A drone controller is also known as the transmitter. It is used by the drone pilots to fly, control and manipulate the unmanned aerial vehicles. Generally, the drone controller communicates with the drone via radio signals. The drone controller technology has not changed that much over the years. Same is the case with the controllers which are not much different from those produced in the yesteryears.
Most of the drone controllers have:
- 2 sticks for controlling the channels
- Liquid Crystal Display
- On/off switch
- Trim adjustments
- Rate adjustments
Controllers provide numerous channels that allow the pilot to manipulate the quadcopter via separate transmissions. Most of the quadcopters are compatible with 4-channel controllers these days. Each of the channel is associated with the directional control of the device:
A 4-channel transmitter generally has a couple of sticks. The direction of motion of each stick utilizes various channels. You can view the controller in the image given below.
Most of the controllers that are being used with modern day drones and quadcopters support two modes of drone control:
- Mode 1 – The left stick controls yaw and pitch while the right one manipulates roll and throttle
- Mode 2 – The left stick controls throttle and yaw while the right stick controls pitch and roll
Mode 2 is the most popular and quite commonly the original configuration that most of the drone controllers come with. You can learn how to trigger between the modes by going through the instruction manual that comes along with your device.
If you ask which one of the two modes is the best, then I’m afraid you won’t come across one single answer. This is a topic of contention among dronies on almost all the social media platforms and forums that are there on the internet. The correct answer would probably be to make use of the control mode that works best for you. Here are a few things that you need to keep in mind as well:
- Once you get acquainted with a particular mode of control, triggering between the two is not that easy
- Most of the modern dronies prefer mode 2
- Mode 1 is an older mode of control but is popularly used by drone pilots in competitions
- Mode 2 has been designed to emulate real time helicopter and quadcopter controls
All drone controllers, including the controllers that are bundled with low cost devices, offer trim adjustment features. A commonly observed issue with quadcopter drones that fall at the lower end of the price spectrum and are slightly older, is that they tend to drift sideways. You can observe your quadcopter drifting during its flight as if it were being pulled in one direction. This is particularly the case when the controller is placed in the centre. This scenario is similar to driving a car that is out of alignment. The car tends to drift in one direction or another when it is not aligned.
There are two main reasons for drift:
- The gyro sensors are not adjusted properly
Whenever you are flying your drone outdoors, wind is the most important factor that makes your drone drift in one direction or another. The pilots can modify trim settings to mitigate the drift. It is a complex process since the quadcopter is always changing its direction during its flight. If you adjust the trim settings to compensate for the drift in one direction, it is likely that the drift in the other direction may get worse. The ideal way to combat wind is to comprehend the direction of the wind it is coming from, and manipulate your flying to compensate for the drift.
During indoor or outdoor flights in the absence of winds, if your quadcopter drifts in one direction or another, there is a possibility that the gyroscope sensors are not accordingly calibrated.
In such a situation, you ought to instantly land your drone and calibrate your gyroscope. The quadcopter’s level settings are reconfigured. The calibration varies from one quadcopter to another. So, you can always go through your user manual or browse through the internet on how to calibrate your device. We recommend that you should always calibrate your drone before each flight and after getting your device recharged.
Once you have calibrated your drone and it still is drifting a touch, then you need to adjust your trim configuration. Trim adjustments are different for different controllers. Trim settings can be adjusted in the upward or downward direction for each of the channels. Hence, if your drone is drifting leftward (roll), then you have to modify the roll towards the right until you get rid of the drift.
Most of the modern day advanced level controllers come with the rate settings. The pilots can adjust optimum settings for respective channels. For example, if you are flying your device indoors and you are in a mood to alter your optimum settings for throttle so that the drone does not crash into the ceiling, you can do so by modifying the rate.
Professional pilots can alter the rate settings up that allows them to exercise more control over their device and hence make it more responsive to their instructions. On the contrary, the rookie dronies can adjust the rate levels down to make the drone less responsive and more user friendly.
Here are a few things to remember in relation to controller rate:
- Most of the quadcopters come with beginner and expert modes nowadays. These modes actually tend to automatically modify the rate settings for drone pilots.
- A quadcopter that is stabilized by the gyroscope sensor, only lets you modify the rates to the extent that the quadcopter does not flip over. However, there are numerous drones that are being released with special trick flight features that ensure your quad to perform fabulous flip manoeuvres.
The Spectrum DX6 is a good example of a more advanced modern day controller. It boasts almost all of the features discussed above in addition to many others and is programmable as well.