New to FPV racing and overwhelmed by the vast array of kits, parts & accessories to choose from? No worries - we're here to give you a helping hand!

To help guide you through all the FPV racing world has to offer, we have detailed many common aspects & questions relating to the FPV scene in hopes of making this trek a bit less stressful. Further, we have also noted some popular products & recommendations to help new pilots grab a hold of products that will do the job and bring on the fun. So, sit back and relax as we take some detailed looks regarding common topics, questions and products to better help you get setup in FPV the right way.

What Is FPV?

FPV stands for "First Person View," and relates to navigating an aircraft via a monitor or video goggle based system. This gives the pilot a unique point of view, and is an exhilarating flight experience.

FPV based aircraft can be quite diverse, and include quad copters & airplanes of all sizes and capabilities. Since our main focus for this article relates to FPV quad copters, our focus will be based upon these aircraft alone.

1st Time FPV

When it comes to RC flight, nothing is quite as unique as having a seat of the pants ride onboard your aircraft, which is essentially what you're getting when you fly FPV. This realm of RC has virtually exploded in growth when it comes to the RC hobby in and of itself, pushing past all manners of barriers as FPV racing becomes a mainstream sport that can now be seen on TV.

Exhilarating, disorientating and just plain crazy fun is the best way to describe the 1st few wild rides you'll take, and most people become instantly hooked as they dive into the world of FPV. No matter what, FPV will certainly change your perspective in ways that cannot be described until you have the chance to experience the madness 1st hand!

Is It Hard To Fly FPV?

Strapping on a set of FPV goggles and navigating an RC aircraft solely via the on board camera is one wild ride, and without doubt, quite challenging. From lack of peripheral views, differing depth perception, spatial disorientation and a lack of situational awareness, the challenges of FPV flight can be daunting at first glance! Did we mention motion sickness as well? Yes - that can crop up, too!

However, with the right setup, the proper place to fly and a good dose of practice, FPV flight will quickly become one of the most incredible RC flights you will ever enjoy, offering worldviews that are simply insane. From the rush of speed of low altitude proximity flight to expansive views while flying high above, flying FPV leaves you feeling as if you're really on board your aircraft as you explore a true virtual reality that must be seen to be believed.

Angle Mode / Horizon Mode / Rate Mode - Knowing the Difference

With multiple flight modes to choose from, FPV pilots can choose the mode that works best based upon their skill set, allowing novice pilots to step into the game with augmented stability to help keep the "wings" level during the learning phase.

With Angle Mode, no matter how much the user deflects the controls, the aircraft will limit bank / pitch rates to around 45 degrees. Upon release of the control sticks, the aircraft will self right back to level flight, making it easy to recover when control is lost. Horizon Mode offers the same capability, but when the user deflects the controls beyond 75%, the aircraft will allow unlimited bank / pitch angles, providing the pilot the ability to explore more radical & advanced maneuvers. However, upon release of the control sticks, the aircraft will rotate back to level flight - again, allowing easy recovery when control is lost. With Rate Mode, the aircraft places zero restrictions upon bank / pitch angles, allowing full freedom of flight. This mode allows advanced aerobatic flight maneuvers, and has no stability modes to bail you out when things get dicey, so beware. With that said, this mode of flight is preferred by any advanced pilot, so graduating to this level is ideal.

Your View

If you have been perusing YouTube and enjoying the insane ride of a full speed FPV flight, you are more than likely seeing the video footage that has been recorded from a secondary high definition camera on board the aircraft - not the actual video footage the pilot is seeing via their goggle based view.

There is a very distinct difference between a high definition GoPro camera view and the real time video that you see in flight - specifically due to the fact that the camera system that is streaming the video to you is doing so via a 5.8GHz video transmitter. This is further compounded by all manners of things that can cause video reception issues during flight, thus causing static breakup or video clarity issues. In short, the video feed you see in flight will not be crystal clear, and you will need to contend with static and other aspects of video reception issues as you navigate around obstacles and push the range of your aircraft. But don't worry, as with many things, you will adapt to the new view of the world while in flight, learning how your aircraft responds to different environments and ranges while you fly full FPV.

Choosing Your Ride

With a massive array of kits, frames and FPV products, it's dizzying to wade through the expansive waters the FPV scene has become. The great news is that the skies are literally the limit when it comes to choice, offering multiple options at all manners of price points to fit your budget.

Now, it just comes down to finding what works best based upon your budget and skill set.

RTF vs. BNF

RTF (Ready To Fly) kits versus BNF (Bind N Fly) kits offer differing options to the end user, based upon equipment required. If you're brand new to FPV (and RC in general) and don't own a transmitter, an RTF aircraft will probably be your best choice. Here's why.

With an RTF solution, everything is included. From the aircraft that is already assembled and ready to go, to the included transmitter, battery and battery charger. Simply put, the RTF setup makes it simple when it comes to getting right into the FPV game. This is an ideal setup for brand new RC pilots, as the challenge of flight is what you want versus the challenge of setup when it comes to aircraft functionality. This allows you to jump right into learning flight skills versus more time consuming setup complexities. Have your own transmitter and battery charger? The BNF solution may be the best route for you. However, BNF aircraft typically require a Spektrum transmitter, so if you are using a different brand of transmitter, be careful about compatibility. For the sake of simplicity, we'll stick with Spektrum based aircraft within this article relating to BNF solutions.

BNF Recommendations

Blade Torrent 110 FPV BNF Basic - BLH04050 ($199.99)

Larger and more powerful than the previous Inductrix, the Torrent 110 FPV is a BNF solution that is light weight, powerful and very durable due to the caged rotor blade system. Utilizing high power brushless motors, this quad allows plenty of bumps & bruises with less chance of damage, making this high performance quad a durable choice when it comes to learning the ropes of FPV.

Requiring a transmitter (a Spektrum Tx like the DX6e - SPMR6650 - is ideal) and FPV goggle set (for example, the FatShark Transformer SE) and a battery & charger to bring this quad to life, this setup is the next leg up in the ladder, offering a higher performance setup that is easy to setup and fly. No in depth programming is necessary, aside from basic transmitter setup that is detailed within the manual.

Kit vs. Complete

In the vast world of FPV quads, you will find all manners of kits, ranging from bare frames that require every last electronic component to be purchased separately, all the way to ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) kits that require transmitter, receiver, battery, charger and an FPV setup to complete the package.

Considering the complexities and large amount of info involved with building up an FPV quad from the ground up, we will skip the "ground up" build option and detail a few other ARF options for those looking for more power & speed. If you have a Ricky Bobby mentality with a "I wanna go fast" mindset, these aircraft just may be your ticket for some serious speed. Of course, this all comes at a higher price point, so it just depends upon your budget and what you prefer.

ARF Options

Requiring a transmitter, receiver, battery, charger and FPV goggle set, the below ARF kits are some great options for a high end FPV experience that will allow you to push the ragged edge of FPV. These aircraft aren't necessarily more difficult to fly, but will require some more advanced setup skills, so it all comes down to a balance between performance and the necessary time invested to get your equipment up to speed.

Regarding the aircraft below, these are a small sample of what's available in the FPV racing world. We have limited the selection based upon this article being geared toward entry level pilots in hopes of simplifying the overall process. SpedixRC Black Knight 210 FPV Racing Quadcopter - SPX-81028 ($195.00)

One of the most budget friendly high performance quad copters we've seen, the SpedixRC Black Knight provides all the thrills & spills FPV racing has to offer in a high performance layout that spares little when it comes to capability & outright functionality.

Unlike the previously mentioned BNF & RTF Blade machines, the Black Knight will require some basic setup via CleanFlight (info below), but is ready to be bound to a Spektrum based transmitter. As for CleanFlight (www.cleanflight.com), this is an open source software that allows you to program and fine tune the flight controller, and will be required for basic setup of this aircraft. You will need a PC or Mac to download this software and use it to setup your aircraft. Scared of this type of setup? No worries - YouTube is chock full of many setup videos with CleanFlight. You don't need to find a video related to your aircraft, either, as the software is applicable to all manner of quad copters and can be used in similar fashion. Read up on it and watch a few videos - it's really not that hard once you give it a closer look. Requires: (1) Spektrum Transmitter
(1) 3S 11.1V 1350mAh - 1550mAh / 4S 14.8V 1350mAh - 1550mAh LiPo Battery
(1) LiPo Battery Charger
(1) 5.8GHz FPV Goggle Set
Vortex 150 Pro BNF Basic - BLH9550 ($319.99)

Ultra small and wickedly fast, the Vortex 150 BNF is smaller in size, but lacks nothing in terms of power, performance and outright FPV speed. Further this with the ease of BNF setup via a compatible Spektrum transmitter, the Vortex 150 makes it easy to jump into the high performance side of FPV without the typical fuss & bother of programming & setup.

Requires:

(1) Spektrum Transmitter
(1) 3S 11.1V - 4S 14.8V 500mAh - 800mAh LiPo Battery (PLU45-8603 Recommended)
(1) LiPo Battery Charger
(1) FPV Goggle Set

Vortex 250 Pro BNF Basic - BLH9250 ($499.99)

At the highest end of the price point spectrum, the Vortex 250 Pro is a race ready, high performance quad copter that will offer everything an FPV racing pilot could ever want. Further this with BNF simplicity via compatible Spektrum transmitters, and this quad makes it easy to jump into the FPV deep end without the complexity of advanced setup. Add in the required components below, and the Vortex 250 Pro is your high performance ticket to the skies, providing ease & simplicity that gets you in the air quickly.

Requires:

(1) Spektrum Transmitter
(1) 3S 11.1V 1350mAh - 1550mAh / 4S 14.8V 1350mAh - 1550mAh LiPo Battery
(1) LiPo Battery Charger
(1) FPV Goggle Set

Goggles Galore

Okay - you've decided to step it up a notch with a BNF / ARF setup, and now you need to choose an FPV goggle set to get your FPV dreams in gear. So, where do you go from here?

When it comes to FPV goggles, there are plenty of options to choose from with differing prices, styles and overall functionality. Simply put, it gets confusing quite quickly!

But don't worry - we'll do our best to provide a few options, and we'll lay out some basic info to help make sense of it all.

Traditional Style FPV Goggles

Traditional FPV goggles in some respects look like oversized sunglasses with a compact layout and smaller overall footprint. This type of goggle system utilizes separate LCD screens in front of each eye, and when viewing the goggles, the two screens are seen as one.

Traditional style goggles of this nature are the most popular used goggles you will see on the flight line. However, some pilots have difficulties with vision issues, which can sometimes make usage of these goggles difficult. Manufacturers (such as FatShark) have provided ways to deal with vision problems by offering adjustable IPD (Interpupillary Distance), allowing the user to laterally move the individual optics of the goggles via a small slider. This offers the ability to adjust to the end users specific IPD, customizing the focus for the user at hand. Corrective lenses are also offered, allowing the end user to snap in a select set of lenses to correct for nearsighted vision issues. Even with the above options that address vision issues, some users just have problems using goggles of this type. Further, if the noted corrective lenses don't correct a specific vision issue, the options pretty much end there, as due to the way traditional style goggles are designed to fit upon the users face, wearing glasses is out of the question.

Headset Style FPV Goggles

Utilizing a single screen layout, headset style goggles are much larger in size, with an overall larger footprint when it comes to how they are situated. Although bigger and bulkier, the lightweight build of these goggles (utilizing larger straps and foam padding) make these goggles equally as easy to wear as a traditional style FPV goggle set.

The biggest difference is that if a user needs to, glasses "may" be worn with a headset system of this nature, although these systems were not outright designed for glasses. Even more, those that may struggle with certain vision issues with traditional goggles (even those without the need for corrective lenses) can find the headset system easier to focus when it comes to the images being displayed.

Traditional vs. Headset - Which To Choose?

In all reality, it comes down to personal preference, as neither system is a "better" setup that comes out as a clear winner. Due to a myriad of reasons (vision, comfort, image preference, etc.), pilots will gravitate to one system or the other, so it's down to personal choice.

Ideally, we recommend trying to find a way to test an FPV system in the flesh, allowing you to choose the optimal system based upon your preferences. However, not everyone will have the luxury of checking out such a system in person, so choose what works best based upon information available and any vision issues you may have.

Recommendations

Below are a few recommendations we'll make based upon goggles we've used and overall budget considerations. Other lower cost options are available, but we're sticking to the brand we know - FatShark.

FatShark Transformer SE ($189.00)

Power to the People - Choosing the Right Battery

Choosing the correct battery for your aircraft can become quite complicated, as many factors come into play. From voltage, capacity, C ratings and more, you want to make sure you choose the best battery based upon your aircraft application.

Voltage wise, popular choices for multiple FPV racers often come down to 3S 11.1V & 4S 14.8V battery options, leaving the pilot to decide what powers the craft. So, which path should you take relating to these two choices? If you're new to FPV, fight the urge to jump to the highest voltage option available for your model. Although more power and speed will be available, the aircraft will also be more difficult to fly, so a 3S 11.1V option is the preferred choice for new pilots. As for capacity, (mAh - how much "gas" is in the tank) the manufacturer of the aircraft will always list a range of mAh to choose from, so it comes down to a balance between flight time versus weight. If you're new to FPV, more flight time is the key, so spring for more mAh and don't worry about a few extra grams of weight. In reference to C rating, this directly corresponds to how much amperage the battery can deliver to your aircraft without the voltage (and performance) sagging. And since FPV racing machines pull some mean amperage, look for batteries from 45C to 75C, as these high amperage rates will keep you from wearing your batteries out too quickly. Lastly, FPV racing is fun, addictive and requires lots of batteries. FPV racers typically have short flight times due to how much power they consume, so stock up on spare batteries - believe us, it will be worth the investment!

Props

Without them, you're grounded. Available in differing sizes, colors, pitch angles and blade count, you have many to choose from. So, what's the best solution?

Regarding blade size and pitch, your aircraft will have a recommended size to utilize. To make sure you don't end up burning up your motors with the wrong prop, stick to the script and stay with the manufacturer recommendations. As for multi bladed props, adding an extra blade changes the equation, offering more "disc area" for the prop to work the airflow, thus equating to more thrust that can be produced at a given r.p.m. However, this does not mean a multi bladed prop is "faster" in terms of speed - it simply "grabs" more air in quicker fashion, equaling rapid levels of acceleration. We recommend sticking with the size of props (and blade count as well) relating to what your aircraft comes with, and buying plenty of spares. Seriously - stock up like it's end times. One thing you will go through (quickly, we might add) is props.

1st Flight Tips

Okay - you're ready for your 1st flight! Awesome - we know you're going to love it! However, follow the below guidelines, as this will make the progression of learning much easier and far less painful.

Wide Open Spaces

Resist the urge (at all costs) when it comes to flying in tight confines - it won't end well. You want a wide open area with as few obstacles as possible.

Believe us - you will use up an incredible amount of airspace as you begin to learn the ropes, so find an open area that is free of obstacles, and most importantly, people!

LOS First!

Although so tempting to strap on your goggles and go for the gusto, fly your aircraft LOS (Line Of Sight) 1st without your goggles, allowing yourself to get a feel for the power settings, aircraft feel and the way the aircraft reacts to your input. This will also allow you to trim the aircraft out and adjust for any drift issues that may be taking place, which will be difficult to manage the 1st few flights under the hood.

Take It Slow

It's easy to get excited and push the limits, but restrain yourself and take it slow. Control the hover, keep the speeds slow, and progress at a comfortable pace as you learn the aircraft's handling characteristics. Altitude is your friend, but keep your altitude in check!

Angle Mode Can Save You

For new FPV pilots, angle mode is your friend. Use this stability aid to help you adapt to the aircraft, and as you progress, begin to explore Horizon Mode, and finally, Rate Mode.

Relating to these stability aids, the faster you adapt to Rate Mode, the better. Do your best to adapt to the craft and not spend too much time depending upon Angle Mode / Horizon Mode, as you will begin to teach yourself habits that will be difficult to break. Rate Mode is where you want to be, but spend a bit of time getting there!

Spare Your GoPro!

Since crashing is part of the early phases of learning, spare your GoPro (and your wallet) until you become adapted to your machine. GoPro cameras are not cheap, and smashing them into the ground over & over does them little good, nor does it equate to great video footage - even in 4K.

Enjoy!

We hope this article has provided you with a good start into FPV, and even more, we hope you end up finding the perfect model as you step into the wild world of FPV flight.

If you still have questions, we're here to help! Feel free to Contact Us, or give us a call at 877-439-4354, and we will be more than happy to help with any questions you may have!