Glossary

Drones and UAV’s have a whole terminology of their own. Here are terms you may
or may not know. If you have suggestions for additions / edits, please
drop us a line!

  • 2.4Ghz Spectrum – The common frequency used for remote control of drones. This is what the remote control units use
  • 250mm – A very common frame sized used in the building of custom racing drones
  • 808 Camera – A common name for the small ‘spy’ cameras frequently used for taking video.
  • Accelerometer – A sensor that can determine what direction a drone is moving and how fast
  • Battery – Various batteries are used on drones. The onboard battery may power the fflight controller, the receiver, the FPV transmitter, and the rotos (via ESC’s)
  • Bind – To link a radio controller with a receiver. Sometimes referred to as ‘pairing’
  • Brushless Motor – A type of electric motor that is extremely efficient and powerful for it’s size and weight. Almost all drone motors are of this type.
  • Channel – This can refer to the frequency an FPV transmitter is using (for video from a drone), or an assigned function linking a controller transmitter with a drone. For instance, a channel may be assigned to control throttle, or turning lights on and off. Most drones use at least 6 channels for control.
  • Controller – (sometimes ‘Flight controller’) – The computer on the drone that helps the drone fly. Controllers can be as simple as taking radio signals and signalling the ESC’s, to working with accelerometers, GPS, and other sensors to control all aspects of the drone’s flight
  • Drone – A general term for a small (under 10lbs) multirotor flying machine. Some drones are autonomous and can make their own decisions about direction and altitude, some are controlled completely by their pilot. Drones are usually purpose built for anything from aerial photography to racing to aerobatics.
  • ESC – Electronic Speed Controller – A component of a drone that translates requestes from the flight controller to speed adjustments on the rotos. ESC’s are a critical component of drones. (Sometimes referred to as an EMC – Electronic Motor Controller)
  • FC (Flight Controller) – Another term for the on board controller on a drone.
  • FPV – First Person View – A system where an onboard camera on the drone transmits live, realtime video to a receiver the pilot can use to fly the drone as if they were on board with it. The viewer for the signal may be goggles or a flat video screen.
  • Fat Shark – The leading producer of FPV goggles for drones
  • Frame – The core piece of hardware that a drone is built upon. Frames range in sizeand materials.
  • GPS – Global Positioning System – A system where a receiver on a drone can determine it’s position within 30′ just by listening to signals from satellites. GPS accuracy is highly variable.
  • Gimbal – A mount for a camera on a drone where the camera can move independendly of the drone’s motion. Gimbal mounted cameras are used frequently in aerial photography.
  • GoPro – A leading manufacturer of rugged, small, high defition cameras. See ‘Hero’
  • Gyro – A device that helps a drone keep stable. Not widely used on smaller drones due to weight requirements.
  • HUD – Heads Up Display – A display that is shown directly in front of a pilot while flying a drone. HUD displays may include telemetry such as altitude, speed, drone pitch, yaw, and roll, compass heading, and GPS coordinates.
  • Hero – An extremely popular brand of small, rugged, high resolution cameras frequently mounted on drones to provide high resolution video. Note that Hero cameras do not transmit in realtime, therefore the video is usually retreived from the camera after the flight has ended.
  • Hexapod – A general term for an 6 rotor drone
  • JST – A type of power connector commonly used on drones
  • LED Running Lights – In racing drones, it’s common to use red and white lights to easily identify “front” and “rear” ends of the drone while in a race. Plus, it looks cool.
  • LOS – Line of Sight – A term where a drone is always visible to the pilot. Sometimes used to differentiate from FPV flight
  • LiPO – Lithium Polymer – A common, lightweight type of battery used in drones.
  • Micro – A general term referring to small (usually 25grams or so) drones
  • Mobius – A type of high resolution camera used to record flights.
  • Motor – The main lifting engine of a drone. Most drones have 4 motors on them. See Brushless Motor
  • Multirotor – The general term referring to a drone that has more than one motor and propeller dedicated to providing lift for the vehicle. Most drones have 4 rotors, some have 3, some have as many as 8.
  • Nano – An extremely small drone, usually < 8 grams. See Toy grade.
  • PDB – See Power Distribution Board
  • PID – Proportional, Integral, Derivative control. PID refers to the mathematical process that is used by a flight controller to achieve a stable power / response ratio in drone motors. Adjusting PIDS can make a drone more responsive, but also can make it less stable.
  • Pitch – The angle of a vehicle in relation to the ground that shows how much the ‘nose’ or ‘tail’ of the drone is rising or falling
  • Power Distribution Board – A small printed circuit board used to organize power connections between batteries, ESC’s, and other onboard systems. Not required for all drones, but helps keeps things organized.
  • Quadcopter – The most common configuration of drones – a vehicle consisting of 4 rotors.
  • Raceband – A set of 5.8ghz frequencies commonly used in racing. They are spaced to avoid overlap with multiple pilots flying. Raceband frequencies are: 5658, 5695, 5732, 5769, 5806, 5843, 5880, and 5917.
  • RC or R/C – Radio Control – The system where a drone is controlled by the pilot using a handheld multi-joystick transmitter.
  • Ready To Fly or RTF – An industry term referring to a vehicle that comes ‘pre assembled’ and ready to be flown without requiring extensive assembly. RTF kits usually require minimal assembly, but may require the addition of a radio, motors, and/or batteries
  • Receiver – In general, the radio on the drone that receives command from the pilot’s transmitter. A Receiver may also refer to the video / goggle setup an FPV pilot will use to receive realtime video from the drone.
  • Roll – The angle of a drone as measured around the long axis (front to back). Roll refers to how far it rolls to the left or the right around that axis.
  • Rotor – The lifting element of a drone, when attached to a motor. A propeller.
  • Servo – A mechanical device sometimes used on vehicles to move physical surfaces or items on the drone. Most drones do not require servos on board because their motions are controlled by changing speeds on each of the rotors.
  • Telemetry – Data referring to all aspects of a flying drone. Speed, altitute, pitch, roll, yaw, battery life, position, etc etc.
  • Throttle – How much power is being applied to the rotors in total. If full throttle is applied to a drone that is flying level, it will fly straight up as fast as it can.
  • Toy grade – A term referring to usually less than $100 drones.
  • Transmitter – Can refer to 1 of 2 items. The radio control transmitter is what the pilot holds and is used to transmit control information to the drone (‘go up’ ‘go left’, etc). The other type of transmitter is used on the drone to transmit FPV video back to the pilot (or other video receiver).
  • Trim – An adjustment used to alter the baseline of a joystick on a control transmitter. If a drone has a tendency to ‘drift’ in one direction when a joystick is left untouched, the pilot may ‘trim’ the stick so that the drone will stay in place even when the pilot is not touching the controller.
  • UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – The term widely used to refer to drones
  • WOT (Wide Open Throttle) – When the throttle stick on a controller is pushed all the way forward.
  • Walkera – A type of power connector
  • Walkera (Drone Manufacturer) – A company that makes a wide variety of drone and quadcopter products. Also partnered with HobbyKing to provide a RTF 250mm race platform
  • XT60 – A type of power connector commonly used on LIPO batteries to connect to the power bus of a drone.
  • Yaw – The ‘skew’ motion in a vehicle. A drone may ‘yaw’ left or right if it pivots clockwise or counterclockwise like a record on a record player.
  • mAh – milli Amp Hours. A unit of measurement that describes how much ‘power’ a battery can provide before it needs to be recharged.
  • rx – Receive (as in receive a radio signal)
  • tx – Transmit (as in transmit a radio signal)

2 thoughts on “Glossary”

  1. Please change the following entry:

    Hexapod – A general term for an 8 rotor drone.

    It’s a 6 (six) rotor drone.

    From Latin hexa-, from Ancient Greek ἑξα- ‎(hexa-), from ἕξ ‎(héx, “six”). – Forming compound words with the sense of “six”.
    Cheers, Tom

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