Phantom 3S Camera Tilts Down Uncommanded

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British readers will be familiar with the dreaded "Brewers' Droop", which refers to the performance degrading effect of excessive alcohol consumption, on the ability of a man's bedroom-tackle to rise to the occasion, as it were.

Minutes ago, at the tail-end of a nice long 6-mile, 22-minute autonomous Litchi mission, my Phantom 3S drone's camera gimbal "drooped" down to a 90-degree angle-of-dangle, whereby the camera was pointing vertically downward on arrival at the landing pad. I replayed the video footage and noted that the camera rotated fully downward only at the very tail end of the flight, but did so without having been commanded by my rotating the tilt wheel on the controller.

Never having seen the camera gimbal tilt down uncommanded, I landed the craft, and then tilted the camera back to its normal near-level position using the thumb-wheel, only for the camera to again slowly lower to the vertical down position entirely on its own. I tilted the camera back up twice more in succession, but each time the camera gimbal tilted back down to the vertical position facing down. I then got to wondering if the large number of miles covered by this drone, means there might be some service routine required for the camera gimbal, though I have seen no mention of such a procedure anywhere thus far. I have babied this drone, never once crashed it. and always taken great care to execute feather-light landings after each mission.

This drone has been a real workhorse, and I was looking forward to racking up the first one thousand cumulative miles, all flown as fully autonomous missions well beyond signal range, because such beyond-visual RC flying is permissible in my neck of the woods. My attached flight log shows a cumulative total of 47 hours, 40 minutes of flight time. Multiplying that flight time summation by the cruise speed of 17.9 mph that Litchi assigns for autonomous missions, works out to 853 miles, which is tantalizingly close to the 1,000 trouble-free miles I'd been hoping to fly with this lowly underdog of a drone. Note that Air Data's cumulative mileage flown is based on miles logged within signal range, which is why the TRUE total mileage can only be determined by multiplying the total hours flown, by the cruise speed.

Anyway, returning to this mysterious uncommanded camera gimbal droop behavior, I would be grateful if any other Phantom3S owners out there might be able to offer some insights into the possible cause of the drone's camera gimbal droop, and the fix that might be required to restore normalcy.
 

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•••Tape a little blue pill to the back of it.•••

Check the Roll motor board, and using a multimeter test the resistance on the potentiometer. Make sure the ribbon cable is firmly seated in place.
 
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Thanks for this pointer, Sky Spy

Ha ha the blue pill oughta fix it. Regarding the Roll Motor Board, it does sound as though we are talking open-gimbal surgery here. I haven't attempted anything that complex yet, but if I am able to muddle my way to gaining access to this board, could you possibly give me an idea of what resistance reading I should expect to see in ohms?

Also, if that potentiometer is faulty, would that call for a complete replacement of the Roll Motor board, or is the potentiometer replaceable by clumsy novice hands like mine?
 
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Oddly enough, the camera leveled off just fine as I launched the drone on another 22-minute, 5.9-mile round trip. One thing I didn't mention, is that at the tail end of the flight when the camera acted up, a slight drizzle had just started, accompanied by strong winds that could have buffeted the gimbal and thereby induced a temporary glitch that made the camera point downward. A couple of specks of rain hit the camera lens as I watched the video playback, so there is also a chance that a tiny electrical short occurred, which opened back up when the slight moisture intrusion dried up.

I'll know for sure when the drone returns in another 15 minutes, whether the uncommanded camera tilt happens again. Keeping my fingers crossed, because I'd like to avoid doing any repairs if I can help it. I love this Phantom3S so much that I've got another one inbound from ebay, though it is slightly used. I just figured that I'd need a replacement at some point, because the crows are starting to get a little too friendly with my bird, and may at some point decide to down it with extreme prejudice.
 
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Oddly enough, the camera leveled off just fine as I launched the drone on another 22-minute, 5.9-mile round trip. One thing I didn't mention, is that at the tail end of the flight when the camera acted up, a slight drizzle had just started, accompanied by strong winds that could have buffeted the gimbal and thereby induced a temporary glitch that made the camera point downward. A couple of specks of rain hit the camera lens as I watched the video playback, so there is also a chance that a tiny electrical short occurred, which opened back up when the slight moisture intrusion dried up.

I'll know for sure when the drone returns in another 15 minutes, whether the uncommanded camera tilt happens again. Keeping my fingers crossed, because I'd like to avoid doing any repairs if I can help it. I love this Phantom3S so much that I've got another one inbound from ebay, though it is slightly used. I just figured that I'd need a replacement at some point, because the crows are starting to get a little too friendly with my bird, and may at some point decide to down it with extreme prejudice.
This can happen when the ribbon cable is damaged or not seated all the way in. You do not need to open the camera. Just inspect that the cable is firmly seat and in to the white line. The white line on the cable should be parallel with the connector if the white line is at an angle you're definitely not making connection also remove the two screws at the base the gimbal at the yellow motor and make sure the two cables are firmly seated if that doesn't work we can open it up
 
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This reply is appreciated, SkySpy. I forgot to update this post by mentioning that the drone camera returned to completely normal operation by the next flight, as though there had been nothing amiss. Never did figure out why that downward tilt occurred, but I will bear in mind this mention you have made about the need for the connecting ribbon to be perfectly seated to ensure normal camera operation.

As a footnote, that long-serving Phantom3S has now joined its ancestors after inexplicably losing power and dropping unto hard ground from 140 feet on arrival from a long flight under Litch control, when the battery power was down below 20%. The good news is my replacement Phantom3S is en-route and will be taking to the skies here shortly, so this important mention of the camera ribbon will be added to my file of possible fixes that may arise as those flight hours accumulate apace.
 

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