November 07, 2017
One of the characteristics that drone pilots like the most is the possibility of getting immersed in the experience of flying, and that is something they can only achieve by using FPV (First Person View) equipments. This equipment comprises a set of components that allow the pilots to feel as if they were on board of their drones.
Components that make up the FPV system for drones.
FPV systems are comprised by 4 main components, which could be described in detail as follows:
- Camera: The camera is the device that captures the track images and video to be rendered through the pilots screen display or googles. Nowadays, analogical cameras are being used as much as the digital ones. Nevertheless, analog cameras are the most popular in drone racing, as it is much less prone to blinking and its signal get less delay when rendering the video images.
So, to choose the camera for your drone, you only must pay attention to a little detail regarding the number of horizontal lines or TVL of any given camera. This feature indicates how good will be the resolution and the image quality provided by the camera, meaning that the higher the number next to the acronym TVL, the better will be the image quality and transmission.
- Video transmitter (video Tx): The video transmitter is the device that sends the signal captured by the camera back to our screen display or the pilot’s goggles. This signal shouldn’t be confused with the transmitter signal that allows the pilot to control the drone. The first is related to the transmission of video content and the latter allows the control of the drone, both signals are transmitted at different frequencies and any interference between both must be avoided at all cost.
The video transmitters can work properly at different radio frequencies, each them provide a series of advantages and disadvantages. Let´s see every one of them in detail.
- 900Mhz frequency: It is the lowest frequency, therefore is the one with the longest range and the highest level of penetration whenever there are obstacles. None the less, it uses the biggest and heaviest antenna, so it might be illegal in certain countries.
- 1.3 GHz frequency: In order to use this frequency it is necessary to possess a license or permit similar of radio stations.
- 2.4 GHz frequency: Is the frequency most often used in R/C transmitters, and that’s why it is advisable to use a different frequency for video transmission because it can cause interference within them.
- 5.8 GHz frequency: Is the highest frequency of all, that’s why it has certain limitations like a reduced range and signal transmission problems in the presence of obstacles. But also turns out to have the smallest and lightest antennas, and it tends to be less prone to interfere with the transmitter signal, so it is the most recommended for FPV system.
- Single antenna video receiver (Vídeo Rx): Is the device in charge of receiving the wireless signal sent by the video transmitter so both must work at the same frequency. In other words, if the transmitter is working on a 5.8 GHz frequency, the receiver must also be working at a frequency of 5.8 GHz, because otherwise, our FPV system will not work at all.
The most important part of the video receiver is the antenna because it will have more or less range depending on its model and quality. Here are the 4 most common models that can be found often in the market:
- Linear omnidirectional polarization antennas.
- Circular omnidirectional polarization antennas.
- Linear directional polarization antennas.
- Circular directional polarization antennas.
The essential differences between each one of them are as follows. The directional antennas send their signal with more power in a given direction. Whereas the omnidirectional ones send their signal with the same power in every direction making them more efficient in shorter ranges.
Each antenna comes set to a specific frequency, so you must be aware if they work on a 2.4 GHz or a 5.8Ghz frequency.
The antennas that usually come attached to the transmitter generally are set to the lowest spectrum. It means that both, image quality and the frequency range are very poor. Consequently, it is fairly common that the majority of drone pilots replace them for others with better quality.
- Goggles or screen displays for pilots: Choosing between goggles or screen displays depend on personal tastes and preferences. Although most pilots prefer goggles because it makes them feel more involved and focused on the match, these also tend to be more expensive. If you are getting started in the world of drone racing, you can begin with a display that has no blue-screen. The reason for this advice is that if the signal is low or the reception is bad, it won’t be lost completely and your screen won’t show a blue-screen, instead will continue to show you the path even with some interference.
But if you want to live the whole drone racing experience from the beginning, you can invest a few more bucks in a pair of fatshark goggles, which are the best of the market when it comes to signal and image quality. So to choose the model that better suits your needs, you only have to bear in mind 2 essential factors:
- The field of view or FOV: Is the horizontal area that you will be able to see through the goggles. In other words, the more degrees you have in your field of view the bigger will be the size of the images rendered by the goggles. It is recommended not to buy goggles with a FOV of fewer than 25 degrees.
- Resolution: It refers to the image quality and the experience shows that it is best to keep the video resolution between the standard parameters set by the goggles manufacturer.
What are you waiting to get your FPV equipment as soon as possible?