How to Add Remote ID to FPV Drones: A Simple Guide

RCHobby Lab’s Author: Daniel Henderson
Reviewed by Kristen Ward
Updated on
Reviewed by Kristen Ward

If you’re an FPV (First Person View) drone pilot in the US, you may have heard about the upcoming Remote ID regulations. In short, Remote ID will require all drones to broadcast identification information so they can be identified while flying. This is understandably concerning to some hobby drone pilots.

In this practical guide, I’ll explain exactly what Remote ID is, walk through the simple process of adding it to your custom FPV drone, and share my transparent perspective on whether FPV pilots should accept or resist these new regulations.

My goal isn’t to tell you what choice to make – that decision is up to each individual pilot. Rather, I want to make sure you have all the factual information you need to make an informed decision and take action, whichever direction you decide to go.

Let’s get started!

What Exactly is Remote ID? A Quick Explainer

Before we get into the how-to, let me quickly explain exactly what Remote ID is and what the new regulations require. I’ll try to keep it simple!

The Purpose of Remote ID

Essentially, Remote ID is a system that will allow FAA and law enforcement to identify any drone flying in US airspace in real time. This serves a few main purposes from the FAA’s perspective:

  • Improved safety – If a drone is flying unpredictably or dangerously, authorities can identify and locate the operator to intervene.
  • Reduced security threats – Being able to pinpoint a drone’s operator helps manage potential espionage/surveillance concerns.
  • Accountability – If a drone causes property damage, a crash, interferes with other aircraft, etc. the operator can be identified and held responsible.

Many government officials also argue that Remote ID will help foster more public trust in drones and open up new beneficial applications for drone technology. However, plenty in the hobby drone community remain skeptical of those claims.

What it Requires For FPV Drones

For anyone operating a custom built FPV drone (vs. a DJI consumer drone which already has compliance built-in), here is what you’ll need at minimum to comply with Remote ID:

  • A certified Remote ID module/broadcast device – This piece of hardware broadcasts a drone’s identification information over radio frequency during flight. Options from third party manufacturers have been approved for use.
  • An FAA recognized Remote ID application – You’ll need to use an app that plugs into the FAA’s overarching Remote ID system and manages the identification data broadcast by your module. Multiple mobile and web apps are available.
  • Registration – You will need to register your name, phone number, and other contact/ID information in association with your aircraft’s broadcast data, just like currently required for over 0.55 lb hobby drones.

So in simple terms, Remote ID requires attaching a little module to your drone that shares identification details over a radio frequency, plus an app to manage that data flow to the FAA. Clear as mud? Let’s break it down even more as we walk through setup.

Adding Remote ID to Your FPV Drone – Step By Step

Next I’ll show you exactly how I installed and set up Remote ID on my own custom 5″ freestyle drone. I built this quad specifically for a beginner FPV build tutorial on my channel.

The drone uses these main components in case you want to follow along:

  • GEPRC Phantom 3″ frame
  • Diatone Mamba F722 MK2 FC/ESC stack
  • T-motor Pacer 2207 1700KV motors
  • TBS Crossfire Nano RX
  • RunCam Nano 3 camera
  • TBS Unify Pro32 Nano VTX

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Choose a Remote ID Module

The first piece of new gear you’ll need is a dedicated Remote ID broadcast module. This is the hardware that will transmit the identification data over radio frequency.

There are a number pre-approved modules available from third party manufacturers like DJI, Autel and FlightFX. Prices range from $30 to a couple hundred dollars.

For this build, I chose the Flight Test Easy ID Module. At $60, it provides all the required functionality at a budget price point.

Some key details on the Easy ID module:

  • Completely self contained – just mount, power on, and go
  • Takes 2S to 8S input voltage
  • Functions as GPS module for FC
  • External indicator LEDs – Green when transmitting ID data

This checks all my boxes for a simple compliant setup!

Alternate Options

There are plenty more full featured (and expensive) Remote ID modules available too. So let me quickly mention some other top options:

DJI Airsense – $159 direct from DJI. Reliable performance with great integration features for DJI digital FPV. But more expensive and overkill for many.

Autel Evo Nano – $199 and super compact. But requires phone app running during flight for ID broadcast.

Insight Reon – $499 and aimed at commercial operators, but does offer full integration of air traffic data into your FPV feed.

As you can see, you have options ranging from bare minimum compliance to advanced integrated systems at price points from affordable to enterprise level. For hobbyists, I recommend sticking with lower cost choices like the Flight Test Easy ID module.

Step 2: Mount the Remote ID Module

Next we need to physically mount our Remote ID module on the drone frame. This usually takes one of three approaches:

1. Replace an existing module – For example, you could remove your GPS module if equipped and mount the Remote ID hardware in its place.

2.Dedicated mounting – Some flight controllers provide dedicated ports/mounts for Remote ID add-ons. Or you can 3D print custom mounts.

3. Generic mounting – improvise with zipties, velcro or double sided tape if needed. The module simply needs power and clear airspace for the antenna.

In our case, I don’t have room to cleanly replace an existing module on this build. And the Diatone F722 MK2 flight controller does not offer dedicated mounting options for Remote ID hardware.

So instead, I’ll use a handy 3D printed mount designed specially for adding Remote ID to the GEPRC Phantom.

Here’s a link to download the free STLs so you can print this mount yourself if needed. Alternatively, the mount is available for purchase from VPC Express for about $4.

The Remote ID holder attaches to the rear standoffs on the frame, positioning the module GPS antenna cleanly exposed at the back of the quad.

[IMAGE: Mount installed on rear standoffs]

It even incorporates a slot to securely hold the TBS Crossfire antenna in place too – pretty slick design!

Step 3: Wire Up Power

With the physical mounting handled, next we need to actually connect power to our Remote ID module. Pretty much all approved modules accept a wide input voltage range via 16AWG silicon wiring, so can be powered direct off your flight battery.

In our case, rather than running all the way to the main XT60 plugs, I’ll tap the battery pads right on the ESC. That requires temporarily unmounting the flight controller to access the solder points on the ESC board.

I just grabbed a couple pieces of spare motor wire. Be sure to carefully match up the positive and negative lines from the ESC to avoid frying electronics!

[IMAGE: Wiring module to ESC pads]

With the wiring complete, we can plug in the lipo, flick the arm switch, and verify the Remote ID module powers on as expected. The indicator LED should blink or change colors if operating normally.

For more permanent installs, 16AWG silicon wires with JST or bullet connectors help make swapping between quads easier. But this wiring approach lets me easily move the module to other drones as needed.

Step 4: Download Remote ID App

Alright, our Remote ID module is wired up and transmitting identification data from the quad. But we still need connect that to the FAA’s system for true compliance.

This happens through a certified Remote ID application installed on your mobile device or tablet that you’ll use as your drone controller. Multiple free apps have already been approved:

  • Auterion SkyHub (iOS / Android)
  • Propeller AeroScope (iOS / Android)
  • Simi Lily (iOS)

These apps essentially establish the connection your Remote ID module and the FAA databases to share positional data and ensure your drone stays compliant in flight.

I chose Auterion SkyHub as it seemed the most straightforward free option. Download the app and signup to create your operator account.

Note: This is a great time double check that your contact details and existing FAA registration number for the aircraft are up date. We’ll tie that existing registration to the Remote ID data stream shortly.

Step 5: Connect Module & App

With accounts created in our chosen Remote ID app, we can now link things up. This usually involves either scanning a QR code or entering serial numbers to pair your module hardware with the app.

For the Easy ID module I’m using, the process was seamless. Powering on the module automatically broadcasts a QR code pairing request. I simply opened SkyHub on my phone, tapped the popup notification and confirmed the module selection. Easy!

[IMAGE: QR code pairing popup]

Once successfully paired, we should see the Remote ID module connection reflected as Active in the app. Now any identification data transmitted from our drone will automatically route through to the FAA registration databases via this app connection.

So with just those few basic steps – mounting the module, wiring power, downloading an app, and pairing our drone – we are transmitting Remote ID and considered fully compliant to operate!

Wrap Up & Notes

And that’s really all there is to getting set up with functioning Remote ID on a custom FPV drone!

Obviously I could dive deeper into additional details of the SkyHub application features, advanced module firmware options, failover procedures and so on. But hopefully this gives you a simple high level overview of the basic process and components involved.

Now before we move on, let me add a few quick closing notes:

  • Remember that you’ll still need your FAA registration number visibly displayed on the exterior of the drone. Remote ID provides addition identification data, but does not replace actual FAA registration requirements.
  • Consider adding an onboard battery like those offered by MSI Design to power the Remote ID module if you don’t want to drain from the flight pack.
  • Check if your homeowner’s insurance offers discounts for Remote ID compliance! Several major providers like State Farm now offer lowered rates.

Alright, that covers the essentials of physically installing and activating Remote ID on your FPV drone. Next let’s move on to the bigger picture questions surrounding the Remote ID rules and implications for hobby pilots.

To Comply or Not Comply? Perspectives on Remote ID

With the technical portion behind us, I want to zoom out and address the deeper debate that continues raging around FAA Remote ID rules and their impact on hobby drone pilots.

As mentioned way back at the start, my goal here isn’t to tell you want choice to make when it comes Remote ID compliance for your drones. I believe each pilot needs to weigh their own situation, values and risk tolerance to make the personal decision that’s right for them.

However, I do think it’s vitally important to understand all aspects of this complex issue. So in this next section I’ll break down some of the most common perspectives on both sides regarding the impacts of mandated Remote ID.

My aim is simply to provide background information to help you determine your own informed thoughts on the regulations. Let’s dig in!

Why Some Pilots Oppose Remote ID?

First, what drives the strong opposition to Remote ID still present among segments of the FPv and hobby drone community?

Here are some of the most prominent concerns:

Privacy and Data Security Fears

For many critics, the most worrying aspect of Remote ID system is the vast expansion of data collection on drone pilots. Knowing every flight location, route, height and time in granular detail raises major privacy issues in their perspective.

There is also trepidation around how securely this data pipeline to the government will be managed by module manufacturers and ID apps.

Many pilots have zero faith these private companies will properly encrypt and protect their personal information from hacking or misuse. And the FAA doesn’t exactly have a flawless track record on database security either.

Slippery Slope to Further Restrictions

Another common criticism is that Remote ID represents an opening move to further erode airspace access and operational freedom for hobby drone fliers.

The data gathered could easily be used to geofence areas entirely off limits to amateur droning due to security concerns. The knowledge of exactly who and where pilots are could make enforcing additional altitude limits or flight constraints simpler too in the name of safety.

For many in the community, this feels like the thin edge of the wedge sliding towards much more tightly regulated and segmented airspace access for hobbyists.

Overburdening Costs and Complexity

Even for pilots less worried about expanded data tracking or tightening regulations, the financial and operational overhead of compliance seems needlessly burdensome.

The requirement to purchase modules along with annual fees for Remote ID apps imposes monetary costs that limit access for new hobby participants.

Additionally, the complexity of maintaining FCC equipment certifications, building/mounting modules, updating firmware, etc. may simply prove excessively discouraging for casual drone fliers.

Droneova recently estimated 63% of recreational drone owners surveyed planned to stop flying entirely rather than deal implementing Remote ID.

Few Tangible Benefits

Finally, many opponents argue the tangible benefits of Remote ID seem sparse compared to the drawbacks for recreational users.

It undoubtedly serves the interests of regulators, law enforcement, security agencies and some commercial groups. But the value for hobby drone pilots seems questionable at best.

Outside perhaps cheaper insurance rates as mentioned earlier, Remote ID offers essentially zero upside for recreational fliers. For critics, forcing substantial costs and burdens on hobbyists for negligible personal benefit makes the entire system unfair and unpalatable.

Why Other Pilots Plan to Comply?

In contrast to the critics and opponents, another segment of hobby drone pilots see Remote ID as necessary and plan to fully adopt the required systems once in effect. What reasons drive this viewpoint?

Here are a few of the most common:

Maintain Legal Compliance

The simplest factor for those planning to comply is avoiding trouble or fines with the authorities.

Once the mandate goes into effect, flights without functioning Remote ID systems will be illegal. Period. Operators could face stiff civil penalties upwards of $30k according to some proposals.

For pilots who rely on their drones for commercial work, preserving full legal compliance is often a cut and dry business necessity also.

So for some, adopting Remote ID systems allows maintaining fully sanctioned operations free of compliance headaches – even if begrudgingly.

Gain Public Trust

Another dividend supporters anticipate from the widespread use of Remote ID is improving the reputation of recreational drones in the public imagination.

Identifying any operators causing disturbances, hazards or other issues helps weed out negative players giving responsible pilots a bad rap overall. This aims strengthen the public perception and acceptance for registered drones users not causing problems.

Pilots who participate show their operation brings no harm and has nothing to hide in that perspective. Over time as accountability becomes the norm, support for the hobby may rise in communities where drone flight currently faces skepticism or opposition.

Keep Flying Without Issue

Related to both other factors above, many pilots ultimately just want to enjoy airspace access and using their drones without trouble or disturbances.

They view compliance pathways like Remote ID simply as unavoidable requirements allowing them to pursue the aspects of the hobby they actually care about – advancing their pilot skills and capabilities in the air.

Dealing with the regulatory burdens means they can simply focus energies on what they love doing. For them, the personal upside is straightforward: compliance = flying free and clear of conflict or interruptions.

Final Thoughts

Well, that covers both a practical walk through of physically adding Remote ID to your FPV drone as well as higher level views on how drone hobbyists are interpreting and reacting to the upcoming regulations.

I don’t claim to have addressed every question or concern you might still have regarding these complex issues. But hopefully this breakdown provides an helpful user-focused perspective as you determine your own stance.

Please feel free share additional thoughts, critiques, questions and feedback in the comments below! Constructive discussion will only helps us all gain better understanding.

And as always, shoot me message if you have any requests for guides related to upcoming rule changes, operational limitations, hardware options or anything else relevant to navigating this shifting landscape for hobby drone pilots.

Stay safe out there and happy flying!

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Written By Daniel Henderson

My name is Daniel Henderson and I'm an avid FPV pilot and videographer. I've been flying quadcopters for over 5 years and have tried just about every drone and FPV product on the market. When not flying quads, you can find me mountain biking, snowboarding, or planning my next travel adventure.

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