Many people want to get into FPV, but because of budget constraints the cost of purchasing a fully functioning FPV setup can be too high. Before I purchased my 5.8GHz system, I too was facing this same dilema, so I came up with a quick and dirty solution for trying out FPV for the first time.
As the article title suggests, I used my iPhone for my first FPV experience on my DJI quadcopter. Previous attempts at this (as far as I have seen) have involved using FaceTime or Skype over a 3G connection. However, these types of connections have always been a little unreliable for me. To get around this I used an application called "Reflection" to stream the camera footage from my iPhone to the screen of my Macbook Pro. This setup utilizes a direct connection between the iPhone and the computer and doesn't have to go through any 3rd party servers (like Skype or FaceTime). Because of this direct connection, the video streaming is actually usable and can be used for FPV flight. The videos below will give you an idea of the kind of lag you can expect on a system like this.
I did a couple of flights with this FPV setup and found the range to be ~150ft in all directions. It may be able to go further, but I didn't want to push it. Also, I found the lag becomes an issue when trying to do fast circuits. Otherwise, for slow and steady circuits everything handled absolutely fine.
Also, the resolution coming back to the computer is much higher than what I have seen from other setups. In addition to this, there are apps available for iPhone that will allow you to superimpose a heads-up display (HUD) - like a jet fighter - over the streaming camera footage.
While I do like this sort of pseudo-FPV setup, I do believe that this is by no means a replacement for a full FPV system. A dedicated FPV system will always provide more reliability and greater range. Having said that, I think that this is a fun project for anyone who has an iPhone, a computer and wants to give FPV a try before purchasing a full system.
I have written a tutorial on how to setup the software and get it working with your iPhone on my website:
If you have any questions, feel free to comment or contact me and I'll do my best to help out. Hope you enjoyed!