How to get into FPV drone racing – Step two

best fpv drone

If you already read my first post on getting into FPV flight then you know that purchasing a remote transmitter is step one. If you haven’t read that already you’ll want to check that out. Now on to step two, the fun part. The drone, or better yet, the quad. Choosing the correct drone for the beginner FPV pilot is important.  You don’t want to get a full-blown 5″ pro-style quad off the bat. That would be similar to handing a 16-year old the keys to a Lamborghini. Sure some lucky kid might be able to handle it, but is that the best car to learn how to drive? These are my top recommendations for beginners.

Choosing your FPV quad

Choosing a drone can be a lot of fun but it isn’t as easy as you would think. These recommendations are made with a beginner pilot in mind. Each drone on this list is both versatile and durable and I think these two aspects are incredibly important for new pilots. You will crash. You want something that can handle a beating.

Every drone on this list has a version for $99 or less. Don’t break the bank on your first quad. Also, each one on this list is will fly on a 1S battery. That is something, I believe is important. Larger batteries mean more power and a 6S racer will darn near take off your finger. You don’t need a drone that can go 100 mph when you are learning to fly. These are much safer but still have plenty of power to fly both indoors and out.  But remember this is step two in getting into flying FPV. Read about step one here.

Before you fly

Whichever quad you choose as your first I highly recommend you get in some simulator practice before your maiden voyage. Also, don’t strap on the goggles before flying line of sight first. Always inspect your quad and in particular, the propellers before take off. You will want multiple batteries. Flight times on all of these FPV quads will vary greatly depending on how you fly but don’t expect to get more than 3-6 minutes per pack. I recommend picking up 5-10 batteries as they aren’t incredibly expensive and you’ll want to rip through them.

While this certainly isn’t a full list of options these are the FPV quads that I recommend getting started with. Each one has its pros and cons so you’ll have to decide what is best for you. Once you’ve mastered one of these and are comfortable under the goggles it will be time to jump to a 3″ or a 5″ quad.

#1 Emax TinyHawk

Sitting atop my recommendations is the Emax TinyHawk($99-165). This little, ducted micro is awesome. It has buttery smooth brushless motors and was engineered to near perfection.  The 08025 brushless motors have enough punch to fly outdoors in acro mode but are smooth enough to fly around the house.  It will fly on a fairly standard 1S 450 mah battery and extras are readily available. The frame is incredibly durable and one of the strongest I’ve tested for this class of drone. Emax has done the little things right like including a multi-battery charger and a carrying case with the TinyHawk. They have even set multiple profiles for beginners, intermediate and advanced pilots.

If you already have a remote (and hopefully you picked up a Taranis QX7 as recommended in my original article) then you can purchase a TinyHawk for around $99 online from vendors like Banggood. I paid $109 on Amazon because I didn’t want to wait for it to ship from China. If you don’t have a remote the all-in-one FPV package for $165 is the absolute best you can buy and includes a remote and goggles to go along with the quad.

The TinyHawk is a blast to fly and an excellent choice for a beginner but this thing is fun for even advanced pilots that are looking for something to fly indoors. Right now this TinyHawk is my current favorite quad. Learn more about the TinyHawk here, or check out the Ready to fly version with goggles here.

#2 Eachine M80/Mirarobot M85

The Eachine M80 ($55) and Mirarobot M85 ($73) are basically the same drones sold under two different names. Either way, it is an excellent lower cost option for learning how to fly FPV. It earns the number two spot on this list based on its low cost and versatility. I typically prefer the brushless motor options but the low cost of this quad while including a remote (M85) is definitely something to consider.

This is the only brushed motor drone on this list but it has a lot going for it. The 8.5 mm motors provide a lot more punch than your typical “Tiny Whoop” style drone. The M80 and M85 both have plenty of power to fly outdoors but it is small enough to fly indoors as well. They both have multiple flight modes including angle, acro and even altitude hold. That means the pilot can grow and adapt as they learn to fly.

This is the only brushless quad that I’ve flown that includes turtle mode. That means you can flip it over when it crashes. That may not sound like a big deal but once you start flying (and crashing) you will understand. If you have your own remote you can pick up the Eachine M80 model for $55. If you want an FPV drone and a remote then the Mirarobot M85 version comes with a remote for $73. Learn more about the M80 here. Learn more about the M85 here.

#3 US/UK 65

The US/UK 65 ($65) is a smaller quad then both the TinyHawk and M80. Those are 75 mm FPV quads whereas the US/UK 65 is a 65 mm quad when you measure diagonally from motor to motor. This is the typical “Tiny Whoop” size and is similar to the E010 and the Inductrix. The difference between the US and UK 65 is the design. The US 65 sports an American flag design, whereas the UK sports the British flag. There is a URUAV 65 version ($73) that has a simple white paint job. Right now the US 65 is a better deal and comes with extra batteries, so that is what I would recommend.

The US 65 is a little more docile than the TinyHawk but still packs a punch. Some people prefer the smaller footprint of the US 65 to the slightly larger TinyHawk. Personally, I love the TinyHawk but the US 65 is much easier to maneuver around my house. Checking in at only 27 grams this tiny quad can still fly outside with its powerful 0603 17,000 KV motors. The biggest drawback to this quad is that it doesn’t flip over in turtle mode. You’ll have to flip it yourself. Learn more about the US 65 here.

#4 Happy Model Snapper 7

The Snapper 7 ($76) is another slightly larger 75 mm model on a carbon fiber frame with aluminum propeller guards. Until I picked up the TinyHawk this was my go-to FPV tiny flyer. It is definitely small enough to fly indoors but you will have to be careful as the aluminum guards are more likely to scratch walls than the plastic ones on all the drones mentioned above. The 0802 brushless motors have plenty of power and with some practice, you can fly this guy acro no problem. It may not have the power of the TinyHawk, but it isn’t a pushover by any stretch.

In many ways, this might be the best drone on this list. It may not be the best at one particular thing. It is the classic Jack-of-all-trades and master of none.  It handles quite well and is exceptionally nimble yet smooth. I find it easier to hit smaller gaps with this quad than the TinyHawk. The Happymodel Snapper 7 is definitely worth looking into. Learn more about the Snapper7 here.

#5 HB 65

The HB 65 is very similar to the US 65 with two exceptions. It has slightly larger 0604 motors and the outer design allows it to flip over in turtle mode if you end upside down after a crash. The bulbous design of the US 65 and even the Snapper 7 don’t allow them to turtle mode properly. When you are learning to fly FPV that feature can be quite the time saver.

It is a little more expensive at $99. I also had a few small issues with my model. The camera was flipped upside down initially. I had to take it apart to get to the button to flip it and I managed to damage the antenna. I understand this was my fault but better quality control would have avoided this issue altogether. I love this FPV quad, but it loses points for not being ready to go out of the box. Learn more about the HB 65 here.

#6 Mobula 7

The last FPV drone on this list will easily be some people’s favorite. However, I put it last because I’m not convinced it is the best drone for a beginner. The Mobula  7 ($89) is like the TinyHawk on steroids. It flies on more powerful 2S batteries and will perform a lot more like a “real” race quad. Yes, you can tame it a bit by flying on a 1S battery or program a throttle cut when you are flying 2S. This drone and the similar Eachine Trashcan ($89) are awesome 2S racers and I think they are better suited for an intermediate pilot than a true beginner.

Now if you are one of those people that read my How to get into FPV racing -Step one article and you have been practicing with a simulator you might want to take a closer look at the Mobula 7. If you have that Split-S and power loop down pat then go ahead and go with the Mobula or Trashcan. The original versions of the Mobula frames tended to break, so if you pick one up make sure you opt for the version 2 frame. You will absolutely love this FPV monster. However, if you are a true beginner then you might want to choose one of the drones above. Learn more about the Mobula 7 here.

Bonus Drone

The Eachine E011($21) is a super inexpensive 65 mm ducted quad. It typically comes with a goofy lego man or Santa but we have better plans for this quad. If you are a do-it-yourselfer then it is hard to not turn one of these little drones into an FPV flyer. Some people use the E010 model but the bigger 7mm motors of the E011 make it a much better option.

Adding an all-in-one camera and video transmitter ($16) is inexpensive and requires moderate soldering skills. If you looking for the absolute cheapest way to fly FPV then this is the way to go. It might not be the prettiest drone on the block but it is still a blast to fly. It is the least expensive option to get started. That is until you want to start upgrading your tiny quad. You’ll want faster motors and a Jumper T8SG… Learn more about the Eachine E011 here.

I have a drone, now what?

So you have a drone and a remote transmitter and you are ready to go, right? Well, you’ll need some goggles. Should you go with Fatsharks or a box style goggle? What about the in-between options like the EV200 or Aomways? What about Betaflight? What settings do you need? Should you fly acro or angle? What other accessories should you get? I’ll cover these topics in my How to get into FPV racing -Step three. So check back soon. Let me know what you think in the comments below.


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