fpv ugly

Getting Started

Drones are a great hobby, but it can be difficult to know where to get started. On this page, I aim to give some advice and maybe some of my tips and tricks for getting started in the Drone world. The first thing to note is that there are two basic types of drones I'll refer to: photo drones (think DJI, Parrot, Autel, etc) these drones typically have intelligent flight modes and limit the pitch and roll (no flips) you might have flown one of these types of drones before. As long as you keep your eye on the drone when it's close to obstacles, they are very easy to fly. The fun kind of drones and my favorite type are FPV drones. These drones use an FPV camera that feeds into goggles worn by the pilot to give a first person view. They typically don't have intelligent flight modes and most people fly in 'acro' mode which means they're in full control of throttle, roll, pitch, and yaw (if the pilot puts right the stick straight forward, the drone will flip forwards until they correct the position). Flying like this takes a lot more practice, but allows a lot more freedom and mobility in the air. You can quite literally do flips and zigzags around the other types of drones. Of course, exceptions exist, such as DJI's FPV drone or their Avata which both include intelligent flight modes (and return to home, etc) while allowing the use of goggles for an FP view and full control of the craft.

To decide what drone you'll want/need, you need to decide what you want to do. If your sole purpose is occasionally flying (once a month to a few times a year) or photo / video, you'll likely want a photo drone. These are cheap, work out of the box, and you can get warranties for them. They're fairly hard to crash, easy to fly, shoot great video (at least anything you can buy from dji.com), and come in a range of prices. If video is not your primary focus, and you prefer to fly for fun/like projects to work on, you'll likely want to go the FPV path. You can shoot great video with FPV too, but it is a lot more work. FPV drones typically don't have gimbals, so you need to make sure your drone is mechanically sound, and even take some further steps to prevent vibration in your videos. GoPro purchased a company and their software called ReelSteady (included with GPStudio) that does a pretty good job at stabilizing GoPro footage. It works by reading the gyro data directly. FPV drones usually use a GoPro or action cam to record, as the feed to the goggles is usually lower quality for speed reasons, and can also be prone to break up and interference.

Now that you know a bit about the differences between drones, here's my take on getting started with each:
DJI/Photo Drones: With these drones, you can pretty much go out on your own to an open field and get to it. If you a have a friend or relative who owns a drone or has flown, they can help you out and save you a lot of time. Unfold your props, turn on your remote and make sure your phone is connected with the app running, then turn on your drone. You should probably watch a video if you have no idea what you're doing, but it really is pretty straight forward and hard to mess up. Especially if your drone has obstacle sensors. Even if it does, you'll still want to keep an eye on it when low to the ground or near obstacles. Some small trees / branches / scraggle (or phantom branches for the initiated) won't trigger obstacle sensors. I cannot stress this enough as I've watched many fly into a tree while they're watching their camera via their phone on the remote instead of the drone when in close prox to obstacles.

FPV Photo Drones: With FPV Drones, the approach is a bit more involved. I'd recommend checking out a lot of the videos I've linked around this page to make sure that it's really for you as there will be some cost involved. First and foremost, you'll want to buy a remote before anything else, in order to be able to sim (simulate) on your computer. You won't need a crazy gaming computer, but something relatively modern and capable will be useful. I recommend velocidrone, though there are others. You will find that no sim is perfect, especially when it comes to physics. It's there to help you learn to fly in acro with full control of the craft, how to recover from situatios you will inevitably find yourself in, etc. I recommend having the speed on, and keeping an eye on it. It is fairly hard for beginners to fly smoothly and slowly... if you can work it out in the sim you will have a better time in real life. When I say slow, I mean 5 MPH and slower in sim... Consider your uptilt angle in the settings if you're having a hard time. Uptilt is the degree from 180 (horizontal) that your camera is tilted... it's measured from 0. It is very much personal preference. Anywhere from 10-30 is good for freestyle in my opinion. Higher than that would be better suited for faster flying. (the higher the tilt, the more agressive the natural flight angle will be [ie. when your camera is level, the craft is pitched more aggressively]). For FPV Pilots, I recommend that you sim at least 30 hours before flying a Drone. This sounds crazy, but FPV is no easy feat. I am 26 and grew up playing an unhealthy amount of video games and I simmed 40 hours before flying. It will be well worth it and you may end up saving a drone and maybe property damage money depending on where you fly. The other main primary cost to FPV is the goggles. Many will say you can start with a cheap pair, but if you know you're going to stick with the hobby, I would say splurge. Cheap goggles are not very good, so you'll end up wanting to upgrade. They still cost at least 100, and you can't sell them for much, so it's basically a waste of money. I recommend Skyzone even though I own fatsharks, as they have a superier DVR and menu system. The sillouhette and resolution are pretty similar, but fatshark DVR is dogsht. For digital, I only have flown DJI though there are more options now a days. DJI set ups can get quite expsensive as your VTX will run you 150+ per drone. Once you have your remote and goggles (which with some planning you can use with every drone)the only things left are the beauties themselves. Builds can range from around 250 - thousands dependign on what you want to spend. I would say 250-600 is a very reasonable budget, where even 600 is on the pretty damn expensive side. Most of my builds are 3-500.

Knowledge Resources

Pilots to check out! My favs and some I feel are pushing the hobby the hardest

Pilots I enjoy flying with / local legends

Pyrodrone (fastest shipping to Midwest, located in CA) -- RDQ (fastest shipping Mid..east? located eastcoast) -- Velocidrone -- TBS Agent M -- BQE -- 107 Course I took -- My Youtube
Contact Email: KK7QAS@arrl.net