Learn the Basics of How FPV Works | Drone Racing Report | Vol 13

Most people now know that FPV stands for “First Person View” and gives you a cockpit view from the drone that you’re flying Many drones are available pre-assembled, only requiring pairing with a good set of FPV goggles

But if you are building or repairing a racing or freestyle quad, it’s important to know the different components that make up an FPV system Knowing how they assemble, function, and interact can be the difference in having a competitive racer or a difficult-to-fly toy In simplest terms, an FPV system takes an image from a front-mounted camera and displays it on a screen or set of goggles for the pilot But every component in-between is critical in making everything work, delivering a clear image, and doing it all as quickly as possible The first and most obvious component is the FPV camera

These cameras come in all shapes and sizes, but the essential function is the same The most prominent advertised feature will typically be the screen resolution The higher the resolution, the better the image But while it is easy to get caught up in the video resolution, that’s not the only important consideration A camera with a wider dynamic range will help in low-light conditions or rapidly changing light, such as flying through a bando or under the shadows of trees

Perhaps the most important factor is the latency, or lag Latency is basically a delay in your video, and can be affected by several of the components in the FPV chain High latency makes it difficult to fly a quad precisely due to the video delay For this reason, a good FPV camera will prioritize low-latency over image quality This is why many racers and most freestyle pilots will mount a second, higher-quality camera such as a Go-Pro on their drone to capture HD footage

The next step is the video transmitter, or VTX The video transmitter takes the feed from the FPV camera and broadcasts it through the attached antenna 58GHz is currently the most popular frequency for video transmission on quads The transmitters are small, affordable, and come with a variety of features and available channels

It is most important to make sure the frequency and channel options are the same for your transmitter as well as your goggles or other receivers If you plan on racing in events or a league, be sure to check their VTX requirements You will also need to consider local laws and regulations Many countries will limit the frequencies and channels you can legally use, as well as the transmission power of your video transmitter Special licenses might also be required to operate on certain frequencies, so make sure to find out the local rules

The type of antenna on your quad will also be an important decision Most drones and video transmitters will come with a simple, linear antenna These are inexpensive and incredibly durable, however their performance is rather limited Circular polarized antennas are a very popular choice for mounting on a quad Their performance is dependable from nearly every angle of the drone, and they are less prone to interference

These antennas come in a right or left-handed polarization While it is debatable whether one is any better than the other, it is critical that the same direction be used on both the quad antenna and the receiver antenna Look for markings of “RHCP” or “LHCP” and make sure they are the same for both, otherwise you will experience poor performance One final feature which is optional (but which we can’t live without) is an on-screen display or "OSD" The real-time information can include GPS data, battery voltage, speed, altitude, and other critical information directly into your FPV goggles

An on-screen display is built into many video transmitters and even directly into some of the FPV cameras The final destination in the FPV chain is the video receiver Most FPV goggles and LCD video monitors have a video receiver built in, and some have modular designs that allow you to swap out receivers to match what is in your drone For the most reliable image, we highly recommend units which have "receiver diversity" Check out our previous video on FPV goggles to learn more about receiver and antenna diversity and FPV goggles in general, and look for future episodes where we cover each quad component in detail Join us next time as we continue to dive into the world of FPV and drone racing

Have a question or idea for a topic? Comment below or visit us on Facebook at Facebookcom/Dronucopia Don’t forget to check out our video series “Top-5 FPV Videos of the Week” to view our favorite FPV videos submitted by users Have a video you wish to share? Submit it to our Facebook group “Drone Racing International FPV” Go to Shop

Dronucopiacom to shop for drones and drone accessories And as always… HAPPY FLYING

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