TL;DR: Give me a Unify with Solder pads and no stupid connectors.
So.. the other day, I was reading up on a post that Serge “Piroflip” made about a new VTX that they were going to be listing soon — a new VTX from Maytech.
Here’s a link if you are a member of the group.
This post got me thinking a little bit about what I wanted from a VTX. While I think that what we’re seeing here is a pretty awesome VTX, I still think there is room for improvement.
We can all agree that the de-facto standard for high quality VTXes right now is the TBS Unify Pro Race VTX. It does a lot of things very well, and there are some things that I don’t like about it.
- This is not a beginner VTX
- I’m sure there’s some sort of super sciency thing that I’m missing because I’m totally ignorant — and I’d be happy to be corrected
- This is not supposed to be the BEST RETAIL VTX EVAR — it’s just what I personally would love to have in a VTX — BUT I wonder if anyone else thinks the same
U.FL Connectors SUCK
First, the U.FL connector needs to go. U.FL is a GREAT connection when you are limited on space — space is very tight on just about everything drone related at this point, and I totally understand why we started using it. HOWEVER — U.FL connections are, in my opinion, bad for drones — here’s why.
The spec for U.FL connectors requires that (1) the U.FL male (the part that sits on the VTX) is rated for unlimited plugins (which, in my experience, hasn’t been the case). However, the (2) U.FL female (the part that lives on the antenna/U.FL-> SMA lead) is rated for a measly 30 connections! From the specs for the U.FL female documentation (http://www.farnell.com/datasheets/307202.pdf) “6. Repetitive Operation… 30 cycles of insertion and disengagement.” And that’s to say that you’re doing it with the correct tools and with the properly applied amounts of force. We all know that we don’t treat our miniquads with much finnese, especially when we are hurtling them through the air and ripping antennas off as often as possible (no, this isn’t happening very often for me, but it does happen, and when that U.FL connector is ripped off, it’s very tricky to get back on.
What I would love more than a U.FL connector would actually be just a straight up solder tab for the SMA lead. I can then choose my SMA-lead, choose the exact length that I need, choose the polarity of the SMA that I’m using, or just direct solder an antenna straight to the board. If the joint ever goes bad, I can field repair by soldering on a new lead or an antenna directly, I can make the exact right lengths that I need, and I never need to worry about what connectors or cables or spare garbage I have with me — I can just solder it together and put a dab of hot snot on it. It would be AMAZING!
Why are we stuck with weird plugs?
The second thing that I hate the most about modern VTXes is that we are stuck with these annoying plugs, which, if are broken or compromised (as everything eventually does on a miniquad), we are unable to plug that cable in, field repair it, or sometimes the VTX is shot altogether. This is why I started this article with the Pyro Drone VTX listed above — they did away with the connector and at least put through holes on the VTX — I call that an awesome start. CAN WE PLEASE just get rid of those connectors, and give me 5 solder pads on the ESC:
- 5-26V IN
- Audio/Smart Audio
- 5v out
And please don’t make these pads through holes — instead, save the space, put the pads on the top of the board only (make them healthy pads that won’t rip out), and use the other side for more components, shrinking the overall size of the board. The tabs that I currently love the most to work with are those on the lumenier Lux V2 Flight controller. Copy the size and spacing for these pads, and put them on the end of the VTX.
Get Rid of Pit Mode
I’m sure this was a good idea at some point, but let’s be real. We don’t actually use this.. When you’re at a race or flying with someone else, just DON’T POWER UP! NEVER. JUST wait for the heat to end, talk to the bloody race organizer, and don’t try faffing about with things like pit mode, which, if they don’t work, are just going to screw over other pilots. We don’t need this bloatware on our technology — just don’t bother with it.
Keep Everything Else From The Unify
- Smart Audio — one of the greatest things to ever happen to VTX technology. Being able to control all of the video settings from your OSD I think has been revolutionary for FPV racing. It allows no-nonsense certainty as to what channel and power output people are on, and it allows people to build better, shoving their electronics deeper and deeper into the black abyss that are our builds.
- Clean Power Up — the Unify doesn’t blast all of the channels when powering up. My local group, Team Indy5 all require each other to run the TBS unify video transmitter, and it’s saved us so much headache when we’ve organized all our local practices. When running Unifies, the clean power up mode nearly guarantees that we can all power up at different times and never bother each others’ video — it’s always clean and wonderful.
So.. basically.. TBS I’m looking at you. Give me a Unify where we don’t have any dumb U.FL connectors or weird plugs for the cables. I want to solder everything exactly to the length that I want them, and I want everything to be full customizable by me. Heck, even throw in all of the bits and let me decide whether or not to attach them.
SELL ME NAKED VTXes!
Thank you very much — have an awesome day.