Getting into FPV flying – A guest post

When I started working with Multicopters in the spring of 2018, I didn’t realize the extent of what I was getting into.
My first purchase was a used DJI Phantom 3 Standard bought on eBay. Great part, great shots. Great experience the first time it took off, easy and trouble-free operation, just like the following DJI radio – also a used part from eBay for relatively small money in excellent condition. I still use both to this day for great landscape shots.

The first Race Copter

In the fall, interest in Race Copters grew. A few YouTube videos tipped the scales. The beginning was a Eachine Wizard 220S, ready built, already bound, with a FlySky radio. Naive as I was at the time, it all seemed quite simple. No idea about Betaflight, the LiPo went to the copter, the remote switched on, automatically connected and poof the thing was in the air. A sublime moment. But not for long. Unaware of the handling, the part disappeared uncontrollably between the vines in Acro mode – much to the astonishment of the farmer who just drove by with his tractor. The joy of an easy takeoff was gone. At least I had plenty of fresh air and had to cover many, many meters to find the Wizard.

Then just smaller

Okay, I thought. What doesn’t work on a large scale should work on a small scale. As a result, a BetaFPV 65 1S, a BetaFPV 85 1S and, for the sake of completeness, a BetaFPV 65 2S and a BetaFPV 85 2S moved into my office. Now fully infected and inspired by successful flight attempts, I started to build my first multicopters myself. I have had very good experience with two Eachine Tyro99. Equipped with F4 boards and a 3 or 4S LiPo, they are in my opinion an excellent start for beginners. By building the complete kit yourself, you get deeper into the matter, and the soldering skills from my first job as an electrical engineer came to my aid.
Furthermore, two Eachine TS215 followed, which I also bought used on eBay. Both well under 100 Euro, little to no flying. After the first real crash, a revision was necessary. So completely disassembled, re-soldered and reassembled, motors replaced with the original parts, at least one of them is still in service today and serves as a test object for new flight experiments.

From a hobby to an addiction

In the meantime, the tentative hobby became an addiction. A LDARC 200 GT was still needed. Cool part. Small, agile, ideal for freestyle. Goes great with 4S and the standard 2500 KV engines.
In the early summer of 2019, followed a TBS SOURCE ONE. Also used with a F4 board all-in-one from Joshua Bardwell, with TBS Ethix Mr. Steele Stout Motor V2 1700K and the TBS Unify Pro Race 5.8 GHz VTX already results in a good flight pattern, even for a beginner. Very smooth. And three weeks ago it was time. As addicted to the Marmotte hype as many others, it arrived from China after 7 days.

The Armattan Marmotte.

Equipped with a CL Racing F4S board, Armattan Underdog 2150 KV motors, DShot 30 Amps BLHeli, and TBS Unify Pro 5G8 HV Race VTX and a Foxeer Predator Mini. It came disassembled in two separate shipments – because of customs (which by the way worked perfectly fine – was a recommendation from the terrific Armattan support). So I was allowed to assemble it. A highlight. Super tidy. Great workmanship and in my opinion worth every penny. But that’s just my Sunday flyer ;-).

I should mention for completeness that I have tried all remotes. FlySky, Devo7 and FrSky Taranis QX7. I am stuck with the latter. I find them simply great. Settings and handling – perfect. Meanwhile, I have changed all receivers to the non-EU FrSky version and fly only with the Taranis (is also a non-EU model). And with Betaflight 4.0 I am now also best friends ;-).

As FPV goggles, I use the FatShark Dominator V3.

For the beginners

Props off!

So and finally a few words of warning to the beginners.
I have already suffered a few injuries in the meantime. Your own fault. Stupidity. Huge marks on my shin and permanent scars on my face.
KEEP YOUR PROPS OFF! Without exception. And even if it is “only” a BetaFPV 65. Even that one makes nasty quirks. I didn’t believe it, either. But man apparently learns only through pain alone.

Fashion that makes the fun

After a year, I’m still a rookie, although I now fly one to one and a half hours every day in all weather (except rain). Contrary to the usual recommendations, I started in stabilized mode and have now arrived at “free” flying. The first Flips and Rolls were already an awesome experience. For me, this sequence was fine. For someone else, it might be better to start in Acro-mode right away. I honestly don’t know.
The main thing is, it’s fun. Either way.

Patience, rules and LiPo’s =)

Take care of your LiPo’s. Dispose of damaged ones as well as extremely inflated ones. Tip: Leave them outdoors in a metal bucket with water for two days. Then they are guaranteed, discharged and harmless. Please do not dispose of them in the household waste garbage can! Buy a LiPo case. The RO-Safety LiPo safe – transport and charging case from Robbe is perfect (can also be gladly another supplier). The commercially available cases can only withstand the high temperatures of a battery fire to a limited extent, according to experience.

Be patient! No master has fallen from the sky yet (at most, once an aviator). Daily training is still too little. Watch the videos on YouTube, especially those of Joshua Bardwell. You can learn a lot. And practice, practice, practice. If you can’t do this one hour a day, you should stay away from the hobby. Besides the time it takes, it’s really expensive at some point. It’s money badly spent if you throw the stuff in the corner after three months and a few hundred euros.

Stick to the rules! Yes, I know. Then it’s no fun. Yes, it is. I’ve discovered some brilliant spots near me after some searching. Often I met the landowners by chance, asked them if it is a problem for them if I fly there, and the answers surprised me again and again. In every man there is a play child ;-).
Great interest and permission were the result. Where it becomes unreasonably difficult to get a permit, it’s not an issue. In an old factory building ready for demolition, you usually don’t have to and can’t ask anyone. But our farmers understandably don’t like it when you trample the field looking for your crashed copter. So ask. Asking costs nothing.

Good luck and have fun, Jürgen.

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