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), or you can use a switch. You should be using a switch for arming for various reasons (will explain in another article). Setting up “switch arming” disables “stick arming”.
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).
Anyway, 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 the differences between these flight modes, and 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. You can re-enable the accelerometer in the Configuration tab.
Flip the switch and the drone will start beeping if there is a buzzer installed. This helps you 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. It’s useful in case the beeper failed and you still have a backup.
Airmode is not a flight mode, but a feature. It allows much better control in the air during zero throttle flight. But it can make your motors spool up unexpectedly on the ground so be extremely careful when handling your quad.
It’s actually available as a feature, so if it’s enabled in the Configuration tab it 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 in the air.
Anti-Gravity is not a flight mode, but a feature. It reduces the “dips” with rapidly changing throttle by raising I gain momentarily.
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”.
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.
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 Taranis X9D, QX7, Horus X10, Nirvana, X-Lite etc..). If you use other radios, simply google it and you should find many helpful guides.
In this example I will use the SD switch for AUX 1 (channel 5), and SG switch for AUX 2 (channel 6).
On the Taranis, 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 hard 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.
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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