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Mavic Air 2 Processor Overheat issue FIX
9250 30 2020-5-31
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Natemare13
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Hi

My brand new Mavic Air 2 started to give me processor overheat errors.  In flight it would RTH and not allow me to take control.  I benched the drone having lost all trust in it and noticed that i would get the processor overheat error every time I tried to record any video at any resolution.  It would last about 1-2minutes before getting the error.  I must have did 13+ tests under varios settings and environments.  

In all cases the ambient temperature was between 70 and 75 degrees F, the drone was NOT flying (I first learned of the error on a flight and the no-control RTH was not something I wanted to "test" again),  the drone was "refreshed" in firmware a few times using DJI Assistant for Mavic and in all cases the fan was working properly.  

I concluded that it was indeed a heat issue (vs a bogus warning).   I dont recall this ever happening with the previous firmware (launch firmware).  In any case, the tests that made the drone work harder (4K 60 FPS) would produce the error within a few seconds.  1080 and 30fps would produce the error still but not until 40+ seconds.

I read others were having this problem and in reading how DJI was handling them, I did not want to go through the same B.S.  It's a new drone, clearly a physical flaw (I.E not much room for error) and I was not going to send it back and wait three weeks.

So, i opened it up.  This video (Below) and by reading other DJI product forums (Air, Mavic, Phantom), it was clear heat was an issue and DJI uses all sorts of heat management such as thermal paste, heatsinks, fans, exhaust ports etc.  When I watched that video I noticed how sloppy the thermal paste was.  Having plenty of experience with building computers and custom cooling them, I know how sensitive and important good thermal paste coverage was to rather hot running/sensitive chip sets.


I ended up going as far as removing the heat spreaders to the actual main processing chips (as seen at 2:33 in that video).  I applied thermal pads to the chips themselves (they were bare, with no thermal paste or pads relying on physical contact with the cheap thin heat plates that were very flimsly), put the heat spreaders back on and then re applied thermal paste between the heat spreader and the main heatsink/fan combo.  The chips had heatspreaders on the other side of the board too - the "top" side where the vision sensors & down facing LED is. but no heatsink.  Those heatspreaders rely on contact with a the metal bracket for the downward facing vision sensors.  I applied thermal pads between the two to help transfer the heat off the chip heatspreaders more efficiently.

Here is the main board removed from the drone
IMG_7876.jpg

Heat Sink Removed & OEM thermal paste cleaned up.  Use rubbing alcohol and plenty of paper towels.  Shadows in this pic make it look a bit dirty but it wasnt - clean best you can.
IMG_7877.jpg

Next, remove the thin tin heat spreaders.

IMG_7878.jpg

Apply thermal pads to the chips under both tin heatspreaders.  .5 or 1mm thermal pads would be fine.

IMG_7879.jpg
IMG_7880.jpg

Push the tin heatspreaders back on.  Then apply non-conductive thermal paste such as Nactua NT-H1 to all of these areas.  In my case I used the spread methos but a cleaner method would be to use just a few dots and allow the fan/heat sink to spread.  Important that you get some thermal paste into the little indentation parts of the heat spreaders.  Those are the areas that contact the chip (and the newly applied thermal pads).

IMG_7881.jpg

Re-assemble the heatsink/fan combo.  Tighten the screws but dont strip them.  Put the board back into the drone & hook up all of the ribbons.  Apply thermal pads to to where the heatspreads touch the vision sensor bracket & screwn the bracket on.  

IMG_7882.jpg IMG_7883.jpg

Put the cover back on and clean up.

At first I was convinced I broke something.  The drone booted up just fine but I didnt hear the fan beyond the initial boot.  It sat silent, "Ready to fly" with no errors.  I heard the fan at boot so I knew the fan was working.  The fan ended up kicking in during the tests but *never* ramped to high speed like it usually does.  (If you notice, the fan has atleast two speeds, low and high).  I then ran all of my tests again and in no case did I get a processor overheat.  It sat on my bench recording 4K 60FPS for atleast 2 batteries worth of testing.  

Update 6/5: as I updated this post I ran the benchtests again. The fan did kick into *high* after 12min of 4K 60FPS.  The ambient tempurature today is much warmer - atleast 10 degrees F.  In any case, properly working OEM MA2's kick to high almost immediatly upon recording.  I recorded 25min of 4k 60fps on one batter, then switched to another and did another 25min.  In both cases the fan kicked in almost exactly at the same time (12min into recording) and stayed on high until end of recording (25min). In all cases as soon as I stopped recording, within 60 seconds or so, the fans kicked back to "low".

For now it seems to have solved my issue AND made the drone run much cooler.  While I fixed the original issue, I think the heat strategy DJI used was bare minimum at best and this drone's processors are working super hard to begin with.  It's running on thin heat envelopes.  I would say this could be considered a "mod" to keep yourself well inside the heat envelope.  

IF YOU DO THIS...
- You will void your warranty (UPDATE: This may not be the case in the US based on
recently passed lawsbut YOU be the judge.

- Unless you are skilled at working with small fragile parts you will probably break something along the way.

- The heatspreaders over the chips (not the heatsink) are very thin metal that require you to pry them off.  They will bend very easily.  Take your time

- The thermal pads I used were standard CPU thermal pads and I used a very small amount (just the footprint of the chip...and they are very small). .5mm or 1mm thermal pads should do.

- The thermal paste I used was Arctic Silver 5 but it was pointed out later in this thread that this paste has conductive properties.  For a safer route,
I like this as an alternative and probably performs BETTER than Arctic Silver 5.   I was going to use thermal grizzly kryonaut but the OEM thermal paste was thick (paste like).  The reason for that is because, to be honest, the parts just don't touch like they should.  When spreading heat onto a heatsink or heatspreader you want the hot parts (chips) and the heatspreader/sink to touch eachother and do so very tightly.  That just isnt the case inside the mavic air 2.  So DJI used a thick paste to make up for any micro-gaps.  

In summary...

- The mavic air 2 does a lot of processing & heat management is critical

- DJI has very thin margins to work with in keeping these chips cool while keeping weight and cost down

- This leaves plenty of room for manufacturer defect in application of the designed thermal componants and the componant's own quality/consistency

- It can be resolved with proper heat management but it appears they let customers figure that out

- Applying thermal pads and careful reapplication of thermal paste resolved my consistent processor overheat issues

Happy to answer any questions.  


2020-5-31
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HoosierFlyer
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Kudos to you for doing this. I suggested someone just do it, that didn’t take long!

I’m glad you found a fix. While mine doesn’t have this issue, it could be a worthwhile mod even just to get better performance. I’m curious if the cpu throttles down on high heat? If so, additional cooling capacity could increase performance in certain situations.

Thanks!
2020-5-31
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GaryDoug
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Excellent analysis. More thermal paste, but not too much, is always a good idea. I can't wait to hear the "official" response to this topic ;-)
2020-5-31
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DAFlys
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I don't think Id want to void the warranty.  
2020-6-1
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DJI Stephen
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Hi there Natemare13. Thank you for reaching out and for sharing these information with us with regards to this matter. I will forward this thread to the designated DJI department for further attention. Thank you for your support.
2020-6-1
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HoosierFlyer
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If you do this in the US, isn’t it illegal for DJI to void your warranty? I thought this law was passed to protect consumers.
2020-6-1
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HoosierFlyer
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Read article:
https://www.vice.com/amp/en_us/article/ne9qdq/warranty-void-if-removed-stickers-illegal-ftc

If the FTC says you’re protected in this case, I would imagine it’s fine to open up your mavic air 2 and repair as needed.
Apple does not care if consumers open iPhones, BUT they do know if you’ve replaced the screen with a non-Apple part and will show this in software.

But I’d say, repair at your own risk, if you do break it, you’re on your own, but if you fix it, then warranty should be just fine.
2020-6-1
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Natemare13
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HoosierFlyer Posted at 6-1 02:45
Read article:
https://www.vice.com/amp/en_us/article/ne9qdq/warranty-void-if-removed-stickers-illegal-ftc

Thank you for pointing this out! This is a very important point in all of this
2020-6-1
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Natemare13
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DJI Stephen Posted at 6-1 02:09
Hi there Natemare13. Thank you for reaching out and for sharing these information with us with regards to this matter. I will forward this thread to the designated DJI department for further attention. Thank you for your support.

I'd like to see some sort of engagement from someone at DJI about this.  I'm happy to discuss this with the right person on the phone or via email/chat/video chat.  After becoming familiar with the cooling and thermal paste used, I can all but guarantee others will begin to have issues as the paste wears in due to the lack of coverage in the right areas as well as (atleast with mine) lack of volume of paste as well.  I'll accept that it may be an assembly defect (not a design defect) but if it is, i'd like to discuss some solutions for myself and set up a process for others having the same issue so that we do not have to go through the entire support process to get it addressed each time.
2020-6-1
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HoosierFlyer
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“Please fill out a ticket and send in your drone for a 3 week turn around time, thank you and have a nice day”
2020-6-1
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Natemare13
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HoosierFlyer Posted at 6-1 08:08
“Please fill out a ticket and send in your drone for a 3 week turn around time, thank you and have a nice day”

Better not be that..
2020-6-1
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MisterFrag
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That also explains the hit-and-miss results that people are having. If the thermal paste was applied well it's probably fine, but if the assembler was sloppy the customer will have problems.
2020-6-1
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Natemare13
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MisterFrag Posted at 6-1 09:14
That also explains the hit-and-miss results that people are having. If the thermal paste was applied well it's probably fine, but if the assembler was sloppy the customer will have problems.

100% which is why I think this is of real concern.  Some may not have the issue YET, some have it, and some will never have it.  The main issue is the thermals are so close to the limits that small variables will likely push it over to overheat.  
2020-6-1
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AntDX316
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Give the links on where people could buy the stuff you've used and all the tools.
2020-6-1
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Natemare13
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AntDX316 Posted at 6-1 10:51
Give the links on where people could buy the stuff you've used and all the tools.

Ok!

Tools

Thermal Pads

Thermal Paste PLEASE NOTE While this thermal paste (updated since original post) is non electrically conductive, please always be careful as to where you apply and how much to avoid spillage. You just dont want this stuff on any open electrical componants (like solder points or the board itself).

Thermal Paste Remover (for cleaning off the OEM stuff) Although please do note using rubbing alcohol is just as good. I just happened to have this stuff on hand







2020-6-1
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HoosierFlyer
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It's almost like the electrical engineers didn't think about thermals much. How hard is it to apply a decent finned heatsink and good thermal paste? Why can Apple produce millions of high quality made iPhones that perform flawlessly, but DJI can't produce an electrical circuit board with 1/10th the amount of brain power that cools well consistently?
I see the circuit boards on the assembly line and a brain-dead worker slopping on thermal paste with a butter knife and zero QC testing to see if it overheats.
DJI, please check in to this and make sure the thermals are in check with proper cooling (heatsink and paste applied properly). I also enjoy building computers and I've applied thermal paste to CPU's and GPU's, etc and if you don't apply enough it won't spread over the entire heat spreader of the chip... I'd be err'ing on the side of TOO much in this case, sure it's messy but it's non-conductive and at least it would be making full contact to the heatsink.
2020-6-1
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AntDX316
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You are crazy for using Arctic Silver 5, especially on an aerial drone.  A little trace of that bridges a connection it's not going to run right.  This has happened to me on PC builds over the years way way back.

MX-4 or other leading non-conductive thermal paste would work just fine.

2020-6-1
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Natemare13
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AntDX316 Posted at 6-1 14:07
You are crazy for using Arctic Silver 5, especially on an aerial drone.  A little trace of that bridges a connection it's not going to run right.  This has happened to me on PC builds over the years way way back.

MX-4 or other leading non-conductive thermal paste would work just fine.

Arctic Silver 5 is non conductive http://www.arcticsilver.com/as5.htm
2020-6-1
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AntDX316
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"Not Electrically Conductive:
Arctic Silver 5 was formulated to conduct heat, not electricity.
(While much safer than electrically conductive silver and copper greases, Arctic Silver 5 should be kept away from electrical traces, pins, and leads. While it is not electrically conductive, the compound is very slightly capacitive and could potentially cause problems if it bridges two close-proximity electrical paths.)"

I've had first-hand experience with this.  I was putting it on everything including epoxy ramsinks back when no one was putting them on.

2020-6-1
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Natemare13
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AntDX316 Posted at 6-1 14:16
"Not Electrically Conductive:
Arctic Silver 5 was formulated to conduct heat, not electricity.
(While much safer than electrically conductive silver and copper greases, Arctic Silver 5 should be kept away from electrical traces, pins, and leads. While it is not electrically conductive, the compound is very slightly capacitive and could potentially cause problems if it bridges two close-proximity electrical paths.)"

Thank  you for highlighting.  Luckily I used it only between heatsink & heatspreader and used pads for the chips.  Knowing this I would def use a diff paste - I'll update my post now suggesting others do the same
2020-6-1
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The Duck
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This is what I do with every new Macbook Pro because they all over heat and eventually fry the GPU.  But working on the MA2, that takes a lot more patience.   Good job.  I would have returned it for an exchange.
2020-6-1
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tbhausen
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I’m mechanically inclined and good with tools, but anyone who would take their own drone apart like this has way more guts than I do. It could be only one or two critical areas that could be a potential heat problem in the MA2, thus very hit or miss whether many people experience the overheating issue. I’m sure DJI will conduct statistical analysis of heat-related support/warranty issues and react appropriately as time goes on.
2020-6-1
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AntDX316
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Natemare13 Posted at 6-1 14:32
Thank  you for highlighting.  Luckily I used it only between heatsink & heatspreader and used pads for the chips.  Knowing this I would def use a diff paste - I'll update my post now suggesting others do the same

I wouldn't remove it though as it's already good.  It could spill the conductivity upon removal.
2020-6-1
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HoosierFlyer
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tbhausen Posted at 6-1 16:54
I’m mechanically inclined and good with tools, but anyone who would take their own drone apart like this has way more guts than I do. It could be only one or two critical areas that could be a potential heat problem in the MA2, thus very hit or miss whether many people experience the overheating issue. I’m sure DJI will conduct statistical analysis of heat-related support/warranty issues and react appropriately as time goes on.

I watched the disassembly video and quite honestly it doesn't look all that bad to take apart. I think it's easier to take apart than an iPhone because the components aren't completely mashed together.
2020-6-2
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GaryDoug
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HoosierFlyer Posted at 6-1 12:35
It's almost like the electrical engineers didn't think about thermals much. How hard is it to apply a decent finned heatsink and good thermal paste? Why can Apple produce millions of high quality made iPhones that perform flawlessly, but DJI can't produce an electrical circuit board with 1/10th the amount of brain power that cools well consistently?
I see the circuit boards on the assembly line and a brain-dead worker slopping on thermal paste with a butter knife and zero QC testing to see if it overheats.
DJI, please check in to this and make sure the thermals are in check with proper cooling (heatsink and paste applied properly). I also enjoy building computers and I've applied thermal paste to CPU's and GPU's, etc and if you don't apply enough it won't spread over the entire heat spreader of the chip... I'd be err'ing on the side of TOO much in this case, sure it's messy but it's non-conductive and at least it would be making full contact to the heatsink.

Well, I am an electrical engineer (retired) and do agree. It's not like you are throwing mud into there... but it does need to be done right. I assume this is all about cost. So they risk a failure of a $1k product by skimping on a paste that costs pennies? Wildly irresponsible.

Also, when the paste is installed, it should never cross any conductors. The design almost always prevents that possibility.

2020-6-4
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Bigplumbs
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Mine seems to be ok but now this has given me something to worry about …….
2020-6-4
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Natemare13
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HoosierFlyer Posted at 6-2 03:38
I watched the disassembly video and quite honestly it doesn't look all that bad to take apart. I think it's easier to take apart than an iPhone because the components aren't completely mashed together.

WAY easier to take apart than an iPhone.  
2020-6-5
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Natemare13
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It appears turning ADS-B off also helps with temperature.  I am not recommending anyone do that but using a IR thermometer temps are 10 degrees cooler when this feature is off.  Same sort of impact when turning off the collision sensors.  This may be obvious - the less processing the cooler it runs but thought I'd actually test it and verify it for those with thermal issues and or want to increase heat related issue margins.
2020-6-10
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Lampengeist
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Interesting find. I've tested my MA2 sitting on my desk and recording quite a boring 4K60 Video of my room plants. Room temperature was round about 22°C/72°F
Before the start of the recording it was quiet, after the start of the recording the fan switched to low and stays there. I ended the recording after round about 5 minutes, so it seems the heat management of mine MA2 is just fine.
I'll start for vacation tomorrow, maybe I can make a longer test run the next days. Hopefully it will stay that way, if not I'll do the repair, so many thanks for the tutorial.
2020-6-10
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nuggetz
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Just got my replacement Mavic Air 2 from DJI a few days ago and I have been to afraid to test to see if this replacement unit suffers the same overheating problem. Weather has been in the 60s so no problem outside so far but this post has inspired me to do some tests as I had ordered some thermal pads and paste in preparation for having to do this to my MA2 if the replacement I received suffered the same fate. I will do some indoor 4K60 shots to see if this guy overheats like the last one. I may turn the drone upside down so that the hot air isn't circulating back onto itself while its recording. I couldn't get more than a few minutes of 4K60 recording with my old unit doing this test so I will report back. I'm wondering if DJI have already addressed this issue or not at the factory. If DJI by chance already knew about this issue and changed manufacturing to address, it would be nice to track the overheating replacement orders and send those folks new versions of the craft that dont have this problem but it would be a cold day in hell before they'd admit to that. I think it would show that they care if they addressed these sorts of issues head on instead of just letting the customers who paid thousands of bucks have to wait weeks and months for repairs and exchanges. I think DJI care should be enhanced so that if someone has a problem within 15 days that DJI would cover next day air shipping forward and back. That would be a good start.
2020-6-14
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Floki Chan AKA. EZpawn
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Grizzly conductonaut instead of the thermal pads. And Grizzly Kryonaut for the thermal paste. Do it to every thing you have: ))
Best delid fix for overheating intel cpu's.
2020-6-14
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