HobbyKing.com New Products Flash Sale
Reply
Thread Tools
Old Dec 27, 2006, 06:11 PM
Fly FPV, sleep; repeat
twinturbostang's Avatar
Germantown, MD
Joined Mar 2006
3,376 Posts
Discussion
FPV Flying -- SAFETY!

I feel that one of the first topics we should discuss is the safe flying and operation of model craft while in a FPV "mode". Many of the opponents to FPV flying feel that it is "not safe". I believe it is our duty as FPV flyer's to not only operate in a safe and secure manor, but to also show to others the steps that we take in order to assure we fly as safe as possible. By doing so, I believe we will promote, in a positive fashion, FPV flying. So I'm going to list a few items here, and also mention (in my opinion) what safe practices should be. My hope is that this thread will grow and include more notes from others.

1) Equipment
First of all, I believe it's important to use good quality components. And this not only goes for FPV flying, but RC in general. Inferior products often result in inferior performance. Most important are the transmission/receiving components, both of the RC control link and the video downlink. Since this is the FPV forum, I will focus on the components that are specific to FPV flying. A good quality camera should be utilized that has adequate resolution to easily see the planes attitude, location, and proximity to other objects. Perhaps more important is the video downlink system. Many "cheap" tx/rx combos can be found in places such as ebay. These are often "Hong Kong specials". And while some may in fact be of decent quality, I believe the consensus (and from personal experience) is that higher quality components are available from other sources. Yes they will cost more, and one's budget will ultimately dictate what components can be used. But in general, the higher the quality you can get, the better. You definitely do not want the video downlink to disappear while flying FPV. So you will want tx/rx components that are of good quality and have good transmission range. There are additional safety measures that can be taken in the event of loss of video link (see item 5). But these should only be used as supplemental safety devices, and not used to try and overcome a deficiency somewhere else in the system.

2) Experience
Do not attempt to fly 2 miles away from yourself, with headtracking, in high winds, near sunset, on your very first FPV flight! That is of course an exaggeration. However, FPV flying is entirely different than line-of-sight flying. You get a completely different perspective, and during your first flights, it is VERY easy to become disoriented or loose track of where you are relative to your flying field. It may be different than line-of-sight flying, but it shares one very common aspect... it takes practice, practice, practice to become proficient at it. The best thing to do is to start off slow and work your way towards more complicated flights, longer durations, or farther distances. It's also a good idea to know your field! Google Earth is an indispensable tool. Learn your flight location, objects around you (trees, buildings, etc.), and try to put yourself in the plane before the flight and imagine what it might look like from different points of view on the field.

3) Spotter
Possibly the most important safety item to FPV flying, is to have a spotter with you. This is someone that maintains visual line-of-sight on the aircraft during flight. In the event of problems, your spotter can guide you as to what needs to be done to return safely home. Even better is if the spotter is attached to your transmitter via the trainer port. This way, if the video feed is lost, the spotter can take control of the aircraft and return it to the field. He can then either land the aircraft, or give control back to you if the video link returns. It's my belief that a spotter should be used whenever it is possible to do so. I understand that this is not always practical. So one should use one's best judgment in determining if it is safe to fly without a spotter or not.

4) Location
Another important point, and possibly an area of discussion. Where is it safe to fly FPV? I would hope that most people would agree that flying over largely populated areas, busy highways, and other areas of high population density are not safe areas to fly. And this again, goes for R/C flying in general, not just FPV. This is another case where I believe one should make a logical and sound decision as to whether or not safe flying is possible from their location.

5) Long Distance
This is a hotly debated topic relative to FPV flying. By the nature of FPV flying, it allows us to fly outside of visual range. So then the question becomes... how far can I fly away from myself? And there are LOTS of things that go into this decision, including ALL OF THE ABOVE items. Of course you will need high quality components, and transmitters with sufficient power to overcome the distance traveled. Long distances will require a good accumulation of FPV flying experience and a good knowledge of the surrounding area. It should only be done in remote areas where the risk to human life and property is minimized. And spotters can still be utilized to assist the pilot. An additional hardware component can also be used here, and is recommended for long distance flying. That is the GPS return to home device. This allows, in the event of loss of either RC control or video link, the plane to be guided back safely to the flying field via a GPS navigation device. Normally a GPS receiver will be interfaced to a device that will steer the plane in the correct direction to return to the field. Sometimes a "co-pilot" leveling device is also necessary. This keeps the wings flat and level during any maneuvers the GPS device commands. Again I want to stress that it is my belief that long distance flying should only be done by experienced FPV pilots, that are familiar with and check for safe operation all of their equipment, and that do so in a location that is safe. It should also be important to know the limitations of one's equipment. Don't go trying to fly 5 miles away with a 10mW transmitter!


Well, that's it for now. I hope this will spur additional discussion in how to keep FPV flying safe. And of course, HAVE FUN!
twinturbostang is offline Find More Posts by twinturbostang
Reply With Quote
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Old Dec 27, 2006, 06:34 PM
Registered User
JMSTECH's Avatar
Canada, BC, Duncan
Joined Dec 2006
3,618 Posts
Thanks Twinturbostang for the write-up. I agree that we should practice safe FPVing, besides a terrible mishap would make FPVers look bad

I realize that since VRFlyer has produced some inspirational videos, many has jumped into the bandwagon, myself included. But I hope they take the time to read your post and realize the importance of saftey first!

JMS
JMSTECH is offline Find More Posts by JMSTECH
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 27, 2006, 09:54 PM
Live FPV or Die
VRflyer's Avatar
Montreal,Canada
Joined Feb 2002
3,959 Posts
Good job Twinturbostang

It's was possible for me to fly safely over houses or in park like you can see in my videos. I use a styrofoam planes, my equipement is the result of many years of work and with severals hours of video-piloting, I do one pass over houses to get a good video shoot. But after i get it, I don't need to fly there again, the sky is so big, why stay over houses. Don't try it unless your equipement and your skill are up to the task.
VRflyer is offline Find More Posts by VRflyer
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 27, 2006, 10:16 PM
dusty bible = dirty life
Majortomski's Avatar
Oklahoma City OK USA Where fakts still exist even if they are ignored
Joined Aug 2000
2,770 Posts
How about getting a pilot's liscense so you have some idea of what it is like to navigate by sight from the plane?

How about petitioning the FCC for secure frequencies so that you aren't clobbered by some kid with a park flyer on 72 Mhz?
Majortomski is offline Find More Posts by Majortomski
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 27, 2006, 11:13 PM
Fly FPV, sleep; repeat
twinturbostang's Avatar
Germantown, MD
Joined Mar 2006
3,376 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Majortomski
How about getting a pilot's liscense so you have some idea of what it is like to navigate by sight from the plane?
Well, that's why I recommend starting off with a spotter, and preferably someone that is attached via the trainer port. That way if you get into trouble, be it video drop out or just loss of visual reference, the spotter can bring you back until you get your bearings. At first, yes, it is a bit difficult. But you quickly get the hang of it. The last time I flew FPV was at a flying club that I had never been to before. Never seen it in person. Yet I had absolutely no trouble at all navigating around the field when I flew. How? Because I have become accustomed to flying via FPV, and I used Google Earth and very carefully studied the layout of the terrain. I received permission to fly there via FPV and it went really well. I will add that the field was out in the middle of nowhere. Had the circumstances been different, then I probably would not have flown FPV.

Quote:
How about petitioning the FCC for secure frequencies so that you aren't clobbered by some kid with a park flyer on 72 Mhz?
I don't see this as a direct problem with FPV flying. Unless you are doing long distance flying. Then yes, it's possible that interference from another transmitter could affect your control over the plane. However, this could really happen any time you fly, FPV or not. This is one of the many reasons why a range check should be performed every time you fly. It doesn't matter if you've flown at a particular site a thousand times before. It could be that the next time, as you mentioned, there might be a kid on the other side of the hill flying around on your channel.
twinturbostang is offline Find More Posts by twinturbostang
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 27, 2006, 11:45 PM
JettPilot's Avatar
Miami
Joined Apr 2005
10,054 Posts
Great write up TwinTurboStang. You make very good and well thought out points. FPV flying can be as dangerous, or as safe as each person makes it. Sooner or later, something will happen, but I say so what, that is life.

People die and hurt others playing soccor, an average of 50 people a year are killed in the US by Christmas Tree fires. Only idiots are going to freak out when something does happen, because FPV is new, different and exciting. The important thing is not to pander to thier paranoia...

JettPilot
JettPilot is offline Find More Posts by JettPilot
Site Sponsor
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 28, 2006, 02:21 AM
to fly or not to not fly
planebane's Avatar
Hua Hin, Thailand
Joined Aug 2005
644 Posts
Nice contribution 'stang.

It may help to consider full-size aviation when talking safety. Thousands of airplanes weighing many tons are whizzing above our heads all the time, and fatal accidents routinely happen, but there is no public uproar over aviation safety. This is because the benefit of aviation (unlimited travel, fast mail delivery) is so great.

It's also because in comparison to the number of successful flights that take place without incident every day, the accident rate is extremely low. This in turn is because of stringent regulations on airworthiness, regular inspections and pre-flight checks.

It is up to FPV pilots (as with all R/C pilots, but even more so due to the novelty of FPV flying) to use quality, proven equipment and incorporate regular and careful pre-flight checks into their routine.

Having said that, considering all the dangerous activities humans already do, FPV is small potatoes as a public safety risk. Very small.
planebane is offline Find More Posts by planebane
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 28, 2006, 02:24 AM
Registered User
AnthonyRC's Avatar
Switzerland
Joined Sep 2004
1,143 Posts
I'm glad to see this topic appear on the thread so early, good stuff.

Another couple of points that I would like to add:

1) Charge!: Flying FPV can easily involve many more batteries than normal flight. Video goggles, Video receiver, LCD screen, etc. are all criticial components, and will cause immediate 'blindness' if one dies. For this I have a simple rule: All batteries get a full charge before each flight. There is nothing worse than a blank display while flying FPV!

2) Redundancy: Where possible, add some redundancy to FPV flight. One place that it is easy to do this, is on the ground. Having a second, independently powered, video receiver, and some form of display, can be quite useful in the event of a failure on the primary system. Personally I use this second receiver system to record the flights, so it is put to good use.

3) Safe Models: When starting to fly FPV, or when flying with nobody for miles is not possible, use a 'safe', lightweight model which will not do any damage if things go wrong. The EasyStar is a good choice, or even the AP favourite, the SlowStick.

Just one more minor point, something that burned me recently. If using servos for a pan/tilt mount, make sure that the BEC on your ESC can drive the total number of servos in the system. Most BECs, especially when running off 3s LiPos, can only drive 3 or 4 servos. Taking a system that already uses 3 or 4 servos to fly the plane, and then adding 2 more for the pan/tilt mount, can result in costly repairs!
AnthonyRC is offline Find More Posts by AnthonyRC
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 28, 2006, 05:49 AM
Registered User
PeteSchug's Avatar
Elmhurst, NY (Queens in NYC)
Joined Apr 2004
7,017 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Majortomski
How about getting a pilot's liscense so you have some idea of what it is like to navigate by sight from the plane?

How about petitioning the FCC for secure frequencies so that you aren't clobbered by some kid with a park flyer on 72 Mhz?
I have about thirty-five hours of power and maybe seventy-five hours in sailplanes plus a lot of scattered unlogged flights, and lots more hours in the right hand seat flying with friends. My first solo was on skis.

If I were to do a comparison I would say that you can see much more in a full sized plane than you can with any video system. Also, and very important, the angular rate of turn with a model is way higher for the same angle of bank. It takes a while to do a 180° turn in a full sized plane, but it is almost instant with a model flying at the same angle of bank.

In other words - There is still a lot to learn and a lot to get used to when your visual field is reduced to what your camera can see and your peripheral vision is gone. There is no sensation of flight, no G's in a steep banked turn or a loop and what happens can seem to happen very fast with a model.

In a full sized airplane the final approach probably takes well over a minute and the flare for touchdown seems very gradual, with a model twenty seconds on final would seem long and the flare is pretty quick. BTW, gliders don't flare for landing, you fly them on. If you flare the tail touches first, the wing loses it's angle of attack and you land with a bang. Same thing with the Easy Star!

There are similarities, but there are a lot of differences too and it takes some getting used to whether you are a complete beginner or an experienced pilot. Also, a lot of RC flying helps but does not prevent you from feeling the differences.

The most important relationship between video pilotage and full sized flying is attitude. I don't mean mental attitude, but controlling the attitude of the plane by positioning the horizon in the image.

Pete
PeteSchug is offline Find More Posts by PeteSchug
RCG Plus Member
Latest blog entry: Some Books About Flying
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 28, 2006, 08:10 AM
67N2F
robmoll's Avatar
Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
Joined Dec 2005
229 Posts
Just a thought-

It would be interesting if a person could submit his fpv setup to a yet-to-be-determined panel of experts and receive an official (although meaningless) rating for the system along with recommendations for improving the rating.
robmoll is offline Find More Posts by robmoll
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 28, 2006, 08:50 AM
Registered User
PeteSchug's Avatar
Elmhurst, NY (Queens in NYC)
Joined Apr 2004
7,017 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by robmoll
Just a thought-

It would be interesting if a person could submit his fpv setup to a yet-to-be-determined panel of experts and receive an official (although meaningless) rating for the system along with recommendations for improving the rating.

Bigger airplane, more powerful video tx, studio quality camera, more powerful motor, bigger batteries, better rx, and make the whole thing lighter, able to land in less space, keep the noise down, prop out of the way of camera. Landing gear suitable for all terrain. Don't forget the satellite link, and again, keep the weight down.

Pete
PeteSchug is offline Find More Posts by PeteSchug
RCG Plus Member
Latest blog entry: Some Books About Flying
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 29, 2006, 10:02 AM
Fly FPV, sleep; repeat
twinturbostang's Avatar
Germantown, MD
Joined Mar 2006
3,376 Posts
Good stuff guys. Keep the suggestions coming.

Mr. Moderator: Can we get a sticky on this please?
twinturbostang is offline Find More Posts by twinturbostang
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 29, 2006, 11:18 AM
Happy FPV flyer
Kilrah's Avatar
Switzerland
Joined Sep 2006
4,188 Posts
Quote:
The last time I flew FPV was at a flying club that I had never been to before. Never seen it in person. Yet I had absolutely no trouble at all navigating around the field when I flew.
Same here, I've had to maiden a new plane in FPV mode, with some pieces of equipment I hadn't used before, in a place I had no clue about 5 mins before the flight, and that was a demo for VERY serious customers... I admit I was a bit shaky at the beginning, but everything went perfectly good

Don't try this at home unless you have a lot of experience though

Pete - It seems the conversion from full-size to models is more difficult as the opposite. I know several pilots who have gone to R/C but they were just like any beginner. The exterior view just means nothing to them. Now, if we talk about FPV, I guess the same must be even more true. Full-size pilots have instruments, a very wide and detailed view, a map, maybe a GPS,...
Trying FPV, they get nothing more than a narrow view - that's a pretty important loss!
On the other side, we're used to flying planes, judging height and speed with nothing else than a rectangular image shown on a screen - the other way is a great upgrade in comfort
At least, when I did my introductory flight last year, the instructor found I was doing incredibly well for a first time - and that was even before I started gaining dozens of FPV flight hours
Kilrah is online now Find More Posts by Kilrah
Last edited by Kilrah; Dec 29, 2006 at 11:25 AM.
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 29, 2006, 12:14 PM
Registered User
PeteSchug's Avatar
Elmhurst, NY (Queens in NYC)
Joined Apr 2004
7,017 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kilrah
Same here, I've had to maiden a new plane in FPV mode, with some pieces of equipment I hadn't used before, in a place I had no clue about 5 mins before the flight, and that was a demo for VERY serious customers... I admit I was a bit shaky at the beginning, but everything went perfectly good

Don't try this at home unless you have a lot of experience though

Pete - It seems the conversion from full-size to models is more difficult as the opposite. I know several pilots who have gone to R/C but they were just like any beginner. The exterior view just means nothing to them. Now, if we talk about FPV, I guess the same must be even more true. Full-size pilots have instruments, a very wide and detailed view, a map, maybe a GPS,...
Trying FPV, they get nothing more than a narrow view - that's a pretty important loss!
On the other side, we're used to flying planes, judging height and speed with nothing else than a rectangular image shown on a screen - the other way is a great upgrade in comfort
At least, when I did my introductory flight last year, the instructor found I was doing incredibly well for a first time - and that was even before I started gaining dozens of FPV flight hours
I started flying RC in the dawn of proportional, and I learned to fly full sized airplanes at the same time. Since we had gliders and homebuilts at the field it was a very popular place and we had more than our quota of professionals, airline pilots, ex-military etc. I let more than a few get some stick time on my RC planes and the comment was usually something like, "I know I'm flying the thing but I don't really feel any connection with what's happening."

I told them to do full circles and not try to control the plane when it was heading towards them. I never had to take the transmitter away from anyone due to loss of control, but most of them had their curiosity satisfied after just a minute or so.

I first stuck a video camera on a plane about three years ago. (I think?)

Pete
PeteSchug is offline Find More Posts by PeteSchug
RCG Plus Member
Latest blog entry: Some Books About Flying
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 29, 2006, 05:30 PM
Just trying to get a nut.
scrtsqrl's Avatar
United States, VA, McLean
Joined Oct 2006
6,295 Posts
Flight Plan

As in flying full scale aircraft there are four things, missing any one of which, you are sure to crash:

1. Reference to the Horizon. You must know your attitude at all times. (Camera, Video Downlink, Display, light of day, weather, etc...)
2. Power. (Motor, ESC, Prop, etc...)
3. Ability to control the aircraft. (Radio, servos, control surfaces, etc...)
4. Juice. (Battery Charge)

Always plan your flights so you do not loose or run out of any one of the above until your intended time/place of landing.
scrtsqrl is online now Find More Posts by scrtsqrl
Last edited by scrtsqrl; Dec 29, 2006 at 05:55 PM.
Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Discussion FPV Videos, For those that want to see what FPV flying is like, check these out !!! JettPilot FPV Talk 511 Oct 14, 2007 12:18 PM
Discussion FPV flying between buildings in down town Rio de Janeiro DuckBuff FPV Talk 19 Aug 26, 2007 04:47 PM
Gallery First video of my fpv flying buddy AndrésMtnez FPV Talk 1 Jan 05, 2007 01:42 PM
Discussion New To FPV Flying bigred113 Aerial Photography 7 Dec 12, 2006 07:05 PM
Cool FPV flying by video downlink- Video reznikvova Aerial Photography 12 Sep 05, 2006 02:21 PM