Flying FPV or first-person view can take your drone experience to the next level. ESPN is now televising the Drone Racing League and you can see why it is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing sports. If this is something you want to try there are a couple of ways to get started. Some people start with an all-in-one kit like the FatShark101, but that isn’t what we’d recommend. The first thing you need to choose is your remote. Whether you refer to it as a remote, a radio or a transmitter it is the place to start. The drone comes later. You can read about that in Step 2.
Flying FPV, Step 1
Ok, so why not start with the drone? There are a couple of reasons. First, you don’t need a drone to learn how to fly, but you do need a remote. Even if you’ve flown a drone before you’ll want to learn how to fly acro. Flying acro will give you a level of control and freedom that is completely different than flying a self-leveling drone like a DJI Mavic.
You will crash. You will crash a lot. I highly recommend practicing on a simulator like FPV FreeRider. When you crash in a simulator you won’t have to pick up the pieces of your drone and put it back together. Most good remote transmitters will work with simulators. This will allow you to get the feel of how to fly without the headaches and expenses that come with learning. I haven’t found a good free option but FPV FreeRider ($4.99) isn’t expensive and in the long run, can save you a lot of money by avoiding repairs. Don’t skip this step. Find and practice with a simulator using your drone remote.
Which remote should I buy?
There are two big factors when choosing a remote. The first is of course money and the other is knowing specifically what drone you want to fly. You can’t arbitrarily pick up a drone and remote and assume they will work together. The receiver in the drone has to match the protocol in the remote transmitter.
This is far more complicated than it should be. You don’t need to fully understand protocols to fly FPV, but you do have to make sure your drone and remote match. If you choose your drone first and then a remote to go with it you might be disappointed later when you want to fly another model. Choosing a remote that works with a variety of models is the way to go.
Frsky, DSMX, and Flysky
The Flysky i6, Frsky Taranis X9D, and DSMX Spektrum DXe are all popular drone remotes.
When it comes to remotes and receivers there are typically three big options. Most FPV drones operate on these three protocols Frsky, DSMX, and Flysky. Generally speaking, Frsky is probably the most popular protocol, DSMX is limited to mostly Spektrum or Horizon Hobby products and Flysky tends to be the least expensive. If you have to choose one of these I would recommend going with FrSky. It seems to be the most available and is the “default” for most FPV drone manufacturers. The Taranis models of remotes are extremely popular and the Taranis QX7 ($125) is an excellent low-cost option that you won’t be disappointed with.
The Taranis QX7 and X9D are both excellent Frsky remotes.
Some FPV pilots would tell you to go with the wildly popular Taranis X9D ($240) remote. Is it a better choice than the QX7? I would argue no. The X9D may have some additional customizability but for the beginner, that is more likely to just be confusing. The lower cost QX7 ($125) is an awesome remote and with its expansion bay it allows you to grow should you want to add a Crossfire or multiprotocol module.
What about multiprotocol remotes?
All of the Jumper models and the iRangeX are multiprotocol radios.
The other way to go is to buy a remote that can handle multiple protocols. The best and most popular remote that can do this is the Jumper T8SG Plus. Not only can it work with FrSky, DSMX, and Flysky but it will also control popular toy grade drones like Syma, MJX, Eachine, and Hubsan. There are literally hundreds of drones that will work with the Jumper remotes. The Jumper remote is a huge upgrade to small inexpensive remotes that come with popular drones like the Eachine E010 or MJX Bugs 3. The Jumper will give you more control and even add range to your beginner drones.
The Jumper isn’t expensive and their top of the line Plus model can sometimes be found for about $100. You can even opt for their budget Lite version for about $50. The biggest knock on the Jumper is that some people don’t like its smaller size and the gimbals aren’t quite as long as they are on the Taranis. Pilots that fly FPV pinch style may not like it as much. Also, I find the Deviation software of the Jumpers more intuitive than the OpenTX of the Taranis remotes.
The multiprotocol module fits nice in the back of the QX7 and allows you to fly more drones.
Are there other multiprotocol options? Of course. You could purchase a multiprotocol module for your Taranis QX7. The module will cost about $40 and give you the ability to fly additional modules. I find using it a little clunky and not as user-friendly as the Jumper. Plus there is the added cost of adding a module to an already more expensive remote.
So which remote is best?
The Jumper T8SG Plus or Taranis QX7 are my top two recommendations.
I would recommend either the Taranis QX7 ($125) or the Jumper T8SG Plus ($97). I have both remotes and honestly, I use them both. My preferred remote is the QX7 because I like the heavy feel and the preciseness of the gimbals when flying FPV. However, if I could only choose one I would pick the Jumper T8SG Plus because I can fly all the FrSky drones that the QX7 can plus hundreds of others. The Jumper can turn a $20 Eachine E010 into a fun to fly tiny whoop.
So purchasing a remote is step one. Once you have your remote you can start practicing but of course, you’ll need a drone. Finding the right drone is the next step. If you are ready to find a drone, click here.
Naturally, you can’t fly FPV without goggles, so we will also examine how to choose the right pair for you as well as talk about some of the basics of programming and tuning your drone. Check back soon on www.DroneDJ.com and we’ll fill you in on the next steps to get you flying FPV like a champ.
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