DJI Air 3: How to Calibrate Gimbal, IMU, and Compass (Explained with Video)

Although the DJI Air 3 was recently released in the summer of this year, 2023, it is steadily growing in popularity.

With its dual-camera system and omnidirectional obstacle avoidance system, it is ideal for those newly getting into the hobby, social media content creators, travel bloggers, and solo creators.

To ensure the DJI Air 3 is functioning correctly and consistently, there may be times soon when various calibrations should be made.

This article and the included YouTube video, will briefly discuss various issues that may arise within the Gimbal, IMU, and Compass, and serve as a step-by-step guide for calibrating your Air 3 Gimbal, IMU, and Compass.

We’ll now look at why calibrations would be needed, followed by how to calibrate the Gimbal, IMU, and Compass using the DJI Fly app.

Gimbal Calibration

For those new to drones, the gimbal on DJI drones have dual purposes:

  • Serves as an attachment point for the camera to the drone
  • Provides 3-way camera stability

The gimbal is used to ensure smooth and level video footage and level photos. If the gimbal on the Air 3 is off-center or slightly misaligned while in use, it could cause extra work in post-processing software to get corrected (i.e., Lightroom, Photoshop, DaVinci Resolve, Final Cut Pro, etc.)

Because gimbal calibrations are related to the drone’s camera, unlike the IMU and compass calibrations, gimbal calibration does not affect how the Air 3 flies.

The gimbal does a self-check each time the DJI Air 3 is turned on. However, if you find that the camera on your Air 3 has trouble staying level (uneven horizon) or wanders occasionally during flight, then it is time to manually calibrate the gimbal through the DJI Fly app.

To calibrate your Air 3’s gimbal:

STEP 1: While the Air 3 is off, remove the gimbal cover.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne/Droneblog

STEP 2: While on a flat surface, power on the DJI RC 2 or RC-N2 that you regularly fly your Air 3 with.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne/Droneblog

STEP 3: Power on the Air 3. After the DJI RC 2 or RC-N2 connects to the Air 3, it may automatically switch over to Live View. If you are not brought to the Live View, tap GO FLY.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne/Droneblog

STEP 4: Once in Live View, go into the Fly app menu/options by tapping the three dots in the upper right-hand corner.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne/Droneblog

STEP 5: Locate and tap the Control Tab. Scroll down until you see Gimbal Calibration. Next to that press the arrow to the right and choose Auto to automatically calibrate the gimbal.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne/Droneblog
Image Credit: Dan Bayne/Droneblog

Alternatively, you can choose to manually calibrate the gimble. If you choose Manual, you will be able to define the Horizontal and Yaw values to get your horizon level.

This is handy for when in the air and you need to calibrate on the fly.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne/Droneblog

» MORE: What Is a Gimbal in Drones? (Explained for Beginners)

IMU Calibration

The job of the Air 3’s IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) is to ensure that the Air 3 is level and stable in the air. It does so by monitoring the drone’s velocity angle, force, and attitude.

To monitor these, the IMU checks the Air 3’s accelerometer, barometer, gyroscope, and thermometer. If any of these systems are out of whack, and not corrected, the Air 3 could:

  • Tilt while hovering
  • Have difficulty remaining steady and stable in the air, or even
  • Display signs of difficulty cooling down

By calibrating the Air 3’s IMU, preferably when prompted, you can reduce sensor errors and have an overall better flying experience.

DJI suggests IMU calibration whenever you fly outside of a 30-mile radius of your last flight, and every 1000ft of elevation change. Again, this is the manufacturer’s suggestion. Many drone operators do not perform these steps unless needed.

To calibrate your Air 3’s IMU:

STEP 1: While the Air 3 is off, remove the gimbal cover. This will ensure that when the Air 3 is turned on, the movement of the gimbal will not be impeded.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne/Droneblog

STEP 2: Power on the DJI RC 2 or RC-N2, whichever you use regularly. If using the RC-N2, also launch your DJI Fly app.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne/Droneblog

STEP 3: Power on the Air 3. After the DJI RC 2 or RC-N2 connects to the Air 3, it may automatically switch over to Live View. If this does not automatically occur, tap GO FLY.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne/Droneblog

STEP 4: Once in Live View, go into the Fly app menu/options by tapping the three dots in the upper right-hand corner.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne/Droneblog

STEP 5: Locate and tap the Safety Tab. Scroll down until you see IMU Normal. Next to that, press Calibrate to enter the IMU Calibration process.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne/Droneblog

STEP 6: Press Start, then follow the prompts and move the Air 3 into the various positions as directed on the screen.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne/Droneblog

» MORE: DJI Mini 3 & Mini 3 Pro: How to Calibrate IMU, Compass, and Gimbal (Video)

Compass Calibration

The Air 3’s compass is exactly what would be expected of a standard compass one might bring on a hike. It is an internal digital device that helps the Air 3 know where it currently is, location-wise.

Uncalibrated drones may fly erratically or eventually crash due to a loss of control.

Because of this, drone manufacturers, including DJI, suggest a compass calibration be done whenever you fly outside of a 50-mile radius of your last flight (up from the 30-mile radius of the IMU) and every 1000ft of elevation change.

Many drone operators calibrate their drones only when prompted. We recommend performing what works for your situation.

When calibrating your Air 3, make sure you are away from any metals or areas with strong interference. This includes most parking garages, as oftentimes, these are full of metal rebar that could cause interference with the calibration process.

To calibrate your Air 3’s compass:

STEP 1: While the Air 3 is off, remove the gimbal cover.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne/Droneblog

STEP 2: Power on the DJI RC 2 or RC-N2 with which you regularly fly your Air 3. If using the RC-N2, you’ll need to launch your DJI Fly app.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne/Droneblog

STEP 3: Power on the Air 3. After the DJI RC 2 or RC-N2 connects to the Air 3, it may automatically switch over to Live View. Tap GO FLY if you are not automatically brought to the Live View.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne/Droneblog

STEP 4: Once in Live View, go into the Fly app menu/options by tapping the three dots in the upper right-hand corner.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne/Droneblog

STEP 5: Locate and tap the SAFETY Tab. Scroll down until you see Compass Normal. Next to that, press Calibrate to start the Compass Calibration process.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne/Droneblog

STEP 6: Press Start and then follow the prompts and move the Air 3 into the various positions as directed on the screen.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne/Droneblog

» MORE: DJI Air 3 Beginners Guide (Step-by-Step Guide)