In this guide, I would explain quite what you need for FPV (First Person View).
First of all, you must be able to pilot a plane in sight, once you get used to of RC flying, set up your FPV gear and put it on your plane. Record a flight so that you will see what FPV is like.
The first FPV flight must be in a place far away from houses and with an easy spot to locate; forest, a car, a road, it would be easier to see where you are once in the air and to get back your plane in sight in case of any problem. Futhermore, you will need these things to succeed.
- skill enough to fly
- have some knowledge in electronics
Which plane ?
Many people and I, would advise a stable and a maneuverable plane, not very fast, able to carry an important weight and with enough place in the fuselage. The Easystar of Multiplex is the best choice, it has all the characteristics of a FPV plane.
The FPV equipment
The basic FPV equipment is the following one:
- a camera
- a video transmitter
- a video receiver
- a screen or a pair of FPV goggles
Choose his camera
First, you need a FPV camera, it can be found in any FPV retrailers. It currently exists two kinds of FPV cameras : CCD or CMOS. Personnaly, I’m using the CCD because the resolution is higher and the brightness adjustements is faster than the CMOS and when you fly toward the sun the picture is less darker
The video transmitter
There is many video transmitter:
- 900MHz and 1,2GHz
+ Easy to find
+ Easy to find antenna
+ Not inflenced by the GPS
- More influenced by obstacles
- Don’t works with 2.4GHz RC transmitters
+ Easy to find antenna
+ Not influenced by the GPS
+ Works with 2.4GHz RC transmitters
- More unfluenced by obstacles
- Hard to find Tx/Rx
Then, you can choose, I use the 2.4GHz transmitter.
The video transmitter range depend of his frequency and of his power (Watt). If you have a 100mW transmitter you will get a range around 300m. Mainly, the most used transmitters are from 300mW up to 800mW. With this power, you’ll easily get the possibility to fly over 1km. However, with a 1 or 1,5W transmitters you can reach 3km but they are heavier, bigger and they need more power. The best way is the 500mW transmitter because they are small and light.
The video receiver
I recommend to install the receiver on a tripod at 1 meter above the ground in order to have a better signal. The receiver antenna can be changed by a higher gain antenna. You can find antennas with a gain up to 6 dB or a patch antenna with a gain up to 15dB but they are directionnals, with this kind of antenna you can only fly in front of you, whereas omnidirectionnal ones let you to fly all around you.
Watch the video
There is two ways to watch the video, with a screen (tv or computer) or with FPV goggles, which is the easiest but not the cheapest way.
This goggles are the cheapest but one problem occur, you can see the sun lights because they don’t completely cover your eyes. A lot of FPV pilots glue their goggles into a ski mask. This are mine:
Now, you can practice FPV. With more experience, you could go to the next step : the long range.
The long range
The signal range
As said above, to increase the range you can use a higher gain antenna with you receiver.
There is a 3 dBi antenna signal :
Here the signal of a 8 dBi one :
We can still find more powerful antennas like the Yagi one (12dB) :
The radiation pattern decrease when the gain is higher. You can only fligh in front of you ... Others problems can appear while doing long range flight : getting lost in flight, low battery, signal lost...
The UHF ( Ultra High Frequency )
If you wan't to fly up to 1km you must have a UHF because your 2.4GHz is not powerful enough ( 100mW ). The UHF works between 433MHz and 443MHz and usually at 500mW. I have a EzUHF which has two power mode; the first one is the "low power" which works at 200mW and the second one the "high power" which works at 600mW... This is a very good idea because if you lost the signal while flying with the "low power" you can immediately switch to the "high power" mode and get back the signal.
Also, the EzUHF has a headtracker plug and a failsafe mode. Futhermore the EzUHF RX can also send telemetries informations to your ground station via the audio signal of your vTX, you will be able to see your plane in real time on your iPad/iPhone.
The OSD is a system displaying many parameters on your goggles screen like battery level, position, altitude, speed, track ...
Choose his long range plane
For this gear, you need an airplane able to carry 400g up to 600g of stuff, quick and stable. The RiteWing Zephyr is the best choice for this kind of flight, it is especially designed for FPV and UAV flight.
Also the SkyWalker seems to be a great plane for long range, it is big, it can carry a lot a stuff like OSD, a big battery, an autopilot ...
How to record his flight
The GoPro is the best camera ( my opinion ) for record your flights, this camera is very powerful and you can easily fix it on a plane.
If you want to record what you see in your goggles you need a video recorder such as an Archos 504 with a video splitter.