Should You Use 72MHz Radios for FPV Drones Nowadays?

by Oscar

In the evolving world of FPV (First Person View) drones, the technology behind radio systems is continually advancing. As someone who has been involved with FPV flying for several years, I’ve experienced firsthand the transformation from analog to digital systems. Today, we’re discussing whether there’s still a place for 72MHz radios in 2024, especially in an era dominated by more modern solutions.

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Understanding 72MHz Radio System

72MHz radios have been around for decades and were once the standard for RC hobbyists due to their long range and reliable signal under certain conditions. The lower frequency of 72MHz radio waves allows them to penetrate through obstacles more effectively than higher frequencies, which is why they were so popular for model aircraft in areas dense with interference.

Comparing Modern Alternatives

The main argument against using 72MHz systems today is the advent of superior digital control systems like ExpressLRS, TBS Crossfire, and ImmersionRC Ghost. These modern technologies offer significant improvements over 72MHz in almost every aspect:

  • Range: Modern digital systems can match or even exceed the range of 72MHz systems, eliminating the traditional advantage of lower frequencies.
  • Interference Resistance: Digital systems are far more robust against interference from other electronic devices, which is crucial in environments crowded with signals.
  • Size and Practicality: The antennas required for 72MHz systems are notably larger and more cumbersome than those needed for modern digital systems, which can be a significant drawback for portability and ease of use.

Practical Experiences and Limitations

In my experience, the nostalgia associated with 72MHz systems is understandable. There’s a certain charm to firing up an old, reliable piece of technology. However, practicality often takes precedence. Here are some practical insights based on real-world usage:

  • Telemetry and Feedback: Modern systems not only provide control but also facilitate rich telemetry data back to the pilot, enhancing the flying experience and safety. 72MHz systems typically struggle with bandwidth limitations, making them less suitable for telemetry.
  • Multi-pilot Scenarios: Flying with others? Modern systems are designed to handle multiple pilots without interference, a scenario where 72MHz can quickly become problematic due to its narrow bandwidth.
  • Environmental Interference: While it’s true that 72MHz is less affected by physical obstructions, it’s more susceptible to interference from the electronic components of the drone itself, such as servos, motors, and ESCs.

Niche Applications

There is one specific scenario where 72MHz still holds its own: underwater applications. For those building RC submarines, the penetration capabilities of 72MHz are unmatched by higher frequencies, which struggle to propagate through water.

Conclusion: Is 72MHz Obsolete for FPV?

For the general hobbyist or FPV enthusiast, the advantages of modern digital systems overwhelmingly surpass the outdated 72MHz technology in nearly every aspect. Unless you are diving into the niche of RC submarines, the shift to more advanced, digital radio systems is advisable. They provide better performance, convenience, and adaptability to current technology trends, making them the smarter choice for both newcomers and seasoned pilots alike. So, while it might be tempting to stick with a nostalgic piece of tech, for practical FPV flying, embracing the new digital standards is the way forward.

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