Learning about the flight features available on a drone is a sure way of becoming a better drone pilot. While these may vary from one drone model to another, one of the most ever-present flight modes you’ll come across, especially in entry-level drones, is the headless mode.
This has proven to be a handy tool for novice drone users looking for a more seamless flying experience. But what exactly does headless mode mean? How does it differ from normal flying mode?
In this post, we will explain in detail what headless mode on a drone entails.
What is Headless Mode on a Drone?
Technically speaking, headless mode is a feature that enables you to align the movements of your drone with the movements of the controller. It is essentially a built-in ability for the drone to remember its initial orientation during takeoff.
This way, the pilot can fly the quadcopter depending on his/her direction rather than the flight path orientation.
How Drones Work
Unlike a bike or car where you can easily determine the forward-facing direction, a drone is designed with similar-looking propellers (two at the front and two at the back). This makes it hard to differentiate the front from the back when the drone is flying.
However, some manufacturers employ creative ways to help pilots understand where the front of the drone is. For instance, some models feature colored LEDs on the front side of the drone.
The problem is this method becomes ineffective when you have to fly the drone over long-range or when the sun is too bright. You will have a hard time seeing the lights from afar.
When you launch your drone into the air in normal flight mode and turn it to face you, moving the controller stick to the right will move the drone to the left and vice versa. This is because the movements of the drone are relative to the direction it’s facing (opposite of where you’re facing).
So, your “left”: is actually the “right” of the drone. This reversal of controls can be very confusing, even for some experienced pilots; more so when the quad is a long distance from you and you are not using FPV.
Luckily, headless mode comes in handy to fix this challenge for drone users!
Understanding Headless Mode
With headless mode, moving the control stick LEFT will also move the drone LEFT, regardless of its orientation. In this case, it is your point of view that takes precedence and not the drone’s; pretty convenient!
What headless mode does is save you the trouble of having to pay too much attention to the quad’s orientation and instead use it to shoot better images and videos. If you are a newbie pilot, you’ll find it easier to control the drone and experience fewer flying errors.
How to Activate Headless Mode
Drone navigation can be much simpler when you activate the headless mode. With this feature, your drone knows to always fly away from where it took off - regardless of what direction its front points at after takeoff.
To ensure successful flight in conventional mode, keep your drone oriented towards you and take-off with confidence!
Depending on model type, activating headless may require just a few taps: search around for labels such as "Headfree" or "Care-Free".
If it's still proving difficultto find that button – no need to worry; many user guides will contain all necessery information concerning activation details.
What are the Advantages of Headless Mode?
There are several benefits using the headless mode. Primarily, it is a feature meant for rookie pilots who are still learning to fly a drone and may struggle with standard settings. It generally makes it simpler to fly your quad.
Headless mode provides confidence and peace of mind when it comes to flying drones. It eliminates the risk of expensive repairs due to avoiding obstacles, minimizes mistakes that could be made by misreading orientations, and even brings your drone safely back home if you lose sight of it. In essence, headless mode allows for an enjoyable experience with fewer risks involved in piloting a UAV.
If you are piloting the drone in tight spaces, the headless mode allows for more straightforward navigation and ensures you don’t keep running the device into a wall. It’s very easy to lose focus and send the drone the wrong way when you’re flying in conventional mode.
Finally, headless mode comes in handy when you want to fly long-range drones, especially if you don’t have FPV goggles or a monitor. You won’t have a problem piloting the quad when it runs out of your visual line of sight.
What are the Disadvantages of Headless Mode?
The problem with flying on headless mode all the time is that you might get too dependent on it that transitioning to normal mode becomes a challenge. This will eventually make you a poor drone pilot.
Another notable disadvantage is that the technology powering headless mode can be affected by electromagnetic interference. This means if you fly your drone too close to metallic towers or pylons, the feature might fail to work effectively’ which will, in turn, compel you to switch back to normal flight mode.
So, if you’ve been ignoring that “headless mode” button on your quadcopter just because you didn’t know what it does, now you know what you are missing out on. Overall, headless mode is a useful flight feature that allows both beginner and experienced drone users to have a more comfortable flying session.
Should I Fly in Headless Mode?
For a newbie, flying a drone in normal mode can be a daunting task. The same is true for kids and even adults who simply want to pilot the quadcopter for fun. As such, going for a headless mode-enabled drone might seem like the best decision as it limits the chances of crashing and damaging the machine.
It is, however, advisable that you use it for preliminary flying as you work your way towards more advanced flying skills. It is also a useful feature for more experienced pilots to use when flying a drone beyond the visual line of sight.
Is Headless Mode Cheating?
Automation is taking over everything around us. From self-driving cars to garage opener apps, people are finding easier ways of doing things. This is no different from choosing to fly your drone in headless mode.
Some people might consider it as cheating; to them, it takes away from or undermines the art of drone flying. However, others feel that it is a nice way to build your confidence as a drone pilot when you are still learning how to fly.
Ultimately, whether or not "Headless Mode" is cheating will boil down to which side of the divide you fall under.
Can Headless Mode Work with FPV?
FPV or First-Person View allows you to fly the quad from the perspective of the drone camera. This means you don’t need headless mode since the drone is facing the direction you're seeing in the video footage. Moving the controller stick right will move the drone right and vice versa.
This is why most manufacturers choose to disable Headless Mode when you fly the drone via FPV.