Wednesday, March 29, 2023

FPV cameras for drones: An introduction

T.K. Hareendran is founder and promoter of TechNode Protolabz—an electronics R&D Lab

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There are some exceptional 3D FPV cameras, too. In principle, a 3D FPV camera is a perfect blend of two FPV cameras to make the illusion of an actual flight. FPV camera with MIC and IR LEDs

Fig. 6: FPV camera with MIC and IR LEDs

Other things to consider

In the market, you can find several FPV drones with cameras and video transmitters already installed, and video displays built right into the radio-controllers. However, by selecting your own airborne and ground station components, you can put together a much higher performing and flexible drone rig that grows with you as you move on to bigger ones. Well, here is some other practical information about the supporting components of an FPV camera.

Radio frequency and channel

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FPV transmitter frequency is the most important thing to consider. Nowadays most FPV equipment run on 5.8GHz, as it is allowed for FPV use in most parts of the globe. Also 5.8GHz antennae are much smaller, which makes 5.8GHz transmitters cheaper and easier to use. You can also use 2.4GHz band. However, since almost all radio-controlled (RC) equipment run on 2.4GHz, you will receive lots of interference in this band. Today, it’s common to find 32-channel (32CH) and even 40-channel (40CH) FPV transmitters. Having a multiple-channel FPV transmitter is useful when flying with other FPV pilots, as each pilot can fly on a different frequency and hence your FPV video will not interfere with theirs. Note that each transmitter has a frequency table that lists the channels, bands and corresponding frequencies. Also, it is very important to ensure that the FPV transmitter is compatible with the FPV receiver, monitor or goggles. Fortunately, today’s 40-channel transmitters are compatible with almost all FPV receivers, monitors and goggles. Nerdcam 3D FPV camera

Fig. 7: Nerdcam 3D FPV camera


The type of antennae used can make or break an FPV system. Although the antenna that comes with the transmitter/receiver will work well, you need to use a lightweight circularly polarised antenna to get a long range and clear reception. Else, go for the type recommended by the radio module manufacturer.

Electric power

Typically, video transmitters and receivers operate off 3.3V to 5V/12V DC supply. Many FPV cameras also have the same operating voltage range. By using components that operate at the same voltage level, it will be easier for you to wire the system straight to a suitable LiPo battery supply. FPV camera and transmitter setup (airborne)

Fig. 8: FPV camera and transmitter setup (airborne)

If the camera and other components need different voltages, or the airborne electrical system delivers a dissimilar voltage, it becomes necessary to use separate voltage regulator modules for each device. A wide variety of miniscule DC-DC step-up (boost) and step-down (buck) regulator modules are available for these purposes. Once you learn to handle diverse components that make up a basic FPV, and build a functioning system with them, you are ready for your first ground test and maiden flight. Go, fly it!




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