When it comes to FPV, there’s a plethora of parts and options out there, both good and bad. But what do the pros use? Let’s talk gear.
As FPV pilots, we build our quads to suit our individual needs, style, and preference. For example, racers build lightweight high-powered racing quads. Cinematic pilots go for smoothness and throttle control above all else. Bando slayers lean toward durability while long-range pilots build up for efficiency. That’s the beauty of it all, you can build anything. However figuring out what works best for what is a bit of a hassle.
I’ve been flying FPV for little over three years now. I mostly fly for fun but I also get the occasional gig and do some commercial work every now and then. During that time I’ve gone through a sea of components until I’ve found what works for me. (Of course what works for me might not work for everyone, so be prepared to take anything you read here with a grain of salt.) Before we talk about the gear, let’s have a quick look at what that gear is used for.
Backpack and contents
Let’s start off with the non-flying stuff first. The backpack I use is the Torvol Pitstop Pro, it’s a purpose-made highly refined backpack for FPV, and I highly recommend it. It fits all of my tools, spare parts, extra props, GoPros, ND filters, two pairs of goggles, controller, charger, a couple of batteries for the goggles, and some other accessories. It even has a laptop slot in the back. On the outside it can comfortably carry four standard 5″ quads, but if you really need to, you can go up to six. It really is the ultimate FPV backpack. The only alternative I would consider using is the Pyrodrone backpack, but at the time of writing it’s not out yet.
The more observant readers might have noticed I haven’t mentioned my Li-Po’s (drone batteries) yet. That’s because I prefer to not keep all that weight on my back. For my Li-Po batteries I use the Ethix heated deluxe Li-Po bag. Not only does it have built-in heaters (which are a must-have when flying in very cold weather conditions), but it also has a 5v USB output that can power or charge other devices (most often my GoPro batteries) via USB. Pretty cool, huh?
My radio of choice is the Jumper T16; I got it way back when it came out. Since then a better alternative has shown up on the market and that would be the Radiomaster TX16S. They’re so similar that I haven’t made the switch, but it’s the default radio I recommend to everyone. It’s got all the bells and whistles and probably more than you need for flying quads, but it’s nice to have options.
Of course inside the radio I’m using a TBS Crossfire LITE module for my control link. It’s the most reliable long range control system, backed up by the TBS ecosystem, which makes updating and managing all of my TBS gear a breeze. The LITE module goes up to 2 watts but you rarely ever need that much power, and you’re probably fine with using the smaller TBS Crossfire Micro module.
There’s one thing I don’t like about my radio setup though, and it’s the size of it. The Jumper is huge and the only way I can carry it around is in my big backpack or a separate smaller bag. Which brings me to the only other radio I can recommend, which I plan on getting myself, and that’s the TBS Tango 2 Pro. It’s a small profile style radio that has the Crossfire system built in. You don’t need an extra module to get the control link stability and range that comes with Crossfire.
For my goggle setup I use both analog and digital, depending on where and what I’m flying. When I’m flying aggressive fast-paced freestyle, micro drones, or racing, I use my analog setup. And when I’m flying to get cinematic footage or working a gig, I use my digital setup. Check out this article for more on my thoughts on flying analog vs. flying digital.
My analog setup consists of the old Fatshark Dominator HDO goggles, an ImmersionRC Rapidfire and the Ethix/VAS omnidirectional and patch antennas. There are better analog goggles out there, the Fatshark HDO2‘s for example, but I really didn’t like those. I’ve tried them, they’re not as comfortable on my face with the factory foam, and the optics are really finicky and need re-adjustment every time you put them on. The other better pair of goggles on the market are the Orqa FPV.one goggles – which are the most comfortable analog goggle I’ve tried. No finicky optics and extremely future proof. They’re the most advanced analog goggles on the market.
On to the digital. I use the v1 DJI FPV Goggles paired with two TrueRC X-AIR 5.8GHz patch antennas. These antennas have the best performance for the v1 DJI FPV system. They also have decent coverage when flying both behind and around yourself, so long as you don’t go behind too much stuff like rocks, walls, or dense foliage. Very close behind in performance, but miles ahead in pricing and practicality, are the Lumenier AXII HD Combo Set antennas. Aftermarket antennas are a must-have for the DJI FPV goggles because the factory antennas that come with the goggles are purposely made to have lower performance in order for the goggles to pass FCC regulations.
The fleet consists of four primary quads – three of which are using the ImpulseRC Apex frame, and one heavily modified Diatone Taycan. The reason I’m using the Apex frame is that I consider it to be the best frame on the market. Very well designed, extremely durable, and easy to tune.
The main quad is a 6″ digital Apex HD running Emuflight and a DJI Air Unit. I use this one for longer flights, cinematic stuff, and the occasional 6″ freestyle. Secondary is my 5″ digital Apex, also running Emuflight but instead of the bulky DJI Air Unit, it uses a Caddx Vista. This is my general freestyle quad, but it’s also my workhorse quad for gigs and cinematic shoots. Coming up on the third quad, it’s an analog 5″ Apex running KISS v2 and a TBS Unify Pro HV. This is the bando slayer, all around basher and freestyle quad. I fly this one primarily for fun, but it’s also the backup quad. Nothing flies like KISS, it just feels so good in the air.
And finally we have the Taycan cinewhoop. Nothing too special about it, you guessed it, it’s running Emuflight and more importantly a DJI Air unit (which really should be a vista since with cinewhoops you want to keep them as light as possible). But why is digital important here? Cinewhoops benefit the most from digital as it makes it a lot easier to plan the shot if you can see everything clearly.
Complete parts list:
6″ Digital Apex
Frame: ImpulseRC Apex HD 6″
Props: Ethix K2
Motors: Brotherhobby Avenger V2 2507-1850kv
ESC: Diatone Mamba F50
Battery: CNHL Black Series 6S 1300mAh
FC: Diatone Mamba F405 MK2
VTX: DJI Air Unit
VTX Antenna: 2x TBS Triumph Pro RHCP MMCX
Camera: DJI Air Unit
RX: Crossfire Diversity RX + 2x Immortal T v2
5″ Analog Apex
Frame: ImpulseRC Apex 5″
Props: Ethix S3
Motors: MrSteele Stout V3
ESC: KISS 25A 32bit
Battery: CNHL Black Series 6S 1100mAh
FC: KISS V2
VTX: TBS Unify Pro HV
VTX Antenna: TBS Triumph Pro SMA
Camera: Foxeer Falcor Mini
RX: Crossfire Nano RX + Immortal T v2
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