Commercial first-person view kits exist, but we certainly can all learn from Oscar Liang's experiment building one.
Imagine being able to view the world from your radio-controlled airplane as if you were sitting in the cockpit. You could gaze out over the treetops or down at the houses as you glided past. No pilot license or expensive airline fees -- just get your radio-controlled plane in the air and fly like a bird.
Many people are doing this by installing a camera and transmitting the signal in real-time to a head-mounted video display on the ground. You can sit comfortably in a lawn chair and fly around your neighborhood with relative ease. This is called a first-person view (FPV) system. Pre-assembled FPV kits are available in a wide array of sizes and capabilities. Generally, they are fairly expensive, often more expensive than the airplane to which you strap them.
Oscar Liang wanted an FPV flight system. Being the engineering type, he wanted to build his own setup, instead of just buying something. He set out with the goal of making something cheap and light. His system ultimately came in at roughly 20 grams, which means he can strap it to some comparatively weak flying machines. He doesn't necessarily need a quad/hexacopter capable of lifting a massive payload.
Here are the parts he selected for this build.
- TX: TX5823 (£10)
- Camera: MC495A (£21)
- Power for TX and camera: 1S 360mah Lipo (£2)
- RX: RC305 (£25)
- Monitor: seven-inch LCD (£25)
- Power for RX and monitor: 3S 2200mah Lipo (£5)
He told us he initially had plans for all kinds of features, such as different video outputs, switches, and indicator lights. However, he dropped most of them during the construction to keep the weight down. At this point, his system doesn't have an antenna, but it works at distances of up to roughly 10 meters. Once he adds an antenna, that distance should go up considerably.
Liang's blog has a few more pictures of the build but (unfortunately) no video from his experiences. He does elaborate a little bit on his experience designing the circuit.
If you want to see an example of some impressive FPV flight, you should check out the videos of Team BlackSheep.
— Caleb Kraft, Chief Community Editor, EE Times