It is often necessary to observe the launches of various quadrocopters or other UAVs in headless mode. It is generally accepted that it greatly facilitates both the flight itself and the control of the drone in general, but nevertheless, for many, the presence of this mode is not entirely clear.
We owe the appearance of the “Headless” mode to Chinese manufacturers of inexpensive drones. It is on the quads of the budget segment that you can most often find this mode, in order to make it easier for beginners on their first flight. And before we start explaining what “Headless” mode is, let’s first talk about how the control of a quadcopter (drone) is implemented at a basic level.
Like any vehicle, a drone has a front and rear, but most often due to the symmetrical design, it is difficult to distinguish the front from the back of the drone in flight. To partially solve this problem, UAV manufacturers began to install rotors of different colors on the drone. For example, the red screws are for the front beam motors, and the black ones are for the rear beam motors.
But again, once the drone is in the air and flies away, it becomes impossible to distinguish between these colors, which again puts the problem of orientation into question. Manufacturers have gone further and began to equip their products with LED backlighting, but its effectiveness is reduced to zero in daylight sunlight.
How does drone orientation work in normal mode?
Thanks to the microcontroller installed in the drone, he always understands where he has the front and where the back is. And this fact is fundamental for all UAVs.
In normal mode (when the drone is back to the pilot) while the quad is flying straight, everything is clear, move the right stick to the left – the drone flies to the left, to the right – the drone flies to the right, forward – the drone flies forward, and towards you – the drone flies back (backwards) .
But it is only necessary to turn the drone 180º (in front of the pilot) in order to return, for example, to the place of takeoff, then by moving the stick to the left – the drone will turn to the right, to the right – the drone will turn to the left, forward – the drone will fly to the pilot, and if you deflect the stick towards yourself , then the drone will move away from the pilot. For a beginner, this state of affairs will be misleading. And that’s when headless mode comes to the rescue.
What is headless mode?
Simply put, Headless mode allows novice pilots not to worry about orientation in general. How the headless mode works is quite simple, the only prerequisite is that before activation and takeoff, the user must position the drone so that the front of the drone matches the upcoming flight direction. The mode is activated for each UAV model in its own way, the description of the process is in the instructions that come with the product.
By activating the “Headless mode” for the drone, it does not matter where it has the front at the time of flight, and where the rear is. It will obey strictly the position of the right stick, i.e. stick forward – we fly forward, stick back – we fly back, and it does not matter that the pilot turned the drone 180º. Thus, at the initial stage of training, the beginner will be able to concentrate solely on adapting to controlling the drone.
Subsequently, this mode is recommended to be abandoned, since it is not used in professional practice. And you won’t find it on PRO level drones.
It is also worth considering that, as practice shows, there are very few correctly working headless modes, which can complicate both the learning process and the flight itself. Therefore, it would be best to immediately stop flying in headless mode and start training in normal orientation mode.