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The DJI Mavic Air 2 is the latest in the line of Mavic quadcopters from DJI. It's folding design makes it impressively compact but introduces new challenges when worked on. We were keen to see how this latest Mavic drone was built, in particular how it compares to its bigger brother, the Mavic 2 Pro. As such we took the first drone to arrive at our warehouse out of the box and began our Mavic Air 2 Teardown to see how this drone really unfolds.
Please note : As ever the usual disclaimer applies. This is not intended to be an instructive guide for dismantling your drone, but more a documentation of our investigation into the architecture of the new quadcopter. We take no responsibility for any potentially warranty-invalidating work carried out on your Mavic by yourself, it is at your own risk.
Note: You can click on any of the images in this article to view them at a higher resolution
To dismantle the drone we used a combination of the following tools.
We also recommend having a divided screw tray on hand to manage the hardware and fixing that you remove.
Start by powering down the drone and removing the smart battery. Then remove the propellers from the drone, making sure you are familiar with which pairing mates to which set of motors (note the white markings on the centre. We also recommend removing any SD memory card you might have inside as well as the plastic gimbal transport dome cover.
With these out of the way we can start to dismantle the shell. Using a 1.5mm hex driver unscrew the four screws in the battery tray.
Flip the drone over and unscrew the six 1.5mm hex screws that secure the metal belly pan in place. One of ours featured a little rubber cap that needed to be removed before we could insert the driver. With those removed the metal piece can be carefully lifted off. The only connection is a sprung contact for the landing light.
Next we removed the three gimbal and camera connections to the mainboard. These three plugs are on the leading edge of the mainboard and access can be improved by first lifting the plastic guard out of the way. Using a spudger, free the left two connectors before pulling the power connector out of its plug.
Now is a good time to release the rest of the mainboard to ESC connectors. Work around the board carefully removing the five remaining push connectors alongside the two coaxial antenna connectors at the end of the board.
The downward facing sensor panel must be removed before the mainboard. Unscrew the two cross head screws and lift the metal piece straight up and off the board.
This simple lightweight composite piece holds both the downward facing sensors.
Using a long driver unscrew the two rear 1.5mm hex screws that secure the rear of the body
There are four remaining cross head screws on the outer edges of the board that will need to be removed. The board can then be lifted straight up, it is a tight fit so take your time and avoid levering it. The flex cable for the rear sensor can get stuck on the edge of the board but it is not electrically connected here.
Underneath, the motherboard features a large heat sink and fan unit.
With the motherboard removed the ESC and power distribution board is visible underneath.
With the three plugs disconnected from the mainboard, we can remove the gimbal and camera. With the drone on its back unscrew the four 1.5mm hex screws, turning the gimbal to gain access. There are a further two T5 torx screws at the leading edge of the mount that will need to be removed.
The camera and gimbal unit can now be carefully lifted out of the drone. In the past DJI have sold these as an entire replacement component, swapping it out could likely be completed in under 30 minutes.
Using a plastic pry tool, work around the nose piece working free the plastic clips. Once free it can be slid off of the front of the drone.
Flip the drone back upright where you will see two more 1.5mm hex screws atop the chassis, remove these. Flip the drone back over onto it's back and remove the two 1.5mm hex securing the access panels to the front leg hinges. Remove the covers and the 1.5mm hex screw that is revealed below it each side.
Now carefully work your way around the seam on the drone shell, separating the two halves. The section above the rear legs is particularly tricky and we have added some photos below to show how the sections fix together.
The shell is made of the similar hard plastic employed in that of the Mavic 2 Pro. Despite feeling brittle, it is impressively resilient whilst also very lightweight. Note the battery latch electrical connector, presumably so the drone can check that the battery is correctly inserted and secured before takeoff.
With the top shell removed we can finally get a better look at the ESC board. As we aren't interested in desoldering anything, this is as close as we will go. Note the board mounted battery connector and the strain relief for the front motor wires on the leading edge. DJI continue to 'varnish' their board contacts for protection.
With the top casing off we can access the front mounted GPS and IMU board, alongside the front obstacle avoidance sensors.
Start with the two cross head screws at the rear edge of the board. With those removed the connector strap can be lifted (or properly removed) before releasing the electrical connector. After this unscrew the two black-headed cross head screws that hold on the L-shaped metal retainers for the obstacle avoidance sensing connectors. With the retainers removed you can release the connectors with a spudger and lift the entire board out of the frame.
Underneath the board is the IMU, isolated from vibrations on rubber dampers.
If you haven't been following along, the top of the drone casing will need removing before progressing. The front sensors are mounted to a composite piece via two flat head cross screws at the front of the frame.
Meanwhile at the rear another two cross head screws of the same type hold a vertical composite bracket onto the body. This simply lifts out, but be careful not to tear the ribbon cable that is glued to the plastic chassis.
The legs secure to the hinges with two T5 torx screws, rotate the arm around to gain access to both sides. Once released the arm can be gently pulled off of the spindle to reveal four 1.5mm hex screws, use a long driver to remove these to free the sprung rotating bases from the frame.
Traditionally repair motors have come pre-mounted onto the arms for ease of repair, however we decided to delve a little deeper anyway. The rear arm caps can be levered off with a spudger, taking care of the glue near the LED lights that come with it. Underneath you can access the three cross head screws securing the motor to the arm.
On the top side two T5 torx screws secure the propeller quick release mounts to the top of the motor housing, a small spring sandwiched underneath.
The front arms are much more accessible. Unscrew the cross head screw holding the rear of the sprung hinge, lever it up to pop it out of the arm and slip the entire arm out of the body. The cables are still connected so handle the arm with care and take note of the position of the black plastic bush underneath for re-installation.
The motor access panel is secured with three 1.5mm hex screws underneath. With those removed, take the spudger and carefully pry the plastic cover off of the arm LED's to reveal a small cross head screw below. With this removed the leg section can be swung aside to access the motor mounting screws.
Reminder : LiPo batteries can be dangerous if handled improperly.
The battery housing features eight small cross head screws around the lip and top edge. With these removed the top casing can be carefully pried away, ensuring the battery locking buttons are depressed to ensure the clips clear the housing.
The lid of the battery pack features the power button and LED readout which connects to the BMS via a flex cable, be careful not to strain this when opening the casing. With the padding material peeled back we can access the screws to remove the entire control panel from the lid.
The battery latch spring clips are held to the lid via two silver cross head screws on each side securing them to the lid. The BMS sits at the 'bottom' of the stack of cells but we decided against completely destroying the expensive battery to investigate further.
Many of you have been curious about the chipsets and components DJI employs on the boards of their new drones. We removed the protected covers from the boards and cleaned up the thermal compound to satisfy your curiosity. First up the GPS board:
Next the mainboard with the heatsink and fan section removed
Then a closer look at the mainboard with the covers removed
And closer still at the processing powerhouse behind this impressive new drone.
The flipside of the motherboard that normally faces the outside of the drone can be seen here
Then the heavily varnished ESC and power distribution board
We also decided to have a look inside the new chunky transmitter. This new design is far bulkier than the previous unit, with the smartphone mount now telescopically extending from the top of the unit for a more natural layout with the sticks below.
Getting in is a little harder than the old unit. With the sticks removed from their storage cubbies in the bottom of the transmitter, remove the two cross head screws and lever the rubber out to gain more access. Run a spudger around the lower edge whilst levering the unit apart to release the two halves. At the top, pick away at the lower edge of the smartphone rubber buffers to reveal two more cross head screws that must be removed before the casing will come apart completely. Carefully hinge the top up to access the two stick communication wires, disconnect them from the board to completely release the two halves.
With the two halves separated we can take a closer look at the unit. The buttons from the front panel push through a metal heatsink to the microswitches below.
The transmitter 'pots can be removed by unscrewing four 1.5mm hex screws each side and lifting the units up and out.
The heatsink can be removed via the four cross head screws on the back to reveal the mainboard, battery and connectors.
With the mainboard covers off we can get a closer look at the top board. Dismantling beyond this stage would require cutting away at the battery plugs which we have decided to forego. On the left the clear plastic section houses the loose antenna wire. The antennas actually run up bars that support the smartphone clamp and when retracted into the unit the wire needs somewhere to reel up without breaking, a nice design touch.
As mentioned, due to the complexity of these units, DJI traditionally offer replacements as an entire module.
Unlike other camera units the front element is fixed to the camera body, that 'filter' is nothing but a frame placeholder that needs to be removed to fit ND filters. Pitching the active gimbal over allows us to access two tiny cross head screws on the side of the body. With these removed the hefty heat sink can be retracted off of the back, mated to the rear of the camera with thermal compound. Lastly the camera board and lens itself can be slipped out of the housing for inspection.
The drone chassis itself shares several similarities with the recent Mavic 2 Pro and could be considered a finer evolution of this air frame . We are always impressed at just how many sensors DJI can pack into a drone and this one is no exception! Whilst spares are sadly getting harder and harder to come by for DJI's drones, we are glad that this retains some semblance of repair-abilty, if nothing on the old Phantom drones.
And that concludes our DJI Mavic Air 2 Teardown. If you found this article interesting and would like to see others like it, check out the rest of our Teardown Series on our blog where we have covered the DJI Spark, DJI Inspire 2, DJI Phantom 4, DJI Mavic Air mk1 and even the original Mavic Pro.
The Mavic Air 2 is available to order on our webstore as a standalone drone or in a Fly-more combo package. If you have any questions or would like anything clarified, feel free to drop us a message in the comments section below and we will do our best to get back to you.