Transmitter mode

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A helicopter transmitter has at a minimum two joysticks (called gimbals, or (colloquially) sticks), each of which moves in two orthogonal directions.

All except for the collective control are centered by springs; the collective is held in place by light friction.

There are a number of different ways of assigning the helicopter's controls to the sticks, each of which has been given a 'Mode' number:

  • Mode 2
    • Left stick: Collective and Rudder
    • Right stick: Aileron and Elevator (cyclic)
  • Mode 3 (reversed mode 2)
    • Left stick: Aileron and Elevator (cyclic)
    • Right stick: Collective and Rudder
  • Mode 4 (reversed mode 1)
    • Left stick: Collective and Aileron
    • Right stick: Elevator and Rudder

Mode 3 and 4 are very rarely seen. Possibly the most common arrangement is Mode 2, perhaps because it resembles the layout of a full size helicopter. It also allows the use of a cyclic ring to prevent overdriving cyclic commands.

Another minor variation sometimes seen relates to the direction of the collective pitch control. It is usual to have full positive collective when the stick is moved to the uppermost (farthest away / most forward) position; however some radios allow the throttle stick to be reversed so it is more similar to full size aircraft.

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