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The SEMI-complete guide to inexpensive VR/FPV Flying [Part Deux?] On the fly article- get some lunch if you're gonna read it.

vindibona1

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Don't ask me how I've gone down this rabbit hole, but when, for giggles, I tried FPV flying with inexpensive VR goggles there was just something about the immersive experience of being inside goggles rather than looking down on a screen. It was fun, but the experience was also a bit clumsy. The clumsiness, made it so that I didn't do it that often. Over the winter I had time to think about what might make it a better easier, more fun experience. I thought that I might have chosen the wrong goggles, though the initial reasoning was logical.

One of the drawbacks of cheap VR FPV flying is that while it's great looking through goggles (assuming you have a VO) is that often you need physical access to the screen. Toggle buttons on your controller are helpful, but don't totally alleviate the need for access to the screen. Weigh, comfort and build also come into play in selecting your VR goggles. And lastly, the flexibility of the program you need is important as it needs to interface well with the goggles, some goggles or apps themselves don't have enough adjustability in terms of eye alignment. Presbyopia for older folks comes into play as well.

Fit, weight, size, app compatibility and screen access- and fumbling or lack there of:
All of the above categories come into play. I didn't realize quite how much and how. Comfort, viewing acuity, control ability vary from one set of goggles to another. Of course a lot depends on how the program is laid out.

So I'll approach the Goggles first. The first three were purchased for under $30 each, some closer to $20. The DroneMask on the right side was the most expensive at $160. It definitely has some advantages, but some minor shortcomings. Last year I had gotten the Peccosa and the BNext, returning the BNext because it was heavier. Also the BNext had limited focus/pupilarly distance adjustments. However, I have Presbyopia, and even in the Peccosa set I ended up installing a set of reading glasses.

As you can imagine, with any app you have to set it up and get it going before you can install it in goggles. Sometimes you have to take it out of the goggles to make adjustments or selections. Installation alignment is important and some goggles are more friendly in that regard to others. As the BNext goggles get installed in a tray and the tray inserted into the set, it's pretty easy to keep the alignment as long as you can keep your phone from slipping sideways. There are lots of ways to secure L/R position. However the BNext are one of the heaviest sets I tried. There are some that require manual alignment each and every time you remove the phone. That is my issue with the Peccosa, my original first choice (but no longer). I also had to make some other mods for comfort as well as installation aids.

One reason weight becomes an issue is "what do you do with the set when you take the phone out and have to park the goggles on your head (or elsewhere). That's part of the clumsiness issue. The tension and adjustability of the strap then is an issue as well. Some sets do better than others. There are few sets that "park on ones head" better than others.

Partial recommendation:
Of the three "standard" VR headsets I think my favorite now is the Shinecon set. Shinecon VR goggles I didn't expect it. For the purposes of comparison I ordered it from Amazon with the intension of returning one or both (BNext on the same order). I was really surprised at how much I liked them. At first glance my impression was "are these kids' goggles" because they were so much smaller and lighter than the others. I've got a pretty big face and I wear glasses. To my amazement they were the most comfortable, lightweight VR goggles that I had there. As small as they were they had as large a range of adjustments as any of the others and the headstrap is good. In other words, I can park these easily on top of my head without much issue, unlike the others. What makes this set unique is that it is totally open in the front where you just slide the phone down into it or pop it out when you need it. I found that if I want to make a quick screen adjustment I can slide it over and close to one of the lenses and view what my finger is doing and pop it back in again. I think I found this set to be the most nimble.

The BNext might be my next choice of the three only because the tray mount system makes it easy to get the phone in and out and repositioned most accurately. The con of the system is that it's heavy and while adjusting the screen settings, if you park it on your head, it's not as secure and lightweight as the Shinecon set.

I liked the Peccosa, but only after extensive mods. What I thought I liked about it was the pop-down front to make it easy to get the phone in and out. The set did balance better than the BNext on my head, but still clumsy. It was the manual alignment that got me hung up because it was slow and took too much dexterity of both hands. It's lightweight and inexpensive, but again, I think the Shinecon is the winner in this category.

Now comes the DroneMask, also known as MovieMask or MagicMask.
It is by far the most expensive of all of them, now at $169, I think. The big draw of the DroneMask is that it does not rely on split-screen divisions, so you can use it with any app you fly with. You just stick it in and it magnifies the screen. One of the real benefits, I think is that in super bright sunlight you will get zero glare and be able to see the whole screen in an immersive experience. There are a few downsides compared to the others. With the split screen viewers, if you're using an app like Litchi in FPV/VR mode or DroneVR (recommended) you can control the gimbal with a turn of the head and even possibly control the yaw of the drone or camera with L/R movement of the head as well. With DroneMask the controls are 100% the controller and your hands. Really no different than flying looking at the screen except the immersion experience is something else. The DroneMask is the heaviest of all the goggles. It has a wide focus range, but relies on extending the phone out, which adds leverage and perceived weight. It does not balance on the head well when not in use. But part of the redeeming factors is that you can get everything set up with the mounting flap (it uses zippers to secure) open and headset in your lap or attached somehow, get everything set up before you go... fly a bit, then put the set on. Additionally, a trick I discovered is if I only pull a zipper to the point where it's not flopping around, I can quickly relieve the zipper, pull the flap away an inch or so while I'm still looking at the screen, with enough room to get my finger in there, make the adjustment and do a little zipping or just let the flap hang. Perhaps the most convenience for making adjustments.

VR Programs:
Really the two I've been testing has been Litchi and DroneVR. There is one huge advantage of DroneVR ($10 for one drone model, $20 for all-in-one if you have multiple supported drones (I have a M2P and Mini 2, which recently got support). The advantage of DroneVR which might be huge for some, like me, is the ability to adjust the pupilary distance for easy eyesight, as well as magnification and distortion. I have been having a problem with Litchi getting eye alignment without double vision on all the headsets except for the Shinecon. Most who own Litchi know what the OSD layout it and does a pretty good job of providing all the data you need in VR, assuming that you get good eye alignment. DroneVR doesn't attempt to duplicate LItchi, but has two different looks you can choose. One of them is like a fighter pilot's HUD. I like that one. The letters are thin like you'd expect in a real HUD, but if you increase the magnification, they're easy to read. The one thing I haven't figured out yet is that my video setttings (in Fly and Go4) are set to D-Log, so the image is flat and I haven't figured out how to switch it into the more contrast live view setting. Perhaps I just have to film in Normal modes, set in Fly or Go4? If I figure that out I'll come back and edit.

II had some issues (with ApplePay...a horror story) getting my subscription updated with DroneVR to include my Mini2, but that was all on Apple) so I haven't yet been able to test DroneVR with my Mini 2. I have tried to test Litchi with the Mini 2 and have had limited luck, though it was a struggle to find a set of goggles that let me get pupilary alignment. If anyone knows how to change the pupilary distance in Litchi, please let me know. I've been going over the tutorials and so far I've figured out how to make the data appear wider or narrower, but not the PD.

I think that's all I have for now (yeah, I know, a lot). But this is an area that hasn't seemed to get much attention. I'm sure y'all know that when flying VR you are required to have a VO so that VLOS is maintained at all times. I hope you found this informative, if not interesting. Thanks for taking time to read it. [I'm sure there are many typos and grammatical errors. I'll fix what I can find when I have the eyes to edit.

Mask roundup.jpg
 
Don't ask me how I've gone down this rabbit hole, but when, for giggles, I tried FPV flying with inexpensive VR goggles there was just something about the immersive experience of being inside goggles rather than looking down on a screen. It was fun, but the experience was also a bit clumsy. The clumsiness, made it so that I didn't do it that often. Over the winter I had time to think about what might make it a better easier, more fun experience. I thought that I might have chosen the wrong goggles, though the initial reasoning was logical.

One of the drawbacks of cheap VR FPV flying is that while it's great looking through goggles (assuming you have a VO) is that often you need physical access to the screen. Toggle buttons on your controller are helpful, but don't totally alleviate the need for access to the screen. Weigh, comfort and build also come into play in selecting your VR goggles. And lastly, the flexibility of the program you need is important as it needs to interface well with the goggles, some goggles or apps themselves don't have enough adjustability in terms of eye alignment. Presbyopia for older folks comes into play as well.

Fit, weight, size, app compatibility and screen access- and fumbling or lack there of:
All of the above categories come into play. I didn't realize quite how much and how. Comfort, viewing acuity, control ability vary from one set of goggles to another. Of course a lot depends on how the program is laid out.

So I'll approach the Goggles first. The first three were purchased for under $30 each, some closer to $20. The DroneMask on the right side was the most expensive at $160. It definitely has some advantages, but some minor shortcomings. Last year I had gotten the Peccosa and the BNext, returning the BNext because it was heavier. Also the BNext had limited focus/pupilarly distance adjustments. However, I have Presbyopia, and even in the Peccosa set I ended up installing a set of reading glasses.

As you can imagine, with any app you have to set it up and get it going before you can install it in goggles. Sometimes you have to take it out of the goggles to make adjustments or selections. Installation alignment is important and some goggles are more friendly in that regard to others. As the BNext goggles get installed in a tray and the tray inserted into the set, it's pretty easy to keep the alignment as long as you can keep your phone from slipping sideways. There are lots of ways to secure L/R position. However the BNext are one of the heaviest sets I tried. There are some that require manual alignment each and every time you remove the phone. That is my issue with the Peccosa, my original first choice (but no longer). I also had to make some other mods for comfort as well as installation aids.

One reason weight becomes an issue is "what do you do with the set when you take the phone out and have to park the goggles on your head (or elsewhere). That's part of the clumsiness issue. The tension and adjustability of the strap then is an issue as well. Some sets do better than others. There are few sets that "park on ones head" better than others.

Partial recommendation:
Of the three "standard" VR headsets I think my favorite now is the Shinecon set. Shinecon VR goggles I didn't expect it. For the purposes of comparison I ordered it from Amazon with the intension of returning one or both (BNext on the same order). I was really surprised at how much I liked them. At first glance my impression was "are these kids' goggles" because they were so much smaller and lighter than the others. I've got a pretty big face and I wear glasses. To my amazement they were the most comfortable, lightweight VR goggles that I had there. As small as they were they had as large a range of adjustments as any of the others and the headstrap is good. In other words, I can park these easily on top of my head without much issue, unlike the others. What makes this set unique is that it is totally open in the front where you just slide the phone down into it or pop it out when you need it. I found that if I want to make a quick screen adjustment I can slide it over and close to one of the lenses and view what my finger is doing and pop it back in again. I think I found this set to be the most nimble.

The BNext might be my next choice of the three only because the tray mount system makes it easy to get the phone in and out and repositioned most accurately. The con of the system is that it's heavy and while adjusting the screen settings, if you park it on your head, it's not as secure and lightweight as the Shinecon set.

I liked the Peccosa, but only after extensive mods. What I thought I liked about it was the pop-down front to make it easy to get the phone in and out. The set did balance better than the BNext on my head, but still clumsy. It was the manual alignment that got me hung up because it was slow and took too much dexterity of both hands. It's lightweight and inexpensive, but again, I think the Shinecon is the winner in this category.

Now comes the DroneMask, also known as MovieMask or MagicMask.
It is by far the most expensive of all of them, now at $169, I think. The big draw of the DroneMask is that it does not rely on split-screen divisions, so you can use it with any app you fly with. You just stick it in and it magnifies the screen. One of the real benefits, I think is that in super bright sunlight you will get zero glare and be able to see the whole screen in an immersive experience. There are a few downsides compared to the others. With the split screen viewers, if you're using an app like Litchi in FPV/VR mode or DroneVR (recommended) you can control the gimbal with a turn of the head and even possibly control the yaw of the drone or camera with L/R movement of the head as well. With DroneMask the controls are 100% the controller and your hands. Really no different than flying looking at the screen except the immersion experience is something else. The DroneMask is the heaviest of all the goggles. It has a wide focus range, but relies on extending the phone out, which adds leverage and perceived weight. It does not balance on the head well when not in use. But part of the redeeming factors is that you can get everything set up with the mounting flap (it uses zippers to secure) open and headset in your lap or attached somehow, get everything set up before you go... fly a bit, then put the set on. Additionally, a trick I discovered is if I only pull a zipper to the point where it's not flopping around, I can quickly relieve the zipper, pull the flap away an inch or so while I'm still looking at the screen, with enough room to get my finger in there, make the adjustment and do a little zipping or just let the flap hang. Perhaps the most convenience for making adjustments.

VR Programs:
Really the two I've been testing has been Litchi and DroneVR. There is one huge advantage of DroneVR ($10 for one drone model, $20 for all-in-one if you have multiple supported drones (I have a M2P and Mini 2, which recently got support). The advantage of DroneVR which might be huge for some, like me, is the ability to adjust the pupilary distance for easy eyesight, as well as magnification and distortion. I have been having a problem with Litchi getting eye alignment without double vision on all the headsets except for the Shinecon. Most who own Litchi know what the OSD layout it and does a pretty good job of providing all the data you need in VR, assuming that you get good eye alignment. DroneVR doesn't attempt to duplicate LItchi, but has two different looks you can choose. One of them is like a fighter pilot's HUD. I like that one. The letters are thin like you'd expect in a real HUD, but if you increase the magnification, they're easy to read. The one thing I haven't figured out yet is that my video setttings (in Fly and Go4) are set to D-Log, so the image is flat and I haven't figured out how to switch it into the more contrast live view setting. Perhaps I just have to film in Normal modes, set in Fly or Go4? If I figure that out I'll come back and edit.

II had some issues (with ApplePay...a horror story) getting my subscription updated with DroneVR to include my Mini2, but that was all on Apple) so I haven't yet been able to test DroneVR with my Mini 2. I have tried to test Litchi with the Mini 2 and have had limited luck, though it was a struggle to find a set of goggles that let me get pupilary alignment. If anyone knows how to change the pupilary distance in Litchi, please let me know. I've been going over the tutorials and so far I've figured out how to make the data appear wider or narrower, but not the PD.

I think that's all I have for now (yeah, I know, a lot). But this is an area that hasn't seemed to get much attention. I'm sure y'all know that when flying VR you are required to have a VO so that VLOS is maintained at all times. I hope you found this informative, if not interesting. Thanks for taking time to read it. [I'm sure there are many typos and grammatical errors. I'll fix what I can find when I have the eyes to edit.

View attachment 147786
Excellent, thanks for sharing… and I had a good lunch.
 
Thank you for the recap. (aging, farsighted drone pilot)
I'm telling you, it's a whole different flying experience and can be done very, very cheaply. Not the same as the DJI goggles that have direct connections... But you can get away with a $25 pair of goggles and a $10 program like DroneVR and have a really good time flying FPV.

Speaking of DroneVR, one thing that really sets it apart is the option of viewing interface. You actually setup the HUD to look like a jet fighter. Or you can be in a more "standard" display mode. Here's a screen shot of the Jet Fighter HUD. I like flying in this mode.

1651856167498.png
 
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