In the last article we looked at some basic drone tips and tricks,and how to setup your drone. In today’s article we're going to be looking at some slightly more advanced techniques. We’ll look at how you can get the most out of your upside down hang time in the air and also how you can maximise your flying time in general. We will be going into detail on a few more advanced tricks, so if you have mastered your rolls, read on!
Starting off flying low and potentially slowly, slowly increasing the speed that you are able to fly at low altitude will help you to improve your throttle control. If you haven't done that already you really do need to do that before moving on as your throttle control will be very important for the more advanced drone flying tricks. The other thing that you need to make sure you've done as we mentioned in the first article, is configuring both acro mode and air mode. These modes will allow you to maintain control of your drone while it's upside down or at a weird angle, without having to worry about what level your throttle is set at.
By having your throttle set to zero when you're upside down, you'll be able to stay upside down for much longer than with your throttle up. This will give you a much better chance to carry out manoeuvres without crashing. Every little bit of extra time will help when completing the more advanced tricks.
Note from the author
When practicing new tricks, it is important to start out nice and high. The last thing you want is to get disorientated and end up crashing into the ground, breaking or damaging something. Learning new tricks can be very expensive if you don't do it right! What I recommend is starting out in a flight simulator. This will let you test new tricks out without risking any of your equipment, it's also great tool to keep your muscle memory fresh. When you pick up your drone and your transmitter to go out to fly you're able to get right into it. If you are going to be testing out a new trick in a flight simulator, the first thing to do is to find a simulator that works well for you.
A word about Drone simulators:
I personally like the DRL (Drone Racing League) simulator. The DRL simulator provides a fairly realistic feel and it's fully customisable which is great, it's also completely free! The DRL Simulator is designed to work with a range of different transmitters and if you have a transmitter that can plug into the computer via USB you can probably use it with minimal configuration. If this isn't an option for you, you can always use a 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm cable to connect your trainer port to a microphone jack on your PC. Then setup a game controller using a piece of software called SmartPropoPlus.
We're going to look at some new tricks to try. Whether you are using a simulator or are outside in the real world, it's important to start nice and high. Last time we looked at rolls, which is probably the easiest trick to do because you can see the horizon all the time. This makes it very easy to keep your orientation and know where you are facing and where the ground is.
Drone tips and Tricks:
Similar to a roll, we will now look at flips. Flips are a little bit more complicated because part way through all you are going to be able to see is the sky. If you stop a front flip 3/4 of the way through, you are going to be looking at the sky and won’t know which way to turn.
I find back flips easiest to start up because you see the floor when you reach about halfway through the flip. You then keep your eye on the floor all the way through until completing the flip. If you do a forward flip the last thing you see before the horizon comes back into view is just the sky and it is sometimes very difficult to tell how far through the flip you are. Once you are used to doing back flips, you'll know how much stick deflection is needed to flip and you can then move onto front flips.
Expert advice - Flip:
How to do a flip:
● Make sure air mode is on!
● Briefly punch the throttle (1-2s at most) and then cut the throttle to zero.
● Pull your pitch stick back.
● Avoid going to full deflection as you are likely to lose control at this early stage. If you find your drone isn’t rolling fast enough, you should consider increasing the rates on your flight controller.
● Keep your stick pulled back and your throttle at zero until you see the ground again.
● Once you are three quarters of the way round, ease off your pitch, to gently complete the flip.
● Once you have completed the trick and are back to level, throttle back up to arrest your fall.
#2 Inverted Yaw Spin
The next aerial trick that we're going to look at is the inverted yaw spin. This involves doing either a half flip or a half roll and then doing a 360 degree yaw spin, before completing the manoeuvre back to level with another half flip or roll. The difficult thing here if you are not used to yaw spinning will be just keeping your camera on the horizon. If you've noticed from doing the regular yaw spin, when your camera is set at a reasonable angle if you spin just with the yaw control, you will find your quad tilted against the horizon.
To compensate for this, you need to roll at the same time. So you need to yaw left while you roll left to maintain the horizon as close to the centre of your camera as possible. This is exactly the same when you're upside down, so it's worth practicing regular yaw spins, making sure that you can carry these out with a nice level drone before you move onto the next step. Once you can carry out nice level yaw spins it's time to combine this into the inverted yaw spin.
How to do an inverted yaw spin:
● Start this with either a flip or a roll, but rather than completing the flip or roll, we stop halfway through.
● While upside down in the air we carry out a 360 degree yaw spin.
● Complete the move by either completing your roll or completing your flip.
Expert advice - inverted yaw spin:
A variation is to complete a half flip or roll, then a 180 degree yaw spin and then complete the flip/roll. This will leave you facing the direction you came from and is a nice fancy way to turn 180 degrees. You can see that we can combine tricks like the flip or the roll and yaw spin to create new and unique looking tricks.
A very popular trick at the moment is the orbit. This involves flying around an object, which might be yourself, but flying around the object maintaining the object as close to the centre of your field of view as possible. You are effectively flying in a circle around the object so it's good to start getting to grips with this just by flying around an object in a normal circular pattern, not worrying about your camera facing the object but just flying in the circle. You are effectively carrying out an infinite turn. What you will notice is that you are turning towards the object with yaw, whilst also rolling towards the object. To complete an orbit what we need to do is exactly the same as flying circles, but just with the camera pointed towards the object.
Whichever direction you are orbiting, your yaw and roll sticks will be in the opposite direction. For example, if you are going around an object clockwise your yaw and roll sticks will both be pointing to the right. The amount of yaw and roll that you use need to be carefully balanced so that you don't either drift away from (not enough stick deflection) or turn into the object (too much stick deflection).
Expert advice - Orbit:
To practice this trick, what you want is a reasonably clear space with no obstacles to potentially crash into. For the most part you will be flying sideways, so you need to be careful and be aware of your surroundings. Start off with something tall if you can (a tree with not too many branches sticking out, or a lamppost), so that you don't have to worry too much about throttle management. As you get better you can practice going lower and faster.
Some closing notes:
Once you've mastered these drone tips and tricks, you should be able to carry out a number of other tricks which are effectively just combinations of these, or low altitude very fast copies of the same tricks. The below video is a great example of that and shows high and low variations of these tricks, spinning through the open air but also spinning through very small gaps in the trees.
Clearly, a huge amount of control is required to carry out these tricks and this only comes with lots and lots of practice. As part of the learning process you will be crashing a lot and that's why I'll reiterate the recommendation of trying out new tricks and practicing on a flight simulator.
If you liked this article on drone tips and would like to see more, let us know! Also let us know if there are any particular tricks you would like to see covered and we will go into step by step detail to get you flying like a pro.