Learning to Fly – A Hubsan X4 Drone ‘Getting Started’ Tutorial!

Hubsan X4

The Hubsan X4 is a great purchase, ready to fly right out of the box. A few important tweaks, however, make sure you get the most out of your new toy. This guide serves to help navigate start-up and deal with issues along the way.

Hubsan X4 Drone 'Getting Started' Tutorial
Harald_Landsrath / Pixabay

Open Carefully!

Right out of the gate, an important item can be easily missed. The propeller bumper guard. Without it, propellers are left vulnerable to damage. It is located on the bottom of the container, so be sure to find it and not throw it away by mistake.

Getting up and Running

Our next goal is walking through the Hubsan X4 “getting started” process. Luckily, there is no assembly besides the propeller bumper guard. However, you do need to make sure the included battery is charged prior to flight. An important note about the charger is to never leave the battery attached when it is unplugged from an outlet. The battery will slowly drain back into the charger until dead.

As you wait for the battery, we can assemble the propeller guard bumper. To do this, remove the propellers that came on the Hubsan X4. Before removal, note the “A” and “B” rotor directions. It is important to put these back in the same way you find them initially. Once you note this, use the provided tool to remove the propellers and assemble the bumper guard beneath the propellers. To finish, simply push the propellers and guide all the way back down.

Learn the Controls

Since the battery will still be charging, we can take a moment to familiarize you with the Hubsan X4 guide to the controls. The controller features two joysticks, four buttons, a power switch, and a small LED screen. There are two preset “modes” of operation, indicated on the LED screen:

Mode 1

  • Left joystick: Up/down for forward and back lean, left/right for left and right lean
  • Right joystick: Up/down for throttle, left/right for rudder

Mode 2

  • Left joystick: Up/down for throttle, left/right for rudder
  • Right joystick: Up/down for forward and back lean, left/right for left and right lean

Calibrating your Drone

To begin the Hubsan X4 calibration process, we will balance the trim settings. First, press the trim buttons until you reach the default level of “0.” You should hear a slightly different beep when this happens. Next, we will do the joysticks. Please note the instructions will be slightly different between Modes 1&2. Mode 2 is most common, so I will start there.

Joystick calibration: Mode 2

  1. Turn the controller and drone off, with the battery unplugged.
  2. Push both joysticks to the top left corner.
  3. Still holding the joysticks in place, turn the controller on until you see the light flash.
  4. Move both joysticks clockwise to finish calibration.
  5. Push and hold the farthest right button until a flashing red light appears.
  6. Power down the controller.

Joystick calibration: Mode 1

  1. The calibration for Mode 1 is the same but with one exception: Step #2 for Mode 1 calibration should read as follows:
  2. Push the left joystick to the top left corner, and the right joystick to the top right corner.

Accelerometer calibration:

  1. Place drone on a flat, level surface.
  2. Switch controller on.
  3. Reconnect Hubsan X4 to the battery. You should hear it beep as the controller pairs with the drone. The light on the controller should turn red without flashing.
  4. Push the left joystick to the bottom right corner.
  5. While holding the left joystick, toggle the right joystick from one side to the other repeatedly.
  6. Keep doing this until the blue lights on the drone flash two times

The steps for Mode 1 will be the same, but make sure that you push down on the right joystick as you toggle. Otherwise the drone could start flying.

Ready to Fly

Each time you power on the drone, make sure you have turned the controller on first. This is important because as soon as the drone is on, it starts looking for a signal. If there is another signal nearby, it might try to connect to something other than your controller.

To get started, place the Hubsan X4 drone on a flat surface and allow it to settle for a few moments. Then use your joystick controls to take off. Ideally, keep the drone about two feet off the ground. If you get too close to the ground, it may be difficult to control. Try tilting in all directions while at the same time maintaining your distance from the ground.

Check the Trim Settings

If you notice any drifting, you may need to adjust accordingly. Minor adjustments can be made following these rules (rules listed for Mode 2, for Mode 1 switch out “right” for “left”):

  1. Drifting forward: press the down arrow near the right joystick
  2. Drifting backward: press the up arrow near the right joystick

Follow these rules if your drone is drifting sideways, regardless of which Mode:

  1. Drifting left: press the right arrow near the right joystick
  2. Drifting right: press the left arrow near the right joystick

Fancy Flightwork

Familiarize yourself with the drone, using the lights for orientation. Blue to the front, red to the back. When first learning, most people find it easiest to stand directly behind your drone. This way you don’t get confused controlling your drone’s direction. As you advance, try flying in a direction other than away from you.

No matter how good you get, do not let your drone fly out of sight. It goes without saying that you will not be able to fly blind, even if you are an expert. Losing track of the drone can result in a crash, possibly causing damage or injury to people and property. It is also important to keep an eye on the battery for the same reason. Low battery will be indicated by flashing LED’s on the drone.

As you become more and more proficient with the Hubsan X4, you can try out the expert mode by tapping down once on the right joystick. Expert mode will be indicated by an alternating green and red light on the controller. In expert mode the “senses” of the drone are heightened, allowing for intense maneuvering of your Hubsan. When you master this, you will truly be able to use your aviation acrobat to impress onlookers!