How to increase the drone’s flight range? FCC and CE mode
How to increase the flight range of my drone? This question raises a lot of curiosity among users of devices from DJI, which are breaking records of popularity. But among many people who want to modify the range, there is no shortage of those who simply want to be able to start and fly around the house. Huh?
Writing about range, I mean increasing the power of antennas in the controller, which translates into better transmission (vision) and a better signal, also allowing further flights.
In this article, I explain what is going on with increasing the range of drones, on the example of DJI products, what is FCC and CE and what is FCC mode and CE mode.
If you do not want to read, watch the video below. And if you want to go to the details, click here! Attention! This film lasts 15 minutes, below you will find a shorter, 5 minute!
In the end I can … take off!
At the beginning I wrote that increasing the range of the drone is a curiosity that for many will be a reason to break records in the air, for others it is a chance for even better video materials and photos, but there are also those who will be able to fly.
While the benefits of increasing the range of the drone are obvious, above all we have a better, stronger signal, which translates into more possibilities. But if you once turned on the drone and saw that he works (in Poland) on the frequency of 5.8 GHz, you probably know how to fly when after 50-60 meters you lose vision, and within 15 minutes of flight, you need to cancel the automatic return mode 10 times which activates after breaking the vision.
Exactly. And this is a problem that many people are struggling with. They live in locations that somehow force the drone and controller to use the frequency of 5.8 instead of 2.4 GHz
FCC mode, CE mode or regulations
The name FCC mode and CE mode is the mode in which the drone and controller operate with a higher (FCC) or lower (CE) signal strength (very generally writing). But there is really no such thing as FCC mode or CE mode …
FCC or Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – an American agency regulating the principles of using radio frequencies for communication purposes. It is in its control (among others) to regulate and control the frequency and power of selected devices in the USA based on wireless communication.
CE, that is the name Conformité Européenne, placed on products that meet the requirements of European Union directives. So the designation is for products that are allowed to be sold and used in our country. But to get the appropriate certificates, they must be adapted to our regulations in advance.
In practice, this means that a product, eg a DJI drone which is manufactured all over the world, must also meet standards and regulations for the USA and, at the same time, for the EU.
Remember, however, that CE and FCC are not only signal strength, but a number of other regulations that regulate, among others, general flight conditions, range of devices, field of view range, etc.
As a result, we have a table that comes (in this case) from the DJI Mavic Air description:
As you can see, the range and power of FCC antennas are much higher than for CE. This is due to US and EU regulations. Of course, DJI was able to release a product based only on CE regulations, but at the same time took away the fun of users from other countries, where there are much less restrictions on flying drones and the work of the device itself.
Speaking of FCC mode, we mean the mode in which the drone and controller operate on the 2.4 or 5.8 GHz frequency, but they use much higher transmission power (stronger signal). If we are in the CE mode, then again we use power, which is limited by regulations, and thus we have a smaller range of the drone itself (of course, other regulations are also at stake).
It is not the case that we do not fly with Europe in Europe, because the device in itself operating on 2.4 GHz works great, but is more susceptible to interference and we talk about flights (without loss of vision) eg at the level of 100-200 meters distance.
Remember! The fact that the drone can fly 100, 200, 700 meters and fly 500 meters up does not mean that the law allows it. Familiarize yourself with the regulations!
As you can see from the above: FCC is not only a larger range declared by the manufacturer, but also a stronger signal. On this basis, you certainly understand why many people want to use the FCC even when flying a 20-30-meter drone.
How does the drone know whether to use FCC or CE?
The controller and drone use the GPS location to determine their position (there is also the ATTI mode, ie flying without GPS, useful eg when starting from a moving object, eg a ship) which means that after starting, based on the detected location, the drone operates in one or the second mode. Of course, DJI did not fail to inform the user about the change of mode or location / legal restrictions, so the user has a real influence on what mode he wants to fly in.
But in order for this to happen, we must: either jump with our drone to the US, run it, accept the change of WiFi work from CE to FCC and return to Europe, or … fool the GPS.
How to enable FCC or increase power?
Because in the series of DJI devices, eg Spark, Mavic Air and Pro, we use the application launched on the phone, which is a preview of the vision, we have a quick opportunity to influence the mode in which we fly.
As I wrote above, in order to change the modes, we have to show the device that at a given moment we are in a location that requires the launch of FCC or CE. So if we jump to the USA and launch the drone, we will see information on the screen that a new location has been detected and we should change the settings to be able to adapt our drone to local regulations. And so we will gain a greater range and signal strength.
But if we’re in Europe, then we will not do it. Unless using the capabilities of the phone, we will launch the application to simulate the GPS location, so we will cheat the device (I will remind you that the controller and drone use GPS to fix the position) and force the change of settings.
- Fake GPS Location on Google Play
- Floater on Google Play
It’s easy, right? Of course.
Let’s do it!
- Install one of the above applications, recommended Floater (2) on your Android device.
- Run developer settings, ie programmer options (Settings -> System information -> Developer settings / Developer options),
- Indicate the application to simulate the location, set Floater,
- Launch Floater, choose a location in the USA (eg a desert). In the application’s settings, click Settings -> GPS Settings -> Clear GPS data,
- You click Play (you start the simulation of the location),
- Minimize Floater and run DJI GO
- You will receive a message about changing the region, click OK
- You close DJI GO,
- You switch off the simulation of the Floater location (STOP button), clear the application’s cache memory,
- In the developer settings (developer options) you set the application to simulate the location on the BRAK (ie the default settings),
- You fire DJI GO
- When you change the settings again, click on CANCEL, because you want to keep the previous settings (FCC). And so every time.
- If you click OK, you repeat the entire operation from scratch.
IMPORTANT! We start from the position CE (1), after applying the above instructions we will be in the FCC (2), after turning off the Floater and restarting DJI GO, the application will ask us again whether to return to CE (1). We click CANCEL and stay in FCC (2). If you click OK, repeat the above-mentioned instruction from the beginning. That’s all. Floater is only needed for a moment!
FCC and CE are legal regulations (in short) translating into regulations and signal strength. FCC is flying in the USA, CE in Europe. CE and FCC operate on 2.4 and 5.8 Ghz although it is better to use 2.4 Ghz. The FCC is used when we need to strengthen the signal (2.4 CE is not enough for us) or to increase the range of the drone (and vision).
Switching CE to FCC is based on deceiving the GPS and forcing the DJI GO application to change the signal settings resulting from the simulated location. After changing the settings, we use the controller and the drone as before. Real location does not change.