Thing One got a toy drone for his birthday. A simple and inexpensive one with an internal battery and a remote. I helped him get it charged up and ended up flying it more than he did during his birthday. I ordered a second one for myself before the end of the day, and after flying it for about a week I was starting to get frustrated with only being able to fly for about two minutes before having to wait half an hour for it to charge. So of course I headed off to Amazon to find something better.
I hadn’t looked at drone very seriously before then, so all I really knew about them was the high end ones like the ones made by DJI that are intended for aerial photography. The toy quadcopter market had really exploded though, and there were tons of options to research online. Although it didn’t take me long to realize that I wasn’t going to find something with a longer flight time. For the quadcopters that were small enough to fly indoors, battery weight would keep the flight times down to the two minute range. So I needed something with a swappable battery.
Once I knew more about what kind of quadcopter I was looking for, I started searching for reviews on YouTube which is where I stumbled onto the concept of FPV, or first person view. An FPV quadcopter has a camera and a video transmitter (VTX) in it that sends to a pair of goggles that the pilot wears and this allows them to see and fly as though he was inside the quadcopter.
I immediately wanted to do this. I was really taken with the concept of being able to sit in my dining room and fly a quadcopter all over the house without having to follow it around. Even better I could fly around outside and actually be able to get a birds eye view.
My dad has been into RC planes for a few years now, and he’s tried to get me interested in them before, but I’ve never been a fan of flying them line of sight. The plane is tiny and hard to see once it’s up in the air, and I just feel to removed from the experience to have much fun with it. FPV solved all of that, and quadcopters meant I didn’t have to go to a field somewhere but could fly in my house or around my yard.
Eventually I discovered a specific class of micro-drones called Tiny Whoops. This seemed like the perfect entry point for me. They are extremely small and ducted so they’re safe to fly indoors around people and pets. After looking into my options I settled on the NewBeeDrone Acrobee as it was one of the only kits I looked at that didn’t require soldering.
The next trick of course was getting my wife’s approval, FPV isn’t a cheap hobby to get into. There’s the done itself, which ironically was the cheapest part at about $99. After that I still needed goggles and a transmitter. The goggles can run anywhere from $100 to $600 depending on the style, brand, and receiver options. The transmitters can be as cheap as $50 but I had my eye on one a little more expensive at $200. So even with goggles on the cheaper end of the spectrum I was looking at spending about $500 or so to get into the hobby and I didn’t feel right doing that without talking to her first, especially not in November with the holidays coming up.
Box goggles aren’t as compact as regular FPV goggles but they’re much less expensive. I got mine for for $109 versus spending $450 for a pair of regular goggles like Fat Sharks where I’d need to spend another $50 to $100 on a receiver module.
The only downside of this plan was waiting for Christmas day to get started, I don’t think I’ve looked forward to a Christmas morning so much since I was in middle school. In the weeks leading up to then I had tried to watch as many videos as I could about assembling the Acrobee, setting up the Taranis radio, and getting them configured to work together. I thought I was pretty well prepared and ready to go, but I found out pretty quickly that I had a lot to learn.