First Person View: Mechanics

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FPV drones require a knowledge base of simple equipment and technical specifications before one puts on a pair of goggles and goes for it. It is a high speed and high tech sport that is quickly attracting sponsors for serious racing due to the amount of money that (can) be spent on the hobby. This exploration of the FPV racing scene will be the core of my dossier for what could see a university based society or enthusiast club arise. I will be focusing on the quadcopter scene (opposed to the fixed wing or the ground vehicles) and the use of first person view flight. John Gaudiosi details drones popularity amoungst the public due to enthusiasts wanting an “experience an aerial perspective of a physical location” he links his arguments advertising Virtual Reality Links to the possibility of “Drone racing enthusiasts can sit in the driver’s seat of the winning pilot”. In this particlaur blog I want to cover RTF vs ARF drones as well as introduce the two viewing types that go into FPV flight.

Firstly, the user needs to decide if they want to assemble (ARF or almost-ready-to-fly) the quadcopter or just want it ‘Ready-to-Fly’ (RTF) out of the box. There are advantages for both, the ARF allows tinkering with parts, customisation and enhancement (for example the user can integrate a more powerful battery to improve flight time), where as the RTF is as it sounds, the only step is to unbox, calibrate and you’re ready to start piloting.

The ARF builds are my particualar favourite and something i’ve been working on in a build of my own which you can follow on Twitter

Next FPV viewing devices need to be chosen with options of the goggles or a screen based flight, or in fact both. The output of the footage is relaying a “drones eye view” of the surroundings and flight path. The goggles allow an immersed experience for the flyer for a real-time maneuver as if you were inside the drone. The screen is an option for people with prescription needs, for those that find the motion too full on and don’t want to be confined in the goggles, as well as the convenience of a screen mount to a tripod or the radio controller this gives the opportunity for others around to view the experiences without exactly piloting. The radio signals run off an analogue signal, meaning those with a screen monitor with them simply have to tap into the corresponding frequency and they can watch the footage. Having both allows this idea of a disembodiment gaze – the fact that observers can see you and the drone but you cannot see them.

This interview with drone FPV racer by the name of Charpu, explains the ideas and implications around the idea of FPV racing with goggles and an entry level response to the differences in signals.


Gaudiosi, J 2015, ‘Now you can pilot a real-world drone from inside virtual reality’, Fortune.Com, p. N.PAG, Health Business Elite, EBSCOhost, viewed 29 March 2016.