Your goggles may be the single most important piece of FPV equipment you'll buy. Quadcopters will come and go, but you'll look through the same goggles every single flight. If you can't see where you're going, you can't fly well. If the goggles are uncomfortable or hard to use, you won't enjoy flying as much as you could.
If at all possible, it's recommended to try on a set of goggles before you buy them. Especially if you have very narrow or wide-set eyes, some goggles may not work for you.
Excellent features include an on-screen display that shows battery level, frequency, and signal strength; adjustable focus, which allows near-sighted people to view the screen without glasses; and a DVR so you can record your flights for later viewing. In addition, the front half of the EV800 splits off from the face-piece so that you can mount the screen on a tripod or use it hand-held if you like. Using the screen this way can be a big benefit when working on your copter, because you can work on your FPV system without having to put the goggles on your face. The EV800 also has a great push-button system for controlling the goggles.
Every goggle at this price point has some compromises. This goggle has the best balance of features, price, and not-too-many compromises. It's not a great goggle, but it's an okay goggle at a price you can stomach.
The image quality of the screen in this set has to be seen to be believed. It's incredible. Bright. Colorful. Just amazing. Although this is one of the most expensive "box-style" goggles available, it's still $100 cheaper than the least expensive "Fatshark-style" goggle in the roundup. There's no doubt that "box-style" goggles offer huge value in terms of picture quality.
One major down-side of these goggles is that they lack a DVR--something that you would really expect in a goggle at this price point. However, the superb picture quality and versatile design put them over the top for me.
Be careful when you buy this product because the older "Transformer HD" product is still being sold, and some vendors haven't marked it down from its $250 price. The Transformer SE is the one that costs around $180-$200. A few vendors are selling the Transformer HD with Binocular Viewer for about $100, which is a great bargain.
The Attitude v4 is the most affordable way to get Fatshark's quality and reliability. The image is bright and sharp, although the 32° FOV means it's a little small. The small FOV, combined with the 640x480 resolution, mean that precision flying is a little more difficult. Although I complain about the FOV, it's as large or larger than almost anything else in this price range.
Fatshark's OLED-screen receiver module makes it easy to select channels and scan for your friends' transmissions. However, the Attitude v4 goggles can also work with the True-D v3.5 module from Furious FPV. In my opinion, this combination is the most cost-effective way to get a really good FPV experience. Notice, I didn't say "cheapest". You're still going to spend about $430, which is a fair whack of cash. But if I were on a budget, I would personally rather try to save up for this combo than buy anything less expensive on the list. You'll need this custom cover for the True-D in order to make it fit the Attitude.
Other goggles offer more features than the Attitude v4, at the same or lower price. But Fatshark offers consistency, reliability, and support that those other goggles don't. With Fatshark, if something isn't right, email email@example.com, and somebody will help you. If your goggles break, you can get them repaired, instead of buying a new set. For many people, that makes Fatsharks the winner at any price.
Another thing that puts the Attitudes over the top for me compared to the competition is that their screens are a little bigger. On paper, goggles like the Aomway Commander have the same FOV as the Attitude, but the Commander (and others) have a wide-screen display. The way FOV is calculated, that means the screen is actually significantly smaller on widescreen goggles, for the same numerical FOV.
These goggles pack an incredible feature set. Diversity receiver. DVR. Front-facing VGA camera, so you can see what's in front of you without lifting the goggles. Head-tracker (lets your servo-mounted camera move where your head moves). HDMI input. They even support 3D, and yes, you can get 3D cameras for your FPV quadcopter.
These goggles have a16:9 display. Most cameras that are used for FPV today are 4:3 aspect ratio, like old televisions. So a 16:9 display will stretch the image. 16:9 FPV cameras are available, but they're not common (yet).
If these goggles are such a great value, why don't more pilots use them? One reason may simply be style: Fatsharks are "cool" and other goggles are "lame". Others would argue that for something as important as your goggles, it's worth it to spend a little more. Nevertheless, I think it's a really tough call between the Skyzones and the Attitudes, if $350-$400 is your price range.
There's no question that these goggles out-perform nearly everything else on the market. The only question is whether you want to pay for them. The fit and finish of these goggles is exquisite--like all Fatsharks. The HD3 has the highest resolution screen of any goggle in this style: 800x600.
In the world of TV and computers, 800x600 isn't that impressive. But FPV is almost always standard-definition, and 800x600 is more resolution than a standard-definition feed can carry. So additional resolution would be wasted.
The HD3 has the widest field of view, 42°, of any current-production goggle today. This means a larger screen that is more immersive and lets you see more details. However, it's not so large that you have to look around too much.
Most people prefer Fatshark-style goggles to Box-style goggles. But what if you don't have perfect vision? You can't exactly wear glasses underneath your goggles! And contact lenses don't work for everyone. Here's the answer!
If you are simply near-sighted, then the Fatshark diopter inserts are perfect for you. They come in a single set, with strengths from -2 to -6 diopter (ask your optician if you're not sure). They're made of plastic, so the optical quality is "acceptable" but not "fantastic", and they scratch easily if you're not careful with them. But they're pretty inexpensive and to be honest, I used my original set for more than a year before I upgraded to RHO-Lens.
These lenses are referred to as "Fatshark Diopter Set", but they fit some other major makes of goggles including Skyzone.
For More Complex Prescriptions
Purchase at RHO-Lens
Use coupon code JB121510 for 10% off!
If you're very near-sighted (more than -6.0 diopter) or if you have any astigmatism or other abnormality, the standard FatShark diopters won't work well for you.
Wouldn't it be nice if you could just get your actual eyeglass prescription made into lens inserts? You can! Simply send your eyeglass prescription to RHO-Lens and they'll make a custom corrective insert made exactly for your eyes. If you have any questions about whether they can make your prescription, reach out to them and ask!
I have very bad eyesight (-6.75 diopter with astigmatism). I've used RHO-Lens since September, 2016 and I love them. Check out my review to see my reaction the first time I try them!
FATSHARK receiver MODULES
The HD3 is the only Fatshark goggle on this page that comes with an empty receiver-module bay, but Fatshark Receiver Modules are such an important piece of FPV equipment that I'm covering them anyway. The job of the receiver module is to pull the video signal out of the air and put it onto your screen(s). The factory modules that come with Fatsharks do an okay job at this, but they're usually pretty clunky to use. Changing channels and scanning for transmitters is a pain. Aftermarket modules make life a LOT easier.
Let's just put it this way: if you buy the HD3, or any other Fatshark goggle that takes a Receiver Module, DO NOT waste your money on Fatshark's Nexwave module. Get one of these instead.
I have tested all of these modules extensively, and, although there are differences in their performance, there has never been a single module that comes out on top every time. My advice is to get the one whose form-factor, price, and feature-set appeal to you. The RF performance of all of them will probably be adequate.
This module has decent RF performance and build quality. It's also about half the price of competing modules. Its main weak point is that the software installed on it lacks a lot of the features that other modules have. It'll get the job done, but the module really comes to life if you install the amazing, free Achilles firmware. Here's a video of mine showing how to do it.
This module recently got EVEN BETTER with the addition of a built-in USB port. Now you don't need an FTDI adapter to upgrade the firmware on the module.
The other main weak point of this module is the glass cover of its OLED screen. It's got no protection and a relatively light bump will crack it. So make sure you install that 3D printed cover carefully. (More expensive modules have a metal cover on their screen.)
The actual Cheapest... With a catch
When I first saw this module, I assumed it must be garbage. It's HALF the price of the Realacc RX5808. But I've been using it for a few weeks now and I'm really impressed. The build quality is slightly worse than the Realacc (especially the screen) but put a good cover on it and you won't notice the difference.
Here's a link to a good cover for the module.
What makes this module so special is that it's got a faster, more capable processor than most others. When you combine it with the Achilles Pro firmware, it unlocks features like Ultra-Search and RF Lap Timer.
So it's cheaper and it has more features than the competition. What's the catch?
The catch is, it doesn't have a USB port to let you easily install the Achilles Pro firmware. You need a special adapter, and the electronics skills to hook it up to the module. If you're looking for a budget module, and you're not scared of getting your hands a little dirty, the Eachine Pro58 is the one you'll buy.
LaForge is widely considered to make the best Fatshark Diversity Module available. The module is both feature-rich and user-friendly. The hardware design and build quality are top-notch. And UBAD provides aggressively thorough customer service, based in the U.S. (for those who care about that).
The latest version of LaForge hardware, V4, released on February 22, 2018. This version added a much-requested USB port, to make firmware updates easier. It also has an on-screen display that lets you see the screen of the module in your goggles, so you can change channels without taking the goggles off.
The main weakness of the LaForge module for a beginner is that it comes in two modules that must be installed in the goggle separately. The modules are installed on opposite sides of the goggle and connected with a wire.
Buy LaForge if you want a fantastic module from a U.S.-based company with unparalleled customer support, and you don't mind paying a little extra for it. Avoid LaForge if you're going to be annoyed by the wire running across the front of your goggles, and you're too scared to open the goggles up and run the wire on the inside.
LaForge consists of a Main module and a Diversity module. The UBAD links above are a single SKU for both modules together. GetFPV lists the Main and Diversity modules separately so don't forget to buy both.
TOP OF THE LINE
FURIOUS FPV TRUE-D
If LaForge is the Coke of the Fatshark Module world, then True-D is the Pepsi. Whomever is "best" depends on who you ask and what day of the week it is. However, I have to say that, with LaForge V4, LaForge has taken a big step forward in features and user interface. Let's see how long it takes Furious to catch up.
True-D is a one-piece module, which means it's easy to install in your goggles: just slide the module into the bay. True-D comes with a high-quality injection-molded cover pre-installed. It's also a bit cheaper than the LaForge.
Furious support is not as responsive or customer-focused as UBAD's, and there have been some (rare) manufacturing issues with modules in the past, so it's probably fair to say that build quality is of a slightly lower level than LaForge.
Buy True-D if you want a one-piece module at a reduced price compared to LaForge, and you don't care too much about "fall-at-your-feet" customer service.
If you have Attitude v4 goggles, True-D is one of the only modules that will fit into them without modification. You need a customized cover, which can be ordered with the module.
At the price Iftron is asking for Clearview, it had better be out-of-this-world.
Here's the shocker: it is.
ClearView delivers the clearest picture with no rolling, tearing, or white-flashes. It delivers approximately 2x the range of other receivers. And most importantly, when its image does break up, it does so in an inherently "flyable" way that maximizes the pilot's ability to continue to control the craft. While other modules have rolling, tearing screen, ClearView has gentle static. With ClearView, you can still see where the obstacles are and avoid them.
Until recently, ClearView was only available as a ground station. Now it's available as a module that fits right into your goggles! If you're looking for the absolute best performance, even at a premium price, ClearView is the one you'll buy.
Some people have accused me of being too picky when it comes to FPV cameras. The cheapest cameras are terrible and nobody should use them. They go dark when the sun is in the sky. They take forever to adjust exposure when you fly from a sunny field into a shady forest. If you can't see where you're going, you're going to crash. More than usual.
I won't steer you wrong. The cameras on this list cost a little bit more, but every one of them will give you a solid picture that you can rely on. Buy one of these cameras, and you'll have to find something else to blame your crashes on.
One of the main decisions you'll make when you buy an FPV camera is which focal length of lens to get. Focal lengths range from about 2.8mm to 2.1mm. A 2.8mm lens will have a narrower field of view, like a telephoto lens. A 2.1mm lens will have a wider field of view, like a fisheye lens.
For FPV, I recommend a focal length between 2.1mm and 2.5mm. The wider FOV gives more "peripheral vision" in the goggles and makes it easier to tell how close you are to obstacles. For this reason, I'm not going to include any camera in this lineup that doesn't come with a 2.5mm lens or wider. You can add a wider lens after purchasing, but that'll cost about $6-$10 more, so you might as well just buy the right one from the start.
Caddx has done something unprecedented: they made a cheap CMOS FPV camera that doesn't stink. In good lighting conditions, the image looks quite nice. The exposure algorithm is challenged when the sky is bright and the ground is dark, but the image generally remains flyable.
The Turbo Micro F1 is not a spectacular camera, but it's good enough that I'm comfortable recommending it because of its very low price. If you can afford $5 or $10 more on a camera, you should buy something better. But if you're trying to save every last penny, consider the Turbo Micro F1.
The Turbo Micro F1 is a micro-size camera. This means you might want a 3D printed adapter to install it on your frame. The camera also comes with a U-shaped bracket that can be used to mount the camera. Finally, the F1 comes in a Mini-sized version that can be installed in most frames without modification.
The Arrow Micro Pro is priced around $20, same as the Caddx F1. They're both excellent cameras for the price. The Arrow uses a CCD sensor, so it'll have a slightly more contrasty image, and slightly better exposure handling. However, to my eye, the Caddx looks better overall. You won't go wrong with either, but if you know that you like a "CCD style" or "CMOS style" image better, pick the camera that suits.
There are better cameras than the Swift, and there are cheaper cameras than the Swift. But the Swift stays on the list in large part because it's widely available and almost always in stock. The Swift wouldn't be my first choice for a build today, but if you're having trouble finding a place to buy one of the others, or you can't find a vendor who will ship to your country, the Swift will probably suit you.
A killer feature of the Swift 2 is that it includes an on-screen display (OSD) that lets you monitor your battery voltage, as well as put your pilot callsign on screen. Some flight controllers include an OSD, but if yours doesn't, this is the simplest, easiest way to add one. The Swift 2 also has a built-in microphone, so you can easily listen to your motor sound in your goggle earpiece if you want to.
The Runcam Eagle 2 is my pick for "best FPV camera, period." But my ethics as a reviewer force me to tell you that many people disagree. Strongly.
The Eagle has astounding resolution and dynamic range. It can make a flyable image out of challenging lighting conditions that crush other cameras. The Eagle also has improved light sensitivity, so you can keep flying even when the sun is going down.
The flip-side of this is that the image has digital processing artifacts that some people really, really hate. I recommend that you watch my review of the Runcam Eagle 2 and decide for yourself.
Lots of people disagree with my conclusion about the Eagle 2 being the "best FPV camera, period." They hate the digital artifacts in the Eagle's image.
If you prefer the traditional look of a CCD sensor, the RunCam Swift 2 Rotor Riot edition is the best camera you can buy. The image has more contrast and more saturated colors than the Eagle. It also has one of the fastest exposure algorithms I've ever seen, going from full dark to light in a fraction of a second. On the down-side, it has lower resolution and less detail in dark shadows and bright highlights.
The Predator is a CMOS sensor camera, like the Eagle. But it doesn't have the same digital artifacts that the Eagle does. In fact, it's got a very clear, colorful, and contrasty image. On the flip-side, its dynamic range is not as good as the Eagles. The Predator's latency is also exceptionally good. It's one of the lowest-latency cameras currently available (although the difference is something like 15 ms vs. 25 ms, so it's debatable whether it matters).
You've really got to see the Predator's image at its best to appreciate how good this camera is. So I suggest you check out my review of the camera (that link takes you directly to the example footage) and then come back here.
The Runcam Micro Swift 2 is about half the size and weight of its big brother. It was originally intended for micro-quadcopter builds, where it's necessary to keep weight to a minimum. Bu the image quality was so good that some builders of regular-sized quads started using it too!
If you're building a quad with 3" props or smaller, the Micro is the best camera you can put on it. Just compare the image quality of the Micro to the image quality of other cameras this size and you'll be convinced: the Swift Micro is the one you want. The Micro 2 even includes an on-screen display (OSD) that lets you monitor battery voltage while you fly--a feature that is sorely lacking in the micro-quad market.
The video transmitter (or "vTX" as it's usually written) takes the video signal from your camera and transmits it wirelessly to your goggles. The single most important function of the video transmitter, to me, is how easy it is to change channels and transmit power. FPV video transmitters operate like old analog television signals. (That's an analogy, but it's also literally true! Your quadcopter is a tiny television station!) If two transmitters are on a channel too close together, they will interfere, and both pilots won't be able to see to fly. When you fly with other pilots, you'll have to organize who is on what channel. If you can't quickly and easily change channels, that becomes a hassle. You'll be "that guy" who everybody else has to make room for.
Let's run down the good stuff. Push-button channel changing with LCD display so you'll always know what channel you're on. Adjustable output power: 25 mW for less interference when you're racing with friends; 200 to 600 mW for more range when you're blasting freestyle by yourself.
The other transmitters on this page are better than the Eachine, but they're also a lot more expensive. And the ways in which the others are better may be lost on a beginner. If you're looking for a place to save a little money on your first build, the vTX is the right place to do it, and the Eachine TX526 is the one you'll buy.
Racedayquads Mach 2
I'm giddy. The Mach 2 has such an amazing feature list, at such a reasonable price, and from a stand-up vendor like RaceDayQuads... I just don't even know what to do with myself. I'm tempted to declare this the best overall, but it's too new of a product to do that.
It's got transmit power up to 800 mW and down to a proper, real pit mode. It supports SmartAudio for changing channel and power using your Betaflight OSD or Taranis. It can be ordered either with a UFL or (my favorite) MMCX connector. You can direct-solder the wires to it instead of using some oddball connector. It's a little bigger than the Unify, but it doesn't overheat and shut down if you leave it powered on too long without moving air. It has a built-in microphone, so you and your DVR will have sound. There's a button to let you change channel and power if you don't use SmartAudio for some reason. And it's $29.
2nd Best Performance-for-Money
Until the release of the Mach 2 (above), the Matek vTX HV was my choice for "best performance for money". But the Mach 2 has almost everything the vTX-HV has, and much more, for the same price. Frankly, I waas going to take the vTX-HV off the list, but... well, it's still very good. And hey... maybe the Mach 2 will be out of stock some time and you'll want an alternative!
The main thing that the Matek has, that the Mach 2 doesn't, is that the Matek uses a dedicated input for its remote control, while the Mach 2 uses the audio line. In short, the Matek is slightly better if you intend to use a microphone on your quad, and wear an earpiece while you fly.
The Mach 2 also gives you a full LED panel showing channel, band, and TX power. If you decide to push the stupid button, there are separate ones for changing band and channel, so you don't have to play the, "Was that a long press or a short press oh dang I'm on the wrong channel now," game.
If you intend to buy this vTX, please also check out the FCHUB-VTX, which is a PDB wth this vTX built into it.
Features! Frankly, I can't even fit them all in this paragraph. Output power from 25 mW up to 800 mW. Pit-mode puts the vTX into a low-power state so you can plug in your quad while other people are flying and not interfere with them. SmartAudio lets you change channel, output power, and other settings remotely, from your controller. It's tiny and light, so it fits almost anywhere. It has a top-notch RF system and an honest output power rating. Finally, TBS customer support is really excellent. They don't exactly believe that the customer is always right, but if you've got a legitimate beef, they'll take care of you.
Why wouldn't you buy the Unify? The Unify's push-button system for changing channel, band, and output power is terrible. It makes up for this by supporting SmartAudio, but not not everybody intends to use SmartAudio (but you should, you really really should, because it's awesome). The Unify gets really hot, especially at higher output powers. The Unify's tiny antenna connector is fragile and often comes disconnected if not supported correctly.
The real question you should be asking at this point is, why would you buy the Unify instead of the Mach 2? The Mach 2 matches or beats the Unify on almost every axis, especially price. Frankly, the main reason the Unify is still Top Of The Line on this page is its long and well established pedigree. The Unify is an absolutely known quantity while the Mach 2 is an unknown newcomer, and that has to count for something.
PS: If you only need 200 mW output power or less, you can save $20 by buying the Unify Race instead.
Here's what's confusing: the Tramp HV is as good as the Unify in almost every way, and it's $10 cheaper than the Unify HV. So why is the Unify much more well-known?
How good is the Tramp? It's got all of the killer features of the Unify. Plus it can be configured wirelessly with a wand (or coming soon, a smart-phone app). And It's got a metal cover to help with heat dissipation. Did I mention it's $10 cheaper???
My personal theory is that Unify got more popular because there was a long time where nobody could get stock of Tramps. But the flood gates have opened now, and there's nothing stopping you from saving $10 and buying a Tramp.
The Tramp comes in both a USA and an International version. Check the listing to be sure you're buying the right one. ReadyMadeRC has separate listings for both. Other stores... it's not always easy to tell which you're buying.
Omnidirectonal Video Antennas
There are three important things to know about video antennas. First, they come in left-handed (LHCP) and right-handed (RHCP) varieties, and you must put the same variety on your quadcopter and your goggles. Most pilots fly RHCP, and that's what I recommend you start with too. There isn't any performance difference, but having the same type as everyone else will let you watch them in your goggles.
Second, they come with different connectors: SMA and RP-SMA. Whatever kind of connector came on your video transmitter and your goggles, you have to buy the same kind on the antenna, or they won't screw together. Don't assume that the goggles and the vTX will have the same connector either.
Third, you should never power up your video transmitter without an antenna attached. This can damage or destroy the video transmitter.
This antenna is durable, cheap, and it's available in both SMA and RP-SMA and four different colors. Its RF performance isn't up to the level of more expensive ones, but it'll get the job done. Before I became a Big YouTube Star, this was what I had on all of my quads. At this price, you won't feel shy about picking up some spares.
Banggood has a single listing for all variants, and you pick the polarization, color, and connector type before adding to your cart. ReadyMadeRC appears to sell only the SMA version at the time of this writing.
It's been said that the TBS Triumph is the 2nd-best antenna at everything, which makes it the best overall. There's no doubt that this antenna is the top choice of many pros for its great RF performance and durability. A warning: counterfeit versions of this antenna are very common so make sure you buy from a reputable dealer. On Amazon, Heli-Nation and QuadQuestions can be trusted.
The Triumph is only sold in pairs, so you'll spend $40 on two.
Video transmitters like the TBS Unify or Matek VTX-HV have a tiny antenna connector called an IPEX connector. The advantage of this connector is that it's small and light-weight. But most antennas have the larger SMA connector. So the vTX comes with a pigtail cable that converts from IPEX to SMA...
...But wasn't the whole point of the IPEX connector to get rid of the SMA connector? That's where the Axii U.FL comes in.
The Axii design from Lumenier is compact, durable, and it boasts a near-perfect 1.0 axial ratio. The U.FL version of this antenna skips the SMA connector (and pigtail cable) and is wired directly to an IPEX connector. So you can plug it straight into your vTX and save weight and complexity.
The Axii U.FL's cable is flexible, not stiff, so you'll need to find some way to mount it on your quad. Some pilots simply zip-tie it to a convenient standoff. A 3D-printed mount would be my preference.
This is basically the same antennaa s the AXII UFL linked earlier on the page, but with an MMCX connector. This makes it perfect for vTX like the Mach 2, Matek vTX-HV, Holybro Atlatl, and other vTX with MMCX connector.
Bear in mind that this antenna has a right-angle MMCX on it, so if your vTX has a straight MMCX, it'll still work, but the wire won't come out the direction you might be expecting. This shouldn't be too hard to work around though.
DIRECTIONAL VIDEO ANTENNAS
If your goggles have only one antenna connector, then you only need an omni antenna. If your goggles have two antenna connectors, then they support diversity and you need both an omni and a directional antenna.
Directional antennas are usually big, long, and bulky. Exactly the opposite of what you want hanging off of your goggles. A patch antenna is the answer. It's directional, and it's also small and light. But nothing comes for free: good patch antennas are expensive, and cheap ones aren't usually good. The MenaceRC Invader is a decent patch antenna at a low price. If that's what you're looking for, this is the one you'll buy.
Not only do I use this antenna on my personal goggles, it was the directional I chose for my Ultimate FPV Receiver Shootout. It's got 10 dB of gain and a 120 degree beamwidth, which is perfect for providing enhanced coverage in front of you without being so narrow that you lose coverage every time you move your head.