Total Noob...


Junior Member
Imagine you're a total noob..

Where to begin?

My aims/goals:

FPV of good quality with goggles suitable for me wearing glasses (or can work for a short-sighted geezer without them)
40 mins or more flight time (I'd like an hour...)
10 km or so range (or more)
Something that can fold or break down into a backpack
Slowish but maneuverable flight characteristics
Budget of around $500 or less...

Is the above possible?

I live on the island of Borneo, so rules are reasonably lax, just don't go near airports. :cool:

I'm semi-interested in the Parrot Disco, but I'm told one can DIY for less than half the $1200 price and get twice the (2 miles) range. Is that true?

Currently I have a DJI Phantom Standard, which is a fantastic camera platform but very limited on range. I'm thinking of either keeping that and also a long-range fixed wing FPV, or selling the P3S and upgrading to a longer-range FPV quad, such as DJI's "lightbridge" models (maybe the new Mavic, if it has a decent battery?)

If a long-range fixed-wing model can be made cheaply enough and easily repairable then I can see this becoming my new hobby...

My main current hobby is riding off on my KLX250 motorcycle, just exploring around and camping overnight. The Phantom could be a fun addition to that but it's pretty bulky and very limited in range and battery life, plus lots of tall trees around here. Finding good places for FPV flight could certainly add a new dimension if I could soar long and far, with high quality goggles.

Some points to note:

I typically ride alone, so need to be able to launch and land alone
I ride off-road a lot, so need something small and tough enough for a motorcycle side pannier or strapped to the back
I mentioned the tall trees, right? And mountains. I'll be flying in mountains.

I do understand that everything is a compromise, range versus acrobatic ability versus speed etc. My basic aim is long range, flying fairly slowly but for the fun and excitement of swooping around, rather than super-steady photography. Think "swooping" rather than "spinning".

My limited research suggests the "Z3 S 47'' with 2 large batteries in it may be suitable?

Also, could someone give a list of all the components needs for such FPV?

I understand I'd need:

Some form of receiver
Ideally some form of '"return to home" electronics for lost signal etc
The same or similar electronics for setting autopilot/waypoints?
A transmitter
Bits n bobs to operate flaps etc

What else?

Replies in plain English please!

For example don't tell me I need a 'Tarantula 9000' or whatever, tell me what that is, what it does and why I need one?


Alternatively, is there an existing article or such for such noobs as me?


Crazy Goats

Active member
Hi Bigs, welcome to the forum. The Z3 spade is a very good long range plane. But unfortunately it isn't going to fit in a backpack, that is, unless you have a REALLY big backpack. It is a very stable plane, but probably not what you want if your a beginner. As you will probably find out, this hobby is best conquered slowly, and in steps. A simulator is a good way to cut this time way down.

At long range you also want whats called a ground station. This holds your receiver, and antenna, as well as your monitor if you want. Typically a ground station is a tripod modified to hold your gear, but it can be made any way you want. Heres a thread on rcGroups full of good ground station examples.

I think you should do some research on long range FPV. I think you will need some radio, electronic, and overall FPV knowledge before this goal is attained... but thats my opinion.


Eternal Student
Goats is right, total noob (your term ;)) + long range is a bad idea. Not wanting to rain on your parade, but a $500 budget is probably unrealistic. I haven't done much research into this, but you want to be pricing stuff like a UHF control link (Rx & Tx), 900mhz-1.2ghz VTx & VRx. To do RTH and waypoints etc you'll need a flight controller and GPS. IBCrazy on YouTube - has a ton of great info.


Your ADD Care Bear

So I would recommend for long range FPV, The FT bronco or explorer. It's just the electronic that get on the expensive side with any RC. It really depends on what you are going for. Just long range; FTexplorer with with a FT simple soarer wing... why not. with a 2200mah batt sky is the limit... except your radio range. The main point planes are easy. A good glider is the most peaceful thing you could ever fly. you could sit back and enjoy a beer, that is if your of age.


Junior Member
Hi guys,

Yeah, I kind of expected the response to be "learn in slow, simple stages" - but I'm 50 years old and don't have the time for that :p

I also rather guessed the guy on Youtube declaring you could replicate the Parrot Disco for $500 was leaving out a few things, such as the transmitter etc...

I know if I buy a book or something it will be full of "there are various types of.." I KNOW there are various types, which is why I'm being so specific about what I want:

Long range - I may not use it much but want it for reassurance and so I don't have to constantly be checking the battery and distance like I do with the Phantom. Realistically I'd probably rarely go beyond 5 km, but 10 km or more range would make me happy

A glider type design almost appeals, except the terrain here would soon look rather samey (rolling and spikey tree-covered hills, with red mud landslides, muddy rivers and little villages scattered here and there along the rivers). As such I want something I can swoop around a bit, skimming over tree tops, following rivers and generally having the fun of flying - but speed is not needed. Something that can float along slowly is fine, as long as it can make sharp turns, ascents and descents when required.

The ground station thing... urgh... I sort of like it, sort of hate it..

OK, picture this.. I kiss wifey bye and head over the horizon, riding to somewhere that looks good on Google Earth. I get to the general area and look for an off-road path, find one, ride around 10 km into tree-covered hills, probably along a logging or plantation dirt road. I find a suitable spot near running water to hang my hammock and make a coffee. There's still plenty of daylight, so instead of just soaking up the nature I'm ready to go flying around the hills/mountains, check out any nearby villages, see if there's a more fun-looking camping spot and generally have fun flying. That means NOT constantly checking the battery level of RTH distance, NOT getting "signal lost" every few seconds and not needing a runway or launcher. The bird also needs to be tough enough for 'controlled crash landings'...

I would be fitting a Git2 (gopro size, has image stabilization, $130) camera, as well as whatever would be good for the FPV thing.

Yes I want all the goodies such as ability to program waypoints and a "return to home" option if signal lost, with a readout telling me where the bird is (altitude, distance, battery remaining, coordinates). I accept that such electronics would add considerably to the cost but as long as they are tucked inside the foam and would survive a few mishaps I'd be willing to make the investment.

So basically we're talking one plane, all the goodies, that I can fix/repair myself, and get really familiar with, even good at flying it...

Things I DON'T want:

Racing, or any form of competition
High noise - I need the ability to hand launch (throw) but I don't need drastic acceleration beyond that, so larger prop going slower, if that would help at all?
Acrobatics beyond perhaps the odd loop and slow barrel roll

My impression/understanding of the challenges, apart from the money, are:

Figuring out exactly what things I need
Making sure all of the things are a suitable match for each other
Learning how to put all of the things together correctly, taking into account center of gravity etc

Basically for people like me Parrot have produced the Disco (which isn't a disc, doesn't have flashing lights and is a silly name really...) which is most of what I need - but it's $1200!

That's too much money for something that I'm likely to crash and need to repair, as I imagine it would be expensive and awkward to get it repaired, especially here in Borneo. It would mean posting it at great expense, waiting ages, then getting a big bill. What I want is to build my own, so if I break something or a component fails I can see and understand what's wrong and replace the necessary part/s. It also has a MAX flight time of 40 mins, which means within 3 minutes I'd be staring at the "battery remaining %" more than I want to. I'm thinking more like MINIMUM of 40 mins, so I can just fly and relax for 20 mins, and hey, if I take 25 mins that's no biggie.

I know there must be some sweet spot between battery size and endurance but I'm quite happy to put 2 or 3 big batteries and fly slowly, rather than fast with a single battery.

I have a Syma MS5W quad, which I can just about keep in the air, a Phantom which I love but which has no range (and the 'hard to repair' issue).

In fairness the Phantom 4 quad would probably do 85% of what I want, but hard to repair and only about 20 mins of fun per battery and the batteries cost more than most RC planes. It's also freaking expensive. Again I don't mind the expense so much if it's something I can repair, rather than something destroyed because it touched a twig.

So having been so specific about my needs, what I'm hoping is that one or some of you will rise to the challenge, with a shopping list of just what would be needed...?

I prefer goggles to a monitor, and I believe the max resolution is something like 600 lines? Is there anything better now? My Phantom sends 720p to my phone via wifi, so I'm rather hoping modern RC FPV can match that?

I'm by no means rich but if I know I'm getting exactly what I'm after then i won't mind building it up slowly over time. But nope, I'm not interested in learning with a cheap plane, doing a bit of this and a bit of that - nope nope, I want to go straight to my ideal mountain-swooping FPV, which, because I assembled it myself, I can repair myself.

Setting up a ground station on a tripod.. OK, if everything is small and light enough.

Budget - OK, let's double it, $1000? I'd pay the $1200 for the Parrot thing, if it were easily repaired with parts easily available and a longer flight time, but I strongly suspect it won't be.

So anyone up for the challenge? :)

Once written, the guide/shopping list would be helpful for others too, right?



Junior Member
Actually, the more I read about the Disco the more I like it...

Seems in review test flights, multiple crashes and it survived most of them, plus with the 'skycontroller' they claim 720p FPV and 1080p recorded footage, which seems better than I'm hearing about other FPV setups, which max out at 600 "TVL"?

Seems the chap telling me you could create a superior and longer range craft for $500 was wrong and it would actually cost around the same as the $1300 or so for the Parrot, and with lower quality FPV.

I still think it would be great for the industry if someone, somewhere, gave a list of the items needed and the optional extras. Every time in the past that I've looked into FPV it just becomes a porridge of brand names and numbers with no explanation of WTF those things are, or why you would want/need them.

You guys seem more noob-friendly than most but at this point it seems my best bet would be to just save up for a Parrot thing :)