DJI Mavic Mini getting started guide

Mavic Mini getting started guide: what you need to do and set up before flying your drone

So you just got a DJI Mavic Mini?! Congrats! This may be your first foray into drones, in which case welcome! Before you get flying though, here’s your Mavic Mini getting started guide.

Whether you want to know how to setup the physical drone, or just have legal questions about licensing, registration or where you can or cannot fly, here’s everything you need to know:

How do I set up my Mavic Mini for flight?

Activate the battery: You’ve unboxed your drone, and odds are you want to fly it right away. Technically you can, as the batteries are charged (they just arrive in “sleep mode). Simply connect your drone with the battery charger, which activates your battery and allows you to get your drone turned on.

Mavic Mini battery charged
The DJI Mavic Mini battery simply needs to be activated by being connected to the charger before the drone can turn on.

Activate the drone: The battery is activated, so now it’s time to activate the drone itself. To do that, connect your mobile device like an iPad or iPhone (which needs to have the DJI Fly app installed on it) with the remote controller, then connect it with Mavic Mini via the DJI Fly app’s in-app instructions.

Note: while DJI says the Mavic Mini remote controller is compatible with the iPad, there hasn’t yet been a firmware update, so DJI recommends a smartphone like an iPhone or Samsung smartphone.

DJI Mavic Mini sticks RC transmitter remote controller screw in
The DJI Mavic Mini sticks screw on and off the RC transmitter. While the downfall is it creates one more thing to get lost, it’s for good reason: this allows the controller to become even more compact, rather than having two sticks literally sticking out.

Setup the physical controller: The controller has sticks, which arrive separately than the controller (you’ll find them tucked within the controller). You’ll have to actually screw in the sticks yourself.

Connect your smartphone: You’ll have to plug your smartphone (DJI provides you with an assortment of plugs to connect to various phone types). The controller clamp is designed to fit phones that are 6.5-8.5 mm thick and no more than 160 mm long. If you have a phone case, you’ll likely need to remove it for the phone to fit.

My iPhone 7 fits in with the DJI remote controller, but only after I remove the case. Make sure you connect it to the cord, provided by DJI.

Check your parts before flight: Even if it’s your first flight and your drone is in mint condition, it’s a good habit to always go through the hardware component of your preflight checklist. That includes checking the propellers for cracks, loose screws or other damage, and replace or tighten them if necessary.

Do I need to register my Mavic Mini?

The rules depend on your country, and they change often. But as of this writing, if you’re flying in the U.S. for fun (ie. not commercial purposes…we’ll get to that next) then no, you do not need to register your Mavic Mini.

Because the Mavic Mini is a very precise 249 grams, the Mavic Mini follows under the threshold for which the FAA requires recreatoinal drones to be registered. Canadian drone users also don’t need to register their Mini.

One interesting note: in Japan, drones under 200 grams are not subject to drone flight rules. For that reason, DJI makes an even smaller “international version” of its Mavic Mini, which you may want to consider.

DJI Mavic Mini 247 grams
Since the Mavic Mini clocks in at 247 grams (or 249 when charged), it does not need to be registered IF you are flying for hobby/recreational purposes.

Do I need a license to fly my Mavic Mini?

If you’re flying your Mavic Mini for commercial purposes (ie. making money off the operation in some capacity) then you still need to fly under the limitations of Part 107.

The FAA clearly spelled this out in a tweet made shortly after the Mavic Mini was announced:

Part 107 is what regulates commercial drone flight in the U.S., and one of the big components is that all commercial drone operators — regardless of how small their drone is — needs to have a Remote Pilot Certificate.

To get that, you’ll need to pass the Part 107 Aeronuatical Knowledge Test for UAS operators, a mandatory test for anyone looking to fly drones commercially. And if you’re looking for help passing the test, here’s my guide to the best Part 107 test prep courses.

And one note: if you are flying for commercial purposes, then you also need to register your drone. Find out how to do that here.

Where can I fly my Mavic Mini?

When you first start your Mavic Mini, the default flying mode is called “flight training,” which limits your altitude to 30m and flight distance to 50m. You can manually opt out of that mode.

You’ll want to log into your DJI account before flight. Otherwise all flights no matter the mode, will be limited to 30 m altitude and 50 m in distance.

Flights are also limited in areas of weak GPS signal (ie. flying in a remote area), or in a restricted flight zone.

While the GEO feature on the DJI Go app does a great job of telling you if you’re flying in a restricted flight zone (it knows your location while in operation), you should always check whether you can legally fly your Mavic Mini in a specific area with the FAA too.

Set your own safety features

Maybe you want to fly your drone more than 30m, but you still are afraid of the drone getting too far away from you. You can use the DJI Fly app to manually set distance and altitude limits.

Happy flying!

Pickup your own DJI Mavic Mini directly from DJI — including free shipping! — starting at just $399.


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