Simple Drone Terms

VH Drones Glossary of Terms

Types of Drones

  • Ready to Fly (RTF) – This type of drone package comes equipped with everything you need to fly it.  It does not mean that it comes with a camera or gimbal. 
  • Bind to Fly (BNF) – This type of drone package will not come with a controller.  You will need to supply your own controller and “bind” it to the drone.

o   Bind – To establish the connection between the controller and the drone so that they effectively communicate.

  • Quadcopter (Quad) – A drone with 4 propellers
  • Hexacopter (Hexa) – A drone with 6 propellers

Gimbal Information

  • Gimbal – This device mounts to the drone.  The camera slides into the gimbal.  The gimbal’s purpose is to keep the camera stable even while the drone may be swaying.  A gimbal greatly enhances the quality of video you can capture with your drone.

o   2 Axis vs 3 Axis Gimbal – A 3 Axis gimbal will give greater stabilization to your camera, rotating around roll, pitch, and yaw.  A 2 axis gimbal can still give you quality pictures, but only rotates around roll and pitch.

Check out this video comparing no gimbal, a 2 axis gimbal, and a 3 axis gimbal. 

o   Roll – Axis from front to back.  Rotation along this axis would result in a barrel roll.

o   Pitch – Axis from left to right.  Rotation along this axis would result in climbing or diving with a full circle being a loop-the-loop.

o   Yaw – Axis going from top to bottom. Rotation along this axis would result in left to right movement.

Camera Information

  • GoPro Camera – GoPro is the leading manufacturer of small action cameras.  Many professionals prefer working with GoPro cameras but drone manufacturers are increasingly programming their drones to work only with their own proprietary cameras.
  • FPS – Frame Per Second.  Higher numbers are better.
  • HD – High Definition (16:9 wide screen aspect ratio)
  • 720 vs 1080 – The number of horizontal lines that create the image.  1080 produces a better image.
  • p vs i – “p” stands for progressive scan and processes images twice as fast as interlaced “i”.
  • Memory Card – Most cameras will require a memory card to be installed to which the images are saved.  The memory card then can be inserted to a computer to download those images.  The memory cards for drone cameras are “micro” and require either a micro slot for your computer or an adapter.

Drone Parts

  • CW and CCW – Often the motors and propellers of a drone need to be specific to the direction the motors are turning.  CW stands for clockwise and CCW stands for counterclockwise.  During assembly or if you need to replace a part, you need to be aware of the distinction.
  • LiPo Battery – A Lithium Polymer Battery gives power to the drone.  Specs will list the flying time (how long the battery will last) without additional equipment, such as a gimbal and camera.  So when flying with these things, the battery life will be a little shorter.
  • Controller – The device which directs the drone
  • Body Set/Shell – Protective Covering surrounding the drone’s innards.
  • ESC – Electronic Speed Controller
  • Worm Servo – Connects the drone to the landing gear
  • Prop Guard – fits around the propellers to protect them if the drones bumps into something.

Drone Mode/Options

  • GPS Mode – The drone gathers satellite information and can hold its position against wind.  Other modes such as Return Home, Circle, and Mission Planning operate in GPS Mode.
  • Follow Me Mode – The drone follows a transmitter and will keep the camera centered on that object. 
  • Return Home – By switching to this mode, the drone will return to where it started and land itself.
  • Circle – The drone will circle around an object while in this mode.
  • Flight Protection/Failsafe Return Home – The drone with this feature will automatically return home and/or land itself if it is low on battery or out of the range of the controller.
  • Mission Planning – Allows you to set a course for the drone and put in on “autopilot”.  The drone will follow that course.
  • Ground Station – The device on which mission planning is done.
  • IOC (Intelligent Orientation Control) – This mode allows you to direct the drone relative to where you are standing.  In the normal mode it turns left and right and goes forward and backward relative to the front of the drone.  This can cause confusion for the pilot.  IOC mode turns the drone in the direction from the orientation of where the pilot stands.