Wi-Fi + HD Video + Drones = Still Wobbly

Using commodity Wi-Fi for high-definition FPV flying has rough edges

4 min read
Photo of HD video drone
Photo: David Schneider

I’m preparing to return to a pastime that I gave up a few years ago: flying radio-controlled model airplanes by first-person view, or FPV. This is where you control the plane while viewing live video transmitted from an onboard camera to the ground. I quit this hobby when the FAA issued an interpretation of the law that forbade flying model planes this way. In a nutshell, it defined a model aircraft as something you kept in sight at all times. Having video goggles or other visual aids (besides eyeglasses) blocked your view, so it wasn’t okay to fly with them under model aircraft rules.

But the FAA opened the door to FPV again last year with its Small UAS Rule [PDF], which allows this kind of flying if you are certified as a remote pilot, as I’ve recently become. So I’ve been dusting off my FPV gear and exploring what’s new in the hobby.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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