Drone Controller

Since drones began to be a popular gadget for hobbyists, there have been numerous discussions over the proper and best powering on sequence. Fans and hobbyists alike have been debating the sequence, agreeing and disagreeing with what works best for them and their drone. Sequences are important because they allow your drone to discover satellites for GPS features and enable the drone to connect to your controller properly. However, most beginner pilots don’t realize that there is a particular order to powering up a drone and turning on their components. Doing this out of step may cause accidents during flight time.

Most hobbyists and professionals have an opinion on the correct power-on sequence, as illustrated below. As to not get too caught up with the minutia, we would like to give our $.02 on what's most important. Always power on the RC first, then the drone. When shutting everything down, power off the drone, then the RC. It's not just us here at Let Us Drone that recommends that sequence; it's the one thing that most of the drone community does agree on.

The Powering On Sequence

Three main components are required to be powered on whenever you begin to fly a drone. Generally speaking, they are:

  • The drone
  • The drone controller
  • The mobile app to fly and control your drone.

In most cases, you’ll also need to connect your smartphone or tablet to the controller via a cable to use it.

The Arguments

Improper sequencing has led many drone pilots to speculate that the power-on sequence effects drones. Across drone forums and social media, hundreds of drone fans have argued for one power-on sequence while others argue for a different sequence. During these heated discussions, it is difficult to find and figure out the correct power-up sequence for your drone.

If you’d like to know the various power-on sequences hobbyists vouch for, and the arguments that exist for each, continue to read.

Phantom Drones

One user named msinger on the Phantom Pilots forums suggested that the correct power-on sequence for DJI Phantom drones is:

  • Power on your smartphone/tablet
  • Power on the controller
  • Power on the Phantom
  • Wait 30 seconds
  • Start the DJI GO mobile app

However, a second user suggested that they personally, power on the remote control followed by the Phantom, allowing the two to connect first. Then they launch DJI GO or LITCHI mobile apps. A third user in the same thread stated they don’t really have a power-on sequence and sometimes turn the drone on first. 

In another thread discussing the power-on sequence of a DJI Phantom drone, a user named Fulgerite stated that the correct order, as stated in the DJI manual, is to:

  • Power on the controller
  • Start the DJI GO mobile app
  • Power on the Phantom

Fulgerite explained that the sequence should be reverse when shutting down all of the equipment. Other users in the thread agreed with the post by Boogieman who explains that the first thing the drone does when powered on is to look for its “remote signal” and, if it cannot find it or it’s turned on later, it can mix up the pairing sequence and lead to complications throughout the rest of the setup and flight.  

Mavic Series 1 and Mavic Air Drones

In another thread on the Mavic Pilots website, a series of users launched into a discussion on the proper power-on sequence of a Mavic Pro drone. In the thread, one user name ksmusa suggested the correct order was:

  • Power on smartphone/tablet
  • Start the DJI GO mobile app
  • Power on controller
  • Power on the Mavic Pro

However, the original poster replied after reading the Mavic Pro manual which states that pilots should turn on the remote controller, then power on the smartphone or tablet device, and then the Mavic drone. Other posters in the thread suggested that the remote control should always be powered on before the quadcopter and that it doesn’t matter when the DJI GO mobile app is powered on. 

Some users in the same thread suggest that the power-on sequence does not particularly matter so long as everything is connected. Another user stated that the remote control should be the last thing turned off when you finish flying the drone, while another user suggested the abbreviation LOFO (Last on, first off). 

In a separate thread about the Mavic Pro on the Mavic Pilots forum, one user named Retoxx suggested that the power-on sequence didn’t matter too much to them as long as they always connect the phone first and then launch the app to use alongside the drone. Another user named F6Rider said that the Mavic drone should always be turned on first and then also turned off first. 

In a separate thread on the DJI Forums, several users discussed the proper start-up sequence for the Mavic Air drone. One user named A CW stated that the correct sequence is:

  • Power on controller
  • Power on the Mavic Air drone
  • Start the DJI GO mobile app

Other users agreed with the above sequence, suggesting that the controller should always be powered on before the quadcopter. A different user, named Brad Bilger, explained his unique start-up sequence which was powering on the Mavic drone, powering on the controller and then starting the DJI GO mobile app.

Meanwhile, another user in the thread shared their start-up sequence which is powering on the controller, connecting the phone/tablet, starting the DJI GO mobile app, and then powering on the drone. Meanwhile, like in some of the other threads listed here, some users posted that there is no particular order to powering on the Mavic drone. They suggested that users power on their equipment in whichever order works best for them.

DJI Spark Drones

In a thread discussing the power-up and off sequence for the DJI Spark, a user named Paul215 explained that the correct starting sequence is:

  • Power on controller
  • Power on the DJI Spark drone
  • Start the DJI GO mobile app
  • Connect to phone

The user then listed their power off sequence for the DJI Spark, explaining that they turn the drone off, close the DJI GO app, disconnect the phone, and then turn the controller off. Like in other threads, some users suggested that there’s no particular order to follow and pilots should follow the power-on sequence that works best for them. In fact, another user named Andre Levite specifically stated that the power-on sequence is no longer important, but may have been when drones were first being used.

In another thread regarding the correct power-on sequence for the DJI Spark, a user named Thor1 explained in detail that they:

  • Power on controller
  • Turn on airplane mode on their phone and enable wifi
  • Start the DJI Go mobile app and connect the phone to the controller
  • Power on the DJI Spark drone

The user further explained that they power off in the reverse order. A second user named lafoto disagreed with Thor1’s sequence, explaining that they do the following:

  • Power on controller
  • Power on the DJI Spark drone
  • Turn on airplane mode on their phone and disable wifi
  • Power on the DJI Spark drone and connect the phone to the controller

Other users in the thread suggested that there was no particular sequence needed, while another insisted that the controller should always be powered on before the drone. They also explained that, when powering off, the drone should be shut down first and then the controller, in order to avoid any incidents from occurring. Lastly, a third user named Charles Adam explained that they always turn the Spark drone on last, in order to maximize the battery. 

In additional threads, users explained that hobbyists should always follow the sequence that best works with their equipment. Yet, suggestions swirled and stated that it’s always better to have the controller powered on after the drone is turned on, allowing them to connect.

Do Power On Sequences Really Matter?

After reading through all of the above, you have obviously noticed the disagreements between drone users about the power on and off sequence. There are so many dividing opinions. One common suggestion made in many posts is that the power-on sequence no longer matters. Many users also suggest to their fellow hobbyists to follow whatever power-on sequence that works best for them. They go on to say that if they experience trouble, to refer to the DJI manual for their drone.

However, users in other threads are vocal about following a specific power-on sequence, and not doing so increases your chances for a mishap. They say that crashes and rouge flights are possible. Some of these users argue and state that the power-on sequence was very important when drones were first released and that the technology was still new. But since then, the firmware and tech have developed enough so that the power-on sequence is no longer a problem when flying drones made today.  

Regardless of the arguments made against having a proper power-on sequence, we suggest you follow the power-on sequence stated in your drone’s manual. Doing so can help prevent accidents from occurring, even if a power-on sequence has is proven to have no effect on flights of your drone. After all, we don't want anything bad to happen to your drone simply because you mixed up the power-on sequence.  

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