Listening to Motor Sound During Flight | Microphone for FPV Quadcopter

by Oscar
Published: Last Updated on

Some FPV pilots prefer listening to motor noise during flight because it makes them feel more connected to the FPV drone. In this tutorial I will explain the different ways of getting audio for FPV flights, and discuss other benefits of having a mic on the quad.

Benefits of Having Audio When Flying FPV

FPV flying should not be limited to what you see, listening is a huge part of the experience. What you hear might actually help you fly better!

The noise that motors make changes with RPM, being able to hear it during flight makes you feel more connected to the aircraft. This is especially useful when you are flying with other people by listening to the motors from headphone, so you don’t get confused with noise from other quads around you.

Also, when you fly too far out, you won’t be able to hear your quad, sometimes it makes me more nervous. With audio, you will still be able to hear it. You can even hear the buzzer when voltage is low regardless how far it is!

I can’t speak for everyone, but I do feel more confident when I can hear the motors spinning.

Downsides

Some people absolutely hate it!

The quality of the audio depends on your signal strength. On a good flight it’s like hearing your motors singing to you, but when you get interference, the speaker will shout at you with super loud electrical noise.

Anyway, give it a try and see if you like it.

How to Get Audio From Quadcopter

There are 3 ways to get FPV audio from your quad:

  • Using a VTX with Built-in Microphone
  • Using an FPV camera with Built-in Mic
  • An external microphone

Here is some sound quality comparison between a VTX built-in MIC, and the External MIC, as well as a GoPro. It was slightly less noisy when I was flying and listening to it live, for some reason the audio get noisier when it was recorded in DVR.

VTX with Built-in Microphone

The good thing about VTX with built-in Mic is that you don’t need to worry about wiring at all, it’s plug and play! Examples including the Zeus Nano VTX, and the Eachine Nano V2.

I compiled specs of all VTX on the market in this spreadsheet, just filter down the category “Built-in Mic”

Getting Audio from FPV Camera

Quite a few FPV cameras have built-in microphone, such as the Runcam Swift 2.

The wiring is relatively simple, just connect the Audio output from the camera to the audio input on your VTX. Note that not all VTX has audio input pin, so that’s something to beware of when buying new VTX.

External Microphone for FPV

If neither of your VTX or camera has built-in microphone, you can use an external mic. It needs to be powered, and the audio signal goes to the audio input of your VTX. Some VTX might have two audio inputs (left and right channels), I recommend connecting to both channels if you only use one mic.

This is the cheapest one (just over $1 each): http://bit.ly/fpv-mic

fpv-mic-external-microphone-quadcopter-flying

Although it requires additional wiring, the audio quality is actually slightly better than those cheap built-in mic on VTX and FPV cameras.

Unfortunately, this mic only takes 12V for power, and you don’t always have that available on your drone. In that case check out the next option.

fpv-mic-connected-to-vtx-hawkeye-audio

This mic from RushFPV is built on a tiny PCB, with solder pads for easy soldering.

Get it from here: https://oscarliang.com/product-7pm0

It can be powered from 5V which is handy if your VTX has 5V output.

How to Listen to Motor Noise?

Your FPV Goggles have to have audio output. For example on the Fatshark HDO2 and Skyzone SKY04X, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack you can plug in your earbud. But goggles like the Cobra X doesn’t have audio output, so that’s something to beware of when buying goggles.

Fatshark-Dominator-V2-earphone-jack

This is the TBS Steele earbud, it’s a single channel headphone (only one earbud) and is designed for FPV.

if you are using FPV monitors, they might have built-in speaker and play audio from the video receiver out of the box.

If you think the noise is too loud, and there isn’t a volume control on the earbud, you can try adding a resistor to the audio signal (e.g. 220ohm – 330ohm).

When you are flying fast you can get a lot of wind noise. If you find it too noisy, you can try partly covering the microphone with foam, or move the mic away from airflow.

Edit History

  • Mar 2016 – article created
  • Sep 2018 – article rewritten
  • May 2021 – revisited article, added RushFPV mic

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72 comments

Veljko V 13th June 2021 - 4:01 pm

Hey, thank you for writing this all about its very simple said and straight to the point!

I will mention also why I need audio from the quad, is because if I can hear real sound from the quad from like 50m distance and since the sound is travelling to me I can hear the quad with a delay and its weird then. So need this mic installed soon as possible, will check now whats the best for me.

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Jakub 26th May 2021 - 10:25 pm

Hi oscar, is there a way to get audio out on dji googles with air unit?

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Oscar 27th May 2021 - 12:21 am

No, audio is not supported at the moment.

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William 17th September 2021 - 8:22 pm

The same goes for googles v2? It’s strange because the DJI FPV has live audio.

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Shawn McClelland 8th April 2021 - 8:53 pm

But what about a small speaker and transmitting. I’d like to be able to fly up to my kids’ rooms and tell them to clean their rooms :)?

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Aiden 17th January 2021 - 2:51 pm

I just got a vtx with audio (tbs unify pro32 HV) and I have the audio working. But it’s sending it on the right side and the audio is quiet but otherwise not that bad, but on the left side its nothing but pure extremely loud static. I have a pair of Ethix Earbuds which combine the channels, so all I can hear through them is extremely loud static and the faint sound of the motors in the background. Is there any way to reduce the sound of the static or prioritize the right channel?

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Tyler 11th November 2020 - 1:24 am

Hello Oscar or others I was wondering if you know if the TinyHawk 2 freestyle has audio and if not how can I set it up

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SykkyB 18th March 2020 - 11:40 am

HI Oscar,

i have 2 VTXs with built-in MICs:
– AKK X2 ultimate 1200 mWht
– Matek VTX mini

Both never flied, just wired and fitted to aircaraft. ALso i’ve got Steele’s earbud and ftashark HDO + RapidFIre.
the only sound i\m getting is static NOISE. i can see the picture on the correct channel. ALso the same static nosie on fatshrk’s DVR.

how i could enable using these buil-in MICs? or how to configure /enable them?
but

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Oscar 30th April 2020 - 4:39 pm

It’s possible that those VTX have faulty mic. Not unheard of from AKK.

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si 28th November 2019 - 6:46 pm

Hi, is there a built in mic on the beta fpv 75X? All I am getting is static.

There is no audio input on the board (for an external mic)

its a Z02 AIO Camera 5.8G VTX (Wire-Connected Version)

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Oscar 1st December 2019 - 4:45 pm

No it doesn’t have a mic. I don’t think it’s designed to take an external mic either.

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AL 20th September 2019 - 3:30 am

Hi Oscar, Is Audio input and Smartaudio the same in VTX? i want to add Audio in my build I have AKK X2 VTX no audio input but there’s an Smartaudio pin, I’m not sure if they’re just the same. Thanks

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Oscar 26th September 2019 - 2:54 pm

There is no audio input because the Microphone is built into the VTX, see my review here:
https://oscarliang.com/akk-fx2-ultimate-vtx-x2/

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Wildpix 22nd November 2018 - 3:52 pm

Hi Oscar!
I soldered a GY-MAX4466 Moc (recommended by Konasty FPV) to a TBS Unify HV. Power from the unify’s 5V out (Mic voltage input spec is 2,4-5,5 v)
All I can hear is rough dark static noise. Tried inside, being in next room. No beeper, no prop sound to hear directly. Channel doublechecked. And I am using that Mr. Steele’s earbud, plugged in correctly.
Module is Eachine Pro58 stock settings.
Do you have any ideas why this could be? Solder skills are ok ;-)

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Anthony Hartfield 7th October 2018 - 11:32 pm

Hi Oscar

I have been using these microphones from banggood

banggood.com/3pcs-CJMCU-MAX9814-High-Performance-Microphone-AGC-Amplifier-Module-CMA-4544PF-W-For-Arduino-p-1106007.html

The auto gain control works great, it’s still small and light, and reason I prefer it to the ones you linked, is it’s powered at 5V.

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Danny 21st November 2018 - 7:08 am

Hey how did you wire this? What are the gain and AR pins for?

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Petar Holland 19th September 2018 - 8:44 am

Hi Oscar! Can you please explain how to make the mod to connect at the same time the audio coming from the camera microphone (i have a swift 2), and TBS smart audio? I can’t understand the schematic in the TBS website…

Thanks for the help!

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Erik 6th August 2018 - 7:33 pm

Oscar, thank you so much for the article. I soldered a separate mic to my micro-quad, as described and it works great. It is so much better to fly with motor sound! Aloha, Erik

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Ruben van Eupen 29th July 2018 - 5:23 pm

Are this all contact mics? I guess they should be.

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Steve 1st July 2018 - 10:25 pm

Hi Oscar! I’m totally new. I have the Wizard x230, Aomway commander 1 and rotor riot run am swift 2. And wanting to use the built in mic. My vtx does not have a mic on it. I plugged my ear buds into the headphone jack on the goggles but I’m not hearing the motors/props. Would you happen to know what I’m doing wrong?

Thank you,
Steve

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Oscar 24th July 2018 - 5:38 pm

did you connect the audio output from camera to the VTX?

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Jesse Wooten 21st August 2018 - 1:37 pm

Oscar. Thank you so much for all you post and write about. It is so much easier to read about all this than to watch you tube videos.

I have been spoiled by audio and love it. I have an akk vtx and the audio no longer works. I bought the mic you recommended from bangood (a few of them) I hooked one up to my quad with a unify. It was easy I just paired it with the smart audio wire. Where and how do I connect the external mic to the akk? The akk has an fc uart pin but that is for smart audio only I think. Should I try and solder the mic to where the on board mics pins are?

Please help.

– Jesse

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Jeff Slater 7th February 2018 - 4:59 am

Do you think that hooking up my microphone will decrease my video quality or distance?

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Oscar 12th February 2018 - 1:39 pm

no it shouldn’t make a noticeable difference.

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Adriyel 22nd November 2017 - 2:11 pm

Hi oscar,

Sorry if this is a repeat question, but will the mic from banggood work on a VTx that is integrated on the FC (Omnibus F4+)?

If yes, will I connect the wires (mic) to the wiring running from the cam to the board?

Thanks.

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Oscar 28th November 2017 - 2:10 pm

i don’t think it will, because i don’t see any audio pin on that VTX.

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Peter 11th October 2017 - 3:56 pm

hello, i would really appreciate it if someone explained to me how i can get live audio to my fpv eachine ev800 goggles using my vtx becuase it says on the vtx that it has audio. I am flying an eachine wizard x220. can someone pls explain to me in detail what i have to hook up in order to do this becuase i am new to fpv drone racing and could really use some help. thx in advance.

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Oscar 19th October 2017 - 3:15 pm

The Wizard uses TS5823S VTX, and it has no built-in mic as far as i know.

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François Langlois 2nd January 2018 - 9:28 pm

There is a 3.5mm jack on the ev800(revised version) that is sending video and sound on a 4 segment 3.5mm jack. Use only a standard earplug/be imaginative to have sound.

Thank you so much for all the effort that goes into Oscar Liang’s website and all the poeple behind it. So great to have reference.
😚

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Tony K. 10th August 2018 - 6:53 am

Great article, thanks! I tend to be extremely reliant on audio cues in pretty much everything I do, and I’m really hoping I might be able to find some help here. When I’m able to hear my motors, I’m at least twice as good a pilot as when I can’t. The trouble is, I’m still pretty new to the hobby and so far have only been flying tiny whoop class quads. When I’m practicing and can hear my motors, I’m not a bad pilot, if I do say so myself. But when I go to my local club’s meets, I struggle severely with being able to control my altitude, and I’m convinced it’s because I lose the ability to hear what my motors are doing. I would be eternally grateful for any help in figuring out how to get audio working with a cam/vtx combo small and light enough for a 65mm whoop class quad. I will go back and re-read this article carefully to search for info applicable to solving my problem. I just got all excited about the prospect of having found someone who doesn’t write me off as a kook when I mention this subject, and couldn’t keep myself from firing off a quick note to see if there might be some hope for me after all. BTW Oscar, I’ve watched quite a few of your YouTube videos and would like to say thanks for the great content you create. Keep up the good work!

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robert 11th August 2017 - 12:51 am

Hello, I have a Quanum Cyclops goggles from Hobby King and Eachines Lt200 200w FPV transmitter with a 700TVL camera. I will be installing an FA-MT01-6-12 mic with my transmitter/camera and I will use a PAM8403 3W Stereo Audio Power Amplifier Board Module with Volume Control Pot and a separate 4 pin sterio headphone jack on the goggles powered with a PDB I have in my spare parts box that has a built in lc filtered 5v-12v BEC.
I believe this setup should work well,,,, I hope!!!

What are your thoughts on this setup????

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Simon Ashley 22nd May 2017 - 9:13 pm

Oscar I have tried this but all I can hear is a strange repetitive beeping / static sound. I have fatsharks dom v2 and fpv cameras with built-in microphones. If I use the DVR on the goggles the recorded sound is the same.

What am I doing wrong?

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Moritz Beyer 21st May 2018 - 11:41 am

I have the same problem.
Mic is soldered to the tbs unify.
So the voltage is 5V and not 6Vto12Volt as recommended.

Question: Is that the reason? Or do I need a resistor?

Please Oscar help!

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Oscar 22nd May 2018 - 3:27 pm

Yea for that mic i recommended, you need higher voltage to power it (9V to 14V).

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Paul S 12th May 2017 - 11:20 pm

flying a quad with no sound is like driving wearing earplugs.

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GB 2nd May 2017 - 6:31 pm

What about MEMS microphone? Like this one: sparkfun.com/products/9868
These are very sensitive, very small and compact.

Thanks.

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GB 29th May 2017 - 6:21 pm

Hi,

May I suggest more options:
I was looking for something smaller and lighter for my 3in build (155mm frame). The BG one is too big, in my opinion, when you look at the size of current VTx and built-in mic. After searching over the web and asking people, I found and bought that:

1/ fpvhobby.com/171-3-5v-nano-microphone.html (amazing sound quality and sensitivity. Really small !!!. I’m using the 3V output of the Tramp HV VTx and the audio line. Clean and efficient setup).
Others to consider:
2/ nghobbies.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=814#.WSxT7es19hE (looks like the same as 1), so another source in North America)
3/ electrodragon.com/product/microphone-max9812-amplifier-breakout/ (Very cheap but bigger than the 1/ and 2/. I bought several but did not use them since I got 1/).

Hope this helps for more options

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Everton Leite 1st May 2017 - 3:30 am

Oscar, is it possible to use a mic from any old device, like a headset? The difference is there is only 2 wires. I tried and it didn’t work, but I may be doing something wrong.

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Joshua Crane 15th August 2017 - 6:40 pm

I just purchased the (6-12VDC 100-5500Hz Microphone Pickup Aerial Audio Signal Collection For Camera FPV) That you recommend. I have the Betaflight F3 board and I don’t have any additional PDB but I’m running my VTX off of VBAT, Can I merge this power wire in with my VTX. My VTX runs off of 7-24 volts, So I was thinking I can merge the two together and it would work. Does that sound right?

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Oscar 21st August 2017 - 2:32 pm

not a good idea. your VBAT is way over 12V and it’s going to fry the mic. You might just have to get a 12V voltage regulator in this case.

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Geniack 26th March 2017 - 9:52 am

Hello someone on banggood mentions you can power the mic directly from a 4S battery:

banggood.com/3Pcs-High-Sensitive-Audio-Tiny-Microphone-for-CCTV-Security-Camera-p-969680.html?rmmds=search

“These are fine at 4S (16.8V) on a quad. Cover the end with foam as they are very sensitive and will pickup wind noise. I have 6 of these now, all working on 4S ok.”

Cheers

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Oscar 3rd April 2017 - 6:23 pm

No that’s not the kind of mic you want.. The spec says 12V as max voltage… 4S is risky

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Geniack 6th April 2017 - 7:36 am

Whats wrong with this kind of mic? Because I just bought it and planned to connecting it to a 4s battery too, otherwise I have to put in another stepdown module.

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Oscar 14th April 2017 - 5:48 pm

Try to get the one I recommended and power it with 12V :) (if you run 4S, use voltage regulator)

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Fernando 17th March 2017 - 3:15 am

Hi Oscar, i have a built in mic on my ft48x VTX, buy i seem to get no audio when i hook up my headphones to my fatsharks, is there anything i have to do in particular in order to get it working? I just think the expirience would be much more imersive if it had audio, thanks

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Oscar 24th March 2017 - 12:27 am

I think it should just work! I saw a Q&A on Banggood, they suggest the is on your right audio channel if that helps.

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xlnzee 6th September 2016 - 5:42 pm

Hi Oscar, I setup a mic after seeing your post, it’s working through my goggles but as soon as I start the motors on my quad it picks up a lot of static noise from the motors, this is with props off and I can barely hear anything anymore. I have it connected from PDB 12V -> LC Filter -> mic/vtx/cam. The reason I installed it is because I wanted to hear the low battery alarm go off, but I can barely hear that between the “noise” when motors start.

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Oscar 9th September 2016 - 3:01 pm

what mic are you using? in order to hear the buzzer you need to place them quite close otherwise it will be overwhelmed by the motors..

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Tim Miller 12th June 2016 - 1:43 am

How do you ground the audio?

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Oscar 13th June 2016 - 3:18 pm

connect the audio inputs to ground? :)

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Pippos 5th April 2016 - 2:29 pm

Hi Oscar,

Im flying with this kind setup for over a year now and got used to hear the motors if I’m far enough. One thing though is to use only the left or right channel instead of both of them. As I have noticed on quite of few vTx and standalone mics the one channel is always transferring noise. Most of the vtx are sending the signal to one of the channels (L or R), so I have first checked which channels outputs the clean signal .i.e. L CH and custom made a short one earpiece headphone.

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Oscar 6th April 2016 - 4:06 pm

that’s very good to know! i will keep in mind when i install my next mic!

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MTFinger22 22nd March 2016 - 8:17 pm

Hi Oscar!
I’m also using the BG microphone. On my goggles (Quanum DIY V2) I added a “headphone volume” cord so that it’s not screaming in my ears. However, since the audio will be going to multiple things, headphone, DVR, etc. I would rather control the volume on the quad it self. I think this can be done with a resistor on the signal line of the microphone, but I have no idea what value resistor to use or start with. Any ideas?

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Oscar 23rd March 2016 - 4:02 pm

i recommend using a pot that can be adjustsed between 0ohm to 1Kohm… tune resistance until you are happy with the volume.

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Yoav 20th March 2016 - 8:17 am

Why would you want to mount a mic if you can see the throttle position and “Low voltage alarm” on the OSD (and much more info)?

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Stuart 5th July 2016 - 1:43 pm

Some people dislike having and OSD because they either forget to look at the numbers or they get distracted looking at the OSD.

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Jaymzee 24th May 2017 - 5:31 pm

Why would you want to see throttle position and low voltage alarm on the OSD if you could just hear the information?

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Liam Olders 14th March 2016 - 9:12 pm

Especially for tuning your PIDs too?

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Indy 11th March 2016 - 5:50 am

Hi Oscar,
Very interesting topic.
I’ve a question that would be related…
How to protect efficiently the mic from the wind?
I bought a Runcam 2 and so far I’m happy with it, but the sound of the wind is horrible.
How could I get the great noise of the motors like on the videos I can watch on YouTube?
Thanks,

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Oscar 11th March 2016 - 11:28 am

cover the mic with foam, works pretty well for me.

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Salle RC 10th March 2016 - 3:24 pm

To bad it’s 12V, not everyone have that on their 4S machine. Quite common to only have a regulator for 5V for FPV-cam and FC/reveiver. Maybe it will work with less also. Think I set my D-Sun to output 7V since FC and receiver can handle up to 10V. Thanks for the article!

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Carl Feniak 9th March 2016 - 4:19 pm

Do you know of a good 5V microphone?

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Attila 9th March 2016 - 3:44 pm

Hi Oscar,
It would be great to see a list of (example) VTX / VRX that supports audio!
I’ve got Eachine stuffs, would they work? Found nothing on www.

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Dragonsbane777 9th March 2016 - 11:50 am

Any pilot who cannot hear their quad’s engines is missing out. I use the sound to directly tell me how much thrust I am getting at any one time. Perhaps I played too many racecar video games, or perhaps it was racing around in my own cars. Perhaps it is I am a music teacher for the last 20 years, I don’t know. When I do take off and I have forgotten my earpiece, however, it feels like a scary, unconnected flight. Get that audio going!

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Oscar 9th March 2016 - 2:55 pm

exactly! I feel very much the same as well when i can’t hear my quad! that’s why i have hated med/long range flying before i have the audio.

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Joel 9th March 2016 - 11:38 am

Hi Oscar – I was searching your site last week for this very solution. Thank You!

Quick question. Where do you get the 12v power? Does this come off of the Naze32 board?

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Oscar 9th March 2016 - 2:53 pm

i am powering my vtx and camera with 12V from my PDB (voltage regulator), so i just use that to power the mic too.

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George Doukas (fb: geDuke, google+: gDuke68) 9th March 2016 - 7:48 am

Hi Oscar (very interesting blog!)

The mic on FPV it’s also an “FPV range indicator”! When you are about to exceed the limits of your fpv transmitter, first you are start to loose the sound and then the video signal!! So when the audio quality are getting bad this is an “alert” that you are about to loose the video signal in a few seconds!

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Oscar 9th March 2016 - 12:02 pm

very good point, thank you! that’s added to the post now.

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Dynamo_fpv 9th March 2016 - 4:16 am

Awesome write up Oscar.
I been using that same mic from BG on all my builds in the last 6months and love them!
Helps allot when flying with others so that you dont get confused by listening to all the miniquads at once but rather only yours.

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Oscar 9th March 2016 - 12:01 pm

you are right, that’s another advantage! added to the post now! thank you :)

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