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Inexpensive FPV System Build for Your Drone

This article was originally published in June/July 2016 issue.

Inexpensive-FPV-System-Build-for-Your-Drone-1One of the coolest opportunities offered by drones is obviously capturing wild in-flight video and beautiful photos. So to get the best captures, pilots are oft en looking for great equipment that will get the job done, but not necessarily break the bank either. One camera that many enthusiasts have glommed onto is the Mobius ActionCam. This compact camera shoots in 1080p HD, its latest version with the C-lens has an FOV of 132 degrees and is programmable through free GUI soft ware. So needless to say its gets a lot of att ention in the recording community and now it’s going to get some more att ention in the FPV community with its optional FPV Docking Station. With the easy-to-use dock, you’ll be able to record video and transmit it through your FPV goggles simultaneously. So if you’re still using two cameras in flight, this is an option you’re going to want to check out.

PRODUCT: Mobius Action Cam & Mobius FPV Docking Station
PART NUMBER: Cam- 504000015-0, Dock- 9171000751-0
PRICE: Price: Cam- $75.25, Dock- $38.23
NEEDED TO COMPLETE: Battery, Goggles and 5.8GHz receiver
VIDEO FORMAT: 1080p HD @ 30fps, 720p HD at 60 or 30fps
BATTERY: 820mah
VIDEO STORAGE: Micro SD Cards up to 32GB (not included)
WEIGHT: 39g (camera only)
A/V LIVE OUT: Audio and video out available

MODULATION: Wideband frequency modulation
VIDEO INPUT LEVEL: 1V ±0.2Vp-p/75 ohms
AUDIO INPUT LEVEL: 0.5-2.0Vp-p/10K ohms
TV SYSTEM: PAL/NTSC/Secam (auto)
RF OUTPUT POWER: 200mW (23dBm ±0.05dBm)
RANGE: 1.5 kilometres
DIMENSIONS: 30 x 20 x 8mm (antenna)]

Inexpensive-FPV-System-Build-for-Your-Drone-5THE CAMERA
The Mobius has been available for quite some time now and is a popular cam to install on all types of RC machines because of its small size, great 1080p HD capability and probably best of all, low price tag. The ActionCam is comparable in size to a Tic- Tac container with the lens protruding from one end. Mobius now off ers the cam with a C-lens which gives it 132-degrees of view. Moving back on the camera body, there is a small hole for the microphone to receive sound next to the camera lens. On the top of the body are three butt ons to control the camera, modes and power. A small LED light on the opposite side of the butt ons blinks to let you know what sett ing the camera is in. At the back of the body, there is a reset butt on, slot for the micro SD card that you need to supply and a mini USB port.

Let’s look at the features of the camera. It is certainly loaded. You can select the frame rates at which it records, take time lapse photos, loop recording and fl ip the camera view 180-degrees depending on how you mount it. By hooking the camera up to the GUI interface, you can get lost in all of the options you have to tune and refine the Mobius’s image collecting to suite your needs.

Small, simple and easy to use is why the Mobius has become a hit in the RC world. The unit comes as shown here with a lens cap and USB cable.
Small, simple and easy to use is why the Mobius has become a hit in the RC world. The unit comes as shown here with a lens cap and USB cable.

This clever unit turns the Mobius into an easy to set-up FPV transmission unit. First, the dock itself is molded in composite plastic and hugs the Mobius once you slide the cam into the rails and the Mini-USB plug on the dock mates up with the female end on the camera. Looking at the case more, you’ll notice slots on its sides that allow a Velcro strap to run through it and cinch it down to your drone. Vents in the bott om of the case aid in airfl ow and cooling. At the back of the dock there are the dip switches to change the 5.8GHz 32ch 200mW transmitt er channel sett ings. An antenna with SMA connector, Mobius wiring harness and spare video lead are also included in the set. The dock adds some length and height to the Mobius, but its neat and compact design should fi t easily on 250-size machines and up.

The dock comes as shown here with antenna and wires. From this view you can see the vent holes on the lower side of the dock that will help dissipate heat that the electronics generate.
The dock comes as shown here with antenna and wires. From this view you can see the vent holes on the lower side of the dock that will help dissipate heat that the electronics generate.

Lucky for me, the opportunity to try the Mobius with Dock came at just the right time when I was rebuilding my Blade 350QX and installing a carbon fi ber frame on it for some FPV style action. The M-Dock set fi t nicely between the upper and lower deck of the drone and only required me to open up a hole in the top plate for the antenna to peer through. The only other item I needed for the install was a Balance tap to mini-JST plug to power the dock, which will also charge the camera from the main balance plug on the drone’s LiPo. With the cam and dock transmitt er in, I pulled out my trusty Quanum DIY FPV V2 Goggle set fi tt ed with a Skyzone RC832 5.8GHz receiver, powered by a Turnigy 11.1v LiPo. I synched the channels and took a look at the view from behind the screen. It only took a few seconds to set up and I was looking at a crystal clear view in the the goggles. FYI, Editor Matt Maziarz makes some prett y wacky faces when holding a camera up to his melon; he needs help. Now that the camera and dock were working and linked to my goggle set, it was time to try the system out in action. I headed out to the parking lot at the offi ce for some simple fl ight. The sight was clear with very good perspective and no signs of cutout, even as I fl ew up and over the parking garage which has been known to eat a signal or two with its metal core. While I was using the system in FPV I had also had the camera set to record and I fl ew some fi gure eights around two light poles. The testing was fun, but I wanted to see the replay of the action that the camera had recorded. Back at my PC, I downloaded the footage and the clarity of the video was excellent. The dock and camera work great!

For a little over two hundred beans in total, you can head over to HobbyKing and replicate the setup you see here, complete with the goggles I used. The result is a budgetfriendly FPV system that is super easy to use, you get the added bonus of captured fl ight video on the cam at the same exact time and the view from behind the goggles is great. I’m impressed with the Mobius and dock; it makes me wonder why I spent so much on those commercialized action cams.