Should You Activate DJI FPV Turtle Mode?

RCHobby Lab’s Author: Kristen Ward
Reviewed by Daniel Henderson
Reviewed by Daniel Henderson

We’ve all been there – flying our FPV drone when suddenly things go south and we lose control.

Before you know it, your prized quadcopter is upside down in the grass, its propellers frantically spinning.

While some pilots consider this the walk of shame moment to go pick up their downed drone, others have a secret weapon – turtle mode!

In this post, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about turtle mode – what it is, how to set it up, when to use it, and when it’s better just to walk over and grab your crashed drone.

Let’s flip things around!

What is Turtle Mode?

Turtle mode is a handy feature available on many consumer drones like the DJI FPV that lets you automatically flip your quadcopter right-side up with the press of a button.

Here’s how it works:

  • Your drone crashes and ends up flipped upside down or on its side. The camera feed shows the sky or the ground – not good!
  • Press the turtle mode button on your controller (C1 button for DJI).
  • The flight controller automatically engages the motors to upright the drone based on which way it thinks it is upright. This avoids you having to figure out which way to flip it yourself.
  • Motors surge with inverted thrust, and the drone rights itself.
  • You regain control and can continue flying as normal!

It’s like having training wheels when learning to ride a bike. Turtle mode gives you a second chance after a crash without trudging into a field to pick up your drone.

How to Set Up Turtle Mode?

The good news is that setting up turtle mode is simple. Here are the steps:

  1. Go into your drone controller settings menu. For DJI, this is done through the DJI Fly app.
  2. Assign one of your controller buttons to turtle mode activation. Most pilots use the C1 button with a single press.
  3. That’s it! Turtle mode is now ready to save your crashed drone.

I recommend setting turtle mode to a button you can easily reach in those panicky moments after a crash. Don’t bury it deep in a submenu or double-press combo; you’ll forget when the adrenaline is pumping!

When to Use Your Drone’s Turtle Mode?

Turtle mode can be a lifesaver to flip your drone back over after minor crashes and get you back in the air. Here are some good times to use it:

  • Tip-overs – If your drone tips over after landing or clips a branch, turtle mode can quickly flip it back upright.
  • Mild crashes – Small crashes in open areas with no obstructions are ideal for turtle mode recovery. Let the drone right itself instead of risking further damage trekking to recover it.
  • Disorientation – If you lose orientation and your camera shows the horizon sideways, trigger turtle mode to point the camera skyward again and regain control.

The key is being in open areas free of tall grass, trees, or other obstructions that could interfere with the self-righting maneuver. As long as the drone has room to flip, turtle mode can get you flying again in seconds!

When to Avoid Using Turtle Mode?

While turtle mode is great for quick crash recovery, there are a few instances where it’s better to walk over and pick up your downed drone:

  • Tall grass/vegetation – Attempting to flip upright in dense bushes or tall grass often makes things worse by further entangling the drone.
  • Near vertical objects – Being too close to trees, poles, or other obstructions gives the drone little room to flip and recover.
  • With an attached action camera – Flipping with a GoPro or other camera mounted up top often results in the camera breaking off and getting lost in the chaos.
  • Broken propellers/arms – If you hear crunching noises or see broken propellers after a crash, don’t risk further damage by trying to flip upright.
  • Unsure of surroundings – If you crash far away or lose orientation, play it safe by walking over instead of potentially flipping into something harmful.

Use good judgment before taking the turtle mode plunge. While it can save many crashes, there are times to avoid using it as well.

Turtle mode recovery tips

Here are some tips for successful turtle mode crash recoveries:

  • Only use it for minor crashes in open areas. Evaluate your surroundings first.
  • Give it full throttle when flipping – don’t be shy! More power improves recovery odds.
  • Use landing gear or prop guards to protect props when self-righting.
  • Turtle early before drifting or sinking into soft ground. Don’t wait!
  • Have spare propellers ready after crashes, as they often break.
  • Still, walk over for lost drones even after turtle recovery, as you may have lost props/cameras/parts.
  • Practice turtle mode flips intentionally to get a feel for how well your drone recovers.

With some practice, turtle mode can become an essential trick to add to your flying repertoire for quick crash recovery.

Final words

We all crash, but turtle mode gives you the unique ability to recover from minor crashes and keep on flying. Please enable this feature on your drone controller and know how and when to use it after a tip-over or disorientation.

While not a cure-all, it beats the walk of shame in many instances. Just be smart about when you employ turtle mode based on your drone’s surroundings.

Now go flip your lid and stay flying!

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Written By Kristen Ward

My name is Kristen R. Ward. I’m an adventure Filmmaker and I run a production company based out of New York. FPV drones are integral to my business. I'll be teaching you everything I've learned over the years creating videos for clients.

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