Flying your drone with a remote controller is surely fun but the feel of the drone flying at your command makes you wish it was better suited to the controls your hands are probably more used to. Video game controllers were probably the first ever remote controllers we all held in our hands as kids. Our ergonomic aspect is tuned to the grip and reliability offered by the good old joystick on a Gamepad.

Flying drones with Gamepad

Our experts attempt to explain the best way to control your drone using a Gamepad. We used the Mission Planner to explain the process. Let’s take a look at the important points to remember for this:

Important: Ensure that you have your regular remote controller (RC) also connected with the drone at the same time using dual connectivity.

What you need

You will basically need 3 things beforehand:

  • Gamepad/USB Joystick
  • Telemetry connection between drone and control station
  • Laptop with Mission Planner up and running on it

Quick settings for Mission Planner

  • Connect Gamepad/USB Joystick to the laptop
  • Open Mission Planner Flight Data Screen and click on ‘Joystick’ in the ACTIONS tab
  • Choose the correct joystick type from the drop-down menu on the right side of the screen
  • Select ‘Enable’, this signals to the planner to send control transmissions to the drone. Do not push the joystick before initial setup is complete
  • Click on the ‘Auto Detect’ button in the ‘ROLL’ row. Wiggle the control you wish to use for maneuvering roll, left and right
  • Click on the ‘REVERSE’ checkbox to enable reversal of transmission channel
  • Set the EXPO number between -100 to 100 for better controls, where 0 = No Expo, 100 = lower response in the middle but faster at the edges, and -100 = very fast response in the middle with slower response at the edges (negative Expo is rarely used)
  • Repeat the procedure of selecting controls for Rudder, Throttle and Pitch before clicking the ‘SAVE’ button
  • Choose a ‘flight mode’ control but avoid selecting a single stick or button for it.

Testing controls

You must ensure to test all features before trying to take-off for the first time using a Gamepad or USB joystick.

Take a look at the checklist before initiating first flight:

  • Select ‘Enable’ button on Joystick setup screen to initiate signal transmission between drone and control station
  • Connect the controller’s USB cable to the laptop
  • Click on the ‘Connect’ button on the Mission Planner
  • Go to = Initial Setup -> Mandatory Hardware -> Radio Calibration screen and check if the green bars are moving in proper direction
  • Click on the ‘REVERSE’ checkbox in case you find your controls reversed

Although the joystick will have significant lag in control transmission as compared to conventional remote controls (RCs), the lag time can be sufficiently reduced by using ‘Config/Tuning and Planner page on Mission Planner to restrict unnecessary telemetry data transmission.

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