In this review we will go through all the specs and technical details of the latest HDZero VRX (video receiver) that is set to be released in June 2022. I will keep this review updated as I learn more about it.
You can learn about HDZero overall as a system in this post. In this post I will focus on just the VRX.
What’s HDZero VRX?
The HDZero VRX is a video receiver that receives the video signal from your HDZero video transmitter, and display the video in your FPV Goggles via an HDMI cable.
The HDZero VRX is designed to be mounted in front of Fatshark and Skyzone FPV Goggles, it might not be ideal on other goggles with different shapes and requires custom made holder. For example I have the Orqa Pilot Goggles, and I had to print my own holder for it.
Sharkbyte VRX vs HDZero VRX
The HDZero VRX offers the exact same functionality as the older Fatshark Sharkbyte VRX with a few changes and new features.
It’s not really meant to be an upgrade, but a replacement since Fatshark has pulled out of the Sharkbyte project and Sharkbyte hardware is not longer being manufactured. However HDZero will still provide customer support and firmware upgrade to the existing Sharkbyte hardware, so there’s no reason to change if you already have Sharkbyte.
The HDZero VRX is compatible with most FPV goggles and monitors with HDMI inputs. It’s also compatible with all existing Sharkbyte and HDZero VTX.
It’s currently the only video receiver you can purchase to use HDZero, so you don’t really have a choice if you want to use HDZero. There’s a new FPV goggles coming soon with HDZero receiver built-in, but no confirmed release date yet (it’s said to be around October 2022).
Where to Buy?
You can get the HDZero VRX from;
- BG: https://oscarliang.com/product-bbza
- GetFPV: https://oscarliang.com/product-umlj
- RDQ: https://oscarliang.com/product-hik3
- AliExpress: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_AP9v2b
- NBD: https://oscarliang.com/product-4atn
It comes with the following accessories:
- 1x ELRS Backpack Expansion Cable
- 1x 15cm Firmware Update cable (for VTX’s)
- 1x Power Cable
- 1x Mini HDMI (male) to Mini HDMI (male) Cable
- 1x Joystick Keypad for changing VTX/Camera settings
- Fan cover replacement with holder for mounting the module on goggles
- Resolution Default: 1280*[email protected]
- Size: 105mm x 47mm x 30mm
- Power input: 7V-26V (2S-6S)
- Channels: 10 channels, all 8 Raceband channels, F2 and F4
- Video Connector: Mini HDMI
- RF Sensitivity: -105dBm
- RF Connector: 4 x SMA
- Power: 12W
- Weight: 85g
Close Look at the HDZero VRX
On the top of the VRX, there’s a menu button/wheel. We have seen this type of menu selector before in some Fatshark style external VRX before, they aren’t the most user friendly and eventually got replaced by just buttons, or higher quality joysticks. But you won’t be using the menu that often and it gets the job done, so it’s not a deal breaker.
On the bottom, is where all the connectors are located. From left to right:
- micro SD card slot for DVR
- Mini HDMI port for Video output
- ExpressLRS Backpack port – you can connect a ELRS receiver to this port, and it can talk to your radio for changing video channels/power and other settings remotely
- Firmware update port
With the provided mini HDMI cable connected, it blocks part of the ELRS Backpack port, you might be able to squeeze it in though.
Installation and Connection
The HDZero VRX is designed to be mounted in front of Skyzone and Fatshark FPV Goggles using the provided fan holder which is to replace the original fan cover.
The VRX weighs around 85g with dimensions of 105mm x 47mm x 30mm) without antennas, which is similar to the previous Sharkbyte VRX (80g weight, dimension: 105 x 21 x 39mm).
The extra weight to your head is noticeable when mounted to the goggles, but most people claim they get used to it after a while.
The video output on the VRX is a mini HDMI connector, it comes with a mini HDMI cable for connecting to Fatshark/Skyzone goggles. If your goggles or monitor have a different input (such as HDMI), you might need to get yourself a different cable.
The HDZero VRX supports 7V-26V input voltage (2S to 6S).
It comes with an XT60 power cable with two outputs, it allows you to power both your goggles and the VRX at the same time. However, make sure your goggles can support the same voltage you are using to power the VRX, because the power cable is just a simple cable and has no voltage regulator built-in. Some older goggles only supports up to 3S, if you use 6S as power you will fry the goggles.
The VRX consumes about 11W-12W of power, which is considerably higher than a typical analogue VRX which consume less than 2W normally, so you will go through your battery noticeably quicker.
There are a total of 4 SMA connectors on the VRX.
Unlike the Sharkbyte VRX which has two integrated patch antennas, the HDZero VRX doesn’t come with any antennas, you have to buy your own, or you can just use your existing 5.8GHz analogue antennas.
The recommendations are to use:
- 4 omni-directional antennas if you fly short range and behind yourself (such as racing)
- 4 patch antennas if you fly long range
- 2 omni-directional and 2 patch antennas for best all-round performance
They added a rail system to the front of the case, which allows you to mount antennas that are designed for the HDZero VRX to the front of the case easily.
There’s a built-in microphone for recording the pilot’s surrounding noise and pilot commentary. The audio quality is not great, you get a lot of noise from the fan but it’s better than none. Because HDZero VTX’s don’t have microphones on them, so the VRX audio will be recorded along with the DVR footage.
The other cool feature is the real time clock in the VRX, which means you can set the time and date in the menu and it will remember it, and it will time stamp your DVR recordings. It makes it much easier to find video clips when you have many files on the SD card.
Should I get the HDZero VRX or the HDZero Goggles?
If you are new to the hobby or you don’t own a pair of goggles with HDMI input yet, I’d recommend waiting for the HDZero goggles (with built-in HDZero receiver). The wiring between the goggles and 3rd party FPV Goggles can be quite messy, and the extra weight of the VRX can cause discomfort if you fly a long time. Hopefully the new HDZero goggles will fix both of these issues.
But we still don’t know exactly when the HDZero goggles will be available, and how the quality would be like, so if you cannot wait to get into HDZero the VRX is a good entry point to the system. You can use it as a backup or on a ground station later on too.
Things To be Aware Of
Firmware update is through the SD card. I will make a separate post to explain how it’s done, pretty simple and straight forward.
If your display device or FPV Goggles uses full size HDMI or micro HDMI connector, you will need to purchase your own HDMI cable or adapter. HDZero VRX only comes with a mini HDMI (male) to mini HDMI (male) cable. It’s for Fatshark and Skyzone goggles. Goggles like Orqa has micro HDMI. I am using this adapter (affiliate link) for my Orqa works great.
Before getting into HDZero, you should seriously consider the cost. You have to purchase the components separately, including the camera cable and antennas, the cost adds up very quickly and it’s definitely not going to be that much cheaper than its competitors if you think about that.
Not to mention there are now more digital FPV systems on the market to choose from: DJI, Avatar and in the future, Orqa. I wouldn’t blame you if you want to wait and see which system come out on top. I will be checking out the Walksnail Avatar (aka Fatshark Dominator HD) in a couple of weeks so I would be able to give a more definite conclusion which existing digital system is better.