What is the difference between FPV drone and normal drones?

Hello, if you’re here reading this article, it’s because you’re interested in entering the world of drones and want to know which drone is the right fit for you. Well, now is the time to begin…

Let’s start by saying that there are two major categories of drones: Stabilized drones (normal drones) and FPV (First-Person View) drones. The choice depends on your needs. I’ll give you a heads up: if you want to have fun piloting, then FPV drones are the best choice. On the other hand, if you want a hassle-free flying experience and peace of mind, then stabilized drones are the way to go.

Furthermore, there are multiple models in both categories, but in this article, we’ll focus on explaining the differences between the two, with some brief insights.

What is normal Drones?

As the name suggests, these are drones that automatically stabilize themselves, mostly remaining parallel to the ground. This means that if we don’t touch the remote control sticks, the drone will autonomously return to hovering, remaining still and stable.

They have limited maneuverability (you can’t perform acrobatics with them) and are mostly piloted using a remote control where you can see what the drone sees through a screen (either built into the remote control or via a mobile phone). Depending on the model, some have more or fewer sensors (they can detect obstacles and navigate around them) and different functions (such as active track, follow me, point of interest, etc.), all designed to make drone piloting as simple and autonomous as possible.

Application of normal Drones

Normal Drones are used for video/photo shooting, photogrammetric surveys, and thanks to the use of thermal and multispectral cameras, they can be used for search and rescue missions, wildlife tracking, thermal inspections of buildings, and checking the proper functioning of solar panels. Additionally, they can be employed in agriculture for fertilizing or spraying pesticides or for transporting materials (e.g., medicines and organic matter).

Basic setup of normal Drones

Drone and remote control with a screen (or a mobile phone used as a screen). Some models can be autonomously flown using waypoints (by setting points on the map) without the need for the remote control.

What is fpv drones

These are drones that, in addition to being able to fly in stabilized mode, have the option to fly in ACRO mode. This allows for full control of the drone on all axes (yaw, pitch, roll), enabling acrobatics and different types of footage compared to normal drones. Since they are not limited in their movements, it is possible to fly close to objects, fly close to the ground or water, and more.

As mentioned earlier, they have various flight modes: Angle (completely stabilized), Horizon (stabilized mode that allows for some minor acrobatics), and Acro (acrobatic mode where you have full control of the drone, and when you release the remote control sticks, the drone will maintain its position without auto-stabilizing).What is the difference between FPV and normal drones

The categories of fpv drone

There are different models of FPV drones, and we can temporarily divide them into two categories: DIY (Do-It-Yourself) and DJI (such as the Avata and FPV models). DIY FPV drones can have various parts interchanged, as long as they are compatible. They come in all sizes and are suitable for various needs. You can either build them from scratch or purchase them as BNF (Bind and Fly) or RTF (Ready to Fly) options. DJI FPV drones, on the other hand, are closed systems and cannot be modified to suit your specific needs. They often suffer from propwash and washout issues, especially in the case of the Avata model. It’s recommended to change the propellers to HQProp 3-blade ones in this case. Additionally, while the O3 air unit (the video unit mounted on these two drones) is excellent for video transmission, a GoPro Hero 10 provides better video quality for recording. It’s also possible to mount a GoPro on these drones, but not vertically, as they tend to vibrate significantly in that position.

The versatility of FPV drones makes them suitable for both recreational freestyle flying and capturing footage from unique perspectives, different from stabilized drones. They are flown using goggles, and the video transmission system can be either digital or analog.

IMPORTANT: To fly DIY FPV drones in acrobatic mode, it’s necessary to educate yourself on both the hardware and software aspects, be able to make adjustments, and, most importantly, practice on a simulator. Acrobatic mode is much more complex than stabilized mode, and you’ll need to develop muscle memory for the remote control stick movements in relation to the drone’s movements.

What is the difference between FPV and normal drones

Basic setup of fpv drone

Basic setup: Drone, Remote Control, and Goggles

Internal components of DIY FPV drones: Frame, FC+ESC (flight controller and electronic speed controller) separate stack or FC+ESC on a single electronic board (AIO), motors, command receiver with antenna, video unit (camera, video transmitter, antenna), TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) prints, GPS, Buzzer; additional components like LEDs, servos, etc., can be added based on your needs. 5 inch fpv drone are the most preferred by pilots. Here I recommend MEPS 2207 for building your fpv drones.

meps 2207

Note: If you plan to get a DIY FPV drone, it’s advisable to also acquire a soldering iron with accompanying tools so you can modify or repair the drone independently.

What is the difference between FPV and normal drones

What are the advantages and disadvantages of normal drones?

The Advantages of normal drones

  • They are excellent for those who want to start capturing videos and photos without wasting time connecting the drone/remote control or practicing on a simulator or studying to understand how they work, what needs to be done, what should not be done, etc. You turn on the radio, the drone, and you’re ready to fly.
  • With the help of sensors, they are very easy to pilot, and often, they can even fly autonomously by setting a trajectory or using the “follow me” function.
  • They have excellent battery life (varies by model, averaging around 30 minutes).
  • Being closed drones, there’s no need to know how to solder/desolder, bind the drone/remote control, or spend time on various configurations; you simply take the drone and radio, turn them on, and fly.
  • They can hover and allow you to move the camera with the gimbal, so you can adjust the camera angle directly from the remote control.
  • Thanks to their excellent autonomy, stabilization, and the ability to adjust the camera angle, you can capture time-lapse videos and photos.
  • They can be used in multiple applications beyond just capturing videos and photos.
  • Almost all models have built-in GPS and integrated “Return to Home” (RTH) function.

 The disadvantages of normal drones

  • They are limited in their movements, both in stabilized flight and by the sensors.
  • It’s not straightforward, and often it’s impossible to capture shots where you can get close to the subject and immerse yourself in the scene.
  • They are slow.
  • They are very fragile and could break even with minor crashes, and it’s not possible to repair them independently.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of fpv drones?

The Advantages of fpv drones

  • You have full control of the drone and are not limited by sensors; this allows you to navigate through any gap, approach any obstacle, and fly between obstacles… the only limit is your skill in piloting them.
  • They are highly responsive and are used both for fun (e.g., freestyle) and for capturing footage (e.g., cinematic); the footage is entirely different from stabilized drones, offering various perspectives and allowing you to immerse yourself in the scene and capture more details.
  • They are very fast, which also allows for capturing footage of racing cars, motocross, etc.
  • Often, people build them themselves, which allows them to choose various components and build a drone that reflects all the features they may need.
  • They are very durable; there are freestyle models designed specifically for flying in abandoned buildings, and they can withstand severe crashes against concrete.

The Disadvantages of fpv drones

  • They are not easy to use, both in terms of piloting and various configurations, and it’s necessary to know how to solder and understand the setup in order to repair or modify them.
  • They have limited endurance, typically around 3-6 minutes with LiPo batteries (some DIY models can use LiIon batteries, which can extend the endurance up to 15 minutes).
  • Before starting, it’s necessary to gather information and study to avoid actions that could compromise the drone, the radio, or the goggles.
  • They lack a camera movement system, so the camera is manually adjusted before launching the drone, and the camera angle cannot be changed remotely.
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