DJI FPV Manual Mode: Your Step-by-Step Guide

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DJI FPV Manual Mode

Manual mode, also known as acro mode, is the ultimate flight mode that unlocks the full potential of your DJI FPV drone.

It allows you to perform flips, dives, and other acrobatic maneuvers that are impossible in the normal and sport-flight modes.

However, flying in manual mode requires practice and skill. It can be intimidating for beginners used to the stability and assistance provided by normal and sport modes.

In this comprehensive guide, I will walk you through everything you need to know to fly your DJI FPV drone in manual mode.

Overview of Manual Mode

Before we get into the specifics, let’s first understand what changes when you switch to manual mode:

  • Drone orientation: The drone will maintain whatever orientation you leave the sticks at and will not auto-level itself. This means if you pitch the drone forward 30 degrees and center the sticks, it will keep flying forward at a 30-degree pitched angle.
  • Altitude control: The left stick no longer controls altitude. It now controls the throttle. To go up or down, you will have to angle the drone and give it a throttle.
  • Camera angle: The camera angle will be fixed based on your setting. It will not auto-adjust to keep the horizon level.
  • Agility: The drone will be much more agile and responsive to stick movements. Small stick inputs will translate into large drone movements.
  • Assistance: There is no auto-leveling, collision avoidance, or any other flight assistance. You are fully in control.
  • Crashes: Without assistance and stability, crashes are very likely, especially when starting out. So fly carefully!

How to Set Up DJI FPV Drone Manual Mode?

Now, let’s go through everything step-by-step.

Step 1: Configure your transmitter

Before you can fly in manual mode, you need to configure your DJI FPV remote controller:

1.1 Change flight mode: Go to the Custom Settings in the controller and change the flight mode from Sport to Manual for the M custom mode. This assigns the manual mode to the M switch position.

1.2 Disable attitude limit: Under the same Custom Settings, look for the Attitude Limit setting and turn it OFF. This will remove any angle restrictions and let you perform flips and rolls.

1.3 Adjust stick feel (optional): You can loosen the tension screws on the back of the sticks to reduce their self-centering force. This gives the sticks a more free-moving feel, especially useful for the left stick throttle control.

Step 2: Set your altitude limit

Before flying, make sure to set an appropriate altitude limit for your region. This will prevent the drone from going too high if you lose orientation.

For example, in Singapore, the legal height limit is 60 meters. Go to the DJI Fly settings and set the altitude limit to 60 meters.

If you exceed this limit, the drone will take over and autonomously bring itself back down within the limit.

Step 3: Takeoff in normal or sport mode

It’s easiest to take off in normal or sport mode first before switching to manual mode in the air.

Once airborne, fly to an open area away from obstacles before attempting to switch modes.

Step 4: Set your camera angle

Before unlocking manual mode, adjust your camera angle first. The angle will be locked once in manual mode.

For your first flight, set it between 10-20 degrees. As you get comfortable, you can increase the angle up to 30 degrees for faster forward flight.

Use the scroll wheel on the remote controller to adjust the camera angle.

Step 5: Unlock manual mode

Once at a safe altitude and open area, here are the steps to unlock manual mode:

5.1 Center both right sticks.

5.2 Pull the left stick down into the green zone and hold for 2 seconds.

5.3 Listen for the audio confirmation that manual mode is now active.

The drone camera angle will lock at this point. You are now ready to fly in manual mode!

Step 6: Flying in Manual Mode

With manual mode unlocked, here are some tips for flying:

  • Move the right stick forward gently to start moving forward. Don’t go full-stick immediately, or you may flip!
  • To turn, combine stick inputs. For example, roll left + yaw left = left turn.
  • The left stick now controls the throttle. Push up to go higher, down to go lower.
  • Make small smooth stick inputs. The drone is very responsive, so don’t overcontrol.
  • Start slow and build up speed. Add more angle and throttle as you get comfortable.
  • Keep the drone front facing you and tilt to go forward/back. Don’t fly sideways.
  • Use the Clear Skies map to maintain orientation if you get disoriented.

It will take practice, but with patience, you’ll get the hang of controlling the drone fully manually.

Useful Tips for Flying in DJI FPV Manual Mode

Here are some additional tips from my experience for flying smoothly in manual mode:

Master throttle control first – Get comfortable controlling your altitude with the left stick before trying complex maneuvers. Go up, down, hover – all with just the left stick while keeping the drone facing you.

Make small inputs – The DJI FPV is very responsive. Small stick movements go a long way. Start with small inputs and work your way up. Overcontrolling will lead to oscillations and crashes.

Don’t just jam the sticks – It’s tempting as a beginner to just max out the sticks, thinking it will make the drone go faster and harder. But this will usually result in a loss of control. Make deliberate, calculated inputs instead.

Add throttle before flips – When attempting flips or rolls, add throttle first, then input the flip. This will give the maneuver height and prevent crashes.

Fly on the edge of the prop wash – For more stability, fly on the edge of the prop wash rather than directly in it. This prevents turbulence from interfering with the flight.

Move front sticks most – Focus on smoothly moving the front/back and roll sticks. Use yaw minimally to keep things simple.

Use the camera to orient – If you lose orientation, check the camera view. Move the drone to keep the camera view level with the horizon.

Panic mode – If you lose control, center the sticks to stop all movement, reorient yourself, and then continue.

Fly above ground – When learning, stay at least 10 feet above the ground. This gives you time to recover from mistakes.

The most important thing is to start slow and build up your skills. Don’t attempt complex maneuvers until you are totally comfortable with manual flight.

Take your time and fly safely!

Common DJI FPV manual mode issues

Switching to manual mode for the first time can lead to some common issues for beginners. Here are some problems you may encounter and how to resolve them:

Unstable hovering – The drone seems to drift and not hold position steadily. This is caused by overcorrecting. Make tiny stick inputs and resist the urge to constantly adjust. Let the drone settle before making more inputs.

Shaky footage – Your FPV feed looks jittery and unstable instead of smooth. This comes from sloppy control inputs. Focus on making smooth, deliberate stick movements, especially with the throttle.

Oscillating turns – When trying to make a turn, the drone oscillates back and forth instead of turning smoothly. Solve this by balancing your roll and yaw inputs. Don’t just jam the yaw stick.

Flips won’t flip – You try performing flips, but the drone doesn’t complete them. This happens if you don’t add enough throttle before inputting the flip. Give it 30-50% throttle first.

Losing orientation – It’s easy to get disoriented in manual mode. Use the on-screen compass and horizon indicators to realign yourself. Fly the camera, not the drone itself.

Fly-aways – A flyaway is when you lose control of the drone completely, and it flies off on its own, usually caused by losing orientation. Avoid this by keeping the drone in front of you and using the indicators to reorient.

Don’t get discouraged if you experience these issues at first. They are common to all pilots learning manual mode. With practice, you will resolve them and become an expert manual mode pilot.

How to Land in DJI FPV Manual Mode

Landing safely is an important manual mode skill. Here are some tips for smooth landings:

  • Come in slowly, cutting the throttle gradually. Avoid descending rapidly.
  • Keep a shallow camera angle as you approach; don’t look straight down.
  • Aim to land into the wind, if it’s windy, for a slower ground speed.
  • Flare up before touching down by raising the throttle at the last second.
  • Touch down gently on the main landing gear, then let the drone tip forward.
  • Don’t use the automatic landing; it will switch you to normal mode.
  • Disarm the motors by double-tapping the M switch after landing.

Practice landing repeatedly until you can come in controlled and gently touch down every time. This will build your overall throttle control skills.

Manual Mode Exercises

To build confidence and skill in manual mode, it helps to practice specific exercises and drills. Here are some useful ones:

Figure 8s – Fly in a figure 8 pattern forward and sideways to practice coordinated turning.

Box shape – Fly a box pattern using pitch and roll to control forward/back and sideways flight.

Orbit circles – Orbit circles around you in both directions to improve coordination.

Funnel exercises – Fly repeatedly down through funnels or gaps to sharpen your control.

Hovering practice – Hold a steady hover position for 30+ seconds without drifting.

Forward/back flying – Fly a straight line away from you and back to practice pitch control.

Pendulum turns – Swing back and forth, turning 180 degrees each way to work on pendulum turns.

Landing drills – Take off and land repeatedly, focusing on smoothing out your throttle control.

By mastering these basic exercises, you will build the foundational skills needed for advanced manual flight.

Manual mode settings

There are a few settings in the DJI Fly app that can help as you learn manual mode:

  • Clear Skies: This enables an augmented reality overlay with orientation info to prevent losing position.
  • Difficulty Adjustment: Simplifies controls for beginners learning acro flight.
  • Altitude Limit: Prevents flyaways if disoriented by restricting height.
  • Find My Drone: Helps locate the drone if you lose orientation.
  • Flight Tutorials: Built-in flight tutorials give step-by-step instructions for performing acro maneuvers.

Make sure to explore the DJI Fly settings to enable features that will aid your learning process.

Moving beyond DJI FPV manual mode

Once you become an expert manual mode flyer, you may feel limited by the performance of the DJI FPV drone.

Here are some options to take your skills to the next level:

  • Build your own drone: Construct a custom FPV racing drone tailored for acro performance.
  • Get FPVCine Whoop: A compact cinema-quality drone with ducted props perfect for indoor & acro.
  • Install throttle mode firmware: Adds an acro throttle mode to unlock the DJI FPV’s full speed potential.
  • Try other simulators: Explore drone sims like Velocidrone and Liftoff for more acro practice.
  • Fly fixed-wing: Fixed-wing FPV models offer an advanced challenge perfect for polished acro pilots.
  • Compete: Take your skills to the next level by competing in drone racing events and leagues.

The DJI FPV is a gateway into the limitless world of high-speed FPV flight. Mastering manual mode is just the beginning of your journey!

Final Words

Learning to fly in manual mode initially seems intimidating, but the payoff is immense. Unlocking your DJI FPV’s full acrobatic potential opens up a whole new flight dimension.

By following the steps in this guide, practicing exercises, and flying conservatively, you can steadily master the art of manual mode.

Soon, you’ll be carving lines through the air and pulling off flips and dives with ease. Take it slow, have patience, and practice, practice, practice!

I hope this guide has provided everything you need to get flying smoothly in manual mode. Let me know in the comments if you have any other tips or questions! Clear skies and happy 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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