DJI FPV: Highspeed with digital HD transmission
For many people, drones are sports equipment, work tools or serve as entertainment. For drone racing, you need a different conception than for high-quality photo and video shooting. But with the new FPV system with HD image transmission, a 4K recording option and a drone that can do up to 140 km/h, almost all areas can be covered. In any case, the DJI FPV is a lot of fun and offers a lot for the money. With a new digital FPV HD image transmission system and a kit designed to match, the new DJI FPV drones are expected to give the market a good shake. The entire system consists of high-quality FPV goggles, the FPV remote control, the FPV camera and the associated air unit. This system is intended for pilots who want to put together an individual platform. Low latency, long range image transmission and true HD image resolution offer advantages over lower performance providers. In fact, some experts are already calling the DJI FPV HD transmission system groundbreaking.
Reliable transmission technology of DJI FPV thanks to digital HD system
Unlike other applications, drone racing requires not only an attentive, well-trained pilot, but also, of course, highly reliable technology that provides a perfect picture of the situation as smoothly as possible in real time. Only then can high-performance flights at speeds of up to 140 km/h be carried out with precision. The technological advantage of the HD image transmission system of the DJI FPV drones should ultimately become a new industry standard, according to the manufacturer. What's new here is that, for the first time, digital transmission systems are expected to work with similar reliability as the proven but larger analog transmission systems. The aerial unit of the DJI FPV drone uses the DJI HDL FPV transmission. At 28ms, the latencies can definitely keep up with good analog systems. The range varies between 700 meters (CE certification) and 4 kilometers (according to FCC regulations), depending on the mode. The FPV goggles benefit from the stable data rate and a special technology for attenuating interference to minimize or, if possible, completely eliminate failures and interference. The focus mode should also be particularly interesting for fast-flying pilots. This allows the bit rate of the signal to be optimized for an area in the center of the image, while the edges are supplied with lower bit rates. This allows transmission at higher speeds with sufficient sharpness in the "tunnel vision" area without having to sacrifice detail. This also reduces the risk of interference noise under demanding operating conditions. As a result, the digital HD image transmission technology achieves very low latency while maintaining high image quality at 720p resolution (at 120 fps). The transmission technology provides eight channels on the 5.8 GHz frequency in conjunction with the DJI FPV air unit. Thus, up to eight drones can be operated in parallel, with each pilot having his own channel.
Recording and image modes in the DJI FPV system
Image recording is of course also possible. Either direct transmission to the FPV goggles (720p/60fps) or recording in the FPV camera of the drone at 720p/120fps or 1080p/60fps on micro SD card is available. To use the full power of 4K image recording, direct recording in the device should be chosen, which can cause interference during transmission to the FPV goggles, which of course will then also be recorded. When using the 4K resolution, however, the quality of the recordings should usually be the main priority - visual control remains unaffected by this, after all. The 4K camera has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels and can record stabilized videos at 50 or 60fps. Photo shots always go on the memory card in the drone. In total, three camera modes provide enough options for most scenarios. Depending on the mode selected, for example, obstacles are more noticeable due to the higher contrasts (Race mode - Manual mode). In Standard mode, the image values remain largely unchanged, color losses are minimized and details remain visible in full clarity. In darkness or generally poor lighting conditions, the LED mode is recommended, which reduces image noise and raises the saturation of the image information. In shooting mode, the 150° wide-angle lens can show its strengths.
In flight, the DJI FPV technology scores with impressive values
With a top speed of 140 km/h, the DJI FPV drone can compete very competitively in drone races, although its weight and expensive technology do not necessarily predestine it for this. Up to six kilometers of range or 20 minutes of flight time are also decent values. The set of the DJI FPV drone includes a 6S flight battery as well as a transmitter, which is reminiscent of controllers from game consoles and fits well in the hand. Of course, the HD FPV goggles called DJI Goggles V2 are also included, as well as a charger, USB battery, corresponding cables, and spare propellers just in case. Let's move on to the flight performance: The DJI FPV drone is advertised with an acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in just two seconds, as well as a top speed of 140 km/h. However, this maximum speed is only reached in manual mode and is thus not recommended for inexperienced pilots. Self-stabilization does not take place in this mode. In the somewhat slower standard mode, on the other hand, the flight is stabilized by GPS and automatic obstacle detection, whereby the speed is limited to a decent 54 km/h. Manual mode, in which the sensors are inactive, should be interesting for drone racing. In this mode, the DJI FPV drone can reach up to 140 km/h. If necessary, the flight can be aborted via emergency stop and return-to-home. The drone then switches to hover or returns to the transmitter. Such functions are available on many drones, but are rarely found in the FPV sector and in drone racing. In this respect, an additional safety plus from DJI.
Legal framework for the operation of the DJI FPV drone
Due to the new drone regulation, DJI FPV racing drones are of course also subject to the new restrictions for the operation of UAS. Thus, the CE marking is crucial for determining which subcategory the drone falls into - and thus where and how it may be operated. The DJI FPV is so new that it may not yet have a CE mark printed on it. If so, the device will automatically fall into the transitional OPEN category (without CE classification) until Jan. 1, 2023. Pilots must therefore pay attention to whether the marking is already visible on their model. In the OPEN/A3 operating category, it can be flown far away from people or a minimum distance of 150 meters from built-up areas with the small EU drone license. However, those who want to fly in the A2 category (safe distance from people, 50 meters distance) will need the large drone license. After the transition period expires at the beginning of 2023, operation will only be possible in category A3. In addition, FPV flight may of course only be carried out in conjunction with a spotter who always keeps an eye on the drone. The DJI FPV also falls under the compulsory insurance in Austria according to the Air Traffic Act, so a drone liability insurance is necessary.
Conclusion: The DJI FPV drone is fun first and foremost
The flight feel may seem unfamiliar to many experienced FPV racing drone pilots because the camera is uniaxially stabilized. With most FPV drones, the optics are fixed to the drone and thus optically replicate the flight attitude 1:1 with the camera angle. With the DJI FPV, the stabilization makes for an unusually straight camera image. However, you get used to that. The single-axis stabilization is also somewhat less sophisticated than, for example, a three-axis gimbal stabilization of pure camera drones. This is not necessarily a disadvantage, though, because the shots appear a bit more dynamic than a fully stabilized video. For really good shots, the manual flight mode is recommended, since the stabilization aids can lead to visible image shaking. Furthermore, the high-tech drone is simply too bad for "real" drone racing, despite its impressive motor power, due to its weight and relatively high price. However, this concept can definitely convince for occasional races with like-minded people - especially when the focus is on fun.