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Experience replacing a gimbal ribbon cable

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A friend of mine and fellow UAV enthusiast recently requested my assistance in replacing a P4 (original) ribbon cable, and although we were successful in fixing the limp camera issue that he was having after a minor crash, we did run into a snag along the way.

After removing the gimbal itself from the aircraft, I started at the camera, removing the old cable and replacing it with the new as I worked upward. Then, once everything was done below the upper plastic housing, you have to remove four internal screws that allow the camera and arm assembly to drop from the gimbal frame, and this is necessary to feed the rest of the ribbon cable upward prior to attachment to the board. And wouldn't you know, three of these small screws came out with no issue, but one had been put in somewhat ham fisted it would seem, and its head was all stripped off.

In the end, we decided to carefully drill the head off this screw if you can believe it, and although it took a bit of work - fragile as the gimbal is - I drilled and he held the vacuum to it, and the little screw head eventually popped off. Twenty minutes later, the copter was happily flying again, and the camera was back in order. It felt pretty good when it booted up properly and even better when it passed the flight test, but I have to say, I would have never guessed that we would have needed a drill...
 
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A friend of mine and fellow UAV enthusiast recently requested my assistance in replacing a P4 (original) ribbon cable, and although we were successful in fixing the limp camera issue that he was having after a minor crash, we did run into a snag along the way.

After removing the gimbal itself from the aircraft, I started at the camera, removing the old cable and replacing it with the new as I worked upward. Then, once everything was done below the upper plastic housing, you have to remove four internal screws that allow the camera and arm assembly to drop from the gimbal frame, and this is necessary to feed the rest of the ribbon cable upward prior to attachment to the board. And wouldn't you know, three of these small screws came out with no issue, but one had been put in somewhat ham fisted it would seem, and its head was all stripped off.

In the end, we decided to carefully drill the head off this screw if you can believe it, and although it took a bit of work - fragile as the gimbal is - I drilled and he held the vacuum to it, and the little screw head eventually popped off. Twenty minutes later, the copter was happily flying again, and the camera was back in order. It felt pretty good when it booted up properly and even better when it passed the flight test, but I have to say, I would have never guessed that we would have needed a drill...
Well, I guess now "you know the drill"
 
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While we are on the subject of repairs -- drone or otherwise -- just a tip for everyone. These days, most of us have smart phones. It's good practice to snap pictures as you disassemble something so you can easily review how things should go back together at any step along the way.
 
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While we are on the subject of repairs -- drone or otherwise -- just a tip for everyone. These days, most of us have smart phones. It's good practice to snap pictures as you disassemble something so you can easily review how things should go back together at any step along the way.
You are 100% right. I have seen more than one person bumbling along in the dark with a perfectly good cell-phone in their hand, not using the light. I use it all the time. Also, cell phones can support magnifying apps which I use to clearly see very small things on my iPhone...like the stripped screw head.

Another thing cell phones are good for is learning and building confidence taking them apart and putting them back together again. I did so by replacing four iPhone batteries over several months, and it got me used to working with micro-sized hardware and connectors and such. There seem to be some standards, but most of all, you need to be methodical and careful. It's kind of fun really.
 
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While we are on the subject of repairs -- drone or otherwise -- just a tip for everyone. These days, most of us have smart phones. It's good practice to snap pictures as you disassemble something so you can easily review how things should go back together at any step along the way.

You bet. Have done that working on my iMac, motorcycle and a dozen other projects. Saved my bacon more than once.
 
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You should never drill the head off a stripped phillips/pozidrive screw, without first grinding a slot in the head to be used with a slotted screwdriver.
 
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You should never drill the head off a stripped phillips/pozidrive screw, without first grinding a slot in the head to be used with a slotted screwdriver.
Ordinarily, that is the way I would have gone, but the location and very small size of the screw head made doing so impossible, at least with the tools that I had at the time. Even so, I'm not sure what tool would have worked for making a slot. Even a Dremel tool's thinnest grinding wheel would have been too thick for the size of this screw head. In the tiny little micro world of precision electronics repair, some of the standard conventions do not apply...IMO.
 

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