- Dragon Link
- Purchasing the Dragon Link
- Important information
- Dragon Link Installation
- Binding the RX and TX
- Range Testing
- LED indications
- Questions, support, and further assistance
Cameras used for FPV are analog cameras and therefore have 3 wires output (ground, positive and video signal). Some also have an integrated microphone with an additional wire.
Many of the small digital cameras do not possess the analog output interface and therefore are unsuitable for FPV. So don't get your hopes up when you see a small 10.00 USD camera like the well-known keychain camera. They're good for recording only, and cannot be used for FPV.
Most of the camera used are surveillance cameras, due to their small size, weight, and light handling.
|Sony SN555||CCD||550 TVL||30 gr.||5V (from UBEC)||YouTube||Very good quality, slight UHF interferences (reduce range)|
|KX171||CCD||420 TVL||25 gr.||5V (from UBEC||YouTube||Standard quality, no interferences|
|CX161||CCD||380 TVL||~20 gr.||5V (from UBEC||YouTube||Very cheap, quality is ok|
|FC422||CMOS||420 TVL||~3 gr.||3-4V (1S battery)||YouTube||Tiny, for micro-models|
|GoPro Hero||CCD||1080 TVL||90-100 gr.||5V (from UBEC)||YouTube||Usually for recording only, you need an additional camera for FPV, slight UHF interferences|
More cameras: RCGRoups - FPV Camera Review mega-thead
CMOS1) cameras are usually not doing very well in non-perfect light conditions, and often have an unstable image due to the vibrations of the vehicules. They are generally to be avoided, although there are a few exceptions like the “CCD Killer” from FatShark which offers decent image.
Their advantage is price, weight, low current consumption.
For micro-models, the FC422 and similar models are recommended. They run off small and light batteries and weight next to nothing, while retaining a good image quality and decent light handling.
Please note that, certain high-end CMOS cameras can be performing extremely well however in general they have the aforementioned issues
CCD2) cameras are the FPV cameras. While slightly larger and heavier than their CMOS counter-part, they provide very good light handling which is of major importance when you're controlling your remote vehicle.
Most cameras you will find in FPV shops are CCD cameras.
The TVL3) are a notation to define the perceived quality of the camera.
An analog TV4) signal is composed of lines. The more lines, the more details can be represented.
Rule of thumb:
When used for FPV, the signal is degraded by the retransmission and lower quality of the camera's lens and components compared to heavy and high-end cameras. Therefore, you can safely read the right-hand part of the table for the FPV visual expectations, which are basically shifted down by one rank.
|TVL||Visual expectation (broadcast cameras)||Visual expectation (FPV cameras)|
|380||Slightly blurry, VHS & analog broadcast||Really quite blurry|
|720||Half HD quality||DVD quality (does not exist with micro analog cameras)|
|1080||Full HD quality||Half HD quality (does not exist with micro analog cameras)|
Another choice you will have to make is PAL or NTSC. PAL has a slightly higher resolution (720×576) but lower frame rate (25 fps). Generally used in Europe. NTSC has a lower resolution (720×48) but higher frame rate (29.97 fps). Generally used in USA.
At the end of the day, most equipment is compatible with both PAL and NTSC. Many FPV users choose PAL for the higher resolution, but the difference is not crucial.
As long as the rest of your equipment supports both standard, you can choose any. Otherwise, stick to one standard (the one the most used in your country is therefore recommended).
While flying FPV you might be tempted to use lens with a larger FOV5), to see more of the environment around you.
Most FPV users have slightly larger than standard FOV, so that the objects on the sides of the image appear at normal distance. This is crucial for estimating distance and avoid crashes.
Some experienced FPV users prefer larger FOV, to see more of the landscape or details on the image sides. However, estimating the distance is difficult and objects appears further away than they really are. Larger FOV also enhance the probability of the “fish-eye” effect.
You may refer to this table for a rule of thumb of the lens's FOV effect:
|1.7mm||170 degree||Large “fish-eye” effect|
|2.9mm||127 degree||Human eye - higher FOV than 127 not recommended to avoid heavy “fish-eye” effect|
|3.6mm||92 degree||Most common FPV FOV - Recommended|
|12.0mm||28 degree||Objects appear really big|
HD cameras are usually used for recording, as their signal cannot be transmitted to the ground for viewing. However, many of the HD cameras have an analog output. Granted that the output stays on continuously and does not have a lot of clutter on the screen, they can sometimes be used both for viewing and recording.
They usually add black top and bottom bars to accommodate the 16:9 (HD) view to the 4:3 (SD) analog view. There is also usually at least a recording timer which makes the view slightly obstructed.
A few known to work models are:
|Toshiba Camileo P and S10||Very lightweight uncased|
|Some aipteks cameras||Easy to find in the USA|
|GoPro Hero||Require manipulations for the AV out - very good quality for recording only|
Some cameras are known to interfere with various equipments, reducing their range and/or quality. Generally, all HD cameras reduce severely the range of 433MHz UHF radio systems and must be installed far apart to minimize the effect.
Some cameras, like the infamous Sony SN777 (12v) high resolution camera suffer from the same problem.
While it is difficult to judge, avoid unknown cameras and/or be prepared to place them far apart from the rest of the equipment.
See Cameras noise characterization for additional information.