Dronesgator logo

How to fix gimbal overload on a drone? (6 Actionable Steps)

Updated in 2024 by Paul Posea
drone gimbal overload fix

So, you have everything ready and rearing to go on your next aerial photography shoot. But wait, as you go to take off, a ‘gimbal error’ notification displays on your screen. You may also notice that your gimbal is shaking erratically.

Upon closer inspection, you realize that the culprit is your gimbal overloaded with the weight of your camera and lens. This is a common problem, especially for those that fly drones often. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to fix this issue and get back in the air ASAP.

You can fix a gimbal overload error by ensuring the surface is clear of any obstruction. If you are flying in a windy environment, try to find an area with fewer gusts for a steadier shot. Always make sure all of your screws and bolts on the drone and gimbal are tightened securely. 

These measures will help distribute the weight evenly and prevent any excess shaking. Always check to ensure the third-party accessories are not too heavy. You may also want to check for any debris that may be interfering with the gimbal’s motor.

By the way, here are a few of my other articles on fixing drone issues you might be interested in:

Gimbal overload may be a common occurrence during drone operation, but this doesn't have to be. We take a closer look at this error to understand what causes it and how best to avoid it while in operation.

What Is Gimbal Overload in a drone?

Getting a gimbal overload error on your DJI drone can be frustrating. It means that the camera or gimbal is overloaded and may not be working properly.

Gimbal overload is a case where the device’s gimbal struggles to support the weight of the camera and lens. This can cause the drone to shake erratically and make it difficult to take steady shots. Anything that inhibits the gimbal's movement causes a gimbal error.

After installing third-party accessories, like a lens filter or ND filter, the weight of your camera and gimbal system could exceed what is recommended by the manufacturer. This will cause an error message to appear on the screen saying “Gimbal Overload”, "error code 4003" or “Camera Error.”

What Causes Gimbal Motor Overload?

Several factors can contribute to gimbal overload on your drone. While some of them are obvious, others may not be so apparent.

Gimbal overload can be caused by such factors as gimbal debris, obstruction at launch, broken hardware, heavy third-party accessories, or poor weight distribution. It can sometimes result from strain on the gimbal motor or the camera.

Gimbal debris

Debris on the gimbal arm can cause it to overload and lead to a gimbal overload error. This is because the debris interferes with how the camera moves, resulting in uneven weight distribution or extra strain on one side of the system.

Solution

  • Inspect the Gimbal: Before each flight, visually check the gimbal arm for dirt, sand, or other debris.
  • Clean Gently: Use a soft brush or air blower to remove loose debris. For stubborn dirt, lightly wipe with a microfiber cloth dampened with isopropyl alcohol.
  • Test Mobility: After cleaning, gently move the gimbal through its range of motion to ensure it's free from obstructions.
  • Calibrate the Gimbal: Power on the drone and perform a gimbal calibration via the drone’s software to reset its positioning.
  • Conduct a Test Flight: After cleaning and calibration, do a short test flight to check the gimbal’s stability and the quality of the footage.
  • Regular Maintenance: Make cleaning a regular part of your drone maintenance, especially after flying in dusty or sandy areas, and store the drone in a clean, dust-free environment.

Obstruction at launch

An obstruction at launch, such as a tree branch or building, can also be a major contributor to gimbal overload. When the drone lifts off, the camera and lens are suddenly subjected to more strain than they are used to, which can cause the device to shake.

Solution

  • Check Surroundings: Before launching your drone, carefully inspect the takeoff area for potential obstructions like tree branches or buildings.
  • Ensure Clearance: Make sure there’s enough open space around the drone. This clearance is crucial to prevent the gimbal from experiencing undue strain during takeoff.
  • Choose an Alternate Location: If you spot any obstructions close to your intended takeoff point, move to a different location with more open space.
  • Consider Drone Size: In areas with limited space, opt for a smaller drone that can maneuver more easily and is less likely to be affected by nearby obstacles.

Broken or faulty hardware

A broken screw or other hardware on your drone can also lead to gimbal overload. This is especially true if the camera and lens are not secured properly.

It causes them to move around during the flight, resulting in uneven weight distribution.

Solution

  • Inspect Hardware: Before flying, check your drone for any broken screws or hardware that might affect the gimbal.
  • Secure Camera and Lens: Make sure the camera and lens are properly attached and secure. Loose components can cause imbalance during flight.
  • Tighten Screws: Go over the drone and tighten any loose screws to ensure even weight distribution and stable flight.

Heavy third-party accessories

Adding heavy third-party accessories, such as a lens filter or ND filter, can overload the gimbal and cause the error message to appear. This is because they add extra weight to an already overloaded system.

Solution

  • Choose Lightweight Accessories: When buying accessories like lens filters, pick ones that are light to avoid overloading the gimbal.
  • Check Compatibility: Ensure that any third-party accessory you add is compatible with your drone's model and specifications.
  • Install Properly: If heavier accessories are necessary, use strong screws for secure installation, but be careful not to overtighten and damage the drone.

Poor weight distribution

The weight of the camera or gimbal can sometimes be unevenly distributed. This causes one side to become overloaded and causes shaking or vibration during flight.

Solution

  • Check Balance: Before flying, ensure the camera and gimbal are evenly balanced on the drone to prevent one side from getting overloaded.
  • Adjust Center of Gravity: If the weight seems off, adjust the drone's center of gravity. This might involve repositioning the camera or other components.
    Use a Bubble Level: A bubble level can help you check that everything is aligned correctly. Make sure the drone is level before takeoff.

Forgotten gimbal cover

Sometimes, excitement can get the better of us during pre-flight preparations. As a result, the gimbal cover is forgotten and not removed from the drone before takeoff. Without realizing it, you fly off with your drone while its gimbal cover remains on.

Solution

  • Pre-Flight Checklist: Always include checking the gimbal cover in your pre-flight routine to ensure it's removed before takeoff.
  • Immediate Action: If you notice unusual behavior during flight and realize the gimbal cover is still on, land the drone immediately.
  • Remove and Restart: After landing, turn off the drone, remove the gimbal cover, and then restart for a proper takeoff.

Replace the gimbal ribbon

The gimbal ribbon in drones, particularly in models like DJI Mavic and Phantom, may need replacement due to various reasons. Over time, normal wear and tear can degrade its functionality, leading to gimbal errors.

Additionally, physical damage from crashes or rough handling can cause the ribbon to malfunction. In some cases, the gimbal ribbon might be inherently faulty, which can lead to immediate operational issues right from the start

Solutions

  • Purchase a New Ribbon: Buy a replacement gimbal ribbon from a reliable source, ensuring it's compatible with your drone model.
  • Follow Online Tutorials: Utilize online video tutorials or guides for step-by-step instructions on replacing the gimbal ribbon.
  • Seek Professional Help: If uncomfortable with DIY methods, seek assistance from a professional drone repair service or contact the manufacturer’s support team.

Firmware issues.

Firmware issues in drones often arise from outdated or improperly installed updates. Running on old firmware can lead to a range of problems, including gimbal overload errors, as the software becomes incompatible with newer operational demands or features. 

Faulty updates, where the firmware does not install correctly, can also disrupt the normal functioning of the gimbal, causing errors and affecting the drone's overall performance.

Regular updates are essential to ensure smooth operation and prevent these issues.

Solutions

  • Regular Updates: Consistently check for and install the latest firmware updates for your drone.
  • Use Official Software: Employ tools like DJI Assistant 2 for updating firmware to reduce the risk of glitches.
  • Reinstall Firmware: If encountering issues post-update, try reinstalling the firmware.
  • Contact Manufacturer Support: For persistent firmware problems, reach out to the drone’s customer support for professional guidance and troubleshooting.

Other notable fixes for gimbal overload

If none of the above fixes work, it could be an issue of poor calibration. Calibrating the drone's gimbal can help to improve its overall performance. You can also try using a different type of battery or lens if your camera and lens are too heavy for the drone.

Make your flights less aggressive by reducing the speed and height of your drone. You can consider taking off from an elevated platform, like a table or desk, to give your drone some extra space for takeoff (and landing).

In cases where you can figure out the issue, it is best that you contact the drone manufacturer for support. Otherwise, if you’re still experiencing gimbal overload errors after trying all these fixes, then it may be time to upgrade your drone with a new one.

How do I fix gimbal overload errors on DJI drones?

DJI drones have a built-in system that alerts pilots when the gimbal is overloaded. This usually happens due to too much weight or imbalance on the camera and lens. When this error message pops up, it’s important to take action right away to prevent any damage from occurring.

You can fix gimbal overload errors on DJI drones by reducing the weight or changing orientation. Ensure that all components are balanced and secure before each takeoff. Adjust your drone's center of gravity by adding weights to the arms or swapping heavier batteries with lighter ones.

For a more focused fix, you can follow these steps: 

  • Turn off your drone and remove all cables from its ports (including USB).
  • Wait for about 30 seconds to one minute before restarting again. This is because some cameras may require time to cool down after being overheated by heavy usage or high temperatures outside.
  • Once you’ve restarted your drone, make sure there are no cables connected to it again.
  • If you’re using a lens or accessory that is too heavy for the gimbal system on your drone, remove them before taking off (or replace them with lighter ones). You can also try balancing all components evenly by adding weights like coins or washers to the drone's frame.
  • If none of the above solutions work, you can try recalibrating your drone's gimbal in its settings menu. This will help improve your aircraft's overall performance and stability during flight.

How do I fix the gimbal overload on a DJI mini 2?

The DJI mini 2 is a small, lightweight drone, perfect for beginner pilots. However, even this little guy can experience gimbal overload if too much weight is added to the camera and lens.

You can fix the gimbal overload on a DJI mini 2 by:

  • Recalibrating your drone’s gimbal system in its settings menu
  • Refresh its firmware
  • Remove any accessories or lenses that may be causing an imbalance
  • Reduce the weight of your drone or its accessories by replacing heavier items with lighter ones.

How do I fix gimbal overload on a DJI Air 2s?

The DJI Air 2s is a great option for pilots looking for an affordable, easy-to-use drone. However, even this model can experience gimbal overload if too much weight is added to the camera and lens.

You can fix gimbal overload on a DJI Air 2s by recalibrating your drone’s gimbal system. Alternatively, you can also refresh its firmware. Try removing any accessories or lenses that may be causing an imbalance and reducing the weight of your drone by replacing heavier accessories with lighter ones.

DJI Air 2s is one of the most stable drones on the market. If you’re still experiencing problems with gimbal overload after trying all these solutions, seek assistance from the drone manufacturer.

How do you calibrate a drone gimbal?

Drone pilots use calibration to adjust and improve the performance of their aircraft's gimbals. This process helps to ensure that your shots are smooth and level, regardless of how crazy things may get during flight. The gimbal calibration takes less than five minutes 

To calibrate a drone gimbal:

  • Tap the three dots on the upper right corner of your screen
  • Open up its settings menu
  • Scroll down and tap on "Calibration" option and then 
  • Hold your drone completely still in all three axes for five seconds. DJI drones will make a sound when successfully calibrated.

There are two types of calibration that you may need to perform on your drone:

Gimbal calibration - This adjusts the position of the gimbal to improve its accuracy and stability.

Compass calibration - This calibrates the compass sensor to ensure that your drone knows where it is in relation to Earth's magnetic fields.

You should do both types of calibration before every flight session. 

Tips to Prevent Gimbal Motor Overload on a Drone

Gimbal motor overload in drones, a common issue faced by enthusiasts, can lead to erratic camera movements and unstable footage, ultimately affecting the quality of your aerial photography or videography. To fix gimbal overload and ensure a smooth flying experience, here are some practical tips:

Proper Weight Management

  • Avoid overloading the camera with heavy accessories. Stick to lightweight components that don't strain the gimbal motor.
  • Balance the weight evenly. If you're using additional accessories like lenses or filters, ensure they don't disrupt the drone's center of gravity.

Regular Maintenance:

  • Regularly inspect and maintain the gimbal motor. Check for any signs of wear or damage, especially if the drone has been used extensively or has experienced rough conditions.
  • Clean the gimbal area to remove any debris or dust that might accumulate and cause obstruction or additional weight.

Gimbal Calibration:

  • Calibrate the gimbal regularly. This can be done through the drone’s software settings and helps in correcting any misalignments or errors in the gimbal’s movement.

Firmware Updates:

  • Keep the drone’s firmware updated. Software issues can sometimes lead to gimbal overload, so ensuring your drone operates on the latest firmware is crucial.
  • Use official software tools like DJI Assistant for updates to reduce the risk of glitches.

Avoiding Overheating:

  • Monitor the gimbal motor’s temperature, especially after long flights or in hot weather. Overheating can cause the motor to malfunction.
  • Give your drone some rest between flights to cool down, particularly after intensive use.

Mindful Flying:

  • Fly within the drone’s recommended limits. Pushing the drone to extreme maneuvers or speeds can put extra strain on the gimbal motor.
  • Be cautious of environmental factors like strong winds or flying in areas with obstacles that can impact the gimbal’s performance.

Check for Physical Damage:

  • After any accident or crash, thoroughly inspect the gimbal for any physical damage. Even minor impacts can misalign the gimbal, leading to overload issues.

Identifying Gimbal Motor Overload on a Drone

Early detection is key to addressing the problem before it leads to more serious damage or affects the drone's range and capabilities. Here's how you can identify and understand gimbal motor overload:

Erratic Camera Movements:

One of the first signs of gimbal motor overload is erratic or jerky camera movements. Instead of a smooth operation, the camera might shake or twitch, especially during maneuvers.

Overload Error Messages:

Many modern drones, like those from DJI, display error messages on the controller’s screen or app. If you see a 'gimbal overload' warning, it's a clear indicator that there's an issue.

Unusual Sounds:

Listen for any strange noises coming from the gimbal area. Grinding or whirring sounds can suggest that the gimbal motors are struggling or working harder than usual.

Limited Gimbal Movement:

Check if the gimbal is moving freely in all directions. Overload can restrict the range of motion, making it difficult to tilt or pan the camera smoothly.

Physical Inspection:

Visually inspect the gimbal for any signs of damage, debris, or loose components. Physical obstructions or damage can lead to overload.

Drone’s Flight Behavior:

Pay attention to the overall flight behavior of the drone. If it seems unstable or drifts unexpectedly, the gimbal issue might be affecting its balance and navigation.

Overheating:

After a flight, touch the gimbal motors carefully. If they feel unusually hot, it could be a sign of overload due to excessive strain.

Testing in Different Conditions:

Fly the drone in various conditions to see if the issue persists. Sometimes, external factors like wind or temperature can temporarily affect the gimbal’s performance.

Conclusion- How do you fix drone overload quickly?

There are a few solutions that you can try if your drone experiences gimbal overload. 

Based on the error noted, try recalibrating the gimbal system, refreshing the firmware, removing any accessories or lenses that may be causing an imbalance, and reducing the weight of your drone or its accessories by replacing heavier items with lighter ones. 

If none of these solutions work, seek assistance from the drone manufacturer. DJI has a great customer service team, and they are always happy to help. Do some research to find out how heavy your drone can be and what type of gimbal it uses. This will help prevent issues in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

How important is a gimbal on a drone?

A gimbal is crucial for a drone as it stabilizes the camera, ensuring smooth and clear footage even in challenging conditions.

What causes gimbal lock?

Gimbal lock occurs when the gimbal reaches the limits of its movement range, often due to improper calibration or mechanical restrictions.

Why is the DJI gimbal shaking?

A shaking DJI gimbal can indicate a gimbal motor overloaded issue, often caused by imbalance, damage, or software glitches.

Which gimbal is best for beginners?

For beginners, a user-friendly and budget-friendly gimbal like the DJI Osmo Mobile series is often recommended for its ease of use and reliability.

How do I make my gimbal smoother?

To make your gimbal smoother, regularly calibrate it, balance the camera properly, and ensure all firmware is up to date.

Can you use DJI gimbal without an app?

Yes, you can use a DJI gimbal without an app for basic operations, but the app provides access to advanced features and controls.

How do you set up a gimbal?

To set up a gimbal, balance your camera on it, ensure it's properly mounted, and then calibrate it using the companion app or onboard controls.

author-paul-posea-picture
Hi, I'm Paul.
A big drone enthusiast, reviewing, comparing and writing about drones since 2015. I'm all about helping people enjoy and even monetize their hobby.

Become an FAA-Certified Drone Pilot

  • make money from your passion
  • pass the Part 107 test Guarantee (money back
  • 50,000 students and 3,000+ reviews

Use the code DRONESGATOR for $50 off 

Show me the Course!
paul posea
Paul Posea
Hi, I'm a long-time drone reviewer and I hope my articles and comparisons on this site as well as Dronesgator's youtube channel are of as much help as possible.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram