To build, or to RTF?
That is the question.
The ONLY question that matters!
Okay, ONE one the most important question of the 21st century!
Err, it's in the TOP 5 questions asked today!
It's A question.
TRY TO DENY THAT!
Yeah, thought so.
It IS a question and one I get asked a lot.
Should I build my own, or should I buy a FPV RTF racer?
That is one of those questions that can't be answered without more question being asked of you first.
What do you want it for? Racing? Freestyle? Walking your dog from your couch? How much do you want to spend? Are you serious about the hobby/sport or do you just want to try it and see if you will be? Where do you want, or can fly it? Do you have any soldering experience? Do you want to learn how to solder? Ect, ect.....
For a lot of you who are transitioning from toy grade flyers, you already know you love it and want to continue to advance. So to YOU lovely people I firmly say build your own.
For many reasons I say build, but the biggest reason of them all is because you will need to know how to fix them because...
So, what's a better way to learn how to fix things, than to put them together first? Believe me you WILL break your quads. There is no getting around it. It is as much a part of this sport as breathing is a part of living.
Try not to breathe and try not to crash. You will do both eventually.
You HAVE to. It's science. Google it.
This should NOT discourage any of you from building and flying. In fact it should encourage you. Breaking things usually means you are progressing, or at least trying to, and that's a very good thing.
NO, breaking your expensive toy isn't a good thing, but sometimes HOW you break it, is.
Yes there will also be technical issues that cause a crash, but every one of my worst crashes was because I pushed it past my limit, TRYING to increase my limit.
Not one of those crashes made me sad either. They made me EXCITED. They made me HYPED to fix it and fly, because I almost had it, and I WILL have it next flight.
So do not get discouraged to know there is a lot of fixing involved in FPV flying.
There are other reasons to build too, like getting to pick each component. Making it YOURS in every way possible.
RTF's are packaged and built using whatever the COMPANY wants to build it with. A lot of the times with ESC's or PDB's that are too small or don't have voltage regulators. It's the little things that make the biggest problems sometimes.
Then there's the radio that comes with RTF's. Some are excellent, some not so much. Also if the radio that comes with the RTF isn't great, most likely you will outgrow it fast and want a new one. Money money money.
So if you KNOW you are going to stay in the hobby/sport of FPV, then BUILD and only build. Even if you have never done it. You will get a much better rig, for a better price overall. I say this to EVERYONE who knows they want to stay flying FPV, even if you can't solder well, or at all.
Here's the opportunity, to not only fly amazing rigs YOU built, but to LEARN a new skill. A new skill that will help you fly and maintain your rigs AND you'll be able fix so many other things for other people!
Or at least KNOW you can fix them, then pretend you don't know when asked too. Which is half the fun of knowing ANYTHING.
So build and learn. You will need the knowledge a lot in this sport and you will be a more skilled human because of it.
If FPV just intrigues you and you want to try the hobby out, I highly recommend a FPV toy flyer first. Don't drop $400 on RTF and up to $600 on goggles if you DON'T know if you will be flying 6 months later. Get a toy. See if you like it.
If you want brushless speed for FPV and don't, or can't, build your own then there are an amazing amount of really great packages out there and I do recommend some, but as always RESEARCH first. Don't be distracted by big company names or flashy ads or names. Research research research.
Those of you who do buy RTF's because you just don't want to build one, you will end up REBUILDING one. I promise you that.
Build. LEARN. Fly. Crash. Repeat.
I get asked all the time what my favorite multirotor is, and I have to say honestly, that it's whatever I'm flying at the moment.
Oh, that's a cop out answer? Something I would say to not answer specifically?
Yeah you're kinda right, but I am kinda right too.
If you ask me that question while I'm flying then that answer is valid, but as I sit here and blog, it is a non answer.
So the question itself needs to be fine tuned a bit, right? Actually it needs to be divided and added too. Not "what is your favorite multirotor?" but "what's your favorite toy flyer?" or "what size racer is your favorite?" or "which camera quad do you like the most?"
Those questions I could answer even if I was flying, and answer them exactly the way you would want me to.
The first one is probably the hardest. I love the toys even as I progress into FPV and racing, plus I have flown hundreds of models, but I do have an answer.
More like a couple answers, because my favorite toy flyer isn't made anymore (at least not with the original programming), so that would make my second favorite toys flyer my favorite right?
Because my second favorite toy flyer is actually 4 models in a dead tie.
See why my non answer is usually what you get when you ask me this?
The toys are all limited by their brushed motors and protocols, so the ones I like the best, are the ones that use what they have to their full capacity.
That specifically means a deep pitch. Without it, the motors can't reach their potential, except for going straight up.
I know a lot of you out there are obsessed with yaw speed on these toy flyers. I don't care that much about it, IF it has great pitch. I care way more about the pitch a toy grade multirotor has than it's yaw speed.
So my favorites are all really really pitchy with a okay yaw. I'll take a fast yaw if it's there AND has great pitch, otherwise a fast yaw ruins a quad as much as shallow pitch does. For me anyway.
Yeah I know, you just want me to answer the questions. I am though.
The second question is easier because I tend to like small fast flyers the most. In case you hadn't noticed by my nano obsession.
That being said, any racing rig I WILL LOVE FLYING.
Any brushless, fast, acro machine is my favorite. I will fly any size, anytime, anywhere. I currently have 3 rigs (122, 180, 210) and have built and owned many more and loved each one.
It's like asking me to pick my favorite child.
The third question is not really something I can answer with a lot of experience (yes I WILL answer the others. Calm your titties). I have flown a DJI, but I flew it like a racer and the owner almost choked, so I really only know the toys well.
I don't do very much filming with the camera birds I do have and when I do take aerial footage it's almost always on my racers for filming freestyle acro practice, but I do have one flyer in mind.
Camera quads have never really been my bag, but I do love seeing the incredible footage that so many people get with their DJI's and the like.
One thing I absolutely can't stand though is drone selfies.
That's what you want to use your $2000 quad for?!? Taking selfies?! Good buy! The phone in your pocket wasn't cutting it anymore huh? Needed a higher angle?
The whole selfie fad in general has made me hate phones.
FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD IN LIFE, TURN THE CAMERA AROUND.
Alright so I guess I answered all the questions as best as I could and now you are all satisfied and ready to go fly your own favorite right?
Awesome! I will talk to you next ti... What?
Oh I gave a bunch of non answers?
What are you, new here?
Here's the short answers to the questions.
Favorite toy grade flyers:
1. Huiying Toys Original X6058 (no longer in production)
2. (4 way tie)- Sky Dreamer Plus, JJ1000, Tarantula X6, X-Drone Nano 2.0
Favorite sized racing rig:
Favorite camera quad:
The video is my son playing Liftoff. Practice practice practice.
Now that there are a few FPV SIMs out there, and that I also use one, a few people have asked me to write a little about it.
I'll see if I can write "a little."
Somehow I doubt that will happen.
I grew up a skateboarder. I started at 12 years old, built my first half pipe at 14 and had several more before college.
I was, and still am, skateboarding obsessed. Age has taken it's toll on my knees and skating is now less attack and shred, and more cruise and flow.
Also, I am FPV flying obsessed. I love flying multirotors LOS and ANY flying is fun, but FPV is all I think about. I dream about it.
I only mention skating because, as a skater, I looked at every inch of terrain that crossed my eyes, as how I could skate it. What line I could have, what I could grind, ollie or slide on.
Anything I saw. Anywhere.
So if I looked out the window while riding in a car, every yard, sidewalk or space with any obstacle became an instant fantasy of riding an imaginary line. This now is how I am with flying FPV.
Every tree, open space, garage, gap, building, fence line, construction yard, rock cliff, beach, parking lot, football field, baseball field, power line tower, downtown ect ect..
I think of what line I could have flying through each. Visualize the run through the fence line. Fantasize about double backs through the towers.
My eyes look at life through FPV goggles.
So you're probably asking yourself two things by now.
1. What does this have to do with FPV SIMs?
2. This is what you call "a little writing?"
First SIMs have everything to do with why I am FPV obsessed and secondly, I told you I doubted it would be "a little."
So when I started FPV it was of course, with the toy grade ones. I thought it was so fun I went all in and got goggles and built a couple racers. That was cool and everything, but I found out very fast that flying FPV in level mode, at least with the racers, was kinda boring.
Don't get me wrong here, flying FPV with a powerful brushless racer is crazy fun and exciting at first, it just gets repetitive. Speed runs and quick turns are nice but that's really all you have until you can fly acro.
Flying in rate mode or acro mode is quite a bit different and also quite a bit more difficult. Not that it's hard to learn or that you have to be some sort of savant to learn it, it's just difficult to learn because you WILL crash learning.
Flying in acro though opens up endless possibilities and unlimited fun. Rolls, flips, vertical gravity drops and tricks only limited by your imagination are two sticks away at any time.
You get so much more agility and control that you never dreamed of flying in level mode, but it will cost you much more time, money and frustration while learning.
So enter the FPV Sims.
There are a few SIMs for FPV, I use Liftoff for a few reasons. Before anyone starts telling me why it sucks and why Freerunner is their favorite or how this other new one is soooooo much better, let me say, the reason we use it will become very apparent this summer. Unfortunately that's all I can say about it now. ;)
All of these SIMs share one thing in common. They all let you practice acro mode in FPV without fear of crashing your expensive racer. This means you can get a feel for rate mode or acro mode and learn stick control easily and safely from your couch if you want.
Most let you also use the radio you would use to fly your real life multirotor. I use my Taranis, which liftoff has a preset for, but we also use Devo's and other radios to play Liftoff.
This ability is to use your own transmitter makes transitioning from the SIM to the air very easy. You don't have to get use to a whole new radio and sticks in your hand when you really fly. You can also hook up goggles and use both your TX and your goggles to get a full FPV flight perspective.
Although I do not like using goggles playing the SIM. It's too much artificial light and pixels and I find myself getting nauseated. That's just me though. Try it, you might have a different experience.
When flying in real air, using goggles never makes me nauseous. No matter how many rolls or flips I do. I'm too concentrated to recognize the spinning. Like I said training on the SIM with goggles depends on each person, so don't be discouraged by my experience if that's what you want to try.
Okay I told you about how it's great to use to learn stick control, and how that itself is made even easier through the ability to use your own real radio.
Maybe I should talk about if it actually transitions to real flight? Does it really make a difference? Can you really learn to do crazy MattyStuntz type freestyle flying using it?
Yeah I think I should answer those questions. As you have probably been rolling your eyes at every sentence that doesn't talk about those exact points.
BTW, like how I got in two more pointless sentences before I said anything about it?
(That totally counts, so does this. 5!) Haha
Okay! Fine! I'll tell you. Jeeze.
Yes, it does actually transition pretty smoothly to real flight.
Absolutely, it makes a difference.
No, you will not be able to do MattyStuntz type freestyle flying in real air using ONLY the sim.
Just because you can do 360 triple backflip gravity drops through the trees in the SIM, does not mean you can do them in real air without practice IN REAL AIR.
Learning what him and others like him do (there's so many amazing pilots out there), requires hundreds of hours of real flight time as well as SIM training when you can't really fly.
It WILL help you get the confidence to actually practice though.
There are certain things the SIMs lack. The biggest is actual air. Having currents, breezes, and real wind is a huge difference. Plus there are some game elements in all SIMs for FPV that I've tried. Some of those elements will put you on the ground fast, if you don't realize they only work in the SIM.
Some SIMs let you have the ability to still roll or flip or turn after you cut throttle completely. This does not work in real life. You must have some throttle to turn at all, otherwise your quad is just a brick falling very fast.
Oh and the real life ground. THAT'S different.
It's hard. Very hard.
Almost vindictive like when you crash after playing a SIM. Like the earth is saying "I MUST BREAK YOU. GO HOME AND PLAY YOUR SIM PUNY HUMAN."
Wait, maybe that's the Hulk saying that, but either way, QUAD SMASH.
Do not get scared by that though. If you're going to be in this hobby, you will crash. NO ONE is immune to it, but using the SIMs will assuredly make you crash LESS.
Before Liftoff I lasted about 30 seconds flying acro in FPV. It was always flip the switch to acro, try to fly a little, then panic and hit the switch again to level.
Or crash very badly. RIP 250...
After Liftoff I could fly in acro from takeoff, first time. I could roll and flip and spin, but most importantly, I could breathe.
I felt confident and I knew I could level myself anytime.
Could I do the crazy stunts I do in Liftoff?
Hell no. I tried.
Fly, crash, build, repeat.
Can I do them after getting more real air time?
Not all of them, but I will eventually.
I know from my own experience using Liftoff, that FPV SIMs really works to give you confidence to fly acro in real life. It also helps develop your muscle memory for stick movements. I know this from watching my son. His thumbs absorb stick movements like he's downloaded cheat codes for them.
The younger guys and kids out there are already so coordinated with controllers, most would have an easy time learning to fly FPV in acro.
My son, while a good LOS pilot had never flown acro FPV before, he played liftoff for 3 hours, then went out and flew. Very well. Better than some people who have been flying in real air for awhile. This is because he's an expert gamer and took to the SIM and real FPV instantly.
Was he MattyStuntz on his first day?
Could he fly like Matty with practice?
Hell to the yeah.
The FPV SIMs are an amazingly great place to start. You'll get stick control understanding, muscle memory and a good solid step forward to a lot less crashes. Without Liftoff I would have spent a lot more money, wasted more time and had many many more headaches.
Will a SIM make it so you can go pro and fly in the worlds in Dubai?
YOU will do that.
Practice, practice, practice.
Fly, crash, build, repeat.
What exactly separates toy multirotors from hobby multirotors? Honestly, isn't it just a way to call toy flyers for adults, something other than toys?
Yes. Yes it is.
Well okay before you guys start screaming at your screens at me and getting ready to list all the reasons, there IS a little more to it than that.
There's the power, safety, complexity and of course the cost separating the two. Just to name the obvious ones.
In the end though, what you have is a complex, powerful and potentially dangerous TOY.
Okay. Let's look at one definition of the word toy-
1. an object, often a small representation of something familiar, for children or others to play with; plaything.
Hmmm, sounds like every RC multirotor ever.
Argue all you want, but no matter how much you spend on a multirotor, you are playing with a toy.
Now I'm not saying this to piss anyone off, just to remind some of you serious Sallys out there, that we are all just kids playing with toys. No matter if you are doing it professionally or just for fun, that's what it is.
Big kids, playing with toys.
WHICH IS THE GREATEST THING EVER!!!
Playing with toys as adults shouldn't be looked down on. Or seen as a waste of time. I get more pleasure out of flying than doing almost anything else. How is that wasting time?
Flying toys got me through finals in college my graduating year. Without it, I don't think I could have. Whenever stress, deadlines, or just life in general became overwhelming, I would fly.
Flying is one of those amazing things like laughing. It allows you to instantly forget all your problems, for at least a few moments.
While laughing, you don't think of anything but what made you laugh, and when you are flying, you don't think of anything but flying.
Laughing happens a lot in life (hopefully) , but it isn't usually planned and is almost always fleeting. Flying a toy on the other hand, is up to you.
Those moments become available whenever YOU are and can last as long as your time allows. That means you can decide when you want, or really need those moments and for how long.
How much are those moments worth to you?
They are f!@#ing priceless to me.
Letting go of everything, even for one flight, helped me push through a very hard year.
A lot of my friends and family would shake their heads or give me crap for playing with my toys when I had so much stuff to do.
Playing with toys, I graduated with honors and now have a new company in the hobby I love.
People only see what they want to see.
Playing with toys is therapy to me. It helps me everyday to be happier.
Toys have changed my life in so many ways that I am done thinking that I should somehow be ashamed to play with them.
That doesn't just go for anyone in my life personally that doesn't understand or just refuses to accept that, adults playing with toys, IS A GOOD THING.
It also goes for the people in this hobby who look down on others for flying what THEY consider toys.
Just because you spent 100 times more on a DJI or a racer than a guy who bought a Syma X5C, it doesn't make you any less guilty of playing with toys.
Why look down on someone flying ANY multirotor anyway?
That makes no sense to me. We all love this hobby right? Isn't that why you are even reading this?
It doesn't matter what you fly personally, you should be HAPPY AND ENCOURAGING when you see someone flying an X5C or some other "toy."
That just means the hobby is growing and becoming easier to get into, more accepted and less fear inducing to the public.
Also, getting one toy grade flyer in this hobby almost always leads to brushless.
So someday that kid flying his X5C in the park that you laughed at while flying your DJI, might be flying FPV in Dubai in the Grand Prix while you sit at the park. Not laughing.
So I encourage everyone to play with toys.
Cheap plastic toys and expensive plastic toys.
Fast toys and slow toys.
Big toys and little toys.
Indoor toys and outdoor toys.
LOS toys and FPV toys.
Because it will make you happy.
Have you ever seen a kid's look of wonder and shear joy at playing with a favorite toy?
Is that look something we should not want anymore? Or something only to be saved for expensive purchases or monumental life changes because we reached an certain age?
That's what life should be all about.
Trying to have that look on your face as much as possible. For as long as possible.
Kids have it right.
Embrace AND relish in every little moment of joy that comes at you. Whether it's from a playing with a toy or a buying a house.
They are all precious.
If more "adults" played with "toys," the world would be a better place.
We all have them.
They are all individual and unique. Even if they mirror other's, they are still ours only. Sharing an opinion is very common for a lot of things but if you look close enough, you'll find slight differences in them even if they are microscopic in their meaning.
This is because, we as people, are all different.
I am writing this post because the reviews I do, are just that.
My own unique and individual opinion.
If you don't agree with my assessment of a product, THAT DOESN'T MAKE ME WRONG.
It is MY OPINION of the product I am reviewing. It CAN'T be wrong.
If you don't agree with it, leaving a constructive comment to start a discussion is ALWAYS appreciated and responded to in kind. Telling me I'm wrong will get you nothing but a link to this blog post from now on.
I am not wrong. YOU ARE.
You are wrong for telling me my opinion isn't valid, but yours is.
You are NOT wrong for expressing your opinion though. Just by the way you express it.
We all love this hobby. Express it that way.
Another thing is my opinion on anyone purchasing the products I have reviewed. Please don't base a decision solely on what I think. One guy's opinion should just be a starting point.
Research. Use the Googles. Then watch flight demos.
The flight demos are what should decide the bulk of your opinions on whether or not to buy. That's why I do so many! Flight demos tell you 90% of what you need to know.
Seriously, does me sitting at a table boring you to death ever make you solidly decide whether or not to buy a multirotor? Honestly I hope not.
I base my decision of a multirotor on it's flight characteristics. Not on a guy telling me about the battery, what comes in the box or how much he likes the color.
Don't get me wrong either, I love sitting at a table and talking about anything multirotors. I literally LOVE boring you all because I'm a talker. That's why I still do table top segments, I love talking about flyers (in case you hadn't noticed by my long rambling review style) (NO I will never change it or talk faster. So stop asking).
So, I very rarely recommend buying any product I review.
Those of you who think I review to push companies products for money or to get free stuff can suck it.
Two times. Hard.
I get no money for any review and the free stuff I get, isn't really free.
If you knew how much work, prolific reviewers like myself do, you wouldn't ever doubt that my opinions in my reviews are honest.
All my reviews are MY honest opinion. Count the times I said I recommended people to BUY a product if you doubt me. I have over 70 reviews on multirotors.
I'll wait while you count......
Oh, too much work?
Fine. I promise you it's not been more than around 7 or 8 times. ALL of those were amazing flyers AND were priced reasonably. Thus the recommendation.
I do not do it lightly.
Which brings me to MY opinion of retailers, sellers, Amazon and prices.
When I review something, NONE of those things matter to MY opinion of the product. I am not reviewing the multirotors based on cost, shipping, seller, brand, re-brand or anything but this:
1. Does it do what the box and advertising says it can do?
2, Does it do it well?
If it does those 2 things, why wouldn't I say it's a good product? Because MY personal opinion on how I WISHED it would fly doesn't match HOW it flies?
Sorry, not gonna happen.
That's forcing MY opinion on something that clearly works the way the company says it does. I won't do it.
Trashing products for no real reason except it doesn't fly like I wanted it too, has never been my intention for reviews.
Having fun while educating, demoing and helping individuals find the right flyer for them. That's always been my intention.
All that being said, I do VOICE my opinions with naming what I find good and bad with each product. I do this in every video, and I say in every video, that the bad is bad to ME. The good, is good to ME.
Some agree with me, some do not, but I don't say the good and bad as FACT.
I say them as my opinion.
Since I started my YouTube channel, a year ago, I get asked two questions the most. Yeah I know what you are thinking, everybody asks me "how can you be so good looking and so humble?" The answer to that BTW is, it's easy because I'm awesome. :)