This tutorial explains the different flight modes in Betaflight and how to setup Betaflight modes. The process should be similar regardless the quadcopter, flight controller or radio you use.
If you are new to Betaflight, check out my Betaflight beginner’s tutorial.
Not all the “modes” in the Modes tab in Betaflight Configurator are flight modes, some are actually features and event triggers. Here I will try to explain what they do.
Table of Contents
- What are the Modes in Betaflight?
- How to setup Betaflight Modes
The Flight Modes in Betaflight
To take off, the quadcopter has to be armed first. Once it’s armed, the motors will start to spin. But if you have the “MOTOR STOP” option disabled, the motors will not spin when it’s armed until you raise the throttle.
You can arm a quadcopter using the yaw stick (throttle down and yaw right). You can also assign a switch to the Arm mode in Betaflight in order to arm using that switch, this will disable arming with the Yaw stick.
It’s recommended to use a switch for arming for various safety reason: when you are doing acrobatic moves, it’s possible to trigger disarm yaw stick (e.g. inverted yaw spin?), also it’s faster to disarm with a switch.
If you have trouble arming, there can be many potential causes. In this article I will help you troubleshoot why you can’t arm a quadcopter.
Angle, Horizon & Acro Mode
With Angle mode and Horizon mode, the quadcopter will self-level using both the accelerometer (ACC) and Gyro. Self-level modes are easier to fly for beginners.
You can do flips and rolls in Horizon mode, but you can’t in Angle mode which also limits the tilt angle to 45 degrees (adjustable though). This is really, the only difference between Angle and Horizon modes.
However, Acro mode is the “ultimate flight mode” for freestyle flying and drone racing. I strongly recommend new pilots to learn it as early as possible.
I have an article discussing why you should be learning Acro mode.
Where is Acro Mode?
You might notice that Acro mode isn’t available as an option in the modes tab. That’s because Acro mode is automatically enabled as soon as you arm the quadcopter. However it will get overridden by another flight mode, such as Horizon mode or Angle mode, when they are activated.
Angle and Horizon modes disappeared?
If Angle and Horizon modes are missing in the modes tab, this is because the accelerometer is disabled within Betaflight. Some people disable ACC because they only fly in Acro mode, by disabling ACC will save some workload on the processor. There is a checkbox to enable/disable the accelerometer in the Configuration tab.
Beeper mode allows you to flip the switch and activate the buzzer in the drone (if you have one installed). This helps to locate the drone if it’s downed and lost. It’s also useful to setup ESC beacon and your motors will be beeping along with the buzzer, as well as a backup in case the buzzer fails.
Airmode is not really a flight mode, but a feature. In a nutshell, it basically allows better control in the air when your throttle is zero. This is particularly useful for acrobatic flying.
Beware that Airmode can make your motors spool up unexpectedly on the ground (or touching the ground) so be extremely careful when handling your quad. Although there are safety features to prevent this from happening you still want to be cautious about this.
It’s actually available as a feature which you can enabled in the Configuration tab. If you do so, the Airmode option will disappear from the modes tab. The advantage of enabling it in the modes tab instead, is that you can choose to disable it anytime during flight.
Anti-Gravity is not a flight mode, but a feature. It reduces the “dips” (sudden pitch-down) when you changing throttle rapidly. To do that it basically raises I gain momentarily when throttle is changing a lot, and so I gain will stay the same for the rest of the flight.
See this article to learn more about how PID can affect flight performance.
Same as Airmode, if you have this feature enabled in the configuration tab, you won’t see this in the modes tab.
Pretty much self-explanatory, you can start and stop Blackbox recording.
Camera Control 1, 2, 3
Not commonly used, more info later…
OSD Disable SW
It disables Betaflight OSD – removing the overlayed text on your FPV screen.
With the arm switch alone, it’s possible to accidentally hit it and arm the quad, which can be dangerous. The Pre-Arm mode introduces an extra stage for safer arming.
You can set it to a switch and your quad will only arm if that switch is on. After arming, the prearm mode can be switched off, so a momentary switch is great for this.
Flip Over After Crash
When you’ve crashed and stuck up side down, you can use this mode to “flip” your quad over and hopefully take off again. It does it by spinning one side of the motors in the opposite direction, and it requires DShot ESC protocol to work.
It’s also known as the “Turtle Mode”, here is a tutorial on how to setup.
VTX Pit Mode
It can enable Pit mode on your VTX if SmartAudio or Tramp Telemetry is configured. Pitmode is basically setting the output power of your VTX close to 0. It’s useful when you have crashed, and it minimizes the interference to other pilots who are still flying.
It activates the Failsafe procedure manually, instead of waiting for the loss of RC link.
DO NOT have this enabled in a normal flight! This is used to test failsafe. You can also test failsafe by turning off the radio, but it takes a few seconds to power the radio back on, and it’s safer to just test failsafe with a switch. If you assigned a switch to Failsafe mode, and activated it, your quad would be in failsafe, and your whole radio is locked out and you can’t control the quad anymore. This is great if you are testing things like GPS rescue mode, but remember to remove it from Modes tab as soon as you finish testing.
FPV Angle Mix
Bara or Altitude Hold
Designed for racing. When activated it shuts down VTX and RX to avoid interfering with other pilots who might be still flying. It can only be reset by unplugging the battery.
Acro mode with an angle limit. Designed for beginners trying to learn acro mode.
How to Setup Betaflight Modes
Setting up the Switch on your Radio
Betaflight modes can be activated by switches on the radio (transmitter).
See this tutorial for instructions on how to setup switches in OpenTX (works for TX16S, Zorro, Taranis X9D, QX7, Horus X10, Nirvana, X-Lite etc..)
In this example I will use the SD switch for AUX 1 (channel 5), and SG switch for AUX 2 (channel 6).
Channel 1-4 are reserved for the two sticks: throttle, yaw, roll and pitch, so these channels can not be used for modes.
On the radio, I prefer to use the “SD” switch for arming, and “SG” switch for beeper. In the following example, I will also show you how to activate Angle Mode using the same 3-position arming switch (SD), like this:
Setting up modes in BetaFlight
Setting up the switches was the most difficult part, now comes the easy part.
Go to the Modes tab in Betaflight Configurator.
We’ll start with the first and most important mode, “Arm”. Click “Add Range”, and select AUX1 in the drop-down box. Remember, AUX1 is channel 5.
You have to choose what range of this channel you want to activate this mode. For a 2-position switch, you want to set it to 1500 to 2000. But for a 3-position switch, I set it to 1300 to 2000, so I can arm the quad with both the middle and down positions of the switch, as shown in the following picture.
In order to enable Angle mode with the arm switch at its down position, here is what to do:
Finally, I want to activate the buzzer (beeper) with the SG switch, which is assigned to AUX 2 channel.
Press the Save button, and that’s it!
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