We caught up with our friend Jaak Pieterse to discuss FPV. Most of you know Jaak as our former Student liaison here at FlyRyte Drone Academy. Jaak has a wealth of experience in operating FPV Drones and is former chairperson and founding member of Leinster FPV, Irelands first FPV specific club!
Sit back and enjoy!!
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Hi Jaak, for those who don't know, can you tell us exactly what is FPV?
FPV stands for First Person View, this generally consists of a drone which is primarily flown through the viewpoint of a camera mounted in front of the drone. The pilot has a set of video goggles which receives the video signal from the drone. This gives you a first-person perspective and feels like flying on a flight simulator video game. The drones are also flown without any stabilising features as the DJI Mavic or similar drones have, instead it requires constant input from the pilot to maintain the correct heading and altitude.
Is the sport big in Ireland?
We have a couple of dedicated FPV clubs in Ireland, one in Cork, and another in Dublin; East Coast FPV. These spaces provide a safe haven for pilots to practice and fly their drones at full speed. Over the years we’ve seen the popularity grow, some schools and colleges have groups flying out together. But it appears to only be popular mainly within a niche group of tinkerers for the moment.
What types of drones do you use? And what do you fly?
FPV pilots usually build their own drones from scratch, it involves doing all the soldering of components, and programming the computer boards. There is a type of drone for every occasion.
For race drones you want the lightest drone possible and have a high power to weight ratio. This makes the craft agile, durable for crashes, and fast around the racetrack.
My flying has shifted over to cinematic flying more in recent years, and for me I like it a bit more on the heavier side, not as fast acceleration, but carry speed more smoothly. Efficiency and smoothness are what I’m looking for.
The frames are made out of carbon fiber, for strength and lightness. And a GoPro in front is mounted to capture all the action.
Generally, FPV of drones are kept under a kilogram.
How long have you been involved and how did you get involved?
I started building my first drone in 2014, it took a while to figure things out as there wasn’t much information on this process like there is today. A lot of trial and error. Once I got my drone up and flying, I met Gearoid from Flyryte alongside a few other mates.
We started meeting every weekend to fly together on makeshift racetracks, and every other possible time we could squeeze in.
Not long after we organised the first Irish Drone Nationals event in 2015. This was the first official drone racing event in Ireland, alongside numerous other countries doing the same for the first time. We had a crowd of people, several pilots, sponsors, prizes. It was amazing!
If I remember correctly, I had video duties for that event, to ensure that several pilots could fly together at the same time. We were using analogue video to stream the live feed from the drone to the pilots’ goggles, and it takes certain frequencies and antennas matching to get a clear signal.
After the first successful event, we kept it going. Every year since we organised a weekend championship. I took over the race director role from Gearoid for a few years after that. We had good events, a lot of public interest, and the best craic ever.
There is a big event coming up, can you tell us more about the 2020 Nationals?
The next nationals are happening at Cork FPV club, over the August bank holiday. It’s a weekend of non-stop flying, and it’s great to get like-minded people get together and nerd out. There is some tough competition, as pilots really picked up the skills over the last years.
There is also a magnificent trophy for the champion, made by the Irish Aer Corps out of old helicopter turbine parts.
What other information should people know if they are interested in FPV?
If you like to tinker around, and have a passion for electronics or aviation, then this is a good hobby to take on. There are so many youtube and groups on the internet for information.
We have a local group on Facebook called FPV-Ireland.
You can learn so much about the concepts of flying, electronics, radio frequencies, and so much more.
Where can we find out more information?
Additionally, there is a detailed write up from one of our past events from a sponsor, it covers all the details, have a read:
Thanks a million Jaak for all the information! We look forward to seeing ye at the nationals over the August bank holiday!
If you have an interest in drones, and have any questions on any points made above, give us a call. We are always ready and willing to help out!