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Newbie's Q500 Becomes Crash Test Dummy

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A follow up on my close call story...Before all this, I had a bad drift problem I wrote about with the used $300 Q500 I bought. I'm also a Q newbie and tend to push the envelope in the name of learning. Love flying so much I started taking off from my tree lined driveway when I didn't have time to go to the field. Dumb and dumber.

Well, my Q has since drifted into trees (and one time a light post) for various reasons and plummeted to the ground four times. Twice on cement, twice on grass, all from around 15 ft. A fifth time, it got stuck in a tree. Had two people hold a blanket underneath like fireman and they caught it when I knocked it out of the tree (drone unharmed). Yet another time, battery voltage suddenly dropped to near nothing (battery was faulty I learned) and it flew off about 1/3 mile away. I found Q face down in the grass unharmed.

Now gimbal is broken, battery door torn off, one arm cracked (see pics). Motor on cracked arm sits lower than others. Distance registers at +30 to 40 feet before takeoff. Speed and altitude slightly fluctuate when grounded too, although they did that a bit before. It's just worse now. G-d knows what else is wrong. Remarkably, this Q still flies/responds well except for the drift. Had it out at 300ft alt/2,000 ft distance yesterday and return home functioned well, as did all movement. But it is tough to land, as it keeps drifting during landing.

You're all probably thinking "what a dope this guy is." Reading this back to myself, I agree. Do you think the gimbal is salvageable? It wasn't moving before but camera worked. I was going to do a transistor fix. The gimbal cover piece in the middle was lost in the crash. All the wires were ripped from the platform. Any other fixes that are worth the effort? Is it safe to fly? I'm doing a potentiometer clean to possibly help with the drift. Many pics are in this gallery:

View album 100
Both Doom and W have been extremely helpful with PMs as I've worked on this drone -- much thanks.
 

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Motor on cracked arm sits lower than others. Do you think the gimbal is salvageable?
"Motor on cracked arm sits lower than others."
You can cut some strips from an aluminum can to fix the arms. Cut and bend the strips to fit INSIDE the broken arm and bridge the break. Roughen the plastic a little with sandpaper, then glue the strips in. Make it fit as well as you can, and use as little epoxy as you can so the wires will still have enough room to fit.

Do you think the gimbal is salvageable?
Probably. Clip the three black wires off cleanly from the mount. Make sure none of the wire is left hanging on the gimbal board itself. LOOK CLOSE!! Often there will be one or two stray wire filaments left attached, and that is plenty to blow the board up if not removed. Once the wires are off, reattach the dampers, Rotate the camera back into normal alignment, plug in the 104 cable (pigtail) and see if it will still work. The missing nose piece can be replaced later if the gimbal still works.
 
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"Motor on cracked arm sits lower than others."
You can cut some strips from an aluminum can to fix the arms. Cut and bend the strips to fit INSIDE the broken arm and bridge the break. Roughen the plastic a little with sandpaper, then glue the strips in. Make it fit as well as you can, and use as little epoxy as you can so the wires will still have enough room to fit.

Do you think the gimbal is salvageable?
Probably. Clip the three black wires off cleanly from the mount. Make sure none of the wire is left hanging on the gimbal board itself. LOOK CLOSE!! Often there will be one or two stray wire filaments left attached, and that is plenty to blow the board up if not removed. Once the wires are off, reattach the dampers, Rotate the camera back into normal alignment, plug in the 104 cable (pigtail) and see if it will still work. The missing nose piece can be replaced later if the gimbal still works.
Should I follow the instructions in WTFD Attachment 1 "the infamous three black wires"?
 
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"Motor on cracked arm sits lower than others."
You can cut some strips from an aluminum can to fix the arms. Cut and bend the strips to fit INSIDE the broken arm and bridge the break. Roughen the plastic a little with sandpaper, then glue the strips in. Make it fit as well as you can, and use as little epoxy as you can so the wires will still have enough room to fit.

Do you think the gimbal is salvageable?
Probably. Clip the three black wires off cleanly from the mount. Make sure none of the wire is left hanging on the gimbal board itself. LOOK CLOSE!! Often there will be one or two stray wire filaments left attached, and that is plenty to blow the board up if not removed. Once the wires are off, reattach the dampers, Rotate the camera back into normal alignment, plug in the 104 cable (pigtail) and see if it will still work. The missing nose piece can be replaced later if the gimbal still works.
What do you think of this video, W? Same result, different method?
 

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What do you think of this video, W? Same result, different method?
Either way will work. I'm not a big fan of using tape. It takes more time, and it can become a problem. If you hang it beside the gimbal board enclosure, it works OK, just looks messy. If you lay it on top of the enclosure, it prevents full freedom of the dampers. Your camera has the longer "3 rib" dampers, which gives you a little room to work with. For folks that have the short, round dampers, there is already too little clearance in that area.
 
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First of all you are not a dope and I Am the king of screw up's and what you have described is admirable.You haven't given up. I have my own law when it comes to flying, and that is
"Murphy was an optimist". I just came inside after doing a short flight with the q from the front of my house and I get such a kick early in the morning taking a flight around the crowded neighborhood. I enjoy watching it flying over my head knowing the altitude is well safe of hitting trees that used to be where they weren't supposed to be. ha, it happens. Hope you stay with it.
 
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Oh, another catch, dronefisher if I saw correctly it looks like you had already fixed the gimble wires before, (the electrical tape) maybe time to replace with new ???
 
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First of all you are not a dope and I Am the king of screw up's and what you have described is admirable.You haven't given up. I have my own law when it comes to flying, and that is
"Murphy was an optimist". I just came inside after doing a short flight with the q from the front of my house and I get such a kick early in the morning taking a flight around the crowded neighborhood. I enjoy watching it flying over my head knowing the altitude is well safe of hitting trees that used to be where they weren't supposed to be. ha, it happens. Hope you stay with it.
Sound like you and I would get along famously, Peter... :)
 
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Oh, another catch, dronefisher if I saw correctly it looks like you had already fixed the gimble wires before, (the electrical tape) maybe time to replace with new ???
I actually just tried that last night, Johnny, but to no avail. Camera doesn't do anything. Not even that green light that usually goes on when you fire up.
 
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On a positive note, I fixed the drift! Under the guidance of Doom, took apart the ST10+, gave the potentiometers a good cleaning, recalibrated the controller and wow -- this Q hovers so perfectly! It's a smooth as my little Tello flying in the living room and it lands perfectly. I'm so pissed at myself for not doing that sooner, because it is so obvious now that none of these accidents would have happened without the drift. My big takeaway is to just give it a try. I delayed for so long because, not being trained or experienced with electronics, I doubted myself...

Now, the bummer is that the camera doesn't work after I tried the three-wire isolation/removal process. I had been flying with the pig tail when it crashed and the camera was live. The gimbal would come to life and rotate into place when I turned it on, but I couldn't move it with the controller. What do y'all think I should check next to try and isolate the camera problem?

Also, if the distance readout is messed up (mine starts at between 30 - 40 ft. away even when the drone is next to the ST10+), what is the problem. Is that with the controller or the drone?
 
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Either way will work. I'm not a big fan of using tape. It takes more time, and it can become a problem. If you hang it beside the gimbal board enclosure, it works OK, just looks messy. If you lay it on top of the enclosure, it prevents full freedom of the dampers. Your camera has the longer "3 rib" dampers, which gives you a little room to work with. For folks that have the short, round dampers, there is already too little clearance in that area.
I tried the tape method for a quick fix, and because I realized I have no idea what the three wires are for. What are they for? Do you think removing them entirely might yield a different result (camera still not working).
 

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I tried the tape method for a quick fix, and because I realized I have no idea what the three wires are for. What are they for? Do you think removing them entirely might yield a different result (camera still not working).
Sounds like the gimbal board is already fried. The camera will need to go to a shop for repair. Each gimbal board has to be calibrated to the camera it is to be mounted on.
The three wires are the battery power and ground, and the PWM signal that controls manual tilt (pitch). The pigtail wires are the same three wires.
 

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The gimbal would come to life and rotate into place when I turned it on, but I couldn't move it with the controller. What do y'all think I should check next to try and isolate the camera problem?
We probably need an update of the camera/gimbal status.
Does the gimbal still "come to life and rotate into place"?
Does the led on the front of the camera light up?

The original problem of "couldn't move it with the controller" is normally just a bad transistor on the drone mainboard.
 
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Sounds like the gimbal board is already fried. The camera will need to go to a shop for repair. Each gimbal board has to be calibrated to the camera it is to be mounted on.
The three wires are the battery power and ground, and the PWM signal that controls manual tilt (pitch). The pigtail wires are the same three wires.
Probably What if I got a new camera/gimbal -- would it just be plug and play?
We probably need an update of the camera/gimbal status.
Does the gimbal still "come to life and rotate into place"?
Does the led on the front of the camera light up?

The original problem of "couldn't move it with the controller" is normally just a bad transistor on the drone mainboard.
The gimbal does nothing when I power up -- no light, no movement, no video feed.
 

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Probably What if I got a new camera/gimbal -- would it just be plug and play?

The gimbal does nothing when I power up -- no light, no movement, no video feed.
Yes. A new CGo3 is plug and play. But if there is a problem with the power supply or the pitch transistor in the drone, there will still be an issue, of course.
 

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The Pitch transistor is Attachment 55 (Q500 Series Camera Tilt Transistor), but it doesn't tell you anything about testing it. You will need an Oscilloscope to determine if it is working properly. You can CAREFULLY check to see if it at least has voltage. I think it's normally about 1.2V, but that doesn't tell you if it's carrying the signal or not. (PWM is wire "1" on the drawings of Attachment 51

Attachment 51 (Q500 Internal Camera Wiring) has a picture showing the contacts, and which should have battery voltage on them. Be very careful not to short between the PWM and the battery positive. If you don't have a dead transistor now, you certainly will if you short it to battery positive.
 
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Sounds like the gimbal board is already fried. The camera will need to go to a shop for repair. Each gimbal board has to be calibrated to the camera it is to be mounted on.
The three wires are the battery power and ground, and the PWM signal that controls manual tilt (pitch). The pigtail wires are the same three wires.
I can get another used Q for a bit more than a new camera. I'm starting to think this one may be destined for drone fishing...
 
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