I'd imagine nearly every drone enthusiast has crashed his or her drone. I know I've had my share of close calls, and a few wrecks into overhead power lines, fences, roofs, and trees! Recently I started getting an over-current error message for one of the 4 propellor motors, following a run-in with my garage roof.
In this Instructable, I'd like to show you how to replace one (or all) of your DJI Phantom 3 motors. This Instructable is for the Phantom 3 Standard, however I would imagine the process is very similar for the other Phantom 3 series.
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Step 1: Identify Motor & Order Replacement
There are four motors on all DJI Phantom Series Drones. Hence the name, 'quadcopter'. I only had one go bad, so I only ordered a single replacement. Some people will recommend you replace all four at the same time. Since the intelligent flight controller regulates the power to each motor individually, I didn't find it necessary to replace all four. I wrote which motor was bad on the motor itself, so I didn't get confused once I started the disassembly.
Two of the motors spin clockwise, while the other two spin counterclockwise. I have labeled which motors spin which direction in the photos. There are also a black, or silver 'cap' on the motors to signify which blade goes to which motor. If you look at the body of the drone closely, you'll see an embossed arrow showing the direction which the blade spins.
I ordered my replacement motors on Amazon, be sure you get a compatible motor for your model of drone, as there are many different types. When in doubt, get on DJI's website, and order directly from them. I would recommend using ONLY authentic DJI parts. There may be great aftermarket options out there, however I don't have experience with them, so I cannot recommend them.
Step 2: Start Disassembly
The first step will be to remove the colored decorative tape from the leading arms of the drone.
Now the drone looks naked!
Step 3: Remove Screws
Flip the drone over and start removing screws.
There are 4 T8 screws that hold in each motor. You only need to remove the screws corresponding to the motors you're replacing. The other fine-threaded T8 screws must be removed on EVERY arm. You must also remove the T6 screw on the very tip of each arm, and the T8 screw near the landing legs on EVERY arm.
I laid out the screws in sets, so I didn't confuse which screw went where.
Step 4: Pry Housing Open
Next you must pry the housing open. I have a non-marring pry tool from a cell phone repair kit I purchased off Amazon a while back. You can use whatever you'd like, just be careful to not scratch it up too much! You'll have to start at the tips of the arms, and work your way towards the body, the 'core' has the strongest clips, so you'll want to wiggle those back and forth a bit.
Step 5: Open Housing & Unplug GPS
Once the top of the housing is free you'll find a single black ribbon cable. Carefully unplug it from the main circuit board. Be careful to not damage the cable, as without it, the GPS function of the drone will not work. Once it's unplugged you can set the top of the drone aside. Now you can see what the guts of your drone looks like!
Step 6: Remove Adhesives & Desolder Motors
I am only replacing one motor on this Instructable, however you can repeat these steps for every motor you have to replace.
Use a pair of tweezers to pick away at the off-white adhesive that is used to secure the wires to the board. Be careful to not scratch the circuit board, or damage the grey antenna cable that is running by the motor. There is only one of these cables, so you may not have it in your way, depending on the motor you're replacing.
Continue to desolder the 3 wires from the circuit board. You can use a desoldering wick, desoldering bulb, or desoldering pump. It's important to get the old solder cleared out. I used some wire I had to wick the solder out of the joint. It didn't work too well, but I didn't have a desoldering pump on hand.
Step 7: Optional Body Repairs
Once I removed the motor, I found there were several cracks in the housing. You can order a replacement housing, but I didn't want to shell out the extra $. I decided to use some two-part epoxy I had to bond the body back together. I put the same amount of glue in all 4 corners of the drone body, even if it wasn't broken. This was to keep the weight as even as possible. While the minor weight of the glue probably wouldn't affect the drone's operation, I didn't want to take any chances.
Step 8: Pause for Dance Party!
Now you've made it over the hump! You're well on the way to completing your project. Stop, reward yourself, and spend sometime with someone you love. Have a little dance-off with Spot!
Step 9: Install New Motor(s)
Back to business! Set the motor in the spot of the previously removed motor. The circuit board has letters corresponding to the appropriate wires. Y for Yellow, B for Black, and R for Red. Apply solder, and once cooled, secure the wires back to the board with an adhesive. I used 100% silicone. It holds well, and remains flexible. Be careful to not melt the grey antenna wire! Also, don't burn yourself. Soldering iron burns are the worst! Actually, a burn from a similarly tempered object would likely hurt all the same.
Tuck the wires down into the body, so they aren't in the way for the reconstruction.
Step 10: Reassembly
This is fairly basic. We are just going to do the first part of the Instructable backwards.
Line the top back up, and plug in the GPS Cable. DON'T FORGET THIS STEP!!!
Once it's plugged back in, start snapping the top of the housing back onto the body.
Flip the little guy over, and reinstall the screws.
Remember the screw locations from earlier. Check out the pic if you need help remembering.
Also, after everything's back together, I'd do a once-over on all the screws just to be sure you don't have any surprises drop from the sky when you're flying around later!
Step 11: BLING!
Time for some BLING!
Remember those stickers you peeled off earlier? Time to reapply them! They may or may not have survived the removal, so feel free to pitch those, and grab some of the other color choices that came with your Phantom.
"What's that?" you say? "There were other options in my box!?"
Yes there were. If you purchased your Phantom new, or at least used WITH the box, there should be a slew of alternative color choices for the stickers.
I know, I know! You're as surprised as I am. For the company who restricts where it's users can fly THEIR OWN drone, it's a shock that they allow you to choose your very own colors. However, I digress. Back on topic.
Let's add some BLING to this bad boy!
Step 12: Git-Er-Done
Get some non-abrasive household cleaner out, and get your Phantom looking new again! Remember, this drone is a representation of you! Make it shine!
Get those props on, and do a little short-range flying to ensure you made some good solder joints!
Enjoy, and thanks for checking out the Instructable!