Drone Control Methods: Thumbs vs. Pinch. The eternal debate goes on, as to whether it is better to exclusively use your thumbs to control the radio sticks, or to use both your thumbs and pointer fingers for control over your radio. There are pros and cons to both ways, and in this article, I will be presenting both sides of the argument so that you can make the best possible decision for yourself.
This article was submitted through the GetFPV Community Program by Lawrence Ro.
Disclaimer: This article was written solely by a member of the FPV Community. Views and advice in this article are that of the author and does not reflect the opinion or views of GetFPV.
Drone Control Methods Thumbs
The first way most people hold it is the good old-fashioned game controller way, known as “thumbing”. This is usually the way many toy quadcopter transmitters are meant to be held, as well as RC airplane transmitters. Most of the time, when people transition from the toy quad to an FPV rig, the familiar feel translates into “thumbing” for more advanced radio systems such as the Taranis or Spektrum. This is totally fine, as it is usually more intuitive holding the transmitter this way.
Using exclusively thumbs to control the aircraft can have some benefits. It is much easier to flick your auxiliary switches, and the radio may feel a bit more comfortable in your hands. It has the traditional Xbox/Gamecube controller feel that everyone loves, making it easy for people to feel at home while flying FPV.
However, there are some shortcomings regarding this method. The first shortcoming is that there is less control of the sticks. Your thumbs simply don’t have the same dexterity or flexibility as your other fingers. Also, depending on your transmitter, it may be difficult to reach the corners of the sticks, thus restricting the full movement of the aircraft due to lack of control.
The other main way people hold their transmitters is via pinch. This is when the pointer finger and thumbs pinch the sides of the sticks, and the middle and ring fingers are used to activate the switches. Using this method, a higher degree of accuracy is added to your fingers, as there are now two fingers controlling the sticks, as opposed to one stubby thumb.
Pinching may not be the most intuitive way of controlling your quad, and it might not even be the most comfortable in the beginning. However, the added accuracy and precision given makes up for any deficiencies. I have heard that many heli pilots use the pinch grip because of its precision, which makes it possible for mind-bending maneuvers to be pulled off easier. Also, quite a few FPV pilots use the pinch grip for racing and precision acro.
Yes, there is one more way many pilots control their sticks. This is the hybrid pinch. It’s a combination of thumbing and pinching, which kind of brings the best of both worlds into play. You get the familiar comfort of thumbing, while having the added accuracy of a second finger.
This is achieved by placing your thumbs on the sticks, just like in the thumb grip, and then gently resting your pointer fingers on the top part of the sticks. Another variation of this includes placing the middle part of your pointer finger on the top of the sticks, thus covering the whole top part of the gimbals.
I personally use the hybrid pinch grip, because it is very comfortable and allows me to grip the transmitter very comfortably, while still being able to use my pointer finger for added precision.
Now, the final question: which grip should YOU use? Well, theoretically, the pinch grip is superior to the thumbing and hybrid pinching. However, everyone is different, and finding the right grip which works for YOU is the single most important thing here. Try out different configurations. Fly a few packs with each grip and see how it feels. You may surprise yourself with how easily one method may come to you.
Here’s a cool trick to try if you are still searching for the perfect grip. Hold one of your control sticks in a thumb grip. Then move one of the sticks one notch upward. Go back and forth, between the neutral notch and the first notch, going as fast and accurately as possible. Make a note on how it feels, and then do the same things using the pinch grip, and then with the hybrid pinch grip. Whichever one feels the most comfortable and accurate to you is the grip which you should use.
In conclusion, the answer to the debate regarding pinching vs thumbs is a debate without an answer. It really depends on the person, and which one is best for them, as there is solid justification for each side. Enjoy finding out which grip is the best for you and happy FPV!