SBA Mini DVR for FPV Review
Image Credit: Stone Blue Airlines
Review by Adrian Apodaca, RealRCReviews Owner
Super mini size
High-resolution D1 record video
2.5" TFT true color LCD screen
Supports up to 32G SD card
- Small and portable
- Rechargeable battery
- Includes cables, case, remote
- Brightly lit, extremely clear screen
- Sturdy construction, aluminum body
- Tons of options but simple to use
- Relatively inexpensive
No real complaints. I can't blame them for not including something my Fat Shark goggles should have come with.
I just needed to buy a A/V coupler to make my goggles cable work with the cable from the DVR.
So I am pretty new to FPV flying and driving. When I first saw the trend starting a few years back, I was intrigued by it, but discouraged by the huge ground station setups I had seen at a few of the local flying fields. I knew I wanted to do FPV, but I didn't want to drop over a thousand dollars in equipment to do so. Fast forward a few years and we are at a point were equipment sizes have gotten smaller, and components have gotten less expensive, and there are many plug and play options to choose from.
This Christmas, I received the Fat Shark Attitude V2 goggles and some cameras and video transmitters to get started with. What I didn't know when I ordered my equipment, was that most FPV goggles do not record what you are seeing through the goggles. There are a few models that do, but the prices are a little high for my purposes. I asked a few FPV guys that I knew and they gave me expensive wireless options or told me to bring my laptop to the field.... I wasn't convinced. I posted on a few forums and I got closer, but not close enough. I was directed to a few cheap screenless DVRs that seemed complicated to use and a little too cheap to inspire much confidence.
Finally, I engaged with someone from Stone Blue Airlines on their Facebook page. They told me about their SBA Mini DVR for FPV. In a nutshell, it's just a little recorder with an LCD screen that records whatever you plug into it. At only about $115, I figured it was worth a shot. I placed my order and a few days later my box showed up. As most of us RC guys do, I was tearing the packaging open on my way to my coffee table to check everything out. When I opened the box, I was first impressed with the packing itself as it offered ample protection to the contents. I removed everything and was surprised at the amount of cables included. The DVR itself is made of a nice durable aluminum. The screen covers most of one side of the DVR. Though the unit is pocket-sized, the screen is really visible. There are buttons on the unit for navigating the menus, but these can also be controlled with the wireless remote. There is also a wired record toggle remote included that plugs into the AV out slot. There is a handy lock switch on the unit that keeps it on or off record when you put it in your pocket and ensures you don't accidentally start or stop recording. The final piece of included equipment is the nice little leather case for the DVR unit. Not only is it a perfect fit, but it also has cutouts in all the right areas for access to the buttons and the AV out. As mentioned in the CON section above, I did need to buy an AV coupler to allow my goggles to connect to the DVR. I put that on Fat Shark though as the video out on the goggles serves one purpose, where the DVR can be used in many applications and includes cables to do so.
There is practically no learning curve for using this DVR. If you can work an iPod, you can work this. In my testing, I found it so nice to slip it into my pocket the way I would my phone and head out to the field. I got quite a few inquiries at my field about it.. I think some folks thought I was recording to my phone. They were excited to see there was a recording solution for the FPV goggles. One thing I have read some complaints about is the inability to see the screen in the sunlight. These same people said the menus were hard to see because of the small screen. I must say, I totally disagree with these comments. Of course there are angles in direct sunlight that wash out the screen, but the same would be true if you took at 60 inch HD television to the field and angled it toward the sunlight. I found any light problems were easily remedied by shading the screen a little with my hand or visor. The letters on the screen are also pretty easy to see. There was never a point of frustration in using this DVR indoors or outdoors. I really love the fact that you can play back your video on the screen. It's nice to be able to review and erase as needed without having to wait to get home. If you're in the position I was, where you are having a blast buzzing around flying FPV but want to record all the cool things you are seeing, look no further, the solution is here, it works great, and is high quality. I normally like to give a few negatives in my reviews, but in this case, there aren't any. The SBA Mini DVR for FPV is everything I needed but didn't know existed. If you have any questions about this review, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I've included some video recorded on the DVR below. The flickering is from the massive amount of interference in my neighborhood as pretty much everyone uses dual band routers. I recorded from the goggles to the DVR walking around my house and the results were great.