Drone / Quad Terminology, Abbreviations and Knowledge Base

FPV and drones are littered with acronyms and terms. It’s a result of many technologies colliding. This page is your resource to the terms we use, discover and create.

Slang: Where Humor and Toxic Collide

  • walk of shame: When the quad decides to rest on the opposite side of the field, you take a walk of shame. Causes include: pilot incompetence, pushing a battery too far, not hearing the clank, failure to Loctite®, or possibly pure chance. Total score (like golf, low numbers are preferred) determines flight or session success.
  • dry hump: All parts dry fitted together on your quad. Usually accomplished after ordering parts from 7 vendors on 3 continents and 2 weeks of waiting daily for the mailman or FedEx guy. Dry humping is good practice. You’ll discover fatal flaws like a PCB that’s too bulky for the stack because of a 7 pin Molex® pico-blade connector.
  • junk shot: A knock-off ZMR from Bangood purchased because of budgetary concerns with a single Rotor Riot sticker. After waiting 4 weeks to get a full set of matching gold standoffs, screws, flange nuts, props, and custom dyed 3D-printed accessories, this drone will never perform much beyond a hover check.  It’s a "jewelry drone" that spends nearly all of its time in front of the camera and showing off on Instagram. A junk shot is seen but rarely flown.
  • flying garage sale: Most pilot’s first solo build falls into this category. As a testament to "beg, borrow, or steal", this quad rattles by. Turns out, a collection of mismatched and barely functional parts will fly! It’s only one roll away from slicing the balance lead that breaks a prop and face-plants into an exploded parts diagram.
  • velcro or velcro tree: Any tree that a drone sticks to is considered to be velcro. Long stringy branches, vines, and dense leafy trees being most problematic.
  • murder branch: Any type of branch that is ready to jump out and kill your flight. The interaction of light, lens, and resolution can yield suboptimal visibility adding considerable threat.
  • stick vomit: Too many flips, too many rolls, clearly too much Adderall, Red Bull, and attitude to fly a nice line, showing some flow, and drop a freestyle routine that is not all rotational blur in the final edited video. 

Flight Terminology

  • FPV: First Person View. The primary visual paradigm for (all of the fun) drone flight experience.
  • silhouette or "silhouetting": When a flying craft turns into a non-distinct shape making orientation impossible to ascertain from LoS flight.
  • half-and-half: A common way to reverse direction where a pilot performs a 1/2 roll and 1/2 pitch (flip)
  • piro: Pirouette. It’s a standard maneuver and proto-maneuver where the pilot uses proper altitude to point the quad at the ground and roll. Great for stopping, rapid directional change, or just plain dizzy fun.
  • dive or bomb: To follow the line of a tall structure downward, as in “I love bombing that tall evergreen tree at the park”.
  • scout and scout battery: A pilot will “scout” an area, often with an older battery (scout battery) to determine the RF environment looking for bad reception and range.
  • hover check: Synonymous with “idiot check”, a hover check is a power up, throttle up and hover test to make sure everything still works. Common after repair, a crash, or whenever the pilot needs.
  • smoke check: Another type of “idiot check” where a pilot will power up after a build, partial build, or repair and test a quad hoping for no smoke. A smoke check is “passed” when there is no smoke.
  • CoG: Center of Gravity. A well tuned and flying quad tends to have evenly distributed weight. So, a good CoG usually means more uniform performance. If the CoG is not well balanced or changes in flight (ie from a loose battery) the flight becomes dangerous and more difficult to control.

Equipment:

  • VTX: Video Transmitter. It sends camera footage back to the goggles or screen.
  • TX or TRX: Transmitter. The control device in the pilot’s hand transmitting to the quad.
  • RX: Receiver. Most often the receiving end of the TRX signal. Can also refer to receiver module in goggles or ground station (context should clarify).
  • FC: Flight Controller. The device receiving data from the RX to control direction and orientation.
  • FCAM: Flight Camera. A quad mounted video feed source that enables FPV flight.
  • HD orHD cam: High Definition Camera. Most commonly used to record footage for editing and sharing on YouTube / Facebook / Instagram.
  • Clover: Clover Leaf. A type of antenna common to FPV video feeds.
  • Whip: A simple form of FPV antenna common in toys, small builds, and starter kits.
  • Acro or rate: Dominant flight mode where no stabilization beyond maintaining orientation is in effect for flight. These modes are required for freestyle, racing, and most all medium and high skill FPV flight.
  • KISS, BF, CF, RF: Common flight controller types. They are respectively KISS (Keep It Super Simple per Felix Niessen), Betaflight, Cleanflight, Raceflight.
  • PCB: Printed Circuit Board. PCBs are the backbone of all electronic devices. The PCB is a a combination of fiberglass layers and copper.
  • RF: Radio Frequency. Quads operate using many different radio frequencies. The greater RF environment is of particular interest for FPV flight. Hot areas (more RF signal in or near a band in use) are dangerous for flight. They compromise signal and video feed. Power lines and dense urban areas are commonly hot and a scout flight is always recommended.
  • Stack: The FC and collection of other PCB in use, commonly at or near CoG. A “stack height” is a factor in design and purchasing of standoffs for a build or modification.

Serious Nerd Talk

  • High-Tg PCB: Tg is glass transition temperature. It determines the temperature at which the resin matrix converts from a glassy, brittle condition into a soft, elastic one. High Tg circuit boards are intended to be exposed to high thermal loads requiring long-term high operating temperatures.
  • 2oz, 3oz, etc Copper PCB: The oz (yes, ounces) refers to the nominal thickness of n ounces of copper spread over a 1' area. With this calculation, the thickness of the copper on a PCB is referenced. Thicker copper allows for more draw.  There is a greater push-pull relationship that takes a long time to unfurl, so we will leave it here.
  • MOSFET: Acronym for metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor.  Wikipedia explains well. In short, these are critical electronic components for power draw and control (among many uses).