DJI Motion Controller not charging? Try this $2 trick
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the new DJI Avata drone, designed for first person view FPV flying. And while it’s mostly of superior quality to drones from pretty much any other manufacturer, I did run into one annoying problem with a piece of hardware, leading to the DJI Motion Controller not charging correctly.
I got my hands on one of the earliest models of the DJI Avata, and ran into an annoying problem where the DJI Motion Controller would not charge in my demo tests. I’m honestly not sure of the cause, but I could never get the DJI Motion Controller to charge through the standard charger, which relies on a Type-C to Type-C PD Cable. That’s the cable you use to power most newer models of the MacBook Pro, plus other products from Intel, Dell, Belkin and more.
Many tech experts anticipate these USB-C will gradually replace previous USB types, like USB-A, USB-B and USB Mini-B. These USB-C ports are becoming more popular because they’re smaller than other types of USB ports, allowing the devices they support to be thinner and lighter.
The problem? The USB-C port on my DJI Motion Controller just did not seem to want to allow it to charge. While I likely could have shipped it back to DJI for a replacement, I found a solution that felt far easier.
My fix for charging the DJI Motion Controller
DJI offers an alternative for you to charge the Avata drone via USB. That said, you’ll need two things: an OTG cable, as well as an A to A male to male USB.
OTG cable: An OTG (On The Go adapter) allows you to connect a full sized USB flash drive or USB A cable to your phone or tablet through the Micro USB or USB-C charging port. Since I had the DJI Avata Pro-View Combo, it already came with an OTG cable, which is used for the DJI Goggles (the OTG cable comes with the Fly Smart Combo too). No need to buy anything else! Though, you can buy an OTG cable for under $10 on Amazon.
A to A, male to male USB: This type of cord is something which DJI does not provide. Luckily, USB to USB cables are cheap to buy on Amazon. Any A to A, male to male USB should work, but I ordered this one which was less than $2. And thanks to Amazon’s super-fast shipping (thank you Amazon Prime!), it arrived within a day, no less.
Connect the OTG cable to the drone, and then connect your new A to A, male to male USB to the OTG cable and a USB charging port.
That’s what I did! I let it charge sufficiently, and boom, my DJI Avata was back up and flying with the Motion Controller!
What an easy, $2 solution to an otherwise frustrating problem!
More to know about the DJI Motion Controller
The DJI Motion Controller is a sort of wand-like device, where the drone flies in, well, the motion of your hand. Hold the Motion Controller in your hand, and wave it one way to send the drone flying in one direction, or wave it the other way to have it flying in the opposite direction. The Motion Controller also controls mostly all other aspects of the drone, including landing, braking and moving forward and back.
In short, it allows your drone to maneuver based on your natural hand motions, giving you an immersive flight experience as if you were in the pilot’s seat. And because the DJI Motion Controller will only let the drone rotate and fly forward/upwards/downwards (as opposed to near-complete control that a traditional joystick controller gives), you’re only traveling in the direction your camera is facing — thus are less likely to crash into something you can’t see.
Related read: DJI Avata vs DJI FPV: which is better?
The DJI Motion Controller first debuted on March 2, 2021 alongside DJI FPV, which was DJI’s first foray into the FPV space.
By the way, DJI Motion Controller runs on a single Lithium Polymer battery that entails a charging voltage of 5 V/1 A, 5 V/2 A. A full charge affords you about five hours of operating time.
No, you don’t need the DJI Motion Controller to fly Avata
While the Motion Controller is somewhat positioned as the prime way to fly your Avata drone, it’s not the only way. You can also fly it via a traditional RC, using the existing DJI FPV Remote Controller 2 which you can buy for less than $200.
Avata has been praised especially by newbies for how easy it is to operate — and how unlikely it is that you’ll crash under its control. However, if you’re hoping to take those acrobatic videos the likes of the folks of Rotor Riot, DRL or any other FPV YouTubers, the Motion Controller is not for you. You’ll better take those kinds of videos for yourself by using a traditional Motion Controller.
And in fact, if you already have another compatible DJI controller (or just don’t want the Motion Controller, which on its own costs $199), you can buy the new Avata drone on its own (no RC) for just $629. Otherwise, you’re going to need to pay at least $1,168 to get the controller and goggles (or $1,388 for the Pro-View Combo with the newer model of goggles, the DJI Goggles 2).
Completely unnecessary. Don’t throw away your money. Just use a USB A to C cable.
The problem people are running into is Power Delivery in the USB specification. The Avata drone, battery charger, goggle batteries all support (and use) the PD protocol. The FPV remote 2 and Motion Controller do not, and will not charge on a state-of-the-art modern PD source.