Beginner’s Guide To Flying A Quadcopter

Flying a quadcopter is certainly no walk in the park. More so for someone who is a beginner and is just getting started with quadcopters.

Assuming you have chosen a quadcopter that’s right for beginners, here’s a short guide that will walk you through the steps …

Safety Procedures

Safety is the first thing that needs to be addressed when flying a quad copter. You need to stay safe and protect by-standers in case you are forced to do an emergency landing. The first safety precaution that you have to take – in case the drone you are flying is slightly larger than the size of a dinner plate, would be to tie the copter down to the ground or fly it inside a cage so as to protect any by-standers.

If a crash is all but inevitable, you would want to cut the craft’s throttle down to zero before hitting the ground so as to prevent breaking the quad. Learning to cut the throttle in an instant is a skill that will stand you in good stead. And you will want to work on this.

You have to ensure that your fingers do not get too close to the blades. The extent of injuries that you will sustain if your fingers cross the path of the blades will depend on the power of the machine in question. Nonetheless, the pain will be unbearable as hell so watch out and do not injure yourself. In the case you want to fix the quad for some reason, unplug it before you start since it will only take a press of the wrong switch to badly injure you.

You might also want to be aware of laws – both local and state – and make sure you don’t end up in hot water because you were ignorant of some law.

Terminology Used

In order to fly the copter you need to get to know the lingo and jargon pertaining to the quads. Here’s a brief list …

Yaw : This is the direction along which the quad copter faces during flight. The front end of the copter should be such that it is facing away from you. This makes flying of the copter easy since both you and the copter will always be facing the same direction. The flight controls will be reversed if this rule is not followed.

Pitch : refers to forward or backward motion. To move forward or backward, either the front or end tail should be higher than the other. The pitch is what determines the motion of the copter; whether it is advancing in your direction or away from you.

To move the quad forward, all you need to do is push the stick forward. This makes the quad tilt and go forward.

Likewise, to move it backward move the stick towards you.

Roll : refers to the side wards movement – either left or right, of the copter. The roll makes it possible for you to maneuver the copter either to the right or left side.

Altitude : this is the height at which the quad copter is flying. If you are a beginner, you would want to fly the copter at low altitudes where you can exercise greater control over the flight dynamics.
You will want to watch this video …

The Controls

The other thing you need to know is how to use the controls. The left most stick on the controls is responsible for adjusting the altitude and the yaw. The default position of this stick is down and in the middle. This represents a motor speed of zero. Its position in the middle is strategic to enable a side-to-side movement of the copter. It is evident that this side-to-side motion represents the yaw.

The right most stick is responsible for the pitch and roll controls, where the pitch represents the up-down motion while the roll represents a side-to-side motion. There are other smaller switches on the control panel that are used for setting the defaults for flying the quad copter. You can use this to preset the direction of flight as well as the altitude of flight. Simple controllers may not come equipped with these switches though.

Your First Flight

I bet you are eager to start your first flight, right? Well, as already mentioned above (for safety purposes) you would want to maintain a constant low altitude throughout. To do this, lift the altitude node gradually in order to test just how quickly the quad copter takes off with the motor settings. Once you are satisfied with the low altitude performance you can gradually increase it to a higher level.

Moving Your Quadcopter

This step shall be attempted only when you have mastered keeping the quad at a low altitude for a while. In that altitude that you have already elevated the quad to, you can move it in circular motion – roll. The yaw should be maintained at all times to ensure that the quad is only flying in the forward direction. A combination of pitch and yaw will be sufficient to maneuver the quad in a clockwise circular direction. Whenever you feel that you have the hang of this you can try moving it in the counter-clockwise direction.

Mastery of both the clockwise and counter-clockwise direction of flight will enable you to make smooth transitions between the two directions.

Flying In Reverse

The tricky part is flying the quad in the reverse direction. This trick requires expert use of the yaw. Work with the yaw until the front end of the quad is facing you. You will notice that at this point the controls are opposite of what they were before. Practice driving it in the reverse direction until you feel that you are okay and ready for the last part.

Practicing The Figure 8

The trickiest part of flying the quad copter is making it to do a figure 8 while in flight. You can start by making it trace a figure 8 pattern while facing away from you before trying it in the reverse direction. To make the quad facing the direction of flight while tracing out the figure 8 pattern, you need to utilize all controls; the yaw, roll, altitude, and pitch.