Welcome to the world of FPV-flying! You are in for a world of fun, creativity and knowledge.
But unfortantly there is one big downside for anyone new to this hobby. Starting to fly FPV drones with everything that involves can quickly become overwhelming as there is just so many options out there combined with a step learning curve in the beginning.
I think FPV flying is the best hobby in the world, but the learning curve is extremely steep as a beginner.
In this article I will provide you with a roadmap you can follow to learn everything you need to start flying. If you follow this roadmap you will go from someone who doesnt know anything about FPV, to a person who can build, fly and maintain your drones, and who have a basic understanding of how the different components inside the drone work.
What is FPV?
FPV is short for “first person view”.
FPV makes it possible to control a quadcopter, a plane, or anything that moves, from the perspective of the vehicle with a real-time video feed – usually with a set of goggles. This feels much more immersive compared to just watching your craft from your own perspective – LOS (line of sight).
Like the person in the image below. This is pretty much every person’s reaction trying FPV for the first time. Young or old, it doesn’t matter.
It is a really fun hobby that will challenge you for a long time in flying skills, technical skills and patience.
1. Your first purchase
Okay, lets get started!
Before you start ordering drone parts or deciding what goggles you’ll buy you should to learn to fly first. The smartest and least expensive way to do that today is to use a simulator on a computer.
To use the simulator you’ll need a radio controller. Your radio is going to be with you for a long time. It’s also one of the few things that stays on the ground all the time (meaning you won’t crash it or loose it in the mountains).
Buying the right radio for you right away will save you money and you will avoid upgrading later when you get better flying skills. You can also start to practice flying right away with the radio that you will have for many years.
So, what radio should you buy?
There are several good radios out there, but getting a radio with these properties are probably the best deal right now:
- OS: OpenTx
- Radiolink: Frsky protocol
- JR slot: for Crossfire module upgrade later on
It can be a little hard to use OpenTX in the beginning because there are so many ways to set things up within the OS, but you will get the hang of it. You’ll also find YouTube tutorials on how to do anything in the OpenTX OS universe.
A few radio-controllers with OpenTX OS and FrSky protocol:
All of these radios also have a JR slot on the backside.
Now you have a radio. It’s time to buy a simulator and get started with FPV!
Right now there are two simulators that are really popular:
Velocidrone and Liftoff.
Liftoff is available on Steam and Velocidrone you can find here.
Another great simulator on steam is the ‘DRL sim’. This sim even has multiplayer so you can race with other players. DRL stands for Drone Racing League.
Practice in a simulator until you start feeling comfortable flying.
I highly recommend that you start learning in acro mode straight away. This is the hardest way to fly in the beginning but as you get better this mode will give you a lot more freedom of movement with your quadcopter.
Don’t bother with the self-leveling modes. Take the time it takes to learn acro mode.
Connecting your radio-controller to your computer.
There are two ways you can connect to your computer:
- With a USB cabel
- Wireless FPV Dongle
3. Your first drone
Here you have an infinite number of possibilities. If you want to see how I build my “everyday quadcopter” check out this build. Want to build a budget quadcopter? Check out this build.
Building yourself vs buying a BNF (Bind and fly)
I highly recommend that you build your drone yourself the first time. You will crash your first drone and it will break. If you have build the quadcopter yourself you are much more likely to be able to repair it.
Building, crashing and repairing is a big part of this hobby. If you don’t like this fact you will probably run out of motivation after a few hard hits to the ground.
Same rule apply here as the radio-controller. Put in some extra money on some good quality equipment here and you wont need to upgrade for many many years.
I recommend that you find someone who already fly FPV so you can try their goggles to see how they feel and sit on your head.
5: Analog vs Digital
Some months ago this would not be easy to answer, but after all the updates DJI have done to their digital FPV system and how they have listened to the community about what needs to be improved etc, there is no doubt anymore;
If you are going to go for one of the top model goggles like Fatshark HD2 or Aomway Commander V2, don’t even bother. For the same price range you will get the DJI FPV Goggles that’s just on another dimension when it comes to picture quality and immersiveness.