Let's get this out of the way: While I know my way around the drone racing world, I'm far from an FPV expert, and I'm not a drone racer. Not yet, at any rate.
However, like many people, I find FPV flight fascinating and exciting (plus, you have to admit, the little guy is pretty cute), so I jumped at the chance to review the Blade Inductrix FPV.
You may be familiar with the Tiny Whoop, a popular, modified version of the original Blade Inductrix. It's little wonder that Blade developed an official version to capitalize on the interest, especially for consumers and hobbyists like me who aren't confident with their ability to mod their quad.
I'm reviewing the ready-to-fly (RTF) version of the Inductrix FPV, which comes standard with an MLP4DSM 4-channel transmitter, 4.3-inch video receiver with antenna, USB charger, and 200mAh battery. However, a Bind-and-Fly (BNF) version of the Inductrix is also available for those of you who already have a compatible Spektrum transmitter and video receiver.
Note that the Inductrix FPV does not come with any spare props. Compared to other small quads, the Inductrix is less likely to need them, because it sports four ducted fans, but that's not a guarantee. Keep the lack of backup props in mind before you try any extra daring maneuvers. Spare props are available (No. BLH8506, $5.99).
Before powering up, charge the FPV monitor and drone batteries, and insert four AA batteries into the controller. Attach the antenna to your monitor and clip it into the transmitter's screen holder. I thought the holder's clamp looked a clunky at first, but it securely holds the screen.
Power on the transmitter, then plug in the Inductrix's battery, and, lastly, switch on the video monitor. Find a channel on the monitor that has clean static (make sure no horizontal lines appear on the screen), and then pair your Inductrix. Pro tip: Click the button on top of the chassis to change channels.
Do not fly the Inductrix FPV outdoors. Ever. No matter what others do or tell you or what you see on YouTube. I tried. Even the slightest puff of wind sends the Inductrix careening away, and landing in the grass is too much for the props to handle. Stick to indoor flights with this little guy - Trust me!
While you certainly don't need a wide-open area to fly the Inductrix FPV, to start, I suggest a large room with just a couple of obstacles to fly around. Once you find your preferred course, you're set for takeoff.
ABOVE: The video receiver that's included in the ready-to-fly version of the Inductrix FPV has a crisp display, and the FPV video feed was quick and responsive.
As someone who's new to flying FPV, I'm surprised by how much more intuitive it is to fly the Inductrix through the eyes of the drone.
At first, I was compelled to watch the tiny fella as it flew, and ended up doing a pogo-stick flight pattern to avoid obstacles. After a few flights, though, I grew confident just watching the screen — and that's where this quad shines, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.
And, as anyone who is familiar with FPV flying and drone racing will tell you, it's a matter of when, not if, you will crash this drone. If you're not slamming into door frames and hitting walls, you're either a remarkable pilot or just not pushing yourself.
Luckily, the Inductrix FPV's ducted fans and sturdy airframe protect you from moderate impacts. However, as your confidence improves and your aerial maneuvers grow more daring, your Inductrix FPV might sustain some damage — mine certainly has.
Over the course of 25 flights, I managed to bend a prop and break three supports for the fan ducts. I gently bent the propeller back in place. As far as I can tell, as long as the duct is still in place, snapping a single support doesn't dramatically affect flight performance. Still, they're easily super glued in place, or, if you have to, you can replace the whole main frame (No. BLH8706, $7.99).
The moral of the story is that while the Inductrix FPV is certainly a sturdy bird, it's not indestructible. Once battery warning lights start flashing, it's best to bring the Inductrix FPV in for a landing. You only have about 20 seconds until the motors stop.
The Inductrix FPV's battery life is a downer. Advertised at four minutes, the best flight times I could get were around three minutes. Flying with a single battery, then waiting 20 minutes for it to charge is a huge bummer.
A spare battery (No. EFLB1501S45, $4.99) can make a big difference, and having at least three or four extras on hand isn't a bad idea (I bought a four-pack for about $16). Once you start flying, you're not gonna want to stop.
The Inductrix FPV is the gateway drone racer it was meant to be. It makes sense that the Inductrix FPV's flight time is less than its non-FPV cousin — it's got a camera! So, I recommend springing for the extra $20 and picking up some spare batteries to extend the fun.
Also, if you're willing to tinker a bit — and since you're getting into the hobby, I know you are — there are various online forums that discuss ways to improve flight times. Get on the Internet and dig in!
And while the Inductrix FPV only comes in yellow, you can customize yours with orange, blue, green canopies and props. Lastly, if you're serious about racing yours, Blade offers race gates in packs of five.
All in all, I like this quad. It's a fun and easy introduction into the world of FPV flight. Affordable in both the RTF and BNF versions, it packs a big FPV!