There are so many options for new pilots that it can be a little bit overwhelming. Finding the right balance of something not overpriced that will actually last can be difficult. These are the recommendations I currently make to my friends when they ask what they should get to start out.
- Get a good transmitter. A good transmitter will be something that you only need to buy once. I highly recommend the Taranis QX7. It can be used for most quads (indoor mini to full size outdoor drones). You can also use it for many planes and RC cars if you want to get into those as well. I bought a Taranis X9D when I started FPV drone racing and it has lasted me several years and I expect it to be the only one I use for several more years. The Taranis QX7 is the newer version and is less expensive, so if I were starting today that’s what I would get.
- Taranis QX7 – $106
- 6 AA Batteries – $6
- Practice on a simulator. There are many simulator options that will allow you to use your transmitter as the controller: FPV FreeRider, Liftoff, VelociDrone, DRL Racing Simulator…etc. A simulator is a great way to get a feel for FPV flying and practice before you start crashing a real drone.
- FPV FreeRider – $5
- Cable – $2
- Setup tutorial
- Get goggles. This is where it gets tricky. There is no cheap and great option here and the best goggles for most people may not be the best goggles for you. If you are able to try out a bunch of goggles (at most events pilots are willing to let you try out their goggles while they’re not flying) and are confident you are going to be into FPV for the long awhile, then I would recommend buying the expensive goggles that you like best. Like the transmitter this can be a one time purchase that lasts years since it will be safe on the ground. However, if you’re unsure which goggles you want long term or even if you’re going to do this long term I would recommend getting the cheap pair that will be good enough.
- Goggles – $44
- Get a Babyhawk drone. I have long advocated for building your own drone, but the Babyhawk has convinced me otherwise. Not only is it my current favorite drone to fly, but it is also fairly inexpensive. It performs great indoors or outdoors! Most pre-build quads are underwhelming or require modification to be decent, but the babyhawk is the first quad I’ve been happy with right out of the box. Be sure to get one that includes to the FrSky receiver.
- Babyhawk – $109
- Get a battery charger and extra batteries. You won’t be flying long without having some extra packs and being able to charge your batteries. Each battery gives you ~4 minutes of flight time, so if you want to fly for 20 minutes get 5 packs. You may also want to put velcro on your Babyhawk and batteries to keep them on better.
If you’re thinking $300 is too much to get started and just want to try out up something super cheep you could start with a complete kit. It won’t last you long and nothing will be reusable (except maybe the goggles), but it’s the cheapest way I’ve found get started with FPV flying.
- Complete kit – $67