There is no doubt about it – Learning to fly a racing quad FPV is hard. The problem is that its not quite intuitive (especially if you are used to playing computer games with a controller and also, because of the angle that the quad is tilted at, you are always having to balance 2 inputs to do anything.
So, if you are starting out trying to get to grips with learning to fly FPV, just accept it. You are not going to be flying like Skitzo any time soon.
On the other hand, you absolutely can make excellent progress and become a competent pilot in a surprisingly short amount of time. I have recently gone through this process and while I am no expert yet, I am getting pretty competent and I think its recent enough so that I have something to share.
Step 1 in Learning to Fly FPV Quads
Get a simulator. I know, I know, its not the same. You are absolutely right. A simulator does not and probably never will feel exactly like flying a real quad. However, unless you and I have the exact same quad with the exact same settings then our quads will not feel like each other either.
The reasons for using a simulator are firstly that Quads are expensive and you can’t fly yet! That means that you are going to crash and break or even lose a lot of quads before you get good. Secondly, when you fly real quads, your flight time is going to be limited by a number of factors like the number of batteries you have and the whether. With a simulator, you can sit for hours whenever is convenient (Even at night!!!!) and practice. Lastly, on a simulator, the environmental factors like wind and rain are always going to be the same and favourable. You could take this either as a good or a bad point but I think that when you are starting out, you should make it as easy as possible. There will be plenty of time once you have mastered the basics to fight the elements but you want to keep it simple at the start.
I used Liftoff FPV and FPV Freerider and both were great. Liftoff costs about £15 through the steam store and FPV Freerider has a free demo or is about £10 for the paid version. Both are good and you would be fine to start with the free version.
You are going to need a transmitter. YOu can use a PS4 or XBOX controller but it is not the same. The sticks aren’t as sensitive and have a bigger dead spot. Also, having the throttle self centre is a real pain and makes it much harder.
Most controllers have a USB socket but you can’t use it to plug in as a controller unfortunately. You need ot get a separate simulator cable which you can buy from Banggood or on ebay. However, I found out to my surprise that the transmitter that I got quite by chance actually will let you use the micro USB socket to connect.
The FlySky FS-I6S which is the upgraded version of the FS-I6 which comes with a lot of RTF quads is a great cheap beginner transmitter and works brilliantly at least on my Mac.
So, once you have a simulator and a transmitter set up what do you do?
Well its time for step 2 – Flying.
Load up your simulator on an open area (no tracks with tiny ground gates) and just take off and fly slowly forward. When you get the the end attempt to turn around and repeat. If you are like me, you won’t be able to make a single turn without completely losing control at first. Don’t worry. The goal here is not to be amazing, the goal if to gradually build up the awareness of how to make each manoeuvre and to build up the muscle memory in your hands.
Fly for a while doing something that you find very simple and then once you find that easy, pick a very slightly more challenging task like making a turn round a tree without gaining height and then maybe flying a figure 8 around 2 trees at opposite ends of the field. Each step will seem very hard at first but you will quickly adapt and your body will learn.
After about 10 hours of flying like this I felt comfortable enough to attempt very simple courses with big gates.
The biggest advice that I can give is to just enjoy the process. You aren’t going to be great at first and you will slip back on occasion. Practice as much as you can but also spread it pout. Once a day for an hour is way better than once a week for 7 hours. Consistency is the key to progress.
Once you can fly around and rarely crash, you are ready to fly a real quad. Check out my article on the best setup to get started with.
Finally, before you start, watch these videos. This is probably the best series of videos that will take you through the whole process of learning to fly FPV that I have found and it really helps as he explains exactly what is happening at each stage of each manoeuvre and how to visualize it.
How To Fly A FPV Racing Drone - Lesson 1 - Managing Altitude In Hover
Please consider supporting me via Patreon at: https://www.patreon.com/thedroneracingengineer This series of lessons uses the free FPV Freerider simulator to ...
RC Basics: Learning to fly FPV
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Want to learn everything about FPV Drone Racing? Then join me and we can learn it together!
This is my intro video, my name is Dave but you can call me DroneRaceNewb (or Dave;). As the name implies I am new to drone racing and FPV but I love it!