My first week with the DJI FPV

So it’s safe to say things have been pretty mental and it’s been hard to take any time off this year but as I’ve been working non stop I’ve noticed and have been thinking about the bits of gear that sit on my shelf and never get any use. So I decided to sell a number of items and one of them was my DJI Mavic Pro.

This is a drone that was an absolute work horse for me, it’s is an incredible piece of technology and I have had so much fun flying it over the years. However since upgrading to the Inspire 2 it has pretty much sat on the shelf gathering dust only being wheeled out for small corporate gigs that didn’t want the bigger drone. So I decided to trade it in for DJI’s shiny new FPV drone.

Why did I pick this one in particular, for a number of reasons. First reason is manly for the acrobatic moves that aren’t possible with the Mavic or Inspire series, it will definitely add a few extra options there. My second thread of thought is that if it turns out that I am utterly crap at flying an FPV you still have the option of flying it like a regular drone anyway. The Camera isn’t the best but I can always attach a GoPro to it if needed or use my inspire.

Fiona K Graham on location in Derry shooting with metal band Darkest Era 2021

So my first experience of the FPV has not been amazing, straight out of the box it is not flyable and I was particularly annoyed by the fact you can’t mount a monitor to the controller. I really don’t see why it’s not an option. Another thing that annoyed me was the battery for the goggles is neither in the goggles or attachable to the goggles, why do you have to hang a battery via a cable from your face and why is the power button for the goggles on the battery.

I have a lot of shoots on at the moment so I get about an hour in the evenings to myself to relax and having heard that the FPV has a simulator I thought brilliant I can sit down and give it try before going to bed….no.

I could not for the life of me get the goggles, drone and controller to all connect at the same time and I kept getting error messages saying the drone needed to be updated before it can be flown despite the fact that I updated it twice through my phone. I gave up.

Night two more of the same shit only this time I was using my laptop to update everything. More problems cause DJI don’t seem to be able to get their software to work properly with Mac computers (I recently sent my inspire back to DJI because of what I thought was a fault with the drone that turned out to be their software not working properly on the three different Macs using three different operating systems I tried it on. This needs to be sorted out) I eventually managed to get everything updated but they still wouldn’t connect with each other. Very angry I gave up again.

Night three I powered everything up and it just worked, I have no explanation as to why but it did and I decided not to question it. So sitting down on the couch very excited I downloaded the separate simulator app and took off.

The simulator is quite good and the controls are very responsive. I started in normal mode just to get a feel for it (stick mode 3 cause it’s the same as a playstation controller, my time video gaming had to come in handy for something) I quickly switched to sport mode which is a little looser then normal but still the same controls and quite fun.

DJI FPV

When I switched to Manual (not full manual I haven’t unlocked that yet) the propellors stopped and the drone simply dropped out of the sky. Lesson one. So the controls are drastically different. You don’t pull diagonally down on the sticks to start the props you pull directly down on one then double tap the start button, not sure if this would happen outside of the simulator I will be starting M mode from the ground from now on. The drone then just starts rising and doesn’t stop cause you have to lean the drone forward for forward movement. Best to stick it into hover straight away and work from there.

Once I got the hang of it and started flying something became very apparent….. My motion sickness which limits me to the driver seat of a car kicks in very quickly when using the DJI FPV Goggles. So after throwing up for a bit and an hour on the couch recovering I began to google the issue to see if it was a thing…..yes it’s a thing.

The internet recommends a few things for this issue, first take a dramamine…… I don’t personally want to be taking drugs every time I want to fly so probably not the solution for me. Next up the suggest starting in normal mode and very slowly introducing more movement to get you body used to it and hopefully overcoming it. Aside from that there doesn’t seem to be much else you can do.

The solution I have decided to go with is to mount an iPad to a lighting stand and mount the goggles below, this way I can start small keeping my line of sight with the drone and learning to do the moves by watching the drone while slowly introducing the goggles to the scenario.

So that’s how my first week with the new FPV drone went I’ll do an update when I’ve played with it a bit more and actually flown it.

Author: FG

Fiona Graham is an award winning, multi-disciplined Director of Photography and drone pilot with over 15 years experience on a wide range of audio visual projects from advertisements and promotional videos to music videos, TV, feature films and documentaries. With certificates in 3D LUT Design, Colour Science and Digital Cinematography Fiona produces images that compliment and elevate any Directors vision. Her multi-award winning work includes the documentary "Heyday: The Mic Christopher Story", “Henry Mc Cullough” by BP Fallon, David Holmes and Noel Gallagher, "Red Rock", "Brón" by Saor", corporate videos and adverts for UPS, Heiniken, Yonka and Country Crest and her journalistic work has been featured by The Guardian, Die Welt and Stern