6 Tips for First-Person-View (FPV) Drone Racers
BY Alan Perlman4 November 2016
If you’ve never flown a drone in first-person-view (FPV), I’ll tell you without exaggeration that it’s an unbelievable experience.
With an FPV system in place, you’re able to see exactly what your drone sees, in real-time, either by looking at an FPV monitor or through specialized FPV goggles.
And this unique perspective is not only great for framing the perfect aerial photographs or video shots, but also for FPV racing.
This new and rapidly growing sport is getting commercialized by organizations like the Drone Racing League, International Drone Racing Association, and events like the World Drone Racing Championships.
Never flown before and looking to get your feet wet?
Below are six tips for first-time FPV racers:
1. Practice on a simulator.
Yes, you can fly FPV without ever needing to purchase a system, which can cost hundreds of dollars. I personally learned to fly using the Drone Racing League’s free FPV simulator, but there are also other FPV racing simulators like FPV Freerider and HOTPROPS.
You don’t need to worry about weather. Or equipment failure and repair. Or an unsafe flying environment.
Just plug a transmitter into your computer and start logging training hours.
Simulators are delightful.
2. Know whether or not you’re DIY vs. RTF.
At the professional level, FPV drone racers know their systems inside and out. They’re often showing up to races with custom builds and replacing parts between flights.
But don’t let this intimidate you.
There are plenty of ready-to-fly (RTF) systems out there, as opposed to do-it-yourself (DIY) builds. Decide whether or not you’re going to pursue an RTF or DIY model.
3. Master basic FPV orientation.
This goes without saying.
There is a bit of a learning curve here. Flying on a simulator can help you overcome those first 5-10 hours of flight, where you’re really getting the hang of the controls. But when flying outdoors, look for a lot of open space.
Don’t worry if your turns aren’t sharp, but focus on basic multirotor flight proficiency and FPV-simulated movements like flying patterns, turning left and right and flying through tight spaces.
4. Tweak your settings / controls.
Fun fact: Nearly all professional FPV racing pilots tilt their drone cameras upward, usually somewhere around 30°.
As you might imagine, when flying at high speeds your FPV drone will naturally tilt a little forward as the propellers hurtle you through the air, so by tilting the drone’s camera, you’re positioning it to face more forward for the majority of your flight.
Everyone has their own settings, of course. People tweak their motor controls, their transmitter sensitivity, you name it.
5. Fly through obstacles.
If you’ve mastered basic FPV orientation, start getting a little bit more deliberate about your training. Find a safe, responsible place to fly, and either bring your own flags and hoops or set up an obstacle course using the natural landscape.
Trees, rocks, and abandoned buildings all work just fine.
6. Join local drone racing leagues.
There are PLENTY of places to meet up with other FPV racing pilots. Check out communities like MultiGP, or find your local hobby shop or AMA / model aircraft field and start shaking hands.
Odds are there’s a local event in your area, and if there’s not, you should throw one!
Hope you found these tips helpful.
Blue skies and safe flying, folks!