$160 Simple FPV Setup by ukarmy04

Rating: 4.84      45 ratings
Posted: July 12, 2012  |  10,009 views
INFLUENCE 70%

This was my second attempt at putting together a functioning FPV setup.  This time I decided to go with a 5.8GHz system because of its small size and ability to transmit at higher resolution.  The whole setup cost me $160 and includes the ground station, the transmitter and the camera.

For the transmitter/camera, I went with the FPV backpack/pod setup inspired by Bruce from RCModelReviews. This was done so that I would be able to move my FPV setup between my multirotors and airplanes without too much hassle. I made my ground station out of a Harbor Freight aluminum case and tried to make everything as compact and portable. 

I've written a full build log as well as a comprehensive parts list for everything I used in this ground station on my website:

http://www.rctutor.org/160-fpv-setup.html

Below, I've attached a few pictures showing the what the basic setup looks like with short descriptions of each component.


The RC305 receiver, the transmitter, the cloverleaf antenna and the camera.



The FPV pod mounted to balsa using CA glue and heat-shrink.



Closer angle of the FPV pod.



Modified connections for the RC305 using servo cables and a JST.



Modified DVD slave screen to slim down size and make it a little more sleek.



Harbor Freight aluminum case purchased for $15, inlaid with balsa for a clean look.



Final results...



Foam pocket for the FPV pod, the circular polarized antennas and the battery.



Small hole in the lid of the case for the receiver antenna - makes for a quick setup.



Closeup of screen assembly. 




Indoor test hover of the FPV setup.  No multipathing issues.  


If you have any questions, feel free to comment or contact me and I'll do my best to help out.   Hope you enjoyed!

Comments

Minty August 17, 2012
A superb piece of kit and your description of the build is very easy to follow. I just need the courage to try myself now!
Can you tell me if you cut the black/grey foam which is installed, as I have tried to cut it myself, but unfortunately it has nearly always ended up looking like a Rat has had a chew on it.....
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ukarmy04 August 17, 2012
Thanks, Minty. I actually don't cut the foam for the inside sections. I had another aluminum case from Harbor Freight that had a big chunk of "pick n pluck" foam. Basically, you can "pick and pluck" these little rectangular chunks of foam and shape it however you like. So in my setup, I plucked out rectangular sections that would be big enough to hold my antennas and FPV pod. Then I plucked out some holes in the middle so I could make custom shapes for everything. It was super easy that way, especially when compared to cutting foam by hand.
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eroeder July 25, 2012
Nice job!
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ukarmy04 August 1, 2012
Thanks!

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cwozny July 13, 2012
This is truly amazing! It looks like I'll have a nice weekend project for once I get my FPV equipment!
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ukarmy04 July 13, 2012
Thanks, cwozny! Good luck with the build!
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kenton September 15, 2012
This is really quite an amazing setup...you should build these things out and sell ready built kits! I would gladly be first in line to purchase one :)
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ukarmy04 September 15, 2012
Thanks kenton! The particular setup in this video took me quite a bit of time to put together because I had to modify/hand make a lot of the components. But I'm working on future designs that utilize laser cut and 3D printed components. It would definitely make it easier to manufacture.
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Danger Mouse July 14, 2012
Hi ukarmy04

I am curious about your LC filter. Do you have further information on this?

Regards

DM
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ukarmy04 July 14, 2012
Hey DangerMouse, the LC filter I use in this setup is composed of a ferrite ring and a capacitor. I've wrapped the ferite ring 8 times with both the positive and negative leads (forming an inductor). After passing through the inductor, both of the leads are connected to a 16V 1000uF capacitor. From the capacitor, the leads branch off to the servo cable which I use for powering the FPV pod. Basically, the pairing of the inductor and the capacitor work to attenuate any high frequency noise that may be coming through from the ESC when I'm flying around. This helps a lot in clearing up much of the static I was getting on my video feed before I used the filter.
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Nonamerc July 15, 2012
With the LC filter you dont want to wrap the ground wire in the ferrite ring you will get problems with your osd. Atleast that is what i heard from a technican.
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ukarmy04 July 15, 2012
Yeah, I think you're right. I've heard/seen others only wrap their positive wire around the ferite ring, but I didn't know this at the time I was building the circuit. I don't use an OSD with my setup and I haven't run into any problems with the filter, so I think I'll just leave it as it is for now. If I decide to upgrade to an OSD or expand my FPV setup in any way, I'll make some changes to the circuit.
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colorex July 16, 2012
Congratulations on getting featured!
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ukarmy04 July 16, 2012
Haha, thanks Colorex! I saw the post on the front page and wasn't sure if it was a random thing or not.
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colorex July 16, 2012
Yes. It's good having a featured article, it's better being a featured author, and even better getting to the FliteTest Facebook page. That can get your views to the thousands.

FliteTest manually selects the best articles to feature.
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ukarmy04 July 16, 2012
Ah, good to know :)
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Night Crawler July 15, 2012
Realy neat and tidy. I have a case that has been sat gathering dust for quite a while now. So guess what I'll be doing with it soon :)
Thanks for sharing 5*
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ukarmy04 July 15, 2012
Thanks Night Crawler. I think cases like these are the best thing for FPV because of their compact size and portability.
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earthsciteach July 13, 2012
Really clean and clever setup!
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t.korb July 14, 2012
Very nice and interesting.. thinking about trying this as a first attempt in FPV. Question though- can a OSD or GPS be incorporated in this kinda setup easily..and if so what would I need besides the OSD and GPS sensor..? Sorry maybe seem like a newbie question..but I am a newbie in FPV.
Any consideration or recommendations would help thanks
:)
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ukarmy04 July 14, 2012
Hi t.korb, if you're interested in adding a GPS and OSD to this setup, it can be done. For a setup that includes a GPS and OSD, all you need to do is wire up those components into the transmitter and camera. Nothing has to be changed on the ground station side. If I were to implement a GPS and OSD into my setup, I would have to remake my FPV pod in order to make room for the extra components and all the wiring. I would highly recommend you search HobbyKing for "Hobbyking G-OSD II Mini OSD System w/GPS Module." This cost $40 and it includes both an OSD and GPS module, which is unheard of at that price point. It comes with all the wiring you will need, but as a word of caution, a lot of people find wiring up OSD's to be a confusing and frustrating process. If this is your first attempt at an FPV setup, I would recommend you get the basic FPV systems working, maybe do a few flights until you're comfortable and then go and purchase a GPS and OSD. This way you won't be overwhelmed with too many new things to learn.
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t.korb July 14, 2012
Awsome :) thanks for the quick and informative response, I am looking into that HK GPS+OSD awsome price but seems to have some weaknesses with the product but seems they are all easy fixes.

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ukarmy04 July 14, 2012
No problem. You're right, the $40 OSD does have some draw backs - but once you wire everything up correctly and flash it with some 3rd party firmware, it should all work out.
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ABQ Bobcat July 15, 2012
Brilliant! I'm envious and someday will try this set up myself.
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ukarmy04 July 16, 2012
Thanks Bobcat! It's a really fun build and very functional once it's all finished. If you're getting into FPV sometime in the near future, I would highly recommend something like this.
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Burg July 16, 2012
Very clean and professional setup you made there !
I like it, never seen such a nice package ;-)
I use the same gear but all put on a tripod with the vid Rxat an extendable height of max 4m.
But this is sooo much more easy to carry around, I love it !
Mark.
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ukarmy04 July 16, 2012
Thanks, Mark. I do love the portability of the ground station. One think I'm still trying to work out is some way of getting it to stand on a tripod. Currently, I've got it sitting on a 2x4 adapter that I have screwed onto the tripod but it isn't the sturdiest thing in the world. I'm looking into tripod mounts or maybe some sort of platform it can rest on, but haven't found anything yet.
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colorex July 13, 2012
Wow! That's true beauty! How much range do you get out of this pretty setup?
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ukarmy04 July 13, 2012
Thanks, Colorex! I've only had the opportunity to test this setup on my quadcopter, as I'm currently building my plane right now. That being said, I've flown FPV on my quad within LOS but beyond my capability to distinguish it with my naked eye. How far that was? Hard to tell, but I would guess somewhere around 400-500 meters. I'm sure it could do a lot farther considering other's have achieved much greater distances on the same hardware.
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colorex July 13, 2012
Sounds like enough range for me... I love your clean setup, I'm totally making something similar when I get my gear!

Is there a reason you prefer 5.8 over other frequencies? I've heard that 5.8 gives you less range at the same power output...
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ukarmy04 July 13, 2012
I'm glad you like it. I chose 5.8GHz for two reasons. First, I remember seeing one of IBCrazy's videos a while ago where he explained that 5.8GHz has the ability to transmit higher quality video as opposed to the lower frequencies. Second, the antenna selection in 5.8GHz is a lot smaller and more compact than any of the other frequencies. In my case, the cloverleaf and skew planar fit very easily into a small case because they were compact. If I had gone with 1.3GHz or some other frequency, transportation and portability would have become a problem. Now, it is true that due to the high frequency of 5.8GHz you won't be able to pass the signal through many hard objects and a clear LOS is required most of the time. However, with some good circular polarized antennas you can get a descent signal through many hard objects. As a test, I was able to get signal reception through 6 walls in my house, two of which were exterior walls. This was pretty decent for my use, so I think I'll stick with it.
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ukarmy04 July 13, 2012
Also, just a side note...5.8GHz with a skew planar and a cloverleaf can give up to 5km in range. Other frequencies like 900MHz can give much greater range, but I don't ever think I'll be flying more than 5km :)
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colorex July 13, 2012
With the 200mW? I think that's with higher power transmitters...
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ukarmy04 July 13, 2012
Yep, that range can be achieved with this setup. Here's a video where someone reached 7km using a 200mw 5.8GHz setup. They had a cloverleaf on the transmitter and a 6-turn helical on the receiver.

http://youtu.be/thwJGbdCa0M
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colorex July 13, 2012
Well, that's understandable with a patch antenna... I'd personally prefer omni reception.

How do you think this would work out?

http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__15295__5_8g_200mw_FPV_Wireless_AV_Tx_Rx_Set.html
http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__13434__1_3_inch_SONY_CCD_Video_Camera_NTSC_.html
http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__21283__2_1mm_F_2_0_Turnigy_Micro_FPV_Camera_Lense.html
http://www.ebay.com/itm/7-TFT-LCD-Color-Car-Rearview-Headrest-Monitor-DVD-VCR-/160772682456?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item256ecc72d8#ht_2903wt_1396
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colorex July 13, 2012
I should open a forum thread to discuss this..
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ukarmy04 July 13, 2012
Haha, yeah that might be a better place for this discussion. But to answer your question, those all look like good items for an FPV setup. The only thing I might suggest is keeping your eyes open for a better deal on a 7" screen. There are lots of other vendors on eBay that can ship a 7" screen to you for around $25.
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Nonamerc July 13, 2012
You van do 5 km with à tracker...

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jaycronans July 15, 2012
Legend stuff dude. i'm coping your design. thanks so much!!
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ukarmy04 July 15, 2012
Thanks! I'm glad I could help!
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colorex July 13, 2012
Ok, here's the thread. I'd appreciate your input over there!

http://forum.flitetest.com/showthread.php?2374-Taking-FPV-Desicions
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cloud9photos February 11, 2013
Very nice, I'm trying to decide what gear to get so I can get started in FPV, and I found this very useful

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Javachip April 18, 2013
oh man, harbour freight doesnt ship overseas, where can i get a box like this one from a shop that ships internationally? Hello from Singapore ! :)

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ukarmy04 April 18, 2013
Hey there! Yeah, unfortunately a lot of companies in the US don't ship overseas. You might have some luck looking around on eBay. I also remember seeing a thread on RCGroups about buying cases like this online. You might be able to find more help there.
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sailorJohn May 19, 2013
I don't know much about fpv but this week I saw congressional hearing that kept referring to the 5 gig band for use in auto safety.
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Pro Build January 19, 2014
What type of transmitter is it?

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