5.8GHz 200mW FPV Transmitter Review

December 24, 2014 15:31 | By | Add a Comment

Looking for a small, lightweight FPV transmitter that plugs right into your GoPro and has an integrated cloverleaf antenna? This $60 video transmitter for the 5.8GHz band may fit the bill – but is it any good? Find out in our review after the break.

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Despite our quadrotors and aircraft getting more powerful with every year, saving weight is still one of the most effective ways towards longer flight times and better performance. And especially for the increasingly popular FPV racers power is not the main concern, you’ll likely want a small, lightweight transmitter that just works and doesn’t break the bank.

GLB is selling this small integrated transmitter with a fixed cloverleaf antenna in two different versions, one has a 2-pin connector for the video input, the other has a complete little PCB with Mini-USB plug for direct connection to a GoPro Hero 3, 3+ and the newer GoPro 4. Note that GoPro 1 and 2 use a different plug.

Power draw on our unig was measured at around 120mA, and the weight was a very manageable 14 grams with cables. According to the manufacturer the transmitter works with everything from 6V to 28V, which means 2S LiPo up to 6S. We’ve flown this transmitter with 2S, 3S and 4S and never had any problems or heat issues.

The available freqencies are 5.705, 5.685, 5.665, 5.645, 5.885, 5.905, 5.925 and 5.945 GHz. This means it’s compatible with Boscam equipment as well as most of the cheaper FPV gear out there. It will not work with FatShark receivers.

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The frequencies are set via miniature DIP switches on the back of the unit. The antenna is a three-blade cloverleaf with right hand polarization (RHPC) which is soldered directly onto the PCB. These antennas are best used for indoor flying or wherever there is lots of signal reflection. Multipathing is a huge issue for FPV flight, causing interference even while flying in relatively close proximity. Circular polarization is a good way of reducing this effect. Furthermore, cloverleafs sacrifice gain for a relatively good omnidirectionality, which is good for small, agile aircraft that need to do wild maneuvers without the video link dropping out.

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If you purchase this transmitter, we strongly suggest to add plenty of hot-glue to the openings of the heatshrink “case”. If omitted, the antenna may break off, and can be difficult or impossible to resolder. We also don’t recommend soldering a connector onto the PCB as the transmitter is just too small and doesn’t have all that much power to begin with, so you don’t want to introduce another -3dB just for a SMA plug.

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The great thing about this video TX is just how small it is. Sure, the antenna is unprotected and it also doesn’t transmit audio. However, it doesn’t get hot and it can be attached almost anywhere with some double sided tape.

In our tests, we found the range to be around 50-80 meters when using a cloverleaf receiver antenna (be sure to get a right hand polarized antenna!). Using a helical antenna, this range can almost be doubled. Your mileage will definitely vary based on weather, humidity and how busy the airwaves are in your area.

The output is certainly well below 200mW. We ordered two of these units just to make sure, but then again, it’s just such a small unit coming from china – and they do have a certain habit of writing overly optimistic specifications. If your unit puts out 50mW EIRP, it’s most likely working perfectly fine.

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One annoying thing was that the PCB with the connector for the GoPro camera was not insulated in any way. We solved this with another dab of hot glue, just to make sure there’s no short when it comes into contact with metal.

Summary

We really liked just how small and easy to use this unit is. The video quality was solid and if you already have a GoPro on your model, this is a very easy way to turn it into a FPV model. Due to the low power, it is best suited for small FPV multicopters and racers. The price of USD $60 is a bit on the pricy side, but then again you do get the transmitter cloverleaf antenna with it. All in all, we’re going with a recommendation for this transmitter, provided you don’t plan to fly your model to far away. While it’s true that a good antenna is the best amplifier, you’ll definitely want a beefier transmitter (and a directional high-gain antenna) in these cases.

What we liked

  • Comes GoPro-ready
  • Small, lightweight
  • Integrated cloverleaf
  • Solid video quality
  • Works on a wide range of voltages

What we didn’t like

  • Needs hot glue to secure antenna and connector PCB
  • 200mW claim is dubious
  • A bit pricey for such a cheaply made device

 

 

 

 

 

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FPVCentral is a private, independent news and review site for all things related to First Person View RC model flight. Covering everything from hobby, commercial and military drones, RC models and electronics related to FPV flight, we are not sponsored by any manufacturer or affiliated with any company or project.

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