A: FAQ is an acronym for "frequently asked questions."
Q. What does FPV stand for ?
A. FPV is short for First Person View and/or First Person Video.
Q. What's the difference between FPV and UAV?
A. A UAV drone will be controlled by a autopilot/UAV system with the
flight pre-programed with a PC based software and can be flown out of radio range. The user will
pre-program waypoints and then the UAV will fly autonomous to the set
waypoints. With FPV a pilot will do the flying by a wireless
video camera system and normally has no autopilot system like UAV's and must stay within RC radio range.
Q. Do I need too or should I join the AMA?
The AMA is a insurance carrier and is not a ruling body of R/C
aircraft. Their rules are for the AMA insured and are not laws but rules
at AMA fields and events. If you fly or intend to fly at a
local/national field or event then an AMA lic. may be required. Being a
AMA member can never hurt and has many benefits.
Does anyone make a Plug n Play wireless camera system. Something that I
can plug in and not have to cut wires or add different connectors?.
Some companies have Plug n Play wireless systems for FPV, but this does
not mean other equipment will work with it like GPS, OSD and data
loggers but almost all are compatible so research your gear. Some
wireless systems have have big bulky RCA/BNC connectors so some FPV
hobbyist and vendors like to replace them with smaller servo type plugs.
Most FPV systems use servo type connectors for video, etc...
Q. Why would a GPS be used with FPV?
A GPS unit can be a useful device when used with an RC aircraft along
with a On Screen Display (OSD) and Data Loggers. It overlays the GPS
info over video so the pilot can see the displayed information on the
their viewing screen. The FPV pilot gains information on his/her
aircrafts location, speed, altitude, heading, battery power, motor
Q. Do I need a On Screen Display (OSD) and a GPS to do FPV flying?
Not really, for many years hobbyist have been piloting there RC
aircraft without the use of a OSD's and GPS data. Some pilots like it
I noticed that some wireless systems are on 2.4GHz, 1.3ghz, 1.2GHz or
.9GHz (900mhz) 5.8GHz. Why is this and what frequency is better?
The 900MHz came around first then later the 1.3/ 2.4GHz. There all good
but the 900mhz has more range with the same power usage and penetrates
around obstacles a little better giving less video drop outs. Also with
the new Radio Controlled 2.4GHz radio systems that are the most popular
now, like Spektrums DX7 DX8,FlySky, Futaba FASST there is less chance of
interference when using 900mhz or 5.8ghz wireless equipment. If
using a Spektrum 2.4 radio the Parkflyer RX'ers like the AR6100 have
been reported to have glitches when placed near video transmitters.
Use AR7000,8000 and 9000 long range series only.
Q. Can I use one of those eBay cheapy wireless cameras systems?
Not a good idea or recommended. Most of those cheaper wireless systems
found on sites like eBay don't have enough range for aircraft but for
the boat and car hobbyist they might work ok. The way to tell if it's a
cheap system is if the receiver has a tuning knob on it or the camera
has the TX attached inside the same case. There are good FPV systems now
on eBay just make sure to get 200mw or more power.
Q. Can I use a 2.4GHz Radio like a Spektrum, Turnigy, Futaba, etc.. with a 2.4ghz wireless video gear?
Although some hobbyist have been able to use the 2 same bands together
by powering the video gear up first (which should always be done this
way). There's a lot of people that have reported trouble with the same
frequency bands together with much shorter aircraft range so it is Not
Recommended. (ALWAYS power the wireless
video TX first no matter what band your radio is using but more
important when using a 2.4ghz RC radio!)
Q. Do I have to fly with goggles or can I use a monitor ?.
No goggles are needed and some pilots don't like to wear them like
pilots that wear glasses. Good monitors can be used just fine for
viewing. A monitor size 7" or larger is recommended with 640X 480
resolution or better then placed inside an enclosure to block out the
sun light if needed.
Q. Why do I want a Monitor or Goggles that doesn't go to Blue/Black screen?
A. If you use a monitor or goggles that does not allow you to turn off the Blue screen that happens when there's static or a loss in video then you can easily end up flying blind at slight hint of static without seeing nothing but Blue screen. Most systems take a few seconds before coming back on from Blue screen also which will effect your ability to fly FPV. Best to use a monitor/goggle that have option to turn off the effect or use a video device pass through like a SD, DVR Hi-Res digital video recorder.,like the one HobbyKing now offers. Pass your video through the recorder first and then out to monitor.
Q. What are the basic wire colors used for a wireless video system?
A. Most companies use the same colors: Red (volts positive+) , Black/Brown or bare (volts negative -/ground), Yellow (video signal), White
(audio/microphone). The ground is shared to all gear. Some wireless vTX
come with a mic attached. A lighter weight 3 wire servo type connector
is used (JR/Futaba/Hitec) matching these colors.
Q. What is Head Tracking and why would I want it ?
Head Tracking (HT) is mainly used with pan/tilt servos with a camera
attached on the aircraft. Mounting the Head Tracker to video goggles
will allow the FPV pilot to control the camera with their head movements
and usually plugs into your RC radio byway of the trainer port.
Example: FPV pilot is flying and looks down and to the left while
wearing the Head Tracker, this motion is transmitted to the aircraft
cameras pan/tilt servos allowing the pilot to see down and to the left
while flying. HT's are not necessary to fly FPV and most pilots use the
rudder stick for panning with no tilt servo.
Q. Can I use the Head Tracker with any radio equipment ?
There are some compatibility issues with most radios that are still
being resolved. A high-end Futaba radio is recommended. . Futaba 8, 9,10
channel or higher is the best choice for head trackers and work with
all HT's available today. There are some Head Tracker interfaces design
to work with Spektrum/JR radios. For most HT's to work they need to be
used with a radio that allows trainer port programing. The HT plugs into
the trainer port and operates like a buddy box but you must program it
to operate only the channels the aircraft/vehicle is using for Pan and
Tilt servos. Most HT's can be programed to operate on any radio
Q. What is a Diversity Receiver and do I need one?
A Diversity RX is a receiver devise that has two antennas and sometimes
two RX mounted on it which then can automatically choose between them
picking out the one that is receiving the better signal. Most FPV pilots
won't need it but if you tend to fly in a populated area, high and far
then it's a good idea to use one along with 2 patch antennas connected
to each RX pointed at slightly different angles.
Q. Do I need a Amateur Radio License (HAM) to fly FPV?
For most wireless video equipment that is of high output (over 100mw)
and depending on what country you live in you may need a HAM license to
operate like in the U.S.. Even though some lower powered units don't
necessarily require a license to operate it's a good idea to get one
even though you may never be asked for a lic# but this may change in the
very near future so we Highly Recommend you get one. Most classes our
done in one day at a community center or local school and the test is
simple common sense, not as hard as some may think. Check the FCC
website for more info and classes in your area.
Q. What is a Omni antenna?
A Omni antenna (usually a rubber whip) is a antenna that receives or
transmits a radio signal in 360 degrees when mounted vertically . Mainly
used on the TX on the FPV aircraft or vehicle. Omni whip antennas can
also be used on wireless RX's for close range flights. For best range
always point the whip straight up or down (vertically) unless your
flying directly overhead. More info here.
Q. What is a Patch antenna?
A patch antenna is a type of polarized antenna that is used for
receiving/transmitting (mostly used for RX with FPV) a radio signal from
the direction it's pointed (Directional).The flat surface should be
pointed towards the intended flight pattern. A Patch antenna will help
cut down on interference from unwanted signals allowing for better
range. For best reception keep a patch antenna's cord coming from the
top or bottom and close to the ground for higher attitude flights
(8"-24").Higher above the ground for low attitude flights and FPV
driving (6'-12'). (results may vary) More info here.
Q. Can I power up my video TX without antenna attached ?
A. Never power up and transmit without the proper antenna connected. Same goes for the RC radios. Doing so will damage the unit.
Q. Can I use a 500mw video transmitter instead of a 250mw and will the extra power double my range?
No, adding twice the Transmitter power does not double the range but
add about 10-20% more range. It's always better to have a good Receiver
antenna to get better range like a good directional patch, yagi or grid
antenna. To understand this think of a video
transmitter broadcast signal like a dome. If you double the capacity it
is only slightly larger not double the size. Like a 1 gallon bowl
compared to a 2 gallon bowl is only a little larger all the way around
and not double the size as the whole 2 gallon bowl is only slightly bigger round for the added gallon difference.
Q. What is a Ground Station?
A Ground Station is typically a case, tripod or backpack that houses
all of your video equipment for FPV piloting such as wireless video
receiver (RX) , TV monitor, video recorder, amplified video splitter,
battery, antenna tracker, etc...
Q. Do I need a audio mic with my wireless video system?
Although there's a lot of videos on the internet of FPV flights with
added music it is a good idea to have audio during FPV piloting. This
will allow the pilot to hear what the aircraft is doing, like whether
the motor(s) is running or not and some speed controls (ESC) will beep
when batteries get low so hearing from inside the aircraft is very handy
tool but there are pilots that fly just fine without audio.
Q. What is a Down-link / Up-link mean?
A down-link is to describe the signal being sent back by way of the
aircraft's vTX (video transmitter) to the receiving ground station. A
up-link is info being sent to the aircraft from the ground like a R/C
Q. How should I point my video Tx/Rx antennas
You should always try and point your whip antenna straight up or down
for the best performance (vertical) and if using a patch RX antenna
always try and point it towards your aircraft's predicted flight pattern
for best results. For high altitude flying a Patch works best closest to
the ground at 12" and for lower flying altitude or driving the antenna
is better higher above the ground 6 feet or more.
Q. What is a Dashboard when relating to FPV Piloting ?
A dashboard is exactly what it is, It's usually a basic monitoring
device like a voltage LED bar mounted in front of the on-board camera so
the FPV pilot can see the info. Some pilots use this as a cheaper
alternative to using a OSD.
Q. What's the better radio system for long range flights. The newer 2.4ghz radio or the older standard FM/AM 72,36,50mhz
The older FM/AM radios will have further range then the newer 2.4ghz
radios. FM will have a basic range of 1 to 1-1/4 miles and a J pole type
antenna can be added for more range where 2.4ghz will only have 1/2
mile range at best. Keep in mind that you can't see an RC plane at 1/4
miles away (2100') and adding wireless video gear can shorten the
aircraft's range also. Some pilots using 2.4ghz radios have added a wifi
antenna booster which can increase the range to 2 miles. There's also
UHF long range systems (LRS) that have more then 3 miles of range like
the DragonLink LRS.
Q. What's the main difference between a CMOS camera and a CCD camera when used for FPV?
The CMOS camera sensor does not have a shutter. It scans the image
from the lens line by line instead of snapping a full frame at once like
a CCD camera does. Because of this the CMOS can have waves, jello or ripples
in the video when theres vibrations generated from the
aircraft/vehicle. Most prefer the CCD with a SONY 1/3" lens image
sensor. Cheap HD cameras (GoPro's) use CMOS imager as the colors tend to Pop more with CMOS. More expensive HD cameras have CCD imager but they are extremely expencive so FPV pilots are stuck with CMOS HD cams.
Q. What does antenna tracking do?
Antenna tracking can be used with some GPS/OSD systems like Eagle Tree
Systems. Antenna trackers use the GPS data from the aircraft's down link
and keeps the antenna (patch or high gain antenna) pointing at the
airplane as it flies around giving you more range and better picture
with less static. It uses tracking hardware to pan and tilt servos that
the video RX antenna is attach to. The aircraft's telemetry is sent
through the video down link where the antenna tracker decodes the info
which in turn operates the tracking.Some systems
use the audio channel which is not recommended by most FPV pilots since
audio can cut out sooner then video making the tracker stop during
Q. Is my video transmitter suppose to get Hot! ?
It's normal for the video transmitters to get hot this is why they need
air flow. Letting a video transmitter get extremely hot by using it
static (no air flow) will cause it to become damage in a short time (over 5 minutes) but it may still operate. If your video wireless range has become much less then it was before, then it could be a sign it's been overheated and damage.
When bench testing wireless video transmitters for more then 3-5
minutes it's recommended to use a small RC ESC fan to keep it cool.
(Always range test).
Q. When I fly in FPV and go behind myself at times I lose RC radio link, mainly with a 2.4Ghz RC radio. Why is this?
This seems to be common and maybe caused by your body mass while holding a
RC radio close at waist height with a short 2.4GHz antenna. Your body
is mostly water (80%) so this acts as a signal blocker so if you fly behind
yourself the RC link no longer has a good "Line Of Sight" (LOS) which
is needed for a clear signal. The closer the radio is to your body the
more chance it could block the RC signal. Simple way to avoid this is to
hold your radio to your side away from your body when flying behind
yourself. Remember for best RC and video link try to always fly out in
front of yourself and have the Transmitting/ Receiving antennas seeing
each other without any obstructions.
Abbreviations and names often used when talking about radio control, video links and FPV .
RC - Radio Control, remote wireless control of something
RC unit - The radio control unit you hold in your hand, can be a Futaba, JR, Spektrum, Graupner, Multiplex and so on
Servo - when connected to rudders/ailerons/elevator they control a RC aircrafts, cars and boats.
Servo pulse - is a digital pulse width that hold position information, 1.5mS is centre position.
LRS - Long Range System, often a short for my system, sometimes also called UHF LRS
UHF - Ultra Hight Frequencies, is 300-3000MHz, but radio amateurs often call UHF = 70CM band, also know as the 430-470MHz area
TX - Transmitter used to transfer a signal to a receiver
RX- Receiver used to receive the radio signal and output the signals, pulses, audio, video, data
RC RX - Radio control receiver, can be any type any brand and any coding system, they all output standard servo pulses
LRS TX - the metal box containing the 500mW transmitter used for my long range system.
LRS RX - the receiver located in the plane, this receiver is connected directly to servoes and 5V supply
Video TX - (vTX) Video transmitter, located on a plane, car, boat, helicopter or whatever, often using 900MHz, 1.3gHz, 2.4gHz and 5.8ghz
Video RX - (vRX) Video receiver, located on ground, when connected to a TV screen you can see live pictures from the Video TX
Video Splitter - is an amplifier that will alow the user to distribute a video signal to several things at the same time.
PCM - Signals sent to servos to make them operate used by Spektrum, JR and Futaba 2.4ghz radios
Pulse Periode Modulation, is the pulse system used in trainer/student
systems, it contail high resolution informations on all servo positions
PPM inverted - the pulse can be normal or inverted,
some older systems do not handle both when connected as
LOS - Line Of Sight, is the distance from ground to a plane with nothing in the way, not even ground, trees, buildings.
Long Range - is normally not defined, but when a plane is not visible by direct sight it is normally called long range
BNC - is the connector name/type used for the TX and Booster for my LRS, same connector is used on ethernet systems.
Booster - is an amplifier that will take radio signals and boost them up to a more powerful level.
LNA - Low Noise Amplifier is used in receivers as the front end stage, they improve the sensitivity and therefore also the range
- is often a double antenna and/or double receiver system with auto
switching to the best signal, this improves the useable range alot
GPS - often we use a GPS receiver on planes to feed speed, position, and height information to OSD systems.
OSD - On Screen Display, will overlay interesting information to a live video signal.
- Also known as Data Logger. Will record data or measurements for
playback / view later, some OSD systems can log some information too.
- Modulator Demodulator, encode data into sound, and back again, can
use audio line in a wireless video system to transfer data like GPS
HT or HeadTracker -a unit mounted on a persons head,
will then control remote located servos so a remote camara follow head
movements, gives Virtual Realality experiance to FPV.
FPV - First Person View, like a pilots view out the front window.
- Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, a UAV is a fully computer guided plane, not a
radio controlled plane, if RC'ed it is an FPV or just a normal RC plane
- or Buddy box. Most advanced RC units have trainer connectors with PPM
in/out so they can be connected via a cable to a student RC unit or
head tracker unit.
Student - Most advanced RC units have
trainer connectors that can be configured to output PPM signals for a PC
simulator or trainer RC unit or LRS.
Patch - A patch antenna is a directional antenna that will when pointed to a plane improve the range
Yagi - A Yagi antenna is a directional antenna that will when pointed to a plane improve the range
Dish - A Dish antenna is a directional antenna with highest possible gain, will when pointed to a plane improve the range
- antenna gain is often named in db, more db more gain, and also a more
narrow beam, so pointing correctly is harder with high gain.
RF - Radio Frequency, any frequency that is not directly hearable audio
RF module - often a plug in box or module or printed circuit board that can be changed/added in RC units, normally a transmitter