Table of Contents
An FPV drone is notorious for two main objectives: to race and freestyle. But either of them may be complex and hard to master.
To get to that point, you will have to start with the basics, learn how to perform different acrobatics with your drone and practice as often as possible.
This is an ultimate guide about FPV freestyle on acro mode, where I want to share with you all the insights you need to know and several freestyle tricks you can learn and practice.
What is the acro mode in an FPV drone? #
The acro mode, short for acrobatics, is the only mode in any FPV drone where all the sensors, gyroscope, accelerometer, and stabilizers will be disabled, giving you complete control over your drone.
In this scenario, you will be in total command of any of your drone inputs. The drone won’t be stabilized or leveled, cannot hover automatically, or use any intelligent functions.
But you will be able to perform quick maneuvers, race or freestyle, and fly with a high adrenaline level that won’t be possible with any standard GPS drones.
The drone will respond to absolutely any tiny input, and you will take advantage of the very sensitive joysticks of your remote controller to perform maneuvers and pull your drone through places and at incredible speeds.
Now with the acro mode, you can freestyle with your drone.
But if you are a beginner, you will have difficulty doing even the most basic freestyle tricks.
That’s why practicing is essential, but before you do it with your brand new FPV drone, practice with simulators to learn different freestyle schemes, which I will share with you further.
Can you freestyle on modes other than acro? #
No, you can freestyle only with the accurate control of an FPV drone in acro mode.
If you have the horizon mode on or your drone has a normal mode, you cannot perform any type of freestyle.
Those sensors will ultimately limit you; of course, they are there for safe flights and to help you perform other types of flights, but for an FPV drone, those are like training wheels.
A DJI drone, such as DJI FPV or DJI Avata, has a manual mode. That is different from acro mode, but it would be easy to set it up alike.
For the DJI FPV or Avata drones to take advantage of the same acro approach, you will have to disable the “M Mode Attitude Limit.”
This act like some sort of stabilizer and does not let the DJI FPV or Avata flip or perform tricks, but you can fly in manual mode anyway.
Once you turn off that option from the gain & expo, your DJI FPV or Avata drone will respond precisely like a custom FPV acro drone.
» MORE: BetaFPV Cetus Pro Kit User Review
Is it hard to freestyle? #
To freestyle is a skill you will have to learn and practice in time. It is not something you can quickly learn and become an expert at.
No matter how experienced you are in freestyle, there is always room for improvement and practice.
It is exactly like you’re learning to play a guitar. In the beginning, you will learn the basics, but in time you will be able to understand the advanced stuff.
And all the FPV drones will deliver different controls and reactions, can drift more or less, and have distinct motor powers, weight, and autonomy.
Even with the same FPV drone, learning to freestyle with different rates, propellers, and batteries of varying weight and power would be challenging.
What are the best rates for FPV Acro Freestyle? #
Most FPV drone pilots have different rates when they relate to freestyle with their drones.
But what you have to consider is that in the case of freestyle, you need to set your drone rates to be more sensitive than usual for quick and instant drone reaction when doing acrobatics.
The joysticks don’t have to travel too far for a complete trick, and if they do, the drone should react to an instant cycle, such as performing maneuvers at 800 to 1000 deg/s.
As an illustration, if you have lower rates and you want to do a backflip, maybe when the sticks are pushed to the maximum, the drone will perform the maneuver in one second.
But with faster rates, the drone could complete an entire backflip in a flash, even in a third of a second.
However, it is good to set your own rates and feel how the drone responds to your inputs.
I would strongly recommend watching this video from Joshua Bardwell, which should help you find and craft your own rates based on your control preferences.
Can you freestyle with DJI Avata or DJI FPV drone? #
If you are new to FPV and you are looking to freestyle, there are better choices than buying the DJI Avata or DJI FPV drones.
With the DJI Avata, you can freestyle in acro mode, and the drone is quite resistant to crashes.
Many new pilots are using this drone to practice freestyle. But there are some disadvantages if you want to do it with the Avata.
Firstly, the DJI Avata is a cinewhoop and has duct guards. It won’t have the best controls, can’t take sharp turns, and the motors are weak.
The duct guards will induce a lot of air friction when you want to freestyle, and the drone won’t respond well when you want to change directions rapidly.
The second thing would be that the DJI Avata has a significant downside – it can tumble when flying in higher winds, taking sharp turns, or flying acrobatically with higher rates.
This drone would be challenging to control if you want to freestyle with it.
That’s why, only if you already have the Avata, I would recommend you practice some freestyle in a safe place (with grass below) in case you crash it.
**» MORE: **DJI Avata Acro Mode (Explained for Beginners)
The DJI FPV drone can freestyle much better than Avata, has strong motors, and can take sharp turns without the risk of tumbling.
But there are two major disadvantages with the DJI FPV drone if you are looking to freestyle:
The first would be that the drone is too heavy for a freestyle drone; although the weight of a freestyle drone is merely a guideline, heavier drones are more challenging to control.
They fall faster towards the ground and require more throttle input to lift them up, can drift more, and the DJI FPV will reach higher speeds than required for a freestyle drone.
The second thing would be that the DJI FPV drone is not crash resistant at all.
If you crash this drone, even once, at lower speeds, you will be collecting pieces.
The arms are very fragile and won’t stand any type of crash; although you can add arm bracer accessories, the drone won’t survive a heavier crash.
And both the DJI FPV drone and DJI Avata are tough, if merely impossible, to repair, as you can only find a handful of parts for these drones.
» MORE: DJI Avata vs. DJI FPV (Here’s My Choice)
What simulators can you use to practice on FPV freestyle? #
There are many FPV simulators that you can find to practice; some are more inclined towards racing, such as Drone Racing League, while others towards freestyle and free flight.
I used and practiced most of the time in Liftoff Simulator, which seemed a fantastic way to begin with.
Another alternative is Uncrashed, but if you want a free simulator, the FPV SkyDive is also a fantastic choice.
» MORE: 9 Best Drone Flight Simulators (FPV and Commercial)
What happens if you crash your FPV drone when freestyle? #
Most of the FPV freestyle and racing drones have robust carbon fiber bodies which should withstand most sorts of impact.
But now it matters a lot the speed you are flying your FPV drone and freestyle, where you impact your drone (cement, ground, grass), and how heavy and resistant the drone is.
Likely, the first to go would be the propellers that may rarely support a moderate crash. That’s why, as an FPV drone pilot who wants to freestyle, make sure you have a bag full of spare propellers.
The drone frame and arms should withstand even more severe impacts, but it all depends on the strength of the material, design, and length of the arms.
Even if after you crash your FPV drone when freestyle and if the frame appears okay, think that micro-cracks could be induced that decrease the durability of the drone overall.
And with multiple crashes, eventually, the frame will also fail.
What is the best camera angle to fly freestyle? #
Most freestyle pilots are flying and performing freestyle with their FPV drones on or around an angle of 30 degrees.
But this is not a rule and merely a guideline.
Some pilots fly freestyle even at 20 degrees or less, while others learn to freestyle at even 40 degrees.
But the 30-degree camera angle to freestyle with your FPV drone is a sweet spot
**» MORE: **What Is the Best Camera Angle to Fly Your FPV Drone (external link)
FPV remote controller inputs to understand acro movements #
It is necessary if you want to learn to fly an FPV drone and to freestyle to understand the remote controller inputs, as even further down, we will often use these terms to explain different tricks.
The throttle-up will spin the motors faster and give more power to the quad. It will also catch more speed.
If you throttle down to the minimum, the drone will free-fall from the sky.
The yaw (left and right) will rotate the FPV drone in a specific direction.
The “roll” will literally incline the drone to the left or right
But with a combination of yaw and roll in the same direction, you can turn around the drone nicely and smoothly.
While pitching forward, the drone will lean ahead, and with a mixture of throttle and pitch, you adjust the drone horizon level, determining the FPV drone speed and flying altitude.
There are many combinations between throttle, yaw, roll, and pitch that, if performed correctly, you will do different freestyle tricks with your FPV drone in acro mode.
And even to fly, you need more than one stick input to keep the FPV drone in control and learn how to adjust the drone rapidly and perform any actions you like.
After a while, these controls will be like muscle memory, like riding a bike or driving a car; you will perform them instinctively.
How to perform a Backflip or Powerloop #
The backflip, as it’s named, is one of the most basic acrobatic moves any beginner should learn and is related to the FPV drone performing a flip.
You will push up the throttle while slowly pitching backward. Release the throttle when the drone is upside down and maintain the pitch backward on your controller.
Then the drone should slowly stabilize, where you will recover by pushing up the throttle and flying it away on a complete backflip circle.
If successful with the backflip, you should have performed an entire flip of the drone nicely and smoothly.
The Power Loop is the same as a backflip, but you will begin and end it under an object, such as an archway, a football gate or a tree, or any similar scenario.
When performing the Powerloop, you will widen the circle where the drone backflip to have more than enough space to complete it under specific objects or structures.
This will add a bit of adrenaline and more practice, as there’s a higher chance for you to crash the drone if you don’t perform it correctly.
That’s why it is good to first learn to perform backflips with your FPV drone at a higher height before power loops to feel the drone mechanics.
The Powerloop level is intermediate.
If you want to do a frontflip, you should perform the exact opposite maneuvers than the backflip.
» MORE: Indian FTR Sport & JohnnyFPV – Settle The Score
How to perform a basic roll (Aileron Roll) #
**Level: Basic **
The basic roll, also known as aileron roll in aviation, is a simple acrobatic move you can quickly learn and practice when flying your FPV drone.
To perform this, you will have to push the yaw to the right while at the same time equally pushing the “roll left” to the left.
In this case, your drone will perform a basic roll to the right.
You can also push the yaw to the left while at the same time pushing the “roll right” to the right; the FPV quad will spin to the left.
Remember, when performing such acrobatic rolls to position the horizon line below half of the goggles screen (accelerating up) and throttle a bit so your quad won’t crash due to lack of throttle, which may need a little during this trick.
How to perform FPV Orbits (orbit an object) #
This is yet another fantastic FPV acro freestyle trick you can learn, and that can help your FPV skills advance a lot more because it combines a few essential maneuvers.
With this trick, you will be able to lock into an object or direction and keep the drone facing that way.
The drone will also slowly hover and move in one direction while keeping the same object in lock (facing it)
It is an impressive cinematic trick that is part of the shortlist of acrobatic moves all FPV pilots who fly acro should learn.
This trick is not difficult to perform. It is similar to a yaw spin, where you turn the drone around, but you perform it slowly to rotate the drone into a circle facing the center of it.
Then keep the drone facing in a specific direction, a locked target, for instance, a tree, and continue to perform that circle nice and smoothly while facing the tree.
The yaw spin is performed easily when facing both controller joysticks in the same direction. For instance, if yaw goes left, roll goes left as well about at the same rate.
But for a quick spin, your yaw and roll should go left or right rapidly.
However, for an orbit, both yaw and roll will go in the same direction at the same rate, slowly and smoothly.
How to perform dives #
Level: Beginner to Intermediate.
Diving with an FPV drone creates a stunning cinematic move where the drone will free fall controllably as it will face the camera down to an angle of 90 degrees in concordance with the horizon level.
Diving with your FPV drone is not difficult.
After learning this trick, you will have a fantastic time and learn to combine diving with other moves, such as spinning the drone around its axis, backward diving, and so on.
Diving is not only a skill to be learned to freestyle with your drone but is one of the most important skills if you ever plan to capture long-range FPV cinematic content.
To dive, you will have to release the throttle joystick to the minimum and adjust the angle of the drone for the camera to face down only from the pitch forward and backward.
Then after the drone gets relatively close to the ground, stabilize it and increase the throttle more than usual to counter the gravity speed of the dive and recover the drone.
Dives are relatively done from great heights, but you can also perform shortfall dives as well when freestyle.
» MORE: Best Beginner Drones for FPV
How to perform knife-edge FPV trick through a gap #
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
The knife edge trick in FPV is related to getting close to a gap that could be too small for the drone to go through and then instantly rotate the drone 90 degrees left or right to get through the gap.
To perform a knife-edge trick with your FPV drone, simply push the throttle up for a split second when getting close to a gap, then perform a basic roll but only 90 degrees out of 360 degrees while the throttle is at the bottom.
This trick should last for less than a second, and when recovering, perform the same 90-degree roll in the opposite direction while also pushing up the throttle to recuperate.
There are few rules to respect when performing a knife-edge trick.
- Make sure that the gap is not too long (e.g., a long crack along a cave) because you won’t be able to do it because you need to release the throttle.
- When performing the knife-edge trick, push the throttle up just before you get through the gap to give your drone an impulse but instantly cut the throttle before you perform the 90-degree roll.
- If you don’t cut the throttle, your drone will push itself left or right when at a 90-degree angle and will crash to the edge of the gap.
- After performing the knife-edge trick, you’ll have to recover your drone by doing the opposite 90-degree roll, so ensure the gap is not very close to the ground.
It is imperative to try this freestyle trick in simulators to master it before trying it with your quad.
How to do wall taps #
The wall taps are one of the many tricks you can do against a wall with your FPV drone if you get to learn and practice with this skill.
You can quickly get to learn wall rides, backward wall rides, or wall flips from wall taps.
Those are just a few named FPV tricks part of the long list where you basically start with touching the bottom of your FPV drone to the wall.
The wall taps are easy but are getting more advanced as you combine them with other FPV tricks.
To do a wall tap, all you have to do is approach a wall at a slower speed, give an impulse to the throttle before cutting it, and pull down the pitch to a 90-degree or equivalent where the drone is facing the sky.
With a successful wall tap, you should touch the wall with the bottom of your quad.
There are more options to recover, but I like to do a 180-degree roll, which is the simplest one. Or you can do a backward fly.
Even a simple roll and dive should be a good recovery technique if the wall tap is done at a greater height.
This skill has to be practiced in simulators at first because if you don’t know well the rates and speed of your drone, you can come to smash the drone into the wall or, if doing too early, will likely crash the drone.
Mr. Steele is notorious for doing wall taps where he has stickers underneath the drone.
With wall taps, he places stickers on buildings and towers where nobody could have access to remove them. That’s his signature.
How to perform basic yaw spins #
The basic yaw spin is another elementary fpv freestyle trick any pilot should learn.
It constrains into rotating the FPV drone in the same direction by using both the yaw and roll to coordinate this trick.
If you want to perform a basic yaw spin to the left, pull the yaw to the left and, at the same time, roll to the left.
The opposite way you should perform is if you want to do a basic yaw spin to the right.
Don’t forget also to push the throttle up a little not to lose any altitude when doing the yaw spin.
As we spoke earlier, from the yaw spin, you can form a circle to perform the orbit trick around an object.
But when you do the yaw spin, yaw, and roll should be pushed much more than when doing an orbit trick.
That’s because the drone has to rotate in the same position and not form any circles.
Yaw spin is elementary to learn if you want to advance into doing some more complex tricks, such as inverted yaw spin and other combos.
How to hover with an FPV drone #
Level: Basic, Intermediate.
A standard GPS drone usually auto-hovers when you automatically let all the controller stick to the center.
But to hover with an FPV drone is another story.
You have to perform this trick where you adjust your throttle stick manually, and at the same time, you pull down the pitch a bit.
There are two things to keep in mind when you want to hover an FPV drone:
- The amount of pitch you have to pull down relates to the camera angle you have set to your drone, and the horizon line will always be under half of your goggles screen.
- You will always have to micro-adjust the throttle, yaw, roll, and pitch to ensure the drone will remain as stable as possible. It is effortless to drift the drone at this stage.
Although it is an easy trick to perform, it is challenging to master and take advantage of the hover in different situations.
Combining the hover with the wall tap or diving is a good trick.
Hovering is also beneficial not only when you freestyle but if you want to explore the floors of an abandoned building or inspect something.
Learning to hover will also help you enormously when you have to land an FPV drone nicely and smoothly.
» MORE: Make Money with FPV: How to Get Started (From an Expert)
Things to consider when you are learning to freestyle with an FPV drone #
- It is always essential to start learning freestyle in a simulator such as Liftoff, DRL, and so on. You will crash a lot if you don’t have any background freestyling.
- Try to learn only some things at a time. Take it step by step, day by day. Learning to freestyle and improve is a marathon, not a sprint.
- The drone will matter a lot when you want to freestyle, but more will be your rates. Find your perfect rates and always use them with any drones you wish to freestyle with.
- When you freestyle at the beginning, find a place where crashing your drone will not damage it. Going bando freestyle as a beginner will likely result in collecting pieces from the ground.
- Don’t attach a GoPro yet to your quad if you are a beginner; those are expensive cameras that can easily shatter the lens in significant crashes.
- Learn to freestyle at a specific camera angle and stick with it. But practice at multiple camera angles to see what you like the most based on your vision as a freestyle FPV pilot.
This guest post was written by Gabriel Mihalcea. He is a freelance writer, a drone pilot, and the guy behind FPVCraft. He loves FPV drones and photography and likes experimenting with new things and attaining new challenges.