What is Headless Mode on a Quadcopter?

Headless mode – useful feature of the quadcopter

Headless mode can be a head -scratcher to understand for most people. Luckily, we’re here to help!

Headless mode stems from the problem of orientation that many pilots come across. Due to the fact that Quadcopters are relatively small (and get even smaller the further you fly them away) and the difficulty to tell the quad’s front from its back, it can be hard to control the Quadcopter’s orientation using a joystick.

Headless mode ensures that the quadcopter will always follow controls from your perspective all the time, regardless of which way the Quad is facing. As long as you initially set up the Quadcopter so that its front is facing yours, worrying about orientations will no longer be a concern. A left command, from your perspective, would automatically trigger a left turn, still from your perspective, and vice versa. For example, without headless mode, if the quad is flying towards you and command it to turn to your right, the quadcopter would instead turn to ITS right.

This process of dynamic adjustment and constant re-orientation is allowed thanks to a “digital compass” inside the Quadcopter’s micro-controller.

Now if you’re wondering whether headless mode might the right choice for you, you might want to consider few factors first.

If you’re a beginner who has yet to acquire a Quadcopter, headless mode can prove to be a headache-less choice. For a new pilot still adjusting to flying a quadcopter, taking complex orientation out of the equation is one less variable to worry about.

Choosing headless mode however, can limit your options for upgrades. As it stands now, the mode advanced Quadcopter models do not all usually support this mode. It can also be confusing to switch from an intermediate pilot already used to regular flying to headless mode.

For aerial filmmakers, picking headless mode lets you focus your attention on the filmmaking aspect since it closely mimics the perspective and mechanics required to use a video-camera. You do not want to waste 15min of flying time trying to not to make any orientation mistakes when you filming is more of a priority.

Best headless mode quadcopter

Besides being intuitive to pilot, headless mode Quadcopters fall into the mid-range of drones, price wise.  The JRC models for example can range from $50 to $100 while it’s not uncommon to find other models, like the WLtoys V393, costing around $300. If you are just trying to get a taste of the headless mode flying experience, then a trusted brand like the  Cheerson CX10 Nano Quadcopter (which is also very cheap) would be a good choice to start with.

To summarize, the answer to whether to go the headless mode route or not can be complex. Despite the intuitive piloting experience it grants, Quadcopter purists are still in favor of the regular flying setup. It remains to be seen if the demand for headless mode Quadcopters would elicit manufacturers to produce more advanced models with HM support, but as of now picking headless mode for your primary Quadcopter would significantly limit your upgrade options. Which is why investing in a cheap model is the most ideal choice. You can always get another drone, you know!