Make no mistake, the drone racing world is very robust, and niche. There are some strong production level racing drones from companies like UVify, and there are hundreds of parts manufacturers to help you build a totally custom racer. DJI knows this, and they want to help.
We must thank our pal C. Scott Brown from our Android Authority family once again for attending the live event in New York. He had a fun time experiencing his first FPV racing experience, with one standout comment of the new digital video system: “As the drone twisted and turned, I had a crystal clear view of everything whizzing by. The analog system seemed ancient in comparison.”
In the words of C. Scott Brown:
Hey there, DroneRush readers! I had the opportunity to test out this new DJI product at a New York park. I had never used a FPV product before so didn’t know what to expect.
Luckily, DJI offered two different headsets to use while testing out the FPV system: the new, digital system as well as several analog systems, including ones produced by DJI themselves. The difference in quality between the analog headset and the digital one was stunning. As the drone twisted and turned, I had a crystal clear view of everything whizzing by. The analog system seemed ancient in comparison.
Now, I will concede that the digital system still isn’t equal to the beautiful 4K video footage a drone can capture, but the latency between what the drone saw and what my goggles showed me was incredibly low, and the picture quality was certainly good enough to make me hold onto a nearby structure to prevent myself from falling over. It was quite the ride.
The coolest thing about the new system, though, is the fact that you can attach it to anything. All you need is the camera and a power source and you can duct tape it to whatever you want: your drone, your R/C car, your real car, your boat, even your baby’s stroller. Get a first-person view of your entire world!
DJI FPV Camera
The starting point of any FPV system is the camera, DJI’s new offering is a bump up from their OcuSync camera announced along side the Racing Edition Goggles. The FPV Camera offers 1080p video at 60 fps, or drop that down to 720p at 120 fps for lower latency and greater connection distances.
You can record and transmit the video feed in 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratios, and the camera can be configured for three modes, Standard, Racing and LED Mode.
DJI FPV Air Unit
Not just a DVR for the camera, the FPV Air Unit can be your entire RX interface for your drone. This requires you to connect to the new FPV Remote Controller, but we’ll talk about that in a moment. The FPV Air Unit includes HD video recording into a microSD card, and is the transmitter for the video signal. (The Air Unit is attached to the camera, but we’re writing about them separately anyway.)
Roughly the size of a matchbox, and not much heavier, the FPV Air Unit can connect into your drone flight controller, allowing you to use DJI controllers to operate your custom built racing drone.
If you are wondering about the tech, DJI calls the new connectivity the DJI HDL FPV Transmission System. This is a 5.8GHz solution that we are looking to confirm if it’s open to other 5.8GHz tech, or locked to their own hardware. Either way, we’re happy to see HD video transmission.
DJI FPV Remote Controller
Designed after a Phantom remote, the familiar remote, for some of us, can now operate your racing drone. The internals are all new, conforming to the faster paced needs of a fine-tuned racer. Connectivity is key as well, offering an HD signal up to 2.5 miles away. The laws being what they are, and the average race track fitting inside a building, anything more than a few hundred feet should suffice.
The FPV Remote Controller has eight channels in the 5.8GHz range, meaning eight racers can take to the field at the same time.
DJI FPV Goggles
Designed to support folks with good eyesight, or for glasses wearers like me, the new FPV Goggles have a pretty unique look to them. Not to be mistaken with the DJI Goggles and Goggles RE, which both handle OcuSync, these new goggles connect to the new FPV gear announced today. Inside the Goggles, you’ll enjoy 720p video at 120 fps.
Most racers are familiar with the vast array of Fat Shark goggles, a range of headsets that offer different latency and resolutions. These and many other FPV solutions operate over the 5.8GHz frequency. This remains true of the new DJI FPV Goggles as well. To share the experience, you are able to connect multiple Goggles to a single drone.
Perhaps the best feature is that you can change goggle settings from within the goggle. Many racing goggles require you to connect to a PC to manipulate the settings. A nice touch.
Price and availability
The new FPV racing solutions are available now. Two offerings are available at start:
- FPV Experience Combo for $819 (Amazon link) – Two cameras, two Air Units, one set of Goggles and all the cables and antenna needed to operate.
- FPV Fly More Combo for $929 (Amazon link) – Drone remote control, one camera, one Air Unit, a set of Goggles and all the cables and antenna needed to operate.
Most of the pieces will be available to purchase separately down the road.
The new systems may be designed for drone racing, but I’ve got a few other ideas for their use. For starters, I have a few older drones that do not have cameras, or just bad cameras, that could really use a camera upgrade. C. Scott Brown’s idea to put it on the car is a good one, too.
Stay tuned for further details and specs on this new gear. DJI only just announced it, we’ll try to get our hands on things and put it to the test for you.
How will you use the new DJI FPV system?