What is FPV? What’s the best way to accomplish it?

What is FPV? What’s the best way to accomplish it?
Guest contributor Bernie Hoffman of Autonomous Avionics in Denver, Colorado, is an expert in building and maintaining drones.

What is FPV? FPV Stands for First Person View and is when a UAV pilot attaches a camera to the aircraft that can transmit video signal to the ground in real-time and the image is used by the pilot to help control the aircraft. It has morphed a little and now more generally refers to anyone trying to transmit video in realtime to the ground. True FPV is when the pilot can control the aircraft using just the video and telemetry data (versus flying line of sight, which does not require a camera)

So how does one set up an aircraft for FPV? First, you need the following components:


The camera is used to capture the image. It is typically mounted to the aircraft in a fixed position facing forward on the aircraft. This camera is not typically used to capture images for video or pictures, but for piloting the aircraft. Since the image is not used for production, it is typically not recorded (but some equipment can record nonetheless) and is not attached using a gimbal (The pilot benefits from an image that is not stabilized as they can see aircraft movements and can gain valuable attitude information from the picture alone. A stabilized picture would not relay information to the pilot indicating the aircraft was tilted, for example) Because the camera is not stabilized and does not record, a dedicated FPV camera can be pretty small.

The latest in FPV cameras is the ultra tiny fpv camera with integrated video tx. This camera is designed for very small aircraft and combines the camera and video transmitter in a single unit. The power output and range is limited, but gives the reader a good idea where this technology is headed.


OSD, or On Screen Display, is a piece of technology that overlays flight data (altitude, attitude, heading, etc.) on top of the video signal. OSD units connect to both the camera, and the flight controller and will read information from the flight controller and place that information on the screen. OSD units are typically built for a specific flight controller, so it is important to know what flight controller you are using and to match your OSD with your brand of flight controller.

Video Transmitter

So we have a camera on board the aircraft, but to do FPV, it is necessary to transmit the video signal to the ground. The video transmitter converts the camera image into a signal that can be transmitted to the ground. There are many different video transmitters available. The key words to look at when choosing a video transmitter is the power output (in milliwatts), the frequency band in which they transmit, and the type of signal (digital or analog, NTSC or PAL) they transmit. There are a couple of different features that are also important and include the power input voltage they can accept (most will support up to a 4S battery system natively, but some will accept up to a 6S battery without a voltage converter. Some video transmitter kits include special cables used to connect the camera to the video transmitter and some include cables that will work directly with certain aircraft systems, like the DJI Phantom, without soldering any wires together. One very nice option is the Flysight 5804 video transmitter. It includes cables needed for integrating an FPV system with a DJI Phantom 2, transmits video at 400mW, and can be powered with voltages ranging from 6-28 volts.

Video Receiver

On the ground side of the system we need a way to convert the signal transmitted by the video TX and convert it back into an analog signal. The Video Receiver is the unit that fulfills this goal. The video receiver and the video transmitter should match the frequency and signal type in order to work together. Sometimes pilots will have a separate video receiver, other times they will have a video monitor that has an integrated receiver.

A dedicated video receiver like the Boscam video receiver has a system called a diversity receiver systems and integrates 2 seperate video receivers into a single unit. This system will use the signal from the receiver that has the best signal and will increase the video quality at longer distances.

Video Monitor

The monitor is like a small TV used to view the actual picture. It reads the output from the Video receiver and displays the image. These can be dedicated LCD monitors with no power or receiver, or can be an integrated system with video, power, and receiver built in. Monitors are typically defined by the screen size (just like a TV) with 7″ screens being very common. They can also be rated by the quality of the video being displayed (HD vs analog) and should match your system. Additional features include various video input sources (analog video, HDMI, multiple receivers, etc) A very popular FPV video monitor is the Flysight Black Pearl. The Black Pearl is a 7″ video monitor with built-in diversity receiver and contains an integrated battery.

One common video monitor being used today are video goggles. A set of goggles replaces the traditional video monitor and gives the pilot a more immersive experience when flying.An example of the video goggles is the FatSharkTeleporter FPV goggles. This kit includes the camera, video transmitter, and goggles.

For additional information about FPV, contact Autonomous Avionics at (303)371-3067 or browse our website at http://AutonomousAvionics.com