Buying an FPV Quadcopter – Everything you need to know.

So you have decided to buy a FPV quadcopter?

Great choice! Flying FPV quadcopters can be both exciting and exhilarating. It’s a fun hobby that allows you to do everything from sourcing the parts for your FPV quadcopter and building the model through to tweaking the software to your liking and then getting involved with flying and competing. Alternatively you can buy an off the shelf model turn it on and start to fly straight away.

Right off the bat, this article is going to be talking about racing type FPV quadcopters. There is a whole range of drones aimed at digital photography and many of these can be flown First person view but that is a different topic. Here, I will be talking about FPV quadcopters designed to be flown using the camera to go fast, be maneuverable, perform amazing tricks and basically be loads of fun to pilot.

Before you get started you have a few things to decide, depending on how serious you want to get about this.

Knowing how serious you want to get straight away will help you answer the question of what type of quad you’d like to buy. Also, we are looking at FPV quadcopters so I will ignore quads without a FPV camera that are designed to be flown line of sight (LOS).

The primary types of quad are toy FPV quadcopters, Hobby grade FPV quadcopters and finally professional level FPV quadcopters. The difference between the various grades of quadcopters is generally in the quality of the parts used, the power that the quad will have both in terms of the lift and maneuverability differences in terms of range and lastly the level at which your quadcopter parts are serviceable; for example a cheap toy quad may have cheap brushed motors and there’s a good chance the those motors will not be replaceable meaning that once they break it would mean that your entire quadcopter would be useless and would need to be replaced. A hobby grade quadcopter on the other hand, would contain parts, all of which are serviceable or replaceable so that when any part of your quadcopter brakes, you can simply swap out the part with a brand new one. This level of serviceability also allows you to upgrade all the parts of a FPV quadcopter when you outgrow your current ones or just when better ones become available.

The toy grade category contains FPV quadcopters such as the Hubsan H107D. This is a fun quadcopter to play with and in fact was my first FPV quadcopter. If you want to dip your toe in the Hobby, this quadcopter comes in a complete package that contains the quad the batteries, spare props as well as a controller that doubles as an FPV system. This can be a great way to quickly see if you like the hobby quickly and relatively cheaply. On the other hand it does have certain big drawbacks. Firstly it lacks power especially when flying outdoors. When you do manage to get the quad into an aggressive mode giving you the best chance of flying in the wind, the camera angle is not setup correctly for actually flying first person. The FPV camera is pointing almost straight forward but to fly forward, the quadcopter has to angle down so that the thrust pushes it forward and this results in you either not going forward and having a camera pointing forward or you will be going forward and jut looking at the the grass on the ground. This is not ideal and gives us a really important feature for a fpv quadcopter – the camera either needs to be angled up (by all least 20 degrees or even better, should be moveable.

 

Where will you fly your FPV Quadcopter?

While it will be difficult to fly outdoors, you will also find the Husband H107D difficult to fly in a house as the camera has a fairly narrow field of view. That means that you will have a lot of dificulty judging how close you are to things and will also find it difficult to keep track of where you are in a room. So thats another point. The camera on an FPV quadcopter should have a wide field of view. Atlas 120 degrees is good.

Another potential problems with a toy grade quadcopter is the range. I started out flying my Husband H107D and I problems with the video transmission almost straight away. The problem resulted in the video cutting off early on during a flight when the quad got quite high up. Once the video cuts off, you need to switch back to LOS but being inexperienced, it was too much to focus on and I couldn’t find it in the air. Unfortunately it had no buzzer so I was completely unable to find where it had crashed. Thats probably the sccond really important feature that you would need from a FPV (quadcopter apart from a camera) – a buzzer so that you can find it when (not if) you crash and lose it.

I think that while you might save a bit of money initially if you get a toy grade FPV quadcopter, you will quickly outgrow it and end up spending more. Whereas if you get a slightly better one, it will grow with you and probably save you money long term. Also, its worth noticing that beginner hobby type FPV quadcopters are not really that much more expensive than the toy ones and you can actually spend a lot more on the toy ones if you aren’t careful.

My recommendation would be to buy a cheap micro quad that isn’t FPV to practice a bit of LOS flying on then if you want to , move on to a hobby grade FPV quadcopter.

So, we have ruled out one of the toy FPV quadcopters if you want to get into this hobby but that still leaves the question of what should you buy.

I am going to simplify things now and merge hobby and professional FPV quadcopters into one category because they really are just different ends of the same category. Professional quads will be more expensive but they have all the same components and all of the same features.

If you’re just starting out and you probably are if you’re reading this, it’s unlikely that you are going to want to get a professional level quadcopter. Professional level FPV quadcopters don’t differ fundamentally from hobby grade, they will just have the absolute top of the range parts.
Firstly you don’t need to buy the top end parts as the lower end components will build a quad that is quite fast enough and quite powerful enough for what you as a beginner need. Also the chances are if you did by the top of the range quadcopter straight away you would simply crash and break it before developing the skills necessary to fly in FPV. The skill needed to fly takes time to develop and you will actually slow progress down if you try to push too fast. You will still have excellent fun and will be blowed away by what even a lower mid range quad can do. You can then move up the ranks in the more powerful quad copters if you find its a hobby for you and your skill level is good enough.

So that leaves us with hobby level FPV quadcopters.

That term still covers a huge range. You can buy fully built, almost ready to fly (ARTF) FPV quadcopters starting from $40 this will be at the Low end and probably come with brushed motors but these will be a higher quality than you would get if you wet for a toy quad at a similar price.

 

This is a great article to read for more info on this:
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