I came across a hobbyking video today showing several different types of inexpensive FPV setups which got me to investigate them. I have been pondering getting into FPV, but the cost of goggles or a FPV station seemed way too much for me to invest in without knowing how well I would like it.
Also, admittedly I am intimidated by all of the variations and different types of equipment needed to do FPV. Learning about all of this has been on my "to do list " for awhile now.
After watching the video my FPV interest was peaked ! So I want to share the information here with the flite test family because I spent about 6 hours doing research and ended up purchasing equipment to begin FPV for under $100 . I never would have believed this was possible, as most goggles alone are $250 plus. So to get a complete setup for under $100 amazes me. I do have a mobius camera that I intended to use for aerial video and possibly FPV, I did however purchase a sony FPV camera as well and still stayed under $100 .
I started out looking at this complete kit.
Quanum Complete FPV Bundle Set w/ Goggles, 5.8GHz 32ch Video TX & RX, CP Antennas and Camera (PNF) for $99.99 0n Hobbyking website.
I looked at some reviews and this seemed like a decent kit to begin with for under $100, except it is on backorder and not available. Also there will be a significant shipping charge as it is only available in the international warehouse. So I began to look for other goggles of this type and found many videos on you tube showing how to make them. I also wanted to see if I could find all of the gear in the kit and still stay in the $100 price range.
HANDMADE GOGGLES: I liked this basic design and build method the best, made using dollar tree foam board.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3Kltu1vBn0 This guy has 6 how to videos, he is a bit long winded but has some good ideas.
Search youtube and google images for "DIY FPV Goggles" to find some inspiration on how you want to build your goggles, as there are many styles people have made. I am going to combine several different ideas of builds that I have seen and create what I want.
Hobbyking also sells the goggle kit without the reciever and transmitter.
ITEMS PURCHASED: Here I will post what I bought and how much they cost . I am not endorsing any of these products, there were many items to choose from at different price points. I show you these only to show you that you can indeed get into FPV for under $100.
MONITOR: In the above you tube video that I referenced, the maker used a 4.3" screen for his build, most of the other videos i watched used a 3" screen. I have an Iphone 6 and figured the 4.3" screen would be similar in size so I went with that. This is a monitor intended to be used with a car rear view camera.
USA 4.3 Inch LCD TFT Rearview Monitor screen for Car Backup Parking Camera 16:9---US $17.49
FPV ELECTRONICS: Next is the 5.8ghz transmitter and reciever set . I looked at many different brands and chose the boscam brand. According to videos I watched it has good quality and around a 500 meter range, which is plenty for me.
US 1 Set Boscam 5.8Ghz 200mW Wireless AV Tx/Rx for FPV Quadcopter Aircraft TS351+RC305---US $37.39
I did find a skyzone set that was about double in price, range is supposed to be around 1000 meters. But I opted for the Boscam to keep the price low and the 500m range is plenty for me. I have seen 25mw units, 200mw, and 600mw. The 600mw is for longe range FPV, which I do not intend to do and the 25mw range is only like 50m according to what I have read, so I chose 200mw transmitter.
FPV CAMERA: Next is the sony security camera. I have seen many references to this camera as being a good one for FPV. Here are 2 articles I found that gives good info on choosing a FPV camera.
RunCam 600TVL Top FPV Camera D-WDR Plastic Housing 3.6mm Lens Ship from US--US $36.00
You want a camera that has minimum 600TVL, 300TVL does not give a good enough quality picture for FPV.
Camera should be CCD not CMOS. 3.6mm and 2.8mm lens are the most used. 2.8mm gives a wider view, but also has some fisheye effect around the edges, I chose the 3.6mm lens. Also the camera you choose should be good in low light situations for when you transition from dark areas to light areas and vice versa. This one has 2 daylight filters included. Its called IR blocking and IR sensitive. IR sensitive gives the best transition responses. Some cameras have settings inside that you can change to help with this as well.
I chose a camera with a case, you can get them without the case too.
XL Full Page Magnifying Sheet Fresnel Lens 3X Magnification Magnifier --(3)--US $6.54
I found this at dlooar tree today, didnt see a price on it, but it cant be much here.
I ordered 3 full sheet fresnel lens for the goggles just to have a few extra. They are cheap from china , with free shipping but it will take 4 to 6 weeks for delivery. Im not in a hurry as winter is still here and I need to improve my flying skills before trying FPV flying anyways. You can get them from USA if you want them quicker, they run around $7 each .
Audio / Video Out Cable For The 1080P HD Mobius ActionCam Sports Camera--US $7.99
I ordered these cables for my mobius so I could use it if I wanted to. It had been previously purchased for aerial video and possibly FPV.
All of these items were found and ordered from Ebay.
Total Cost without camera ---$70.00
Total Cost with camera---$98.00
I couldnt say no to a complete kit for DIY , FPV for under $100. The whole setup includes Monitor,fpv camera, 5.8ghz transmitter/reciever combo, lens for home made goggles. While waiting for the parts to arrive I will buy the rest of the parts for goggles. Which is a piece of dollar tree foam board and an elastic band. Total cost of these items was less than $3.
Some people choose to mount a battery and the reciever on the goggles themselves. I feel like it will add too much weight to these type of goggles and I do not want the antenna that close to my brain, so I will use a camera tripod that I already have and mount those on it. An added advantage of the tripod is that you can get the antenna up higher off the ground than sitting in a chair, therefore helping signal strength.
Something like this, minus the monitor. But this is another option, instead of goggles you can put a monitor on the tripod for FPV, or you can use the goggles and have a monitor for other people to view your flight from.
You can add a ball cap to the goggles, which should aid in keeping it on your head and would help to keep the sun off and heat out of them. I will most likely do this as well, most I have seen are glued on to the goggles. I may try velcro first, then glue if I dont like the velcro.
Because there are multiple videos and articles on building FPV goggles I will not go into all of that here, you can google this info and view it at your leisure.
When I get my gear built, installed and tested, I will return here and finish this article with an overall review of how everything worked for me . I wanted to get this info out now though, to share it with others that may be contemplating trying FPV on a quad or plane and havent because it appears to be so expensive and like me do not wish to invest $500 plus into FPV unless I know for sure I will love it. Who knows, this gear may perform well enough to suit my needs and I may not have to spend anymore on it.
Thanks for reading this article, please let me know if it helped you in anyway and if you decided to make the purchase like me since it can be done on a budget.
Happy Flying !