FPV drone for starters from a starter
Updated: Jun 12, 2020
This post is mainly about how i started off the wrong foot flying fpv drones, left the hobby and returned back with a tiny miny Tinyhawk 2.
Buy, crash, leave?; So i bought my first fpv drone (Storm Racer) in 2015 which was a 5 inch racing quad. I quickly realised i need a proper, free space without people arround to fly it which i didnt have living in the middle of the city in Istanbul. So i was able to hover it at the car park near my office, and once i was comfortable enough i took it to the fields 2 times in 2 months and both were ended with crashes which coused a broken arm in the first one and a bashed motor in the second one. Coming from a DJI Inspire 1 drone I thought its too hard, expensive and not that fun after all and left the fpv drone flying then and there.
Boy i was wrong; I moved from Istanbul/Turkey to London/UK in 2018. I have been a cinematographer also a certified drone pilot in Turkey but my certificate was useless in UK and i missed flying. Was watching online fpv videos admiring and thats when i came across with the simulators. At first it didnt capture my interest too much due to "Simulator" word being too technical I guess. But after a while I realised it might be fun since people were comparing it to real life flights and i could give one more try to Fpv drone flying without an expence or need a proper place to fly a fully equiped racing drone. Also i still had my Devo 7 transmitter that has left from my first ever fpv drone which i was able to fly two times ending with big crashes.
Starting with simulator; I made a fair amount of research to be able to understand which fpv simulator is the most realistic one before i made the purchase. The ones I was considering were Liftoff, Velocidrone and DRL (i have all now ). Since I was gaming mostly on Steam I have chosen to go with Liftoff. My Devo7 controller didnt have any usb ports so I had to use a mono audio plug connecting it to PC's microphone plug and use a software called SmartPropoPlus to convert the signals from controller to the PC. Afer using the mono 3.5mm jack audio cable for a while, I upgraded to a usb dongle that converts the signals more precisely and gives more definition at the simulator. (20 something steps with just the audio cable using with mic input to arround 100 steps in each direction with usb dongle.)
The journey begins; It was hard, I mean I was expecting it to be easier with all the DJI drone experience I had. But it was nothing like that. To give it an example if flying a fullypacked 5 inch racing quad (even in a simulator not in real life) is like driving a high end motorsycle, DJI drone is like riding a 7 year old's tricycle. But to able to crash as many times as you want and restart immediatly after crashing made me understand how the drone reacts to my stick movements. And in time i started to understand the flight characteristics of a drone which is not stabilised with sensors like the DJI one has. The more I fly with the simulator, the more I sucked in to the hobby. I would see it later but the community in Liftoff was soo much friendly and helpfull from any other simulator I tried. For example I would fly a infinite race (which you can start, stop, enter, exit the race anytime you want and the top lap times are shown in top right corner so you can compare your flight to the other racers) and some realy good flying pilots would watch my flight in a spectator mode and tell me what im doing wrong such as my stick movements, cornering, camera angle etc.. Thats when I learned the importance of setting the rates and camera angle right.
Boosting the love for FPV;
While getting stick time in the Liftoff I was checking the videos on Youtube admiring all the great pilots and when you start to give more time to fpv its inevitable to come across videos of RotorRiot and Joshua Bardwell. Watching RotorRiot episodes made me love the hobby more. And watching Joshua Bardwell videos made me understand how the quad actually works. The more I learned the more I loved the hobby. Here are the links for the channels. RotorRiot Joshua Bardwell
After 100 hours of Liftoff; I was getting better and started to feel more comfortable but still didnt have the guts to get a 5 incher. So I started looking for communities in London and find London Indoor Fpv Group's event which basically couple of pilots gathering in a pub at a mini drone racing event. I joined them as a spectetor and it was so much fun even to watch them hitting the small gates with these really small drones. Ben Fong even let me have a go with his spare Tinyhawk drone. My hands were shaking and sweating, after all it was the first time i was flying a real drone after my crashes long time ago and it was someone elses drone ! I was able to hover and hit a gate but thats all. Rest of the time I drank my beer and watched the guys flying arround the race course in the pub. I was immediatly drawn to the fact that I need to do this.
First real FPV drone after years; After the day of the event I immediatly searched google for mini drones. There were soo much different brands with different specs. At the time of my purchase there was only Tinyhawk 2 Ready to fly bundle available with the controller and goggles. I did some research (basicaly watched review videos) and decided to go with it. Got the quad and started flying it. It was kinda hard coming from Simulator where your drone is making 200km an hour and trying to fly this small tiny thing indoors. It took some time to learn to fine tune the rates, filters camera angle... But I was able to find what im looking for and more on Joshua Bardwel's videos. Also Fpv drone community was always helpfull if i had a question. Here is one of the first flights (I think it is the 3rd day of flying the TH2 since I got the device that can output video to my phone where i can record it. )
I borrowed the rates from BlueLine FPV's betaflight settings and changed them to my liking. And have been changing it here and there to fine tune as I go to be able to fly it better.
Here is a link to the same drone but in bind and fly option. link
I sold my goggles and controller that came with the ready to fly kit of Tinyhawk 2. Got myself an Eachine 800D box google which has on board DVR for recording the flights and got a Jumper T16 Pro v2 radio controller since I will not be leaving the hobby any time soon. My goal is to add FPV flying to my cinematography arsenal and have fun while achieving that goal. So I will probably go for a Naked Go Pro Drone after I feel comfortable enough to fly a bigger quad without crashing. But until that day I will continue to fly the Tinyhawk 2 in proper areas outdoors and mostly inside my home practicing.
By the way I am still using the simulator Liftoff and Velocidrone. It helps me to keep the reflexes sharp and helps me feel flying a much stronger quad. Also I upgraded from usb dongle to wireless dongle for simulators which i built using ardunio nano and a receiver. You can find the instructions here at Drone Mesh's video.
And here are some of my latest flights;
The next blogs will probably cover Simulators, the rates pid and mods for Tinyhawk 2 (if there is going to be one). Happy flying