Drone Glossary

(ESC) Electronic Speed Control

The device for controlling an electric aircraft’s motor. It is the connection between the RC receiver and main battery. It usually includes a Battery Elimination Circuit (BEC), which provides the power for the onboard electronics like an autopilot and the RC system.

Accelerometer

A device that measures the acceleration forces in a certain direction and helpful in maintaining the Drones orientation. These devices are used to stabilise quadcopters.

Acro

Short for Acrobatic Mode. Best for doing freestyle tricks and for precise flight control.

Aerial Photography

The hobby of capturing images and video while in the air with a camera mounted to your drone.

AGL

Altitude above ground level.

Altitude Hold function

Allows pilot to focus on the camera while the drone hovers steadily in air by itself at a set height. A Onboard barometer is needed to allow Altitude Hold.

ARF

Almost ready to fly. ARF units will many times come without the transmitter, and may require some assembly.

Autonomous Flight

There are some SUAVs’s that are managed by internal programming that have instructions on where to fly as guided by an onboard GPS system. This is in opposition to steering mechanisms that are operated by radio control from the ground.

Autopilot

A capability of a drone to conduct a flight without realtime human control. For example, following pre-set GPS coordinates.

Axis

One plane of potential flight. Most quadcopter have at least 4 axis controls, with 6+ being preferred.

Balanced Battery Charger

This is a charger or an internal system for Lipo batteries (or different chemistries) which uses smart technology to charge multiple cells properly that are located within the battery and balances them.

Barometric Pressure Sensor

This device used barometric readings to determine the altitude of the aircraft. It can help drones to be able to calculate their height above the ground, along with using combinations of other sensors. ( Enables Altitude Hold feature)

Betaflight

Flight controller configuration software.

Bind

This is the process of making the controller (Transmitter) communicate with the drone.

BNF

Bind N Fly. The unit is ready to bind to your  transmitter and fly.

Brushless Motor

These motors have permanent magnets that rotate around a fixed armature, which eliminates any problems that could be associated with connecting current regarding a moving part. The brushless motors are much more efficient and hardy than brushed motors.

Build

A unit that is build at home as opposed to one that is store bought.

BVLOS

Beyond visual line of sight.

Camera gimbal

This is actually the holder of the camera used on drones. It can tilt and swerve, thanks to the servos that power it. The gimbal is strong enough to support even large DSLR cameras.

CF

Short for Carbon Fiber, the composite material used to build most racing quadcopters. Known for it’s strength and durability.

Cleanflight

Flight controller configuration software.

Commercial Flight

Flying a drone for money-making purposes. This is currently restricted by FAA regulations unless you have a Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small Unmanned Aircraft Rating.

Controller

A handheld device that is used by the drone pilot to control the drone. Controllers are also called a transmitter or radio.

Drone

UAV capable of autonomous flight.

FAA: Federal Aviation Administration

A United States Department of Transportation Agency, with the authority to regulate and oversee all aspects of American civil aviation.

Fail Safe

System that helps protect a multicopter in case of some type of error. For example, if a quadcopter loses control signal, a fail safe will have the quadcopter return to the point of take off (return home).

Fat Shark

The leading producer of FPV goggles for racing drones.

Firmware

Software loaded into the microprocessor based products’ non-volatile memory. The reason it is referred to as firmware is because it remains in non-volatile memory state even when power is removed. In the autopilots case, it is an application (App for smart phone users) or program that determines how and what the auto pilot does.

First Person View

Also known as FPV, a system in which the drone operator views the camera footage from the drone in realtime. The video stream is either viewed through a pair of special goggles, or to a device like a tablet or smartphone.

Flight Control System

This is a network of controls that is interconnected and allows the pilot to fly the quadcopter or any other multi-rotor airborne vehicle.

Fly Away

Unintended flight outside of operational boundaries (altitude/airspeed/lateral) as the result of a failure of the control element or onboard systems, or both.

Fly-Away Protection System

A system that will return the UAV safely to the surface, or keep it within the intended operational area, when the link between the pilot and the UAV is lost.

FPV

Acronym for “First Person View.” This is also known as “Remote Person View” (RPV). FPV is from a camera (such as GoPro) mounted on the front or bottom of the Quadcoptor which allows the operator to view exactly what the aerial vehicle is viewing in real time.

FPV camera

A special camera used for first-person-view racing, piloting, photography, or videography.

FPV goggles

A special set of goggles used to view what the multirotor’s camera is seeing in real time.

FPV Racing

A sport in which pilots race small quadcopters around a predetermined track.

Frequency

The radio frequency FPV equipment runs on. Can be brand-dependent. Allows for multiple channels so pilots don’t interfere with each other.

Geofencing

The use of GPS technology to create a virtual geographic boundary, enabling software to trigger a response when a drone enters or flies within a particular area.

Gimbal

This is a specialized mount for a camera, giving it the ability to swerve and tilt by utilizing servos. This gives the camera the capability of staying in one position, regardless of the movement of the drone. This allows for a very smooth and stabilized looking image.

GIS

Geographic Information System designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present spatial or geographic data.

GoPro

Top name in high-definition camcorders, often used in extreme-action video photography. It is an HD-quality, waterproof video recording device that is compact, lightweight, rugged. With attachments they can be wearable or mounted on vehicles.

GPS

Global Positioning System that is used to track the position of an object in relation to the global spatial plane, track movement, or cause an airborne vehicle such as a quadcoptor to hold position.

Ground Control Station

GCS. This software runs on the ground on a computer. It receives telemetry information via an airborne UAV. It displays its status and progress. This frequently includes sensor and video data. It can also be used for transmitting in-flight commands up to the UAV in the air.

Gyroscope

A gyroscope or gyro, measures the rate of rotation of the UAV and helps keep the craft balanced correctly with respect to yaw, pitch and roll. Helps to maintain the orientation of the quadcopter while in flight. In most cases, quadcopters use a tripleaxis gyroscope.

Head tracking

A feature on some goggles that allows you to maneuver your camera’s angle during flight by moving your head up and down or side to side.

Headless Mode

(see IOC) regardless of the orientation of the craft or the way the front of the craft is pointed, it will follow your stick movements.

Hexicopter

A multi-rotor aircraft having six rotors in which the beauty and advantage of the hexicopter is that it can lose any single engine and still maintain control to land.

Hobby Grade

Better than toy grade, these quads can offer good reliability and operation at a reasonable price. The Syma X8G, MJX Bugs and U818A Drone are a few examples of hobby grade quads.

IMU

The Inertial Measurement Unit is a controller which combines an accelerometer and a gyro, with the purpose of helping with the orientation and stabilization of a quad.

INS – Inertial Navigation System

This is a means of calculating position that is based on the initial GPS reading. This is followed by speed and motion sensor readings that use dead reckoning. This is useful when the GPS has lost its signal temporarily or is not available.

IOC

intelligent orientation control – Usually, the forward direction of a flying multi-rotor is the same as the nose direction. By using Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC), wherever the nose points, the forward direction has nothing to do with nose direction.

Jello

Undesired effect of vibration impacting video. Video appears distorted like jello jiggling, caused by the multirotor itself. Can be corrected with use of a quality Gimbal camera mounting device.

LAANC system

Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability system,  an industry developed application with the goal of providing drone operators near real time processing of airspace notifications and automatic approval of requests for flights that are in controlled airspace.

LCD monitor

A screen, usually attached to the controller, used to view what a multirotor’s camera is seeing. Usually used instead of goggles.

LiPo

Short for Lithium Polymer, LiPo is the type of battery favored by most drone manufacturers due to its low weight and maximized charge capacity and power. Although LiPos are safe, be aware overcharging the battery or breaking the flexible polymer case could result in fire.

Lithium Polymer battery

LiPo or LiPoly. The Lithium Ion battery (Li Ion) is a variant. Lighter weight and more power is offered by this battery chemistry compared to NiCad and NiMh batteries.

LOS

Short for Line of Sight, refers to being able to see your drone from your operating position with your naked eye. Your drone should always be within your line of sight

mAh

milli Amp Hours. A unit of measurement that describes how much ‘power’ a battery can provide before it needs to be recharged.

Mobius Camera

Popular lightweight camera model which can shoot video in HD and take intervalometer photos. It was developed mainly to be used with RC drones.

Mod

modifications Drone addicts do to their machines to integrate new functions or cool features. These changes are usually called mods.

Mode 1 transmitters

have throttle on the right stick, and are popular in the UK.

Mode 2 transmitters

have throttle on the left stick, and are more popular in the USA.

Multi-rotor copters

are referred to by many names, which include: Drone, Quadcopter, Quadricopter or Quadrocopter.

Multicopter

A generic name for a drone with multiple propellers, also known as rotors. Depending on the number of rotors, there are tricopters, quadcopters, hexacopters, octocopters and so on.

Nano

an extremely small drone, can fit in the palm of your hand and easy to fly indoors.

NAZA

is a flight controller that is used on the DJI Phantom Drones and it contains the main control chip, an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a barometric altimeter.

No Fly Zone

Areas where flying a drone is restricted by government regulations. Areas where a drone could interfere with an airplane or record sensitive information make up most of these areas.

OAS

Abbreviation for Obstacle Avoidance System

Octocopter

A drone with 8 horizontal propellers or rotors.

OSD

Abbreviation for “On Screen Display” which shows flight data in text or graphical form. Typically used to show telemetry information such as speed, battery life, heading, etc.

Part 107

Required in the US when operating a drone for commercial purposes. Refers to CFR Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations for non-hobbyist unmanned aircraft operations, which covers a broad spectrum of commercial uses for drones weighing less than 55 pounds.

Payload

The amount of additional weight a drone is able to lift in addition to its own weight and batteries. If you attach a camera and gimbal to your drone, the combined weight is the payload.

PDB

Stands for Power Distribution Board. Component which allows the power from the battery to be distributed to all the various components on a craft.

Pitch

A measure which describes the flight angle along one axis, usually measured from level in case of aerial vehicles. Forward and Backwards motion.

Power Distribution Board

is the PDB and is a board that is used on the multicopters to help distribute the power to each of the motors to provide proper stabilization of the unit.

Pre Flight Planning

The activities conducted by the pilot and flight crew prior to takeoff to ensure that the flight will be conducted safely and in accordance with all applicable standards and regulations. The activity includes, but is not limited to, such things as checking weather, route of flight, airspace, equipment configuration, support personnel, terrain and communications requirements.

Prop

Short for Propeller.

Quadcopter

or Quad that typically has 4 propellers, each with its own motor and propeller, situated in a square formation for smooth and precise flight.

R/C

Synonym for Radio Controlled.

Raceband

A set of 5.8ghz frequencies commonly used in Drone racing when multiple pilots are flying.

Radio

also known as a transmitter or Controller, set to broadcast on a specific frequency or channel that sends a signal to control pitch, yaw, roll direction of the drone.

Radio Controller

wireless handheld device used to control flight of the drone.

RC

Shorter way of writing “Radio Controlled – it refers to control of a drone via radio waves.

Receiver

Accepts the camera’s feed and relays it to your screen/ goggles of choice.

Return to Home

A GPS feature that returns the drone to the “home” position where it took off.

RTF

Ready to Fly – This means the drone is sold with everything needed in the pack. All you need to do is charge the batteries and you are ready to use it. It is possible you may need to buy the batteries separately for the controller. This fact is usually mentioned on the box.

Rx

Abbreviation for Receiver.

Sense And Avoid

The capability of a UAS to remain well clear from and avoid collisions with other airborne traffic. Sense and Avoid provides the functions of self-separation and collision avoidance.

Servo

A shorter name for servomotor or servomechanism. Aerial vehicles use servomotors for various functions such as pan cameras and wing flaps adjustments which can be controlled from the ground.

Spotter

a person that keeps track of your drone by line-of-sight while you fly via FPV. They can let you know about hazards which may be out of your field of view through the goggles.

sUAS

is short for – small Unmanned Aircraft System.

Throttle

Control that influences the RPM or the speed of electric motors. Higher throttle generates more thrust.

Thrust

The combined amount of force from a propeller and a motor which generates lift. Lift is what takes you up and into the sky.

Tiny Whoop

Small micro-quadcopters that have been modified to fly FPV. Original versions utilize a modded Blade Inductrix quad, however the term has become commonplace for any FPV enabled microquads.

Toy grade

The basic level of quadcopters, toy grade quads can still offer a wide variety of functions. They can be an excellent way to start for beginners, as they can still provide a lot of fun.

Transmitter

A device that sends commands to the drone from the pilot or a component that relays the camera’s feed to the receiver located on the goggles.

Trim

Setting to adjust the way a drone hovers. Adjusting trim settings can help to keep it in place while hovering.

TX

Abbreviation for transmitter or transmit.

UAV

unmanned aerial vehicle. A device that can propel itself through the air without a pilot onboard. Drones and quadcopters are UAVs.

Ultrasonic sensor

A sensor that uses the ultra sound wavelength to communicate with a transmitter. In aerial vehicles, ultrasonic sensors are used for calculating the distance to the ground by bouncing sound waves back and forth. They don’t work further than a few meters from the ground.

UTM

Abbreviation for Unmanned Traffic Management, a concept created by NASA to safely integrate manned and unmanned aircraft into low altitude airspace. This cloud-based system will help manage traffic at low altitudes and avoid collisions of UASs being operated beyond visual line of sight.

Video Latency

Lag in what your camera sees and when it transmits it to your monitor or goggles.

Visual line of sight

is the term that is going to control how the pilot can see the aircraft from the ground without the use of artificial vision.

Visual Observer

A crew member who assists the UAS pilot in the duties associated with collision avoidance. This includes, but is not limited to, avoidance of other traffic, airborne objects, clouds, obstructions, and terrain. Most associated with FPV flying.

VLOS

Abbreviation for Visual Line of Sight.

VRX

video receiver.

VTX

Abbreviation for video transmitter, connected to your camera and transmits the video signal from your drone back to you down on the ground in real time.

Waypoint

A set of coordinates which define a point in space. Waypoints are useful in designing various autonomous missions for quadcopters. Mapping out would be impossible without a possibility to define these physical locations.

WiFi FPV

Mostly found on cheaper drones, usually performed by a downloaded APP. which you connect to in order to fetch the live feed. The signal is compatible with most Android/iOS smartphones and tablets.

YAW

The describes the quadcopter rotation around it’s center axis on a level plane.

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