In the all the realm that is Droneland, one of the pinnacles of drone flight is that of First-Person View flying, more commonly known as FPV.
This style of flying is a true test of one’s skills, and unlike GPS flying, it is completely manual.
Now, don’t think for a moment that I am putting down GPS flying and the pilots that do so. I am after all one of those pilots myself. Being able to fly cinematically and get the very best photos or videos, well, that takes skills and time to learn as well.
Both styles of flying have their place. They are very different from one another and getting into FPV can be quite a challenge, due to there being extra equipment involved and then acquiring the skills to do it well, which I’m still working on myself.
A GPS system is mostly ready to go out of the box and even a beginner can get into the air rather quickly and meet with some success. FPV will take you some time to get it; it will take dedication and plenty of practice.
I can say when I started my own FPV pursuit, I found it to be somewhat intimidating. You may find the same. There are just so many options to be had, and making the right decision is going to be crucial to your being successful at flying FPV.
Some of the choices you will need to make are: What goggles should I get? What’s the difference in battery systems and which one is best for the quad I decide to go with? In FPV, there are no such things as smart batteries, for example.
What control system or controller should I get? Should I use a simulator? Yes, by the way, it will help you tremendously in the long run. Then again, which is the best one to go with?
Just so many questions. Then there’s the giant almighty question of them all. What quad or drone should I get?
Right from the start, be aware you’re going to crash, a lot. Which is OK! unlike your GPS drone, FPV quads are designed to take a beating and to be easily repaired if needed.
For one, you’ll learn in FPV there is a lingo all its own. As any FPV pilot will tell you, they don’t fly drones; they fly quads or quadcopters.
Of course, you’ll learn right quick what the term Bando means or ripping a pack. A pack, in the FPV world, refers to the battery.
As I’m trying to express, there’s a whole lot to learn from not just being able to maintain manual flight to the language involved. Beyond that, I have faith that you’ll become an FPV expert in no time, if you just practice, practice, practice.
This is how all FPV pilots get good.
Back to that one major question, though. What drone or quad should I get to start my FPV journey? What is a good drone for FPV beginners? Well, we have you covered. Let’s get to it.
BETAFPV Cetus Pro
As you can see, this is a self-contained system that includes everything to get you started and is one of the most affordable ways to go.
The BetaFPV Cetus Pro Kit is the ideal choice currently available for beginners to advance their skills. There are a few reasons for that.
One is that it is a complete kit containing everything you need to get started. The kit includes a Cetus Pro brushless quadcopter, LiteRadio2 SE transmitter, VR02 FPV Goggles, an extra set of props, and two batteries, as well as instructions.
Although it is considered to be a toy drone, as a kit it is a good place to start without leaving a huge dent in your pocketbook.
That’s the second reason, the cost. Priced at $247.99, this little stout flyer will allow you to dip your feet into the FPV world and get started.
If you’re interested in learning more about this kit, you can find it here on Amazon by this link.
EMAX Tinyhawk 3
EMAX Tinyhawk 3 RTF Kit FPV Racing Drone for Beginners and Adults 5.8G FPV with Goggles and Controller.
Here we have another kit, with everything you need to get started. Many FPV pilots have started their FPV flying adventures with a Tinyhawk.
This is the latest variation of the Tinyhawk, and it has only gotten better through time.
As with the BetaFPV Cletus Pro, this system comes with the controller, the goggles, and the aircraft. Or in other words, as a kit, it will provide all the means necessary to get yourself into the air.
It does cost a little more than the Cetus Pro, but there is a good reason for that, as it does have some additional features that you won’t find in the other model.
For instance, it has the ability to broadcast in the 5.8ghz transmission range, and as such it is not as susceptible to interference.
The goggles are slightly superior as was, providing better reception and range.
EMAX Tinyhawk 2
EMAX Tinyhawk 2 Freestyle 2.5-inch FPV Drone for Beginners Ready to Fly RTF Kit 200mw 2s Carbon Fiber Frame 7000KV.
This next system is a bit different as you can see. It falls into the next class of FPV quads and still comes as a complete kit.
It is far more than just the tinywhoop versions we’ve discussed already, as it is a 2.5-inch Quad and would now fall into the Cinewhoop/Freestyle category.
It is a small quadcopter and resembles more what you’re likely to see others flying.
With a carbon fiber frame, it is even more durable than the plastic-bodied tinywhoops we’ve covered above.
Although this quad is considered an intermediate drone system, a beginner with some simulator time will find this little flyer to be really enjoyable and quite stout.
Priced at $259.99 for the kit, it is a sure winner for a beginner to a seasoned FPV pilot.
The goggles that come included do leave much to be desired as they are of a rather low quality, and the fit just isn’t quite right.
The benefit of a system like this is that it can be paired with a better-quality set of goggles as you grow your skills and interest.
Types of FPV Quads
Now before we continue, it would be good to mention that these three kits above are considered to be Tinywhoops.
A tinywhoop quad is considered a micro drone and, as such, will have a limited flight time and range.
These can range from 31mm or 40mm propellers up to 2 to 2.5″ propellers.
It will also not present the best video transmission to the goggles due to having a low-quality camera and a low-cost transmission system.
They are usually found to be under $300 in their pricing range, with most being considered toy drones or quads. That is to be expected.
With that being said, it is due to their low cost that they make the best options for anyone just starting out with FPV.
What if you want to start out with something a little bigger and, let’s just be honest, a bit more powerful?
When we step up from the Micro drone systems, there a few places we can go, such as that of the Cinewhoop.
Cinewhoop quads are larger than their tinywhoop cousins, usually running 3″ propellers, but they do share some of the same qualities, such as being designed with prop ducts, which allows for a more carefree interior flight within a structure.
The prop guards will protect not only the aircraft but any object it may come into contact with. Cinewhoops are typically larger, and most can accommodate a mounted action camera.
When we discuss what an FPV quad is, they are usually named after the diameter of the propeller.
For example, the most commonly found is the 5-inch freestyle quad which refers to a drone with a propeller size of 5 inches in diameter.
In addition, an FPV drone with a propeller smaller than 3 inches is usually defined by a diagonal motor wheelbase.
I bring this up as this is mainly how the next type of FPV quad is classified, and that is the Freestyle FPV quad.
As you can see from the above chart, the term freestyle can actually be applied to nearly any FPV quad.
A freestyle FPV drone is designed for general purposes and doesn’t really fall into any of the other categories.
Freestyle quads offer a good balance between performance, durability, and the ability to carry an action camera for HD footage recording.
They are essentially powerful quadcopters that you can enjoy and maneuver with ease.
As this term suggests, and as I’ve pointed out, the term can be applied to something as small as a tinywhoop all the way up to an X-class, with a whole lot in between.
It’s these types of quads that you will see the most often.
Before we get back to our recommendations, there are three remaining types of FPV quads we should bring up.
The first is the Ultralight FPV quad, also known as the “Toothpick” by those in the FPV community. These quads typically have slim frames and smaller motors.
The reason for this is to focus on reducing the overall weight of the quad and improving its performance and overall durability.
These can also fall into a few categories and be a freestyle quad or racing quad all in the one package.
Next would be the Long-Range FP1V quad.
Much as it sounds, the main focus for these quads is being able to go out to longer ranges and will usually have a flight time of 15 to 30 mins.
They usually use less aggressive motors and propeller combos to achieve such flight times and distances.
QWinOut DIY F4 X1
QWinOut DIY F4 X1 175mm FPV Racing Drone Quadcopter RTF with FPV Goggles F4 3-4S AIO Flysky Remote Controller.
As you probably noticed, the recommended quads are getting bigger and bigger. As that is the case, we are moving from a beginner system to a more advanced intermediate system.
This means that you will have a harder time handling these types of aircraft than the more beginner versions we’ve covered already.
Here we have a system that comes complete and uses a well-known transmission system that you can grow with.
You will have a controller that can be bound to not just this aircraft but any other aircraft running a similar compatible system, such as:
- Frsky XM
- XM + receiver
- Futaba receiver
- Flysky receiver
- TBS Crossfire receiver
- DSMX receiver
As such, this is one that you can grow with and expand as your skill set grows.
This is a good solid system for the beginner due to its added ability to be expanded which makes it a good value.
As we’ve shown above, there are many kits available, and ultimately the choice of which system you feel comfortable with is up to you.
As a beginner FPV pilot, it is highly recommended that you start with a kit.
Kits come pretty much ready to go, and there is no need to learn how to bind and fly or to build your own until you have found out if it’s a hobby or profession you wish to pursue.
As the average cost for getting a more advanced FPV system can run anywhere from $1,000 and up, these types of kits provide a much more affordable means of getting the FPV experience and gaining the skills and confidence needed for the more advanced systems.
As you learn and grow your skills, it will, of course, be necessary to move from the beginner systems to the more advanced systems, such as a 5-inch freestyle racing quad, or even further, such as a 9″ X-class system.
The sky really is your only limit; excuse the pun.
Now before I let you go, I would be remiss if I didn’t share with you a great system, that is, if money is no object. That is the FPV with training wheels, the DJI Avata.
The DJI Avata is hands down the best system for beginners and seasoned pilots alike.
It is also a very pricy consideration when compared to the other options we’ve shared above, with a range of pricing starting at around $1200 and increasing from there.
It has its drawbacks as well. Being of the size and format of the Cinewhoop, it’s a bit overpriced when compared directly to other cinewhoops in its category.
What it offers, though, makes it a unique FPV system that is unlike anything else you will find.
It comes with the motion controller, which has limited use and value, and in order to fly it freestyle or manual, you will need to make an additional purchase by way of the controller.
When paired with the DJI FPV Remote Controller 2, it is able to be used as a true FPV cinewhoop quad.
It isn’t a bad investment as it is a system that can grow with you, meaning the goggles and controller can be used with other systems.
Of course, that is all dependent on the configuration you go with, as the newest goggles, the Goggles 2 and the Integra Goggles will only work with systems running the 03 transmission systems.
Whereas the V2 Goggles are able to run with not only the Avata, but the more commonly found air units.
Lastly, and this is a big one, it is a fully digital system as opposed to analog.
When these factors are all figured in, the Avata is actually fairly priced and is a great means of introducing yourself to FPV and maintaining a somewhat camera drone system as well.
Fly Safe, Fly Always, Always Fly Safe!