At the outset, I carried out plenty of research and purchased all the components that I deemed important including the On Screen Display, Autopilot, transmitter, receiver, goggles, diversity, antenna tracking, head tracking etc. I did lots of hard work trying to assemble all the stuff together before I even attempted to get the quadcopter soaring in the skies. I presumed that since I was solid technically so I was not obliged to keep it short and simple. All what I had to go through was nothing but obfuscation.
1 – Start Simple
Ultimately, I had to rip all the stuff apart and assemble a device that consisted of just the basic components such as camera, transmitter, receiver and LCD screen. I employed a spotter and off I went. The experience was just sublime. I landed the plane, took it back to my backyard and integrated the pan-tilt system and again flew the damn thing. Then I augmented the goggles again and set the drone flying again. I came to know that each component added a flavor of its own and made things a bit more complex than usual. The disadvantage of it all was that it all took lots of time. As is the case with the majority of you, I have a job plus I have to spend time with my family as well. All this means that I have limited amount of time for my hobby.
In addition, even if I had succeeded in flying the quadcopter with all the components attached, I would have most probably crashed my device owing to all the parts in motion. I had no budgetary constraints and possessed plenty of technical knowledge in the field of electronics and radio communication. But still I was forced to take things slowly.
You have to get acquainted with the fact that it will take you some time to get all the gadgets working. So it is always a good idea to enjoy the little victories as you go along rather than rushing in the beginning.
2 – Little things make all the difference
I was of the opinion that minor things were for people who wanted to squeeze every ounce out of their preferred configuration or intended to ensure that the captured image was as crisp as possible. I was completely wrong. The reality is that even the little things can make a huge difference. They are the ones that determine whether you are following the path to glory or failure. If you come across suggestions such as to move the GPS a little farther from the transmitter or attach a filter to the lens or protect your cables, you ought to do it. I came to the conclusion that these apparently small things are the ones that matter and are worth than spending thousands of bucks. As a matter of fact, in some situations, they are the only solution to rather complex puzzles.
3 – A lot of this equipment is not compatible with each other
Carry out extensive research before you are about to purchase equipment so that the gear you get is compatible with each other. For instance, I purchased a pair of FoxTech goggles but I discovered that the integrated receiver did not support ImmersionRC transmitter. Had I carried out some research, I sure would have ended up saving a few bucks up my sleeves. I simply had no idea that such a situation would arise wherein a 5.8GHz receiver would not be compatible with a 5.8GHz transmitter. At another instance, none of the head-tracking systems was supported by my JR-9503. So, to cut to the chase, opt for your equipment with great care.
4 – There are no hard and fast rules regarding the frequency channels
When it comes to deciding whether you should go for 5.8GHz, 2.4GHz, 1.2GHz or 900MHz, there is no particular hard and fast rule. There are advantages and disadvantages to all these channels and you should have conducted enough research to get familiarized with each of them. But it all boils down to your location. If you are located just half a mile away from your current position, your options could vary a lot. So, to be honest, you might have to try all of them before you actually find the one that suits you.
5 – It takes years of practice before you get expert enough to fly to far flung areas
I was of the opinion that I was not bound to this rule. I thought that If I had invested a lot of money and purchased all the high end equipment, I would be flying almost 10 plus miles within a couple of weeks or so. I was of the view that most of the people were not able to achieve these distances simply because of their budgetary constraints or lack of knowledge related to RF technology. I had to bite the dust sooner rather than later. The first flight in which I was able to take my drone away from the line of sight of the spotter was hailed as a great success. It happened to be my 10th flight as well. I am still trying to take my drone to a distance of 2 miles. So, it is prudent to set your milestones with care. Do not get overboard with little success. Rather go slow and low. It will take years of practice before you become an expert drone pilot.
6 – If you are not into soldering electronic components, let go of it!
If you are looking to build your own FPV quadcopter, you will have to do a lot of splicing, cutting, soldering and other electronics related stuff. In the beginning, I tried to avoid all these intricacies and wanted to get my hands on ready to fly units. After spending lots of money on ready to fly units and even almost ready to fly stuff, I was hit by a stroke of desperation and so I picked up a soldering iron and haven’t looked back ever since. It is a lot easier to build stuff rather than placing orders online or even going to the local hobby store and purchasing ready-made stuff.
7 – RF knowledge can be really handy
I had a solid RF background which helped me understand a lot of stuff rather easily. For instance, I was aware of the fact that why operating a transmitter without an antenna was not possible; why the orientation of the antenna was so significant and why 500mW or 5.8GHz is less effective than 200mW or 900MHz. Acquiring a ham radio license could be very beneficial for drone pilots.
8 – The equipment works fine but it’s not meant for commercial purposes
I was quite bewildered to discover that most of the equipment was shipped from China and came with poor documentation. So, it all depended upon the individual to determine how to ensure it all worked in sync with each other. This is certainly not what I expected to happen. This equipment is not high-end and so you will have to carry out lots of experimentation before landing upon the right apparatus.
9 – Practice hard alone!
I am not articulating that you should fly without a spotter. A spotter is a must if you are new to FPV flying. I figured out that being with a group meant that you were under incredible pressure to perform well. I came to the conclusion that I was able to learn more if were able to spend more time on a particular issue without the pressure of people ogling at me or expecting me to take the drone to unimaginable heights. A wide open space where you can practice and do a lot of experimentation is what you should be looking forward to.