DJI Phantom Quadcopter FPV Deconstruction
Jan 28, 2014: Updated post is here (but if you’re a newbie, the content in this post is still very relevant).
Multi-rotor aircraft like the DJI Phantom quadcopter are finally being sold, ready-to-fly, in a way that is accessible to mass-market consumers. However, the first modification a multi-rotor owner makes immediately pushes them into the hobbyist realm, which often involves hours soldering hunting for small parts and accessories with elusive names.
Once a camera is mounted to a quadcopter, a typical next step is the assembly of a first-person-view (FPV) setup.
The FPV setup I chose for my first foray into flying in the first person was the ReadyMadeRC 5.8Ghz starter package.
NOTE: XT60 male and female are swapped in the legend, above! I will fix this as soon as I can.
My package was $249.99, and included the following components:
- Antennas: Bluebeam Whip Set
- Camera: GoPro HD Cable Only (No Camera, Works with Hero and Hero2)
- Video Transmitter: FatShark 100mW 5.8GHz
- Video Receiver: Uno5800 5.8GHz Receiver V2
- Video Goggles or Monitor: ReadyMadeRC 8 Inch LCD FPV Monitor
In theory, the package was ready to use, but there were a few modifications that were necessary to get it 1) working with the DJI Phantom, and 2) powered by a battery for field use. In addition to the parts and cables supplied in the package, I had to purchase or make the following parts:
- GoPro HERO 3 camera
- GoPro HERO 3 custom video cable for Fat Shark transmitter ($8.99)
- RCA female-to-female coupler, to connect receiver to monitor (could also have used a RCA cable)
- JST y-splitter cable (female to 2 x male), in order to power receiver and monitor by a single power source
- JST male to XT60 male adapter cable, to connect receiver and monitor to a 3S LiPo battery with an XT60 female connector (HobbyKing standard)
- 3S LiPo battery with velcro attached (I use the same batteries that the Phantom uses)
With those additional parts, I am able to use the GoPro camera as the FPV camera (while simultaneously recording), and power the entire receiver with a single 3S LiPo battery velcro’ed to the back of the monitor. I also velcro the receiver itself to the back of the monitor, which is then mounted on a standard tripod. With the sun shade attached, I can easily see the picture even in mid-day, bright sunlight.
The GoPro is a great FPV camera and lets the pilot see exactly what is being captured. However, in timelapse mode, the FPV video blinks rapidly (every second or so), which is annoying. Luckily, I found that I was able to fly accurately, despite the blinking.
FPV monitor with sun shade, receiver, and battery attached
To supply power from the Phantom, I use the Phantom’s auxiliary power lead, which pokes out of one of the landing strut grommets. To use this power lead, I pulled it out, soldered a male JST connector to the end of it, and connected it to the female JST power cable that the Fat Shark transmitter uses.
GoPro HERO 3 with custom Fat Shark / ImmersionRC cable. Aux power from the Phantom is also visible.
IMPORTANT: NEVER power on a transmitter without the antenna attached. You may fry your transmitter.
Good luck! Flying FPV is incredible, and is a must-have for proper aerial photography and videography.Comments powered by Disqus