‘Live’ video

FPV (First-Person-View) Hardware

There is a huge community of hobbyists who fly their remote controlled aircrafts using FPV gear. The same technology is used for transmitting ‘live’ video from an unmanned aerial vehicle to a ground control station. This basically involves the use of a separate set of radio transmitter and receiver, and either a dedicated FPV camera or by connecting a video output from a recording camera, such as the GoPro, to the video transmitter.

The cost of setting up a ‘live’ video system can quickly increase with the transmission range required. A hobby-grade FPV set-up that cost $200-300 (radio and antenna) might only allow for a ‘live’ video range of 1-2 km. It could easily cost several thousand dollars more to extend the range by a few kilometers (due to the higher cost of more powerful radio transmitters, diversity receivers, tracking antennas, and so on). Furthermore, that is often only possible if the antenna could be elevated (hilltop, long pole or tower) to maintain line-of-sight with the UAV. Regardless of the range of ‘live’ video, its resolution will never be as good as video recorded by an on-board camera such as a GoPro. The following is a short clip comparing the quality of ‘live’ video versus recorded video.

Before investing time and money in ‘live’ video hardware, first ask yourself if you really need ‘live’ video.

Below is an excellent video from RCModelReviews.com discussing different 5.8 GHz FPV gear available in the market.

How to display your ‘live’ video?

The video received by the video receiver at your ground control station could be displayed in three main ways: