Video drone goggles – The complete guide

As you learn more and more about flying a drone and you get more comfortable in the air it’s only natural that you start to look at the gadgets and other accessores that can improve your flying experience. Perhaps you are looking for drone goggles for racing too. Drone racing very much relies on the first-person live view that allow the pilot to fly quickly around tight courses at rapid speeds.

Here we will show you what you need to know and everything that you need to consider if you want to purchase some video drone goggles!

First things first – let’s get completely clear on what drone goggles are:

What are drone goggles?

Drone goggles are a head piece and eye wear that allows the pilot of a drone a live first-person view of where the drone flies. It is kind of like being sat in the pilot’s seat of the drone as you are flying it around.

The drone goggles may take a number of different forms. They may look like regular glasses and have the live view projected on to the inside surface – similar to an airforce pilot’s heads up display. Or it may look closer to virtual reality glasses that you get when playing VR games. These VR-like head sets are mainly what people refer to when they are talking about drone goggles.

Of course some of these drone goggle designs look better than the others. I think that for beginners a fully immersive experience would be the best since you are less likely to be distracted by what is going on in your immediate environment. So find a safe place to sit down, like a bench or the floor, and be prepared to see your drone flight like never before!

Drone goggles don’t just provide a way for you to see what the drone is seeing in real time. The more advanced drones also have buttons and pads that can be used to conrol the drone and support the remote controller.

What the pilot can see

During the flight the most important metrics can be displayed on the drone video goggle’s video stream. There are the metrics that may be displayed:

  • Live first person view
  • Flight statistics
    • Height
    • Distance from take of spot
    • Compass
  • Sensor information
  • Camera settings

May drone video streams can be customized to allow you to see the most relevant information to your flight and your mission. The most reacent DJI drone goggles have a technology called occusync that allows you to simultaniously stream your flight to your friends/collegues devices as well as your drone goggles!

While you are looking for drone goggles to buy you may be wondering why the drone goggles are so expensive! Let’s take a look at the technology that makes these drone so expensive.

Why are FPV goggles so expensive?

Browsing online for drone goggles you’ll be faced with a large array of prices. At the time of writing that is anywhere between $140 – over $900! Clearly the price of the FPV goggles is dependent on the quality of the materials that you use. Just like the drone – if you want to know why drones are expensive you can check out that article here.

Form factor

Because we have been fed a futuristic dream of wearable technology by Hollywood film studios and the like, we expect out gadgets to get smaller and smaller as time goes on. For most things this is true. Electronics have decreased in size over the years – at the cutting edge of size and power is where you can expect to spend the most money! That is where low form factor drone goggles sit.

Low profile drone goggles are more desirable as they are easier to carry to flight zones and are trendier! This type of goggle employs two LCD screen instead of the one. They are designed to have one screen per eye and because of that they can have the screen situated much closer to the eye than the box type of drone goggles. Low profile goggles have much more miniaturized tech and therefore more expensive than the other type: Box goggles.

Box goggles are bulkier and heavier but quite often they come with a better (more immersive) flying experience. The goggles have only one three to six inch LCD screen that’s attached to the headset. Because of this the screeen has to be further away from your eyes. This type of drone goggle is much eaier to manufacture – but are larger and bulkier than the low profile goggles. Some users also report that it is easier to wear these for a longer period of time as the larger size puts less pressure on the head. The large headbands and eye holes distribute the weight better.

Whatever type of drone goggles you decide to buy – you just have to make sure that they provide the function that you need them to perform at a price that you are willing to pay!

Now let’s take a look at my top three FPV goggles and what you can expect from them!

Which FPV goggles to buy?

Here are my top picks for FPV goggles for video drones with a qick review on each:

My top pick – DJI Goggles Racing Edition

These DJI racing goggles are sleek, powerful and probably the best you’ll find on the market at the moment. DJI Goggles Racing Edition features a redesigned metallic matte black visor and headband, along with padding covered by high-quality red leather.

The DJI Goggles RE are compatible with an OcuSync video transmission module and a high-performance camera module, which work together to transmit digital video signal fromup to 7 km away with latency as low as 50 ms, in addition to analog signal. Thsi allows to to feel confident and fly with smooth, clear video.

These goggles have some impressive specs too:

  • Dual 1080p LTPS Displays
  • Video transmission speed of with a delay of 50 ms
  • Maximum control range of 7 km
  • Supports multiple flight controllers
  • Head tracking for gimbal control
  • Digital and analogue transmission
  • Very comfortable – large contact area with the head

These FPV goggles will not disappoint as long as you check that you have checked the compatibility with your drone. They work with the Spark, Mavic Series, Phantom 4 Series, and Inspire 2 DJI drones.

Pros

+ Head tracking

+ supports multiple drones

+ 1080p display

Cons

~ Expensive headset

~ Bulkier than other headsets

Some of the best FPV goggles which work with DJI drones and other drones are the Epson Moverio BT-300 FPV Goggles. Let’s take a look at why they are so good!

Best low profile – Epson Moverio BT-300 FPV Goggles

The first person view smart glasses are awesome and redefine what is possible for drone flight. What is great about these glasses is that you are able to keep the drone in your sight as you also see the drone’s video feed and stats. That is particularly important when you live in a country where you have to have line of sight of your drone.

This is also only one of the very few 3rd party accessories that is endorsed by DJI. The overview of features as provided by the manufacturer are:

  • Maintain a clear line of sight — transparent display allows drone pilots to see key flight statistics, while still maintaining visual line of sight with the aircraft
  • DJI optimized accessory — access a number of DJI compatible apps on the Moverio Apps Market
  • Custom controller accessory — securely holds the BT-300 Drone FPV Edition controller to the DJI remote (works with Mavic, Phantom and Inspire remotes)
  • Easily record your drone in flight — front-facing camera captures real-time 1080p footage (at 30 fps) of your drone in flight, from the pilot’s point of view
  • Light, comfortable fit — world’s lightest (2.5 oz, 69 g) Si-OLED-powered, binocular, transparent smart glasses; easy to wear, even for extended periods of time
  • Good visibility in bright sunlight — includes an extra-dark shade so there’s no need for a hood; maintain visual line of sight with your drone, even in sunny environments
  • Moverio OS-based system — easily browse the Web, play games and stream content (does not support the Google Play™ store or other Google® Mobile Services)
  • Prescription glasses-friendly — fits over a wide range of prescription eyewear
  • Portable — rechargeable battery (in controller) offers up to six hours of battery life; built-in card slot supports removable microSDHC cards up to 32GB
  • Future-ready — motion sensors, front-facing high-resolution camera and the ability to render 3D content will enable developers to build next-generation flight experiences

It would be wrong of you to ignore these drone glasses as they are able to provide you with an awesome flying experience and one that makes the future seem like it is happening right now!

Pros

+ 6 hour batter life

+ 40 inch virtual viewing screen

+ Easy to travel with

Cons

~ Learning curve to use and stay focused

~ Some latency issues reported

Best lower cost – Flysight FPV Goggles

These goggles are perfect for FPV racers and can accommodate HDMI input to it’ll work with DJI drones (check the exact compatibility for your drone). They are reported to be super comfortable and easy to wear for hours at a time. Here what the manufacturer has to say about them:

  • Cool Design: Flysight SPX02 wireless RC goggles is built-in high sensitivity multi-channel diversity receivers,which is currently unprecedented and compatible with most VTX, especially support Fatshart VTX without distorted image; A Colling fan is built in,no more fogging up,lowering the temperature of using, improve user experience.
  • Unique PIP Function: The unique picture in picture function of Flysight wireless 5.8ghz diversity goggles allows you to check the surrounding view while controling the drone,small window and full screen can be switched by the button,easy to notice any hidden danger,your nice choice of racing drone except Fatshark dominator goggles
  • Wireless Diversity Receivers: Flysight diversity RC googgles FPV with 5.8ghz 40channel wireless diversity receiver provides smooth real-time video transmission with almost no latency, auto-connect to the stronger signal ,HD resolution 854*480px, provide clear and vivid image, equivalent to watching the 42-inch screen
  • Individual HDMI In: Flysight video goggles with HDMI is supporting HDMI 1.3 or a clearer image switch to HDMI input,the goggles will display a maximum input of 1920*1080/60Hz, It is compatable with DJI phantoms. Plug and play, lightweight and extremely comfortable can be worked with Typhoon H ST16 controller and Walkera racing drones as well
  • Recommended Front Camera: The foresight camera of this Flysight rc racing drone goggles is with 100 degree wide view angle. Its image position can be at any corner of the screen,size switches among 200×150,320×240 and full screen,status can be ON/OFF

These are at the cheaper end of the spectrum so you can’t necessarily compare them with the top of the line DJI drone goggles. They are worth your time if you want to look for something a little more reliable.

Pros

+Widescreen resolution

+ Picture in Picture option

+ Built in fan

Cons

~ Brightness and contrast hard to adjust while flying

If none of these options tickle your fancy or you want to take a little more time to find the perfect video drone goggles for your use case, here is a guide that will help you make the right decision.

Buyers guide for video drone goggles

Let’s take a look at some of the features that you should consider when purchasing video drone goggles. These will help you decide what goggles are the best for you to buy given how often and where you want to use them.

Weight

The weight of the video drone goggles will have to be one of the first things that you consider when purchasing goggles. Like most wearable tech you need them to be as comfortable as possible while flying. You need them to be as distraction free as possible!

Importantly, it’s not just the overall weight that needs to be taken into account. You need to look for the weight as well as the area over which that weight is spread when it is sat against your head. Even the heaviest of the goggles reported here can still be comforable when they are resting on your face if the weight distribution is right! So in that instance, lighter isn’t always neccesarily better.

The last aspect of weight is the balance on your head. A few of the goggles available have a large protruding front part which could easily cause neck pain as the muscles in the back of your neck struggle to keep the front lifted up. Take a look at the straps and padding that come along with the drone googles you are intetested in.

Field of view (FOV)

The field of view is basically how much you can see and is measured as an angle from the center of the eye to the edges of the screen. The wider the FOV is the better the flying experience is since it is more immersive. The specs provided by goggle manufactures can also include a diagonal FOV. So make sure that you are comparing the same units when scanning the internet for the best FOV!

It isn’t always best that you have the widest field of view, however!

The best FOV is almost always different for different people. It is a personal preference that you will have to work out for yourself! Some people like a larger FOV because the experience is even more immersive. Others prefer a smaller FOV because they don’t have to strain their eyes too much to see the on screen display stats and numbers.

Remember that with slimline goggles the whole screen “floats” in your field of vision whereas the box goggles result in a full view display – just choose the one you feel most comfortable with!

Can You Wear Glasses with FPV Goggles?

Maybe you are like me and wear glasses? In that case you’ll need to know if the goggles you intend on purchasing are suitable for use with glasses. It’s better to find a pair that does fit your glasses rather than going without your glasses. Eyestrain and the effect that can have on your wight is no joke!

Goggles can be fitted over glasses with relative ease as there is a fair amount of space in the eye hold of box-type goggles. I look for soft foam around the eyes that will conform around the arms of my glasses.

If you do not want to wear your glasses some manufacturers like Fatshark offer goggles that come with -2 -4 -6 diopter Corrective Lenses. This is a great alternative for the serious drone flyer who want to make sure that the headset will remain as comfortable as possible throughout a long day of flying.

If you want to get even more serious you can get custom lenses made!

Custom options

There are manufacturers of lenses that will make some that are the perfect fit for your eyes and the drone goggles. Check out manufacturers like Rho-lens. If you have some old glasses yu may also be able to retro fit them into your goggles like reddit user Arakon did:

I got an optician to cut down a set of older, scratched glasses to fit into my skyzone goggles. They just slide in and are exactly the strength I need to see clearly.

Arakon, Reddit

Just because you wear glasses it doesn’t mean that you can’t ever use goggles!

Adjustable Interpupillary Distance (IPD)

The pupillary distance (also known as the interpupillary distance) is the distance, measure in millimeters, between the centers of the pupils. The thing about this distance is that everyone is different and also changes as you move you eyes. For example, when you cross your eyes to look at some thing a little closer.

It’s therefore important that the video drone goggles that you are considering buying have an adjustable IPD to match yours perfectly. The first thing you need to do is measure you IPD and this can be done a couple of ways.

How to measure your Interpupillary Distance

If you wear glasses – like I do – you’ve had this measurement taken before by your eye doctor or optician. The most accurate way to get this measurement is to pay a visit to a place that sells glasses and ask then to measure your IPD. They will have the skills and equipment necessary to do it properly.

You can also use an online tool like the one offered from ace & tate to measure your IPD. The process uses the camera on your smart phone or webcam and uses a bank card as a distance reference.

The last way to do it is to do it yourself manually with a ruler and a mirror. Or, if you have a good friend you can also ask them to measure your IPD for you. To do this the steps are quite simple:

  1. Stand in front of a mirror and hold a ruler up to your nose, such that the measuring edge runs directly underneath both your pupils.
  2. Close your right eye and look directly at your left eye. Move the ruler such that the “0” mark appears directly underneath the center of your left pupil. Try to keep the ruler still for the next step.
  3. Close your left eye and look directly at your right eye. The mark directly underneath the center of your right pupil is your inter-pupillary distance.

Once you have this distance you can check on the specifications page of the manufacturers website that the goggles match your IPD or are able to be adjusted to fit yours. Getting this right is a very important step in maximizing the image quality in every headset.

Pixel resolution

The pixel resolution of an image is how many pixels make up that number. It is expressed as the number of columns and rows of pixels, for example 1920 x 1080, or it can be states simply as the total number of pixels such as 2.1 MP. You want to select a headset with the largest pixel resolution that you can afford. Most mid to high range headsets have more than enough pixels for your immersive flying experience.

Optics

There are two main types of optics used in every drone goggles and headset – plastic or glass.

The cheaper end of the drone goggles use plastic optics whereas you want to look for headsets that use glass. This will provide a much better viewing experience and provide a much clearer image.

Head tracking

Many drone goggles come with head tracking. Just like how your mobile phone knows its orientation in space many head sets can do the same! This allows the pilot to control the camera’s direction just by moving their head. This give a really fantastic flying experience as it feels like you are in the pilots seat.

Most first person view headsets not include some form of head tracking. You need to check whether the drone you intend on flying with the headset is able to respond to the head tracking movements.

Physical controls on the video drone googles

Some goggles allow the pilot to change to different recording modes and show different data simply by touching a pad or button on the side or top of the drone.

The DJI goggles have a full track pad on the side of the drone headset so that the pilot can choose menu items and confirm their choices. If there are some special features that you need to access during your flight it will be worth having a special button dedicated to this.

Other things you can do on your video drone goggles

If you have purchased a set of goggles – you are not only limited to using them while you are flying! You can use them to watch movies, show and play games too! With built in HD screens, speakers and headphones, and often an HDMI port you can get an IMAX theater experience for a fraction of the price!

You can use goggles with:

  • Apple devices – by buying a lightning to HDMI adapter.
  • Windows PCs and laptops – connect the HDMI output to the imput on the headset.
  • Game consoles – Typically you connect the game console to your TV and then you can use the HDMI output on your screen to connect to the goggles.

If you are looking for another reason to justify the purchase to yourself – I can’t think of a better one than this one!

Are they legal in your country?

One of the last aspects of the goggles is to consider if you can actually us them in you country!

In Australia, for example, you need to have direct line of sight to your drone at all times. That means that even with a spotter I cannot use drone goggles when flying my drone outside. Which is why it is a good idea to use a low profile headset that uses mixed reality rather than a box type of video drone goggles that blocks of the outsie world completely!

Take a moment to check the rules and regulations for your county. Here are some handy links:

Drone flying restriction in USA

Drone flying restriction in Canada

Drone flying restriction in Australia

Drone flying restriction in UK

Now, lets take a look at the benefits that you can expect from using goggles while flying your drone!

The benefits of using googles

There are many reasons that adding a first person view to your drone flying experience is a good thing. Let’s take a look at a few of them!

Better flying experience

There’s no doubt in my mind that flying a drone and getting a Birdseye view of the world is inspiring. Sometimes viewing the flight on a screen isn’t good enough and you long for being up in the air with the drone. Besides learning to fly a place – this is the closest thing that you can do to sore through the skies.

Many people love the immersive experience of seeing the flight as if there where flying through the sky like superman or super woman.

Works in bright light situations

I fly my drone a lot in very bright conditions. There is a lot of glare on the screen (I use my phone) which means that sometimes I cannot really see what I am filming and I have to hope that I have “got the shot”. Sometimes I miss out on it and it isn’t until I am back at my computer that I realize that I missed out!

You can purchase hoods for drone screens (click here to see a few of them on amazon) to protect from the glare. But having a full enclosed screen means that you can fly in any brightness. Like a private cinema for your drone flight.

Reduces eye strain

The screen that is used by pilots are pretty small. I often get my face nice and close to my drone controller as I am flying so I can see all of the little details on the little screen. When you where goggles – it is like you are in a cinema and you are viewing your flight on a IMAX screen.

This will stop your eyes from straining and allow you to take in the sights without risking damaging your eyes.

Allows for better control of the flight and video

As mentioned just above, I don’t really know if I’ve really got the shot that I want. It’s a combination of the screen size, the glare, the screen brightness and confusion on the screen with all of the flight stats. A set of goggles allows the pilot and videographer to frame and have a much better idea of exactly what is being recorded so that there are no nasty surprises when you get back to the computer and realise that all the footage is just a little bit off…

That’s the perfect reason to consider buying a par of goggles for your drone flying experience!

Conclusion

There we have it – it is time for you to get a flying experience like never before! Video drone goggles give the the ability to get a first persons- view like never before.

Consider all of the aspect above and you’ll be sure to have a great time with your new viewpoint on your flights!

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. He has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. Andy started droneflyingpro.com to share his love and the research of all things drone! He has been a drone pilot for many years and has flown many types of drone. His favorite is still the DJI Mavic Air for the portability and functionality packed into a small and portable drone!