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I have heard a lot of reference to the 'Modes' of a transmitter/controller.

What is the Mode of a remote controller, and what is the difference between them?

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The Mode of a transmitter refers to which stick on the transmitter controls which movement on a drone. There are 4 modes (named Mode 1 to 4) but the most common are Mode 1 and Mode 2.

The image below shows which control is associated with which aircraft axis, for each mode. The black text refers to fixed-wing aircraft and the blue text is the multirotor equivalent.

https://i.imgur.com/VxGAkIx.png

Mode 1 and 2 are the most common flight modes used. Most multirotor pilots fly mode 2 (although there are exceptions, one of the OG FPV pilots FinalGlideAus notably flew mode 1). Almost all "toy" multirotors are Mode 2. In fixed-wing RC mode 2 is very common in the US, while Mode 1 is popular elsewhere.

When starting out, find out what mode the people you're likely to fly with use. Having a more knowledgeable pilot being able to fly your drone, or being able to watch their fingers and see how they're doing a particular trick, or for them to be able to coach you easily is enormously beneficial. Once you're comfortable, if you want to explore the other modes, and see if something else feels better, then go for it. If you don't plan to fly with anyone else and have no strong opinion, go mode 2. Virtually all of the stick cam tutorials you'll watch online are mode 2.

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    $\begingroup$ One additional point: While the pitch, roll & yaw axes are generally self-centering (using springs inside the gimbal), this centering behaviour is usually undesired on the throttle axis. As the throttle can be located on either side of the radio, most brand radios include a mechanism that allows to deactivate the springs on either side and can therefore be configured to support different modes. This is often not the case in toy-grade transmitters, which have to be purchased directly for the mode you want to use them in. $\endgroup$ – mvanallen Apr 15 at 10:26
  • $\begingroup$ The diagrams are very helpful, though I would clarify that the black text labels are common terms for both fixed-wing and multirotor aircraft, whereas the blue labels describe the resulting flight behavior in a stabilized, angle-limited platform such as DJI Phantoms or toy-grade quadcopters. On those platforms, "height" is usually referred to as "altitude." $\endgroup$ – Yorb Apr 16 at 18:03

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