The camera is considered an essential part of a drone, as it allows the pilot of the gadget to have a better view of where the drone is going and what it is seeing. Most people would even say that a drone would be useless without a camera, as that specific part of the drone is essential for various tasks, which are mostly related to how the drone can be used professionally. Drones are often used for photography and videography, as they can provide aerial views that wouldn’t be possible using a normal DSLR camera. In addition, drones are also utilized in surveillance and building inspections.
So, it is safe to say that cameras are very important for drones. But, even though those cameras are essential, there are still some drones in the market that don’t have cameras or have cameras that are made from low-quality materials and would get damaged easily. For those drones, what you will need to do is to install a camera or replace the old camera with a new one, which is not exactly easy to do. First, you would need an FPV camera, and second, you will have to know which camera is suitable for your drone. Here are tips on adding a drone camera kit to a pre-made drone.
What is an FPV Camera?
The FPV camera, also known by its full name, first-person-view camera, is a type of camera that is typically small and lightweight. As its name suggests, the FPV camera gives a real-time first-person view of what the drone is looking at through the camera’s lenses. There are some FPV cameras that can stream whatever it is shooting at the remote controller’s screen, while there are also FPV cameras that can connect to a smartphone through an app, which would then allow you to see the drone camera feed through your phone’s screen.
Typically, the FPV camera would have a transmitter, which would be responsible for sending the camera feed to the remote controller or a smartphone app. Because of how small FPV cameras are, they are quite easy to install in drones, which would also sometimes be small. Moreover, the lightweight body of the FPV camera also allows it to be suitable for drones since it wouldn’t add weight to the drones’ bodies.
The one downside to using FPV cameras for drones is that there would usually be transmission latency, which would mean that the feed you are seeing on the controller or a smartphone is slightly late than what the camera is seeing in real-time.
However, there are some FPV cameras that have a much lower latency compared to the others, although they are often pricier. Understanding latency is important if you want to fly the drone efficiently, as you will need to have low latency so that you can react to obstacles or problems with the drone in real-time instead of a few seconds too late.
How to Install an FPV Camera on a Drone
Now that we know some of the basic details about the FPV camera, let us now discuss how you can actually install it on your drone. Here are the steps that you should know about installing drone cameras.
Know Where to Place the Camera
The first thing that you would need to do is to know where exactly to place the camera. If your drone already had a camera installed on it, then you can just unscrew or detach the installed camera and just easily replace it with a new one. However, if the drone didn’t have a camera previously, then you must determine which part of the drone serves as the front. If you have assembled the drone yourself, it is quite easy to know where to put the camera, although you would need to watch out for the balance of weight in the drone’s frame or body.
Purchase the Right Parts for the Camera
Once you know where to place the camera on the drone, it is time to buy some camera parts. The camera is not the only important thing that you need to buy to have a properly working surveillance or video feed system on the drone, as you also need to purchase a transmitter, a receiver, an FPV monitor, and a power supply.
Sometimes, you would have to buy these parts separately, but luckily, there are also drone camera sets that you can easily buy in hobby stores and online shops, which would already have everything you need to set up a camera on the drone. So, if you don’t want the hassle of buying things individually, you can just buy a drone camera kit.
Know How to Connect the Camera to the Transmitter
The next step is to connect the camera to the transmitter, which is relatively easy to do if you bought a drone camera set since the installation process is already written in the included instruction manual. However, if there aren’t any instructions included in the set or in the camera and transmitter you bought, here are some things that you should know about the pins of the transmitter’s cable.
- The red pin connects to the power supply
- The smaller black pin connects to the camera
- The bigger black pin connects to the transmitter
It is important to note that FPV cameras would often have different voltages, so you may need to find a compatible power supply for the camera you purchased. If the camera runs on 12V, you can easily connect the camera to the transmitter and the regular drone camera power supply that you would normally find in stores. But, if the camera runs on 6V or below, you may need to purchase a BEC converter (DC step-down converter).
Set Up the Receiver and the FPV Monitor
After connecting the transmitter and the camera, you would then have to set up the receiver and the FPV monitor, which is relatively easy to do since they have color-coded cables. Just follow the colors of the ends of the cable and connect them to the same colors.
But, most of the time, all you really need to connect is the video feed cable that has yellow plugs, while the red and white plugs (for audio) can remain disconnected. You can connect the two yellow plugs together using a male-to-male RCA adapter. Keep in mind that the receiver would also run on batteries too, so it needs a separate power supply. If the receiver of the drone’s camera is a smartphone app, you can skip this step and just download the appropriate app that can connect to the camera’s transmitter.
And there you go, the steps on how to connect an FPV camera to your drone. There are hundreds of different drone cameras available today, so you may need to take a look at reviews of the best cameras so that you will know which one is suitable for your drone.