FPV for beginners
The text and pictures below will be a beginners guide on how to get started with FPV. I will concentrate on the very basics and try to make this text as instructive as possible.
FPV is short for First Person View. I believe most people think about flying an RC airplanes when they hear the word FPV and even though most uses FPV ”to get airbourne” you could still place the FPV eqipment in your RC car, boat or whatever you like. First Person View means that you will see everything as you would if you were actually racing in the car, made a looping with your plane or jumped on the waves with your boat. FPV is by far the most thrilling experience that I’ve ever tried out. It allows you to do things you could only dream about before.
The four main parts you need
- Video transmitter (Video TX)
- Video reciever (Video RX)
The video tx transmits video from the model to the ground. In todays date there are four different frequencies to choose between: 900 MHz, 1,3 GHz, 2,4 GHz and 5,8 GHz. Which one you choose is up to you, but have in mind that:
- All frequencies aren’t allowed in every country. For example 900 MHz isn’t legal here in Sweden since it’s used by airline traffic.
- Don’t use the same frequency on the video transmitter as your radio transmitter. A lot of us uses 2,4 GHz radios and then that is not an alternative for the video link.
All four frequencies are good in their way, everyone have their pros and cons. 1,3 GHz is an elder system and more well-tried. 5,8 GHz is newer and gets more common every day. A rule of thumb: A lower frequency with long waves (1,3 GHz) will be less influenced by obstacles while a higher frequency with shorter waves will be more influenced.
The video transmitter wont be worth anything without an reciever that can take care of all the video signals that’s transmitted. Since you’ve already choosen which frequency you’re gonna use this is going to be an easy part of your purchase. Just make sure they use same frequency. For the beginner it’s best to buy a package of both transmitter and receiver, then you’ll know that they fit together.
There is a huge difference between different cameras but when you’re going to buy one I truly recommend you to find a camera that is fast in brightness adjustment. You don’t want the picture to get almost dark just because the camera compensates for the bright sky during the last turn … This will get you in a lot of troubles and you’ll probably end up in a tree or in a tough landing. Since everyone experience brightness, sharpness and colors in their own way there is not an easy answer on which camera that’s best to buy. ”Buy and try” is my best advice. Make sure though to not choose the cheapest one.
The cheapest way to display the the image that is being transmitted is to buy an small 7″ display. This is working good (when you’re not seated in the sun) but in my point of view it will not give you the best FPV experience. In the beginning of my FPV career I used an 17″ monitor and I think it was awesome. But the display was heavy to carry around and I found it difficult to see the screen during daylight so therefore I decided to buy video goggles instead. They’re small and lightweight and they’re ways better than a regular display to fly fpv with. They completely block out the sun and you’ll see everything clearly. The only thing that is negative with them is that they are more expensive than a display. But they’re definitely worth the money!
If you have looked around on different fpv-equipment you might have seen that they can use different input voltage: e.g. 3,5-5 V and 12 V. My advice is to make sure that both the camera and transmitter uses the same input voltage, 12 V is perfect for a 3S Lipo battery.
- In order to power up a 5 V camera when the rest of the equipment is powered by 12 V you’ll either need a voltage regulator that reduces the voltage from 12 to 5 V or a seperate battery that just has to power up the camera.
I recommend to use a seperate battery for the video tx and camera since you’ll get rid of all the interference that can occur from the motor and ESC. This also means that you can still see the picture if the primary battery gets down to low in voltage. Unless you need to keep the plane as light as possible this is the best solution I think.
What platform should I use
There are a few things to think about when choosing an FPV-platform:
- The plane should be stable
- It needs some extra room inside for all the new equipment
- It should be easy to fly
- A pusher prop airplane allow the camera to have free sight all time
My first FPV airplane was the pusher prop Multiplex Easystar and after a lot of flights with it I can’t find any better plane to start with. It’s easy to build, cheap, able to carry a lot of weight, have a lot of room (for its size) for equipment and is great fun to fly. You can modify it anyway you like with a new canopy, ailerons and the best part is that it’s very crash resistant. Buy it!:-D
This is the basic parts of FPV. At least it’s a good starting point for all of you interested in this world.
Look out for a guide that covers the ”advanced” equipment later on.