• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.

Thinking of trying out FPV...sort of...

basslord1124

Well-known member
#1
So I started thinking that I've got a bunch of various FT airframes built and I will probably be taking some breaks away from building. Weather is starting to improve a little which means I'll be getting out and flying/crashing some of these new builds.

I currently use my cell phone for ground video and sometimes use my Polaroid Cube action cam for ground shots OR even attach it to my airplane somehow. But I've noticed that some FPV cams are smaller and lighter and would like to try those at some point in the near future. Ideally I would like a super cheap FPV setup that I can easily move from airframe to airframe that will also record to storage if I decide to occasionally use the footage for youtube...I think some use an SD card for storage correct? I will probably still fly LOS until I've familiar with the airplane then I may transition over to FPV goggles/monitor. Even if I don't use it for a little while, I'd like to still keep goggles/monitor there in case my wife or someone else wants to watch.

So I welcome any suggestions for getting started with this and especially on how to do it cheaply. :)
 

FDS

Well-known member
#2
The Runcam Split Micro 2 is nice for recording and FPV in one, it has onboard SD card so will replace your usual camera and do the FPV feed. It does 1080/30 well. You will need a VTX to go with it. There’s lots of cheap and reasonable ones around $20. You can use it without the VTX as well I think.
If you are just monitoring from the ground there’s a cheap Eachine module, the RO51 that you can plug into a smart phone which is under $20 that will be a receiver. It’s not great to fly off as the frame rate is a bit low but it’s fine for a monitor.
That lot will be under $100.
 

makattack

Winter is coming
Moderator
Mentor
#4
If I were starting out now, I'd go with one of those cheap AIO FPV setups that sell for between 10-15 USD, with a dipole antenna, and some cheap box goggles in the $50 range. So, for between $60-70 you can try it out and see if you like it and still get some good experience out of it.

Most of those AIO's run on 5V, so you can power that off a flight back with a buck converter or if you're willing to take the risk, potentially off the BEC built into an ESC (I personally wouldn't risk a brownout for that, esp. if there are servos powered by that BEC).
 

FDS

Well-known member
#5
A good 5v step down, set carefully, will power the camera.
I wouldn’t waste a penny on boxgoggles, if you are still flying LOS you won’t gain anything from them and that’s $50 that could go toward a better pair later if you get into it.
 

basslord1124

Well-known member
#6
Aside from the Runcam are there others that allow recording to microSD? I'm looking at some cheaper ones and not having much luck. I know it's kinda like me using the Polaroid action cam, but these FPV cams are so much lighter than the Polaroid. I would like the ability to record any FPV video in case I ever want to use it.
 

FDS

Well-known member
#9
With FPV cameras there’s a minimum price of about $40 if you want onboard true HD recording. Otherwise you use a cheaper 700-1000tvl camera and VTX then record HD video with whatever camera you like. You can just buy one like this if you want just the FPV camera and VTX as cheap as possible. There’s several good ones like that on various sites.
I recommended the Split Mini 2 because it’s light and records really good footage as well as being a functioning FPV camera. It’s got more latency than say the Foxeer Predator V3 as an FPV camera but they dropped it a lot since the previous version.
 
#10
With FPV cameras there’s a minimum price of about $40 if you want onboard true HD recording. Otherwise you use a cheaper 700-1000tvl camera and VTX then record HD video with whatever camera you like. You can just buy one like this if you want just the FPV camera and VTX as cheap as possible. There’s several good ones like that on various sites.
I recommended the Split Mini 2 because it’s light and records really good footage as well as being a functioning FPV camera. It’s got more latency than say the Foxeer Predator V3 as an FPV camera but they dropped it a lot since the previous version.
Runcam split v2 on my freestyle quad...love it. split mini 2 in my mini arrow. wish they wasn't so expensive though and allowed any camera.
 

basslord1124

Well-known member
#12
Thanks for the info guys, much appreciated! That gives me a good enough start and some options. All of those look pretty good and worth checking out. Hoping by summer I'll have a decent little setup to play around with. I do have an FT Tiny Trainer 3 channel I am finishing up and that might be a good easy flying platform to try this on.

I looked it up earlier and my Polaroid camera is about 59g...and these FPV cams are much lighter and would work great for smaller planes. I may still use my Polaroid for the larger planes. The Polaroid is good as an action cam. It's sort of a poor man's FPV as it can use a wifi signal and transmit to a smartphone app...BUT it has a short range of 30ft. I'd probably lose signal while taxiing out to the runway lol.
 

FDS

Well-known member
#13
I use an SQ11, it’s under 20g and does 720p/30fps. They are cheap and a little fiddly to get working but are under $10 a time. It just records, you can hold it in place with a rubber band. I used it on my SE5 video.
 
#14
I bought an all-in-one camera on amazon for $18. I luckily have a phone that supports OTG so found a receiver for 15. Using a cheap (google cardboard like) set of goggles to hold my phone I was easily able to fly around my airfield while my son watched with the goggles. He said it was a decent picture with hardly any breaks. Not good for long distance but gives you a start.
 

FDS

Well-known member
#15
The Eachine RO51 works with both Android and IOS. I am using it as a monitor receiver for demonstrating FPV to kids.
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#16
The Runcam Split Micro 2 is nice for recording and FPV in one, it has onboard SD card so will replace your usual camera and do the FPV feed. It does 1080/30 well. You will need a VTX to go with it. There’s lots of cheap and reasonable ones around $20. You can use it without the VTX as well I think.
If you are just monitoring from the ground there’s a cheap Eachine module, the RO51 that you can plug into a smart phone which is under $20 that will be a receiver. It’s not great to fly off as the frame rate is a bit low but it’s fine for a monitor.
That lot will be under $100.
Word of warning - do NOT try to use a cell phone connection to try and fly FPV. Frame rates lag enough that you won't be able to compensate properly. I bought a cheap Blade drone as my first drone, trying to get used to flying FPV. It allowed me to hook up my iPhone, but the frame rates were so bad that if I tried to look at the phone while I was flying to fly FPV, I was running into trees, bushes, other people, furniture (when I was flying it indoors)...

It's a solution for someone who wants to see out the front while you are flying, yes - but the framerate will throw you off for actual flight.

I've been looking at the Split Runcams for a solution for my drone; the only problem I have is that, with my particular frame, I don't have enough room to install it - there's not enough room for that AND the FC. The solution would be just to build another drone, which is a nice thought (I'd love to build up an Armattan Chameleon or Skitzo) but realistically right now, the funds aren't there. The reviews on the Splits also say that while it's good, it's not perfect for FPV yet.
 

ElectriSean

Eternal Student
Mentor
#17
I've been looking at the Split Runcams for a solution for my drone; the only problem I have is that, with my particular frame, I don't have enough room to install it - there's not enough room for that AND the FC. The solution would be just to build another drone, which is a nice thought (I'd love to build up an Armattan Chameleon or Skitzo) but realistically right now, the funds aren't there. The reviews on the Splits also say that while it's good, it's not perfect for FPV yet.
You probably wouldn't like the Chameleon as a Split platform, it has that slammed top deck. It might fit, but it would be an expensive experiment if it failed ;) I've avoided the Split because if it's FPV issues. I hope they get it sorted though, it's a cool idea.

@basslord1124 - If you mainly want to record on the cheap with the option of flying FPV get an old school HS1177 camera and an onboard DVR like this guy - https://www.banggood.com/Runcam-DVR...p-1305350.html?rmmds=search&cur_warehouse=USA

You don't even need a VTx if you just want to record, but you can add one at any time. If you do want a VTx, get one with adjustable power output and at least 200mW for planes. Avoid the super-cheap AIO's, they are all crap. Also avoid all of the WiFi and Bluetooth stuff, they are beyond laggy.
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#18
You probably wouldn't like the Chameleon as a Split platform, it has that slammed top deck. It might fit, but it would be an expensive experiment if it failed ;) .
Good point; I forgot about that! Well, maybe a Skitzo, then. :) Who knows, by the time I can afford to build my own, there'll probably be something new out there that catches my eye! :)

And as @ElectriSean pointed out, the VTxes with adjustability (AND a switch to turn it off and on separate from the battery plug in) are ideal. You really don't need more than 200mw for flight. One thing to keep in mind with planes, and this is a big one, is where you place your camera. If you put it in the cockpit, where you think it'll be ideal, you will see the prop in front of your camera. Some guys can fly with that in their field of view; I do it all the time with my drone, as the props are just at the outside edges of my camera's field of vision. However, when it's MOSTLY your field of vision, and it's flickering in and out, it can drive some pilots absolutely nuts. Some people have tried to put it on the tail, which works; however, you are then shifting some weight to the rear, and having to run power leads and wires to the back of the plane. Not a huge problem, but if your plane is already sketchy with CG, it might not be a good idea to do so. Wingtips are another common place for cameras, but again, you're flying inches or even feet from the center of the plane, so a left/right roll may have you seeing sky or ground with no real points of reference for FPV flight.

Most common mounts are on top of the wing, at center, or below the plane, between landing gear, angled down to look at the ground, so that the bottom of the prop isn't in the view. Ideally, it's up to you, and you may not have a problem with the prop spinning in your field of vision, just be aware what it'll look like. Maybe watch some videos of planes with FPV (I know there are some YouTube vids out there that have the prop in the camera's view, so you'll get a chance to experience it) just so you're prepped for what it'll look like. I'd hate for you to go through all the setup, punch holes in the plane to mount the camera, and then realize, "Crap, it's looking right through the prop."
 

FDS

Well-known member
#19
I would say unless you are shooting tiny gaps flat out or have the reactions of an overstimulated ninja assassin the difference in latency between a Split and say a Foxeer predator or similar single purpose camera is not going to be noticeable, especially in fixed wing where you have to anticipate more anyway.
One thing I learned about electronics over the years is that there’s a placebo effect in play with regards to specifications, where you are told (or convince yourself when it cost you $$$) that product A is superior to product B but in real world conditions the difference is negligible. The nearer the bleeding edge you get, the stronger that effect becomes!
If anyone comes up with a good all in one from someone else other than Runcam I would be interested since I still want another camera.
 

basslord1124

Well-known member
#20
That is so true @FDS !! We used to have a guy (and notice I say "used to") here at work who would keep up with technology and try to convince his superiors that we needed this camera, or this equipment, etc. And of course at the time it was top of the line, high quality, etc. I know I questioned his purchases on many of occasions as to whether we really "needed it" but I wasn't his boss or made those types of decisions.

I consider myself technology oriented (I work in IT), but I'm also sort of a simple guy. I don't need the latest greatest FPV setup or try to film in 4K. I'm flying little foamboard airplanes around. Besides I definitely can't afford the latest and greatest.