Understanding Transmitter Modes

by | May 7, 2014 | theory | 0 comments

Mode 1 or Mode 2, that is the question that many first-time multirotor pilots face when selecting radio transmitters and it is the first question we will address in this tutorial before moving on to discussing radio transmitter channels.

Transmitter Modes

Radio transmitter modes describe the layout of controls between the two sticks.

Mode Left Stick Right Stick
Mode 1 Rudder
Elevator
Aileron
Throttle
Mode 2 Rudder
Throttle
Aileron
Elevator

So the difference between Mode 1 and Mode 2 is that the throttle and elevator controls are switched.

In the United States and UK, the vast majority of pilots fly on Mode 2 because Mode 2 closely resembles the control layout for airplanes. This makes the control layout of Mode 2 transmitters more intuitive for many pilots.

That said, some pilots choose Mode 1 instead because of an important advantage offered by that mode. Since the elevator and aileron controls are the most important when flying, because controlling turn and forward/backward movement are the most common actions, separating the elevator and aileron controls on two different sticks can help a pilot control the two independently. Let me put this another way; on a Mode 2 transmitter the elevator and aileron controls are on the same stick. This means that it is hard to control just elevator without making small adjustments to the aileron control, and vice versa.

transmitter mode 1 control layout

On a Mode 1 radio transmitter, the elevator and aileron controls are separated, reducing the chance that when adjusting the elevator control, the pilot accidentally moves the aileron control, or vice versa.

transmitter mode 2 control layout

Most pilots, particularly in the U.S. and UK, consider a Mode 2 transmitter to be more intuitive since the controls mirror those found in airplanes.

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In the tutorials on this site though, I use a Mode 2 radio transmitter. But if you prefer a Mode 1 transmitter, just remember to switch the throttle and elevator controls.

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