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Product Reviews

Fat Shark/Spectrum Focal V2

Tried and tested by a pro drone racer

August 19, 2017

I am  a professional drone racer, and, for me, perhaps the most critical element of FPV racing is maintaining the drone’s point of view. When it comes to goggles, I need a pair that give me the clearest possible image, do not compromise my view, and help me capture the best possible stream.

Since I first started flying FPV, I have used Fat Shark goggles. For me, they simply are the best, most immersive FPV goggles available. With a pair of Fat Sharks in my backpack, I travel the world knowing I’ve got my video receiver needs met.

But for the last two years, the HD offerings from Fat Shark have been disappointing. I find the field of view is too large, resulting in blur at the edges or at the center of the frame depending on where I set the interpupillary distance (IPD), which is a measurement of the distance between your eyes’ pupils. The experience winds up being overly immersive — I find myself looking around the view, not at it. When your drone is traveling over 100 mph, you don’t have time to look around for obstacles.

That’s why my go-to goggles have remained a pair of well-loved Fat Shark Dominator V2s. They give me the best view with all the features I need. But after using them for thousands of hours, I worry that if they malfunction, I’d have no backup.
System Specs

Fat Shark/SpeKtrum Focal V2

  • 640x480 resolution
  • 32-degree field-of-view
  • Adjusts to user’s eye spacing (IPD)
  • Wireless head tracking & channel selection
  • 2S 1800mAh LiPo battery w/ LED voltage indicator
  • Antenna options: Spironet RHCP Omni and RHCP 8dbi patch
  • Communicates w/ any Spektrum transmitter w/ Wireless Trainer Link technology
  • Rocker switch to change channels
The goggles of my dreams?

When I heard about the Focal V2 offering from Fat Shark, I hoped the company had finally designed a next-generation pair of goggles to fit my needs.

As soon as I opened the box, I was happy with the Focal’s look, feel, and form factor. They have a nice rubberized finish, matte grey color, and cool orange accents (the Spektrum logo). Plus, they come with everything you need to get flying — battery, diversity-receiving module, and excellent antennas — all packaged in a nice carrying case.

The Focal V2 is a “faceplate” headset. That means it has foam pads that sit on your forehead and cheeks rather than eyecups that fit tightly around your eyes. I’ve always preferred eyecups. Faceplate goggles just never seem to properly fit my head. Also, if I use someone else’s faceplate goggles, I can feel and smell their sweat. Yuck. But the Focal just might have changed my mind.

The goggles come with two foam padding options, one thick and one thin, which attach to the headset with super-sticky hook-and-loop fabric. I installed the thicker option and was pleasantly surprised with how comfortably the Focal fit my head. And I didn’t see any light bleeding into my view either. When the foam turns dank and nasty, I can easily rip it off and install new replacement inserts.
Jerome Partland
Hope springs eternal

Once I plugged in the battery to see what the view looked like … it was perfect. The image was nearly the same as my Dominator V2s, only brighter and sharper. At this point, I was very happy and began thinking I had found my new go-to goggles.

When I powered up a drone that was transmitting on Channel 7 (5860), I found that the channel change interface had been updated. Instead of simple up and down buttons, the headset sports a rocker switch that moves forward, backward, and presses down.

Unfortunately, I had a hard time finding the right channel, and the manual seemed to contradict the diagram on the module. Thankfully, a Fat Shark customer service representative says the company plans to update its user manuals to make this operation easier.
Jerome Partland
Get the Goggles
I want my DVR

It was at this point I found the one thing that will prevent these goggles from being the goggles I use all the time — no DVR! There is no slot for a micro-SD card and no toggle switch for recording. I frantically searched the manual for the option and scoured the website. There was no mention of DVR or any other way to record the FPV video. As a racer, I don’t strap an HD camera to my drones, so my only way of showing the world what I do is recording the live FPV feed via my goggles.

Fat Shark notes that the Focal V2 is part of the Attitude line of Fat Shark headsets, which are its midrange offering without DVR. The capability is available in the HD3 or V3 headsets.

However, for $399.99, I think these goggles should offer some sort of video output. The goggles also lack an HDMI input, which is a bummer if you want to use them to watch movies or play video games.

These were so close to being the solution I have been waiting for from Fat Shark, but without DVR, I am going to keep using my trusty old Dominator V2s for the (hopefully) near future.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the May/June 2017 issue of Drone360 magazine.
Featured image: Jerome Partland