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If this photo looks a bit fuzzy it is because it is a frame grab from the fat Shark Pilot HD camera on my quad. The dominator V3 makes flying that quad way more fun.
Click image to enlarge

Fat Shark Dominator V3

The big kid on the FPV block takes another step ahead

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz and Clark Ponthier

Posted – 11-2-2015

When my FatShark DominatorV2 headset rolled with its defective belly up and drew a refund I bought the Fat Shark Dominator V3 because it was what the store had in the case. At the time I had no idea how big of a step up I was taking. The enlarged faceplate was the most obvious improvement but there would be more to discover and most of it to the good.

The Basics

The Fat Shark Dominator V3 has a 16.9 format “screen” displaying a WVGA image. An external mini HDMI port provides 720p support. The internal DVR now has an auto record feature that automatically writes the video file to the mini SD card (not supplied) in case the battery runs down or is disconnected from the headset “preventing a corrupted card or loss of data.”

The Dominator V3 sports modular bays with one for 1G3, 2G4 and 5G8 band video receivers and the other that accepts the Trinity head tracker if you want to add that capability. Keep in mind that Fat Shark guarantees compatibility only with NexwaveRF modules from Fat Shark or ImmersionRC. Tool free snap in covers on the bays make it easy to change modules in the field if necessary. Keep in mind that the video receiver module is not supplied with the Fat Shark Dominator V3 so you can get the one you really need the first time around.

The Fat Shark Dominator V3 also steps up the included LiPo battery. The new 7.4V battery has 1800mAh capacity. The battery now has a hard plastic case with “dog bone” steps molded into each end that makes it fit the headband far better than the smooth battery packs that came with the FatShark Dominator V2. The battery continues to feature a 3 pole balance lead for accurate charging with standard RC chargers. You also get a DC power cable for charging, an AV cable and a newly designed hard shell carry case. The balance lead is used to power the on board fan.

The new faceplate (left) is a huge improvement for comfort and stability on your face. The fan blows air down these channels (right) and across the lenses to help keep them fog free.
Click images to enlarge

Face Plate

The rubber eye cups from previous Dominator versions are thankfully gone, replaced on the Fat Shark Dominator V3 by an expanded face plate that spreads the contact area with your face substantially and that makes this head set far more stable as well as way more comfortable. You get two types of foam “gaskets” that cushion the Fat Shark Dominator V3 around the perimeter where it contacts your face. One of the foam gaskets is soft all the way through while the other (the one I favor) has a firm rubber base and the soft foam on the outside. I think the dual density foam feels better but you get to choose for yourself.

The enlarged face plate also means that the Fat Shark Dominator V3 will not fit in the previous case that was included with the earlier Dominators. While they were making the zippered, had shell case larger they made it cooler looking by applying a carbon fiber-like finish to the outside of the case.

In the Air

The change in the “screen” your eyes see within the Fat Shark Dominator V3 is noticeably wider than in the FatShark Dominator V2 and that is a welcome change. Any time we can expand the area visible to us we can make better flying decisions. I can’t say that the quality of the image is better but it is at least as good as my V2 headset. I need to work on setting up the contrast and brightness when we get a sunny day to be sure I am getting the best image possible with the Fat Shark Dominator V3.

Making it even easier to see is the new faceplate. This is light years better than the@#$%$$#@ rubber eye cups the V2 had. The difference is so pronounced that Fat Shark offers an “update” faceplate conversion for the V2. See my review of that accessory. In addition to the pure comfort the faceplate makes the Fat Shark Dominator V3 far more stable on your head which eliminates one more distraction while flying.

A new, 1800mAh LiPo pack (left) comes with the Fat Shark Dominator V3 to greatly extend its operation time. the new faceplate surrounds the SD card slot (right) and makes it very difficult to get out. I use a small tweezers.
Click images to enlarge

Another annoying issue with many FPV headsets including the Fat Shark models is fogging of the lenses directly in front of your eyes. While designing the faceplate Fat Shark also built in a small fan that blows air into the headset using channels molded into the faceplate itself that directs the flow of air across the lenses. The near total elimination of fogging is a huge help when you are trying to learn to fly FPV.

The ventilation fan motor is small but efficient enough that its impact on the headset battery capacity is close to the “never mind” level. So far am getting over a dozen flights without discharging the new battery seriously. Using the push button scale a full days flying is leaving over half of the capacity in the battery.

The on-line instruction manual (they didn’t put one in with my new Fat Shark Dominator V3) describes recording with an outside recorder but like previous models, they say nothing about using the internal DVR system that lets you record to a mini SD card. The box the Fat Shark Dominator V3 came in does say that they have added an auto record feature to this DVR in case “the battery is unplugged or becomes discharged before the video is saved.”

I am a bit wary as when I asked Fat Shark support about the V2 DVR system killing my mini SD cards they replied. “Please don't remove the SD card while the goggles are still powered, it will corrupt the files and damage the card or the card reader in the DVR. Please try doing it properly and powering off the goggles BEFORE removing the card.” The V2 did come with a manual but it said nothing about this so I will try to power the V3 headset down before removing the card. If the video in this review includes footage from the Fat Shark Dominator V3 you know it worked and I am not outside beating a tree with my headset….

There is one hitch in the on board recording git-a-long. The addition of the faceplate essentially recesses the slot into which the mini SD card goes. This makes it tough to get in and out with human sized fingers making an investment in a small plastic tweezers a good idea.

Conclusions

Video Tour

The Fat Shark Dominator V3 is definitely a major step up in terms of comfort during use and presenting a “wide screen” shaped image that offers what feels like a better view. I have heard some say this is an optical illusion but I don’t really care. If it is, it is working for me. No matter how you look at it the new faceplate makes the Fat Shark Dominator V3 easier to use and the little fan does big things to maintain a clear view.

The Fat Shark Dominator V3 has a street price around $350.00 (11-2-2015) which sounds like a chunk of money, and it is. But, considering what we get for our money these days the Fat Shark Dominator V3 sure seems like one of the better values in the world of FPV. Hopefully if Fat Shark sells enough of these headsets at $350 a pop they will spring for the quarter it costs to include a decent instruction manual/sheet. Considering the customer service responses I have received from Fat Shark, Fat Chance comes to mind…..

Anyway, despite the lack of instructions and meaningful customer service the Fat Shark Dominator V3 remains a good value and a great performer that is helping me learn to fly FPV and actually go through our gates rather than just picking them out of the distant landscape as I zoom by out of control.

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Fat Shark Dominator instruction manual


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