Contrary to what you might believe from reading the headlines in the drone world, you don’t need to spend upwards of $1,000 to get started in FPV flying.
We found three highly rated FPV quadcopters from three different manufacturers that might interest those who want a cheaper entry into the FPV quad market.
Each of these quads has their own strengths and weaknesses. Some come with a transmitter and battery, others without. But in each case, price (and corresponding quality) was the determining factor.
Why FPV Quadcopters and Not Fixed Wing Planes?
FPV flying arguably started by mounting cameras on fixed wing RC aircraft. As the FPV market matured, companies started producing RTF (ready to fly) kits complete with cameras, batteries and transmitters.
These kits however are almost all quadcopters, or aircraft with four vertically mounted electric motors.
Why quadcopters and not fixed wing planes? Well for one thing quads are a lot easier to fly than an airplane. They can hover and don’t require the split second control responses that pilots of airplanes have to routinely make.
Second, software and hardware advances have made automatic flight control, return to home, and 3D aerobatics easy to execute, if you want that.
These sort of robot like controls are much harder to execute on airplanes due to the control surfaces involved and the differences in airframe structure.
Third, it’s a lot easier to standardize components on a quadcopter. They’re stable aircraft and don’t require a run way to land and take off.
Let’s see three quads you might want to consider for a cheap way into FPV flying.
Drone racing has exploded in popularity thanks to the fast-decreasing price point of small FPV quadcopters.
The Arris FPV 250 model comes fully assembled BNF (bind and fly). You will need to have your own transmitter and battery though.
The quad sports solid 2205 2300 KV motors and a 20 A ESC from BLHeli.
A retail price below $200, complete with camera motor and assembly already done isn’t bad at all.
You’re not going to get flight times of some larger quads, or the camera quality like on a DJI Mavic Pro, but you’re also not spending $1,000.
See the FPV 250 in action.
Source: YouTube / JRESHOW
Simple, fun, and cheap FPV quad flying!
Fantastic quadcopter, FAST! Comes skillfully assembled which is a big plus. All you need to make complete for line of sight (LOS) flying is a transmitter/receiver combo, and battery. I’m not yet using for FPV, planning to get video transmitter and goggles this winter some time.
While not as robust as the Arris FPV 250’s carbon / glass fiber frame, the Holy Stone x400C comes at a cheaper price point – less than $100.
This quad comes with its own 2.4 GHz RC transmitter plus 3.7 V 750 mAh LiPo battery so you won’t have to make any additional purchases before flying.
This was a gift for my large child (husband) who actually shouted “Yay” when he opened it.
The WiFi video link doesn’t have much range and the image quality is not what you’re going to get from a CMOS or CCD camera,
The Hubsan X4 comes with a controller featuring an integrated FPV monitor. Unlike the two quadcopters above, this tiny model would be best suited for indoor use only.
With a control distance of only 50 to 100 meters, you’re not going to be doing any long-range FPV with this small quadcopter.
A 6-axis control system does allow for adjustment of the gyro sensitivity.
With only 380 mAh of battery life, flight time is limited. Many reviewers recommend using this small quad only indoors, as even a slight breeze will be enough to knock it off course.
I’m glad I got this device just for the practice. Now I feel more confident that when I get a larger and more expensive quadcopter, I won’t quickly lose my investment.
And maybe after you’ve got the hang of things, it will be time for a bigger, more powerful model?