There’s good news, and there’s bad news. The bad news? A second wave of COVID-19 is starting to emerge as the seasons change and more people move indoors and into closer contact. The good news? It’s a great time to start honing your FPV skills so that you’ll be ready for 2021.
I’ve been trying to learn how to fly FPV. And while I’ve fooled around with a Horizon Hobby copy of the original Tiny Whoop, I wanted to improve during some downtime I had at the start of the pandemic. I was also looking for some escape as a brain break from COVID-19. Flying in the house fit the bill. It was a way to build skills, avoid my day job for a few minutes at a time, and just plain have fun. It was also affordable — and a great way to test the FPV waters without spending a whole ton of dough.
I’ll tell you what I used and why — and also point you toward something that looks like a fantastic package if you’re starting from scratch. Ready? Here we go.
I’m not a radio expert. There are a ton of things my radio can do that I still don’t understand. What I did understand some time ago, however, was that getting a decent radio was important. And so, with a lot of lobbying, I’d convinced my wife the previous Christmas to get me a Taranis Q X7S. I’m sure many of you reading know more on this topic and may have other radios. That’s great, and I hope you’ll tag your favorites in the comments. But the point here is to explain what I had: The Taranis Q X7S. I’m linking to it here at Rotorgeeks, which offered me great advice when I was setting out.
It wasn’t clear yet if I would further explore the world of FPV. So I didn’t want to spend a bunch of pricey goggles. I had previously opted for one of those giant funky sets at the low-end of the price range — the original Quanum Cyclops:
We picked up an EMAX Tiny Hawk (the manufacturer now builds the TinyHawk2). It’s a great little quad for learning indoors without damaging anything (including relationships). And while it’s tiny and relatively inexpensive, the board has a micro-USB port that allows you to connect to your laptop and Betaflight configurator software. It’s a great way to learn.
Remember, I only had the original TinyHawk. The reviews for the TinyHawk2 are spectacular:
Extremely Durable. Great quad to learn on and beyond. Simple enough to setup and bind for initial flight out of the box with little to no experience utilizing online tutorials. Also enough power and ability to keep pilot happy for a long time into more advanced flight. Really recommend for pilots of all abilities for some really fun Spec-Type racing and just ripping around the house and the yard. I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy the working on the TinyHawk class platform for a long TimeCapt. Overkill, EMAX USA site
The next review is important for people already flying FPV. This thing may be small, but it’s a blast:
I fly 4″ & 5″ quads and had never had the pleasure of flying a tinywhoop before. I honestly thought it would be a toy and was getting it to have my son practice on since I didn’t want him to destroy things with larger quads. No, this is mine, all mine now!!! hahah! Seriously, it is so much fun. My house is still a bit too small to let it rip properly but our little yard is absolutely perfect for it. I’ll attach a video of chasing my 7yr/o around the yard. Bottom line is if you want something simple, durable, but with a lot of the things you love about a larger quad in a tiny fast package. Grab one, I don’t see how you can be dissapointed.“relo”, EMAX USA site
Once the lockdown began, it seemed a good time to get rolling. I’d picked up extra batteries, so had about six available. Each would provide about three or four minutes of good flight around the house.
There were at first (and of course) a lot of crashes. A little too much input and my view would spin from a stable flight into the living room and tumble down into an upside-down vista from beneath the couch. Hmmm.. a lot of dust down here. (Also had a couple of instances where pet hair became wound around a motor shaft and had to be picked off with tweezers.)
At the start? Arm. Fly. Crash. It took a lot of flights before I was still airborne after one minute. But practice makes competent. And soon I was able to exceed a minute, 90 seconds, two minutes, etc. I wasn’t a pro, but I was no longer a newbie. Plus, you know what? It’s fun.
Great starter’s kit
I was flying a bit of a hodgepodge. An EMAX with a Taranis and an old pair or Cyclops goggles. It all worked, for sure. But for someone looking to break into this, it might be easier — and less expensive — to consider an all-in-one.
I’ve seen a few packaged bundles with components like this on hobby sites. But one of those that impresses me most is from BetaFPV. I’ve heard pro FPV pilots rave about them, and I’ve just set up the HX-115 (purchased months ago, and a story for another day). So when a promo email landed with a link to a new kit, I was intrigued.
FPV All-in-one for beginners
BetaFPV has recognized that there are plenty of people out there looking for an all-in-one solution And the company has pulled something together that fits the bill. Its new FPV Racing Advanced Kit 2 brings everything together at a great price. You get a brushless quad (and you want brushless), a controller, plus goggles for $199. Here’s the system:
That’s a deal
Anyone familiar with this scene knows that a radio alone can easily cost $199. Even many of the brushless Whoop systems are in the $150 range. It’s rare to see everything bundled at a great price, let alone components that are all coming from the same manufacturer. This is a system that is intended to work together out of the box.
If you’re thinking of getting into flying FPV, this is the way to go. You can fly indoors or out, have a lot of fun, and you won’t break the bank. Check it out here.