FPV TinyHawk Pilot - Krzysztof Krystian Jankowski

pocket-guide-to-fpv | Micro blog

Krzzysztof Krystian Jankowski with TinyHawk drone

│ POCKET GUIDE TO FPV DRONES
│
└──[ Sunday, September 20, 2020

Table of Content

    - Introduction
    - Drone classes
    - Hardware you need
    - The skill levels
    - Flying
    - The cool parts
    - Bottom line


INTRODUCTION

    I become addicted to flying a drone at the beginning of 2020. I like the 
    idea since the first DJI showed in the news years ago. It was very expensive 
    and big. But prices go down and the drones become smaller and just easier to 
    use. They are all designed for videography. And it's cool when you travel a 
    lot and visit awesome sites. But when you live in a city like me a classic 
    drone is hardly usable. An now we are facing the restrictions that will 
    prevent ppl from flying them over the other ppl. I also don't travel that 
    much. For those reasons I never bought one. I wanted it as anyone but don't 
    have a real reason to use it.

    That time I did not know anything about custom drones. They are made mostly 
    for racing. Hence the name that sticks to them. And those are way more 
    interesting. Technologyimprove to the level that racing drones become very 
    small and cheap. I watched a few videos[1] how ppl racing in the coffeeshop 
    under tables and chairs and over lamps under the ceiling. This looked 
    amazing. The best part was the live video feed in goggles. I was ready to 
    buy my first starter kit - EMAX TinyHawk RTF.

    China's delivery took some time. But it finally arrived and I was super 
    excited. Flying a racing drone is way different and harder than flying DJI 
    type of doing. So the first days were constant crashes and learning how to 
    not hit the ceiling right after takeoff. After a week the first challenge
    was to fly from room to room. It seems like an easy task but it's not for 
    a new pilot. And that's the whole point. I was hooked because it requires 
    leaning and rewards you at every step. And there is a lot to learn and a 
    hell lot of steps to take.

    [1] https://youtu.be/jnXgoRxyVqU

DRONE CLASSES / GROUPS

    Racing drones are mostly known for those big and dangerous beasts that 
    require a big chunk of a battery. In reality, all our hobby drones are micro 
    drones. The normal-sized drone is a military airplane that just doesn't have 
    a pilot in it. This micro category is divided into drone classes. Those are 
    invented by the community and have loosely defined definitions. But that's 
    fine. It is just to make life easier for discussions and finding information 
    about the given drone family.

    The most common is the "5-inch" class. Maybe also named "6s". One says about
    propellers size other about the battery cells count. Big drones need big 
    batteries. Those are packed in a series of cells. As I mentioned those quads 
    are very dangerous. Putting a finger in the rotating blades will cut it in a 
    split second. What you gain is speed and power to have a GoPro mounted on 
    them. With bigger antennas and better electronics range is also wider. They 
    are not cheap and require a lot of manual maintenance. Not for a newbie.

    Another group of drones is named "Toothipics". These measure around 3" and 
    runs on 2-3s batteries. They are way smaller and lighter. Are easy to carry 
    around. Still powerful to do all kinds of tricks. But instead of GoPro, all 
    they can have is a tiny Insta360 Go. Most pilots do not use the second 
    camera as those are mostly for training and freestyle in the backyard or a 
    park. The name was given by a kebabfpv[2] who first build such a quad.

    Third, the smallest class is known as "Whoop". From a TinyWhoop[3] drone 
    invented by Jesse Perkins[3]. For some time it was the only such small quad. 
    It was very cheap and safe to fly over people. Now there are many more to 
    choose and everyone hijacked this name as a new category. This is the best 
    choice for a first FPV drone. There are many ready to fly (RTF) packs for a 
    relatively low price to choose like EMAX TinyHawk. They run on 1s batteries. 
    This makes them unpowered. For flying in very tight terrain as an apartment, 
    it's exactly the idea. This also helps new pilots get used to flying. You 
    can fly outside but it will be not good for many tricks and wind will become 
    a problem. But it is still super fun at the beginning.

    [2] https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4yjtLpqFmlVncUFExoVjiQ
    [3] https://www.tinywhoop.com/

HARDWARE YOU NEED

    To fly FPV Drones you need three basic components: a drone, radio 
    controller, and a pair of goggles. Also batteries for all of them, spare 
    propeller, etc. But those main three are the most essential. You'll swap 
    batteries or propellers a lot but stick with the goggles and radio for a 
    long time.

    The drone part is obvious. But the other to are mostly ignored by the 
    regular people. And those are as important as the drone itself.
    
    Most cheap video drones use your phone/tablet as a steering device. Touch 
    screens are the worst thing to use for super-precise steering. What you need 
    is a (very) good manual controller. Each controller has two sticks and 
    operates in mode 2 - left stick controls yaw and throttle, right roll, and 
    pitch. Those are the most important parts. If there is an option, take one 
    that uses HAL sensors. Some Chinese controllers are not that expensive and 
    use HAL sensors like Jumper T12[4] or T18. I highly recommend them. Using a 
    cheaper, toy-like controller will result in bad flying. This is the first 
    upgrade you should make.

    Goggles are your virtual eyes. You can fly without them in LOS (Line Of 
    Sight). It means flying around you as far as you can clearly see the drone. 
    It's still fun to do but it's nothing compared to the FPV with goggles on 
    your head. Professional goggles are very, very expensive. It's the most 
    expensive part of the FPV hobby. But there are cheaper options. What's the 
    difference between them? Mostly ergonomics and features. I personally still 
    use cheap box goggles[5] that are big and bulky without andy DVR on board. 
    But the video quality is basically the same as it's all analog PAL/NTSC. You 
    can't go higher than that. Start with cheap ones and upgrade when you're 
    ready to dive into the hobby. 

    [4] https://www.jumper-rc.com/products/transmitters/t12-pro-hall/
    [5] https://emax-usa.com/products/emax-transporter-fpv-goggles

THE SKILL LEVELS

    I invented the 5-level hierarchy for a typical drone pilot. From complete 
    noob to a pro licensed sports star.

    Level 0
    You don't know anything about the drones. You know they exist and can fly. 
    You have all the hardware, the quad is ready to fly. You crash each time 
    seconds after takeoff. You need to learn everything.

    Level 1
    You fly in stab/horizon mode. Indoors. You can takeoff a hoover for some 
    time and move around a little bit. You crash after few seconds after 
    finishing any maneuver.

    Level 2
    You fly in stab/horizon mode. Indoors. You can fly from room to room and get 
    back. It takes time but you can avoid crashes on known paths. You learned 
    the knowledge of moving the sticks very delicately and don't panic when 
    something goes out of plan. You repaired your drone (physically).

    Level 3
    You fly in stab/horizon mode. Indoors and outdoors. You go outside and can 
    fly around the trees. You crash a few times per pack. You rescued a crashed 
    drone from the tree using turtle mode. You squashed the last juice from the 
    first battery packs and needed a replacement.

    Level 4
    You fly in air/rate mode. Mostly outdoors. You learned the rate mode and a 
    few basic tricks. You crash once a few packs. You can hit a small gap in a 
    tree. You own more than one drone. You know exactly what each part of the 
    drone works and what upgrades/replacements you want to do. You killed at 
    last one quad.

    Level 5
    You fly in air/rate mode. Mostly outdoors. You start in a race. You practice 
    individual tricks. You start to train racing. You place gates on the grass. 
    You were on at last one race with prizes.

    This is the last level as you can only be better at anything you already 
    learned. There is no new type of skill to acquire. You spend another 90% of 
    the time to become a master.

FLYING

    Keeping the quadcopter in the air and steering it is a very difficult task. 
    That's why almost all the drones are driven by computers. Especially the 
    commercial like DJI is making. It needs to be easy and safe to fly. They 
    have many sensors and systems for obstacle avoidance. Pilots do not steer 
    the engines. The pilot gives orders to the drone computer that he wants to 
    fly forward with a given speed, take a turn or stop. Stopping is 
    particularly important because it's way harder than most peoples imagine.

    Racing quads works a little differently. There is still a computer that runs 
    all the motors but there is little help. The pilot is deciding how much and 
    how fast the drone should rotate in a given axis. In reality, there is not 
    even a "forward" nor "stop" action. It's just a pitch rotation.

    Example. As a pilot you push the stick forward, wait for a second and go 
    back to the center. A computer-guided drone will fly forward by pitching 
    down and increase the throttle. Then after that second it will pitch up, use 
    the throttle to slow the forward movement, and then pitch to the horizon and 
    adjust the throttle to hover. Racing drones will pitch down and the drone 
    will fly forward but also decrease altitude. There is no stopping so it will 
    just pitch back and drift.

    If you understand that difference now we can get back to the most important 
    thing. Racing quads have two modes to control those axis rotations.

    Horizon / Stab mode
    In this mode stick movement control how much rotate the aircraft. Exactly as 
    in the example. If the pilot moves the stick in some direction the drone 
    will rotate the same amount. When the stick is centered the drone will also 
    center. Another benefit of this mode is that the computer helps with keeping 
    the drone aligned with the horizon. That way it's easier to fly and it is 
    used mostly for indoor flying. But this is very limiting.

    Acro / Rate / Normal mode
    This mode is where the fun begins. It's super hard to learn at first. It's 
    just so different that our brain needs to get used to it. But when it does 
    it's the most freedom and smooth way to fly. So what's all about it? The 
    stick positions define how fast should quad rotates ina given axis. There is 
    zero assistance from the computer. 
    
    For example, you do not keep the stick forward to fly forward it will just 
    keep the drone rotating - pitching slow or fast. Pushing the stick fully 
    forward and keeping it in that position will result in 360 rolls. Until it 
    crashes. To move forward you move the stick a little bit and go back to the 
    center. This way the drone will pitch a little bit and stay that way. You 
    also need to add throttle to not hit the ground. With the right amount of 
    throttle, it will fly forward with too much it will fly up and forward. And 
    it will do this until you correct position by moving the stick back the same 
    amount to pitch back. But if the craft gets the momentum it will drift 
    forward for some time. To really stop it you need to pitch up to use engine 
    force to slow and then in the right moment pitch down to the horizon. If you 
    do this too late it will start to fly backward... It does not feel like fun 
    and it is definitely not for a beginner.

    In both modes the throttle management works the same way - just changes the 
    motors speed. In commercial drones, this stick controls the altitude of the 
    craft.

THE COOL PARTS

    As you can see flying racing drones is fun and challenging at the same time. 
    Using small whoop you can explore your apartment like never before. See it 
    from the view of a fly. Build tracks from household stuff like chairs and 
    cardboard boxes. Then taking it outside to the garden or near the park is 
    another level of excitement. Racing between trees and branches, chasing 
    birds, looking at the neighborhood from above. Looking at yourself from all 
    angles.
    
    Finally when you learn acro mode and just start to "feel" the aircraft. Then 
    you become free. The pure feeling of flying whenever you want at any angle
     or speed. 
    
    You are only blocked by your own reflex and skills.

    To this day I love to just go in the air and fly around. Without any tricks, 
    hitting small gaps, or trying to get the fastest lap. Just be there and fly 
    like a bird. For me, it is an act of meditation. It's hard to describe to 
    someone who never experiences it. Looking at videos and flying yourself in 
    the area you think you know very well is on another level.
    
    Know what OOBE (Out Of Body Experience) is? Well, FPV is just like that. 
    You can look at yourself and just fly in places you'll never be able to be. 
    I think this is why it's so addicting.

    Not that important but still a perk is just a fact that you have a drone. 
    For many people, it will be a status symbol. Definitely a cool gadget. 
    Strangers stop nearby when I'm flying just to look and comment. And kids 
    love this stuff. When wearing a goggle with pointing antennas and a big 
    radio controller with many switches you look like form dystopian cyberpunk 
    future.


BOTTOM LINE

    There is fun and all. But it's also a good exercise for your mind. You will 
    sharpen your reaction time, spatial awareness, and being calm in stressful 
    situations. In the beginning, you will lack all of those and crash. Training 
    FPV is literally training your brain. You will exceed those skills thanks to 
    this hobby. It will help you on the road while biking or driving.

    Training outside will force you to take fresh air and find new exciting 
    places to fly. For me, it's a reason to leave the apartment. Each journey 
    now a quest to find that perfect spot to ripp. If you're like me and like to 
    spend a lot of time behind the computer everything that encourages me to
     move is a good thing.

    I hope I interested you and soon you'll be in the air :)

    Happy flying!

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