Written by George Suresh
I’ve always wanted to explore the world of FPV drones but I found myself continually intimidated by its complex nature.
I knew that entering FPV required strategic selection and assembly of certain components that were required for flying. For example – the drone, controller, goggles, camera (transmitter), receiver, batteries and charger.
Generally speaking, when building an FPV drone I realised that I would have to select a specific number of components to build a craft capable of flying to my requirements. Then I would have to deal with purchasing a controller and understanding the protocols which are another big learning curve when entering FPV. I found it all a bit too much to take in.
However the game changed when I recently stumbled across a company called BETAFPV. I’d noticed they’ve developed a couple of FPV educational kits which were affordable, portable and extremely simple to use. I felt this was a perfect opportunity to try and enter the FPV market without breaking the bank.
BETAFPV are a leading drone company who specialise in micro quadcopters (called whoops) which are a great way to get into the industry. I’ve experienced their customer and technical support to be first class well.
Recently I’ve been testing the BetaFPV Whoop Racing Starter Kit 2 which costs just $129 USD. The kit comes in a portable hard-shell carry case that fits every part including the drone, controller and goggles.
The entire package consists of:
- 1 x Whoop Quadcopter
- 1 x Transmitter (Battery included)
- 1 x FPV Goggles
- 4 x 31mm 4-blade propellers
- 2 x Dipole 5.8G Antennas
- 1 x Battery Charger and Tester
- 2 x 300mAH 1S 30C Batteries
- 1 x Propeller Removal Tool
- 1 x User Manual
- 1 X Customized Carry Case
More about this product and BETAFPV can be found at: www.betafpv.com.
BetaFPV Whoop Racing Starter Kit 2
The Beta65s Lite Drone is a simple ready-to-fly drone which is incredibly stable when you first take off. It comes pre-trimmed from the factory. My first impressions of the drone were just how robust it was. I must have crashed it about a dozen times and never managed to damage it. There was also a pleasing sense of assurance I wasn’t going to hurt myself or anyone else as the propellers have guards mounted around them.
I did get a few minutes flight time with one battery however once the spare battery went flat I was begging for more flight time. Therefore in order to get that complete experience, I would recommend getting an extra five or six spare batteries for this kit.
The LiteRadio 2 Transmitter was the perfect controller for a beginner such as me. Being specifically designed by BETAFPV for racing beginners, the controller has a hobby-grade gimbal and the rubber coated grip feels really nice in your hands.
A couple of bonuses this gimbal comes with are that it has a training function for students and is also compatible with drone flight simulators. It can be charged through its micro-usb port which also acts as the connection between the controller and PC when you are using a simulator.
At first glance, the VR01 FPV Goggles looked a little clunky to me. However, it was only once I had put them on for long periods of time I’d realised they are ergonomically designed with a comfortable foam sponge on the face plate and three-sided adjustable headband which is easy to adjust.
There is a 4.3 inch, 800 x 480 pixel LCD monitor which is reliable and usually lasted a couple of hours without having to recharge through its micro-usb port. It weighs a light 375g and comes with a built in 2000mAh battery.
I was able to record and playback flight footage as the unit comes with a TF card slot which supports up to 32G.
Learning to Fly
To begin flying, I highly recommend that you read the basic instructions provided in the starter kit. It will familiarise you with the main components and teach you how to bind your controller and craft so you only need to scan your goggles to receive the FPV signal from the camera.
The drone has a few different levels of flying. ‘Acro’ mode is the most common used in FPV as it allows you to try some complex acrobatic manoeuvres. If you’re flying for the first time you might want to consider using a simpler mode such as ‘level’.
However, before you start I would suggest making yourself familiar with the basic movements of the craft using the gimbal.
It’s critical to identify where the arm/disarm button is – especially when you crash and the propellers are still running. You need to quickly disarm the drone so that the motors do not burn out. And to avoid winds and the risk of crashing into people, all my initial flights were conducted indoors.
I’d strongly advise against using the FPV goggles during your first flights. It’s important to understand the basic controls which propel the craft up/down and forward/backward. Flying line of sight to begin with makes it far easier to understand the basic controls.
Once you’ve figured how to lift off the drone – keep practising the basic movements as this will solidify your muscle memory and improve your confidence.
As the LiteRadio Transmitter 2 is compatible with flight simulators – I realised that this was another perfect opportunity to start learning without having to worry about crashing or even leaving your premises.
There are a couple of free simulators available but I decided to purchase Liftoff after being recommended to me by a number of drone industry specialists in Australia. They had an inexpensive package with an all round user-friendly interface with realistic graphics.
More about Liftoff can be found at: www.liftoff-game.com.