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Information on FPV Video Antennas

Choosing the right video antenna is critical to your FPV flying.  Even a high quality video transmitter / receiver will perform very poorly with the small " Rubber Duck " antennas provided, so plan on buying a directional video antenna right away.  Your video antenna must be specifically made for your particular video frequency ( Like 2.4 GHZ ,  900 MHZ, 5.8 GHZ, etc ), or it will not work.  The different types of antennas listed below can be found for each of the different video frequencies.  Listed below are some of the better types of video antennas for FPV.

VERTICAL / SMALL RUBBER DUCK VIDEO ANTENNA / OMNI :  This antenna has very poor performance, I would recommend it only for flying within visual distance of yourself.  Your video may cut out at ranges as close as 1000 feet.  Use this antenna as part of a diversity system to be able to fly the airplane in the pattern without constant aiming.  The one advantage of this antenna is that you do not have to aim it

YAGI VIDEO ANTENNA:     This is one of the best all around video antennas, with ranges possible of 20 KM or maybe even more in some cases.  The Yagi antenna has good performance, yet is still small, and light enough to put on a camera tripod, and also easy to transport.  The wider beam width of this antenna makes it usable even if you do not have a diversity setup.  This is the antenna I would recommend the most for almost all short to medium range FPV flying.

PATCH VIDEO ANTENNA: This is the smallest and lightest video antenna, it will stick to or fit on almost anything.   I would recommend this only for short range flying.  The performance of this antenna is not real good, but the beam width is very wide which makes it ideal for the person that does short range, or most of his flying less than 2 miles away.  Performance of this antenna can be improved by getting a good ground plane near it, like setting it on a cars roof, or even directly on the ground.

GRID / PARABOLIC TYPE VIDEO ANTENNA:  This is the longest range and best performing video antenna.  Ranges of 25 KM and more are possible with this type of antenna.  Disadvantages are that these antennas are large, heavy, and awkward to transport and deal with.  The beam width of these antennas almost make it important to have diversity, as constant aiming would be required at close ranges.  If you are going for a super long range flight, this is the type of video antenna you want !

  The best way to think of radio frequency and antennas is to think of it like a light.   If you have a light bulb out in the open, the light will go in every direction (Omni), but it will not go very far.  If you  take that light bulb and put a reflector behind it, the light will be directed more brightly and much further in one direction.   The more you concentrate the beam, the further it will go, but you will also get less light in the other directions.   Radio power is the same way, you will never get " Extra " power from an antenna, but you can direct the radio power where you need it, and it will be many times stronger.  Directional antennas work by taking power away from some areas, and focusing it in other directions which makes it much stronger.  So directional antennas will also have weak spots behind them and to the sides.  This is also good, as it reduces interference form other sources that may be to the sides of you.

DIVERSITY SYSTEM: If you have a long range directional video antenna, you will need to keep it pointed at the plane.  If the plane is far away from you, say 10 KM, aiming will be very easy, as the planes direction from you changes very slowly as the plane flies around the sky.  If the plane is close to you, it is much harder to keep the antenna pointed, because your plane will pass from left to right very quickly as it flies by you, making the job of keeping the antenna aimed very difficult.   The best solution to this is to get a diversity system, this uses 2 different video receivers, and 2 different video antennas, connected by a diversity box that chooses the best video signal.  So you can have a long range directional antenna that that you aim when your plane is far away, and you will receive video signals from very far away, and also have a non directional antenna, that only works close, but does not need to be constantly aimed when you airplane is close to you and constantly moving around you.  The diversity system automatically chooses which antenna is receiving the best signal at any moment.   Be advised that putting two different video antennas on ONE video receiver by using a Y cord, or any type of splitter will NOT work, it will reduce each antennas performance and result in a very bad signal to the video receiver.

Why Line of Sight (LOS) is so important

When Flying FPV with wireless video one of the first questions to ask is what is between or will be between while flying, point A (antenna 1 Ground station) and point B (antenna 2 FPV Aircraft). The path between two antennas is referred to as the Line of Sight (LOS).

There are three main categories of Line of Sight, the first being full Line of Sight (LOS) where no obstacles reside between the two antennas, the next is called Near Line of Sight (nLOS) which includes partial obstructions such as tree tops between the two antennas, and lastly Non Line of Sight (NLOS) where full obstructions exist between the two antennas. By determining the specific Line of Sight conditions in the WiFi network area you can then determine the correct type of wireless system to install.

The Fresnel Zone referenced in the diagram below is an electromagnetic phenomenon, where light waves or radio signals get diffracted or bent from solid objects near their path. The radio waves reflecting off the objects may arrive out of phase with the signals that traveled directly to the receiving antenna thus reducing the power of the received signal.