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

The DJI O3 Air Unit on top of an RC monster truck.

DJI O3 Air Unit

MSRP $230.00

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


  • Great image quality

  • Excellent transmission strength and clarity

  • Perfect for creative FPV control applications

  • 20 GB of onboard storage

The inconvenients

  • Overheating without constant air movement to cool it

Although I have many years of experience flying drones, I’ve barely dipped my toes in the waters of more advanced and technical First Person View (FPV) vehicles. It’s with this in mind that I reviewed the DJI O3 Air Unit, which is a camera and image transmission system designed for hobbyists who don’t mind getting their hands dirty with screwdrivers and tools. Welding.

Testing the O3 Air Unit was quite an eye-opening experience in the challenging but very rewarding world of building and operating FPV drones and other RC devices. It took a lot of trial and error and general troubleshooting – all looking for the answer as to whether or not the O3 Air unit is for the dedicated hobbyist only, or if drone and RC enthusiasts more casuals would do well to consider taking advantage of the exciting possibilities it represents.

DJI O3 Air Unit Design

The DJI O3 Air Unit.
Andy Zahn / Digital Trends

The O3 Air unit is a very simple and stripped down system. It consists of a camera, an antenna and a transmission unit – and these three components are connected via cables. The central unit of the device includes a connector designed to be plugged into a compatible flight controller, as well as USB-C and microSD card ports, as well as a pairing button.

The construction of the DJI O3 Air Unit is extremely sturdy and of high quality, although it is not waterproof. The compact and high-performance nature of the device is such that it needs all the airflow it can get for cooling.

DJI O3 Air Unit Setup Process

Hands-on with the DJI O3 Air Unit

Operating the O3 Air Unit was a journey, although none of my difficulties were the fault of the device itself. Rather, my trials and tribulations were the result of early firmware and my own inexperience with wiring and with hobbyist remote-controlled (RC) drones.

First, I needed to power the device. This would be easier to do by simply plugging the O3 air unit into a compatible flight controller. However, I lack such a flight controller, and my main interest in the O3 Air Unit is as a device for experiencing ground-based RC vehicles. With that in mind, and after much research, I finally ordered a 500mAh LiPo battery, charger, and adapter to go between battery and charger. I also purchased a pigtail connector to connect the battery directly to the O3 air unit.

Connecting the battery connectors was the only tricky and technical aspect of this project, as it involved cutting the power and ground wires from the O3 air unit and soldering them to the pigtail connectors.

Once this was completed, I was able to successfully turn on the O3 Air unit for the first time. Here I want to thank for their excellent customer service, which helped me determine the parts I needed to order.

The DJI O3 Air unit is glued on top of an RC car.
Andy Zahn / Digital Trends

If you plan on going a similar route to what I did with the O3 Air Unit, I recommend buying a high quality battery charger since you don’t want to mess with LiPo batteries. Additionally, if you are building a low speed vehicle or planning to mount it in a location where the air unit will not be exposed to a significant amount of airflow, you should also plan to include a kind of cooling fan. .

After I was able to power the O3 Air Unit, I still had to pair it with my DJI Goggles 2 and my controller. I really struggled with this, but after a brief back and forth with DJI, we narrowed the issue down to pre-release firmware, and after a quick update to the controller, headset, and air unit, everything was operational. I quickly attached the O3 Air Unit to an RC race car with packing tape and took it for a spin in the garage.

The DJI O3 Air Unit on top of an RC monster truck.
Andy Zahn / Digital Trends

With this test passed, I upgraded my setup to an RC monster truck, using double-sided mounting tape and electrical tape to secure the truck cab. The O3 Air Unit performed very well in this setup, but unfortunately the monster truck wasn’t as capable of off-roading as advertised.

The DJI O3 Air Unit above the DJI FPV drone.
Andy Zahn / Digital Trends

Then I put the O3 Air Unit to its more traditional use as a drone camera, glued to the top of my DJI FPV drone. I was worried that the band wouldn’t be strong enough, but luckily it turned out to be rock solid. The drone and air unit performed admirably, although in the future I plan to mount the air unit at a better angle on the DJI FPV drone so the propellers are out of sight.

DJI O3 Air Unit Image Quality

DJI O3 Air Unit vs DJI FPV Drone vs DJI Avata vs DJI Mavic 3 Classic – video quality comparison

With the ability to record 4K video at 60 frames per second (fps) and 2.7K video at 120 fps, the O3 Air Unit is quite powerful as a videography tool. With RockSteady image stabilization similar to what you’ll find in the DJI Action 3, the O3 Air Unit could be a good replacement for action cameras typically used by FPV drone pilots. That’s potentially huge, as it means serious weight savings and, therefore, improved performance in situations where every gram counts.

This is a major improvement over the original DJI Air unit in terms of image quality and a big improvement over the built-in camera of the DJI FPV drone. This is roughly on par with the DJI Avata camera, although in my next setup using this camera I plan to add some foam or rubber between the O3 Air Unit camera module and the RC vehicle to help dampen vibration and get smoother images.

DJI O3 Air Unit Performance

The DJI O3 air unit mounted on an RC monster truck.
Andy Zahn / Digital Trends

I never had any complaints with the transmission quality or the strength of the O3 air unit. Using the DJI Goggles 2 with it, I never experienced any noticeable lag or loss of signal, although it should be noted that I never really pushed the limits of its range. I used it like I would FPV drones in the real world, where I’m always careful to stay in visual line of sight. However, I have driven it with RC cars with a solid wall between me and the car and have not experienced any signal loss or degradation.

A really impressive aspect of the O3 Air Unit is its 20GB of built-in storage.

The only significant issue I encountered was overheating, as I mentioned before. To be clear, this is a system designed for use with drones moving at high speeds through the air. However, the rate at which it overheats is somewhat alarming when not actively cooling. This made the O3 air unit quite difficult to update, and I ended up running my NiteCore BlowerBaby air purifying device on the O3 air unit during the troubleshooting and setup process. . When flying it on a drone, that’s no problem, and there’s an automatic shutdown that happens if the device gets too hot.

A really impressive aspect of the O3 Air Unit is its 20GB of built-in storage. It’s perhaps the most built-in storage I’ve personally encountered on a camera of any description, and it can be a real lifesaver to have this option as a backup to a microSD card.

DJI O3 Air Unit Price and Availability

The DJI O3 Air Unit Transmitter.
Andy Zahn / Digital Trends

The DJI O3 Air Unit is available now and retails for $230, which includes the camera module, transmitter module, antennas, and 3-in-1 cable. That’s actually quite an attractive price, considering of its capabilities, but it’s important to note that you’ll also need a headset such as the DJI Goggles 2, which costs $650.

If you are starting from scratch, you also need to consider the cost of whatever you are going to attach the O3 Air Unit to. The battery, adapters and charger I purchased cost me $102 in total, which is the bare minimum to get the O3 air unit up and running. I spent an extra $30 on a cheap RC monster truck, but after being disappointed with the lackluster performance of this cheap garbage truck, I’d recommend spending at least double that to get something with good power and shocks .

If you opt for a drone instead, as is more the intention of the DJI O3 Air Unit, expect to spend several hundred dollars at least on the drone itself. In total, a complete FPV setup built around the O3 Air Unit will cost around $1,000 minimum. This puts you in the ballpark of DJI Avata, which I would recommend for beginners who are just looking to get into FPV drone flight.

A versatile system for FPV enthusiasts

The DJI O3 Air unit and DJI Goggles 2 with an RC monster truck.
Andy Zahn / Digital Trends

The DJI O3 Air Unit is a clear winner when it comes to image transmission for FPV control of drones, cars, and RC vehicles of various descriptions. While it’s certainly aimed at those with an amateur mindset with some degree of technical knowledge, the learning curve isn’t steep enough to significantly limit its accessibility.

It’s pretty much a given that the O3 Air Unit will become the de facto camera of choice for hardcore FPV drone pilots. It’s a camera that tickles the imagination and lends itself to creative projects. It is reliable, powerful and offers excellent image quality sufficient to replace a standalone action camera.

Editors’ Recommendations

Source link

Related Posts