There is nothing more frustrating than getting ready to go out to fly your drone, preparing all of the necessary accessories, choosing a perfect take-off spot, starting up the drone – and then nothing but annoying beeping coming from the drone controller. Sometimes, this beeping can be resolved by simply following a simple calibration or acknowledging a warning. Other times, however, nothing seems to stop it. In this article, we are going to answer the question: Why is my drone controller beeping? and the 8 simple checks that you can make.
Drone controllers speak continuously for a variety of reasons. The most common reason your drone controller beeps continuously is because of miscalibration of your joysticks, a failed firmware update, or a stuck button. Stopping the beeping is as easy as following the on-screen instructions for the calibration of your drone controller.
In the following article we are going to go into more detail into the noises you can expect your drone to make and whether or not there is a fix for your specific issue. The first question to ask yourself is: is this noise actually a problem? Drone controllers make a wide range of noises and there are many which just act as an indicator of an action rather than something you pay attention to.
There are two different noises that your drone can make a chime and a warning sound.
Is it just a chime?
Drone controllers can be relatively noisy and distracting while you are flying. Drone controllers also make a noise when they are initially turned on. This noise is known as a chime and it is a simple indication that the drone remote controller has successfully booted up.
The chime is very different to a warning noise as it is not continuous and is more melodic than a warning noise. For example the start up noise for the DJI Mavic Air is:
And the shut down chime sounds like this:
Both the sounds consist of a range of tones and are not indicative of anything going wrong with your drone.
If your drone remote is making a continuous beeping noise of the same tone at regular intervals you need to check the following eight issues which your drone may be encountering.
1. Obstacle avoidance noise
The first issue which you may encounter is the obstacle avoidance noise that many drones make. Due to the advancement of drone technology and the drop in price of advanced software features many drones have forward, backwards and downward facing sensors which keep the drone safe while flying.
These sensors detect obstacles that are in front of the drone and stop the drone from moving close to any obstacles. The drone will stop flying forward (or towards the obstacle) and the drone remote control will make a continuous fast beeping noise.
This noise is simply to inform you that the drone will not be moving any closer to the obstacle and that doing so would be unsafe for the thing in the way (which could be a person) and the drone.
Some of these sensor beeping warnings are removed when the drone is switched into sport mode. Sport mode, or advanced flying modes, will stop any obstacle avoidance monitoring and the drone will be able to fly directly into things in the immediate environment.
It is not recommended that you put your drone into sport mode unless you are racing or you are doing some flying close to trees or buildings to get that awesome cinematic footage.
2. Low battery
Another reason why your drone may be making a continuous beeping noise is because it is notifying you of the drone having very low battery. It sounds like this:
An example of the sort of noise that a low battery drone will make can be seen in the below YouTube video:
The drone controller will make a continuous beeping noise once the drone is under about 20% battery remaining. This is part of the normal usage of flying a drone from a manufacturer such as DJI.
Some drones in the DJI series can have their alarms silenced by pushing the power button once but it is not available in every drone.
3. Firmware update failure
When you own a drone one of the most important aspects is regular update of the firmware. Firmware updates keep the safety and security of your drone up to the newest standards. Although these firmware updates are there to improve your drone experience there are some occasional issues which can cause beeping or for a firmware update to simply fail.
To check the current firmware on your drone go into the aircraft status of the app and check to see if there is a warning that says “RC requires update”. If there is a firmware update you should go ahead and click the prompts and wait for the new firmware to be uploaded into your drone and software.
Sometimes, you need to refresh or downgrade the firmware so that your drone works properly. To refresh your firmware in the DJI GO4 app tap on the three horizontal lines in the upper right-hand corner and hold for more than five seconds. This will bring up the current firmware version and also a button which enables you to refresh or downgrade your firmware.
Refresh or downgrade your firmware to see if the beeping has stopped.
4. Miscalibration on joysticks
When you first turn on the remote control and connect to the drone you may get a continuous beeping which could signify that the left or right joystick is out of alignment or not detected in the centre of the joystick’s movement.
To fix this issue you should enter the joystick calibration section of the app and go through all of the prompts and follow the on-screen instructions until the calibration of the joysticks has been completed.
A video which goes through the entire remote control calibration process for the DJI Phantom four and professional can be seen in the YouTube video, below.
You can see in this video that it is very easy to do and only takes a couple of minutes to achieve a complete calibration.
5. Stuck button
Your remote control may also make a continuous beeping noise if one of the buttons is stuck in the pressed position. On all of the drone controllers that I have touched the movement of the buttons is very shallow. This means that you cannot tell from visual inspection alone whether or not the button is stuck in the pressed position.
Two check your drone controller you must press every single button and check for an audible click or a physical and mechanical click upon pressing. Should any of the buttons not move or make a sound when they are pressed you should attempt to identify what is causing the button to be stuck in the pressed position.
The most likely cause is that the button is stuck due to an external bit of debris around the edges of the button. Use a toothpick to gently outline the edges of the button and isopropyl alcohol if you identify any sticky residues which may be on the button.
Unfortunately, there is not any approved way for dismantling a drone remote control and therefore should your drone remote control be irreversibly damaged you should purchase another one.
The drone remote control model is often found on the sticker on the rear of the remote control so that you can purchase an exact replica of the damaged remote control.
6. Calibrate your compass and your IMU
The compass on a drone is very important. It is the one thing that drone software asked you to calibrate often. This is because the drone compass is the failsafe for your drone returning to home if something goes wrong during the flight. If your compass is Miss calibrated your drone can very easily go off in the wrong direction and you may never see it again.
To understand completely why drone flyaways happen check out my other article – why did my drone flyway? [And what you can do about it] – click here.
There are many reasons why a drone compass may become miscalibrated and it is mainly due to its proximity to large metallic or magnetic objects.
In the DJI GO4 app you can see the interference by going to settings> advanced> compass and look at the interference indicator. You will be able to do your own seeing the interference indicator increase as you bring your drone to magnetically charged objects.
You may be surprised at how little it really does change but there are some things that will cause it to move a lot. In my experience the biggest issue is reinforced concrete. I like to take off on flat surfaces and I often find flat concrete surfaces to take off from however the iron reinforcement on the inside of the concrete causes significant Compass interference.
As a rule of thumb you should stay away from:
- power lines
- huge metal deposits like junkyards
- any large metallic structure such as sheds
- any large speakers – they have magnets on the inside
A Mavic owner tried to create compass interference by bringing his belt buckle, keys, and other personal effects close to the drone. It was only when the phone is a speaker was on top of the drone that there was significant interference. They note that the only consistent way to produce interference was to place a pocketknife on top of the battery compartment. So you don’t need to be too worried about having any metallic objects in your pocket or near the drone during takeoff.
To check that your calibration is good all you have to do is take off and do some yawing at an altitude of about 10 m. Check your screen and see if the movements correspond with the direction that the drone is being yawed. This simple check is something that will save you a lot of headaches if you are worried about compass miscalibration.
The inertial measurement unit is a device that is built into your drone and contains a load of different sensors to keep the drone running properly. Specifically, it measures the force, altitude, and angular velocity of the drone during its flight. These are measured through a series of different sensors that combine for a very powerful unit.
The sensors that it includes are the accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, and thermometer. The gyroscope is a sensor that will detect the drones movements relative to the horizon level and it will be responsible for retaining the stability so that you can get some awesomely smooth shots that will not come out blurry. The barometer is used for detecting the changes in the height of the drone. And I think everyone knows what a thermometer is – it measures the temperature of the drone to make sure that the batteries do not overheat and start a fire.
Drone manufacturers are making the inertial measurement unit incredibly easy to calibrate. It should only take you about five minutes to do a complete calibration. All you need is an area that is sitting level and is stationary while you are calibrating the IMU.
This is what you need to do for a DJI manufactured drone:
- lay the drone down on a completely flat surface.
- Allowing the drone to cool down if it has recently been flown.
- Use a battery that is more than 50% charged.
- Open up the GO4 app.
- Turn on the controller for the drone
- navigate towards the advanced settings in the GO4 app and follow the calibration instructions.
The process for calibrating a mid-range consumer drone varies from a mini drone. This is because a mini drone does not contain the same level of hardware to keep it stable during flight. Instead, it relies on something called “trimming” to keep it flying stable.
For a complete rundown on why you have to calibrate your drone check out my other article – why do I have to calibrate my drone? Little-known issues! – Click here to read the article.
7. Check for warning messages
If your drone is making a continuous beeping you should also check to make sure that no warning messages have popped up on your first person view controller. It could be that your controller is telling you that there is something seriously wrong that requires your attention. There are a variety of different warnings the ones that are common for my flights are:
- compass recalibration
- aircraft interference
- weak connection between controller and drone
- low battery
- return to home
Check to make sure that your drone is not displaying any particular warning message and if it is you can acknowledge the warning message by simply clicking the area of the screen where the warning message is displayed.
8. Returning to home activated
The last reason why your drone controller may be making a noise is if the return to home has been activated. In the DJI series of drones the drone will make a beeping noise if the return to home automatic landing feature has been activated and is active.
The return to home sounds like this:
This, in combination with a low battery noise, can be a very stressful way of finishing your drone flight. However, you must remember that the drone noises are all there for you to be able to make better decisions as a drone pilot. Sometimes, the drone noises are not there to make you perform any particular action other than to acknowledge that the drone, or the controller, has performed a certain task.
Should none of these eight reasons solve your drone beeping problem the ultimate fix for any controller issues is to reset the controller completely.
Reset the controller if the beeping continues
If the controller is continuing to beep the last action that you can take is to do a full reset of the controller. Before you take such a drastic action you should try your best to do all of the recalibration processes before a hard reset of the controller.
You can perform a full reset of the remote controller by performing these tasks in this order:
- turn on the controller whilst the aircraft is off
- press the C1, C2 and shutter button on the controller and hold for two seconds or until it beeps (a single beep followed by three short beeps) then turn the controller off.
- Turn on the aircraft and the controller and link the remote as you would have when you first purchased the drone.
You can then also manually relink the remote controller if you want to be sure that you are connecting to your drone in a stable and secure way.
Each of the controllers for each drone has its own quirks. It can be very frustrating because for each of the controllers the manual only glosses over the general problems and sometimes it works whilst others just result in the same problem.
You should check each one of the above issues to see if that is the cause of the beeping. The beeping will cease once you solve the issue and you should be able to commence your flight as planned. Remember to calibrate your drone and the remote controller regularly and follow each and every prompt that pops up about calibration and other issues.
Many drone manufacturers are trying to make it as easy as possible to fly the drone with the least amount of hassle and that involves providing a comprehensive series of on-screen prompts for you to troubleshoot for yourself.
Should none of the calibrations work you can choose to purchase a new remote controller or you can hard reset your current remote controller to see if that fixes the problem. Reach out to the drone manufacturer if nothing seems to be working!