What is a Tiny Whoop? Jesse Perkins, the man credited with starting it all, describes it perferctly:
“Tiny Whoop is a small first-person-view aircraft that truly allows you to feel the gift of flight and the feeling of being tiny. A small apartment becomes a vast terrain worthy of taming. The small tree in your front yard is a deep and engaging forest. With shrouded propellers we can now fly FPV around people and kids safely. It’s more fun than I’ve ever had.”
Strictly speaking a Tiny Whoop is a 65mm-sized quadcopter with ducts and FPV camera from the Tiny Whoop company. But the Tiny Whoop has become so successful that the term has become genericized. Today, a whoop is any nano or micro-sized quadcopter with ducts and FPV camera. And whooping is having fun flying around everyday places and people.
Step 1: So you want to whoop. I think, the easiest— and in my opinion, the best— way to start is to get a toy quadcopter (quad) as the platform on which to build on.
The toy quadcopter I recommend is the Eachine E011. It’s inexpensive that you’re not out too much if you decide the hobby is not for you. Its motors are powerful enough that you don’t need to upgrade it immediately. It also comes in a complete ready-to-fly (RTF) packaged which includes the transmitter (TX), a charger, and a lithium-polymer (LiPo) battery. Most importantly, by simply adding parts, it provides a continuous upgrade path for beginners all the way to advanced fliers. Get one, get lots of spare batteries, and fly as much as you can by line-of-sight (LOS). LOS simply means keeping your quad in sight while flying it.
Step 2: When you can fly well by LOS and you’ve decided to see what first person view (FPV) flying and whooping is all about, it’s time to get your FPV gear.
AIO means the camera and the VTX (video transmitter) are in one unit. This results in a slightly lighter weight but is less flexible in terms of mounting. It is usually just mounted on top. For an AIO camera, I recommend the Turbowing Cyclops. The Cyclops is similar in form and function to the popular CM275T camera but dispenses of the button for flipping the picture.
Split-type means the camera and the VTX are separate. This allows for more flexibility in positioning. Personally, I like split-type better since it allows for a low profile build which minimizes possible damage to the camera. For split-type, I recommend the Cyclops 2. For even better picture, you can use the Cyclops 2 VTX paired along with the Kingkong 800TVL camera.
You also need a video receiver. The least expensive way, is to get an OTG receiver which connects to an Android phone/tablet and use it as a monitor. The primary concern with OTG receivers is the latency. I do all my FPV flying using OTG receiver and, honestly, I don’t have problems. The latency difference between OTG receivers and FPV goggles only becomes an issue at high speeds and acrobatic maneuvers. Otherwise, it’s probably not a problem for most fliers.
However, if you have the budget, my recommendation would be to get FPV goggles. If you find that the hobby is for you, you’re getting one eventually. If not, you can always sell it.
There are two general types of goggles, box-type and binocular-type. Box-type goggles are so called because it looks like a box inside which there is a monitor. Some are even big enough that it allows you to wear your glasses. Needless to say, they’re quite bulky. For a little bit more over the cost of an OTG receiver, you can get the VR006, a very good but inexpensive box-type set.
Binocular-type goggles provide two smaller monitors, one for each eye. Hence binocular. They are more compact than box-type goggles. However, you can’t use glasses with them and you have to rely on corrective inserts call diopters. If you are willing to spend more, you can get the Eachine EV100, a very good entry-level binocular-type set.
The very unique nature of our eyes. Make sure to try each type and even different models of each type before committing your money to a set of goggles.
Step 3: When you can fly well in FPV with angle mode, it’s time to go full acro.
If you have your old E011 FC, you can flash it with Silverware. Silverware is an open-source firmware for the H8 mini. BWhoop B03, and Eachine E011 (Note that newer E011 FCs can no longer be flashed with Silverware). It gives you acro mode and is very-well tuned for brushed motors especially the NotFastEnuf fork. More information here.
The next more-advanced option would be to upgrade to a flight controller (FC) with the open source Betaflight firmware which has acro mode. The FC I recommend is the Eachine Beecore V2 Flysky AFHDS 2A FC. FCs with Betaflight allows you to configure and tune your whoop using Betaflight Configurator.
You also need a hobby TX. I recommend the Flysky i6. It is a basic transmitter but it has 6 channels and can store multiple models. It can even be upgraded via firmware mod to 10 channels. Many, especially the advanced fliers, would recommend Frsky/Taranis but the cost of entry is a bit steeper.
Finally, if you have basic electronics and soldering skills, you can do a custom build by selecting and putting together parts by yourself. This means that you can have the whoop with the look you want. As well as the performance you want… hopefully.
Step 4: When you can fly well in FPV with acro mode, it’s time to unleash the beast in your Tiny Whoop.
This is a MAJOR evolution. You will need to replace nearly everything: the motors, the FC, and the frame. In their place you’re getting brushless (BL) motors, FC, electronic speed controllers (ESC), a receiver (RX), and a frame. It’s going to be EXPENSIVE. But you’re committed to this (or perhaps hooked already), right? Right?
For a custom build, the frame I recommend is the Rakonheli 66mm brushless whoop frame. It is only very slightly larger than the standard 65mm whoop. And you get to keep your canopy and camera. For the motors I recommend Racerstar BR0603C 17000KV motors. Not too fast that you drain your batteries too fast and not too slow that you wonder why you ever went brushless. For the FC I recommend the Crazybee F3 Flysky AIO FC (FC+ESC+RX).
Have fun whooping!