From Multirotor Pilot Issue: 1
by Alex Zvada
Considering I am fairly new to the RC hobby, I figured a good article topic for the first issue of Multirotor Pilot magazine would be tips on choosing your first multirotor. I am rather experienced in this area considering that I have been building and flying multirotors for a little bit over a year. Luckily for you, I have made all the common mistakes that a novice can encounter and I have compiled three of my top tips for getting started and to keep in mind as you embark on your multirotor journey.
1 START SMALL While working at FliteTest.com, I am often asked the question, “I want to build an FPV/GPS-equipped super awesome long range aerial cinematography multicopter, but know nothing about flying or RC. What should I do?” Instead of trying to answer such a loaded question, I simply respond by recommending that they start small. One of the main things to keep in mind when getting into multirotors is that they are not very forgiving. There is no glide slope, there are a lot of variables, and if anything goes wrong there is a 99 percent chance that your multirotor is going to plummet to the ground like a rock…a very fragile rock.
I learned about flight controls and the characteristics of multirotors on a Syma X1, which is an inexpensive quadcopter that can be found for less than $40. Currently, my favorite micro quad is by far the Blade Nano QX (see the review in this issue). The main reasons I recommend starting small is because the smaller the copter, the more forgiving it is. Yes, it still will drop like a rock if you have any kind of malfunction; however, these micro quads are extremely lightweight and durable, meaning they are designed to take a hit. Also, the RTF and BNF micro quads come right out of the box perfectly dialed in and require no tuning. This is important because it lets you feel how a properly-tuned multirotor should feel when it is flying. This leads me to my next tip.
2 PICK YOUR BATTLES As far as I am concerned, there are three main learning curves you will need to overcome when getting into the great hobby of multirotors. These hurdles include learning to build a multirotor, learning to dial in a multirotor and learning to fly a multirotor; all of which are fairly overwhelming. That being said, I think it’s safe to say that most people want to get in the air as soon as possible. Starting with a small, out-of-the-box quad eliminates you from having to worry about learning building techniques and seeing parameters like P and I limits and gains and lets you focus on learning flying techniques and characteristics. Then once you are comfortable with flying the micro quad, you can focus on learning how to build and tune a custom or kit-based multirotor. When it comes time to maiden your custom craft, you will have an idea of how it should perform. I am not going to sugar-coat this either; you will fail and perhaps often. But this is a good thing because you learn the most when you fail. The more you have to repair, the more you learn.
3 LEARNING TO FLY I would recommend learning to fly “line of sight” before you even worry about getting into FPV. Even though I find FPV easier to fly then LOS, it is still a good idea to be able to fly a pattern, towards yourself, and away. That way if you have an FPV failure, you will be able potentially save your craft and bring it in for a landing. Take it slow on your maiden and also as you get more comfortable
Start out by hovering, then once you can hold a hover, start experimenting with pitch and roll by using the right stick (on a mode 2 transmitter) and only use the rudder to keep the front of the craft facing away from you. This will get you familiar with all of the controls without having to worry about ori- entation. Use the rudder as needed to keep it facing away from you. Once you get comfortable flying this way, you are ready to begin learning how to fly in a pattern.
If you haven’t crashed yet, this is more than likely when you will. Begin by leaving your hover and gaining forward momentum. Then when you are ready to make your first circle pattern, use both sticks simultaneously to roll and yaw the multirotor at the same time while maintaining pitch to continue in smooth forward movement. Continue to maintain your pitch roll and yaw until you have completed a full circle. If you feel that you are
starting to lose orientation, quickly apply rudder to yaw the copter back to facing away from you and then back it back to you as you should be comfortable flying away from yourself at this point.
THE LAST WORD
There are lots of other things to learn as you progress but these are my top three tips, from one noob to another, that will ensure you have a successful start on your journey into radio control multirotors. Don’t get discouraged when
you crash; consider each crash a learning experience and you will come away a much be er pilot. Share your experiences and memories with someone you care about! Happy flying friends.