Airborne FPV is a type of remote-control (RC) flying that has grown in popularity in recent years.
It involves mounting a small video camera and an analogue video transmitter to an RC aircraft and flying by means of a live video down-link, commonly displayed on video goggles or a portable monitor.
FPV became increasingly common throughout the late 2000s and early 2010s.
It is currently one of the fastest growing activities involving RC aircraft, and has given rise to a small but growing industry providing products specifically designed for FPV use.
FPV aircraft are frequently used for aerial photography and videography and many videos of FPV flights can be found on popular video sites such as YouTube and Vimeo.
For this purpose, many FPV pilots utilize a second, lightweight high-definition on-board camcorder such as a GoPro camera in addition to their standard definition video link(s).
There are two primary components of a FPV setup:
- the airborne component
- and the ground component (typically called a ground station).
A basic FPV system consists of a camera and an analogue video transmitter on the aircraft with a video receiver and a display on the ground.
More advanced setups commonly add in specialized hardware, including on-screen displays with GPS navigation and flight data, stabilization systems, and autopilot devices with "return to home" capability—allowing the aircraft to fly back to its starting point autonomously in the event of a signal loss.
Another common feature is the addition of pan and tilt capability to the camera, provided by servos.
This, when coupled with video goggles and "head tracking" devices creates a truly immersive, first-person experience, as if the pilot was actually sitting in the cockpit of the RC aircraft.
Receiving equipment—commonly referred to as the "Ground Station"—generally consists of an analog video receiver (matching the frequency of the transmitter on board the aircraft) and a viewing device.
More complex Ground Stations often include a means to record the received image along with more sophisticated antennas for achieving greater range and clarity.