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How to Choose the Best FPV Antennas

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A good FPV antenna determines the quality of your video reception and hence paves the way for an exquisite flight adventure.

FPV antennae are of different types:

  • Dipole
  • Circular polarized
  • Helical
  • Patch

It is also important that you are familiar with the kind of connector that is supported by your FPV gear and you have to match it to the connector on your antenna. There are two basic kinds of connectors: SMA and RP-SMA. They differ only in terms of design. In SMA antennae, the female plugs come with a hole and the extruding wire from the male SMA plug goes into that hole.

In RP-SMA antennae, the reverse is true. So, while purchasing your FPV paraphernalia, ensure that you figure out the kind of connector your FPV transmitter and receiver has. You can find it in the product’s description and so this will assist you in buying the antennae with appropriate plugs.

Moreover, you should take care that you never power you FPV transmitter without an antenna plugged in.

In case you do so, the equipment will get heated up and it will get damaged.

How to Mount an Antenna

Earlier, I used to mount the antenna and video transmitter by pushing the connector of the transmitter through a hole in the top plate of the chassis and then screwing the antenna down onto the connector to ensure that it stayed upright.

This is good enough but in case the quadcopter crash lands in an upside down position, the connector goes through plenty of stress and could result in broken antennae or connectors.

I prefer to mount my antenna horizontally as the transmitter goes below the top plate and only half or three-quarters of the antenna extrudes from behind the quadcopter. You can leave it straight or bend it as per your preference.

This tends to provide extra protection to the connector without adversely affecting the range.

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Now, let’s get back to antennae.

Dipole Antenna

Dipole or rubber ducky antennae are simple antennae that come with a coaxial cable in addition to some metal casing at one end to transmit or receive the signal.

They offer poor range particularly in case of quadcopters since they are able to transmit only if they are in an upright position. So, if you move swiftly sideways or attempt a flip, you might end up losing the video signals.

These antennae are also sensitive to multi-pathing. This is a phenomenon which takes place when a signal bounces off a hard object. So, if you fly near a wall or some other obstacle, you might lose the signal.

Generally, you will get the dipole antenna along with your FPV equipment.

Circular Polarized Antenna

Circular polarized antennae consist of three or four lobes; thereby offering enhanced reception. They are also popular as skew-planar or omnidirectional antennae which implies that they are able to transmit equally well in all directions. So, the orientation of the aircraft does not affect the reception of your video signal.

These antennae are also not adversely affected by multi-pathing. So, you can fly your quadcopter with seamless ease around walls and obstacles while getting top quality video reception.

Circular polarized antennae are of two types – right hand and left hand. The right-hand circular polarized antennae will only receive signal from a transmitter that transmits a signal with a right-hand antennae and the left-hand circular polarized one will only receive the signal from a transmitter that transmits a signal with a left-hand antenna.

These are the most commonly used antennae in the multirotor FPV systems and are being offered in a variety of designs.

Foxeer circular polarized antenna is my favorite one. It is better than AOMWAY or FATSHARK antennae and comes encapsulated in top quality plastic material. I have had some quite violent crashes and these antennae are still faring quite well.

I have compared at least three FatShark and 3 AOMWAY antennae. You get fabulous features for just less than $10.

Get two or three of these and they will last for a long time.

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Aomway also produces decent quality circular polarized antennae. This is a China based manufacturer and comes with formidable antennae, encased in protective coating on the wire and plastic reinforcement for the lobes. I have been using their antennae for some time and they have been able to give decent performance. You can bend the antennae wire into any shape you desire owing to the protective coating while the plastic encapsulation protects the lobes in case of any crash.

ImmersionRC/FatShark circular polarized antennae have also gained massive popularity among the consumers. These are good quality devices but slightly expensive. As a matter of fact, they come at a price which is double to the one for antennae by Aomway. . You can bend the antennae wire into any shape you desire owing to the protective coating while the plastic encapsulation protects the lobes in case of any crash. The plastic encasement does not adversely affect the antennae’s range.

Helical and Patch Antennae

These antennae are shaped like a spring and offer enhanced reception in contrast to the circular polarized antennae. They, however, offer a narrower beam, so they offer their best possible performance when the antenna is facing the transmitting antenna. These antennae receive from sideways and from the rear but that reception is not at par with the one from the front.

Patch antennae are also directional antennae and perform the best when facing the transmitting antennae. If you were to fly your aircraft at a larger distance, then you could benefit from the helical and patch antennae.

In case you are flying a mini quadcopter that is zipping around in all directions possible, helical and patch antennae will not be able to serve the purpose.

Diversity Configurations

Helical and patch antennae offer a great solution when it comes to diversity setups. These receivers receive two signals instead of one. They portray the better signal while switching between the better frequencies in a smooth manner.

So, if you have a diversity setup consisting of a helical antenna and a circular polarized antenna, you will get to see the signal captured by the helical antenna when the aircraft is flying in the front and the signal from the circular polarized antenna when flying around and behind.

We hope that this post will help you identify the most suitable antenna for your 5.8GHz setup. I prefer the Aomway antennae since they are affordable and offer decent performance.

 

 

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