With the Drone Nationals on Governor’s Island right around the corner and set to air on ESPN, there’re soon to be a lot more people in the world that know what FPV goggles are and how they take drone flying to a whole new level of fun. According to ESPN, one of the major draws of televised drone racing, will be the “live FPV view” that lets viewers see exactly what the pilots are seeing. If this is anything like the dash cam in a NASCAR race, it won’t just be a great way to break up the monotony of left turns, but also let the viewers see just how fast the pilots’ reflexes need to be, something that is usually lost on the spectator. If you listened to our podcast with Brian Morris, you’ll know that even the best FPV headsets and transmitters deliver video that’s a few thousands of a second behind, which doesn’t sound like a big deal until you factor in that these pilots are making hairpin turns at 100mph+. Having the FPV monitoring system with the smallest amount of latency would potentially create a distinct advantage, which is why you might see more than a few pilots sporting the new Connex Pro Sight HD Vision Pack.
The Vision Pack comes with three separate components, a “Delay-Free” HD Camera, a “Delay-Free” HD Transmitter, and an HD receiver. The camera and transmitter are both super lightweight, hitting the scales with a combined total of 45 grams, so there’s no need to worry about them slowing your racing drone down. The camera records in stunning 720p at 30fps with an advanced HDR sensor that makes shooting indoors or outdoors look equally good. Specs look good on paper, but you can see the difference between the Vision Pack and other comparative systems in the video below.
Another nice thing about the Vision Pack is the transmitter that supports up to 27 channels. Most drone racing pilots work in tandem, so having 27 channels available might seem a bit overkill, but you know what, this is America and we invented overkill! Also it’ll be nice for anyone that wants to peek in and see what the pilot is seeing.
The Receiver works on a 5GHz band, and Connex claims that it provides “delay free wireless transmission up to 3,000 ft. in LOS conditions.” So, if you’re racing your drone through the woods you might run into some problems, but that’s still ridiculously impressive. It’s also compatible with any FPV headset or monitor that’s on the market today, so no need to go out and buy a new one.
When you put all three of these components together (you can also purchase them separately) you get a wireless signal transmitting HD video at 720p with a delay of less than 26ms! Unless they start developing drones that can break the sound barrier (someday soon I hope) then for the first time ever drone racing pilots can experience their flight in what is essentially real time. What does this mean for professional drone racing? It’s hard to say. The pilots that were good enough to factor in for the video delay, will most likely be good enough to fly without it. However, even if something is better it’s still different. There might be a bit of a learning curve for pilots who’ve gotten extremely comfortable with their latency racing technique, in which case they’d probably just stick with their original systems. Keep an eye out on August 5th for pilots taking advantage of the Connex Pro Sight HD Vision Pack.