Drones: What You Need to Fly
Drones have revolutionized the way we capture aerial footage, survey landscapes, and even deliver packages. The development of first-person view (FPV) gear has made drone flying an even more immersive experience, allowing pilots to see what their drones see in real-time. In this article, we’ll discuss what you need to fly drones with FPV gear. If you are not looking to fly FPV but are more interested in photography, a camera based drone with a gimbal might be a better option for you.
Camera Drones We Suggest:
The major camera drone manufacturers are DJI and Autel Robotics. DJI offers better customer care and is the most common camera drone sold. Autel drones offer a few features DJI does not and the biggest advantage is the difference in GEO fencing depending on what country you live in. Both manufacturers have excellent, very capable cameras.
The first item on the list is, of course, the drone. There are many different types of drones available, from small toy drones to professional-grade drones that cost hundreds of dollars. When selecting a FPV drone, consider what you want to use it for. A small toy drone may be perfect for beginners or for those who want to fly indoors, while a professional-grade drone may be a better long term purchase. The most common sizes are 3″ and 5″ drones. When starting off it helps to buy a BNF (bind and fly) pre-built drone until you know what you want from building a custom drone.
FPV DRONE OPTIONS:
Deciding between a drone size and if you want to buy a full ready to fly kit or buy just the drone starting off can make a big difference. The drones below we believe are great starting options.
The controller is what you’ll use to fly the drone. Some drones come with their own controllers, while others require you to purchase a compatible controller separately. When selecting a controller, consider the range, battery life, and what RX system you plan on using. Many controllers are now becoming more compact and mimic a video game controller compared to large controllers of the past. This allows a lot of people a lot more comfort when transitioning from video games to flying drones.
TBS vs ELRS
The two major systems are TBS Crossfire and Express LRS. Both systems are great, however, your drone RX (receiver) must match the controller to work proper. Below are three great controller options.
FPV goggles are what allow you to see what the drone sees in real-time. They come in various sizes and styles, but they all work by streaming a live video feed from the drone’s camera to the goggles. When selecting FPV goggles, consider factors such as resolution, field of view, and compatibility with your drone. There are two major systems currently: Analog and Digital.
FPV Goggle Options:
DJI currently leads the FPV digital world, however there are a few other digital systems available on the market currently. Analog is a older system, however many people still fly and use it. There can be less cost in analog equipment, however many new pilots prefer a digital system.
Antennas are what transmit the video feed from the drone to the goggles. There are two types of antennas: omni-directional and directional. Omni-directional antennas transmit the video feed in all directions, while directional antennas transmit the video feed in a specific direction. Consider what type of flying you’ll be doing and the range you’ll need when selecting antennas for your goggles. Most goggles come with antennas so upgrading them is not required, however many people end up doing so to optimize their setup.
Batteries and Chargers
Drones and FPV gear require a lot of power, so it’s important to have plenty of batteries and a reliable charger. Make sure to purchase batteries that are compatible with your drone and FPV gear, and consider purchasing a charger that can charge multiple batteries at once.
Our favorite charger is the following:
However there are many cheaper options such as:
Batteries are rated by a cell count from 1s-6s usually. The batteries you buy must match the cell count of the drone to prevent damage to motors and other components. There are many brands of batteries and all must be kept safely in a LIPO battery bag. Only charge your batteries when you are going to use them and make sure to keep them at a storage charge when you are not going to fly in the next 48 hours.
Some battery brands are:
There are a few optional accessories that can enhance your drone flying experience. For example, a backpack or carrying case can make it easier to transport your drone and gear, while propeller guards can protect your drone from damage during crashes. Other accessories to consider include extra propellers, landing gear, and lights for flying at night.
Some common accessories we suggest are: