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FPV - First Person View

FPV monitor with built in receiver.

If goggles aren't to your liking, you can use a small video monitor.  This particular one has the video receiver built into it.  You swap the omnidirectional antennas as mentioned earlier and use higher gain antennas to improve your long range reception.  When used outside, you will need a sunshade of some type as few monitors are capable of displaying a bright-quality picture on a sunny day.  Some folks get creative and build an oversized sunshade, often from cardboard, in order to see the details on the monitor. 

So there you have it. I didn't address all the FPV possibilities that exist but from what I've provided, you should have an idea of what you might need.  There are many good forums dedicated to FPV and a wealth of information can be obtained from them.  You an even find specialized forums for particular brands of equipment. 

Unless you buy a ready to fly FPV aircraft, you'll be installing these kind of parts in the aircraft and putting your ground station together.  While some things are improving, rarely is it ever "plug-and-play" when it comes to connecting all of these different components.  They are made by a myriad of manufacturers and there isn't much of a standard.  Besides that, how you go about mounting a video transmitter and its antenna on a 6' wing is different than mounting the same on a 250mm quadcopter. 

Some of your problems will come when you start to interconnect your components.  The plug coming from your camera may not match what the video transmitter needs.  Some manufactures run power on one cable while video and control signals are ran over a different cable.  Some cables are 2 wires while others are 3 or 4 conductor.  RF connectors are another place where it is very easy to end up with incompatibilities.  A couple of the common RF connectors are SMA, RP-SMA, and MMCX.  If your video transmitter has a SMA connector on it, you can't connect an antenna that uses a MMCX connector.  All of these things are real world problems typically encountered when dealing with FPV flying.  I can't emphasize the importance of doing your research first before spending your money.  If you don't, you'll be spending your money twice getting the right components to work together.


 Soldering Skills -

soldering cable to LED light strip

The chances are very good that you'll find yourself modifying a cable in order to get one component to connect to another.  You may need to solder a connector to the power cable or a cable going from your flight controller to your video transmitter.  (Yeah, I know....I didn't mention flight controllers.)  To do this you'll need good soldering skills or a good friend to do it for you.  It isn't magic to get a good solder joint but it does take practice and knowing the proper things needed to do the job.  That means a good soldering workstation should be on your list of things to get. 

I was fortunate, some 40 odd years ago, when the U.S. Navy sent me to school to learn high-reliability soldering.  I spent 40 hours a week for 4 weeks doing nothing but learning how to solder.  We worked to the exact same standards, at that time, that NASA used when assembling the electronics used in  their space program.  A couple years later, I went through another soldering course.  In that one, everything was smaller.....we used 10x stereo microscopes to see what we were working on.   I can say one thing about all that training, tI wish I had the equipment we used in those two courses.

My point is that you will need to solder things unless you are buying ready-to-fly FPV aircraft.   Your FPV aircraft will only be as reliable as your weakest solder connection.  The last thing you want to see is your $500 aircraft flying away without any control or crashing into the ground because that wire you soldered broke loose from vibration.


Flying legally -

This is most likely the least popular topic to bring up but none the less, it is something you need to consider.  Many (nearly most) of the radio frequencies used for FPV flying are in the ham radio bands.  This means that in order to use them, you need to study for and pass an exam for the appropriate level ham radio license.  If you operate on these frequencies without a ham license, you are breaking the law.  The transmitters for long range RC control are also in one of the ham radio frequency bands and so it too requires a license.  And lastly, flying your RC aircraft FPV style comes with rules and regulations as well.  Why....because of the irresponsible actions of others, that's why.  Just like most things that now have rules and regulations, in the beginning they weren't needed because common sense prevailed.  Add a few idiots and there you have it, the need for the government to get involved and make life more difficult for the the law abiding folks.  Both the FAA and FCC have their rules and regulations for the aircraft and its associated radio equipment respectively. 

Because the rules and regs are frequently changing, I'm not going to try and list them all here.  There are R/C flying and ham radio forums with this information available which are kept up to date.  I would recommend you check them out and get legal.  I got my first ham radio license when I was still in high school and still keep it current.  It was well worth the time and was much more difficult back then to acquire compared to getting a license these days. 






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