Top 5 things to do before flying your quadcopter for the first time

So you’ve figured out which quadcopter you want, perhaps you followed my advice on the Best Quadcopter for Beginners Page. Now you’ve got the package open and your ready to get flying but there are a few important questions to get answered before you lift off for your first time.

-What should you do before flying your new quadcopter for the first time?

First you should fully charge the battery which powers the quadcopter. They normally don’t come fully charged from the factory and even if it did, it would have lost some charge throughout the distribution and shipping process. Normally quadcopters such as the Syma X1 come with a charger whether it runs off 110-220v or USB power. While the battery for the quadcopter is charging you can find the AA or AAA’s required for the Transmitter (Tx) or Remote Control. I personally prefer Eneloop NIMH Batteries for my Tx’s which require regular batteries. While your batteries are charging it’s wise to flip through the user manual and see if there is anything specific for your model that you should be aware of. Some models require calibration of gyros, compasses,etc before flying for the first time or every time you fly at a new location.

Next after your quadcopter battery is fully charged, installed in your quad, and your Transmitter is also ready for power-up, it is time to maiden your new bird.

-Where should you fly it for the first time?

If your quadcopter model is suited for indoor flight then find the biggest room inside your house or empty garage and make sure there aren’t any valuables that you could break if you crash into them :). I tend to be a bit anal retentive and for my first flight of a new helicopter or quadcopter indoors i also make sure any Ceiling and or floor fans, including air conditioning are turned off, as their blowing air could affect a small quadcopter quite a bit. It’s quite fun to fly into their path on purpose once you have some experience, but for the first time it’s not recommended.

If you have tallish carpet then throw a magazine or newspaper on the floor and use that as your “landing pad”. This will help the legs of the quadcopter not get stuck in the fibers of the carpet and cause your first crash.

-What to expect when flying your quad for the first time?

Not sure if you’re the same as me but the first time i flew an RC anything including a quadcopter inside i had a little case of sweaty palms if you know what i mean. Granted these things are cheaper than ever now, and it’s not much of an investment, but hey i got nervous.
My best advice is to make sure your Tx and quadcopter are both powered on, it’s best to always turn on the Tx first and then the quadcopter. If you turn on the quadcopter first it could receive some random interference thinking its the Tx and take off without you wanting it to, so Transmitter first every time!
Ok, the Tx is on the quadcopter is powered up, the family pet isn’t close, you’ve made sure that the quadcopter is facing away from you, meaning that your looking at the backside of the quad. This is important since only now is left, left and right, right. Having it face you would mean you have to go left to go right and vice versa, definitely not a good way to learn :). Apply throttle with the left stick (Mode 2 style controls where throttle is on the left stick) and get it high enough to let it stabilize a little. My mistake when i first did this was to try to fly low thinking if i crash it’ll fall less distance therefore that’s the best way to go. I was wrong. If your quadcopter is low it has to fight to stabilize itself in its ground wash, which is essentially disturbed air being pushed around by the propellers and then bouncing off the ground and back up and all over the place, so take off to about 3 feet and then let go of the throttle stick if you have a auto-centered throttle channel on your Tx, which will be the normal hover position of your throttle control channel. The Syma X1 and some other beginner quadcopters don’t have a centering throttle stick, so in that case don’t let go of the throttle just hold it so the quad doesn’t climb or descend.
Now your hovering and your amazed how stable it is, if it slowly starts drifting right,left, forward or backwards use the right stick in the opposite direction to correct it’s behavior of wanting to go in whichever direction its going. You may need to “trim” the quadcopter to get it to hover still in one spot. If your Tx supports trimming these are the little buttons near each control stick. Normally 2 buttons to the side of each control stick and 2 buttons on the bottom of the sticks. If your quad always wants to go forward for example, you would tap the down button of your right control stick to get it to stay hovering. You always tap the opposite trim button for which way its flying on its own. Be sure your really sure its constantly flying in this direction before you start trimming because otherwise you may get very confused on why the darn thing won’t hover well on its own.

Have questions you want answered? Contact me here.

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Author: Felix

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