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Tips for new FPV Pilots
I have been chatting with a new upcoming freestyle pilot about building and such and trying to guide him along the way about the "bling" pitfalls newbies find themselves in when sourcing parts etc. and thought I could share with others.

My views here are just that, my views, and I do not profess to know it all, just passing on some things I think may be useful to those just coming into multirotors, more so about Racer/freestyle quads.

Firstly let me say that I am not a pro pilot, nor am I a multirotor engineer, I am a multirotor enthusiast and FPV pilot, and love building and flying. So, the information provided it only based on my personal experiences and from a handful of fellow flyers who helped me along the way. This is one way I know I can "Pay it Forward".

My Tips for Newbies:

Price: Most of what we as humans buys comes down to price, can we really afford it? Often we settle for second best believing that a $20 frame is just as good as a $200 frame . Truth is for the most part the cheap frames are not worth it. However, that being said, over priced frames are not worth it either. Be aware that the whole RC Multirotor business has sky rocketed over the last 2 years especially and as such vendors will charge almost anything to get your cash. Shop around, ask the Guys and Girls who have been flying for a while what they recommend, as in all probability they have been right where you are now.

The Lumineer QAV series of frames are very good, look stylish and hold up very well in crashes, and priced fairly well. Good choice
ZMR series of frames, Nothing pretty about them at all, but they are damn good frames, very popular, hold up very well and parts are plentiful. Priced lower than some. another good choice.

Shendrones, Tweaker frames, great frames, tough durable and again well priced. another good choice.
I am not going to run through the 100's of different types of frames out there. The point is, there are some great frames at realistic prices.

This may be a biased comment, but I recommend staying away from the fiberglass canopy covered bling quads , As a newbie pilot you will crash so much that your new pristine canopy quad will be nothing more than a mushed up looking bag of soggy peas. Buy one at your own peril.

Bottom line on frames.. Ask others, think about how it will survive your first few months pile driving it into trees, fences and the ground. Do not always use price as your guide. "Buy Right, Buy once, Buy wrong and buy over and over and over"

Motors: First thing a newbie will say is I want POWAH.. heaps of POWAH. yep, good on you, go and buy some F40 motors or XNOVA motors etc and watch your cash go down the drain when you crash over and over. Don't buy el cheapo motors buy middle of the road motors that will see you out for a while and as you get better, swap them out to better ones as and when your skills and budget allow. again, ask others, google.

ESC's: Get at least 20 amp esc's minimum, The price of esc's now is so good that almost not worth buying anything less than 20 amp ones anyway, and they are often just as small as the 10 amp. 12 amp ones.

FPV gear: I recommend the HS1177 FPV cam and a 200mW mini or micro 5.8ghz VTX, 32 to 40 channels., do not get sucked in think a 600mW VTX will give you 3 times the range that of a 200mW vtx, what it will get you is probably half a dozen knuckle sandwhiches to the noggin if you race with others and you use a 600mW Vtx.

Batteries: Personal choice, on 3S or 4S, but go for the middle of the road batteries (cost wise that is ) .

Radio: A lot of good and great Radios out there, and really this is one piece of Kit you buy as a long term investment in the hobby. My advice, right from the start, buy 1 with a minimum of 8 channels. Things to watch out for..The RXers the Radios use , and the cost of said RX. Futaba radios are good but the original RX's cost about the price of a small countries annual income. Look, while I do not like the Taranis radio all that much I have to admit it does the job very well (and yes I do own one) and it is a good price to pay, can use a lot of different rxers which do not require you to sell a kidney to purchase one.

I guess I could go on for ages, but Bottom line:
  • Be smart
  • Do not be dazzled by fancy smancy looking frames
  • Buy what is right for your wants and needs.
  • Ask a heap of questions 
  • Remember , all of us have been there done that, learn from us.
  • Pass on what you have learnt along the way as you progress.
  • Most of all..Have fun doing it, stick at it, and always fly safe.
[-] The following 10 users Like BigglesFPV's post:
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Very honest and well written! thank you for the advice!
Don't be a LOS'er, be an FPV'er :) -- Blog - Facebook - Instagram - Twitter - Google Plus
(02-Feb-2016, 08:03 PM)Oscar Wrote: Very honest and well written! thank you for the advice!

Thanks Oscar,

Like many of us on these fora, we just want to help people, and is a fine line . You know that whatever you say you will not please everyone but if you can help just 1 person then I feel it is a job well done.

Too many times I have seen others make a harsh comment about some advice as being wrong or they do not agree with and yet offer nothing in return to correct it.  All of us are forever learning, and personally I love learning new stuff from those that have gone before me, I know I have saved heaps of time and cash by heeding the freely given advice from others.

Thank you for allowing me to share my views.

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No problem, I believe everyone should be allowed an opinion, and you are always welcomed to express it here or MI FB Group Smile

Just reposting Geoffrey's Reply on that thread:

Goggles, video receiver, antenna. Don't forget these guys!

I'll add my two cents having owned Fat Shark Predators, Fatshark V2, Fatshark V3, Skyzones and Head Plays. This gear is another investment similar to the radio. The prices range widely from DIY Quanums around $60 to Fat Shark/Skyzones which can get to $300-600. LCD models, i.e. Quanum type, are a good option for both beginners and more experienced pilots especially if you prefer the LCD screen view or if you have glasses. Just gotta try this one out.

Most people with glasses will get a much better image than no glasses on goggles. Personally I like goggles. I slap in my contacts and go. Anything more than the Quanums and I'd see if some pilots at the closest field or a friend will let you try theirs so you can get a feel for what you will prefer. My current recommendation is the Fatshark Dominator V3s. Great picture, great perspective. $350 I think right now though WITHOUT the video receiver module. They also future proof a little bit by providing HDMI input. Low latency HD is coming. I'd keep this in mind though I'd guess affordability is a couple years away. These goggles also have DVR, as do several others, which I have come to find indispensable for two reasons. Most helpful is for finding a downed model. Things move fast and its easy to crash then think, huh, wha, ummmmm and then immediately lose the location in your mind.

With DVR you just review the video and assuming you didn't lose your video link prior to crashing you will immediately know the precise location you went down. Second reason is that if you do have a catastrophe and lose your craft, well at least you got video of it. I find it provides some closure... Another consideration is the image aspect ratio. I prefer a wide screen image (16:9, think flat panel TV) whereas some prefer a standard aspect ratio (4:3, think old school TVs). Wide screen options include Dominator V3s and SkyZones as well as most of the LCD/Viewing box type units. Now this brings up another topic which is diversity.

A MUST for me but I'm surprised how much break up many pilots can tolerate. Diversity receivers collect two signals, preferably from two different types of antennas and then stitch them in real time to show the BEST of both signals. I find that a circular polarized type with a patch antennae works best for me. After trying multiple more expensive antennae I have settled on Spironet as very reasonably priced option, upsides being a sleek profile less apt to catch on things and excellent durability with a few modifications (shrink wrap around protective plastic case as well as SMA type connector so you can tighten by twisting the whole antennae. The best way to protect the antennae-video transmitter SMA connection, I find, is to hide it within the quad and zip tie the stem to the frame.

Having an internal connection makes it very hard to tighten on the fly however. When twisting connector is secured you just twist. I also slide another over the shrink wrapped SMA then slide down and shrink over the transmitter side of the connection. This will stay in place as well as prevent the treaded loosening antenna that swings into your props mid-flight. Bad. If you go with a diversity setup you can go from frequent lines and static to zero static or breakup within a very generous range. I rarely have any video degradation anymore and if I lose a signal now, its usually RC link first! I'd say I have crystal clear signal out to about 400 meters. With left handed antennas I have raced on 25 mW with everyone else on right and 200-600 mW with flawless signal.

As to which diversity receiver I recommend, the ImmersionRC Duo, though admittedly its the only one I've used other than the one built into the Skyzones (not half bad). Maybe some of the crew have other recommendations here. Only thing that could make the duo better is not having to listen to beeps to find your channel (nitpicking here). While the SkyZones have built in diversity as well as a great image I cannot really recommend them due to limited reliability. I loved them until they stopped working randomly. Very bad. I have heard many others voice the same complaint. Strap your chosen receiver to the top of a camera tripod and you've got crystal clear image in a bottle. Good ones will even have a crank that lets you get more altitude which equals better reception. I'd also recommend picking up a 4-pole video cable on ebay so as not to be tied to the bulky 4-pole to RCA to RCA to 4-pole. Cheap, like $4 bucks on Amazon somewhere.

Camera tripods can be expensive so go to your local thrift shop. I've yet to go there without having at least 3 or 4 to choose from. People dump their old camera equipment as people are switching over to digital setups. Double side sticky or velcro to the top and presto chango you have a killer base station that collapses small enough to strap to your backpack. Yet another item in the long list of stuff I get from thrift stores. I find hard plastic travel cases, elaborate backpacks, small padded bags for transmitters, you name it. You'll find stuff you'd never even think of that becomes indispensable not to mention the strange satisfaction you can get from finding a discarded insulated lunch sack that fits your radio beautifully. I have yet to pay more than $10 for any bag or other gear and those are Hawaii prices.

My most recent discovery was a hard shelled golf bag which perfectly fits racing gates and flags. Probably $200 plus new and I got it for $4. I have 8 flags and two gates in that bag with room to spare. I've really gotten some fantastic gear this way. Well, thats my rant and rave about goggle options that meandered into the goodness of thrift stores... I'm sure other guys have plenty to say about goggles, please note if you have different opinions, good for newer guys to see the friendly debates. Aloha
Don't be a LOS'er, be an FPV'er :) -- Blog - Facebook - Instagram - Twitter - Google Plus
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Just some advice I learned from experience:

1. Do your first flights on a really big and obstacle-free area. You will have to concentrate on your altitude, your direction etc. and will be very grateful not having to avoid any obstacles.

2. It is much harder than anticipated to filter out your environment.

3. You will need a LOT of propellers, so be prepared.
Something i would like to add is for beginners it is worth learning to fly in self level mode LOS first just to get used to the throttle and handling of your quad rather than rushing straight in and crashing.
lol FPV
Ragg-e WBX 5"
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Tips for beginners from the Drone Racing League: https://www.youtube.com/embed/IphMBhkqn-k
Very sound advice from all.  I would like to thank both Biggles and Oscar for the time and effort they both put into making an effort so that important information concerning this hobby is made available to folks just starting out (like me).  I would love to be able to thread my quad through the trees at ridiculous speeds, but I am realistic enough to know it's probably never going to happen.  What is going to happen and has already is that I have learned a great deal about something that fascinates me and most importantly of all, I'm having a blast!  Isn't that what it's all about? This is mostly due to the Biggles and Oscars of the sport......folks who are willing to take the time and effort to help others along the way, so to all of you, my sincere appreciation!! Big Grin
"Damn the torpedoes!!!  Full speed ahead!!!"
(14-Apr-2016, 04:46 PM)sirdude Wrote: Very sound advice from all.  I would like to thank both Biggles and Oscar for the time and effort they both put into making an effort so that important information concerning this hobby is made available to folks just starting out (like me).  I would love to be able to thread my quad through the trees at ridiculous speeds, but I am realistic enough to know it's probably never going to happen.  What is going to happen and has already is that I have learned a great deal about something that fascinates me and most importantly of all, I'm having a blast!  Isn't that what it's all about? This is mostly due to the Biggles and Oscars of the sport......folks who are willing to take the time and effort to help others along the way, so to all of you, my sincere appreciation!! Big Grin

Thank you for the kind words sirdude, The one thing that is common across the globe with all pilots in this hobby is that we all started from the same place.. The Beginning.

I know I speak for Oscar and many others when I say that it is all of us that make this forum what it is, the willingness for people to share experiences and information freely to help others just starting out.

FPV can seem very daunting at first and often in the early stages you wonder if you will ever get the hang of it, but speaking from experience I can say that one day it just falls into place, You just have to put the time and effort in and slowly you begin to crash less and fly more.

Often you will read "If you are not crashing you are not trying hard enough", in some ways that is very true, You have to push yourself past your comfort zone, and of course you will perform some amazing crashes but also learn a lot .

We all love our pride and joy(s) and the thought of it ending up a twisted pile of carbon fibre laying broken and dying in a ditch somewhere horrifies us, These are not just toys, they are part of us, and those thoughts can hold you back, once you accept that you will crash you will become a better pilot.

A good mate of mine who can fly really well as it is now said to me the other day "After building this el-cheapo hack quad my confidence has sky rocketted", he is now trying moves he never thought he would as he no longer fears destroying his best quads.

So, some more advice to you all, if you can, build a cheap Hack quad to try all that wicked stuff on first and once you get comfy on that , get out and bust some moves on your main flyer(s).

And lastly, Oscar is the one who deserves credit more than most of us, as without his passion and drive this forum would not be available to us all. Running the Forum and FB page as well as working a fulltime job is no easy task.

So thanks Oscar for all your efforts. Smile
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man I wish I would've read all this a few months back before I started trying to fly fpv. I started out with big drones for aerial videos. but that got a little boring so I figured I would give fpv mini quads a go. since a I been flying these big 650's around these little ones should be a piece of cake right? WRONG!?. I went and spent a fortune on what thought was the best of everything. only either to destroy it or lose it. till one day I said to myself ok let's take little baby steps. so what I did was since I was so use to flying LOS I used my monitor to fly fpv, that way if things got to crazy I could just look up at my quad and bring back in using LOS. I did this till I was able to fly around by just looking at the monitor. so when I started using my googles again I had a better understanding at what was going on and what I was looking at. I guess my point is, this hobby takes time, a lot of learning, reading, and ask questions. I'm barely getting to the point where I can fly around an open field without crashing but I have fun doing it.
All you guys many thanks to share your experience.
This is very usefull for me as i'm begginer in the multirrotor world i just have now learned to fly acceptable my hubsan without crashes.
Now decided to start something better and i'm building my own "El-Chiapo" as you said (i like this :) )
So many many thanks again to you all but specially to Oscar ,his oscarliang site brings me here ,then i feel in the very good place.
Wow, what a great thread!

I'd like to add my own experience: practicing on simulators got me very comfortable with FPV to the point where a lot of the initial hiccups were gone by the time I strapped on the goggles for my first flight.

Even now, before I try something out of my comfort zone on my actual copter, I'll do it a few times on the sims to make sure I've got the stick movements correct before I go and risk $400 on some acro  Tongue
Multirotor Maniac
Website => http://fpvfrenzy.com
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ALL good advice not to jump the gun. I have not went to extreme or too cheap. I started my small collection of toys by going with a mid point.
I'd like to add few small points:
1. when powering up your quad next to a guy in fpv mode... tell him before power on, let him stabilize his flight (hover) then poweron.. potential interference (noise) when your quad is powered on... might kill your buddy's signal... (might = doesn't have to, but do you want to try it?)
2. Failsafe - there are never too many failsafes... (rx failsafe, FC failsafe, killswitch etc)
3. if anything is going "off" (flying strange, lost orientation)- kill it - turn failsafe on... take a walk find it and investigate what failed
4. beeper - yes simple beeper... pair it with failsafe... when looking for quad in grass it is priceless (also when failsafe active it will not arm... so your fingers are safe)
5. while looking for quad ... get your TX with you ... - noone will flip a switch ... again your fingers are safe.
6. buy a small quad you can fly indoor (whoop or anything that is flyable) - learn basics of LOS, orientation etc. it will be handy on larger quads... and small ones are harder to break...
7. while doing any work on quad... take the props off.. again, having all fingers is cool thing Smile
8. want to fly some place, check for CTR, R, D - what flying space are you in, can you fly there ? - be smart.
All the best
Grzesiek (Grisha/ Greg)

Curently flyable: Nox 5, Nox 3, Minimalist 112, Scrap at the moment... nothing is flyable
Bench / in progres: fixing Nox 5, Nox 3, Minimalist 112, Scrap
thinking about building: 450

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Great thread!
I agree with practicing on toy grade quads and simulators. There are several decent and durable options.
My learning curve drones have been the Syma X5C and JJRC H8 mini. The syma is a perfect first quad for anyone imo. Its rather sluggish but has a huge following and can take one hell of a beating! The H8 mini is a complete joy and also has a great following and some amazing hacks including flashing an acro mode done by Silverxxx.
My only other 2 cents I think I can add here is to stop using headless mode as soon as possible. This is my experience as i learned on a drone with no headless mode which forced me to learn orientation. After trying HM for the first time I realized how much of a crutch this could become for a first time flyer, again just my opinion and nothing more, but the control you gain after learning to make banked turns is massive.
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