This article will take you over the fundamentals of drone controllers, including how they operate and the various functions they provide drone operators. In addition, we’ll examine what sets drone controllers apart from other RC aircraft and provide you with some fast fixes for problems with the connection between your drone and controller.
A drone controller is also known as a remote control that a drone pilot holds in their hands and uses to direct the drone to perform tasks. The circuit board that turns information from the drone remote controller into action is called a flight controller, on the other hand.
A Glimpse of the History of Remote Control
Although drone controllers are fairly new, radio control or remote control technology itself has its roots in the 19th century. At this time, there was a lot of research done on the concept of remotely operating equipment for military uses.
The military developed remote-controlled boats, teletanks, rockets, torpedoes, and anti-jamming devices as a result. This was done to reduce the possibility of losing soldiers in battle. In both World Wars I and II, radio-controlled equipment was extensively employed.
Many countries improved their radio control (RC) systems over time by shrinking them, creating transistors, and even allowing them to talk across many channels. By the 1950s, these advancements allowed RC systems to be used in model aeroplanes.
In the twenty-first century, all radio manufacturers create RC systems that are compatible with a variety of gadgets, such as drones, model aeroplanes, and toy vehicles.
How do drone controllers work?
When a drone controller is in operation, the drone receives a radio signal from the remote control that instructs it what to do.
The drone controller’s radio transmitter sends radio signals, which the drone’s receiver receives. For this reason, the drone controller is often referred to as the drone radio transmitter or just the drone controller.
Let’s examine the key components and how they all operate to better understand how they all function.
The component of the drone controller that is in charge of translating the controller’s commands into radio signals that are subsequently transmitted to the drone is the drone transmitter.
The flight controller can act upon the signals received by the receivers, which are antennas that transform them into electronic data.
This part serves as the central nervous system or brain of the drone. It ascertains the amount of power required to execute the commands supplied by the controller after obtaining the interpreted data from the receiver.
Additionally, the flight controller integrates sensor data to enable the drone to sense its environment.
- Accelerometers: By calculating the angular velocity and tilt, these sensors detect the drone’s orientation and estimate its rate of rotation.
- Magnetometers:A drone can better navigate its way around in reference to the magnetic north with the aid of magnetometers.
- Gyroscopes: These devices measure the rate of rotation as well, which enables a drone to maintain stability when flying or hovering.
Electronic Speed Controller, or ESC
Following the flight controller’s simplification of the instructions into voltage, the ESC is responsible for putting these directives into action by varying the power of certain motors to suit the task at hand and the direction you want the drone to go.
Features and parts of Drone controllers
When flying, the drone will transmit more power in that direction the harder you push the stick in that direction.
When you’re first starting off, gently press the sticks until you acquire the feel of it. Remember that every drone controller is unique as well. Before taking off at full speed, even if you have some flying expertise, you should gain a feel for a new drone controller.
- Right Stick
You can manoeuvre your drone forward, backward, and right or left by manipulating its roll and pitch using the right stick.
- Left stick
Your drone’s left stick controls its yaw and throttle, enabling you to adjust the altitude at which it flies and to rotate it in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction while in flight.
- Trim Buttons
Every drone remote controller has a trim button on it.
- drone controller trim buttons
When you initially start flying, if you see your drone tilting in one way, it generally needs to be trimmed. The matching trim button can be used to adjust the balance as necessary.
Basic Drone Movements
The primary drone movements and what happens when the drone controller’s sticks are pushed are shown below.
- Roll: This motion enables the drone to travel along its roll axis, which extends from its front to its rear, in either a right or left direction. Pushing the right stick left or right accomplishes this. The ESC lowers the motor power on one side of the drone (either the left or right) so that it can roll.
- Pitch: A drone can move along the Pitch (X) axis to go forward or backward with this movement. The right stick can be moved forward or backward to do this.To get the front motors to rotate more quickly, the ESC boosts the power of the front motors while decreasing the power of the rear propellers. For this reason, when the drone accelerates forward, its front part dips downward.
- Yaw: The drone rotates in a clockwise direction along its yaw axis, which extends from its top to its bottom. You move the left stick on the controller to the left or right. The ESC reduces the motors’ power in a diagonal pattern to do this.
- Throttle: This controls how high or low the drone can fly. Here, every motor is turning at the same pace. The drone moves higher the faster they spin.
How drones communicate with the controller
The primary lines of communication for drones controllers are listed below.
This is among the most popular methods drones use to talk to their controllers. Within the electromagnetic spectrum are waves that are invisible and known as radio frequencies. As I’ve already mentioned, there must be a transmitter and a receiver for them to function.
Drones and controllers need to be “tuned” to the same frequency in order for them to communicate. However, what would happen if another device was to use the same frequency and be within the same range? The RFID enters the picture here.
A drone’s identification code for communication with a controller is called an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) code. Furthermore, the drone will only react to signals containing that particular RFID.
Since they can operate at longer ranges and enable a drone to move farther away from the controller, lower frequencies are preferred for drone communications. However, very huge antennas would be required if the frequencies are too low. Therefore, most drones operate in the 800–900 MHz frequency range in order to maintain a healthy balance.
These days, most drones have Wi-Fi, especially the ones that feature a camera and an app. Wi-Fi enables real-time streaming of drone footage, giving rise to one of the most popular drone hobbies: first-person view (FPV) racing.
Global Position System (GPS)
GPS has made drone navigating much easier. By enhancing stabilisation, permitting Return To Home, and recognising No-Fly zones, it does this.
So how do drones use GPS to communicate with their controllers? The drone’s GPS will follow the coordinates if you provide them to it directly.
Certain drones are made so they cannot take off in No-Fly zones; nonetheless, the drone’s app is the one that communicates these zones to the drone. These days, the drone can even be programmed to choose its own waypoints in the form of coordinates. When taking aerial photos of a location, this is a frequently used application in the land surveying industry.
This is a more advanced mode of communication that is limited to military drones, like the Predator or Hawk models. The military can operate its drones thousands of miles distant thanks to satellite communication. To coordinate takeoff and landing, a ground station must still be present in the vicinity of the drone’s operation.
Although this element is still being developed, the military and inspections industries are already using some of its applications. Typically, a controller is used by a pilot to communicate with a drone. On the other hand, completely autonomous drones can be programmed to fly in a certain region, collect data, choose the optimal course, avoid obstructions, and return to the take-off point on their own.
In summary, Drone controllers is a category of gadgets that has come to be with the evolution of its predecessor, remote or radio control. In today’s times, drones have become multi-purpose, from being used in films to being a military gadget, it does it all. We hope this article helped you in gathering the knowledge about drone controllers in the most accessible manner possible.