Extreme Fliers

How to Program a Drone: All You Need to Know about Drone Coding

Glenn Riney

Drones have become more popular among hobbyists & enthusiasts and in the field of robotics – and are customized to behave the desired way.

As much as flying drones is exciting when it comes to aspects such as surveillance drones and drone delivery, human pilots just won’t cut it, which is where drone programming comes into play. We have compiled this complete guide on how to program a drone, including sections on the best drone programming languages and what you’ll need. If you’re really interested in drone coding, this information will be a great starting point. Keep reading to learn more about drone programming.

How Drones are Programmed?

Up until now, one of the main challenges faced by people that are in drone programming was the lack of structured and comprehensive learning resources. While this guide will be considerably easier for people that are well-versed in the basics of programming, with a little effort, even beginners can hack it.

The truth is that drone programming isn’t as difficult as people take it to be. With the right resources to guide you in the right direction, you’ll be in a better position to create code for your drone in no time! There are 3 main ways you can program your drone; from scratch, through one for all programs, and using a DIY drone kit. Now, let’s take a closer look at how to program a quadcopter.

From scratch

One for all

This is where you create one program and pattern for a group of drones. This mode of programming is especially used in sky shows—eg. in China. In fact, in September 2020, China broke the Guinness World Record Trusted Source 3,051 drones create spectacular record-breaking light show in China | Guinness World Records At 3:45:39 am on September 20 2020, 3,051 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles took to the skies to break the record for the most Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) airborne simultaneously. www.guinnessworldrecords.com for the biggest drone light show. There were a total of 3,051 drones at the show, captivating millions of people around the world.

Now, in this scenario, it’s difficult for 3,051 people to control each of the drones, which is where a one for all program comes into play. The program causes all the drones to synchronize their movements and move in unison.

DIY drone kit

Programmable drones are almost exclusively sold for educational purposes or to enthusiasts that are passionate about drone programming. DIY drone kits are then used to practice drone coding and allow you to program your drone from scratch. They also come in handy for people looking to develop their own drone app. These programmable drones can be used for schools or research.

How to Program a Drone: All You Need to Know about Drone Coding

Languages to Program Drones in

Drone programming language helps you communicate with the device. This is the only way you can tell your device what to do, based on the program that you create. There are two main programming layers; high-level programming and low-level programming.

Check out how these two UAV  programming layers differ and how you can use them on your drone below!

High-level programming

How to Program a Drone: All You Need to Know about Drone Coding

Think of the drone as a complete unit, and the only thing missing is an app that you can use to help you control the device as you wish. For instance, you can use high-level programming to fly the drone to a particular altitude or to supply it with information such as GPS coordinates so that it can automatically fly to the set location. High-level programming also helps to decrease or increase the flying rate.

You should note that high-level programming collaborates with the drone’s firmware to interpret the commands and perform the intended action. For instance, if you use the flight controller to fly the drone at a particular altitude, the app communicates with the drone’s software. The firmware then communicates with the hardware and flies the drone at the set elevation. This is why high-level programmers don’t really focus on the firmware technicalities and how the software will implement the program.

Here’s another instance, assuming you’d like your drone to interpret GPS coordinates so that it can fly in the direction that you command it via the app. In this case, the main aim of high-level programming is to communicate this information with the firmware, which then instructs the hardware and moves the drone.

Compared to low-level programming, high-level programming is significantly easier to understand, which is why it’s more available. It also uses popular programming languages such as Python and Java, although Python is more user-friendly and highly preferred by beginners and basic programmers.

Most of the time, high-level programming focuses on APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) as opposed to natural language.

Low-level programming

How to Program a Drone: All You Need to Know about Drone Coding

For low-level programming, C and C++ are the best programming languages for drones . While low-level programming languages are often difficult to understand, if you already know the basic programming languages, this shouldn’t be a problem. The best part is that once you also get the hang of it, you’ll have a ton of fun programming the individual aspects of the drone’s firmware and hardware.

What You’ll Need

Once you learn the basic UAV programming languages, you then need to get a programmable drone. These drones already have an SDK (software development kit) or API (application programming interface) in the package, and most of them already come installed with the low-level programming or the firmware required to control the drone’s hardware. This means that the only thing you’ll have to do is use high-level programming to develop an app that you can use to control the drone and command it to perform specialized functions.

Since not all drones are programmable, it’s important that you get one that’s compatible with your preferred programming language like Python. You could also get an SDK that’s accompanied by a drone. This way, you can create your own drone app without having to use a programming language, as long as the SDK is fully equipped with everything you need to create the application. You’ll, however, still use your programming knowledge to develop it.

Here’s everything you need to program your drone.


DJI drones are undoubtedly one of the most popular models in the market currently. If you already have one of their models, you can use their APIs and SDKs to develop your own iOS and android app, specifically designed for a DJI drone. If, on the other hand, you’re still looking for the perfect drone, the DJI Mini SE is one of the best based on multiple reviews. It’s highly affordable and is one of the top drones under $500. This model weighs less than 0.55 pounds and has the same weight as an average smartphone. You can use it in the US or Canada without having to register it, and it has a powerful capture on-the-go camera, making it perfect for people that primarily use their drones to capture moments. The DJI Mini SE will offer you up to half an hour of flight time which is longer than other similar models. It also has upgraded wind resistance, and with the DJI Fly app, you can access multiple creator templates to edit your photos and videos.

How to Program a Drone: All You Need to Know about Drone Coding

The only major downside of the DJI SDKs is that you have to pay for the APIs. You can, however, contact DJI to get your hands on an API or SDK that’s specific to your drone, including models such as Mavic, Spark, Phantom series, etc. This will give you a great opportunity to sharpen your programming skills as DJI SDKs have rich features.

A drone kit is one of the best programmable drone kits available and is typically an SDK that you can download on your android smartphone. As long as you’re knowledgeable about high-level programming, you can easily use it to create an android application to control your drone. The best part about DroneKit is that it’s open-source and free. It also comes fully equipped with the basic features required to control a drone, including autonomous features such as intelligent flight path panning. You can use DroneKit to create a different code other than the one other programmers use since it’s open source. The only major downside is that you’ll not have any customer support and have to figure things out on your own.

How to Program a Drone: All You Need to Know about Drone Coding

  • Parrot SDK/API: Parrot is known for its free SDKs and sample code repositories that you can easily use to develop your own drone application. With this tool, you can also incorporate features such as download/ save websites and use the programmable drone management application to ship autopilot flight programs. The functionality of Parrot’s SDK can support C/C++ programming languages and supports both iOS and Android.
  • FlytBase SDK/API: this platform is popular for APIs and SDKs used in the development of drone management programs. It supports almost all of the popular drone models and gives you access to exceptional features such as drone simulation. You can also make your own android control program using their Android SDK feature. Unlike DroneKit, however, this system isn’t open-source, which means it’s not free.

We have compiled a list of the best programmable drone kits in the market below. By programming your UAV, you get to enjoy flying a device that you have coded from scratch and also learn various programming languages. Here are our top 5 picks of drone kits.

CoDrone Pro

How to Program a Drone: All You Need to Know about Drone Coding

Main features

  • 160 ft flight range and a flight time of approximately 8 minutes.
  • Highly lightweight and compact (37 g)
  • Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity
  • Elevation control thanks to the barometer sensor.
  • Infrared Sensor that helps with instructional games.
  • Optical flow detector for hovering capabilities.

The CoDrone Pro also has a 3-axis accelerometer and a 3-axis gyroscope that help with elevation control.

  • It’s lightweight, making it easily compatible.
  • High performance and impressive speed for its price.
  • Tutorials are available for Robolink.
  • Relatively costly.
  • The camera is sold separately.

The Robolink CoDrone Pro is a great option if you’re looking to customize your flight capabilities or want to know basic drone coding, including conditionals, variables, and loops to fly your drone.

Ryze Tech Tello

How to Program a Drone: All You Need to Know about Drone Coding

  • A high-capacity battery that allows you up to 13 minutes of flight time on a full battery.
  • Reliable video transmission as it comes with 2 antennas.
  • Incredible photo and movie quality thanks to a high-quality processor. Has a 5MP camera that can shoot HD 720p videos.
  • Ability to conduct various flight trips due to the DJI-powered flight control feature.
  • It’s powered by DJI and comes with a set of Propeller Guards, Micro USB, 4x Propellers, Propeller Removal Tool, and a battery.
  • It’s compact and lightweight, making it easy to transport and store.
  • Relatively fair price.
  • A control program that’s easy to use and highly intuitive.
  • DJI controller with amazing flight modes.
  • Secure flight.
  • Not compatible with most of the popular programming languages.
  • Challenges with video transmission at times.
  • Low wind-resistance capabilities.

The Ryze Tech Tello is a great and affordable programmable drone for both adults and kids. Its camera capabilities are decent, and you can easily program it using Scratch, which is a pretty easy programming language. This makes this device a great option for beginners that are just getting started with drone programming. The Ryze Tech Tello is also easily portable as it only weighs 80g. This, however, makes it less resistant to wind, and you’ll have a hard time flying it in winds over 5mph. You should also note that this drone doesn’t have a modular design, so you can’t use it for DIY. It’s mostly designed for beginners that barely know the fundamentals of programming, so it doesn’t support the hard programming languages.

Parrot ANAFI

How to Program a Drone: All You Need to Know about Drone Coding

  • Can unfold in less than 3 minutes
  • Lightweight and compact.
  • 21MP photos and complete HD 2.7k movies.
  • -10°C into the 40°C operating temperature range.
  • Li-Po battery that guarantees optimized battery life and up to to 25 minutes of filmed flight time.
  • 35 mph max flying rate.
  • Great location capabilities. For instance, the Locate My Drone, Geofence, and SmartRTH let you know where your drone is.
  • ANAFI functionality with software updates.
  • Amazing camera features.
  • A great option for beginners.
  • Easy and intuitive UI.
  • Versatile APIs and SDKs for people looking to learn drone coding.
  • Great value for your money. Come with everything needed for drone programming.
  • High-quality video and photo transmission.
  • Very expensive.
  • You need to pay extra to access features such as Follow Me and Flight Plan
  • Needs a smartphone for dedicated flight control
  • UI has a steep learning curve,

The Parrot Anafi is versatile enough to meet the programming needs of both beginners and expert coders. It offers powerful performance, great battery life, and high flexibility, which is why it’s no surprise that it’s a favorite among many people.

Parrot Mambo Fly

How to Program a Drone: All You Need to Know about Drone Coding

  • Controller range of 65ft
  • 9 minutes flight time on a full battery.
  • Free iOS and Android Mini App.
  • Complex detectors that allow for more stable flying.
  • Ability to program custom trajectories,
  • Versatile and flexible programming abilities
  • Can control the drone using Bluetooth on your smartphone.
  • Simple control panels that are also intuitive.
  • Compatibility with various accessories
  • Low battery life

The Parrot Mambo Fly has amazing detectors and a great autopilot system making it one of the most secure drones in the market. It’s one of the best drones to learn programming with and can be flown both indoors and outdoors.


How to Program a Drone: All You Need to Know about Drone Coding

Main Features

  • Headless mode.
  • Instinctive hold/hover style that allows for simple flights.
  • 4K camera with an adjustable 120-degree wide-angle
  • Emergency landing feature (One-click take-off and landing)
  • one -key return and 3D reverse feature to ensure the drone returns safely.
  • Semi-automatic drone arm
  • Easy night-time use thanks to the headlights
  • Great design
  • Easy flight with stable elevation.
  • Easy maintenance.
  • Relatively low flight time.

The Eachine E520 is one of the best affordable programmable drones. It’s easy to store & transport and has a camera with 4K capabilities. This drone also allows virtual reality, but you have to buy the 3D glasses separately.

Python Drone Programming

How to Program a Drone: All You Need to Know about Drone Coding

Ardupilot is the firmware that allows you to control the drone’s hardware. It’s supported by most flight control boards, including cube-based drones, and can send up to 400 commands per second to the drone’s hardware.

Dronekit Python

This is the recommended software for python drone programming from an open-source python library that allows you to access high-level functionality from your drone, including checking its status and commanding drone movement.

Can I use Ja va for drone programming?

Yes, if you are familiar with Java, you can use it for UAV programming.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to program a drone isn’t as difficult as people take it to be. Yes. If you’re just getting started with programming, it will be tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’re good to go! If, on the other hand, you’re knowledgeable about basic coding, you’ll have a considerably easy time. In a nutshell, there are 2 programming languages that you can program your drone with; high-level programming for the software and low-level programming for the drone’s hardware. Keep in mind that only select drones are programmable, so use the above guide to identify the best drone kit for you based on your experience level.


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Quadcopter, Multirotor and Drones Resource Site

DJI Phantom 1 & FC40 setup – Getting Started Guide

December 17, 2014 by craigi

Note – the following is for new users or buyers of the Phantom FC40 or Phantom 1 models. These models can be identified by the single round LED on the quadcopter read and the battery compartment door on the front. The FC40 includes a camera while the plain Phantom 1 comes with a GoPro holder.

Have you recently acquired a Phantom FC40 or Phantom 1? The Holiday season often ends with the unboxing of thousands of new Quadcopters!

If so – and if you have limited experience with the DJI Phantoms and advanced Quadcopters – please read and understand the following before taking to the air.

Before taking your Phantom outside to fly!

Read the manual at least twice. You can download the newest electronic version at: http://www.dji.com/product/phantom-fc40/download

Basic Definitions: NAZA – the flight controller box (F/C) inside your Phantom which contains the hardware and software which makes your quadcopter work. NAZA Assistant – the software, windows or mac, which allows you to upgrade, test and change various settings on your Phantom. Transmitter or TX – the remote control (usually a white box with two “sticks”) which you use to control your Phantom. S1 and S2 (called X1 and X2 in the Assistant program!) – the switches on the upper right (S1) and left (S2) of your TX. These set the “modes” which the Phantom responds to and can be programmed in the NAZA assistant software. RTH – Return to Home – Failsafe programming of the Naza ATTI – Altitude hold mode on the NAZA F/C – this does away with the use of the GPS and gives you semi-manual control.

Assemble Quadcopter and Install Camera on FC40

The propeller guards are a highly recommended accessory – especially for those without a lot of Phantom experience.

NOTE: The FC40 will work and fly fine without the camera attached or turned on. Newbies may want to start this way to avoid crashes which could damage the cam.

USB and Battery Connection for Upgrades and Settings

1. Download and install the any drivers (windows only, none needed for mac) and the NAZA Assistance programs from DJI install them – drivers first, then the Assistant program.

2. Connect your Phantom USB to your computer – open the battery compartment of your Phantom (no battery installed) and locate the USB cable inside – pull it out and connect it to your computer. Now turn on the DJI remote (transmitter) – put the S1 and S2 switches in the UP position – and connect the battery to the DJI Phantom – leaving the battery hanging outside the quadcopter. The LED on the FC40 should turn solid green when connected to Naza Asst.

Open the NAZA assistant and check for and install any suggested Phantom firmware updates.

Under the “Advanced” tab, choose the “IOC” tab and activate it. Under “F/S” (failsafe), make sure it is set to “Go-Home and Landing” Under “Limits”, set them at something reasonable. 2000 yards is useless. You can use these to keep it close to you while you learn. Something like 100 meters would be better at first. Under the “Basic” tab, click on “R/C”. At the bottom you will see a horizontal line. At the right end of it is an arrow that will bringup a pull down menu. Change it to “Failsafe”

You have to hit the return button on your computer to save some of the changes. You can always double check by quitting the NAZA assistant and opening it again and then seeing whether the Assistant software has the new settings.

Now when you put the right hand switch(S1) to the bottom, it will activate the”Return to Home, Fail Safe” function. Now you will notice that when you move the S2 (left side) switch down on your remote, the corresponding action will appear in the Naza Assistant.

One of many screens in the DJI NAZA Assistant Software

Now do an advanced IMU calibration. The software may tell you there is no need for this..which means it is already set and ready.

Close the DJI assistant software and disconnect the Phantom battery and USB cord. Turn off the transmitter.


Calibrate the Compass

Now, take you FC40 outside into an area where there is a decent amount of sky (access to GPS satellites) and face it forward (battery facing front), turn TX on, plug the battery in and WAIT. You will hear several ascending tonebeeps and the LED flashing, this is normal. Then you will see a blinking green LED followed by blinking red LEDS. This is when the FC40 is acquiring satellites. As the FC40 acquires satellites the number of red LEDs becomes less and less. Eventually you will have nothing but a slow flashing green LED.

Flip your S1 switch all the way down and back up 4-6 times rapidly. The LEDlight on your FC40 will turn solid yellow, indicating it is ready for compass calibration. Make sure the S1 switch is up before proceeding.

Now grab your FC40s landing gear from the back, lift it up and extend your arms Turn your body in a 360 degrees in a counter clockwise circle. The yellow LED light should turn green when you get back to the starting point (facing again forward). Now turn the FC40 facing down towards the ground so the LEDlight is facing up towards the sky. Hold it like this and rotate your body again 360 degrees. When you get back to the starting point the green LED shouldstart blinking slowly again.

Time to fly!


Move both the Rt and Lft joysticks down and towards the inside or outside corners of the TX. This will start your Phantom’s motors and they will idle at a low RPM. Now, move your left joystick all the way up to full throttle. Your FC40 should take off. Let go of the joystick (it will return to center automatically) once it’s about 10-15 feet up. Let it hover a bit. Use your right joystick and move slightly left, right,forward and back. Just a little at a time, testing the movement and response.

Practice makes perfect, so spend some time getting the hang of how the FC40 reacts to your stick movements.

Bring your Phantom down toward the ground by pulling down on the left stick (throttle)- making sure you slow the rate of descent when you get within 5 feet of the landing area. Then use small movements of the stick to slowly make it touch down. Then turn the motors off.

There are two ways to turn your motors off. These are the same moves used to start the motors and are described in the manual. It will help to practice turning the motors off and on before you fly – that is, turn them on to idle position and then turn them off. This will make certain you don’t panic or over-react when you actually start real landings.

ALWAY DISCONNECT THE PHANTOM BATTERY BEFORE TURNING OFF THE TX. Turning off the TX first could cause your FC40 to go into “return to home” or “failsafe” mode, which would cause it to fly on it’s own!

Orientation – learning not to panic or lose your Phantom!

Once you are familiar with the basics, you’ll likely start flying further away from your home point. It’s easy to lose orientation at distance, so you should check and confirm that your “Home Lock” function works correctly. Some pilots also like to test their RTH (failsafe – return to home) function, although you should not do this without knowing how the modes work. For example, don’t activate RTH when the quadcopter is close to you or close to the ground. Become familiar with these functions in the manual and test them in a large field. You should also become VERY familiar with ATTI mode (it’s non-GPS semi-manual control) – use of this mode may allow you to save your quadcopter if the GPS or compass malfunctions.

FC40 Camera – the use of the camera and app is simple – the DJI quickstart guide explains the settings and various error and status codes. You should have a printed copy in your DJI box – if you prefer an electronic version, you can download it at the DJI support page: http://www.dji.com/product/phantom-fc40/download

This relatively short guide should get you started. Although some of the instructions seem complicated, they will soon become second nature to DJI pilots. Refer to your manuals, helpful videos and other sources of information to continue your piloting education.

(Credit for layout, some quotes and idea from jnnevins at the DJI corporate forum)

Final Note – the Phantom 1 and Phantom FC40 are no longer in production as of the end of 2014 – however, many are still in dealers inventory and these fine quadcopters can last a long time. Those considering a purchase can rest assured that they still represent a great value for the $$.

Related posts:

  • 5 Reasons Why DJI GO Only Scratches the Surface of your DJI Drone Potential
  • How Video and Photography Drones Work
  • I want to buy a Drone – advice to buy a drone
  • Beginner Drone Suggestions for 2017

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Windows SDK

Phantom 4 pro+ v2.0 connection guidance.

If you come across any mistakes or bugs in this tutorial, please let us know by sending emails to [email protected]. Please feel free to send us Github pull request and help us fix any issues.


  • Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 aircraft and remote controller with screen . Make sure they are both in newest firmware version . Use DJI Go App on mobile phone to check if your devices need updating.
  • Windows SDK 0.3.1 or later.
  • Micro-USB cable.

DJI Assistant 2

Make sure that you have installed DJI Assistant 2 and have enabled all the driver intallation while installing DJI Assistant 2.

With DJI Assistant 2 and connected Phantom 4 Pro+ V2.0, check Device Manager of your computer. If there is a yellow warning icon in the DJI item inside Ports (COM & LPT) , you need to install or re-install DJI Assistant 2 and make sure you have enabled all the driver intallation while installing.

WinUSB Driver

  • Install open-source software zadig.exe and open it.
  • Connect your Phantom 4 Pro+ V2.0 remote controller.
  • Selete device named GL300K and install its WinUSB driver.

USB Authority Configuration in UWP

Configure serial port authority in order to connect the application to the remote controller. Right-click on Package.appxmanifest, select View Code, add the following code in the Capabilities element.

Key Points of Connecting

  • Make sure that before connecting using your cable, your P4P V2.0 remote controller is off .
  • Connect the remote controller to your computer using Micro-USB cable .
  • Turn on your remote controller.
  • Make sure you have not open the DJI software like DJI Assistant 2. DJI Windows SDK Applications are not able to communicate with the aircrafts at the same time.


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DJI Waypoints (Explained for Beginners)

DJI Waypoints (Explained for Beginners)

It does not matter if you are a professional pilot or a hobbyist, sometimes you might need to do an impeccable flight to achieve certain results, the like of which can only be achieved with a programmed flight plan. 

DJI Waypoints allows you to set a flight based on two or more points that you can configure in several ways. Once the path has been planned and set, your drone will fly it while you control the camera and its orientation. When you are done with a flight path, you can save it to use some other time. 

This is a great tool for audiovisual work that requires complex shots that, if not automated, would be impossible without employing a very skilled pilot. Moreover, with Waypoints, you can execute missions for tasks that need great precision, such as aerial mapping. 

Therefore, let’s look into what Waypoints is, how to set it up, what we can do with it, among other aspects of this great tool. 

What is Waypoints?

DJI drones that employ the DJI Go app to fly have access to several options regarding intelligent flights, as the Chinese company calls them. One of these flight modes is called Waypoints.

With this useful feature, we can create missions in which the aircraft will fly autonomously by traveling between established waypoints. Here is a list of things you can do with this intelligent flight mode:

  • Set up a mission while your drone is still on the ground.
  • Establish the waypoints on a satellite map, and the drone will fly through them autonomously.
  • Tweak various parameters, such as speed, altitude, direction, gimbal, and camera configuration. 
  • Fix the camera frame on a subject while the drone flies using Point of Interest (POI).
  • Command the drone to take photos or videos from a certain spot. 
  • Easily have a look at the mission information.
  • Store and load missions to repeat the task exactly in the same way. 
  • Fly the mission automatically, even if your controller loses connection.

Waypoints is one of the most loved intelligent flight modes by DJI customers. With DJI Mobile SDK 4.12, Waypoints 2.0 was introduced, which greatly improved some of the features that the first version offered. Below is a list of the improvements:

As you may have guessed, setting up waypoint missions is pretty straightforward once you have done it a couple of times. Knowing how to perfectly set them for the task at hand will be crucial to obtaining great results, so you should try some practice missions to see how it works. 

How to set up and use Waypoints on a DJI drone

As previously stated, Waypoints is an intelligent flight mode for DJI drones that allows you to create missions. To set up one of these programmed flights , simply follow these steps.

  • Power on the drone and connect your device to the remote controller . 
  • Open the DJI Go app and tap ‘ Enter Camera View ‘ to connect to the drone.
  • Launch the aircraft in P-GPS mode and toggle the switch to F-Mode.
  • When asked if you want to enable multiple flight modes, select ‘ok’ .
  • Choose Waypoints mode.
  • Select whether you want to start a new mission or load a new one.
  • When you select ‘ new mission ‘, the app will ask you to start recording waypoints.
  • Select the maximum radius and the maximum path length . 
  • Record the real-time location of the drone by flying the drone to the first waypoint and tapping ‘ Record .’ 
  • Fly the drone to the next waypoint in the same way. Keep in mind that it has to be more than 16 ft (5 m) away from the previous waypoint. 
  • Set an appropriate speed for the mission. 
  • When you have set the waypoints, tap ‘ done ‘. 
  • Fly the aircraft to the first waypoint that you set before starting the mission.  
  • Choose between the three available modes; consistent with record , consistent with routine , and free .
  • Select what the aircraft will do when the flight mission is completed ( Return-to-Home or Hover )
  • Select the speed at which the drone will fly in the mission. 
  • Select the Return-to-Home altitude (look at the surroundings to set it up properly).
  • When the mission is over, use the flight mode switch to exit the intelligent flight mode. 

Now that you know what Waypoints is and how to use it, you may be wondering what are the applications of this particular intelligent flight mode. However, let me first tell you the most important limitations:

  • This flight mode is limited to a radius of 1640 feet (500 m). 
  • You can use a maximum of 65535 waypoints (that should be more than enough).
  • The total distance of the mission cannot exceed 3.1 mi (5 km).

What can I do with Waypoints?

We have covered all the basics about Waypoints, so it is now time to learn what the most common uses of this useful intelligent flight mode are. 

Despite what many think, Waypoints is not just an easy-to-use toy for beginners. It can also be a great tool for professionals looking for a precise flight or a way to be able to perform the same task over and over again with consistency. 

Example Scenario: Hired to monitor a structure under construction

Waypoints have many applications. For instance, you might have been hired by a construction company to monitor the new structure they are building. It is going to take at least one year to be finished, and they want you to go there every month and take a few pictures. However, this structure is too tall for you to capture the whole area, as your sight is blocked. 

How can Waypoints help you in this scenario? It is simple – you can plan a mission in which the drone will fly a square around the structure. Program it to take pictures or record video in certain parts of the mission. Job done! 

Why is this different from flying in a manual manner? Well, when you fly manually, it does not matter how good you are as a pilot, you cannot just make two flights exactly the same. With Waypoints, you ensure the client that you will offer the exact same photo (or video) no matter the space of time in between takes. 

This is very useful for construction companies, as this way they can easily track if they are on or behind the schedule, see if there are any safety irregularities, etc. 

Audiovisual shootings

An obvious application for Waypoints is for audiovisual recordings. As mentioned earlier, no two manual flights will be exactly the same, and, in certain situations, you might need to do just that. 

For example, think for a minute that you are recording footage of the Manhattan skyline. You are halfway through, and all of a sudden it starts raining, forcing you to cancel the operation for some other day, as you had to shoot in the golden hour and now it’s already too dark.   

With Waypoints, you can repeat the exact same shots that you planned for the previous day of shooting. The altitude, speed, gimbal configuration, etc. will all be identical. Of course, you can’t choose what the weather will be like the next day you go to the location, but your flight mission will be under control thanks to Waypoints. 

Finding a location for a timelapse can be tricky. It needs to be a stunning place, but also entertaining enough for us to stare at it for a long period without getting bored. 

We cannot help you find the perfect place to record a timelapse, but once you have found it, Waypoints can make it stand out. Most drone fly apps nowadays come with some sort of timelapse option, but the majority of them are pretty basic. 

As Waypoints offers so many ways to configure your mission, you can create a timelapse where you zoom, change the gimbal configuration, move sideways, up, and down… there are so many options! 


Last weekend I was doing some photogrammetry with a couple of friends and, for some reason, we all found ourselves unable to use our flight planning software. We were there in front of a beautiful 11 th century castle, but could not start our drone mission. It was heartbreaking! 

If you are in this position, you can use Waypoints as an alternative. Specific photogrammetry software should do a more professional level job, indeed, but in certain cases, as when you just need to do a quick mapping to create a proper flight plan for later on, the DJI intelligent flight mode should help you save the day. 

Customized Quickshots

Another way to take advantage of Waypoints is to use them to create customized versions of some of the other DJI intelligent flight modes, like those included in DJI Fly, known as Quickshots. 

For instance, instead of just doing an orbital flight, as the Quickshot does (or the Point of Interest version in the DJI Go app) we can use Waypoints to set an orbital flight but instead getting farther and farther away as the drone orbits around the point of interest. 

This would result in a stunning orbital flight speeded up, and with a personal touch! Taking the orbital Quickshot intelligent flight as a reference, once again, we could program an orbital flight that would end in a zenithal framing. Beautiful!

However, it is evident that we can use not only the orbital flight as a reference. The Rocket Quickshot simply focuses on the subject while the drone takes off or elevates itself. For instance, with Waypoints we could make the drone start from a zenithal point of view while it rises and yaws to any side. This would generate a strange or even dizzy effect. 

Are you thinking about any other options already? Good!

Which DJI drones have Waypoints?

We have seen how easy it is to use Waypoints, and the differences it can make in some situations. 

Unfortunately, not all DJI drones support this intelligent flight mode. Below is a list of those that include this feature:

  • DJI Inspire 1
  • Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom
  • All Phantom 4 drones
  • All Phantom 3 drones

In case you are wondering, here’s a list of drones that do not support Waypoints:

  • DJI Inspire 2
  • DJI Mavic Mini
  • DJI Mavic Air
  • DJI Mavic Air 2
  • DJI Mavic Air 2S
  • DJI Matrice Series
  • DJI Spreading Wing Series

Alternatives to DJI Waypoints 

Even if you love Waypoints by DJI, having options is always nice, so maybe you should try some of the alternatives that we can find in Google Play and the Apple Store. 

If you own any of the drones that do not support Waypoints, don’t worry about it, there are a few brilliant options, including one from DJI themselves. 

DJI Ground Station Pro

One of the best alternatives to Waypoints is DJI Ground Station Pro. With this app, available only in the Apple Store for iPads, you can do everything we have covered already and much more. 

Let us have a look at some of the main features.

  • Automated flight missions with more options. 
  • Flight data management in the cloud : Gives your missions better accuracy and higher reliability.
  • Fleet and pilot management: Create teams to have the missions properly coordinated. 
  • Project management: Make your operations more efficient with the option to select between project manager and operator. 
  • Adjust the 3D mapping area: Better tools to adjust the designated area of the operative. 
  • 3D Map Point of Interest (POI): Create 3D models of tall structures by selecting the distance between the drone and the object. The drone will fly autonomously around it.
  • Tap and Go Waypoint Flight: Fly your drone to the selected waypoint simply by tapping the destination.
  • Virtual Fence: Protect the safety of your drone and those around the operation by creating a fence. Especially useful near no-fly zones.

You already know that no app can be used by all aircraft (unfortunately), so these are the only drones supported by DJI GS Pro:

  • Matrice series
  • Inspire series
  • Phantom series
  • Mavic 2 Enterprise
  • Mavic 2 Pro
  • Mavic 2 Zoom
  • Zenmuse camera series


The most popular paid app that allows you to create waypoint missions (among other things) is Litchi. With 4,000 daily flights, as claimed on their website, this tool is available for both Android and Apple devices for $25 and $23, respectively.  

Litchi has an amazing set of features, so let’s have a look at them:

  • FPV mode: The app allows us to fly the drone manually.
  • Litchi Vue Streaming: Want to stream your drone videos? This is what Litchi Vue does; it sends the footage to a second mobile device using a Wi-Fi connection. Only available on iOS right now. 
  • Waypoints: The subject of this article. You should already know what it means, don’t you? That’s right, you can create missions based on waypoints that the drone will fly from and to automatically. It comes with a ton of options. 
  • Mission hub: This lets you create mission plans from a desktop or laptop computer (PC and Mac). With Visual Mission Planning, you can even use Google Earth’s 3D view to fully immerse yourself in your next creation. Some dreams do come true! 
  • Follow: This mode is similar to DJI’s Follow Me mode. Selecting the follow mode allows the drone to follow a subject based on movement. 
  • Orbit: The same as Point of Interest in Waypoints. The drone travels around a subject.
  • Virtual Reality: With this feature, you can immerse yourself in your video, as the footage will appear just in front of your eyes. 
  • Focus: Keep a subject in focus while flying manually. Very useful.
  • Panorama: Shoot three types of panoramic photos; vertical, horizontal, and spherical.
  • Track: With state-of-the-art computer vision algorithms, you can track moving objects, such as drones, and choose whether your aircraft follows them manually, automatically, or orbit them. 

Here is a list of the drones supported by Litchi:

  • Mavic Mini 2
  • Mavic Air 2
  • Phantom 4 Standard
  • Phantom 4 Advanced
  • Phantom 4 Pro
  • Phantom 4 Pro V2
  • Phantom 3 Standard
  • Phantom 3 4K
  • Phantom 3 Advanced
  • Phantom 3 Professional
To learn more about Litchi and how it compares to the DJI GO 4 app and Autopilot, check out our article here »

As we have seen today, Waypoints is a fantastic intelligent fly mode supported by some DJI drones. However, users with unsupported drones can find a great alternative in the Litchi app, so there is an option for almost everyone.

This is all for today from me, but if you are still hungry for more, don’t forget to keep browsing Droneblog .

dji phantom programming

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Low-cost desktop flight planning software for DJI drones. DJIFlightPlanner software is the easiest way to pre-plan a photogrammetric aerial survey for your UAV. You'll be up and flying in no-time with our easy-to-use Windows-based software. A full perpetual licence is only US$99. Free demo available (see below). You may also be interested in a free demo of DJIAfterFlight for post-flight image analysis, and the iWitnessPRO V4 photogrammetry software system.

Flight planning software for DJI drones

Planning a data-capture flight can be a tricky process. Our flight planning software tool DJIFlightPlanner takes the challenge out of area-based mission planning. This low-cost, easy to use software (US$99 for a single-PC perpetual license) has been designed specifically for low-altitude UAV flights and supports DJI hardware in the following table:

DJIFlightPlanner will allow you to adjust critical imaging parameters: camera sensor, flying height, ground speed, forward overlap, side overlap, ground pixel size & imaging frame rate. This puts you in complete control over your photogrammetric aerial survey mission & ensures full coverage over the area of interest.

We originally designed this software for us to use ourselves, because we simply COULD NOT FIND a satisfactory way to pre-plan and fly an area-based mission with our off-the-shelf DJI Phantom. Our export file format can be imported directly into Litchi (for Android & Apple iOS) for flying. So then with a single-button press, you can make your drone take off, fly the mission, and safely land again after having automatically captured all the required images.


dji phantom programming


NEW! For post-flight image analysis we recommend DJIAfterFlight . For only $29 for a license, this great little tool allows you to review image metadata while still on-site. Everything is shown on a map-based screen and has search capabilities, as well as thumbnail previews and a customizable export tool. This unique way of looking at image metadata has been designed specifically with UAV imagery in mind, and it also exposes the hidden metadata that DJI drones usually record - most EXIF software won't read these tags !

NEW! Unlock the true potential of your DJI drone today by performing photogrammetric aerial survey missions. Generate millions of 3D points from 2D images. Produce photo-realistic ortho-mosaics from as few as half-a-dozen images. Whether you are from a small company, university, government sector, mining, defence, engineering, or large multinational, DJIFlightPlanner (for flight planning) and Photometrix iWitnessPRO-V4 (for image processing) are a powerful and affordable combination.

Our software is easy-to-use yet powerful & feature-rich, giving you full control over everything you need to successfully plan your flight mission.

Some real-world example flight plans made using DJIFlightPlanner and flown with Litchi

For new users, we recommend following our step-by-step guide to generate your own DJI flight plans. Click here to download the tutorial and read about how to fly a DJIFlightPlanner mission using Litchi (Android & iOS both supported). Video tutorials on YouTube coming soon !

DJIFlightPlanner costs US$99. This one off cost is all inclusive – we don’t charge maintenance or upgrade fees. We will add support for new DJI hardware as it becomes available and you will be entitled to the new versions for free. A discount is available for 2+ licenses. You will also need Litchi for your phone/tablet.

DJIFlightPlanner runs under Windows. An internet connection is required for the demo version & also if you want streaming maps. Litchi (not developed by us) is required for flying. DJIFlightPlanner is not formally affiliated with DJI but we work closely with DJI hardware and software/apps.

We also develop image processing software, iWitnessPRO-V4, for image processing / photogrammetry. We also have a full flight management system including hardware & software for manned aerial missions. Contact AeroScientific for more information or to discuss custom software requirements.

DJIFlightPlanner represents a collaboration between long-time friends and colleagues AeroScientific (global experts in Flight Management and Sensor Control), Photometrix (a world-leading developer of Photogrammetry Software & Image Processing algorithms) and DeChant Consulting Services (co-developer and US sales firm for the Photometrix iWitness software suite). We have over 50 years combined experience in Photogrammetry & Remote Sensing. Our team comprises photogrammetrists, pilots, software developers, drone enthusiasts, engineers, photographers, academics & surveyors.



Flight management & sensor control.




Photogrammetry software & image processing.


DeChant Consulting Services (DCS Inc)

DeChant Consulting Services (DCS Inc)

Software sales & training, other recommended software.

For flight planning, we recommend DJIFlightPlanner and for flying, we recommend Litchi . NEW! For post-flight image analysis we recommend DJIAfterFlight . For only $29 for a license, this affordable software allows you to quickly review your imagery and make sure you’ve captured everything before leaving a site. Simply drag & drop your imagery onto the main screen and DJIAfterFlight will automatically load all the available image metadata (including some very useful DJI-specific fields) and display it in a user-friendly interactive map-based environment. This inexpensive yet powerful tool will quickly become an integral part of your workflow. Visit the DJIAfterFlight website to request your free demo version today ! For photogrammetric image processing we recommend iWitnessPRO-V4 . At $2495, this software presents an affordable alternative to high-priced systems. A licence is perpetual and there are no ongoing maintenance fees or other complicated hidden costs. iWitnessPRO-V4 is developed by Photometrix, one of our industry partners. You can request a free 30-day demo version from us directly. iWitnessPRO V4 generates dense 3D point cloud data in .las file format and a georeferenced ortho-image from UAV/drone imagery. Also supported are GCPs, manual point measurement, scale & orientation, and automatic lens calibration, all in a highly intuitive workflow. Visit the Photometrix and iWitnessPhoto websites for more information.

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Select DJI model (required): Phantom 3 Standard Phantom 3 Pro Phantom 3 Advanced Phantom 3 SE (not supported) Phantom 4 Phantom 4 Pro Phantom 4 Pro v2.0 Phantom 4 Pro+ v1.0 Phantom 4 Pro+ v2.0 (not supported) Phantom 4 Advanced Phantom 4 Advanced+ Phantom 4 RTK Mavic Air 1 Mavic Air 2 Mavic Air 2S Mavic Mini 1 Mini 2 Mini SE Mini 3 (not yet supported) Mavic Pro Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual Mavic 2 Pro Mavic 2 Zoom Mavic 3 (not yet supported) Matrice 100 Matrice 200/210 Matrice 600 Inspire 1 Inspire 2 Spark Other

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dji phantom programming

The most accessible intelligent flying camera ever built!

Capture the world from above. compatible with the phantom 3 series, matrice series , osmo series, and more..

Requires iOS 8.0 or later.

Compatible with:

iPhone 5s, iPhone SE, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus,iPod touch 6,iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad Air Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 2 Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad Air 2, iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 3 Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad mini 4, and iPad mini 4 Wi-Fi + Cellular. This app is optimized for iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus.

Requires Android 4.1.2 or later.

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*Support for additional Android devices available as testing and development continues.

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Requires iOS 12.0 or above

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Requires Android 7.0 or above

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  • Phantom 3 Standard - Release Notes 2017-07-10
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    Mind+ Graphical and Code programming Software; DJI Virtual Flight; DJI Decrypt Tool; DJI Thermal Analysis Tool; DJI Thermal Analysis Tool 2.1; DJI Thermal Analysis Tool 3.0; DJI Thermal SDK; ... Phantom 1 DJI's first ready-to-fly quadcopter. Apps. DJI Store The DJI Store app lets you effortlessly shop for DJI products and enjoy exclusive ...

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    The linking of the transmitter to the receiver of the PHANTOM was carried out before they left the factory. If necessary you can link the transmitter to the receiver as follows, for example you replace the transmitter. The default receiver type is PPM. DO NOT use the PHANTOM transmitter (receiver) with the third party remote control equipment. 1.

  8. DJI

    Harness the power of DJI flying platforms by using our new Software Development Kit (SDK). The DJI SDK enables you to control how your Phantom's camera, gimbal, and more behaves and interacts ...

  9. DJI Phantom API or hackable procedure

    By opening the drone, taking out the original controller, soldering a few wires and sticking an Android phone to it, you will have the ability to program your Phantom in a modern manner with an open source SDK and application based development.

  10. Phantom 3 Professional

    Capture the world from above. Compatible with the Phantom 3 Series, Matrice Series , OSMO Series, and more.

  11. How to Program a Drone Delivery with Waypoints

    Share 62K views 7 years ago Autonomous drone flight: THE FUTURE IS HERE! Today we are taking the newest drone from DJI, the Phantom 4, and programming it to deliver a package using something...

  12. Programming DJI Drones

    XCode Start Choose the "App" project template. Choose App-Template Add all relevant project data, like the project name and your team. Project Options After saving the project a first, a first...

  13. DJI Waypoints (Explained for Beginners)

    To set up one of these programmed flights, simply follow these steps. Power on the drone and connect your device to the remote controller . Open the DJI Go app and tap ' Enter Camera View ' to connect to the drone. Launch the aircraft in P-GPS mode and toggle the switch to F-Mode. When asked if you want to enable multiple flight modes, select 'ok'.

  14. DJI released new firmware for Phantom 2 Drone Remote Control

    1) Use the PHANTOM RC Assistant software to upgrade the remote controller firmware to V1.0.1.11. 2) Calibrate the sticks and X1 channel of the remote controller using the PHANTOM RC Assistant software. 3) Use the PHANTOM 2 Assistant software to upgrade the Gimbal IMU firmware to V1.8 via upgrade page. 4) After the upgrade is completed ...

  15. Pre-programming a Flight

    Aug 23, 2023. Classifieds. 6. Oct 1, 2023. Rnc3.1. Phantom 4. Phantom 4 Discussion. Hello. I have a P4A and I was curious about if and how you could program a flight for the drone that would have it fly to a certain place that may or may not be within actual range of the controller while recording, then hover for a short period of time and then ...

  16. How do I develop software for the Phantom 3?

    I've heard that the Phantom 3 is programmable. Is there an SDK (Software Development Kit) available? Does the programming interface allow general-purpose programming in a high-leve language such as C, or is does it simply allow the programmer to set options and paramters in a meta-language?

  17. Flight planning software for DJI drones

    Low-cost desktop flight planning software for DJI drones. DJIFlightPlanner software is the easiest way to pre-plan a photogrammetric aerial survey for your UAV. You'll be up and flying in no-time with our easy-to-use Windows-based software. A full perpetual licence is only US$99. Free demo available (see below).

  18. Download Center

    DJI Assistant 2 For Phantom. Compatible with Phantom 4,Phantom 4 Pro,Phantom 4 Advanced,Phantom 4 Pro V2.0.DJI Assistant 2 is not currently compatible with macOS version 11 or later. This issue will be resolved in a future update.

  19. Phantom 2 Vision+

    Phantom 2 Vision+ - Release Notes 2015-04-27. pdf. Phantom 2 Vision+ - User Manual 1.8 2015-01-30. pdf. Phantom 2 Vision+ - Quick Start Guide 2014-11-18. pdf. Phantom 2 Vision+ - Intelligent Flight Battery Safety Guides 2014-10-15. pdf. - Intelligent Flight Battery Safety Guides 2014-10-15.

  20. Phantom 4

    DJI GO 4 Capture the world from above. Compatible with the Mavic Series, Spark, Phantom 4, and more.

  21. Phantom 3 Standard

    Home Phantom 3 Standard The most accessible intelligent flying camera ever built! Apps DJI GO Capture the world from above. Compatible with the Phantom 3 Series, Matrice Series , OSMO Series, and more. V 3.1.68 Requires iOS 8.0 or later. View Supported Devices V 3.1.76 Requires Android 4.1.2 or later. View Supported Devices DJI Store