If you are new to flying FPV drones then you very well may be wondering what the heck everyone is talking about. There are cinewhoops, tiny whoops, and power whoops. There are toothpicks and twigs. A five-inch drone is clearly bigger than five inches. What are people talking about? There seem to be endless drone options. And FPV pilots rarely refer to their crafts as drones. They are quads or sometimes kwads.
Flying FPV drones
We will take a look at what all of these different drones are and hopefully figure out which one would be the best one for you. Flying FPV or First Person View is a unique experience and very different from flying a GPS drone like a DJI Mavic or Phantom. DJI has recently entered the field with its all-new digital FPV system and the FPV hobby is progressing at a rapid rate. If you want to get into flying FPV I’d suggest taking a look at our three-part series that will walk you through what you need to know.
Starting to fly FPV tends to be a little more complicated than grabbing a new DJI Mavic Mini and getting in the air. There are a few other steps to follow before you can get flying. If you aren’t familiar with Betaflight or don’t have a hobby-grade remote then definitely check out this article.
It isn’t a drone. It is a quad or maybe even a kwad.
Most FPV pilots don’t refer to their craft as a drone but rather a quad. Quad being short for quadcopter, referring to the four propellers. Sure we know that it could have more, but typically they have four. To many pilots, the term drone carries a negative connotation and they just prefer the term quad. The rotor riot guys coined the term kwad and that has become popular in the FPV community. There are a lot of different types of FPV quads out there. Let’s take a closer look.
The FPV Whoops
When someone refers to a whoop they are talking about a drone that has ducts. Ducts are a particular type of propeller guard. They offer excellent protection and often help stabilize the drone, make it more efficient and even quieter. It was made popular on inexpensive toy grade drones. Jesse Perkins started the Tiny Whoop craze by putting a camera on an Inductrix.
It quickly became popular as it was extremely durable and could be flown indoors. Tiny drone races started popping up around the country. Soon Tiny Whoop became the generic term for any small ducted drone. Tiny whoops started to evolve and became bigger and better. The rule of thumb is that a “Tiny Whoop” is a palm-sized drone and has a wheelbase of 65-75 mm and is limited to flying on a 1S battery. Tiny whoops often will weigh less than 30 grams without a battery. They are often less expensive and you can pick up a good one often for less than $100.
My absolute favorite “Tiny Whoop” is the Emax Tinyhawk. It is incredibly durable and fun to fly. For about $90 it is an excellent place to start. Emax even built the perfect beginner kit including the drone, remote, goggles, batteries, charger, and case for about $160. But of course, people wanted more power. Tiny whoops started to get bigger and faster.
That is where the power whoops started. The “Tiny Whoops” grew bigger and bigger. The Mobula 7 paved the way for small, lightweight but powerful whoops that could handle 1S or 2S batteries. People wanted to fly on more powerful 2S and 3S batteries. They grew in size from 75-95 mm. Basically a Power Whoop is nothing more than a more powerful and often larger Tiny Whoop. Personally I prefer the 2S versions as you can still fly them inside but have more power outside.
Emax again makes my favorite “Power Whoop” with the Tinyhawk S. It is a beefed-up version of the original Tinyhawk except that it has a more durable frame and it can handle a more powerful 2S battery. They took the few flaws that the original Tinyhawk had, fixed them and made it more powerful.
Cinewhoops evolved from Power Whoops. People started putting HD cameras on their Power Whoops and realized that you could get some spectacular footage from a little drone. The Eachine Cinecam was the first 4K version, ready-made version and was a giant hit. It looks a little goofy with the two cameras sticking out the front. One records the HD or 4K footage and the other streams back a live analog FPV feed to your goggles.
People realized that these drones could be used to capture cinematic footage that no Mavic or Phantom was capable of. NurkFPV and Shen Drones developed a larger cinewhoop to carry a GoPro for more professional footage. After seeing what they could do I had to build one myself. They are awesome tools. Check out the video below.
What is an FPV toothpick drone?
Toothpick drones were started by Bob Roogi, aka KabobFPV. A dentist with a passion for flying lightweight FPV drones he wanted something that could perform like a full-size FPV drone but was much smaller and lighter. He started by using a lot of the same components that were found on Tiny Whoop style drones but removing the ducts and using larger propellers. These small, lightweight drones were much more agile than a Tiny Whoop. The incredible power-weight ratio made these little drones a blast to fly. Toothpicks typically weigh less than 50 grams and can fly on 1S or 2S batteries. Like the tiny whoops they often can be purchased for around $100.
Emax again makes an excellent toothpick with their Tinyhawk Freestyle. It is the best toothpick for a beginner. It is very durable and also affordable at right around $100. The Tinyhawk Freestyle is ready to go out of the box and is a great value at around $100.
However, my favorite toothpick is the orange Diatone GTB229. The Diatone is a little more expensive at around $120 and you’ll have to add your own receiver. It has fantastic performance and feels locked in when I’m flying it. It was a collaboration between KabobFPV, the toothpick creator and Diatone.
Toothpick to twig?
Twigs are the evolution of toothpick drones. They are bigger and faster. They can handle 2S, 3S, and sometimes even 4S batteries. I believe it started with the Speed Racer Twig from Racer X FPV. Generally, they weigh between 50-80 grams and have 2-3″ propellers. I’m sure in time someone will even build a 6S twig. And because they are bigger and more powerful people have started adding small HD cameras so we have the beginnings of CineTwigs…
My personal favorite twig is either the Happymodel Larva X or the HGLRC Parrot 120. The Larva X is one of the smaller Twigs out there. It has an onboard DVR connected to the VTX (video transmitter). It can capture your FPV flights on the DVR and is almost as small as a toothpick so it can fit in tight places. Twigs tend to be more expensive than toothpicks, especially if you are adding an HD camera. They typically will cost somewhere between $120-175.
The HGLRC Parrot 120 is a bigger twig. It is more powerful and has a full 20 x 20 stack inside. It’s like someone took a full-size FPV freestyle drone and shrank it down. It performs really well and is incredibly agile.
Twigs and toothpicks are probably my favorite style of drone. They are fun to fly and I can practice my freestyle or acro flying without drawing a crowd of people. They are quieter and safer than larger 5″ drones. So what is a 5″ drone?
Five-inch drones are bigger than five inches
Often times pilots will refer to their drone by the size of the propeller. A five-inch drone has a 5″ propeller. A four-inch drone has a 4″ propeller. A three-inch drone has a 3″ propeller and so on. Five-inch is the “standard” FPV race drone size. These drones are big and powerful. They can hit speeds upwards of 100 mph. Five-inch FPV quads are no joke. Also, bigger drones carry a larger price tag. These quads will set you back $150-250 for a decent beginner model but really the sky is the limit on the components and the price of these drones.
The new DJI digital FPV system has really changed the way people fly. The new HD camera and FPV feed is fantastic and makes for an awesome experience. However, it will cost over $1,000 to get started with DJI. The new Emax Hawk Pro or Hawk Sport is my suggestion for anyone looking for a good ready-to-fly 5″ drone.
I don’t recommend that pilots that want to get into flying FPV start with a 5″ quad. Two-inch or three-inch drones are probably better places to start. I absolutely love my Emax Babyhawk 4″ drone. It can do everything a 5″ can do and it is just a bit smaller. For the true beginner, I’d recommend starting with a smaller and lighter drone. Toothpicks, twigs, and whoops are all excellent quads to start. If you are new to flying FPV then start small and work your way up.
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