Team BlackSheep's FPV Tips

This week I’ve been building a new Team BlackSheep Caipirinha FPV flying wing. At the back of the instruction manual is a great little list of radio control modelling and FPV tips. I wish I’d found something like this when first starting out with FPV flying. With that in mind, I wanted to reprint TBS’s good practice list here for more people to find, as it’s so useful.

We have compiled a list of all of the things that have been tried and tested in countless environments and situations by TBS crew and other experienced FPV pilots. Follow these simple rules, even if rumours on the internet suggest otherwise, and you will have success in FPV.

Read on for the complete listing of Team BlackSheep’s radio control best practices!

  • Start with the bare essentials and add equipment one step at a time. After each new component is added, do proper range and stress tests.
  • Do not fly with a video system that is capable of outperforming your R/C system in terms of range.
  • Do not fly with a R/C frequency higher than the video frequency (e.g. 2.4GHz R/C, 900MHz video).
  • Monitor the vitals of your plane (R/C link and battery). Flying with a digital R/C link without RSSI is dangerous.
  • Do not use 2.4GHz R/C unless you fly well within its range limits, in noise-free environments and always within LOS. Since this is most likely never the case, it is recommended to not use 2.4GHz R/C systems for longer range FPV.
  • Do not fly at the limits of video - if you see noise in your picture, turn around and buy a higher-gain receiver antenna before going out further.
  • Use shielded wires or twisted cables only, anything else picks up RF noise and can cause problems.
  • When using powerful R/C transmitters, make sure your ground station equipment is properly shielded.
  • Adding RTH to an unreliable system does not increase the chances of getting your plane back. Work on making your system reliable without RTH first, then add RTH as an additional safety measure if you must.
  • Avoid powering the VTX directly from battery - step-up or step-down the voltage and provide a constant level of power to your VTX. Make sure your VTX runs until your battery dies.
  • Do not power your camera directly unless it works along the complete voltage range of your battery. Step-up or step-down the voltage and provide a constant level of power to your camera. Make sure your camera runs until your battery dies.
  • A single battery system is safer than using two dedicated batteries for R/C and FPV. Two batteries in parallel even further mitigate sources of failure.
  • For maximum video range and legal compatibility, use 2.4GHz video with high-gain antennas.
  • When flying with R/C buddies that fly on 2.4GHz, or when flying in cities, it is perfectly possible to use 2.4GHz video provided you stick to the channels that do not lie in their band (CH5 to CH8 for Lawmate systems, available from TBS).
  • Do not use diversity video receivers as a replacement for pointing your antennas, diversity should be used to mitigate polarization issues.
  • Improving the antenna gain on the receiver end is better than increasing the output power (except in RF-noisy areas). More TX power causes more issues with RF on your plane. 500mW is plenty of power!
  • Try to achieve as much separation of the VTX and R/C receiver as possible to lower the RF noise floor and EMI interference.
  • Do not buy the cheapest equipment unless it is proven to work reliably (e.g. parts falling off, multitudes of bug fix firmware updates, community hacks and mods are a good indicator of poor quality and something you do NOT want to buy for a safe system). Do due diligence and some research before sending your aircraft skyward.

The above list has been republished here with permission from Trappy at TBS and is copyright Team BlackSheep.

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