What does Mode refer to when purchasing a model aircraft radio transmitter (controller)? The Mode of an aircraft transmitter is the configuration of the primary flight control sticks. Typically Throttle, Pitch, Roll and Yaw. For the most part, transmitters can be purchased in either mode. For the minority that can only be purchased in a certain mode, brands like Spektrum, Jeti and HiTec can have a mode conversion performed. Mode 1 and 2 being the most spoken about, but Mode 3 and 4 also available in some cases.
What Mode should I choose?
This is a question we get asked regularly from new customers. In the early days of model aviation here in Australia model aircraft were traditionally flown on Mode 1 (throttle control on the right stick). This has been popular up until the last few years where the introduction of drones and helicopters has increased the popularity of Mode 2 (throttle on the left). Our advice for any beginners looking to start flying and wondering what Mode transmitter to choose is; You will learn either configuration in the same time if you have had no prior experience. However, Mode 2 is easier for the vast majority to grasp and is the more popular choice nowadays. If you are joining a club. Maybe check what the majority of pilots use and go with that. This will allow more opportunity for tuition within the club environment and “buddy boxing” to help learn.
If you feel that the Mode you have selected doesn't feel right. Not to worry, as the majority of Radio transmitter brands offer the option for mode conversions where this can be changed by the user. A Mode conversion will typically consist of two components. A mechanical and an electronic component. The Mechanical component sets up the gimbals and sticks so that they act as they are supposed to (swaps the side of the throttle stick that doesn't return to centre) and an electronic component. This tells the transmitter that the gimbals have been configured for the Mode you want. After this has been set you then typically go through to a calibration screen where you follow the prompts and re-teach the transmitter the new endpoints of the stick travel and also confirming that they're all working correctly. Mode conversions can take anywhere from 2-10 minutes.
Mode conversion instructions are comprehensively covered in the user manual of your specific transmitter that you have. Different brands may call the conversion different names e.g. Jeti call it Stick Mode. And of course, you have us available on the phones if you need guidance on how to perform your mode conversion.