Drones are great tools for photography and video, but with technology changing at such a rapid pace, racing drones (FPV) are becoming much more popular and in demand for commercial work. It can be a little overwhelming to learn this technology all at once, so I am here to help you with your first setup.
All it took for me was one hands-on experience with a couple FPV guys to realize this type of droning was going to be a lot harder than I had thought. After three years of flying DJI, I wanted to just be able to pick up an FPV drone and fly. However, that was the last thing I could do without learning more about FPV all together. From my failure to learn how to fly that day came motivation and excitement to learn something new. Ever since that day, FPV drones have become an addiction of mine. So, in this article, I am going to let you in on my secret to tuning up your piloting skills which will help in almost any aspect of your droning career.
How to Get Started
First things first. Are you patient and willing enough to learn about these drones?
If you are coming from another system or don't have a very technical background, patience is key! You must be willing to learn a ton of new information that may sound foreign at first, but trust me, it will get easier. If you are new to drones, once you can fly these drones, you will more than likely be able to fly any drone. If you are an already an experienced pilot, this may just be the dose of fun you've been searching for.
I don't want to be biased writing this article. I am going to mainly share equipment I have used and found successful for myself. If you want to dig deeper, you are more than welcome to, but I am just recommending things that I think are good to start off with. Also, my secret is to start with a micro drone that you can fly in your house.
Controllers (DSMX or FrSky)
A good FrSky controller to start with is the Taranis QX7 and the wireless dongle to simulate if you want; you can also use a mini USB. This controller is more complex, but will be a better choice if you look to pair more drones on the same controller down the road. You may have to watch a few more YouTube videos to understand this one, but from my experience, I like this controller more than the DX6e and the DX6 from a menu and interface standpoint.
One of the first things you can do to start is buy yourself a drone simulator. This may just sound like another videogame you may not play, but after almost 200 hours playing, I can assure you it's helped me fly my Mavic 2 and Inspire 2 to a point I could have almost never imagined. Look into DRL Simulator, Liftoff, or Velocidrone, and practice away. This is the one place that you can crash and not have to pay to fix your drone; you can also learn a lot about how these fly and get really comfortable before fully committing to a real FPV setup. It's also a great place to just train, race, try new moves, and link up with friends.
See the wireless dongles in the controller section to get setup on the simulator with your FPV controller.
Why is this the secret? Simply because you are teaching yourself so much about aircraft control and technology. I spend a lot of time flying my drones around the house, outside, and on the simulator to make sure my skills are always up to par. I typically fly my bigger drones to film things, but I've found that practicing with the micros on a daily basis has been able to help me learn and understand the way drones work in general.
With about 3-5 minutes of flight time, these smaller batteries only last so long. Yet, flying these drones is something that can entertain you for hours, so maybe it's good the battery doesn't last too long.
My favorite micro drone right now is my EMAX Tiny Hawk (compatible with FrSky). This thing has a really nice flight to it, good power, can do flips, and it has a one-cell battery that is hassle free. After flying this drone for the past two months, I have not been able to break it in any way; it proves to be very durable in all sorts of conditions. Be sure to grab some extra batteries for this guy if you plan on flying it for more than one flight at a time.
The Blade Inductrix (DSMX compatible) was my first micro drone ever. I loved this drone because it was my first experience having a clear video feed to fly around my house. From there, things sort of escalated for me, which is why I also recommend extra batteries and a one-cell charger. This drone is better to fly indoors but seems to be harder to find now.
Goggles and Screen
Starting off flying line of sight will give you a good idea of how your drone flies and maneuvers before just relying on the video signal. Goggles and screens are not must-haves right away, but if you do want to learn how to fly by looking at what your camera shows, I would definitely consider at least a screen. Screens can vary in price depending on the quality, but even just a simple one like this will get the job done.
Goggles are the full immersion for FPV drones and can be an absolute blast. They can also be kind of hard to adapt to at first until you are comfortable flying these little guys. I personally prefer to wear goggles when I fly so I don't have any distractions and because it makes me feel like I am the drone. I would recommend the Fat Shark Attitude V5; these are an upgraded version of what I currently have. The goggles can record DVR, which means whatever you see on your feed can be recorded to a micro SD card in the headset. They also have a fan and receiver built in.
Charging and Safety
If you are signing up to start with a one-cell system, you don't have to worry about this as much, but let it prep you for the future. This is not some new, high-tech equipment. This stuff has been around quite a while, and I would definitely recommend understanding it for your safety. Charging batteries today seems like nothing, because our phones, laptops and other devices always seem to be fine when we overcharge them. I will advise you to just keep an eye on this equipment and be sure to monitor it.
Below is a video on how to charge your batteries. It will provide you with almost all the knowledge you need to be safe and charge correctly.
Upgrades and More Cells
If you are looking to have a drone with more power, bigger batteries, and some throttle to head outside and practice, you may consider a two-to-four-cell drone. Cells have to do with the battery and how much power it puts out. The reason why I say to start with micro drones is so you don't have to worry so much about this. It is something you will learn with time. My micro drone career has consisted of one-to-three-cell drones, but I've found two cells to be my sweet spot for indoor flying.
Beta makes a lot of really good drones with parts that you can swap and change pretty easily. The Beta 75x is what I was flying, but I'd be more interested in the Beta 75x HD at this point. Aside from Beta, I haven't used many other drones that I could recommend quite yet. I would be willing to look into more from Emax or try new brands and learn from that.
If all of this stuff seems over your head still, yet you still want to get into FPV, you can! Below are some links that you will have to follow basic instructions for, but that are much easier than buying each individual thing if you are just trying to have a drone you could fly or impress someone on a date.
The Emax TinyHawk has quickly become one of my favorite micro drones and has a version that comes with its own controller and goggles. This drone is fast, easy to charge, and fun to fly. I would suggest this drone first.
The FPV Whoop Racing Advanced Kit is an all-in-one from Beta. From my experience with Beta, I would suggest this drone second.
The Blade Inductrix is also another favorite of mine. It was also easy to set up and gave more of a controlled and stable flight compared to the TinyHawk. Remember these are all different animals!
FPV is another realm of droning, especially if you are coming from a aerial photo/video background. As much as I love these drones, I still have my own troubles with them here and there, but I continue to figure them out and fix them. The best part about these drones is that I feel like I learn something new everyday whether I'm swapping a prop or taking the whole drone apart to figure out what happened. Thanks to the micro drones, I have become more grateful than ever before with my DJI products and drones in general.
Let me know if this helps you get started. I've been thinking about doing my own personal video showing my setup and going through it, because I have a lot of people reaching out asking how they can get started with these drones. Be sure to comment below if you have any questions and give us a follow on YouTube to see some of our FPV videos.