Taking FPV ON! Ideas, Considerations, Build Log, Videos
Bandarra's FPV Adventure starts here!
(scroll down for list of current questions/ideas/indecisions)
I'm relatively new to FPV, been reading and searching quite alot recently but I'm still to fly FPV. I've had quite a few RC vehicles, specially planes, from trainers to scratchbuilt, etc. But please note that I am NOT an expert of any kind, please don't be surprised by silly questions
I just moved to Sheffield, UK, but I am Portuguese. I took on the job of Design Engineer (mechanical) on a department of Ideas and Innovation funny enough...
After watching some breath taking fpv movies and receiving quite alot of support from friends and family to actually do it I decided that I really have to do it
The main reason I am doing it is for pure enjoyment but also there is a possibility of doing some specific movies for some people in the future if I get good at it so I wanna take it on responsably, effectively and "professionaly" .
Ok, so what I have at the moment is what I accomulated from previous models. From a ArtTech WingDragon I have all the electronic gear, the wings and the plastic bit of the fuselage. Also, other bits that I bought from Grayson hobby when I went through a RCPowers phase
- 4ch Tx, modified to take a batery (not sure what it is) instead of 8x AA bats
- 6ch Rx, came with WingDragon and I really don't trust it, lol
- 2x arttech pastic gear servos
- 2x metal gear servos
- standard Brushed motor and ESC, not sure what it is
- Grayson hobby MicroJet V3 with 20A ESC specs
- 2x APC 6x4 props, one puller one pusher
- Wing dragon standard pusher prop
- GH LiPo 2s1p 1000mAh 20C/25C
- WingDragon NiMH (8 cell I think) 1000mAh
- Multiplex EasyStar
- Overlander LiPo 3S 1000mAh
- Overlander LiPo 3S 2200mAh
- Futaba 9c 35MHz Tx and R149DP Rx
- Keyring Cam, 720x480px 30fps, quite fast brightness ajustment, impressed...
- 1.2GHz 400mW 4ch VTx
EasyStar motor mount V1.1
seems to fit pretty good
Creation of video gear platform securing holes/slots
Finished for normal flight
Received the keyring cam and did a little depron platform for it, covered it in clear tape, hotglued it to the platform, the whole assembly gets taped to a flat patch on the nose of the EZ.
First outing with a camera on board
On a nicer location, horses and stuff about... lol (check 6.35, wingtip was less than 5cm from my leg! not on purpose...)
Propper FPV'ing now
Wiring loom V1
Pan/tilt mount V1, with base and modular tray(s)
All I can say on this one is that I learned ALOT, "spending" very little "money"
the video mounting setup
detail of the slide and lock mechanism. Later will be designing diferent "trays" for pan/tilt etc but can always use the same base.
Added black insulating tape in the limits of viewing of the camera, if you noticed it is tilted now so I see more ground, has a shiming toothpick on the back, eheh
Also did a air-speedometer (later found to be too stiff and not work), out of the "normal" way, but really need to sort out a microphone. either external or a camera that has one built in. this one has the lead and all that but that pin in blanked out...
at least now i should hopefully know how fast it is going so I don't stall it, or if I do i'll know (not).
need to sort out that ugly antenna soon. I'm thinking of making my own tunned to the specific frequency I use... as soon as I know what channel 8 is... (1240mhz)
Second not-so-disastrous try @ FPVing
Panning tray V2
New parts are green, red and orange
the "bearing" is the big cylindrical bit bellow the gears, its just like a sleeve. designed them oversize so i can sand them down to size and thn fill it with lubricant. a screw from the bottom ensures it doesnt come out from the top.
2:1 gearing so should get just under 180º which should be good enough to see the wings with this camera (quite wide lens, 90º i think).
By the lake
Out and about at the local RC club
LOS but in HD at the park
1km out and alot of fun
Around the Castle
Feeding GoPro straight to the goggles, lets pray this works...
FPV routes Planning
So far I've flown LOS withing the 200m circle roughly. The place is like a big bathtub valey, so at the bottom it is pretty flat, steep hills and the flat-ish again on the top. Main points of intrest are the hill faces, the village to the East and most important of all the Castle since it is right on the top of that hill and should be really nice to fly/film around it.
code: Undecided - Almost there - Ordered/Have it
- What plane to get?
Multiplex EasyStar. I'm still wondering about it not having ailerons, and the fact that you are supposed to glue the two halves of the fuselage together... what If one servo wire comes loose on the Rx? what if I want to change stuff inside? will know this soon as it arrives early next week
- What Radio system to get?
Settled on 35MHz for now because of the nice standard range of it. I am getting a second hand Futaba FF9. (T9CAP 72MHz for you US guys).
Will have it with a PPM Rx altough not the ideal solution for long term/pushing the boundaries FPV.
- What power system to get? - Grayson hobby MicroJet V3 with 20A ESC, think this is more that enough for now with a APC 6x4 prop and probably will upgrade the 2cell lipo to a medium/high mAh 3cell in the near future. Now have two Overlander 2200mAh 3S 11.1v 20C Lipo , will decide later how to use all the power, separate circuits or not for flying and FPV gear etc...
- What camera to get?
I want a dirty cheap one to start with and I am even considering buying one that films and records all in one like those keyfob etc ones just to get used to the onboard videos. Got it, might get a better board cam later like a KX131 or whatever they are called that everyone is using.
Will GoPro in a couple of months time.
- What Video Tx/Rx to get?
Ordered one of these bundles, 1.2G 400mW Wireless AV transmitter, will let you know how it performs once I receive it and so some testing.
- What Video Recorder to get?
At the moment I'm going to try to visualize and record to the laptop. Will update here how that goes once I receive the goods.
- Getting an OSD?
Will get one at some point, my main question about it at the moment is is there any way of having an OSD but at the same time having a clean image for recording? I guess it would have to be the VTx sending two images, one clean, one with OSD and then using the OSD one for flying and the other one for recording...
Anyone knows of good RC shops in the Uk for ordering online or even in the area of Sheffield to go there? I seem to find a few but in general they are very expensive and with not much to chose from.
- Silly little "keyring cam"
Bought this, shoud arrive next week, to get used to watching the onboard footage before flying it FPV. Cheap, easy to install, aerodynamic when poiting forward, 720x480, 30fps, should have fast enough brightness adjustment.
- Rapid Prototyping"
Just started the first week into mynew job and so far its going great (design engineer, mechanical etc). The benefit of it for the RC/FPV side is that for me it will be really easy to produce parts in CAD and just "print them off" in the RP machine. Control horns, brackets etc etc, not cutting and sanding balsa . The material is plastic, quite hard, light, etc so should be good to build like a custom camera mount etc, just need to take some dimentions from the servos, cam and plane etc, and the make it in cad and there we have a part with minimal cost in material. And if it is wrong throw it away, modify the CAD and try again, now that I come to think of it... probably can even do it as just one part, avoiding the typical geometry of little plates of balsa interlocking and etc...
If you are trying to help please say why you consider this or that option to be the best one to go for since I want to understand the principles behind the choices. thanks!
Last edited by Bandarra; Oct 17, 2010 at 06:07 PM.
I'll try to keep it short. since you're getting started with almost all your gear (what you currently have is pretty useless - sorry ), you are looking at quite an investment.
I would start with a minimal setup. If you want to stay legal you'll need to get the 10mW from firstpersonview.co.uk . if you plan on flying on the moon (as most of us do ) where laws on RF emissions are not that strict get a lawmate 2.4GHz 500mW transmitter and receiver and a 5V camera if your choice. KX-131 is good to start, the KX550 will give you the best resolution (bluecctv.com sells them for $75 if you contact them via e-mail - they call it VSN505 there). Since both the VTx and the camera now run on 5V, a 5V 1A switching BEC is all you need. NGHobbies sells a very good and compact unit, but you can also get a Turnigy Low-noise 3A BEC - with the attached ferrite it's pretty decent (not perfect, but 5x as cheap)
8dbi 2.4 circular patch antenna on the ground. EzOSD if you plan on getting an OSD, but I would get the first few flights with a couple of buddies and without OSD. The EzOSD will allow you to go out further and fly longer once that is a priority. In the beginning the biggest task will be to get everything working well.
The goggles you get is pretty much up to your budget. Carl Zeiss cinemizers are very good, but cost quite a bit (and are not sold in FPV stores). You can get the EVG920's, but they require the "ski goggle mod" to be good for FPV (http://www.rcexplorer.se/page14/goggles/goggles.html)
Optional FPV accessories
A recorder also requires a buffered video splitter. FPV stores sell both. Again, your budget is your limit. Highest quality recording is achieved with a DV camera that supports video in. Best comfort is a digital recording device such as the Sandisk VMate or Pinnacle Video Transfer. The "best" of both worlds is a HDD recorder, which gives you pretty good quality and a digitally-encoded file to play on your computer. The HDD recorders are generally the most expensive.
RC and Aircraft
For RC I recommend a Futaba FF7, 72MHz. Forget 2.4GHz for control, not reliable enough for FPV. Don't save on the RX, get the best futaba RX you can find (price is a good gauge) or if you're on a budget, order the Corona 8ch synth RX from HobbyKing. These give you about 30% less rang but will save you almost 100 GPB.
If you have experience flying model aircraft, get yourself a Maxi Swift or similar aircraft for experimenting with the FPV setup. A wing will allow you to install your gear much better (space it out) for a more solid video and R/C link. The EZ will require a fair bit of modification before it's ready to fly, so in my opinion it's not a good way to start into FPV.
Once you outgrow the Maxi Swift (probably after the first 50-60h of flying) you can then decide which way you want to go: park- and scenic cruising, gliding, speed/stunt flying. this will pretty much decide which airframe to get. For the start you want to get accustomed to FPV, and for this you'll want something that can take a punch and at the same time will not cause you grief in terms of electronics installation.
My favorite FPV shops are nghobbies.com and rangevideo.com - in the UK you also have firstpersonview.co.uk. For R/C stuff HobbyKing.com is pretty good.
Videos to get you started
Here's how I had my first airplane (a maxi swift):
Here's what you can expect range- and speed/performance-wise:
Here's a primer on polarization and antennas
Thanks trappy! That is alot of info to take on but to some extent it seems to agree more or less nicelly with what I've read from other people.
My main concern at the moment is the Radio system (for flying) but I'll just say one thing about the plane.
What you say about getting a flying wing instead of an EZ makes total sense from the point of view of flying "performance" (speed agility etc) and from the freedom to spread the components around.
On that, two things, I don't feel like I can take on that much at one, never flew a wing and think they are a bit different from normal planes, and also although I appreciate how much speed and agility it has I'm more inclided to a slower flight and more of a landscaping type video with as much stability and damping as possible, still having reasonable power and manueverability ofcourse. I'm planning to fly over a river valey and some canyons but quite smaller than those on your videos so a slower plane would be better in my oppinion.
Ok, onto the radio. I've read somewhere that the lower the frequency the farther the wave travels. This must be assuming the same conditions for both frequencies right?
When you say "Forget 2.4GHz for control, not reliable enough for FPV." what exactly do you mean by not reliable and at what sort of ranges should we expect it to be reliable and what would be too far away for it?
Also, on a 72MHz radio do you still need the cristals that the 2.4GHz does away with?
On to the Rx, should I buy it separately from the Tx?
And in general, what kind of ranges are we talking about? In my view I don't think I will need as much as 4 - 5 Km distance anything under that should be fine, at least for a couple of years.
sorry about being so dry and direct about it but I really want to learn and know why things are like they are.
Again, thanks alot for all the input!
Last edited by Bandarra; Apr 10, 2010 at 04:07 PM.
You could start with a Slow Stick for FPV.
Great for just slow cruising around the park and getting a feel for FPV.
Later strip the FPV gear off to put on your "real" FPV plane.
Cheap and easy to build... and who doesn't like a Slow Stick?
Yeah, good idea too. Although I think I would spend just as much as with the EZstar, and you have the prop and all that in front of you, not to mention that there is a greater possibility of getting it wrong it I'm building it myself
Hmm... radio radio radio... Its so much money to get it wrong... lol.
Pick up a used Futaba 9C. You may have to wait for one to come up in the for sale section or troll ebay for one.
It's pretty much the standard for FPV, hard to beat, works with head tracking if you want that later, can use modules for 2.4, 72mhz, or a 433mhz long range system.
Best bang for the buck!
Edit; sure the SS has the prop in view, so what if you are just using it as a "FPV Trainer"
The Maxi Swift isn't faster, actually it's slower. You won't be doing many scenic flights with a EZ*, the lightest breeze will make it very difficult to fly. In a river valley you can expect a lot of turbulence which will throw your EZ* around much more. Every plane flies the same, the only difference between the Swift and the EZ is that the Swift doesn't have rudder. My suggestion is still on the Maxi Swift since it's so much easier to build and fly, but ultimately it's your call.
2.4GHz vs. standard radio link 72mhz or 35mhz: you'll get more range and 2.4ghz signals are easier blocked by objects. E.g. if you fly behind yourself far out, the signal is blocked by your body. analog radio is more robust, and with "glitching" you get a headsup before you go into failsafe at about 50% signal range the servos start "shaking".
Range-wise you can expect 1 mile max from a 2.4 and 2 miles from a 35MHz, but more importantly if your R/C signal is a lower frequency than your video, you lose video signal before losing control - and this is important. Even as you begin to lose video, you still want to have control.
I've also read a few people talking about changing the frequency modules on their transmiters. How hard and expensive is it to do? I've been searching for 7ch and 9ch futabas and I'm strugling to find 72MHz ones, or 35MHz ones for that matter.
trappy, you just pointed out that you'll probably get 1mile from a 2.4GHz and 2miles from 35MHz. What about 72MHz somewhere around 2miles too? I think for now that would be ideal for me without needing to upgrade too soon.
I've also been thinking of the 2nd hand option like galaxiex mentioned, because I know you cant ever have too many channels, specially if you do into headtrackers and all that, which I suppose I will at some point, but the think is that since I want a radio to serve me for some years I'm wondering how many things can go wrong with it if it has already served someone else for 1 or 2 or 3 years.
Bandarra: if you have 9 channels you're making a safe bet. keep in mind that the new breed of long range systems (EzUHF, for example) have a port add-on for headtracking, so if you do get a new long range system that adds 2 channels to your radio, making your 9ch tx a 11ch tx. I think 35MHz and then a LRS is the natural progression.
There is no such thing as a range guarantee. You can tune stuff by extending your receiver antenna to 1/2 or 1/4 wavelength, but ultimately the range you can expect depends on the environment you fly in. You will learn this soon enough I get 4+ miles without glitches from my 35MHz system in some places, in other places I'm having a bad time achieving more than 1mile.
You can't change frequencies between 72 and 35MHz. Either 72 or 35 is legal in your country (america 72, europe 35 afaik)
Ok, one more thing set. We are getting somewhere.
I've searched more and more and I found out that, as you say, 35 or 72MHz are pretty much the same, simple burocratically different depending on what country we are on.
So that doesn't matter too much to me since I'll always be in areas that are not crowded and where in general people don't care about all that.
Ok so, now I need to find a Futaba 9ch radio.
I've also found out that I can afford a new one BUT if I buy it I can't afford everything else and also that people with used 9ch's for same tend to take very good care of them! So at the moment it seems like the best option would be to go for a used futaba 9ch.
Comparing prices and availability it seems that I'm better off looking in the US market and hope to find a seller that doesn't mind shipping to the UK on ebay or here on RC Groups.
The final thing is that there seem to be 3 or 4 different 9ch's, 9C, 9CAP, etc what would be the main difference on those and what to look for? One that comes with a Rx too or is that something better to get separate? the synth module is always nice too right?
Ps. I prefer mode2 Tx's, is it a good option to go for maybe a mode1 that "might" go cheaper and change it round myself? or is it something not really recomended?
Ok, now it is more or less a question of time and oportunity before I get a Futaba 9C or similar and the EasyStar.
I think I can start to think about the FPV. For Video Transmitters and Receivers, when they state 4 or 8 channels etc what does that mean exactly? Also, if we use an OSD is it possible to send two video feeds, one with OSD for the googles and one clean for recording?
Also, if the above is not possible, is it possible to have the OSD sensors in the plane but the OSD itself on the groundstation in order to feed the OSD in only after a Video Splitter or something like that, achieving the same result?
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