drone and remote controller with monitor

How Drones Communicate With the Controller?

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Whether it’s your first time flying your drone or you have been flying them for some time, you must have seen a controller. Have you ever wondered how the two communicate to keep the drone in the air?

Communication between the drone and controller is often through Radio signals, Wi-Fi, or GPS. The type and strength of the communication type affect how far the drone can fly from the controller.

Knowing the types of communication they use is essential in learning how to control the drone. In this article, I will discuss the basics of these communications. I will also briefly discuss how to fix them in case of any issues.

Here is an infographic just for you for a start,

How Drones Communicate With the Controller? Infographic

What Is a Controller?

A drone controller is a remote control that a drone pilot uses. It is the one that makes the drone respond to the command of the pilot.

Another name for a drone controller is a drone radio controller, and it is solely responsible for all the drone’s activities.

DJI Spark Controller
DJI Spark Controller

Common Terminology:

Before we know how drone controllers communicate with drones, here are some important terms used in controlling drones that you should understand.

They stand for the four propellers of a drone, and here is a discussion of each and how they make a drone move.

  • Yaw-This is the anticlockwise and counterclockwise rotation of the drone that allows you to command the drone into making patterns or circles in the air. The left rotation of yaw occurs when propellers 1 and 4 are moving at average speed while 2 and 3 are moving at high speed. If the drone rotates in the right direction, propellers 1 and 4 must move at high speed while 2 and 3 moves at low speed.
  • Pitch- Refers to forward and backward tilting of the drone. For the forward pitch movement to occur, propellers 2 and 1 must move at average speed while 1 and 4 moves at high speed. On the other hand, if you want the drone to move backward, propellers 1 and 4 must be at a low rate while 2 and 3 be at average speed.
  • Throttle-This is the control of the power being fed to the drone. It is that power that makes the drone move slowly or faster. For the power to be adequate, all the propellers must be moving at the same speed.
  • Roll– Right or left movement of the drone in the air. For this to occur, propellers 1 and 3 must be moving at average speed while 2 and 4 are at high speed. On the other hand, if you want your drone to roll to the right side, propellers 1 and 3 must be running at high speed while 2 and 4 run at a low speed.
Credit: JD QUAD

Parts OF A Controller:

Now you know what the controller does, below are the main parts of a controller.

  • Left Stick – As the name suggests, this is the stick on your left-hand side. This stick is in charge of the throttle and yaw. To increase the motor speed and increase the drone’s altitude, push the left stick up. And push it down to slow the drone and lower the altitude. To yaw to the left, push the stick left. And to yaw to the right, move the stick to the right.
  • Right Stick – This is the stick on the right, and it’s in charge of roll and pitch. To move the drone forward, push the stick forward and to reverse the drone, push the stick backward. To roll the drone to the left, push the stick left, and to roll it to the right, push the stick to the right.
  • Trim Buttons – These are the buttons that help you align your drone. IF it’s tilting or drifting to one side, you can click the trimming buttons until it flies normally.
  • Antenna – This is the device that transmits and receives the signals from the controller to the drone and vice versa. Without it, the controller and the drone can’t communicate.

Communication Between the Drone and Controller:

There are three ways through which this communication can take place. Here is a discussion of each.

Radio Frequency:

This communication is wireless, and that’s why the controllers use a remote. The controller sends a radio signal to the drone from the remote control, commanding it on what to do.

It is important to note that in every drone controller, there is a transmitter.

The radio signal being sent to the drone comes from this transmitter and is received by the drone receiver. This is precisely how drones communicate with the controller.

However, for the communication to be clear and consistent, the transmitter and the receiver must be using the same frequency.

In most cases, drones are remotely controlled effectively using low frequencies because they can penetrate denser objects.

WI-FI Controls:

Long gone are the days when Wi-Fi was available to computers only. Times have changed, and technology has made it possible for devices to be integrated with Wi-Fi.

Drones are also not left out in this technological evolution, and that’s why some of them are now controlled using Wi-Fi.

Drones that use Wi-Fi are mostly for broadcasting videos to a smartphone, PC, or tablet. Also, a controller can remotely control the drone via these devices.

The only limitation of working with Wi-Fi is that it requires an ultra-high frequency and can’t work further than 600 meters.


This is another way through which drones communicate with the controller. The Global Positioning Technology helps the controller give the drone instructions on which route to take.

A programmed drone can fly in the direction commanded by the GPS.

How Drone GPS Navigation Works?

What Frequency Do Most Drones Use?

Drone communications use frequencies ranging from 900 MHz to 5.8 GHz. 2.5GHz to 5.8GHz is standard in Wi-Fi communications, while radio frequencies use lower frequencies.

How Far Can a Drone Fly from The Controller?

The operating range ranges from a few feet to 5 miles depending on the type and strength of the connection. High-end drones like DJI drones use an advanced communication system known as OcuSync that allows them to fly up to 10 KM (6.2) Miles.

Can Your Drone Be Controlled by Someone Else?

Yes. A drone can be controlled by someone else with or without your knowledge. All they need to have is a remote control.

Nevertheless, you can prevent that from happening by pairing the controller’s transmitter with the drone’s receiver by using a radio frequency identification.

What Are the Main Parts of a Drone

There are many parts of a drone, depending on its type. However, the features discussed below are the ones that are responsible for controlling the drone, without which there will be no communication. Read the discussion of each.

  • Drone propellers the work of a propeller is to push the air down on the surface of the airfoil. As a result, an area of lower pressure is created above the propeller and another lower pressure under it, allowing the drone to fly.
  • Drone Motor-There are four motors in a drone. Two are counterclockwise, while the other two are clockwise. The work of the motors is to turn the force produced by the propellers that are in motion. When clockwise and counterclockwise motors counteract each other, they make the drone stable.
  • Drone Flight Controller-This is the main feature of a drone as it receives inputs from the drone’s GPS module. The flight controller’s inputs include sensors for obstacle avoidance, a compass, and the remote controller. Once it has received all these, it turns it into information that helps control motors. An excellent example of this is during windy conditions when the drone might hover, the flight controller will communicate, and as a result, the motors will act accordingly.
  • GPS Module-This is the part that is responsible for pinpointing the location of the drone. It collects information from signals and helps the drone pilot to understand where the drone is. This happens at a very high speed.
  • Drone Camera-It is a lens opening that helps in the streaming in of light. Once the drone camera captures the light, it turns it into a digital image.
  • Drone Antennas-These are found on the inside of the drone’s legs, and they are responsible for passing information from the drone to the controller and vice versa. They also give the flight controller information about the direction of the drone.
  • Remote controller Board-This is another crucial part of a drone because it gets information about the altitude and location of the drone. Also, the board captures whatever information the camera is picking.
  • Electric Speed Controller – This is the device that receives speed “instructions” from the controller. When you yaw, roll, pitch, or throttle, the ESC calculates the amount of power needed to complete this task and increases or lowers the speeds of the motors to accomplish the action. Each motor is assigned its own ESC.
Infographic about different parts of drones.
Parts of Drones

How to Fix Connection Issues Between the Drone and the Controller?

The first thing that you should do is to connect the controller with the drone. However, sometimes the connection fails, and if that happens, here is what you are supposed to do.

Reset Your Remote Controller:

Sometimes the software of the drone controller may crash or fail to work. This happens mainly while you are setting the remote.

If that is the case, the only way to resolve the problem is by resetting the remote controller by selecting an older software and then updating it to a new one.

However, you must ensure that you follow the setup instructions as stated on the user guide promptly. Failure to do that might lead to more connection problems between the controller and the drone.

Check the Battery Level of the Controller and The Drone:

Another reason why the controller and drone fail to connect is the low battery level of the two. If that is the problem, you should fix it by ensuring the batteries are fully charged. This should be the first thing you do if you notice connection problems before going to the other tips.

Reinstall the Application:

Sometimes the connection between drone and battery might fail because the app is slow.

The only way to fix that is by reinstalling the app by first deleting it from the device. After that, reinstall it and try reconnecting your drone to the controller. If that doesn’t work, you might consider the fourth tip.

Ensure You Are Connecting Properly:

Poor connection is one of the reasons why controller and drone connection fails. This is more so for first-time drone pilots. If that is the case, fix the problem with the steps below.

  • Turn on the remote controller and the drone and note the colour.
  • If the red colour appears on your remote controller when it’s on, that’s a sign that you need to link it to the drone.
  • Press and hold the power button for 4 seconds.
  • Release it if you notice the drone beeping and red LEDs blinking.
  • Press and hold the buttons for flight pause, function, and customize. Ensure you press all the buttons at the same time using the controller.
  • When you notice the LED status turning green, then know that your connection was a success.

Check Where You Are Flying:

Flying in areas with lots of electromagnetic interference or lots of other remote communications may affect the strength of the connection between the controller and the drone.

You avoid such areas since if you lose the connection, the drone may fly away.


The effectiveness of any drone in the sky depends on the communication between the drone and the controller. If the transmission is skittish, the drone will not deliver.

And the good thing is, it’s all automatic, all you need to do on your part is proper maintenance, flying within the appropriate range, and you will be good to go.

Happy Flying!!

How Drones Communicate With the Controller?
Article Name
How Drones Communicate With the Controller?
In this blog, we discuss different ways drone communicate with the controller
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Remoteflyer Private Linited
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1 thought on “How Drones Communicate With the Controller?”

  1. Thanks for the tip about making sure you are connected properly and you see the green connection light. I’m hoping that I can take my drone in to be repaired sometime this week because I want to shoot some videos. I’ll try to find a local shop that can handle all of that for me.

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