Im not religious, absolutely not, well not unless you count my feelings for my FatSharks.. and the new PilotHD cam should be exactly what I have been waiting for right? Well, yeah almost anyway, just that it don't actually work really well, it drops frames and its not actually HD, not unless you consider 960x520 to be HD. Click through to read the details
Dude, Greg and Fatshark can't do nothing wrong..
The teleports, the predators, the attitudes and the bases...
Im already getting ready for the new base HD's with build in DVR's can't wait for those.
Rumored future Goggles with HD and 1G3 native RX... heaven on earth by FatShark.
But thats not what I wanted to talk about, the last months I have been trying to get hold of the new TelePorter kit. Teleporter kits seems to be where FatShark do some fun experimenting, remember the Teleporters with the build-in head-tracker and RC-radio.. bolt to your airplane and instant head-tracking wihout buddy cable to the radio. really a pretty darn cool idea.. but not so good since the head-tracker constantly drifted and did not reach as far as much radio control..
This year FatShark releases another TelePorter kit, version 3 this time, and while Im not 100% loveing everything, its hard to ignore this box if you are thinking about getting into FPV without busting the budget. The kit comes with a pair of dominators, the FatShark entry level goggles, a 250mw video transmitter (VTX).. and a flight camera. all for just south of $200. honestly a pair of goggles and the VTX alone should cost a little more than $200.. so this is a serious value kit.
The Goggles are cool, not great but hey thats what the Attitude goggles are for right.? but you get the same video quality as other budget goggles. but in the FatShark form-factor with build in VRX (vide reciever) and the cool headband with battery.
The real reason I was soooo excited about the TelePorter V3 kit.. is (was) the camera, FatShark is going the right direction here. they build a flight camera with build in DVR. YAHOOOOO.
Several companies have looked at this idea, HoryzonHD have a 45gram 1080p recording camera, but not quite a flight-cam still a worthwhile FPV cam. Walkera have their DV04 which unfortunately can't manage the data-rate and buffer and delay the video feed, making it useless for FPV use. I have been using the KeyCam 808 #16D as a flight camera, and it both record and have a smooth video out.
The idea of a Flight-camera and a DVR in one box seems like a match made in heaven, particularly if its made by FatShark. right.? The camera is a large sensor camera, the video is beautiful. you get what you pay for.. and the camera is no good in low light. but it is a fair flight camera during the day.
What about the video recording.. wellllllll... its there, at least 90% there. great well exposed rich colorful files. Recorded as AVI files.
BUT there is a problem here, the camera have a bandwidth problem. now don't let that stop you quite yet because there is a lot to this camera still.
This bandwidth issue is shared with a lot of cameras in this category. The first video tests I did see of the camera was from FatShark, camera mounted on a fixed-wing FPV camera flying up high. Video quality from those tests were absolutely fantastic, that is also my experience. up high the camera do the job and deliver solid files in the process. basically up there, the details move relatively slower in the frame, and also the sky is a bigger part of the image, so that reduce the amount of small details changing. but check out the Original FatShark demo video.. most of it is great, but notice just after 4:58 there is a jump in the video, this is because he is getting ready to land, and we are seeing the world at a angle and everything is moving in the frame, camera is overwhelmed and drops a couple of frames.
The down-fall is, when the camera become overwhelmed with too much data. what do that mean anyway? video recording save data by compressing the image, in movie cameras, each frame is recorded like a individual image, basically a stack of JPG's obviously that become enourmous files.. and require big horsepower to process.
The way simpler cameras manage to make smaller easy to deal with files is simple, they record a full frame (a full snapshot) at a given interval, but the frames in-between record only the changes to the keyframe. so if it is a video of me drinking coffee, the only changes become the moving coffee cup. the result is a very small file and not very much data to process. however when we fly a lot of things are moving, if it is a green lawn with some big tree from a distance, then it is not a big problem, because most of the lawn and tree is "surfaces" but when you get closer.. suddenly the camera can see every grass straw and ever leaf.. when this situation fill the camera image, then each frame is almost entirely new and the amount of data to record may become more than the processor can manage. This is the problem or limitation that most of the recording flight-cameras suffer from in one way or another.
Some of us have been flying with GoPro's as flight cameras, but remember a GoPro is a $400 camera, we are talking about the PilotHD camera which is virtually free with the TelePorter V3 kit.
In the Walkera DV04 camera this problem become huge, because the camera slow-down the video to deal with the data problem, the result is literally that the video you see while flying, can be delayed, I experienced that and heard my crash before I could see the problem in the goggles. NOT good.
FatShark have chosen a different solution, one that reflects their root in FPV, instead of slowing down the video, the FatShark camera drop (ignore) some of the frames and simply don't record them, that don't affect you while flying, i only noticed it in the recording when reviewing it after the flight.
I did a quick test, by defocusing the camera a little, details became smudged and it is very easy to see instantly when the camera skips. check it out.
Notice the white roof at 0:35 and 1:51 and again 2:24 when the quad pans (yaw for a extended time) the1:51 frame drop is in forward flight down low where again there are a lot of change in the image, up higher the details would move relatively slower and not be a issue. video was recorded to a new Sandisk high-speed video card normally used to shoot GoPro 2.7k video. I think its safe to say the card is not too slow for the video.
OK so here is the same camera after I focused the lens again and figured I would a little GROUND level FPV test at the local park... sorry guys, the camera works up high.. its not particuarly good down low.
Resolution seems be about 960x520 (not quite 720p but better than a some 720p cameras)
Notice the stair-steps in this diagonal line.? in the enlarged portion, you can see that each step is made up of about 2 rows of pixels.. that mean that the sensor give out about half of the 1280x720 spec.. WAIT..that is about 640x360px but you can also see that its not quite that bad, because there is a bit of definition in the angles.. so lets guess its somewhere between that.. thats why I called it 960px. As I said before. the camera processor is bumping up the resolution, and unfortunately in the process causing all the problems of this camera beause the system can not mange the increased data rate of the higher file size.
Camera without case = 16grams
The "cast iron" camera housing = 27 grams DUDE is this cast iron..?
All up 43 grams.. now THAT is heavy for a flight camera. even a recording flight camera. particularly when it can't beat the image quality or flight-camera performance of the 20grams KeyCam 808#16D
I am tempted to try the low-light lens from ReadymadeRC