How do you maximize your FPV experience? To avoid mishaps and annoyances, here are some top tips.
FPV can be a whole ton of fun, but you have to make sure you do it right. If you get certain things wrong, you risk having a really bad time. You could lose your FPV gear or destroy a new airplane. It's not all bad news though! If you take the right steps, you'll be sure to have success.
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Use mini planes at first
I've found from experience that smaller and lighter planes tend to bounce where larger planes crumple. One of the best ways to get into FPV airplanes is to use a micro FPV cam stuck to a Mighty Mini. Airplanes like the Mini Scout are perfect for learning on. If you get disoriented and crash, the light wing loading and slow flight speeds mean that you'll probably be able to pick the aircraft up and try again.
One of my favorite equations (I hope it's not too odd to have a favorite) is Mass x Acceleration = Force. It's helpful to remind myself from time-to-time that planes that are lighter crash lighter. Their 'floaty' characteristics are completely the opposite to a large heavy warbird model that tend to explode into a shower of foam upon arrival at the scene of the accident. So, try strapping a camera to a smaller design if you're yet to delve into the world of FPV. Some of our models are even designed for cameras.
Once you've got used to the idea of flying in the first person and you've ironed out any problems, you can move onto something a little bigger. Still start with a proper purpose-built platform, though, rather than a warbird or something else that moves quickly and has a high wing loading.
Larger airplanes often have greater mass and fly at faster speeds than smaller airplanes.
Mount your gear out of harms way
If you want to make sure that your camera and transmitter live to work another day, try placing them somewhere on the model that's unlikely to get damaged. Although some aircraft have cameras in the nose, such as the FT Dart and FT Arrow, one of the best places to fit a camera is in the cockpit of your model. In a crash, the aircraft would absorb the impact rather than the delicate camera lens.
Up top, FPV gear is protected in most situations.
Adjust your brightness and saturation levels
Outside, depending on the day, the sky is always changing. Sometimes you might fly in the evening whilst at other times you might fly at midday. To make sure you see everything with the utmost clarity, make sure to change the settings on your FPV goggles or monitor. On a very overcast day, it might be difficult to decern details on the ground. Upping the brightness may help you to see more in this situation. Take some time on the ground to check your image before each flight.
Different days vary in their brightness, so make sure to adjust your viewer settings to get the best image.
Fly in ideal conditions
Flying in breezy or even stormy conditions isn't the greatest idea at the best of times, nevermind when you're flying from a little camera strapped to your model airplane. Turbulence from gusts can be extremely distracting and perilous. To avoid the commotion of trying to keep your plane from hitting the deck, maybe just fly line of sight - especially if you want to keep your plane intact for another day. Wait patiently for a calm and sunny evening where you can pootle around on your volition, rather than at the beck and call of the elements.
Windy days can result in calamities, so fly in calm weather if you want to ensure that your plane survives.
The terribly annoying thing about breaking some of your equipment isn't necessarily that you need to spend money to replace it, it's more that you now have to wait a while before you can fly again. This is especially true of FPV if you only have one onboard setup. It's happened to me a few times: there's an inherent risk in flying and, if it all goes pear-shaped, you might end up losing everything. Having a backup airplane along with some extra FPV gear as insurance will keep you flying whilst you build a replacement for your first craft.
Tell us about your FPV experiences in the comments! Everyone has an interesting story to tell.
Article by James Whomsley
Editor of FliteTest.com