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Written by Matt Ruddick
Customizing Your Gear
As seen in the April 2019 issue of
Model Aviation.


kevin schmenk painted
01. Kevin Schmenk painted this Taranis QX 7 using airbrushing techniques to achieve a spectacular space theme.

For decades, modelers have put countless hours into building their fleet of aircraft. However, tirelessly researching which aircraft will be the newest addition is only half of the fun. Deciding on the trim scheme of a model aircraft is important to many pilots because they want their craft to be an extension of their personality.

Of course, this personal expression extends to more than merely the aircraft sitting on the flightline. Walk up and down the pits and you’re likely to see a multitude of customized parts and pieces that have been built, painted, and personalized to a nearly unrecognizable degree.

the faceplates of fat shark
02. The faceplates of Fat Shark headsets can be easily removed and painted, adding a nice touch of personality.

The FPV drone community is no different. This article plans to show you a few examples of how those in the drone community personalize and customize their aircraft, goggles, radios, and more!

There are a number of reasons why you might consider customizing something. In some cases, you might simply want to improve something’s functionality. In other cases, you might only want a custom paint job to show off your artistic skills or favorite color schemes. One tool that commonly sees a change in appearance is a transmitter.

Thanks to the relative affordability of the most common FPV radio systems, such as the FrSky Taranis, many pilots have bravely disassembled their radios to add some personal flare to the shell.

The space-themed Taranis QX 7 that is pictured is a great example of taking a normal-looking radio and making it stand out in a crowd. Kevin Schmenk, also known as Kid Khaos FPV, is the artist behind this work. His previous experience in the RC car community gave him the skills necessary to do this level of paint job. Using a combination of airbrushing, splatter techniques, and lots of patience, Kevin was able to produce this stunning one-of-a-kind radio.

After some experimenting, Kevin found that a 2K clear coat from an aerosol can was necessary to protect the radio’s finish. He chose to use a high-gloss finish, but there are other options if you prefer a more matte or flat look. This custom paint job has truly turned this budget radio into a work of art that is a head-turner on the flightline.

It’s not just budget radios that pilots are painting. Even the sometimes-expensive FPV goggles have gotten in on the fun. Although some have opted for less-destructive vinyl wraps from companies such as NX Graphics and Stickit Quad Skins, others have gone all out and painted the shells of their headsets.

In the picture above, a somewhat more conservative approach was taken and only the faceplate of this Fat Shark HDO headset was painted; however, it still provides a unique look. This faceplate was lightly sanded to rough up the plastic then the fan and plug were masked off. It was sprayed with standard Rust-Oleum spray paint. It was given three coats, and then two additional coats of Rust-Oleum clear coat for protection.

One upside to only painting the faceplate is that it is easily removable and can be replaced with an unpainted version for resale, or when you’re just in the mood for something a little different.

Sticking to the goggles for a moment, there is another way to change the look and feel of your headset, and that’s with a custom goggle strap. For FPV pilots, goggle comfort can be important, especially for racers who will be spending most of an event with them strapped to their face.

The stock, thin straps that come with any FPV goggles will be sufficient for many, but if you want a more comfortable and secure experience, custom goggle straps are definitely the way to go.

HotDog FPV has pioneered the custom goggle strap and offers a variety of patterns and designs from which to choose. You can even submit your own design to be printed directly on the elastic band, allowing you to have your pilot name, sponsor, or anything your heart desires emblazoned onto the back of your head while you fly!

The company provides an easy-to-use template that can be employed in Photoshop or nearly any design application so that your strap looks exactly as you had imagined. One of the pictures is of my personal custom strap from HotDog FPV, featuring my pilot name and the AMA logo. At less than $30, I felt like this was a great way to add a custom touch to my goggles, and the company’s quick shipping meant I only had to wait approximately a week to have it in my hands!

hotdog fpv offers
03. HotDog FPV offers affordable, custom-designed goggle head straps.

adding velcro patches
04. Adding Velcro patches is an easy way to make your flight bag stand out from others at your next event.

You might notice that the strap also looks wider than the stock strap that you find on a Fat Shark headset. That’s because HotDog FPV also offers different size straps for those who want a more secure fit. At 1 inch, 1.5 inches, and 2 inches, there is something for everyone. I chose the 2-inch strap and found that my goggles fit much more comfortably on my face. They don’t feel as though they’ll slide down my nose quite as they do with the stock strap.

HotDog FPV straps are designed to fit most Fat Shark, Skyzone, Eachine, and Aomway goggles; however it’s important to read the product description before ordering to make sure that they will fit with your headset.

Flight Bags

Flight bags can take all shapes, sizes, and forms. Some I’ve encountered looked like a hard-shell briefcase and some have been generic duffle bags. But by far, the most common style for FPV pilots is the backpack-style flight bag.

There are backpack-style bags designed specifically for FPV pilots, such as the Lowepro QuadGuard series or Think Tank FPV’s Session backpack. Pictured is the STRIX Tactical Flight Pack (TFP). It features molle straps across the entire front and sides that accept a multitude of standard molle accessories to fit your needs.

On the backpack pictured, I use hooks and straps that can hold my quads in place. I’ve also affixed a couple of patches to add some personal flair to my pack. I have my pilot name as well as a NASA patch to show off my interest in space! These patches are held on with Velcro and have stayed secure for more than a year of travel and attending flying events.

These are just a few examples of how you can make your gear stand out and express your personality.What customizations have you made to your gear? Send me an email and let me know!


Sources:

FrSky

sales4tech@gmail.com

www.frsky-rc.com

HotDog FPV

(669) 235-9378

www.hotdogfpv.com

Aomway

sean@aomway.com

www.aomway.com

Think Tank Photo

(866) 558-4465

www.thinktankphoto.com

NX Graphics

www.nxgraphics.ca

Fat Shark

www.fatshark.com

Eachine

customer-service@eachine.com

Stickit Quad Skins

www.stikitskins.com

Rust-Oleum

www.rustoleum.com

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