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May 16, 2017, 09:10 AM
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Mini-Review

AKK FPV gear review - VTX, Camera, and Antenna


(NOTE: The Amazon links below are NOT affiliate links. I'm not getting any money from these reviews!)

Anyone who's ever participated in a (relatively) expensive hobby or sport has heard the phrase "Good, Fast, Cheap: pick two." In fact, I had a sign on my office wall with those exact words when I was an entry level engineer many decades ago. While intentionally smarmy, there is a lot of truth to the saying. Want something fast? Fine, well it's either going to be poor quality or outrageously expensive. Want something low cost? Sure, but it's going to either take a REALLY long time or it's going to be poor quality...you get the point.

AKK, currently selling FPV gear on Amazon and Aliexpress, is proving that phrase wrong.

I recently reviewed their Micro AIO FPV camera after find it to be super light (3.6g), super cheap (under $21), and, best of all, it's available on Amazon Prime.

I've had that cam on my Tiny Whoop for a few weeks now and it's been flawless. I like it so much that I gave some of their other gear a shot. As you'll read below, it's good, fast, and cheap...what's not to like?

Enter the beater quad. This is my rig that I use for testing new parts. It's got the same motors and ESCs as my main quad but they're attached to a $20 clone frame and uses a $20 F3 flight controller. It's a frame I'm not afraid to crash...repeatedly... if some of these parts fail. Fortunately, nothing of the sort happened.

I disassembled the Beater Quad and installed:

AKK 600TVL 2.8MM 120 Degree High Picture Quality Sony CCD Camera
AKK K31P 5.8GHz 40Ch 600MW 5V Out for Cam Mini FPV AV Transmitter
and
AKK LR1 5.8GHz FPV 5DBi High Gain SMA Male Circular Polarized Four Leaf Clover Antenna



Let's start from the front and work our way back.

FPV Camera:
The AKK 600TVL 2.8MM 120 Degree High Picture Quality Sony CCD Camera follows the standard HS1177 form factor in a bright orange case. It comes package with a steel clip mount, a wiring harness, and, surprisingly, four mounting screws. Given that I lose these tiny screws all the time, I was happy for some spares. The screws are also a few threads longer than the other screws that came with my FPV cams and that extra length allowed a bit tighter fit.

It comes with a 2.8mm lens. I would have liked to see an option for a 2.5mm lens as that's quickly becoming the standard for most FPV pilots. Of course, you can pick up a 2.5mm lens and install it in the AKK cam.



The camera fit perfectly into my QAV210 clone and powered up with no problems. Once transmitting, the picture was clear and crisp in the 2.8mm lens with no issues. The picture was a bit more washed out than my other cams but I did not do any adjustments at all. I didn't even focus then lens. I just bolted it on and flew.

Video Transmitter:
The AKK K31P 5.8GHz 40Ch 600MW 5V Out for Cam Mini FPV AV Transmitter weighed in at 11.2g and has a nice long pigtail terminating in an SMA connector. The two-digit display is nice for showing both channel and band simultaneously and changing them both is easy with the pushbuttons on the board. Unlike most, this VTX has a separate button for channel and band. No short-press/long-press needed. The unit can take input voltage of 7v-20v and has a dedicated 5v output for the FPV camera.



The included wiring harness uses the same plug as the Lumineer line of VTXs. It has a small tab that locks the plug into the socket. This is good and bad. It’s good in that the plug will NEVER come loose in the air. The disadvantage is that it can be difficult to unplug when the VTX is mounted to the top plate of the quad. The wiring harness comes with JST and servo plugs attached for people who like disconnection points but I cut them off and direct soldered.

I wire the vtx power to a 12v BEC on my PDB and run the 5v out to my camera.

Antenna
The AKK LR1 5.8GHz FPV 5DBi High Gain SMA Male Circular Polarized Four Leaf Clover Antenna is designed after the venerable Aomway that is very popular. It has an SMA connector and the soldering at the cloverleaf join point very robust. At $7.99 per antenna, it’s extremely affordable when compared to most others. I typically pay $20 for my VTX antennas.

It's fairly well known that the Aomway style antennas offer great performance but not-so-great durability. Given that the lobes are completely exposed, that makes sense. I haven't crashed my AKK antenna enough to judge the durability.



Note that I don't normally install my FPV antennas this way. I usually install them under the top plate so they protrude out the back. But I'm testing a bunch of antennas right now and this setup allows me to swap them quickly. I know I'll probably break the top plate and antenna in a hard crash.

Performance
I’m no Joshua Bardwell, or Bruce Simpson, that’s for sure. My video system test method is extremely basic, inconsistent, and full of flaws. Simply put, I sit on my front porch and fly laps around my house. When the quad is on the other side of my house, my video signal typically gets very poor. On some transmitter/antenna combos, the signal gets too poor to fly and on some it’s just good enough to avoid crashing.

How’d the AKK system fair? It was just as good as my significantly more expensive systems. The signal never got bad enough that I couldn’t fly and I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between these AKK components and my Foxeer/TBS components. Good, fast, cheap!

Here’s a price comparison of my normal system versus the AKK system:

My Foxeer/TBS system:
VTX: Foxeer Switcher - $28
Camera: Foxeer HS1177 - $35
Antenna: TBS Triumph - $20
TOTAL: $83

AKK System:
VTX: AKK K31P - $23
Camera: AKK CA20 - $29
Antenna: LR1 - $9
TOTAL: $61

Add shipping for the non-AKK system and you’re probably close to $90 and a week to get it versus $61 with free 2-day shipping. Granted, you’re not getting the durability of the fantastic TBS Triumph antenna but for almost difference $30, you can buy a lot of AKK gear.
Last edited by krachall; May 16, 2017 at 09:45 AM.
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