There’s one very good reason that you would want to connect your DJI FPV Controller to your computer, and that’s to use an FPV Simulator. If you’ve gotten the new DJI FPV drone, or already have a previous model DJI FPV Controller, and want to take your skills up a notch before trying some fancy flying in the real world, you can use your controller to get the practice you need with an FPV flight simulator.
The process of connecting your DJI FPV controller to your computer will vary slightly on the simulator you are using and on the operating system of your computer. But here are the basic steps outlined for you.
1. Choose a Flight Simulator
The first most important step of using the DJI FPV controller with a flight simulator is to actually select and download the FPV simulator you would like to use. One of the most popular ones is Liftoff, available for about $20. Other popular options include the DRL racing simulator, Velocidrone, Freeflight, or the DJI Virtual Flight Simulator.
Just a note on the DJI flight simulator however, many users agree that it is not as responsive and real-life-like as some of the other programs. If you’re ready to spend a few bucks on an FPV simulator, I recommend Liftoff or Velocidrone. Or if you have serious dreams of making it big in the drone racing circuit, top performers in the DRL simulator may get picked up with a contract, so that may be the place to put in your practice hours.
Before selecting a flight simulator, do some checking to see if your computer hardware is going to be up to spec. It’s super disappointing to try to do some fast flying when the graphics are having a hard time keeping up due to an elderly computer system.
2. Get a DJI FPV Controller
If you don’t have one yet, purchase your DJI FPV Controller. There are two choices currently. You can buy the original version of the DJI FPV controller as a separate item, or you can get the DJI FPV Controller 2 as part of a package with the new DJI FPV drone. You can also preorder the DJI FPV Controller 2 as a standalone item.
It’s important to use the controller that you actually plan to fly with as you are practicing on the simulator. The way the controls feel and respond are going to become second nature with time, so you want that to translate to real world flight with your drone, and not have to relearn the feel of things when you’re actually flying a drone that can crash.
One thing to take note of is that either of the DJI FPV Controllers (as sold separately) do not come with charging cables included, so you will need to use one that you already have, or buy one separately.
3. Get a Connection Cable
This is where things get a little tricky, because the exact cable that you need to connect your controller to your computer depends on a) the controller, and b) the computer. If you’ve got the DJI FPV Controller 2, the drone plus goggles plus controller package comes with a USB-C data cable, and a USB-C OTG connector, which should theoretically be sufficient to get you up and running when plugged into most computers.
On a Mac
To connect the first generation DJI FPV controller to a Mac, you will need a USB-C to USB-C data cable. This will plug into a port on the bottom of the controller, and straight into your Mac. If you have an older version of a Mac that doesn’t have a USB-C port, you may need an additional connector.
On a PC
To connect the original DJI FPV controller to your PC, you will need to use either a USB-C data cable, or a 3.5mm audio interface cable/simulator ppm port. This will also plug in to the bottom of the radio controller and then to the computer.
If you have the first generation DJI FPV cable, you have probably noticed that it does not come included with any data cables, or even a charging cable. Strangely enough, they’re not even available as an up-sell, so you either need to use something you already have, or order a data cable (to connect to a computer) and/or a charging cable from another source.
4. Select Controller in Settings
Once you’ve plugged the controller into the computer, hopefully your computer will recognize the device. The next step is to configure the controller for the simulator of your choice. This will vary slightly by program, but should be fairly intuitive to figure out in the settings menu.
If you’re using Liftoff, the process will look like this:
- Click on options
- Click on controls
- Select controller (Your controller should show up on the list here as available. If your controller does not show up in the list, there’s a communication problem, and you will most likely need to try a different type of connection cable.)
5. Calibrate Your Controller
After you’ve selected your controller in the simulator settings, you still need to calibrate the controller to work properly in the simulator program. It should lead you through the process with instructions on screen in the controls section. A couple things you may need to look out for include possibly setting a zero point for your throttle, or inverting the yaw axis, if things don’t seem to be responding as expected.
You may also choose to assign buttons to perform certain functions on your controller, as you might do in your drone’s settings. This can also be found in the controller settings panel in your simulator program. Here you can set buttons on the controller to reset, for instance, which would allow you to immediately go back to the starting point after a crash, or at any point in the flight.
With your controller connected and calibrated, the only thing left to do is start some virtual flying! On pretty much all of the FPV simulators, you can select the quad that you want to “fly” with, and then get to it! If your goal is to get some skills under your belt before (or in addition to) real-world flying, it’s a good idea to choose a virtual drone that’s pretty similar to the one you have, to master the feel and responsiveness of the drone in the simulator.
Or if you’re still trying to decide which drone you want to buy, you can test drive a number of different types in the simulator to help you choose the one you like best.
Other FPV Controllers
The DJI FPV controller is obviously not the only one out there. If you already have an FPV controller, it’s almost a sure thing that you can connect it to your computer for use with an FPV simulator program.
The type of connection cable that you need will depend on the radio controller, but chances are pretty good that you’ll need either a USB-C cable or else a 3.5mm audio interface, similar to what is described above for the DJI FPV controller.
One of the great benefits of using an FPV simulator is that you get a pretty close to real-life FPV flight experience, and you get to fly and “crash” without doing any damage to your drone, and having to worry about repairs, either to your drone or to other property. Honing your skills in a simulator can be a huge cost savings, not to mention it’s just a ton of fun!
Image Credit: RGMG