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Essential Items for FPV

Do you want to get into first-person-video? Here are the items you need.

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Here is a list of the key pieces of gear needed to get your FPV rig going.

The word "drone" and FPV are all over the news, the internet and Youtube. This article's goal is to go over some of the key elements you need to get started. There are many different platforms you can use with your FPV gear, from planes, to helis, to quads, and even boats and RC cars. For all these you still need some basic equipment to get going.

FPV Camera

The first part of the puzzle is a camera with video out capabilities. There are some awesome HD action cams out there but not all of them have video out. You must have this capability to get your image to your video transmitter. Shown below is an entry level cam that will fit on just about anything you want to put it on. There are higher quality FPV based cams. Companies like RC Logger and Boscam make FPV cams that also record video. These usually start at around $90. For your first camera I would start out with something simple.

Caution - Make sure you are aware of the voltages that your camera (and video transmitter) can take. It is very easy to smoke your camera if your voltage is too high. I did this on my very first FPV cam and had to spend more money to buy a new one.

Video Transmitter

Having a video camera is no good if there isn't a way to get the signal back to you on the ground. This is where the video transmitter comes in. FPV video transmitters come in many sizes and wattage ratings. A good entry level vid TX should be around 250mW. I have transmitters that push around 600mW, but 250 will get you going. There are also multiple frequencies you can transmit on. Each has it's own application. The most common frequency is 5.8ghz. Many people think that more wattage means a better signal but sometimes more wattage will give you more trouble. A video transmitter is only as good as the antenna you use. More on that later in this article.

Goggles and/or a Monitor

Finally you need to be able to see the video you are transmitting. LOS (line of sight) flying with an LCD monitor is a great way to go. It allows you to control your vehicle visually and allows you to look at your screen to see what you camera is seeing. You could also fly the craft exclusively through the monitor. Monitors can be very small and fit on your TX. I have seen RCG users mount LCD screens that are huge in the back of their cars. I run a 7 inch monitor at all times. Even if you are flying in goggles I think you should have a monitor for backup. It's also a great way for others around you to see what you are seeing.

Goggles really put you in the plane. Before I flew with goggles I found it hard to believe that I would be able to use them. I thought I would want to rip them off so I could visually fly my plane LOS. I was very surprised at how fast my brain adapted to flying from the plane's perspective! Not only is it easier, it's more fun. Every time I have put the goggles on someone when they were done they were ready to get an FPV rig going. It is addictive. Goggle technology is getting better and cheaper. There is a lot to look forward to in this category.

Some are concerned about their vision and using goggles. I have found most people that wear glasses have no trouble with goggles and if you do most goggles have lens inserts that will fix your issue.

Antennas

Everything I have discussed so far will come with an antenna. The problem is they aren't very good. While upgrading your antennas may be a more advanced topic I think it's important for a good experience. If you are going to buy all the gear needed to fly FPV I suggest you purchase some good antennas. My first antennas are still my favorite. They are made by RCGroups user IBCrazy. You will have a better image with maximum distance when you use quality antennas.

Conclusion

These are the basics for FPV flight. The choices out there now are pretty vast and will only grow as time goes on. You may decide that you like to fly FPV from your plane. You may only want to fly FPV from a quad. Or you may be like me and try to FPV out every thing you own. I started with an RC truck. I figured if I got in trouble I could always just stop. Starting there allowed me to figure out my gear and move on to my quads and aerial platforms. Once you get started I think you will see why so many people are into this form of flight.

This article only goes over a few options for you to get started. Please add to this thread with your experiences and thoughts on the topic. There is a ton of information about this on RCGroups.com already so do what I did and use that search button to learn about other users's experiences with FPV.

Links

Here are just a few great places to go on your hunt for your first FPV gear:

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Old Mar 13, 2015, 08:25 AM
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Quote:
A good entry level vid TX should be around 250mW
As this is a global site it's worth at least mentioning that some countries have legal limits on VTX power - e.g. for the UK it's just 25 mW on 5.8 GHz. As you touched on, the antenna is very important. Some good reading here:

http://www.fpvuk.org/things-explaine...wer-and-range/
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Old Mar 13, 2015, 02:29 PM
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Great article Jim and I see you were using an OSD (on screen display) but from what i've just ready you never made no mention of this,so someone new to FPV might think you can get all that info on the screen or your goggles with out adding anything.

I only bring it up because you have two really good images showing your OSD in use.

If you did mention it and I missed I'll apologise now.
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Old Mar 13, 2015, 02:37 PM
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Your are totally correct. I felt like going into depth on my various OSDs would be too much but they do appear in my photos. Maybe that can be my next article.
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Old Mar 13, 2015, 02:47 PM
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Fpv

Great article. The FCC states that you need an armature radio operators to use this equipment.
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Old Mar 13, 2015, 02:53 PM
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Jim:

I thought your article was a great introductory article to this exciting new and expanding area of our hobby. I am working to assemble this gear on several of my planes, and need to learn as much as I can to avoid some of the pitfalls.

Could you please discuss the rules in the USA for the use of video transmitters on different frequencies (433mhz, 900mhz, 1.2ghz, 1.3ghz, 2.4ghz, 5.8ghz), and the power limits (if appropriate) where we can legally fly without getting a ham license first? These questions are not addressed in the AMA rules I have searched and reviewed.

Also, I have seen quite a few RC flyers using FPV gear, but not using a spotter. Could you discuss how a spotter is useful, what their qualifications should be, and how we can comply with the rules here too?

Jim E.
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Old Mar 13, 2015, 03:01 PM
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Can't you connect to the video through your Android phone to see the streaming video?
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Old Mar 13, 2015, 04:27 PM
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Excellent article, Jim. I totally agree with your suggestions on what to buy to get started!
I’d like to add that while 5.8ghz is the best and least expensive frequency to start flying FPV, it does have a few limitations - like you cannot receive a video signal that is blocked by structures. This means you will lose your video signal when you fly behind buildings, trees, or people. But if you are teaching yourself how to fly FVP – you should always maintain LOS (Line Of Sight) of your craft with your spotter anyways!
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Old Mar 13, 2015, 09:12 PM
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Where can I find that fatshark camera.for $30? Everything I fjnd is 40ish to 60.
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Old Mar 13, 2015, 09:41 PM
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http://www.readymaderc.com/store/ind...oducts_id=1228
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Old Mar 14, 2015, 09:59 AM
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Great write up. BTW, which OSD you are using in your pictures?
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Old Mar 14, 2015, 10:07 AM
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The lead image is from a Vector. The 7 inch screen is showing OSD from multiple RC Logger units.
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Old Mar 17, 2015, 03:53 PM
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Excellent article, agree that this is an expanding market and it appears one that is becoming more popular by the day. I'm going to be looking into getting FPV gear eventually. I'm hoping to get some of those discounts that competition from multiple manufacturers will generate.
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Old Mar 19, 2015, 09:05 AM
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great thread
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Old Mar 20, 2015, 10:08 PM
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Awesome. I wrote a guide a few years back and have been updating it periodically since, might be worthwhile to check out for some of the newcomers.

https://sites.google.com/site/djopro...nsrc/fpv-guide



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