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blang

New to FPV looking for micro equipement

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Hi,

This seems to be the best forum for my to ask my questions. I would be very grateful if any of you will get the time to walk me through the FPV mess.

I have been Googling, reading various RC and FPV forums, wiki, shops, you name it for nearly 6hours and the same yesterday.

darn, its so hard to find info if you don't want to make just the regular easystar/glider/etc setup !!

I would like to do a rather small, FPV plane. I'm a bit of experience in electronic, and good experience in piloting and programming (should that be required).

I would like my setup to be between 5 and 25grams total without battery. It would need to have 200-500 feet range, but more is always welcome I guess. I just doubt its possible for this weight. If possible 900mhz, otherwise 1.2Ghz.

I found a chinese 1.2Ghz setup that totals 7grams, with 200 feet range. However the camera is bulky and video quality is a small disaster.

http://www.jex-electronics.com/product_info.php?cPath=20&products_id=83 (yeah it needs modding etc to be 7 grams, but I did see someone else do it and the resulting video).

I do not want that. I want better quality and if possible a bit more range, and instrumentation like gps/osd/gyro. (note that the cost is very low however!)

When I look around, I found everyone buying various cameras, etc. This brings me to the point, how to I know what will work with what?

If i browse www.sparkfun.com for example, there are tiny 640x480 cameras, tiny gps, tiny gyros, tiny boards (but they're made for UAVs, I would like a FPV).

I even have some tiny such pinhole camera, but i've no idea how to put it all together by myself.

All I can do, are small boards with simple components, read specs when I find them, put voltage regulators to adapt the power input, things like that. But most things do not even have documentation.

So here are some questions:

- do such a system already exist somewhere ?

- how do i know what camera goes on what RF system ?

- where to find tiny/light RF systems (tiny on the plane side only, of course!)

Thanks a million times if you can answer any of this :)

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Hi,

I would like my setup to be between 5 and 25grams total without battery.

Just to clarify, is that for the whole aircraft, or just the FPV equipment? That represents a rather significant difference ;)

If it's for FPV equipment only, I've made a 130gr FPV plane (my favorite these days) based on the Multiplex Fox, FPV equipment being 26gr, plus 4 for pan servo:

If it's for the whole aircraft, there you are, ~23gr AUW:

(The FPV system is now down to 2.5 grams, not 5 like mentioned in the video)

However those are both on 2.4GHz.

What's your pick on airframe?

Edited by Kilrah

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Hi and thanks for your answer!

I meant the weight for the FPV equipement only. I've seen this 2.5gram camera and found it interesting, are you working for this Swiss company?

I will be completely honest with you, I also find it very expensive and thought I could build my own somehow.

One of my possible plans includes buying the 1.2Ghz system and replace the camera only, but it might take some time to figure out one that has compatible signals. The 1.2ghz system cost 23EUR (incl shipping!), and various possible cameras $1 to $10 each. No detailled spec at all tho. With the antenna cut properly, the range extends to approx 1000 feet (which is much more than I need), and with a voltage regulator uses 3.7v lipos. A far cry from 300EUR.

However I'm unsure I'll find the proper camera, and I'd like to have GPS/Gyro/OSD (or at least, GPS/OSD).

I plan to build the airframe myself depending on the equipment I find, it's the easiest part for me. 5 to 25grams makes a large difference so the size might differ, but it will be kinda small. As your video shows, under 5-8 grams, you can equip a very small airplane, like this x-twin, or a Sukhoi or P51 from Parkzone for example.

My plane would be a little larger than those in any case, using a bigger lipo (hyperion 240 or more probably)

I don't plan to fly extremely far or extremely long (such planes last 10-40min depending on the power setup). And distance, well, if it goes to 500 feet i'm already exceeding my expectations.

I also prefer 900mhz or 1.2Ghz since it let me use my 2.4Ghz Spektrum gear. Since I don't plan to fly extremely far, the Spektrum range is just fine, it will be more than my FPV anyway.

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Actually finding a camera with a compatible signal is a non-issue, there are tons of them (just search the board for popular equipment). The issue will be weight again. If you want to replace your camera with something better you will want to go for a CCD camera. But, without hacking you won't really find one that has a decent shape to be put on a small plane without wrecking aerodynamics and that will weigh under about 20gr. They usually have metal cases or metal lens holders, so you'd have to remove the case and make or find a suitable lens holder to make it lighter. OSD+GPS will "cost" you 10 grams at the very least. However I wouldn't particularly recommend an OSD if you want to fly within 500ft as it would be mostly useless, but that's your choice, if the "cool factor" is the determinant aspect then go ahead :)

But do have a look at the Fox, it would be pretty well suited to what you want, the payload capacity is on the spot, the fuselage can easily be made roomy enough to hold an OSD, with my setup I get about 9mins flight time on a 2s/360, range obviously depends on the R/C and video equipment but in my configuration I've flown out to about 2000ft, never really tried more.

The 2.5gr set is indeed overkill for most fun/hobby projects, it was made with the idea of "make the lightest possible whatever the cost", and thus uses expensive components and more importantly requires a considerable amount of very precise handwork to be assembled.

As with most things, there's a huge gap between "light" and "ultra-light" in component availability and price. It's easy to find a 2gr voltage regulator, you can make a 0.2gr one but it's a whole other story.

25 gr without OSD still is in the "light" category. Adding OSD or reducing allowed weight starts throwing you into the "ultra-light" one...

Edited by Kilrah

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Actually finding a camera with a compatible signal is a non-issue, there are tons of them (just search the board for popular equipment). The issue will be weight again. If you want to replace your camera with something better you will want to go for a CCD camera. But, without hacking you won't really find one that has a decent shape to be put on a small plane without wrecking aerodynamics and that will weigh under about 20gr. They usually have metal cases or metal lens holders, so you'd have to remove the case and make or find a suitable lens holder to make it lighter. OSD+GPS will "cost" you 10 grams at the very least. However I wouldn't particularly recommend an OSD if you want to fly within 500ft as it would be mostly useless, but that's your choice, if the "cool factor" is the determinant aspect then go ahead :)

But do have a look at the Fox, it would be pretty well suited to what you want, the payload capacity is on the spot, the fuselage can easily be made roomy enough to hold an OSD, with my setup I get about 9mins flight time on a 2s/360, range obviously depends on the R/C and video equipment but in my configuration I've flown out to about 2000ft, never really tried more.

The 2.5gr set is indeed overkill for most fun/hobby projects, it was made with the idea of "make the lightest possible whatever the cost", and thus uses expensive components and more importantly requires a considerable amount of very precise handwork to be assembled.

As with most things, there's a huge gap between "light" and "ultra-light" in component availability and price. It's easy to find a 2gr voltage regulator, you can make a 0.2gr one but it's a whole other story.

25 gr without OSD still is in the "light" category. Adding OSD or reducing allowed weight starts throwing you into the "ultra-light" one...

Hey thanks again for replying!

I found many CCD cameras that look like that:

http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/images/products/08667-04-L.jpg

However I dont have the documentation for the pins, and I think it's all CMOS (tho the quality seems decent. Much, much better than the one provided in the 1.2Ghz system).I just have no idea if i'll be able to connect it properly since pins are guess-work for me (unless its very standard?)

Hacking around the camera case, and soldering stuff is no problem. In fact I already planned to hack the voltage regulator to be lighter.

As for the OSD, its mainly indeed for the cool factor hehe. In fact, at this size at more than 500 feet, you can't really see the plane so its a bit useful i guess. If I find a good *very light* system that let me do 1 mile+ i'd still take it of course. I found like 10 different OSDs with various features, but finding the weight for each is such a pain! I'm unable to find it for half of them, even looking on forum tests posts.

Do you know OSD+GPS that would be around 10grams ? For me it would be 3 gram camera/emitter + that = 13gram. Not so much. Taking power from main lipo probably, or might add a small one for perhaps 4 more grams (=17gr total). I expect this part to cost a bit, but all I found is a tiny GPS for now, which still require antenna and an osd that understands it: http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=8825

Might also not be a good choice, but I don't know any other yet

ps: the fox looks pretty good. i'd like something a little smaller (approx 5-10cm less both wingspan and length) , but its not bad at all. One other issue is the front engine which means propeller on the camera image

this osd looks light: (5.5gram without GPS) http://www.intelligentflight.com/webstore/Intelligent-Flight-OSD-Starter-Kit-P33.aspx

Edited by blang

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The camera you show there is a "cellphone-type" camera, which uses a digital interface. Those are small, easy to find and cheap, but unfortunately not useable for us. Our transmitters need cameras that provide an analog composite video signal, which is a lot harder to find in these sizes. Hence me advising you to check the board for common FPV cameras.

Turning the digital data of the cellphone camera into an analog signal would take a whole bunch of electronics (powerful processor, DAC,...) that would be much larger than the camera itself, not to mention very complicated.

The IFOSD board is actually 7.5gr (I just weighed it), then you need to add another 7.5gr for the GPS module, and if you want the current sensor it's another 16gr. It's also discontinued, so that doesn't help.

The GPS you link from sparkfun indeed requires work beyond hobby level to make it work (you need to make a PCB to put it on and add the antenna, which isn't something easy if you want to actually receive some useful signal), and anyway the heaviest part in a GPS module is the antenna. The lightest module I know of and have here is 4.5gr (the antenna accounting for about 4...)

I'm thinking about combining it with this, and that would match the 10gr, however without a current sensor. The one he offers is big and heavy as well, but depending on my tests with that OSD that I should receive soon I might be tempted to make a smaller sensor board myself... we'll see.

For the prop in the front, there's also this solution, here with full HD camera... it starts getting seriously heavy though.

post-30-125638787379_thumb.jpg

Edited by Kilrah

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The camera you show there is a "cellphone-type" camera, which uses a digital interface. Those are small, easy to find and cheap, but unfortunately not useable for us. Our transmitters need cameras that provide an analog composite video signal, which is a lot harder to find in these sizes. Hence me advising you to check the board for common FPV cameras.

Turning the digital data of the cellphone camera into an analog signal would take a whole bunch of electronics (powerful processor, DAC,...) that would be much larger than the camera itself, not to mention very complicated.

The IFOSD board is actually 7.5gr (I just weighed it), then you need to add another 7.5gr for the GPS module, and if you want the current sensor it's another 16gr. It's also discontinued, so that doesn't help.

The GPS you link from sparkfun indeed requires work beyond hobby level to make it work (you need to make a PCB to put it on and add the antenna, which isn't something easy if you want to actually receive some useful signal), and anyway the heaviest part in a GPS module is the antenna. The lightest module I know of and have here is 4.5gr (the antenna accounting for about 4...)

I'm thinking about combining it with this, and that would match the 10gr, however without a current sensor. The one he offers is big and heavy as well, but depending on my tests with that OSD that I should receive soon I might be tempted to make a smaller sensor board myself... we'll see.

For the prop in the front, there's also this solution, here with full HD camera... it starts getting seriously heavy though.

Hey, as usual I can't write how valuable it is for me to get constant replies, thank you.

Indeed, the camera is a digital one. I thought small ones would also exist as analog, or have a digital transmitter.

About the sparkfun stuff, yeah I know it require all the electronics. I'm actually a bit more experimented with it than I wrote, its jut that I haven't been doing any electronics for the past 14years or so and I feel like I forgot a lot of things. My last thing was building a weather station from scratch actually. Well anyway.

As far as I understand, you are also very interested into small osd/gps/camera system right?

I looked for the camera in the forums but i found only quite heavy/big ones til now.

Will write here again if I find something good or come up with a good plan of things to implement on a pcb

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Well changed my thought: simpleosd is probably the best.

The author told me he's working on a more simple and light current sensor by the way, but it will be 2 months before he get it done probably.

while i'm at it before i buy anything:

- all analog cameras have the same signal and wires i suppose? so i can just buy a RX/TX and solder the camera on the TX, like +- and composite?

- it seems hard to find cameras from manufacturers directly. regular size cameras are ok, and worth 100+EUR probably. But tiny ones are not very widespread. I found Misumi eg, but resellers.. none

Eg I have a cmos camera here, cost 8EUR. I find the exact same model from resellers at 200 EUR (yes, this is a rip off - but then again i fear thats the case of your 300EUR mini camera so i'd rather not go on this subject while you're kindly helping me :D )

Edited by blang

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a month later here is my result:

the multiplex fox is indeed a good platform for small fpv. smaller can be done, but not much smaller, without losing a lot of range and quality

i will detail both super small and "just small" anyway:

Super small:

1 - The stuff:

- get a 1.2, 1.3 or 2.4ghz tx/rx from ebay honkong. make sure its between 10 and 200mW and uses a switch, or digital switch to set the frequency. Not a knob. Never. I have one, its horrible.

- get a small 2-8g camera, 380TVL, with plastic case also from ebay/HK (hongkong) 5volts (sometimes its included in the previous package, just make sure the quality is ont too bad). they must be able to provide approx 100mA (check the camera and tx datasheet is any to make sure they dont draw too much current. it should be much less than 100mA total actually)

- get some small lipos and wires (eg from hobbycity) like 50mah zippy's 1S

- get a voltage regulator, 3.3 to 5V stable (eg dimension enginerring's micro AnyVolt, or any chip you find. They're usually called "dc-dc up converters" or "boosters", even sometimes "led drivers"). the micro anyvolt with potentiometer removed weights 1-2gr which is good, and easy to find.

total cost should be around 40EUR excl. shipping. (far cry from 300 EUR uh?)

- get a plane like a parkzone P51D or whatever you feel like. even a vapor will do, or other brands of course. Just make sure the radio isnt on the same frequency as the video.

2 - The how to:

- remove the camera case, just keep the lens and front casing if its light plastic. cut the wires so you just have the 3 camera wires + power wire.

- solder some wires and plug to the barrery, and the anyvolt (eg micro JST-HX, from hobbycity are light)

- connect the anyvolt to the 50mah battery, and the camera to the anyvolt.

- verify the micro video tx is 5v with a multimeter then solder it as well in parallel, then solder the camera's wires to the tx too.

- check the camera is working! if not verify solders and connections. good time to check that all "factory" solders are proper also, sometimes hk cameras has ugly soldering. If the wires are really tiny and look cheap, replace them (solder complete brand new wires!). You can also find 24AWG wires which will be fine at hobbycity.

- the final cruft should be weighting around 6 to 10gr which is very decent.

3 - Usage:

once placed on your plane, you'll have approx 5-10min of video (be careful. you may want to upgrade to 50mah to 100 or more, as you please, but they'll also weight more!) Also be careful as the lipo has no "LVC" or "saver", first sign of low power, land and recharge, or you will kill the lipo.

the 380TVL HK cameras are not wide angle and the image quality isnt the best (lets say, its a bit bad), but its still very watchable and fun! for 5-10gr more you could buy a 420TVL Sony Ex-View camera as well. These are harder to uncase (theyre already uncased actually, but still have another casing for optics) so you're probably best with leaving them that way, or you will probably damage them.

Just Small:

1 - The stuff:

- this time you can afford the OSD! Go ahead and get the SimpleOSD XL+ GPS (10.3gr total for $100) or just the SimpleOSD (3.3gr, $40) its light, cheap and pretty good, gives you battery voltage, altitude, speed, time, and home direction (latest only with GPS of course). You might find a cheaper/lighter GPS module but I haven't tested.

- get a decent battery, like 300 or 400mah 1S if your motor is 1S, or a separate tiny 1S or 2S. You're on your own. I used a 450mah zippy 1S for everything, from hobby city again.

- get a decent board camera, sony exview 420TVL, or 480TVL, they weight 14 to 16gr. You might want a 540 or 580 but they weight 20-25gr. Up to you make sure they're 5v. I got mine from dogcamrc.co.uk.

- get a micro video 10mW to 50mW tx (and regular rx), either 2.4ghz (e.g. from rangevideo or electronicarc) they're less than 2gr. 900mhz versions also exists. For 5.8Ghz, get an airwave module and solder things around yourself (you need some experience). They're 3.3 and 5v modules so you'll need a micro anyvolt again, or led driver, or up converter. Once again the micro anyvolt is the easiest solution. the result will be around 3gr (just a little heavier than commercial stuff) Make sure your converter can output a decent current, at least 250mA should do. Check camera etc specs to make sure the total current is far enough under what the converter will provide.

- again, various small wires and plugs (see the other plane's info: mini JSTHX plugs and 24awg wires are ok)

you should be ok with around 100-130EUR this time, excl. shipping.

- get a plane like the multiplex fox (with motor and ailerons modifications! robbifly.de and others sell that, or do it yourself)

2 - The how to:

- well! follow simpleosd online direction to wire it and configure it, and put the GPS on top of it while you're at it. Upload the latest firmware, too.

- solder wires & plugs to the 450mah battery and the voltage regulator again

- solder another wire to the 450mah battery to power the motor and receiver (in parallel again)

- solder the regulator to the simpleosd

- solder the camera to the simple osd as well, and the power in parallel on simpleosd's power supply (which you just soldered before)

- solder the osd to the tx, use relatively long wires (not too long), see 3 - Usage why

all this cruft weights approx 35 to 40gr, a little less without gps (but the gps isnt very useful without one imo)

- check it all work :P

3 - Usage:

- put it all together :P if possible, get a fox with a rear-mounted motor so your camera view is clear. put the video tx far from the osd+gps and radio rx (eg put video tx on the tail, its very light anyway!)

- have fun!

I get approx 15min from this setup with a very small motor and a custom made plane - but the Fox is as good if not better.

In any case, good luck. I might post a video later.

My next project will be using a HD camera, dragon link etc and make a big long range plane (or wing). I haven't decided how to do it yet.

The small planes are for fun FPV, big ones can make really really nice videos and "traveling" if you live in the moutain or other nice areas.

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