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Old 11-18-2011, 04:05 PM   #1
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FPV for Dummies

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Due to the positive responses, PM's and Emails over several FPV threads here, we are in the process of producing a collaborative RCC FPV guide for newcomers to this exciting aspect of the hobby.

The guide will serve as a one-stop-shop to learn about FPV and the tools of the trade, What they do, how they work and where to get them from a Canadian Perspective.

If you have any questions regarding your FPV setup, either search for a keyword in this section, or start a new thread.
Make the thread header as specific as possible so that:
a) it is clear what you are asking to those that can help and
b) it helps the next guy who has the same question when he does a search

Index: (Click the index item below to take you directly to a specific topic)
  1. You must make a choice
  2. Definitions
  3. Choosing an FPV Aircraft
  4. Video Systems
  5. Cameras
  6. Vision Systems
  7. Antenna’s
  8. OSD’s
  9. Ground Station Recorders
  10. Diversity
  11. Antenna Tracking
  12. Putting it all together
  13. Your First Flight
  14. Failure Mode; Effects and Analysis

If you would like to be involved in the creation of this guide, please feel free to PM me.
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RC Test Pilot; FPV Instructor, Airplane Instructor; Helicopter Instructor

My Aircraft Albums: http://www.rccanada.ca/rccforum/album.php?u=13173

Last Photo added: Dec 15; Warwing Foamy for FPV

Last edited by Max; 11-29-2013 at 01:21 PM.
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Old 12-05-2011, 04:52 PM   #2
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Re: FPV for Dummies

For any additions or corrections to this post, PM the original poster with your comments.

You must make a choice!

There are 2 types of FPV as far as I am concerned.
1) Simple and Close range
2) Complex and Long range

You need to decide what you want to do FIRST.

You CAN progress from 1) to 2) easily if you buy the right stuff when you go with 1). And the bonus is, you can start with 1) with very little investment.

If you want to do 2), then you have to spend the money. If you are a cheapskate and buy cheap stuff, I GUARANTEE that you will fail.The cost of failure means crashed, lost or damaged plane and or hardware. That means buying replacement stuff. A cheapskate that tries 2) and fails will end up spending more money on repairs and replacement parts. If you add it all up, the difference in price is negligible between cheap+Repair/replace vs good stuff from the get-go.

Lets talk details;
1) Simple and Close range
What you need for this is simply
  • a good camera ($80),
  • VTX/VRX Combo ($70),
  • Viewscreen ($50) and a
  • simple OSD($7)
Total price: $207.
You CAN substitute a less expensive (but not as versatile) camera for about $50, lowering your cost to $177.
For this type of flying, you can use a 2.4G radio or 72mhz radio with no ill effect. Virtually any stable airplane can be used for an FPV plane.
On board the airplane, you have only the
  • camera
  • Simple OSD
  • VTX
  • 500mah 3S Lipo to power the above
That's it.

Remember, you are a beginner, so its best to start off with a slow, gentle plane. As your skill and experience grows, you can advance to faster and more maneuverable aircraft.

2) Complex and Long range
For complex and long range flying, you will need all that is in 1) Plus
  • Long Range system $300
  • OSD with Autopilot $250
Total: $550

This is the hardware for the aircraft.

You should be able to fly quite well with the above, but you may also need to invest in some more hardware as you improve.
I did not include a new TX if you don’t have one that is compatible with the LRS system. a new or used TX good for FPV LRS systems would be about $100

Additional LRS costs:
  • Diversity ($100)
  • Second RX for Diversity ($50)
  • At this point, you may need improved antenna's. I prefer to build my own so the cost is negligible. If you want someone to build them for you, add another $100.

So. What does it all cost?

For Simple and Close, lets agree with $207
For Long range- to do it right will cost you anywhere from $757 - $1107 Yes, it’s a lot but it is what it is. The other thing to remember is you don’t need to buy it all at once.

First installment for a simple and close system might cost you $207 and you can get a good season of flying within km of your launch point. Trust me, you can have a blast flying like this. Then when you are ready, you can upgrade to LRS and autopilot for an additional $550/$650.

Later, when you get fed up with your video issues at longer range, you can invest in a diversity and antennas for another $100-$250

Last edited by Max; 11-29-2013 at 12:39 PM.
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Old 12-06-2011, 06:22 AM   #3
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Choosing an FPV Plane

For any additions or corrections to this post, PM the original poster with your comments.

  • Uplink:
    Signal broadcast to the aircraft (your remote control system)
  • Downlink:
    Signal broadcast from the aircraft to the ground station
  • FPV:
    First Person View
  • GPS:
    Global Positioning System
  • VTX:
    Video Transmitter
  • VRX:
    Video Receiver
  • LRS:
    Long Range System .Typically referring to a UHF radio system
  • HAM:
    Amateur Radio.
  • OSD:
    On Screen Display
  • UHF:
    Ultra High Frequency
  • RTH:
    Return To Home.
  • CMOS:
    Complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (type of video sensor)
  • CCD:
    Charged coupled device (type of video sensor)
  • FOV:
    Field of view. How much you can "see" from the camera
  • DOSD:
    Dragon on screen display
  • MHz:
  • GHz:
  • W:
    Watt; Used to measure the power of a radio transmitter
  • mW:
  • RSSI:
    received signal strength indicator; is an indication of the power level being received by the antenna.
  • SWR:
    Standing wave ratio; is used as an efficiency measure for transmission lines
I don't know what I don't know...
My Motto: Start off easy and then taper off.

An AXN floater, an Apprentice 15e, a Stinson SR-10, a DHC-2 Beaver, a GP J-3 Cub 20 on the bench, a scratch-built TTP by Russ40 and two Funbats and a "The Twins" still in the box...

Last edited by Max; 11-29-2013 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 05-14-2013, 01:40 PM   #4
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Re: FPV for Dummies

Last Revised: December 6, 2011

For any additions or corrections to this post, PM the original poster with your comments.

Choosing an FPV Aircraft:

One of the early decisions a new FPV’er has to consider is “What plane should I use as for FPV?”. There are getting to be a lot of folks offering their list of what constitutes a good FPV flight platform. In some respects it depends on what your comfort zone/experience level is with RC flying to start with; some folks can handle more plane than others --- and the object of the exercise is to have a blast flying from an FPV perspective rather than one where you are flying on the ragged edge of control all the time. I am going to assume for this post that you a pretty much like me... an early-on beginner at flying with probably just about equal amounts of simulator time and real flight time. The following are our recommendations and by no means a definitive list of aircraft

Here is a list of SOME of the attributes of a good FPV platform:

• A well-built aircraft; you want to get your plane and your FPV gear up and down safely.
• Something stable in the sky that has enough mass to be relatively unaffected by wind and turbulence, etc.
• Something relatively uncomplicated to fly.
• Something quick enough to get you where you want to go with the ability to fly well slowly once you get there.
• Something with enough free space within it, or on it, to accommodate the FPV gear and a spot for your camera that won’t have a prop in the picture.
• Something with the spare lifting capacity for FPV gear without overloading it

Is there a “best” FPV platform? Not really, but here are a few potential candidates for a “great” platform and some of the reasons they are.

FPV Specific Platform
Models that are made specifically for FPV have features that satisfy the FPV flier. Large capacity equipment bay, high lift airfoil, and large battery capacity

Just about any glider
The problem is, the motor is up front, meaning your propeller will be in view if your mount your camera on the fuselage. Power pod mounted motor glidersare better in that they move the propeller up and out of view’

Just about any sizeable Flying Wing/Delta of your choice
FPV has been accomplished on some really small delta wings but bigger is usually better. A really first-class platform (and also very much a high-end solution in terms of cost and flying-ability level) is the Ritewing Zephyr (). Many FPV’ers are creating their own wings. Max on this forum has started a build thread entitled Flying wing for FPV *Scratchbuild* (http://www.rccanada.ca/rccforum/showthread.php?t=131791).

Another young fellow who posts under the name Schraut5 has posted a YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/user/schraut5.../0/NQ4mpL0rUYA) about a 40” wing he has designed and built. There a more videos and forums on flying wing construction out there than I can count. These are just two that caught my eye.

Twins have the benefit of providing more speed, more lifting power, and provide some degree of redundancy.
The twin arrangement give you the benefit of a tractor drive system, but still allow you to put the camera up front without any obstructions. The twin motors do however also introduce an extra level of complexity.

Just about any good sized Trainer

A good trainer takes the work out of flying and has self-righting stability built in. They tend to have some mass and lots of room inside. A good example is the venerable Sig Kadet Senior. It has an 80” wingspan with 1,180 square inch wing with a hint of dihedral. At 6 - 6.5 pounds it has a ton of internal space for equipment (or gear can be wing mounted). Conversely, it has landing gear and can’t be landed everywhere a Skywalker or Flying Wing might, and it is not a rocket but has lifting power for a fairly sizable equipment list.

Dummies guide to First FPV planes:

If you are looking for an FPV plane, the following is a list of planes that have been used successfully for FPV:

FV Specific:

Ok, you love it or hate it but it does work and here’s why. It is a 4 pound (‘ish) plane made of tough, highly repairable EPO (Expanded PolyOlefin) foam. It has a reasonably high-lift 66” wing of some 550 square inches giving wing loading around 16 oz./sq.ft. You can outfit it with a 4S battery and a motor and prop combination yielding something north of 540 watts (see http://www.rccanada.ca/rccforum/show...ight=skywalker for an example).The pusher configuration keeps the prop out of the camera view and pretty much out of harm’s way on any less than perfect landings.

Yes, there is a pretty big side surface there to catch cross-winds, the room inside is “adequate” and there no landing gear is provided. All in all, it is one of the more popular FPV Platforms, particularly when cost is factored in as we’ll mention later.

Multiplex Easy Star:


PBY Catalina Kit:

PBY Catalina PNF

Multiplex TwinStar II ARF Electric RC Parkflyer

AXN Floater jet/ Clouds Fly (I have one of these coming!):



Radian and Radian Pro:

Flying Wings:

Slinger(Great Planes)

Cost matters, at least to me, because I have only a finite amount of money for this hobby and I want to maximize the fun I get out of it. Assume you need some $120 (you can spend more, or a lot less if you are a good shopper) for the electronic/mechanical bits of a plane (prop, motor, ESC, battery, receiver, pushrods, horns, etc.); you can make and airframe for as little as $10 (this fellow did -
as did “Schraut5” on the flying wing build mentioned above.).

To me, the best all-around aircraft for a person starting in FPV is the Bixler or Easy-Star:
Bixler 1400: http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...00mm_ARF_.html
Bixler 1500: http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...laps_ARF_.html
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RC Test Pilot; FPV Instructor, Airplane Instructor; Helicopter Instructor

My Aircraft Albums: http://www.rccanada.ca/rccforum/album.php?u=13173

Last Photo added: Dec 15; Warwing Foamy for FPV

Last edited by Max; 11-29-2013 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 11-29-2013, 12:28 PM   #5
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Re: FPV for Dummies

Video Systems:

The video system is the heart of your FPV downlink. If your video fails you are in the dark (Literally!)

  • 900 mhz
  • 1.2-1.3 Ghz
  • 2.4 Ghz
  • 5.8 Ghz
2.4Ghz is not recommended for the lay FPV'er since the frequency has been known to interfere with 2.4G radio control frequencies.

Frequency Theory:
The longer wavelength of the lower frequencies offer less attenuation and better penetration than higher frequencies.
In plain English;
1) lower frequencies travel further for the same output power and
2) Lower frequencies work better behind trees and other obstacles than higher frequencies.

That being said, 900 and 1.2-1.3 Ghz give better range and behind-obstacle performance than 2.4 or 5.8 Ghz

Transmitter Frequency versus Video Frequency:

When selecting a video frequency, you should consider the frequency of your radio control unit. Assuming the output power is equal, the logic here is that higher frequencies will fade out sooner than lower frequencies.
Given this fact, it is advisable that the video picture be the one to go first BEFORE you lose radio control. This gives you a safety margins to warn you to turn back. Consider the following examples:
  • Video fades before RC: When flying in FPV at the limit of your video system, the picture will begin to "Snow". This is your warning that you need to turn back. You will still have good radio control. You turn back, and as your plane starts to come back, your picture is improved.
  • RC fades before video: When flying in FPV at the limit of your RC system, the picture will still be solid. But your have reached the limit of your radio control. When this happens, your plane will either go out of control or go into fail-safe. Either way you crash. The only exception if you are flying with a proven and reliable autopilot that will turn the plane around and fly itself back until you regain radio control (see OSD section below).

Given these facts, the following is recommended
  • 2.4G radios: Use 5.8G Video systems
  • 72 mhz radios and 433 LRS radios: Use 900 and 1.2-1.3Ghz

Video Transmitter power:

Video Transmitter Power determines your maximum range.
As a general rule of thumb, consider the following:
  • 50mw-200mw: Park fliers
  • 300mw-500mw: Large Fields
  • 600mw-1000mw: Several large fields and beyond
  • >1000mw: not recommended, as the output power has a tendency to swamp your RC receiver and causing you to lose control. Considering the performance of 600-1000mw systems, anything greater provides no additional benefit.

Recommended Hardware:
To me, the best all-around system is the 1.3Ghz 800mw system.

For any errors, omissions or additions, please PM the author
RC Test Pilot; FPV Instructor, Airplane Instructor; Helicopter Instructor

My Aircraft Albums: http://www.rccanada.ca/rccforum/album.php?u=13173

Last Photo added: Dec 15; Warwing Foamy for FPV
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