Introduction to FPV drone for beginner: How to fly Tiny Whoop / Racing droneThere is a category of drones called Tiny Whoop / FPV drone / Micro Whoop / Cine Whoop / Racing drone. Equipped with a powerful motor in a lightweight body, used for aerial photography with an action camera on its back or for drone racing. You can make a 4K video aerial drone with a takeoff weight of less than 100 grams .
Here, we have summarized the basic information to take the first step in this world of Tiny Whoops / FPV drone.
To know other hobby drones, see Introduction to drones : Basic Knowledge of Hobby Drones for Beginners page.
- What is FPV
- It stands for "First Person View". When operating a drone, rely only on image of camera mounted on the drone, not viewpoint seen by operator on the ground.
- What is Micro Whoop / Cine Whoop / Tiny Whoop / FPV Drone?
- Video shot with FPV Whoops
- What you need to enjoy Tiny Whoops
- How to choose a radio / transmitter
- How to use OpenTX Radio
- How to choose a drone
- How to choose a FPV goggle
- Put the camera on / Cine Whoop / Cinelifter
- Checking drone flight rules : Are FPV Goggles Illegal?
- At least how much practice do you need ?
- Repair your drone
- Knowledge of antenna for FPV drones
- Related links
What is Micro Whoop / Cine Whoop / Tiny Whoop / FPV Drone?Equipped with a powerful motor in a lightweight body, you can fly at high speed and perform a powerful maneuver. Image of the camera mounted on drone (FPV image) is projected onto goggles for maneuvering. You can also mount an action camera to shoot amazing video with a sense of speed. In addition, small model is palm-sized, so you can enjoy flying even in a small house. Ideal for hobbies during the stay home era.
However, because it's high-power motors compared to it's lightness, maneuvering is extremely severe, and maneuvering feeling is completely different from that of Self-leveling aerial photo, video drones such as DJI and Parrot. You can't fly freely as soon as you buy it. It takes a lot of practice to get the flight you want.
About the name
There are many variations of how drones in this category are called, depending on the person, region, and situation. Generally, drones operated using FPV goggles are called "FPV drones" (also called "micro drones" in Japan) or "racing drones". In addition, small models with round propeller guards are sometimes called "Tiny Whoop" or "Micro Whoop", and those with video recording function are sometimes called "Cinelifter" or "Cine Whoop".
Video shot with FPV WhoopsLet's start with some of the amazing aerial videos shot with FPV drones.
This is a video shot by FPV drone pilot Jay Christensen and set in a bowling alley in Minnesota, USA.
What you need to enjoy Tiny WhoopsTo enjoy Tiny Whoops, you need something like the following:
- Controller / Radio
- Controller / Radio for radio-controlled model is used to control Tiny Whoop. There are several protocols (communication methods) for control it. You need to get a Radio that supports the protocol that drone you want to fly has.
- Prices start at around USD100, and for high-performance, large-scale machines, it costs USD300 to USD400 or more. Weights also range from tens to hundreds of grams, depending on the model. Not only can you buy finished product, but you can also assemble parts yourself. At first you will crash many times, so it is recommended to practice on a small aircraft that is cheap and has replacement parts for repair.
- FPV goggles
- Put it on your head, receive the image from the camera mounted on the drone, and use it for maneuvering. Tiny Whoops are small and fly at high speeds, so it's almost impossible to control them from a ground perspective like drones for aerial photography. FPV goggle is must have item for Tiny Whoop pilot.
- Radio worker license
Video transmitter (VTX) installed in Tiny Whoop uses amateur radio waves in 5.8GHz band, so license is required to use it in Japan.
Two licenses are required: a radio operator license for pilots and a radio station license for video transmitters (VTX).
In the United States, amateur radio license (HAM license) is required when using a VTX with an output exceeding 25mW, or specific band or channel in 5.8 GHz band.
- Crafting skills
- It is better if you have the skill of crafting that can be repaired when it is damaged by a crash or the wiring is broken. In particular, please acquire basic electronic work knowledge and soldering skills. Many Tiny Whoops need to be adjusted and repaired after purchase. Conversely, adjustment and repair are also one of the pleasures of Tiny Whoops.
Put the camera on / Cine Whoop / CinelifterTiny Whoops with recording cameras, especially for aerial photography, are sometimes referred to as Cine Whoop / Cinelifter.
Originally, FPV camera installed in microdrones has a low image quality, and when recording with recording function (DVR) of FPV goggles, noise enters because it goes through radio waves. To get clear, high-quality aerial video, you need to have a recording camera on your drone.
Drones with recording function
From around 2018, several models of micro drones with recording function, such as Eachine Cinecam, Happymodel's Mobula 7 HD and Mobula 6 HD, iFlight Cinebee, BetaFPV Beta85X HD and Beta75X HD, Meteo65 HD , e.t.c. have appeared. Since stability is more important than power, many models are equipped with slightly lower output 2S to 3S batteries and have four blades as propellers. Some have a 4K recording function. With these models, you can easily enjoy aerial photography.
Drone with action camera
If you want higher quality recording, you need to equip your micro drone with an action camera. There are FPV drones that can be equipped with action cameras such as GoPro and Insta360 ONE R as they are, but the size of the aircraft is large and the weight often exceeds 300g, not possible to fly alone under the Aviation Law (visual observer is required) , so it is a little out of the category of drones for beginner.
Make Naked Camera
You can disassemble an action camera such as GoPro to make it smaller and lighter, and put it on a drone to shoot aerial video. Take out only the main board and lens part from the camera and put them in a special case created with a 3D printer etc. to reduce the weight to about 15 to 30 grams in total. This act is also called Naked Camera because it dismantles the camera and strips it naked, and there are forums that talk about it. Some FPV drone manufacturer sells BEC boards and cases for attaching GoPro HERO6/7/8 to a drone, which has been transformed into a Naked Camera. Of course, the action camera transformed into a Naked Camera is no longer covered by the manufacturer's warranty, and no one will repair it if break down. All must be done at your own risk.
Using small camera for FPV drones
Starting around 2020, there are several small lightweight cameras for FPV drones on the market. This is a product that can be called manufacturer's genuine Naked Camera. With such a camera, anyone can easily create a 4K video aerial drone with a takeoff weight of less than 100 grams , as shown in the photo on the left.
Checking drone flight rules : Are FPV Goggles Illegal?Many Tiny Whoops weigh less than 100g, which greatly relaxes drone flight rules, but you are not free to fly anywhere. Make sure to check the drone's flight rules in advance so that you do not violate the law. Maneuvering with FPV goggles is not considered "visual range". Under Japanese aviation law, a visual observer is required to fly an FPV drone with an aircraft that weighs more than 100g (200g until June 19, 2022) (Needs constant monitoring within the visual range). Please be careful.
(Notice:. "Takeoff weight" in Japanese Flight Rules does not include the weight of removable accessories other than battery)
At least how much practice do you need ?In my experience, after spending about 10 flights (10 batteries flight time), I finally flew around the room once and then crashed in Angle mode . After that, after about 20 flights, I was able to fly around the room several times and then crash. However, by that time, the drone's frame was cracked and tattered. It took me about four months to be able to fly freely inside house in Acro mode. In the meantime, I repaired camera disconnection once, battery connector disconnection twice, and replaced each of the four propellers once or twice, replaced the frame three times. If you are good at action games, you may improve faster.
I recommend you to start practicing indoors, as losing control is less likely to be damaged or lost. And since one flight time is as short as 3 to 5 minutes, I think it is good to prepare a lot of batteries. However, at first, due to the difficulty of maneuvering, you will feel tired and want to take a break after flying only about two batteries. I think it's a good idea to fly little by little at first and gradually increase the practice time. Also, use drone simulator on your computer to prevent damage to your drone.
Repair your droneRepeated crashes can damage the frame and propellers and break wiring. Get these spare parts on the official website of the drone maker. Also, prepare repair tools such as a precision screwdriver, soldering iron, and magnifying glass. Use a soldering iron for low-temperature electronic circuits of about 15 to 20 W.
Battery connector repair
Battery connector is one of the most deteriorated parts, as the battery is attached and detached each time you fly. In particular, the electronic parts of the micro drone connector are exposed and the strength is not considered so much, and wire may get caught in the propeller during flight and break, so handle it with care. If drone restarts every time you touch battery or connector, or if drone suddenly turns off and crashes during flight, the wiring around the connector is about to break.
The mail order site also sells spare connectors. With the battery connected to the drone, touch the connector cable here and there to identify where the wire is broken, and use a soldering iron to replace it. Instead of replacing from the base on the board, it is easy to cut the cable in the middle and add it by soldering.
Repairing camera wiring
If you can't see the camera image on the FPV goggles, suspect that the wiring between the camera and VTX board or between the VTX board and FC (Flight Controller) board is broken. If you can see the image when you press camera or VTX board with your finger, a poor contact has occurred and wire is about to break. Originally, the soldering of the product is quite omission, so it will easily break if it receives an impact. After repairing with solder, I think it's a good idea to harden the area around the terminals with a glue gun (Amazon.com) , it will be more resistant to shocks.
Or if the screen becomes noisy over time, suspect a possible overheat. The VTX board can become hot and malfunction in a relatively short period of time. In such a case, remove the battery from the drone and let it cool for a while. If you blow on the camera, the unit may cool and the image may come back.
|Immediately after applying a shock or strong force to drone, video screen disappeared or noise began to appear.||Wiring disconnection or poor contact between the camera and VTX board, VTX board and FC board||Find the broken part and repair it with solder|
|One day when you started drone, video screen disappeared, or radio wave range decreased, noise began to appear.||
The transmission band and channel of VTX have changed for some reason.
(Or battery of FPV goggles may be dead, antenna or goggles may break down ...)
|Run scan function with FPV goggles, or check / change drone's firmware settings (Transmission band or channel)|
|After starting the drone, if you leave it for a while, video screen disappears||VTX overheat||Remove battery from the drone and let it cool for a while|
|Stripes appear on the screen of FPV goggles in proportion to the rotation of motor||Poor contact of VTX antenna, etc.||Check and reconnect the connection between FC board and VTX antenna|
Once the frame cracks due to a crash, the damage spreads from there, causing the frame to tear and fall off. Then, in the event of a crash, the propeller will be damaged and you will not be able to fly. If you find a crack in the frame, repair it immediately with tape or bond.
If you attach "corner guard tape" (double-sided tape on a sponge sheet) to outer circumference of the frame in advance, it will be relatively resistant to crashes. For Tiny Whoops, sticking this on the "forehead" will make it easier to get up in turtle mode even on a slippery floor.
Anyway, frame is a consumable item. Let's prepare a lot of spares.
Adjustment / calibrate of radio
Normally, radio stick has a pulse length in the range of about ± 0.5 μsec when centered. However, one of the axes may suddenly shift to a value of about ± 1.0 μsec or more one day. When this happens, drone suddenly doesn't fly the way you want, or you feel like you became not good at maneuvering. Check the value in the center of the stick every time you turn on the radio, and calibrate if the center is off.
Stick end replacement
Amazon.com and others sell replacement Stick tip (Stick end) as shown in the picture. Once you get used to flying in Acro mode, you may want to try different sticks. The stick in the picture is confusing at first because it feels loose, but after flying for an hour, you will get used to it and you will be able to maneuver it like a normal stick. For those who operate while pressing the tip of the stick with their thumb, this will prevent the stick from biting into the fingertips.
There are two size of radio sticks, one with a screw diameter of 3 mm and the other 4 mm. Be careful when purchasing your stick ends. The stick in this photo is 3mm.
Change stick length
The center of the stick is a screw. You can fine-tune the length to your liking by removing stick end and spacer and installing some nuts in place of the spacer. If the radio you purchased is too big for your hand, adjust the stick shorter to make it easier to operate. On the contrary, by adjusting it longer, it is possible to slow down the reaction of the stick (to enable more delicate operation).
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Headband Magnifier with LED Light
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Soldering Iron 15W
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