Drones, HyperLink Antennas, Endless Possibilities

October 23, 2014 at 10:00 AM


It’s like soaring through the sky as if a bird, with an expansive set of wings cutting through the wind. Endless sight of blue horizon surrounds.


The clouds move softly as whites, grays, blues, and greens of the landscape fill the eye.


This is what First Person View (FPV) operators often experience during their flights. While their bodies remain on the ground with their stationary equipment, FPV operators get a bird’s eye view of their location using seeing goggles in order to operate their camera equipped drone. In most applications, cameras are used to make decisions with the drone. See what a good antenna and drone equipment are cable of, here.


Though FPV technology isn’t necessarily new, the use of drones is ever-increasing, and it also presents an interesting opportunity for growth in the wireless market.


We wanted to share this story as inspiration and knowledge for the endless possibilities of wireless technology, and how the new wave of drones could impact our industry. Sure, most antennas are still used for standard business or industrial networking applications, but nevertheless, there always exists new applications you may have never thought of.



J’son Johnson of Atlanta, GA, is an explorer and innovator in the FPV industry. He runs a forum for FPV newcomers and veterans alike, called FPVLAB. Back in June of 2012, Johnson conducted a 10 mile test flight that practically changed his life. Believe it or not, L-com gear was right there with him.


When Johnson set out to make a successful long flight that day in 2012, the average FPV operator was currently stuck at a maximum flying distance of 3, 4, or 6 miles. The caveat, Johnson believed, is that they were using homemade antennas. So, Johnson started looking at commercial antennas and found L-com’s products. He chose a 14dBi HyperLink antenna to support his long distance flight.


“I felt like I could have flown another 5 miles,” Johnson recounted about that first 10 mile flight. And flown he has.


To date, Johnson has covered a total of 35 miles at once-- with all L-com wireless equipment. The only reason he stopped the flight, he said, was because he was bored.


What started out as just a hobby for Johnson (he works in communications by day), has turned so successful that he now runs his own business called Aerial Images. Shooting now mostly for tourism, Johnson will get footage of a particular city and then the video or still photographs will be used for marketing material.


Johnson is continually surprised about the expansion rate of the FPV industry and the amount of calls he gets for footage. “The end is nowhere in sight. Three years ago I thought it was the peak but it’s not,” said Johnson.


Johnson uses equipment that operates in the 2.4 GHz band because he has found that the receivers/antennas for this frequency work well and are well tested.


Often in the drone community, Johnson noted, people try to use the least amount of energy with the biggest antenna on the ground (a big receiving signal on the ground allows the drone to fly a far distance). However, one doesn’t have to have a big antenna on the ground as long as it has a large receiving capability. People are shocked that his drone flies as far as it does with such a small antenna as L-com’s.


“With the regular off the shelf products like L-com’s, {the equipment} has gone from a mediocre system to a high performance system,” Johnson stated.



In fact, Johnson vows that L-com’s product actually legitimized his forum, FPVLAB. Users on the forum started asking more questions about where his flight equipment came from and were impressed by what L-com had to offer.


 “I bought 3 or 4 antennas and they have all worked the same, so I have come to trust the quality,” Johnson said about his L-com antennas. “It’s a comfort zone and my comfort zone is everything when I’m flying.”


Within that comfort zone, Johnson explained, are also other important factors for a quality antenna. If your antenna doesn’t reject out of band frequencies, you’re in trouble. There’s nothing worse than a drone operator not being able to see, because you’re making flak decisions based on what you can (or can’t) see.


“With L-com gear there really is no guesswork,” commented Johnson, “If you have any type of request or questions they’ll figure it out for you.”


Just in case a malfunction ever happened and his video went out, Johnson has an autopilot mode along with other safety features. He’s very keen on safety, and the first thing he does when preparing to fly is check his autopilot.


“L-com took my video quality from ‘maybe I can fly another mile’ to ‘I can fly another 4 miles’,” said Johnson.


As for why he likes flying so much, Johnson explained, “There’s a freedom about it that’s really weird. You’ve had a hard day at work and there’s nothing better than popping up above the clouds.” (Take a look at a great video of his view in White Sands, NM, here).


He then added, “You can go somewhere without going somewhere. You’re really not there but the world is a totally different perspective.”


Drones allow an opportunity to see what you want to see. After an equally successful and enjoyable flight covering Puerto Rico in recent months, Johnson has his eyes set on flying Peru and Mount Rushmore next.


Johnson, his drone, and his HyperLink antennas aren’t slowing down anytime soon. 


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