Some people love listening to motor noise during flight because it makes them feel more connected to the quadcopter. This tutorial will explain the different ways of getting audio for FPV, and discuss other benefits of doing so.
Benefits of Having Audio 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 your flying too!
The motor noise changes with RPM and throttle position, being able to hear it during flight makes you feel you are more connected to the aircraft. This is espeically useful when you are flying with other people, so that you don’t get confused with other quads that are flying around you.
When you fly too far out, you won’t be able to hear your quad. With a mic, you will still be able to hear it. You can even hear the low battery beeping from the buzzer!
I can’t speak for everyone, but I do feel more confident when I can hear the motors spinning. Some people begin to panic when they couldn’t hear the quad because it’s too far away.
However, some people might 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 electric noise.
How to Get Audio on a Quadcopter
There are 3 ways to get audio on your quad:
- Using a VTX with Built-in Microphone
- Using an FPV camera with Built-in Mic
- An external microphone
Here is some quality comparison between a VTX built-in MIC, and the External MIC, as well as a GoPro. It was less noisy when I was listening while flying, the audio quality became worse when it was recorded on the DVR for some reasons.
VTX with Built-in Microphone
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
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 mic, you can use an external microhpone, I’ve tried this one and it works ($2.2): http://bit.ly/fpv-mic
Or this one which has a wider sound frequency range: http://bit.ly/2sNvvjg
Although it requires additional wiring, the audio quality is better than those cheap built-in mic on the VTX or FPV cameras. Also it’s a lot cheaper than replacing your VTX or Camera.
To use these external mic, you have to power them with 12V, and connect the signal wire (white) to your VTX audio input and that’s it. Some VTX might have two audio inputs (left and right channels), I recommend connecting to both channels.
How to Listen to Motor Noise?
This is the Steele earbud I use, it’s made by TBS and designed for FPV.
if you are using FPV monitors, there are usually built-in speaker and should 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 covering the microphone using some foam.
- Mar 2016 – article created
- Sep 2018 – article rewritten