, this is made easier because you can support the motor seat and with a single blow on the motor shaft from the bearing side, knock the shaft out of the bearing. After that, you can replace the motor rotor along with the electronics (to the one that is paired with the motherboard).

After completing points 1 to 5, we proceed to reassemble the gimbal.
1) In the frame we mount the camera module from our damaged gimbal, dont yet put on the white camera body.
2) The detached motors [from the damaged gimbal] should be glued back into the "new" gimbal.
3) Carefully place and guide flex to the gimbal (the leftover glue on the body will now come in handy). Once this is done, connect the plugs located at the ends of the tape to the power supply of the gimbal's motors, and then put on the plastic covers. Here a note: the T-shaped shield covering the camera's signal cable tends to line up a bit diagonally - if this happens, the gimbal will have a limited steering angle in one direction, so check the gimbal's range of motion after attaching this shield.
4) Arrange the camera signal cable in such a way that it is not damaged by the attached body and does not block the movement of the gimbal.
5) Put on the white camera body.
6) Mount the gimbal to the drone, after that, we should calibrate the gimbal (as a rule, the message "Calibration Recomended" appears). If at this stage the message "Put your drone on the stil surface..." appears. this may mean that the part of the gimbal assembly has become twisted during crash - the gimbal will work, but its calibration will require the drone to be placed horizontally. This last "calibration part" not always is possible to complete - if mechiancal parts of the gimbal are twisted after crash. As a last resort, you can ignore this message "Put your drone on the stil surface..." - camera in the drone will be stabilised already.
So my Anafi thermal camera broke at the 2 plastic arms on the side. Short of super glueing, this seems to be the solution as I believe the camera is still functional. The braided wire seems to be in tact, the other wire appears to just plug into a tiny socket. That said, this looks insanely difficult for someone with fat fingers. Gives me hope though... thanks for sharing
 

Stathi

Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2022
Messages
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Yesterday I made a successful replacement of the gimbal in the Parrot Anafi drone, so I decided to share my experience with other users of this drone. There is a great deal of conflicting or even confusing information on the Internet [as well as, unfortunately, on this forum] regarding whether such a replacement is possible.

In my drone, the gimbal was mechanically damaged (broken L arm) and the main arm was damaged. In addition, the tape connecting the gimbal to the ESC board (a vertically mounted board in the compartment behind the gimbal and camera assembly) was broken.

A complete camera and gimbal assembly was purchased by me to make the repair possible. Unfortunately, repositioning such an assembly to the drone is not possible because:
1) the camera module is paired with the drone's motherboard,
2) each of the modules powering the motors in the gimbal is also paired with the drone's board.

In my drone all elecotronic parts (motherboard, ESC [motor module], camera module, gimbal two motor electronics are from originaly mounted parts - so they are original part from my drone, only gimbal frame and flex are exchanged.

Replacing just the camera module [from original module from your drone] alone will result in a camera view, but will fail to calibrate the gimbal.

Regarding the last point [2]: I found information that the motor power modules in the gimbal do not have components capable of storing the motherboard key. This is untrue - the passive components (resistors, capacitors, etc.) visible on the top of the motor boards are only part of all the motor electronics, which are located on the bottom of the board:

View attachment 6156

The way to repair the gimbal is as follows:
1) Remove the camera module from the damaged gimbal (after removing the white camera body) - the camera module is attached to the frame with 3 screws, this module will be installed in the new gimbal frame,
2) Remove the two plastic cable covers (each of them is fixed with one screw), then dettach the plugs of the power strip for the motor modules,
3) The next step is quite difficult: very carefully peel off the gimbal flex - it should be done very gently (personally, I advise against heated, but you can moisten a little with isopropyl alcohol the flex itself - this should make it easier to peel the flex from the motor body). Do not remove the flex completely from the gimball - being careful not to break it. Dont wash off the glue residue.
4) This stage is the most difficult: we need to peel the motor (I mean the motor located behind the camera if you are looking at the camera from the front) from the body of the gimbal). This motor, along with the electronics, can be removed, in my opinion, only by very gently sliding it out of the gimbal body (the shiny part of the motor is glued into the round ring). The glue can be heated a bit with a hairdryer, a rather time-consuming process, but I managed after about 30 minutes to separate the motor without damaging the structure of the gimbal. Theoretically, there is an easier way to remove the motor along with the electronics - by knocking the motor shaft out of the bearing, but nevertheless it is troublesome, because at this point the frame of the gimbal is very fragile and there is no good possibility of a point impact on the motor shaft (after removing the lock pin) and knocking the shaft out of the motor bearing.
5) The second motor which rotates the frame with the camera module should also be peeled from the ring holder located on the L-shaped arm
(if it is necessary to replace the gimbal component on which this motor is located). This motor must be dismantled in a different way: here it is necessary to knock the motor rotor shaft out of the bearing holder. In the case of this motor, this is made easier because you can support the motor seat and with a single blow on the motor shaft from the bearing side, knock the shaft out of the bearing. After that, you can replace the motor rotor along with the electronics (to the one that is paired with the motherboard).

After completing points 1 to 5, we proceed to reassemble the gimbal.
1) In the frame we mount the camera module from our damaged gimbal, dont yet put on the white camera body.
2) The detached motors [from the damaged gimbal] should be glued back into the "new" gimbal.
3) Carefully place and guide flex to the gimbal (the leftover glue on the body will now come in handy). Once this is done, connect the plugs located at the ends of the tape to the power supply of the gimbal's motors, and then put on the plastic covers. Here a note: the T-shaped shield covering the camera's signal cable tends to line up a bit diagonally - if this happens, the gimbal will have a limited steering angle in one direction, so check the gimbal's range of motion after attaching this shield.
4) Arrange the camera signal cable in such a way that it is not damaged by the attached body and does not block the movement of the gimbal.
5) Put on the white camera body.
6) Mount the gimbal to the drone, after that, we should calibrate the gimbal (as a rule, the message "Calibration Recomended" appears). If at this stage the message "Put your drone on the stil surface..." appears. this may mean that the part of the gimbal assembly has become twisted during crash - the gimbal will work, but its calibration will require the drone to be placed horizontally. This last "calibration part" not always is possible to complete - if mechiancal parts of the gimbal are twisted after crash. As a last resort, you can ignore this message "Put your drone on the stil surface..." - camera in the drone will be stabilised already.
Question: If I were to by a standard Anafi camera assembly, could that camera be swapped with my Thermal cam?
 

obsid

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Question: If I were to by a standard Anafi camera assembly, could that camera be swapped with my Thermal cam?
Leaving aside the differences between the two Anafi models, each camera (as an internal module that works with the gimbal) is paired with only one motherboard. So the answer is: it is definitely not possible.
 
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Csodálatos írás és köszönöm, hogy megosztottad a fórumon. Azt hiszem, ismerem a korlátaimat, és megálltam volna a 3) A következő lépés elég nehéz: kimentem és vettem egy felújítottat, ha találtam egyet.;)
Szia! Mivel verted ki a tengelyt? Van róla képed?
 

obsid

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Szia! Mivel verted ki a tengelyt? Van róla képed?
Sajnos nincs fényképem, de a motortengely kiütéséhez egy csavarhúzót használtam, amelynek cserélhető TORX típusú hegye lyukkal van ellátva (a hegy méretét úgy állítottam be, hogy csak enyhén támaszkodjon a tengelyen, és ne ragadjon bele, amikor megütöm). Csak egy-két ütés a csavarhúzó hegyére, és a tengely kicsúszik a csapágyból.

I don't have a photo unfortunately, but to knock out the motor shaft I used a screwdriver with an interchangeable TORX-type tip with a hole (I adjusted the size of the tip so that it only rests slightly on the shaft and doesn't stick into it when I hit it). Just one - two blows on the tip of the screwdriver and the shaft slides out of the bearing.
 

obsid

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I'm not sure if I understood the question correctly: judging by the photos, it's about how to replace this socket? If so, it has not been replaced by me - this type of SMD assembly on flex tapes requires a special infrared profile when soldering - soldering with a normal soldering iron will generally damage and or deform the flex.
 

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