DJI O3 Air Unit review: a major upgrade for FPV enthusiasts | Digital Trends

    DJI O3 Air Unit
    MSRP $230.00

    “The DJI O3 Air Unit is a versatile image transmission and capture system for FPV hobbyists.”


    Great picture high quality

    Excellent transmission power and readability

    Perfect for inventive FPV management purposes

    20GB of onboard storage


    Overheats with out fixed air movement to chill it

    While I’ve a few years of expertise flying drones, I’ve barely dabbled my toes within the waters of extra superior and technical first-person view (FPV) autos. This is the angle with which I reviewed the DJI O3 Air Unit, which is a digital camera and picture transmission system designed for hobbyists who don’t thoughts getting their arms soiled with screwdrivers and soldering instruments.
    Testing the O3 Air Unit was fairly an eye-opening expertise into the difficult, but extremely rewarding world of constructing and working FPV drones and different RC units. It required a variety of trial, error, and basic troubleshooting — all searching for the reply as as to whether or not the O3 Air unit is one thing reserved for the devoted hobbyist, or if extra informal drone and RC lovers would possibly do nicely to contemplate profiting from the thrilling potentialities it represents.
    DJI O3 Air Unit design
    Andy Zahn / Digital Trends
    The O3 Air unit is a quite simple, bare-bones system. It includes a digital camera, an antennae, and a transmission unit — and these three parts are linked by way of cables. The core unit of the system includes a connector designed to be plugged right into a suitable flight controller, in addition to USB-C and microSD card ports, plus a pairing button.

    The development of the DJI O3 Air Unit is extraordinarily sturdy and high-quality, although it isn’t waterproof. The compact, high-performance nature of the system is such that it wants each little bit of airflow it will probably get for cooling.
    DJI O3 Air Unit setup course of

    Getting the O3 Air Unit up and operating was a journey, although none of my difficulties had been the fault of the system itself. Rather, my trials and tribulations had been the results of early firmware and my very own inexperience with wiring and with hobbyist remote-controlled (RC) drones.
    First off, I wanted to energy the system. This could be most simply executed by merely plugging the O3 Air Unit right into a suitable flight controller. However, I lack such a flight controller, and my major curiosity within the O3 Air Unit is as a tool with which to expertise ground-based RC autos. With this in thoughts, and after a variety of analysis, I ultimately ordered a 500mAh LiPo battery, a charger, and an adapter to go between the battery and the charger. I additionally bought a pigtail connector to attach the battery on to the O3 Air Unit.
    Hooking up the battery connectors was the one difficult and technical facet of this mission, because it concerned snipping the facility and floor wires on the O3 Air Unit and soldering them to the pigtail connectors.
    With this entire, I used to be capable of efficiently energy on the O3 Air unit for the primary time. I wish to give a giant shout-out right here to for his or her wonderful customer support, which helped me determine what elements I wanted to order.
    Andy Zahn / Digital Trends
    If you propose to observe an identical route as I did with the O3 air unit, I like to recommend shopping for a high-quality battery charger because you don’t wish to fiddle with LiPo batteries. Also, if you happen to’re constructing a low-speed car or if you happen to plan to mount it in a location the place the air unit gained’t be uncovered to a big quantity of air circulation, you must also plan to incorporate some type of cooling fan.
    After I used to be capable of energy the O3 Air Unit, I nonetheless needed to get it paired to my DJI Goggles 2 and controller. I actually struggled with this, however after a quick back-and-forth with DJI, we narrowed the issue all the way down to prelaunch firmware, and after a fast replace for the controller, headset, and air unit, I had all the things up and operating. I rapidly strapped the O3 Air Unit to an RC race automotive with packaging tape and took it for a spin across the storage.
    Andy Zahn / Digital Trends
    With this profitable take a look at run, I upgraded my setup to an RC monster truck, utilizing double-sided mounting tape and electrical tape to safe the cab of the truck. The O3 Air Unit labored nice on this setup, although sadly, the monster truck was not as off-road succesful as marketed.
    Andy Zahn / Digital Trends
    Next, I put the O3 Air Unit to its extra conventional use as a drone digital camera, taped to the highest of my DJI FPV drone. I anxious that the tape won’t be sturdy sufficient, however happily, it turned out to be rock strong. Both the drone and air unit carried out admirably, although sooner or later, I plan to mount the Air Unit at a greater angle on the DJI FPV drone in order that the propellers are excluded from the view.
    DJI O3 Air Unit picture high quality

    With the aptitude of recording 4K video at 60 frames per second (fps) and a pair of.7K video at 120 fps, the O3 air unit is sort of highly effective as a videography instrument. With RockSteady picture stabilization much like what you’d discover within the DJI Action 3, the O3 Air Unit might function an ample substitute for the motion cameras sometimes utilized by FPV drone pilots. This is doubtlessly large, because it means severe weight financial savings and, thus, a efficiency increase in conditions the place each gram issues.
    It’s a serious enchancment over the unique DJI Air Unit when it comes to picture high quality and a giant enchancment over the digital camera built-in into the DJI FPV drone. It’s roughly on par with the DJI Avata digital camera, although in my subsequent setup utilizing this digital camera, I intend so as to add a bit of froth or rubber between the O3 Air Unit digital camera module and the RC car to assist dampen the vibrations and obtain smoother footage.
    DJI O3 Air Unit efficiency
    Andy Zahn / Digital Trends
    I by no means had any trigger to complain concerning the transmission high quality or power of the O3 Air Unit. Using the DJI Goggles 2 with it, I by no means skilled any noticeable lag or lack of sign, although it ought to be famous that I by no means actually pushed the boundaries of its vary. I used it as I’d FPV drones in the actual world, the place I’m all the time cautious to remain inside visible line of sight. I did, nonetheless, drive it with RC vehicles with a strong wall between myself and the automotive and didn’t expertise any loss or degradation within the sign.
    A very spectacular facet of the O3 Air Unit is its 20GB of onboard storage.

    The one vital downside I bumped into was overheating, as I’ve already alluded to. To be clear, it is a system designed for use with drones touring at a excessive price of velocity by means of the air. However, the speed at which it overheats is considerably alarming when it’s not actively being cooled. It made the O3 Air Unit quite troublesome to replace, and I ended up operating my NiteCore BlowerBaby air-cleaning system over the O3 Air Unit throughout the troubleshooting and setup course of. When flying it on a drone, this isn’t a problem, and there’s an computerized shutoff that happens if the system will get too sizzling.
    A very spectacular facet of the O3 Air Unit is its 20GB of onboard storage. This will be the most onboard storage I’ve personally encountered on a digital camera of any description, and it may be an actual lifesaver to have this feature as a backup to a microSD card.
    DJI O3 Air Unit value and availability
    Andy Zahn / Digital Trends
    The DJI O3 Air Unit is accessible now and retails for $230, which incorporates the digital camera module, transmission module, antennae, and 3-in-1 cable. This is definitely fairly a horny value level, contemplating its capabilities, although it’s necessary to notice that additionally, you will want a headset such because the DJI Goggles 2, which retail for $650.
    If you’re ranging from scratch, you additionally want to contemplate the price of no matter you’re going to connect the O3 Air Unit to. The battery, adapters, and charger I bought price me $102 whole, and that represents the naked minimal to get the O3 Air Unit up and operating. I spent a further $30 on an inexpensive RC monster truck, however after being dissatisfied by the lackluster efficiency of this discount bin truck, I’d advocate spending not less than twice that to get one thing with good energy and shock absorbers.
    If you go for a drone as an alternative, as is extra the intent of the DJI O3 Air Unit, anticipate to spend a number of hundred {dollars} not less than on the drone itself. All informed, an entire FPV setup constructed across the O3 Air Unit will run round $1,00zero at a minimal. That places you within the ballpark of the DJI Avata, which I’d advocate to novices simply seeking to get into FPV drone flight.
    A flexible system for FPV hobbyists
    Andy Zahn / Digital Trends

    The DJI O3 Air Unit is a transparent winner in terms of picture transmission for FPV management of drones, vehicles, and RC autos of varied descriptions. While it’s definitely geared toward these of a hobbyist mindset with a sure diploma of technical information, the educational curve isn’t so nice as to severely restrict its accessibility.
    It’s virtually a foregone conclusion that the O3 Air Unit will change into the de facto digital camera of selection for hardcore FPV drone pilots. It’s a digital camera that tickles the creativeness and lends itself to inventive tasks. It’s dependable, highly effective, and delivers wonderful picture high quality that’s adequate to interchange a standalone motion digital camera.

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