How to Start with FPV Drones in 2024 (Step-by-Step)

Author Richard Hargrave
Reviewed by Daniel Henderson
Updated on
Reviewed by Daniel Henderson
Blog cover: how to get started with FPV drones

Many people think the best way to get into the FPV world is to buy a quadcopter bundle.

I admit with the FPV beginner kit, you don’t have to worry about getting the wrong ESC and flight controller at all.

But the FPV drone hobby has a high learning threshold, and it’s not like you can buy a drone and immediately become a pilot with advanced flying skills.

It requires you to spend a lot of time learning and practicing flying skills, which may cost you a lot of money and effort.

Also, you need to understand how FPV drones work, learn how to assemble and repair it as well as upgrade your equipment to make the drones more interesting.

No matter what your reasoning is for getting into the RC hobby, there’s a simple way to get started without much prior knowledge upfront.

That’s what I want to share with you today.

Step 1 – Get an FPV Simulator

The truth is, for somebody who really wants to get invested in the hobby, there is so much to learn if you’re only willing to invest the time.

So, what to do? No matter who you ask, an almost universal response will be that step one is downloading a simulator.

Why simulators?

a. Considerable Time Required for Flight Practice

Well, flying FPV drones is very difficult.

Even if you’re coming from a cinematography background and you’re used to flying photography drones, there’s going to be a steep learning curve.

Unlike other drones, FPV drones don’t stop to avoid obstacles, they don’t maintain their elevation, and you can tilt to turn them in any direction. This means you can totally flip it over. For this very reason, beginners often crash their drones.

b. No Wasted Time or Money

Even if you are an avid gamer and comfortable with a controller, the controls are not going to be very intuitive for you.

By getting a simulator, you can learn to fly without the headache of breaking your drone.

If you crash in the sim, you instantly restart. If you crash in real life, well, your quad might be out of commission for a while. 🙂

Also, if you get frustrated and decide to quit, you can leave with the satisfaction of knowing that you only invested $20 in this hobby and move on to something else.

And that is why the first step I would recommend, along with many other seasoned pilots, is getting a simulator.

So, which simulator should you buy?

The most popular simulators on the market are Velocity Drone and Lift Off.

Lift Off requires a higher-end computer to run, but both of them will give you a pretty good FPV experience.

I have experienced all the simulators on the market, and you can follow this guide to find the right one.

Step 2 – Get an RC Controller

A lot of people say that when you buy a simulator, you shouldn’t use a gaming controller. Instead, you should invest in a real radio transmitter.

In my opinion, while the radio transmitter will give you a better experience, and you will need one eventually, don’t buy one until you know that you want to commit to the hobby.

Wait until you’ve had a few experiences (use of pre-existing controllers) on a simulator to make sure you really like this hobby.

Now you can invest in real flying – buy a radio transmitter.

It can be confusing trying to figure out which controller to get exactly because there are so many different kinds, sizes, and price ranges of FPV controllers.

So the first thing I’d recommend you look into is the protocol that the controllers use.

There are two main protocols at the moment that seems to be dominating FPV:

  • ELRC
  • TBS

I would arguably call TBS the Apple of the FPV world because they’ve been so consistent with their performance, their quality, and their products over the last couple of years. They’ve proven themselves to be one of the GOATs of FPV.

So what is the difference between these two protocols?

I’ll explain to you using a real-life example, ELRS and TBS are equivalent to PC and Mac.

ELRS tends to be more inexpensive because it’s open-source, so you can find a lot of controllers that use its protocol.

While with TBS, you have to stay within their ecosystem, use their receivers, and use their protocol modules to use them, which costs a little bit more.

I personally have been using the Tango 2 for about two years now, and I absolutely love this remote. It is just perfect for my needs.

It’s super compact and folds up, so whenever I need to travel, I can just stuff it into my bag. Portability is a huge thing for me.

For you, it might be a completely different value: maybe you don’t care about portability as much as you care about price and have more space on your controller and more switches.

Talking about all the controllers that are available to us would take so long, and it would probably get outdated quickly, so I’m going to leave a list of resources down below for you to check out yourself.

Step 3 – Practice Flying in the Simulator (At Least 15-20 Hours)

And once you finally get into your simulator, you’ll want to practice understanding exactly all the movements your gimbal and your controller have on the drone.

  1. Control of the throttle
  2. Roll
  3. Yaw
  4. Pitch

Understanding those four basic elements of flying and then practicing turns and putting it all together to get the movements that you want.

You’re going to want to practice in a sim as much as possible because the more time you spend in the sim getting familiar with how to keep your drone in the air, the less money you’re going to have to spend on broken parts, the less stress you’re going to have to lose your drone. It’s just worth the time exponentially.

The next step that we’re going to consider is choosing a video system.

Step 4 – Choose a FPV Video System (Goggles)

The main components of your FPV are going to be a drone, a radio transmitter, FPV goggles, a battery charger, and batteries.

A typical drone battery lasts between 2 to 7 minutes, depending on size. You will need multiple batteries. FPV Drones use a lot of power, and you’re not going to want to wait for your one battery to charge every time after 3 minutes of flying.

When it comes to choosing goggles, there aren’t as many options as there are controllers and drones, so there won’t be as much of a headache here.

But there are two very important different routes to consider:

  1. analog
  2. digital

This has been a very heated debate in the FPV community ever since I started.

When digital was first coming out, people didn’t trust it as much because analog had been the only way to go for the last few years.

There are very specific benefits that analog still has over digital today, such as latency and being able to react faster, which is really great for pilots that are racing or freestyle pilots who are really reactive in their movements.

The other reason you may want to consider analog is for the price because analog products tend to be much more cost-efficient and cheaper than digital air units and goggles.

But many people who started with analog and eventually took the leap to digital have never looked back just because of the experience of the quality of the video.

If you have a DJI Goggles 2 or an O3 Air Unit, you can see in 1080p HD with low latency, all live. This is something that ordinary analog goggles cannot compare with.

Once you have decided on your controller protocol and your goggle system, now it’s time to choose your drone finally.

Step 5 – Choose Your FPV Drone

I have two recommendations, and you will decide which is better for you.

The first option is the BNF (Bind and Fly) and RTF (Ready to Fly) drones, which come out of the box pre-built and pretty much ready to fly.

These would include options like the DJI FPV drone and a DJI Avata, which are drones already built for you. They come with goggles and everything you need, and you can start flying immediately.

But before you buy your first FPV drone, you may run into a problem. Due to the dynamic nature of FPV drones and the variety of shots that push the limits, crashes often occur.

As a beginner, you don’t understand how to fix it again. That is the reason why I would consider the second option I’m presenting to you, which is to build your first drone.

This was the only way that a lot of pilots, especially in the last couple of years, had of starting to fly FPV. It was kind of like a rite of passage, and although it is a little bit of a learning curve and you have to understand soldering, it isn’t that hard. Soldering isn’t that hard; it just looks cool in the movies.

And just having a knowledge of what kind of parts go into a drone, like the flight controller, the ESC, the air unit, and the motors and the frame, it’s not too bad if you learn from the right sources.

Now, you’ve gotten your simulator, you’ve got your controller, your goggles, and your drone. The next thing is just to start practicing flying in real life.

Step 6 – Practice Flying in Real Life

When it comes to finding a good practice space to start flying, I suggest you find a wide open space and make sure the ground is soft. The grass is a good choice for catching your drone if it gets out of control. Not like being smashed into a million pieces on a blacktop.

For safety reasons, try to bring a friend with you when you are ready to go outside and fly because when you are wearing goggles, you will not be able to see what is going on around you.

If you can find a pilot friend who might be a little better or is learning with you to practice and communicate with, that’s even better.

Once you can apply the previous steps, get in the goggles and up in the air.

Congratulations! And if you’re somewhere along this journey, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to be diligent with your practice and patient with your progress.

FPV has a considerable learning curve, and it can be an arduous process at times, but the payoff is so sweet, and it is the reason why FPV pilots can get these mind-blowing shots that the world has never seen before.

Did you like this article? Rate it!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Photo of author

Written By Richard Hargrave

Hi I'm Richard. Since 2018, I've found my calling in the boundless sky, maneuvering everything from mini quadcopters to remote-controlled planes. Today, my favorite pastime is creating stunning commercial videos with FPV drones. I'm a drone instructor by trade, writer by passion.

Leave a Comment

RChobby Lab