With drones being surrounded by so much hype over the past few years, plenty of people have begun dabbling with this great hobby. But, successfully operating a drone can be more complex than it might seem at first, and new drone pilots can encounter various issues and frustrations while trying to get the hang of it.
Since drones require perfect orientation and alignment to stay level, they may tilt due to discrepancies with the Accelerometer, Propellers, Motor, Controller, IMU and Compass, Gyroscope, or their Center of Gravity, as well as slanted surfaces, unfavorable weather, and electromagnetic interference.
While there are some specifics that vary between models, makes, and types of drones, there are quite a few aspects that would be applicable across all variants. These need to be assessed in order to identify the problem and find a suitable solution. Stick around to find out some of the most common reasons that a drone may tilt to one side, as well as some of the simplest ways to get your drone up into the air and on the level sooner rather than later.
Why Is My Drone Tilting To One Side?
There are various reasons that your drone may be tilting to one side, many of which relate to the internal workings of the drone. This requires assessment of individual components to solve the problem. Sometimes the cause may be actually more situational, requiring alterations in the approach.
There are many instances where the environment or overall setting simply isn’t a great base to work with, which may lead to your drone tilting to one side. Even if it is found that your drone is tilting for reasons related to specific components, it’s still important for drone pilots to bear these aspects in mind whenever they are trying to take off.
Weather: Heavy winds have the potential to damage drones and also cause them to tilt in varying directions depending on the direction and force of the wind.
Electromagnetic Interference: Due to the way in which drones utilize gyroscopic sensors to keep balance, interference could impede this function and cause tilting. Common causes in this regard are power lines and large structures with high amounts of current and voltage.
Launching From a Slanted Surface: This is a minor aspect that many new pilots tend to overlook, but launching your drone from a slanted surface can make it seem like your drone has a tilt. This is since the camera gimbal, which should always be perfectly straight on the horizon, may become misaligned through slanted launches creating the appearance of a tilt.
It’s always important to assess situational possibilities first, as one may find that the cause of their drone’s tilt is in fact quite simple to resolve. These potential causes can easily be checked out before going ahead and investigating components and calibrations as well.
Issues With Components
When dealing with tilting caused by component problems, many of the steps used to identify the exact area of concern will be dependent on the inner workings of your particular drone.
Accelerometer Calibration: Since investigating this area and making changes is not generally a compulsory step in setting up a drone, most new pilots may not consider this possibility. But, it is a reasonable and common cause for tilting since the initial accelerometer calibration may be causing your drone to tilt more to one side than the other.
Propellers: This is by far the most common cause for tilting to one side, as the propellers are the force that creates the lift into the air. The force needs to be evenly distributed, which involves various aspects such as the motors and the orientation of the propellers.
Defective Motor: This is another common cause for tilted drones since issues with only one motor can cause the other motors to become overwhelmed which may result in failure.
Controller Settings: In some cases, the tilting may actually have nothing to do with your drone components, and rather as the result of your drone controller settings, specifically the roll, pitch, and yaw channels.
IMU and Compass Calibration: It is possible for your drone to be working off of incorrect information regarding the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) and Compass, which is a common cause for modern drones which necessitate the use of these functions. Incorrect calibrations or faults in either of these components may cause your drone to tilt.
Miscalibrated Gyroscope: There are many times where new pilots simply don’t wait enough time after powering up since drones take a few minutes before they are ready for takeoff. Trying to get your drone into the air or even moving it before it is ready may result in a miscalibrated gyroscope since it won’t quite understand orientation properly before use.
Center of Gravity: Much like unevenly distributed force can cause tilt, uneven weight distribution can cause tilting as well, which is reliant on the drone’s center of gravity being completely accurate.
» MORE: Beginner’s Guide to Drones
How To Fix A Drone Tilting To One Side
The approach to fixing your drone’s tilt will be based on the cause, and it is important that one identifies the cause accurately before going ahead with any steps to avoid tampering with other components or calibrations and possibly causing additional issues.
In some cases, all it may take is a better assessment of the environment and setting before trying to take off. Regardless of the cause, it’s always important to make a habit of checking that these external influences are conducive for drone flying to avoid unfortunate outcomes.
Weather: Always avoid flying your drone during windy or very hot weather. Factors such as humidity, precipitation, wind speed, and UV index should always be checked beforehand.
Electromagnetic Interference: Always avoid flying your drone near industrial or commercial areas or large structures with high electric currents. Instead look for wide open spaces to fly your drone.
Launching From a Slanted Surface: Always power up your drone and allow it to orient itself on a completely flat surface. From there it should also be launched from the same perfectly level position. If the gimbal roll has been altered, one can adjust these settings by opening up the gimbal settings and adjusting the gimbal roll to be perfectly straight.
Issues With Components
Any issues with the internal workings of the drone should be considered carefully, and in correlation with your drone’s specific design. Always ensure that situational aspects have been considered before tampering with the components, and ensure that the drone is on a perfectly flat surface in particular.
Accelerometer Calibration: In order to fix this issue, plug the drone back into the computer, then launch your flight control settings interface. From this interface, select the option to calibrate the accelerometer.
Propellers: All of the propellers will have to be unscrewed, after which the solution should be addressed based on the specific direction of the tilt. If it is tilting to the right or left, one should swap the front and rear propeller on the tilting side. If it is tilting forward or back, swap the propellers on the tilting side.
Defective Motor: All motors should always be spinning at the same rate and exerting force evenly, which can be checked by feeling the heat given off by each motor after it has been used. The wiring should also be examined since there may be issues with the electrical current flow, which may also cause one motor to spin out of sync with others.
Controller Settings: The settings of the controller would need to be altered so that it is matched properly to your drone, and the roll, pitch, and yaw channels should be set to 1500 neutral positions within your controller’s sub trim menu.
IMU and Compass Calibration: The solution to this issue is slightly more complex, as it may take a few attempts to see results unless one of these components is in fact faulty. The IMU and Compass recalibration option can be chosen within your flight control settings, after which you should follow the prompts and recommended steps. The process may be successful which would prompt confirmation of successful recalibration, or the process could fail, necessitating another attempt after a couple of minutes.
Center of Gravity: This mainly requires that the components are all fitted properly, as the tilt may be caused by one component being out of place causing a shift in the center of gravity. In some cases, the chassis may not be big enough to hold all components comfortably, and a bigger frame will need to be purchased to resolve the issue.
There is ultimately a large range of issues that could cause your drone to tilt, and it is essential for drone pilots to be aware of factors that influence the calibrations of the drone’s inner workings. But, many causes are not reasons to fret as they can be resolved simply with the right steps. Always ensure proper procedures and habits are followed when starting up your drone for takeoff. This will ensure that you are providing the best care possible over time, giving your drone a longer lifespan.