AKK A3 (In-Depth Review)
The AKK A3 is an all-in-one (AIO) FPV camera with cloverleaf antenna that costs just $21. It is one model in AKK’s wide range of AIO cameras which includes models that feature omnidirectional antennas as well. There is also an older version called the A2 which is available at about $16. This review is based on a sample A3 which was kindly sponsored by AKK.
With its small AIO form factor and light weight (5g), the A3 makes a great FPV camera for small drones and all kinds of FPV racers. It also makes a good pilot camera for aerial photography drones that are operated by two operators (one pilot and one camera operator).
- Output power: 0 / 25mW / 50mW / 200mW
- Input power: 3.2 – 5.5V
- Sensor: 1/3″ CMOS
- Current consumption:
- 250mA – 510mA (25mW)
- 270mA – 640mA (50mW)
- 330mA – 740mA (200mW)
- Camera resolution: 600TVL
- Video system: NTSC
- Min. illumination: 1 lux
- Field of view: 120 degrees
- Antenna: Cloverleaf / IPEX
- Frequency: 5.8GHz / 5 bands / 40 channels with race band
- Size 19.5 x 14mm (L x W)
- Weight: 5g
The A3 is one of those FPV cameras that feature a “naked” design. By that, I mean the circuit boards are exposed so precautions should be taken if you’re flying in damp or wet conditions such as over a grassy field just after it rains. At the rear is a small single character LED display which tells you what channel the camera is broadcasting in and the transmitter’s power output. At the top is a small button that lets you set your FPV channel and Tx power output.
Since the A3 has only one button, operating it can be a bit tricky especially if you haven’t memorized how to use it. Based on the instructions given in the user manual, operating it is fairly easy (if you got it all memorized, that is). With that said, it is always a good idea to keep the manual with you when using the A3 just in case you forget how to operate with that single button.
The first time you power up the camera, a “0” will appear on the display. This indicates that the unit is turned on but the FPV transmitter isn’t transmitting. Pressing and holding the button for 2 seconds will allow you to toggle between frequency bands A, b, E, F and r. While the display is displaying the frequency band toggle, pressing and holding the button again for 2 seconds will allow you to change the channel number (1 to 8). Pressing and holding the button for 5 seconds will allow you to toggle between transmitter power outputs (one hyphen stands for 25mW, two hyphens stand for 50mW and three hyphens stand for 200mW).
The cloverleaf antenna is located on top of the camera itself and unlike other FPV cameras of similar design, the antenna on the A3 is connected to the camera via a thick wire instead of being directly soldered onto the circuit board. This is a good design approach that helps reduce the risk of the antenna snapping off during a crash. During a crash, the antenna is likely to bend up to about 90 degrees at the wire, protecting both the antenna and the board from damage.
The A3 is powered by 3.7 – 5V DC. This means it can handle only 1S batteries. The power wires come with a micro JST connector (PH 1.25) pre-installed. A larger 2-pin connector with wire is also included to allow you to use most 1S batteries that have compatible connectors.
Image Quality and FPV Performance
Image quality on the A3 is fairly good and is what you’d expect from an FPV camera with a resolution of 600TVL. The field of view is 150 degrees which is pretty standard for many FPV cameras. The A3 does not have a microphone so it is not capable of recording audio. Below is a sample still image taken using an LS – 800D FPV headset.
One area in which the A3 shines is low light where it is capable of producing decent image quality compared to some other similar FPV cameras. At the moment I’m unable to record videos from the A3 because my one and only FPV headset that has a DVR seems to have developed some problems after my last flight using this camera.
I did manage to record the sample video at 25mW Tx power as shown below. There is a lot of signal drops in the video which is probably caused by one of my antennas not tightened properly. When attempting to make a second flight after tightening the antenna, my FPV headset went dead so I was unable to record a proper video from the A3.
Once I get my headset problem solved, I’ll be updating this video with one that will properly show what the A3 is really capable of.
The AKK A3 is an AIO FPV camera that offers plenty of value, costing just $21. There may be newer cameras from AKK with slightly better features but if all you need is one that has all the basic features you’ll need for FPV flying, the A3 is definitely a good option.
The adjustable transmitter power output, flexible cloverleaf antenna mount and LED display makes for a very complete and inexpensive package. The A3 can be purchased at Amazon and other AKK dealers.
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