9 Reasons why you should start with a cheap foamie....

Its now been a whole year since I got addicted to the crazy hobby of Autopilots.

What a wild ride!!!

There has been some fantastic moments and some of total frustration, but it has been an exciting and rewarding journey.
There are a lot of people who ask about getting into the hobby and have somewhat ambitious ideas about building a drone to do X and Y before they have even completed their first flight.
This is a short video compiled from some of my mishaps over the last year that hopefully helps show those considering getting into the hobby why it is an extremely good idea to start small and cheap and gradually work your way up to more ambitious goals.

When I started, I was a relatively competent RC pilot. All of the crashes and incidents in this footage have arisen from me making stupid mistakes on the Autopilot side.

By setting the wrong waypoints and RTL'ing straight into a tree, by setting my altitude wrong, by trying to do PID tuning while in the Air, by putting too much weight on a plane and it not getting off the ground and hitting a tree etc etc.

All in all, the crashes when compared to the number of great flights have been relatively few, looking back at the log I've kept, I've flown 165 individual flights in the last year, with a combined total of 95 hours in the air.

These have primarily been logged on one of the 3 SkyFuns I have built and destroyed in that time.

The first one only lasted 5 flights, the next one I got 36 flights out of and the last one is still going strong.

I've now progressed onto a composite FPV168 and also a Hugin (which you can see being destroyed in the last clip with too much weight to get off the ground).

Over the next year, I'm planning to get the new Skywalker X8 and perfect Telemetry and video over a cellular link which I have been experimenting with more recently.

Best of luck to you all, and hopefully this video serves as a lesson in what to avoid doing and saves you the time / expense yourself.


E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • I've had two pretty significant pilot error crashes, haven't run an AP yet.  Both of which happened on a Multiplex Cularis ($200, 2.6m airframe for those who don't know).  1st, I was running a heavy camera which required a different battery placement than when running sans camera.  I decided after running with cam for a 30 minute uneventful flight, to run without cam for a bit, but forgot to change battery placement.  Plane *WAY* too tail-heavy, pitches up sharply on takeoff.  I add throttle and nose down with all my might, but the plane tip-stalled as Cularises like to do and disappeared behind the trees.  Thankfully, I didn't hit any cars or god forbid, people in the hotel parking lot where it crashed.

    2nd crash, MKII of the airframe did a water landing in the San Diego bay because I forgot about my throttle kill switch (used to control flaps on the throttle channel...).  Good thing I had Geek Squad protection on the video camera! Still had about a $150 loss due to burning electronics. 

  • Thought I recognised those trees!

  • @eagle123

    Right here -> http://www.hobby-lobby.com/ready_built_senior_telemaster_red_white_...

    I'm building one atm, I've had it in the air on RC control.  Now I'm integrating the ArduPlane, and camera gear.  I'll post something when it's ready.

  • Yes, I had my crashes also, as I believe everyone here did, the most frustrating thing is when you realize it's going to crash and you can't do anything, just watch it and thinking "oh no, my poor craft". It reminds me of a motorcycle crash I had some years ago, during the entire time I was sliding on the asphalt I could not take my eyes from my poor bike... who cares about injuries, skin grows again, but my bike... :)

  • Developer


    I have a Skywalker and have had a couple previously and love them.  I just got a Fiberglass "Skywalker" but have not outfit it yet.  Curious if you have yours flying, what the flying weight is relative to a foam Skywalker, what problems (if any) you had with CG, and if you are hand launching or using landing gear?

  • Thomas, I haven't flown all of the various foam options so I can only recommend on my experience.
    The SkyFun is good, its probably a little more challenging to fly without the APM than some of the others but with an APM its rock solid.

    Bixlers seem to be very popular choices and as Hans says, very easy to repair.
    I have a composite Skywalker now and this is a great platform, so I would suggest as others have that the foam version of the Skywalker would also be a great choice.

  • Thanks for sharing. Toby.  In life, as in RC, t's always best to learn vicariously from someone else's mistakes.  With all the crashes, I think more explosive fast passed music would go with this vid.  Now, I feel too mello.

  • my bixler has crashed over 50 hard times with camera equip, huge batteries, lights ...........all kinds of stuff attached,, but with foam safe ca glue and accelerator it hasnt been down for more then a few seconds.  foam is the way to go

  • So, given all that...what would your cheap foamie of choice be?

  • Moderator

    Well done Toby I think impatience is the biggest newbie mistake. People should learn to fly first. Then you know when an airframe is too heavy or flying incorrectly from the hand. 

This reply was deleted.