FPV stands for “First Person Flying,” which is when you see what your drone’s camera sees in real time. Imagine it like a first-person video game, except you’re interacting with the real world.
What Are the Benefits to FPV Flying?
Traditionally, people would fly drones by line-of-sight. But this has some drawbacks. First, you’re limited to flying within a relatively short distance. When you fly via FPV, you can fly very far away (sometimes up to several miles). With a model like the Syma X8C, you can only fly as far as your eyes will let you.
Secondly, FPV flying is much more immersive. It’s a great feeling being able to see what your drone’s camera sees as you fly. For maximum impressiveness, it’s recommended that you go with FPV goggles over a standard FPV transmitter display. Trust me- it’s way better.
The final reason to try FPV flying is because it allows you to take better aerial shots. Since you see what your drone’s camera sees, you’ll have a lot of control over your aerial footage/photographs. You might be thinking, “That sounds great, but I’m fine flying without it”. I agree- you can’t miss what you’ve never had. However, once you try out FPV, I guarantee you’ll never look at regular flying the same way!
The Basic FPV Setup
The drone’s camera captures aerial footage, sends the feed to a receiver on your transmitter, which is then “translated” as an image on your display. As we said earlier, the display can either be FPV goggles or a standard transmitter display (many models also use mobile devices as the display).
Remember that different receivers/transmitters have different ranges. The more expensive ones will provide you with HD footage from up to a mile away! The DJI Phantom 4 and DJI Inspire 2 are two great examples of just how far you can fly with a proper FPV setup.
Choosing the Perfect FPV Goggles
Here are some qualities to keep in mind when choosing FPV goggles:
- Screen Resolution: At a minimum, your screen resolution should be 640 x 480. Your FPV flying experience won’t be fun if you’ve got poor screen resolution. Even if it means paying a little extra, go with a higher screen resolution. You’ll be glad you did.
- Field of View (FOV): There’s no exact rule here. Simply try to go with the widest field of view possible. The more you can see, the better. A FOV of 30 degrees or more is recommended.
- Style: I don’t particularly care about what my FPV goggles look like, but I know flyers who do. Stylish goggles won’t necessarily make you a better flyer, but they are great for making you look and feel like a pro.
- Price: A decent pair of FPV goggles is going to run you at least $300. I don’t recommend spending less than this. This is the heart and soul of your FPV flying experience so don’t be cheap!
- Head Tracking: The final quality to look for is whether the goggles come with head tracking. What is it? Basically, head tracking is when you turn your head and the camera on the drone turns as well.
- Drone Girl uses and recommends FatShark goggles herself.
The head tracking feature isn’t mandatory, but it’s highly recommended. That way you won’t need to worry about controlling your gimbal via your transmitter. You can simply do it with your FPV goggles by turning your head to one direction or the other.
Pro Tip – Have a Spotter
When you fly via FPV, your peripheral vision is going to be limited. Specifically, there are going to be obstacles that are just outside of your camera’s site. This can lead to a crash if you’re not careful. A “spotter” is basically someone who can look at your drone by line-of-sight while you fly via FPV. They can let you know when you’re getting too close to an obstacle, which you might not have seen otherwise. Just make sure that you return the favor by spotting for your friend when they need it. That’s what good drone etiquette is all about!
Know the Law
Make sure that you understand the “Line-of-Sight” law. Basically, this law states that you must fly your drone within normal eye’s limit. Otherwise, you could get in trouble with the law. The FAA is constantly changing/altering drone laws, so it’s recommended that you visit KnowBeforeYouFly.org for the most up-to-date information.
Where’s the Best Places to Fly FPV?
Never fly over people. This is dangerous and simply not recommended. Instead, consider going somewhere like a beach, open park, or football field. Here, you’ll have plenty of space to fly your drone without having to worry about damaging property or having your quadcopter fall on someone. Another great place to fly is in the desert, where you can fly with little worry about getting in trouble or hitting something.
New to FPV Flying? Learn to Fly First!
Our last piece of advice is this: if you’re a newbie, learn how to fly a drone first. You don’t want to spend $500+ on an FPV quadcopter only to crash it on your first day. Master the basics on a cheap model like the $15 Cheerson CX-10 or the slightly more expensive but easier to control $50 Syma X5C before you advance to an FPV model.