The FPV industry is not like other commercial drone markets. You can’t simply buy a kit and start flying. You need to buy separate equipment and combine parts to get it right.
You can split the gear you need into two types:
- Purchases you make only once.
Radio controller, goggles, batteries, chargers, and other various accessories. You don’t need to buy this gear for every drone. You can use one radio with up to 60 drones, or even more with some radio controllers, and the goggles are compatible with all the VTX (video transmitter) in the market. As well, if you only use drones with identical motors and electronic specifications, the batteries can be the same for all your drones.
- Purchases you make more than once.
Drones, electronic components, motors, and any other breakable component of the drone that you may have to purchase more than once.
I’ll give you a piece of advice. If you want a cinematic FPV drone, don’t buy some complete kit from Banggood, Gearbest or other RC ecommerce site. Most of the time these packages are made just for fun, which is perfectly fine if you don’t want to do cinematic videos. Eachine is one of the most famous brand names for this type of kit. Eachine drones are fine if you want something just for fun, but if you want to shoot cinematic videos, Eachine is not for you. My first drone was an Eachine Wizard and it broke after two weeks.
If you want a good cinematic FPV drone, you have two options:
- Pre-Built Drones (see the FPV Buyser Guide selection)
- Custom-Built Drones
Let’s take a look at some pros and cons.
- You will save about two to four hours of work. If you never built a drone before, you can probably save days of work.
- They are quite cheap, so you can buy more than one.
- A tune-up (the process of making your drone fly well) is needed even if the product it ready-to-fly.
- You need to know how to repair your drone.
You can find a selection of high-quality ready-to-fly drones in the Buyers Guide.
- You can deeply understand how to build and repair it.
- You can copy your setup from pro pilots.
- You can use top-notch components.
- It takes time to learn how to build your drone.
- You need to buy several components, often from different online shops.
- You maycan spend hours to trying to solve various problems.
Buying a pre-built drone is not a bad idea if you are a beginner. If you practice in a simulator and fly carefully, in the real world, you will not need to repair your drone very often. Cinematic FPV, unlike freestyle and racing, is less dangerous in terms of the damage you can cause. Most of the time you just need to cruise around taking amazing footage without doing crazy maneuvers among concrete or metal objects.
If you are worried about breaking things, here is a complete list of damages you may cause, in order of importance:
- Break some props (propellers).
This is very common, but propellers are easy to change and very cheap to buy.
- Scratch the carbon frame.
If you land hard or if you accidentally touch some objects with the frame, you can bring the carbon in to exfoliate. You can just leave the scratches, if they are small, or fix them with some glue.
- Break the camera lens.
You could break the FPV camera lens or the GoPro lens protector, which are very easy to replace.
- Cut the antenna.
Sometimes, if you land badly or if you hit something, you might break the VTX or the receiver antenna. Antennas are quite easy to change, and you can replace one in just a couple of minutes.
- Break a motor. If you hit something very hard, you might bend a motor. FPV motors have three wires soldered to the ESC (electronic speed controller; namely, an electronic board with 12 pins, 3 for each motor). Soldering a new one is quite easy. You can try it by yourself or ask a friend.
- Break some electronic components.
The ESC board is the component most predisposed to breakage. If you get your drone stuck somewhere and your motors are unable to spin, you may burn the ESC. Replacing the ESC is not hard, but you will need to re-solder all the motors and the LiPo plug.
- Break the carbon frame.
This could happen if you crash very fast and hard on a concrete or metal object. In this case, you need to replace the broken carbon piece or move all the components into a new frame.
Personally, after two and a half years doing FPV, the major damages I’ve caused, especially when I started flying, are just a couple of broken motors. I break a lot of props, antennas, and lenses but these are just minor damages that happen to everyone sometimes.
Anyway, if you fly carefully and conscientiously you can use your drone for a very long time. FPV drones are very tough; they can be tanks compared to other commercial drones, such as the DJI products.