Buying the Best FPV Goggles: The Definitive Buying Guide
- System Setup
- IPD Adjustment
- Wearing Glasses with FPV Goggles
- Field of View (FOV)
- Video Recording
- Frequency & Compatibility
- Headset Color
- Head Tracking
- What are the best FPV goggles?
FPV goggles, or First Person View Goggles, can transform your drone flying experience and take it to another level. These goggles enable you to fully immerse yourself in your drone’s perspective during flight. What your drone sees, you will see on your goggles! It is an incredible upgrade from your traditional drone flying experience and we recommend looking into getting best FPV goggles to take your flight to the next level. Whether you plan on racing your drone or just want to get an incredible bird’s eye view of your town, this FPV goggle buying guide is the best one out there to help you to find the best FPV goggles for you. The video below is footage from a racing drone. The pilot controls this drone uses FPV goggles to see real-time what their drone is seeing.
Below is a basic setup of an FPV system. The three components on the left side of the picture are components attached to the drone. This contains the camera, battery and video transmitter. The two components on the right side of the picture are components on the person piloting the drone. This consists of the video receiver and FPV goggles.
In its simplest terms, the camera on the drone captures the image which is then transmitted by the video transmitter. The video receiver receives and processes the signal from the video transmitter and projects the image on the screens inside of your goggles. The process enables you to fully immerse yourself in the point of view from your drone. What your drone sees, you see in your FPV goggles creating an awesome experience while piloting your drone. The best FPV goggles on the market have some of these components built right into the goggles or come in small kits. However, many people also enjoy customizing their set up by buying each component separately. Don’t worry, we will cover everything is this guide.
IPD stands for Interpupillary Distance, or the distance between the centers of the pupils of your two eyes. This is an important feature to look for when buying your goggles; the best FPV goggles will always have this adjustment available. Many peoples’ eyes are different from one another so it is important that you look for goggles that offer adjustments in this category. Otherwise the image on the goggle screens may look distorted or cross-eyed.
Wearing Glasses with FPV Goggles
Many people wear glasses, if you are one of them it is important to find a pair of goggles that are able to accommodate glasses. Some goggles are great for people with glasses, and some are not meant for that. Assuming you’ll be spending hours flying your drone and wearing these goggles, it is important to find a pair that you find comfortable.
Field of View (FOV)
FOV, or Field of View, is the angle that the edges of the screens make in relation to the center point of your eyes. In general, the more expensive or best FPV goggles will have a higher FOV because this creates a more immersive experience. FPV goggles generally have a range between 25° and 45°, with more expensive goggles even slightly higher. As the technology of these goggles get better, the FOV will likely increase. Again, the bigger the field of view angle, the more immersive experience you will get while piloting your drone. This is an important specification to consider while making your purchase.
Just like a standard screen or monitor, a higher resolution will create a clearer picture. However, you will pay more for higher resolution FPV goggles. Most goggles on the market use VGA (640×480 pixels) or SVGA (800×600 pixels) resolution. These will be the most reasonably priced goggles and should work just fine for the average drone enthusiast. If you can afford to get higher resolution goggles, go for it, but you also need to be sure that the rest of your equipment (camera, transmitter, receiver, etc.) can handle the higher quality images.
The best FPV goggles will allow you to record your flight video on an SD or Micro SD card. Some goggles will even let you replay the video right on the goggle screens; this feature is helpful if you crash and need to find your drone or want to show your friends what you saw while flying. Most goggles offering this feature will be higher priced than your average FPV goggles. There are also separate recording devices that you can buy that would enable you to record your flight.
Frequency & Compatibility
Your video transmitter and video receiver need to be on the same frequency in order to work. Another major issue to avoid is that you cannot operate your drone on the same frequency as your video transmitter/receiver.
There are four main bands/frequencies used when flying your FPV drone:
- 900 MHz
- 1.2 & 1.3 GHz
- 2.3 & 2.4 GHz
- 5.8 GHz
Pros: Long range and excellent signal penetration of objects such as trees, buildings, hills, etc. Great frequency if you think these objects will ever come between you and your drone.
Cons: A longer, more powerful frequency means you need a larger antenna. If space and portability is an issue for you then you might want to reconsider. In many areas, this is the frequency used by amateur radio operators for very local communications. You may need a radio operator license to legally operate at this frequency. Video transmission is also not as clear and subject to a lot of noise interference.
1.2 & 1.3 GHz
Pros: Great range and good signal penetration of objects such as trees, buildings, hills, etc.
Cons: Antenna larger than most high frequency antennas so if portability is an issue you might want to reconsider. You may need a license to legally operate at this frequency. You’ll need to check your local laws depending on where you live.
2.3 & 2.4 GHz
Pros: Good range and a very good range/power ratio; decent signal penetration. This is one of the most common frequencies among FPV equipment on the market. Cheaper equipment when buying at this frequency. Most equipment you find can be legally operated right out of the box, no licenses needed.
Cons: Not as good signal penetration as the previously listed frequencies, but still decent. May get interference from other popular electronics using this frequency (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc.).
Pros: Growing in popularity and becoming cheaper to buy. Antenna can be made very small compared to other frequencies, great for portability. Good range and range/power ratio.
Cons: Bad signal penetration (flying behind a large tree or bush may cause interference).
Rules to follow when setting up your FPV System:
- DO NOT operate video transmitter/receiver at the same (or near) frequency as your drone control frequency or vice-versa
- DO NOT operate video transmitter/receiver at a harmonic frequency of your drone controls frequency or vice-versa. Example: If your control frequency is 1.2 GHz its harmonic frequencies are 2.4 GHz, 3.6GHz, 4.8GHz, etc. Because of these harmonics, you cannot operate your video transmitter/receiver at 1.2 GHz and control frequency at 2.4GHz.
- Your video feed range should be less than the drone controls range
Due to the limited number of frequencies used in FPV equipment, many of them are eliminated just due to rule number two. A common setup among flyers is operating their video transmitter/receiver at 5.8GHz and their control frequency at 2.4GHz. This set-up follows all of the rules and allows pilots to control their drone at a longer range and with better signal penetration so the drone won’t crash if it goes behind a large tree or bush. The 5.8GHz video transmission allows for the smallest antenna to be used increasing portability. The video is also usually of high quality. The pilot will start losing their video feed before losing control of their drone; this ensures that they won’t fly out of range of the controls and crash.
It is important to figure out ahead of time which frequencies you want to operate your controls on before purchases. Many goggles are designed to operate on only one frequency. Some of the best FPV goggles on the market offer a range of different frequencies which can be chosen on the device.
While color is most certainly a personal preference when purchasing your FPV goggles, it may be something you want to consider a little more deeply. The only really problem associated with color is that darker colored goggles may get hot in the heat or sun. Some people specifically purchase lightly colored goggles just for this reason. It’s definitely not a deal breaker but definitely something worth considering.
An awesome technological advance has enabled head tracking on only the best FPV goggles; of course your camera and other equipment have to be setup to allow this setting. Head tracking allows you to turn your camera just by simply turning your head. If you look left, your camera will tilt left. If you look down, your camera will tilt down. This is an awesome technology which will certainly make your drone flying experience more surreal and exciting. However, this technology is usually available on the more expensive FPV goggles. Below is a demonstration showing how the technology works.
The range at which you can successfully operate your drone depends highly on your setup including antenna position and transmitter power. Most equipment, without any modifications, will probably get your around 200m range. However, reading around on the internet you will find people who can get 2000m or more. Again, this depends on your setup and equipment. Still, 200m is a large distance. As long as you are in an open area you should easily be able to fly your drone 200m without any problems.
FPV goggles range in price, anywhere from $100 to $500. The prices can go even higher for specialty goggles. The best FPV goggles will be more expensive and have more or better features such as higher resolution, larger field of view, head tracking technology, or DVR recording. You really just have to think about what you’ll be using the FPV goggles for (racing, light flying, hobby, etc.) and factor in your price that way. No matter what the purpose of your purchase, you’re sure to take the drone flying experience to the next level.
What are the best FPV goggles?
I’m sure that people could debate this topic forever. In this section, we’ll just let you know what to look for when purchasing your FPV goggles. You’ve learned a lot in the previous sections, and now we’ll put it all together so that it makes a little more sense. Some goggles only offer just the goggles (no transmitters included), while other have transmitters built right in, so be sure to look for this. If you do need to buy your own transmitters, remember to know ahead of time which frequency you want to operated your various functions on because most equipment is designed to only work on one frequency. Remember our tip (especially for new pilots), it’s usually a good idea for your video feed to start going out before your controls. That’s why we recommend running your video transmitters at 5.8GHz and drone controls at 2.4 GHz. This is just a recommendation and not everything will agree with this. A larger field of view (FOV) will allow you to feel more immersed but it will also cost more. Interpupillary Distance (IPD) is also a very important feature to consider. To be on the safe side, you should definitely get FPV goggles with an adjustable IPD; this guarantees that there won’t be any issues with fitting. If you wear glasses, you also obviously want to look closely to make sure a pair of goggles can be worn with glasses. Head tracking and DVR is a cool but slightly unnecessary amenity. If you can afford them they are really cool to have, but definitely not needed to get the full FPV experience.