The controls on the 230Si controller were easy to figure out, even without the manual. You have your standard controls found on most quadcopters but you also have a few extra ones that require a bit more information on.
On the top of the controller you will find the ICM button, your left index finger will most likely be reaching for. The ICM button does two things; turns on and off the actual direction control and enables the return to pilot feature.
The Actual Direction Control enables you as the pilot to be marked as reference point for any right stick commands you send to the craft. What this means in simple terms is that right is right, left is left, no matter which way the aircraft is facing. No longer must you need to remember that the quadcopter is facing towards you and the left/right controls are reversed. This makes it much easier for new pilots to start flying without having to worry about direction steering while in flight.
Return to Pilot is another feature, which is typically found on more expensive quadcopters and come in GPS technology form. The 230Si has this feature included, but without having to rely on GPS to do so. By pressing the ICM button and immediately releasing it, the Return to Pilot feature will enable and the quadcopter will automatically fixate on your position and make its way back to you long as you do not touch the right stick. As its returning to you, the pilot can use the throttle to adjust the altitude.
One other feature that this reminds me of is also the fail-safe, which has no button or control but if the 230Si loses contact with the transmitter (batteries run out or too far in distance) the 230Si quadcopter will go into fail-safe and immediately hover to a nice landing wherever it may be. This feature can be tested by simply turning the transmitter off completely. Word of advice, do not turn the transmitter back on until the quadcopter has landed or it will sense the transmitter and immediately come to a crashing fall.
The next button that may need addition feedback on is the one at the top on the right side of the controller named the F Mode. The F Mode button allows you to turn on or off the Altitude Control Management feature. This function should only be performed when the quadcopter is on the ground with the throttle at 0%. There are three different throttle management settings;
Limited Altitude Mode which only allows the quadcopter to climb to about 10 feet which is great for indoor flying and beginner pilots learning to fly.
Altitude Hold Mode which allows the quadcopter to maintain its current altitude when the throttle is at the mid-stick position. This makes it much easier for photography, allowing to you control the right stick movements to get the best shot without having to worry about maintaining altitude.
Normal Mode is the default mode that allows unrestricted flying conditions when it comes the altitude.
Lastly, we have the video and photo buttons on the back of the controller which turns on and off the video recording, with a flashing red light on the camera indicating its recording. The photo button can also be pressed and the red light flickers during the capturing of the photo.
In addition to what you see on the controller, there are also some other tweaks that can be done like switching between rates. The controller is in low rate by default, which is good for beginners and makes the quadcopter less sensitive to inputs. You can press down on the right control stick and release it, to switch between low rate and high rate. The high rate will respond much more quickly to controls that you perform which gives you a bit more control, especially in windy conditions or once you get the hang of low rate.
Another hidden feature from looking at the controller is the beginner and expert flight modes. When in beginner mode, the 230Si will apply braking to the quadcopter in order to level it out once you have returned the right control stick to center. This keeps new pilots from having to level out the quadcopter themselves. In expert mode, the accelerometers are disabled and the quadcopter will be more agile.
The last notable “hidden” feature is the ability to adjust the Return To Pilot speed which can be done by pushing the rudder trim button to the left to make it return more quickly or right to slow it down.
Overall, I felt the layout of the controller was good and easy to learn. I do recommend that Heli-Max fix the control sticks to make them a little more comfortable on the thumbs. Another feature that I would like to see is some sort of indicator on the controller itself, of what setting is set for the F-Mode. The quadcopter is not always close enough to see the LED light on the back to understand which mode its set at. You may want to land far away from your position to set a new mode but without clearly seeing the LED light, you won’t know what mode is set as its the only indicator of the current mode.