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2022 FPV Contest: Congratulations to the Winners!


We wanted to see what the Hackaday crowd was up to in first-person view tech, and you didn’t disappoint! Commercial FPV quads have become cheap enough these days that everyone and their mom got one for Christmas, so it was fantastic to see the DIY spirit in these projects. Thanks to everyone who entered.

The Winners

None of the entries do the DIY quite as thoroughly as [JP Gleyzes]’s “poor man’s FPV journey”. This is actually three hacks in one, with DIY FPV goggles made from cheap optics and 3D printed additions, a USB joystick to PPM adapter to use arbitrary controllers with an RC transmitter, and even a fully DIY Bluetooth-based controller for a popular flight simulator. [JP] has done everything but build his own drone, and all the files are there for you to use, whether you’re goal is to do it on the cheap, or to do something new.

If you want to build your own drone from scratch, though, ESP32 Drone project has you covered. At least, mostly. This build isn’t entirely finished yet, and it’s definitely got some crash-testing still in its future, but the scope and accessibility of the project is what caught our eyes. The goal is to make a lightweight indoor quad around parts we can all get easily and cheaply, completely scratch-built. This drone is meant to be controlled by a smartphone, and the coolest parts for us are the ESP_Drone and ESPStream software that run on the drone and your phone respectively. Congrats to [Jon VB]! Now get that thing in the air.

And if you’re looking for a tidy little build, [Tobias]’s Mini FPV Speed Tank doesn’t disappoint. It’s a palm-sized mini tank, but this thing hauls, and looks like a ton of fun to drive around. It uses an absolutely tiny RP2040 module, an equally tiny receiver, and a nano FPV camera and transmitter to keep it compact. The 3D-printed frame and tracks are so nice that we’re not even complaining that the FPV rig is simply rubber-banded on top of the battery. This looks like a super fun build.

Each of these three projects have won a $150 Digi-Key shopping spree to help out with parts in this, or your next project. Thanks again to Digi-Key for sponsoring!

Honorable Mentions

For the honorable mentions, we wanted to inspire the best of Land, Sea, and Air, but we also wanted to see what non-traditional FPV projects you were working on.

On land, we really liked [Vassily98]’s Model railway FPV, because we’ve never seen a model FPV train before. The design is a fully 3D printed N-scale camera car that just barely fits the 14500 battery that makes it work. The downside of an FPV model train setup? Now you have to decorate the insides of the tunnels too.

We were surprised by how few flyers we got. Of them, Valor sUAS was definitely the most developed, with a lot of sweet carbon-fiber parts, low-noise blades, and even an IR camera. We haven’t seen it fly yet, though, but it’s got so many military and paramilitary buzzwords, we’re sure the killbot factory will be expressing their interest soon.

In the water, we like [Timo]’s Turbo Super Submarine. While he claims that “documentation is a ball of obsolete paper and some openscad code without comments” we enjoyed the experimentation with making 3D prints waterproof, and the long digressions about the advantages of using obsolete game controllers and getting all the signals up and down the cable. We’re looking forward to future updates when the water thaws out again.

Finally, the “immersion” category was meant for the oddball FPV ideas out there, and we got two good ones here. PanoBot uses a panoramic lens that converts a normal camera into a 360° view, and there’s some really neat work on de-warping and adapting the resulting image for VR goggles, even if the eventual conclusion is that the setup just didn’t have enough resolution. Perky’s Rides from [Storming Moose] is the only 3D FPV entry we got. Basically a gimballed stereo camera rig, it’s meant to ride on any of three vehicles and give the viewers a VR view of what it sees. It’s also viewable on a normal phone screen, but where’s the fun in that?

And for the FPV application you’ve never thought of, See Through The Eyes of a Champion is essentially an FPV gunsight to help train people in competitive pistol shooting. The trick with marksmanship isn’t aiming and holding it aimed, it’s more about keeping smooth and pulling the trigger at just the right time, and this project aims to help document that by putting you in someone else’s eyes.

Post-finally, an honorable-honorable mention has to go to LOTP Robot Dog v2. It had FPV bolted on as an afterthought, but if you’re in for a fantastic open-source robot dog project, complete with LIDAR, hot-swappable instruments, and autonomous features, you really want to check this one out. If this were a robot-dog contest, this would have taken the top spot.

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