Now a days, it’s pretty rare to see a quadcopter without a camera. Adding a camera to a quadcopter
is the natural upgrade once one learns to comfortably fly one, yet still, more and more hobbyists are looking still to further upgrade their systems to FPV quadcopters.
So what exactly are FPV quadcopters? FPV, which stands for ‘first person view’, allows you to see exactly what the quadcopter sees – essentially you are the pilot! The live feed from the camera on the quadcopter is transmitted and viewed on a remote display.
Typically, everyone who navigates their quadcopter keeps a close eye on it in the skies. However, with a FPV system, you are either doing one of two things: either you’re staring down at transmitter or you’re staring into a heads up display goggle. Either way, it’ll look a little bit odd…
The advantage to flying a FPV quadcopter is that you don’t need to maintain a line of sight with your quadcopter. Case in point, one person recorded the inside of an erupting volcano. Another advantage is that your recorded videos will look more refined and cinematic because you have more control on the angle or perspective you want to capture.
A recommended entry level FPV quadcopter, which also happens to be the world’s smallest ready to fly quadcopter, the Hubsan X4 H107D quadcopter
is simply phenomenal right out of the box. It’s a fun little quadcopter that has the ability to do stunts, flips, and tricks, smaller, mini quadcopters are geared to do, yet it’s sophisticated to capture high quality FPV videos as larger, more expensive quadcopters are meant to do. It’s a nice hybrid between both worlds.
The X4 has a built in FPV 4.3 inch LCD screen in the controller and it uses a built in 720p camera that allows you to capture 640 x 480 resolution images or 720 x 240 resolution videos. Everything comes integrated and ready to fly, right out of the box.
As an entry level, lower priced quadcopter, it’s not as robust as the larger, more stable quadcopters like the DJI Phantom 2 Vision or Vision+. One of the disadvantage of the X4 is that it’s a bit hard to hover in one position. Even with the slightest wind, the X4 can be pushed around quite easily. However, for the price and the FPV capability, it’s a really good FPV starter system
DJI Vision 2
Alternatively, if you are looking at a ready to fly FPV quadcopter that is geared more towards the prosumer lineup, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision or the DJI PhantomVision+ is a great option. These larger quadcopters have 14MP cameras that are capable of recording 1080p resolution videos. They also have built in gimbals / stabilizers for smooth video recording.
Also integrated into these quadcopters are GPS navigational chips that allow the quadcopter to hover with ease and to return home should the transmitter lose connectivity. As for the FPV portion of the system, you can view the live video feed using the DJI mobile app on either your iphone or your android phone. The app will enable you to start stop the video recording, take photographs, and even zoom. When it comes to FPV systems, the DJI phantom
is really the cream of the crop.
If you already have a quadcopter like the original DJI Phantom and are looking to retrofit it with a FPV camera system, there are two recommendations: 1) The Kumba Camera FPV
kit or 2) the Fat Shark FPV
The Kumba Camera
is a nice setup in that you are able to directly connect your GoPro Hero and transmit the feed to a 7″ LCD display that can be mounted on your controller.
It’s crucial to note that since your transmitter, which controls the quadcopter, operates on 2.4GHz, so you must not use the same frequency for anything else. You would think that you could use the live display with GoPro app, but because that WIFI connectivity also operates on 2.4GHz, it could and potentially will interfere with your quadcopter navigation. And as such, it may cause your quadcopter to drop from the sky. To minimize potential interference, the Kumba Camera is set to 5.8GHz. Alternatively, there are four other channels within this frequency band.
The Fat Shark FPV system
is also a nice setup in that you’re navigating your quadcopter using a heads up display. With this setup, the goggles will only work with the supplied 720p camera assembly. Like the Kumba Camera, the Fat Shark also operate on 5.8GHz. The only problem with this setup is that it doesn’t have head tracking capability. Say if you see a tree in front of you, and you wanted to react to it, you won’t be able to avoid collision if you suddenly jerk your head to the side.
Who knows, maybe in the future, that will be the next upgrade beyond the FPV quadcopter upgrade.