I’m useless at flying mini quads. Project “Get good at flying mini quads” is my way of try to improve my skills whilst helping others to learn along the way.
Part 5 – Flying FPV
After linking to videos by some of the most popular pilots on YouTube I looked at their flying styles and said “I want to be like Skitzo”. Well I was wrong. I don’t want to be like Skitzo. I mean, I’m pretty sure he’s a nice guy and the skill of his thumbs is without question – I just don’t want to model myself on someone else purely because he gets a lot of hits on YouTube.
I want to fly like me!
So the focus has shifted slightly. I’m not going to try to emulate what I see on the small screen, nor am I going to deeply analyze the moves of someone else to break them down. What I am going to do is go flying, look at what I do well and what I do not, and find areas for improvement.
But first we need to have a look at FPV flying and how to do it safely…
Let’s do this then…
Okay, so I think that sums it up nicely! I thought this was just going to be a case of saying “hey look at me, I can fly FPV” but it isn’t. To find out who I am, how I fly and how I get good I am going to have to go back to basics.
Let’s take a look then at the changes I am making and why…
Mini Quad Frame
Originally I was going to be flying lots of different frames – WRONG! – Flying many different frames means you don’t have time to focus on any one frame and you spend more time setting up and tuning and less time flying. From now on I am only going to be flying my own R220 Evo. I’m building a new version that is race ready with Emax Red Bottoms, XM20 ESCs, F3 flight controller etc. and that will be my #1 ride for the rest of this series.
FPV Camera Tilt
I was getting carried away with the “how much tilt do you fly” debate and found my camera pointing ever more skyward – WRONG! – It wasn’t making me a better pilot, it was just making me crash harder. Yes, there are talented pilots out there who happily fly with 60 degrees or more tilt but if you are learning to fly FPV then having your brain force you to fly faster and faster isn’t a great result.
I found a very nice and simple FPV camera mount on Thingiverse and set about modifying it for my needs. These little blocks are now printed in a range of tilt angles from 7 to 30 degrees and hold the camera nicely in place using only a small screw and zip tie.
I don’t want to go into details about how tilt changes flight dynamics and control inputs. Go take a look at Joshua Bardwell on YouTube. He is extremely knowledgeable about miniquad performance and aerodynamics and can explain a lot of these much better than I ever could!
So this is what it’s all about and I’m not sure that I’m the right person to be telling you about it. When done right, flying FPV is a challenging and rewarding way for us mere mortals to enjoy the fun of flight in safety.
These are the best snippets of advice I’ve heard recently:
- Make sure you have a good idea of where you are flying before you take off – it all looks different from the air
- Take a friend or two with you to act as spotter, especially if there is going to be members of the public around
- Get a simulator for your computer and practice lots. Simulators can’t replace the experience of the real thing but they are a valuable tool to train muscle memory in safety. I recommend Liftoff on the Steam network
- Take lots of propellers with you. You are going to need them!
- Get out there and do it. Watching videos and reading these articles isn’t making you a better pilot…
Some time ago I wrote a well received article on FPV Safety (read the whole thing here). I’m not going to repeat the whole thing in this article but I did end with a set of simple “rules” that I really just made up on the spot. This is how I will leave this article then…
Okay, so here are my rules. They aren’t official rules so don’t go reaching for the soapbox. These are just the rules that I fly by and they seem to make a lot of sense to me:
- DO fly FPV with your goggles on. It’s fun and it’s addictive.
- DO take a friend to spot for you unless you know your flying area well and can be sure there will be few or no members of the public around.
- DO know your gear and what it, and you are capable of.
- DO check your gear before you fly to make sure there aren’t any obvious problems.
- DO NOT fly close to or over members of the public. If someone wanders into your flying area, land. If they are interested, hand them the goggles and take them for a fly.
- DO NOT post videos of you flying like a moron on YouTube. That’s the fastest way to get the whole thing banned for good.
- DO post videos of you flying FPV responsibly on YouTube. A good video is great publicity!
WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY!
Next time on project Get Good…
Next time we will take all this banter about flying FPV and put it to good use with some low and fast(ish) flight. I’m working on some DIY practice airgates that I can use to improve my accuracy and the new R220 should be ready.
But for now, what are you waiting for? Get out there and get flying!