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Fatshark Dominator FPV Goggles Review

Fatshark Vision Systems' Dominators are the latest incarnation of FPV (first person view) goggles designed for full-immersion flying. The Dominators come as a complete package, with a built-in 5.8 or 2.4GHz receiver and matching transmitter. With the Dominators strapped to your head, you can effectively pilot an aircraft as if you were in the cockpit, without any distractions.

Splash

Introduction


Retail Price:$299
Field of View:30 degrees
Display:Micro VFA LCD's (640x480)
Resolution:922,000 pixels per LCD
Weight:175 grams (w/o battery)
Input voltage:2S/3S (6 -13V)
Video System:NTSC/PAL auto select
Transmitter:5.8 or 2.4GHz 100mw w/ antenna
Transmitter:5.8 or 2.4GHz 100mw w/ antenna
Receiver:5.8 or 2.4GHz integrated w/ antenna
Battery:7-13 volts - (2s - 3s)
Modes:Signal from internal rx or a/v-in from separate rx
Manufacturer:Fatshark
Available From:Fatshark

Fatshark Vision Systems' Dominators are the latest incarnation of FPV (first person view) goggles designed for full-immersion flying. The Dominators come as a complete package, with a built-in 5.8 or 2.4GHz receiver and matching transmitter. For expanded flying, a built-in head tracker allows you to turn your head and have the camera on the airplane mimmic your movements. In case you're not up to speed with the FPV movement, the idea is to use a small camera and transmitter attached to the airplane to send the video signal down to a receiver. From there, it's up to you on how you want to display the video. The Dominator goggles allow you to effectively pilot the airplane as if you were in the cockpit, without any distractions. Lets take a look at the Dominator FPV goggles.

Kit Contents

Fatshark has created a very complete kit, that includes a majority of the items needed to fly basic FPV. Opening the box, you'll find the Dominator goggles and protective case, a 5.8 or 2.4 gHz transmitter and integrated receiver with matching antennas, an integrated head tracker, and the necessary power and a/v cables. My unit did not include a battery.

The overall fit and finish of the Dominators is very nice. Fatshark chose to go with a matte finish instead of the glossy look of previous model, the RCV922. The Dominators now feature soft rubber eye-pieces that effectively eliminate all incoming light, which was a problem with the previous versions. The glass optics have been updated with a narrower FOV (field of view), which we will discuss later in the article.

Both sides of the goggles have removeable covers to access the internal electronics. The left cover contains the video receiver and has a hole for the antenna. The right side houses the head tracker board and the main board below it. I found it difficult to remove the covers with my fingers, and opted to gently lift one side up with a flat head screwdriver, then remove it with my fingers; theres no chance of the covers falling off while in use.

Two 5.8GHz 3dbi antennas are included with the Dominators and are good for short to medium range FPV flying. The case is a great addition to the goggle kit and keeps them safe and secure. A carabiner-style plastic hook allows you to attach the case to your belt as well. My only complaint is the lack of room for your a/v and power cables; I found the easiest way is to wrap them around the case. Also included is a data cable, which plugs into a Futaba-style trainer port and enables head tracking.

The included Airwave receiver and video transmitter allow you to fly FPV without purchasing any additional transmission equipment. The vtx comes equipped with a proprietary harness that makes hook up easy. You'll need to solder your camera and battery wires to each harness. The vtx can take 6-12 volts which gives you more options when picking your battery. I chose a simple 360 mAh 11.1v lipo to power the vtx.

Controls Diagram
The Dominators come with easy to access buttons built into the unit's case. On the top left is a 4-way rocker button that controls image brightness and contrast. Push the rocker forward and back to adjust contrast; push the rocker left and right to adjust LCD brightness. I found the factory setting at neutral to be just fine for most flying conditions. Next to the rocker are two channel buttons that are used to change the internal receiver's channels. Make sure to change the transmitter channel if you change the receiver. On the right side are the head tracker and volume level buttons. The head tracker button (see head tracker section) can be used to center the camera in flight and adjust the pan/tilt channels on your student PPM stream. The volume buttons adjust the headphone volume if you are using them.

Setup

Internal Receiver Mode

The Dominator goggles contain an integrated 5.8 or 2.4GHz receiver and lightweight video transmitter. By powering the receiver on from the button located on the bottom of the goggles, you can fly without the need of a separate receiver base-station. With the video transmitter installed in your aircraft, choose the appropriate channel (channel-1 on 5.8GHz works best with 2.4GHz aircraft radios), turn on your goggles by plugging them into a 2-3s lipo or plugging in the data cable to your trainer port on a Futaba radio. Choose the same channel on your receiver that was chosen for the transmitter. This is done through the channel buttons on the top left of the goggles. Supply 6-12v of power to the video transmitter on your aircraft and you're ready to fly! If you want to record your flight, connect the included a/v cable to your video recorder of choice. The Dominators will send the video signal out the a/v port whenever the receiver is on.

Base Station Mode

With the internal receiver turned off the goggles now act as a monitor, receiving the video signal from your base-station receiver through the included a/v cable. Recording your flight will now need to be done through an additional connection on your base station, as the sole a/v connection on the goggles is now functioning as an a/v in.

Head Tracker

The head tracker function is a breeze to setup, and if you plan on using channels 5 and 6 for your pan/tilt servos, its even easier since the Dominators are pre-programmed to those channels. To change the head tracking channels between 5 and 8, hold down the HT button before powering up and turn on the Dominators. Follow the beep sequence listed in the manual to change channels.

Start by connecting the pan and tilt servos to the appropriate channels on your receiver (i used channels 5 and 6 for the reason stated above). Next, connect the square end of the data cable to the trainer port on the back of your Futaba transmitter and the round end to the bottom of the Dominator goggles. It should be noted that the head tracker only works with "high end" Futaba transmitters that support selective student channel mixing. Next, navigate in your transmitter menu to the trainer function, and change the INH setting to OFF, then activate the appropriate channels that the pan and tilt servos are attached to.

To activate the head tracker, flip the trainer switch up and hold it. The tracker is now engaged and will move the pan/tilt unit according to your head movements. Drift, or variance from center, can occur and is easily remedied by pressing the HT button ontop of the Dominator goggles to center the camera. The head tracker will only work when the trainer switch is held up. The only way to keep the head tracker on without holding the switch is to either replace it with a switch that stays when flipped, or use a rubberband to keep the switch held open.

How do they stack up against the RVC922's?

The question I hear most in the RCGroups forums is: "how do they compare to my current Fatshark goggles?' The Dominator goggles have a reduced field of view (in the 30-degree range) and in my opinion is one of the best improvements from the previous RVC922's. My biggest complaint about the old version, which I owned and used regularly until I received the Dominator goggles, was the difficulty in seeing the corners of the image. The RVC922's also suffered from considerable edge blurr. Both issues have been corrected with the Dominators, and the image quality is pretty nice... far from high definition, but nice.

Taking a picture of the viewing LCD's isn't going to give you a good idea of what to expect; the only way is to try on a pair and see for yourself. I can, however, offer this analogy: Imagine sitting in the front row of a movie theater. To see the far edges of the screen, you need to turn your head to either side, making it difficult to take in the entire picture. This is how the RVC922's are designed. The video picture is very large and requires you to shift your vision to see the edges of the screen. Luckily, Fatshark has reduced the size and FOV of the Dominator's video screens. The resulting picture would be like sitting in your living room with a 78" flat screen about 5 feet away. The view is much more manageable, without seeming small; it's still a big picture.

5.8GHz VTX/RX Performance

The included 5.8GHz vtx and rx worked pretty well right out the box, however 100mw's of power doesn't translate to alot of distance, especially on the narrow 5.8GHz band with the included 3dbi dipole antennas. With the proper routing of wires, spacing of components and using upgraded antennas, you can achieve respectable numbers from a 100mw 5.8GHz vtx. For this review, I used the stock equipment and got roughly 1/2 of a mile of useable signal before it fell off. Another small issue I had was with the included vtx's channel switches; no diagram was included to show me what combination yeilded what channel.

Conclusion

The Dominator FPV goggles are a big improvement from the previous RVC922's. They offer updated optics with a reduced field-of-view and no edge blur, and the video picture sits the perfect distance from your eyes, allowing you to take in the entire scene without seeming too small. Soft rubber eye cups solve the light-intrusion issues that have plagued other goggles, while making the fit much more comfortable.

For those considering trading in your old goggles but are afraid about the reduced fov, I would highly recommend taking a chance with the Dominators; once you fly one session with them, you'll forget all about the optics from previous models. The included video transmitter and receiver are available in both 2.4 and 5.8GHz, but the 100mw's of power limits you in distance. However, upgrading antennas can give you more range if that's what you're after.

Pluses

  • Great optics, no edge blur.
  • Zero light-intrusion with the new rubber eye-cups.
  • Included vtx and rx make FPV flying quick and easy.

Minuses

  • Head-tracker only works with high-end Futaba transmitters that support selective student channel mixing.
  • No room for the cables in the hardcase.
Last edited by Angela H; Dec 21, 2011 at 08:38 AM..

Discussion

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Old Dec 21, 2011, 09:05 AM
Post # 20 million
Kev.au's Avatar
Joined Aug 2009
2,645 Posts
Anyone know if the Futaba 9c has selective student channel mixing?.


Thanks for the review!.
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 09:13 AM
RCGroups Editor
Matt Gunn's Avatar
United States, OH, Parma
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It does!

Matt
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 09:14 AM
Team White Llama!
gundamnitpete's Avatar
Joined Jan 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kev.au View Post
Anyone know if the Futaba 9c has selective student channel mixing?.


Thanks for the review!.
yep
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 11:53 AM
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blindflight's Avatar
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How about the Airtronics SD 10G?
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 12:11 PM
SILURIA / UK
Shikra's Avatar
United Kingdom
Joined Jun 2009
2,446 Posts
Which version of the RCV922's are you comparing against?
I have both and although the early ones I found a little blurry around the edges I find the newer ones very good.
New ones have the round bulbous optics and support eye correction lenses.
The older ones are flat.

I really like the sharks and the support from their team has been first class....
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 12:29 PM
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blindflight's Avatar
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Joined Dec 2003
486 Posts
Thinking about buying the new ones "Fatshark Vision Systems' Dominators".
And what upgraded antennas would give a wider range?
Thanks
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 12:39 PM
Post # 20 million
Kev.au's Avatar
Joined Aug 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by webdr View Post
It does!

Matt
Quote:
Originally Posted by gundamnitpete View Post
yep
Thank you fellas!.
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 12:45 PM
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United States, FL
Joined Oct 2005
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I have a pair on order... I will use my older Avaitors as ride along.
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 01:11 PM
Scope Creep Specialist
MrADT's Avatar
United States, WA, Seattle
Joined Jul 2011
73 Posts
I have a 2.4 Ghz Futaba 7c. Anyone know if it has selective student mixing?

Great review, much appreciated!
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 01:14 PM
Team White Llama!
gundamnitpete's Avatar
Joined Jan 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrADT View Post
I have a 2.4 Ghz Futaba 7c. Anyone know if it has selective student mixing?

Great review, much appreciated!
yep
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 01:21 PM
Smoke me a Kipper
fritzdecat's Avatar
Cedar Grove North Carolina
Joined Oct 2006
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they look good no more of that foam that did not fit right

the only question now is when will they be available?
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 01:23 PM
Team White Llama!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fritzdecat View Post
they look good no more of that foam that did not fit right

the only question now is when will they be available?
they've been available for months, closer to a year
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 03:04 PM
fly by night
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Joined Sep 2011
5,837 Posts
I like how compact and integrated they can be. Anyone running a relay system with these? fly with 1.2GHz, use video from the receiver into another 2.4/5.8GHz Tx out to untethered Dominators? If that works well, I would be tempted to retire my RCV922s to passenger status.
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Old Dec 21, 2011, 05:07 PM
Joined Mar 2011
50 Posts
I have ordered the Fatshark dominator with the headtracker option, will this radio: Turnigy 9ch http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...Firmware_.html
Work with the headtracker?
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