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Beginning Flight Tips

This page is a chapter in 'Advice on successfully and safely flying your AeroQuad'

Beginning Flight Tips

Below is a loose set of tips to assist beginners in flight of their AeroQuad. Read them carefully and make sure to have fun! Add any tips or useful information you find to the wiki. Ask in the forum or chat if you are unsure about something. Quads are just too dangerous when you don't know exactly what you're doing.

Arm And Disarm

Note:
Always switch on the transmitter first, then apply power to the copter! The same applies the other way round (first disconnect power from the copter, then switch off the transmitter).

'Arming' your quad is an important first step. After arming, your motors will spin at a predefined 'idle' rate. This is mainly to let you know that your AeroQuad is armed and potentially dangerous. (If your AeroQuad does not idle it's motors after arming, try re-calibrating them or increasing the "Minimum Armed Throttle" value via the AeroQuad Configurator.)

It's very important to learn to 'disarm' your quad whenever you land, feel your quad is about to wreck, or you are endangering others or yourself. Leaving your quad 'armed' while moving it by hand or while near others is not recommended and very dangerous. If power is still being applied (such as while armed) by the ESC's after a wreck, or while a prop is not able to move freely, your brushless motors may sustain damage if you do not disarm within a few seconds.

Arming

Move the sticks of your transmitter to the position described in a previous chapter. You should hear/see your motors spin up to their 'idle' rate.

Disarming

Move the sticks of your transmitter to the position described in a previous chapter. The motors will power down and stop rotating.

Be RADD

Read this tutorial pertaining to Rotary Flight. It's mainly for Helicopters, but many of the basic principles transfer across to quadcopters very well.

Basically, stay on the ground for a bit. Get a feel for where your quad will barely start to hover. Stay below that hover point, and try to apply some 'Sticks' to move it forward, backwards, and side to side. This way you can double check that the correct motor is gaining speed correctly. But be aware that if you are right under the hover point the motor gaining can start lifting the quad so look after it all the time!

Order Extra Props Now, Not Later

You'll thank us later. If you don't have spare props on hand, order some now. You will need them. Everybody does. Look for deals on pairs of props. Often they go by different names like "pusher/puller", "pusher/tractor", "clockwise/counter" or "CW/CCW", there are even 10 packs. APC style props are more durable and balanced almost perfectly out of the bag and will cut a lot of grass in their lifetime. EPP and other generic types are less balanced and durable and you will need more of these types. BEWARE ALL PROPS are flying knives and are dangerous. Please wear protective glasses and be careful what, where and when you grab your quad!

Be More Careful

Take your usual level of care, and then double it. Quadcopters are extremely dangerous! When beginning, fly in a quiet, isolated area (preferably outdoors), where you will not be distracted or damage anyone or anything in the event of a crash or loss of control.

It is very typical to lose control of your quad while learning to fly. Flips, out of control sideways pitch/roll, etc. are all very common. If you should hit an animal, car, house, or person, the consequences could be disastrous. Please be careful!

Build a Tuning Frame

Optional, but damn handy. A tuning frame is an excellent way to get accustomed to the sound and feel of your quad before actually flying it. Also, it's a perfect place to attempt your PID Tuning.


Rough diagram of a tuning frameRough diagram of a tuning frame

Tuning frame (credits to KirAsh4)Tuning frame (credits to KirAsh4)

Hand-test

It's very common to hand test the quad, with and without props mounted. First, please think again about safety. Props are very sharp and dangerous. Even idle speed spinning props can cause deep cuts in your arms or fingers. Please keep the following in mind about safety:
  • Hold the quad from below, not from above!
  • Point the quad as far away from you as possible
  • Wear protective goggles and gloves on both hands
  • Test quad in acro mode first. Stable mode can flip the quad quickly to one side if level is calibrated wrong
  • Connect power while quad is on a level surface, don't shake or rotate it, this can set the gyro zero point wrong.
  • Hold the quad down with one hand while connecting power and wait until all ESCs have started up
In general it's a good idea to hand test all quad functions and axis movements prior to each flight.

Go Outside

You may think that your garage has enough room to fly, and you may have seen a video on the AeroQuad Forum with a guy dominating his garage like a champ, but it's not a great idea.

When you're as green as a gardener's thumb at flying your AeroQuad, you'll need a lot of room, trust us. You will need at least 15-30+ feet of elevation, and 30-70 feet of forward/back area. It will be helpful in the long run, and will assist you in not breaking so many props. Try to find a place with a soft surface, like a grass field. Crashes into concrete are much more likely to damage your quad, than those into grass. However keep in mind that a public park isn't the best place, as visitors may show up and distract you.

Learn To Hover

OK, so you're outside, away from people, in a large clear open grassy area. You've checked that everything is fastened correctly, plugged in, and turned on. Your quad is sitting on the grass about 5 meters in front of you, facing nose-out. It's time to get this thing off the ground!

First, safety: If anything goes wrong, kill the throttle. You'll be keeping it low enough that the fall won't hurt it, and you don't yet have the skills to fly your way out of a mistake. It's much safer for you and your equipment if you pull the plug the instant you're not in control. Mentally rehearse it. Things go bad? Immediately cut the throttle. Out of control? Immediately cut throttle.

If you've never flown then the first thing you need to learn is throttle control. Slowly and carefully ramp up the throttle until the quad starts to lift off, then as soon as the quad leaves the ground, ease off the throttle gently and let it settle back down. If the hardware is working correctly the quad should remain fairly level, and shouldn't drift too far. (If it doesn't do this, then stop and try to find the problem. You can't fly a quad with glitchy hardware or wrongly configured software!) Repeat this process, lift off gently and then land again, until you have a good feel for how much throttle is required to keep the quad in the air. Try keeping it in the air a little longer - don't worry about lateral drift yet, all we care about right now is that the quad stays at a steady height. Don't go more than a meter off the ground. If the quad drifts too far, ease off the throttle and land it.

Once you are able to hold the quad at a steady height, try moving the aileron stick gently to counteract the quad's drift. If the quad drifts left, move the stick to the right a fraction. If it starts drifting towards you, push the stick up a fraction. Get the feel for how the quad moves. By now, holding it at a steady height should be automatic. Remember, if at any point the quad gets out of position, especially if it starts coming towards you, cut the throttle.

Keep practicing until you can hold the quad in one spot for a full battery pack. At that point, you're ready to move on.

Keep Nose-Out To Start

When you first attempt flying your AeroQuad, you should have the rear of your AeroQuad, or tail, facing you. As you fly (hopefully in full control) you should attempt to adjust your Yaw stick so the tail faces you at all times. You can move forward, backwards, side to side, but keep that nose-out yaw position.

Fly as many batteries as you can stand in this mode. Once you can fly an entire battery, moving around, hovering, accelerating upwards, etc., without setting the quad down a single time, then you are ready to learn some Figure-Eights (See Advanced Flight Tips).

Read the Advanced Flight Tips

Master the tips and tricks above, and then move on to the AeroQuad Advanced Flight Tips.

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