Just like the title says, the LapRF is a personal race timing system recently released from Immerison RC. We had the pleasure to test-drive this product for a while and provide feedback on it’s operation and software development portion as well.
Expect little and be surprised
Since this is a “Personal Race Timing System” it was designed to measure the precise timing of the laps of a single racing quad. In that this device excels and it provides much more. When we received this “puck” as everybody call it, the software was still in development stage, however on the first try we managed to hook it up and connect it to our iPhone or iPad, pick up the Bluetooth connection and read/save settings to it. In a matter of seconds it was operational.
How it works:
The LapRF has a single 5.8Ghz receiver inside armed with a clever firmware to measure the RSSI (receiver signal strength indicator) value when a transmitter is near by. You can see a visual presentation of this if you switch to the “Diagnostics” page and if you bring your racing quad closer to the LapRF the line measuring your signal strength should increase and as you move it further away should decrease in length. If you plan to measure more than one racers with the LapRF, then the single receiver will be listening half time to one pilot, the other half to the other pilots frequency. Since it has to switch between frequencies to listen to both, this decreases the reception speed, and accuracy. The more pilots you add, the less your gate speed should be to get accurate readings.
Testing and racing:
The first test of tossing a racing quad or a small transmitter above it registered the time right away as it was enable for racing or practice. Then a more thorough test followed where we put the LapRF puck inside of a racing gate and started measuring laps as we passed through the gate. This was all indoors, and the distance from the puck to the phone was only a few feet. To our surprise, 2 and later even 3 quads were timed perfectly, of course within the limitations of the speeds advertised on the setup page. The Babyhawks we were flying had to make a 180 degree turn before passing through the gate on the below video which slowed down the gate speed considerably:
Armed with the successful results from the above test, we took the LapRF puck outside for some further testing. In order to increase the range of the Bluetooth and stay at a safe range from the racing gate and track, it is better to have sufficient range to keep the phone/tablet around the flying stations, while the timing gate is 30-50ft away from you.
Upgrading the Bluetooth antenna:
To upgrade the Bluetooth range we used items similar the following kit:
and here is the video of the procedure:
After he antenna was upgraded we headed outside to test the range on the newly upgraded LapRF Bluetooth antenna.
I personally do not really trust the Bluetooth standard. I have tried many Bluetooth headsets for different phones and my general opinion is that if it has to pass through your body, the signal degrades with 50% and the other party can’t hear you good any more. However I was pleasantly surprised on the range results of the upgraded LapRF. I have to specify here that in my tests I used a 7dbi 2.4Ghz antenna specifically designed for WiFi routers. Using a lower gain antenna will somewhat diminish your results, but even with a 2.15dbi antenna like in the upgrade kit above should be able to give you a good 50-100ft range. So here, watch the video I posted about my range tests:
As you can see, I had perfect Bluetooth communication from 147ft away, about 55 meters, which I think it is pretty awesome, compared to my very expensive Bluetooth headset which often does not pass through my body.
With all this I am very pleased with the LapRF, and while I am not a racer, now every time I can I get my buddies to come over with their Babyhawks so we can race together and have lots of fun.
I have been to many ad-hoc races organized around our city and one thing was common – in almost every case there was a cardboard with a grid drawn up with permanent markers, names and frequencies on it, often not clearly visible and nobody really new if they were interfering or not with other people. For this reason I took some time to design this frequency table which is color coded, contains all the frequencies one could use for FPV racing. I did not include low bands, because those in many counties are outside of the legal frequency bands.
The frequency chart is color coded, easily visible, and groups are easily identifiable. You can run several heats as long as you keep fliers of other heats offline while one is flying.
A low resolution version can be downloaded by right clicking on the image above, but in case you would like to purchase this printed on a 12″ x 18″ corplast board, please click the image above.
Some frequencies are close by, these can be used in the same heat – one or another. This is marked with the “OR” signal in the middle. The frequencies which should not be used in North America, this includes USA and Canada are crossed out with red.
We have been asked by our customers on several occasions on how to install ur find previous versions of cleanflight now that version 2.*.* is out and it will not connect to their boards with versions under 2.0.
Searching YouTube we have come across a very nice and detailed video which explains it all and gives you a step by step guide on how to do this. We have embedded this video on this page for your convenience. Painless 360 gives us an excellent explanation and guide on how to do this, so there is no reason to reinvent the wheel, just use this guide to install it yourself:
If you finished watching please make sure to send Painless 360 a “like” for his excellent work.
Fat Shark is just about to release the new Attitude V4 Anniversary edition goggles. These goggles are the follow up to the Attitude V3 edition and it comes with a few enhancements and upgrades you would definitely need to know about before you go and order any other goggles. The red/black color scheme of these goggles will raise the eyes and turn the heads of even most professional FPV pilots. You can pre-order these goggles by clicking here or on the image below.
The Attitude V4 will come in a new rounded case similar to the previous well known, rounded, Fat Shark Attitude cases. There is not much improvement on the display modules used in these goggles; they are identical to the Attitude V3 and the Dominator V2, delivering a 4:3 ratio, 640×480 resolution, 32 degrees FOV crisp, smooth image which many have been happy with so far.
The touch and feel of this case is very similar to the previous one, however it is not identical and parts are not interchangeable. As you can see there are 3 control buttons on the top of these goggles and one more on the new, slick Fat Shark OLED RX module. The two buttons on the top middle left and middle right of the goggles are actually 4 way joysticks, one the left one allowing brightness and contrast control, while the right one controls the built in DVR function.
The brightness and contrast is the same as on the previous models, and the DVR function is the same as it is on the higher end Fat Shark goggles. Push the button in for about 3-4 seconds to enable the DVR (the LED above the micro SD card slot will light up at this time) then a quick press will start the recording with one beep and another quick press will stop recording – confirming it with 2 beeps. The DVR will only work if an SD card is inserted. Here is an image on where the SD card slot is and where the DVR LED is:
In order to watch back the videos recorded on the DVR, you will need to flip the RX switch on the bottom of the goggles into the OFF position and if the DVR is on as per the operation described above, you will need to push and hold the DVR button for 3-4 seconds to start the playback menu.
The Attitude V4 comes with a brand new receiver from Fat Shark, that is the new OLED receive module. This receiver module has been vastly improved over the previous versions, and new features have been added to make the setup/flying easier and faster. Firstly, it is a one button operation, you can select the frequency band between Fatshark, Raceband, Band E and Band A. To do this you need to hold the button on the OLED RX for about 5 seconds. The RX display will go in scanning mode, and from there if you push the button once, it will switch bands. To exit, just roll the channel switching button on the top to either direction and that will save the band you are at right now.
The second most important thing is that Fat Shark improved the receiver module built into this to add better reception, higher sensitivity and better signal separation. This receiver has way fewer interference lines compared to its predecessors when the signal is getting low or being interfered with. Much smoother image handling puts this receiver on the top of the list making it almost not necessary to get a diversity solution.
When booting up, the OLED module displays a small Fatshark logo for about 2 seconds, then it goes into showing you the channel you have selected as well the associated frequency:
The channels can be changed with the rotary dial on the top of the goggles we all now very well from the previous Attitude versions. However, if you push the button on the right side of the display you will enter into the frequency scanner. This will not only display which channels at being used at this time, but also how powerful the signal is compared to your location:
It will only scan the active band. When the bands are switched, the receiver module will go into the frequency scanner mode and right away starting to scan the band for available channels. One very positive thing is that you can look into the goggles while it is scanning and you can see the channels quickly flipping, thus providing you a visual feedback on who is on what channel.
The Attitude V4 will come with a tall zipper case to provide proper carrying for your goggles. We should start to see the Attitude V4 Anniversary Edition in stores around the beginning of May 2017.
The improved OLED receivers will also be available for purchase, so you can upgrade the receiver module in your existing Fat Shark goggles.
We just receiver a shipment of the new Racekraft 5051 propellers what the racing community was buzzing about for the past few weeks. I did not spend a lot of time researching these propellers, but some pilots swear that this is the next best thing what happened in the drone racing.
My personal opinion does not really matter, because I am only a “once a month” racer, and I am not burning batteries like most of you guys do. This is mostly due to the fact that running a hobby shop for the past 9 years kind of eats up my time. However when I heard about this I started reading and researching and I was barely waiting to get these in and test them on the thrust meter.
I realize measuring the thrust of a propeller might not be an ideal way of measuring the propellers performance in flight, but I would not claim that anyway. I am just simply comparing the two propellers on a thrust-stand to see what thrust factor can one expect during flight.
A good resource which I read about these propellers was written by the folk on Propwashed: (http://www.propwashed.com/racekraft-5051-prop-review/) If you want to know more about these propellers I highly recommend reading their article. I don’t even pretend to understand propellers as well as these guys do. So without a delay then after you read that article come back and watch the video below on the results of the thrust testing and comparison of these propellers with the Dalprop 5045 V2 triblades.
At the end if you like want you see and would like to purchase these propellers, you can click on the following picture and link to take you to the website where you can order these:
The EMAX 2205 red bottoms have been in use now for over a year. These motors still seem to dominate the racing grounds, even though newer motors were developed since. some of the newer ones have better bearings, some even have ceramic ball bearings which will minimize the noise.
The EMAX 2205 however is still a strong competitor to most motors our there. Many people walked by to our store and were asking for parts on these motors. It seems that the low price on these motors have a toll on the quality of the parts they are coming with. We know for sure that the bearings are not the best, but they do the job. In most cases people start hearing the bearing noises after a few flights.
While it is very rare to bend the shaft of these motors, a hard hit to a soccer pole can do the trick. We have seen some requests for these as well.
To accommodate all these requests, we are now bringing you the most essential replacement parts for the EMAX 2205 red bottom motors. The pictures below link you to the product pages where you can purchase these.
The Ball Bearing:
The RS2205 3mm Motor Shaft: The RS2205 Bronze Collar: The RS2205 U Clip:
The release of the Fatshark Dominator HD3 is around the corner now. It is time to take a look at what these goggles will offer our customers and what will be the benefits of using these new goggles.
As one can notice there is a slight change in the naming convention, till now the HD goggles contained the letter V for “Version”, these new goggles were released as “HD3” without the letter V.
Continuing the trend of using high resolution LCD modules for the HD line of goggles, Fat shark’s new flagship goggles, the Dominator HD3 will come with set of 800×600 SVGA resolution LCD modules. Just like it’s predecessors the HDV2 or the HD. The Dominator HD3 will provide a huge screen size compared to the other goggles, and it will eliminate all the complaints from the previous versions regarding the blurriness around the edges. These goggles have a diagonal FOV dialed back to 42 degrees to maintain large screen experience while delivering a crisp optical performance and perfect OSD readability.
Pilots flying with digital video transmitters like the Connex or the Prosight will appreciate the new 16:9 display format when in HDMI mode. The HDMI input will detect and match the display aspect ratio for HD systems and automatically present the image in a 16:9 (letterbox) format. The native resolution of the LCD display module is 4:3, and pilots flying with a built in receiver or an analog video input will enjoy a huge full screen 4:3 image providing a crisp and clear image received from the 4:3 FPV cameras.
The official specifications released by Fatshark are as follows:
– FOV 42° Diagonal
– 59-69mm IPD Range (adjustable)
– SVGA 800 X 600 Display
– Support Side/Side 3D
– NTSC/PAL Auto Selecting
– High definition media interface 720p Support
– Modular Head Tracker Bay
– Modular Receiver Bay
– DC in: 7-13V (2S/3S)
– Power Consumption: 4W
– Integrated Analog DVR (does not support HD recording)
What you should expect when opening the box:
– Dominator HD3 Headset with fan-equipped faceplate
– Zipper Case
– 7.4V, 1800mAh Battery with LED Indicator
– AV Cable
– Mini to Mini high definition media interface cable (include Mini to Micro, Mini to Standard high definition media interface adapters)
The HD3 ships with new lower profile Velcro backed (removable) faceplate foam for a more accommodating fit. The HD3 is the most powerful, most versatile and portable FPV goggle which appeared on the FPV market yet. This will and the top choice of drone pilots.
The new Tramp HV Video transmitter is the smallest, lightest, high-power, high-voltage A/V Transmitter in the business, 31 x 20mm, with a slender 17mm waist, weighing only 4 grams! Even at this size, the traditional ImmersionRC 5V filtered camera power supply is also included. Twin ground cables from the tiny locking connectors ensure that noisy supply currents keep the camera supply clean. To cap it off, in addition to running directly from a 2s-4s (HV) LiPo, the TrampHV will happily run from a 5V supply already available in the quad.
Unboxing and first setup video:
– Smallest direct LiPo powered VTx in the business.
– TNR Touch-free wand control
– Traditional button + LED control of frequency and power
– 1mW -> 600mW linear power control
– All 40 standard channels
– Built-in thermal protection
– Factory power normalization
– Glitch-Free frequency changes
– Micro-power pit mode
– Additional channels for race events (Race Wand only)
– Retail regional locking without opening package
The ImmersionRC TrampHV was the first transmitter to support Pit Mode, which was introduced successfully at the FPVAirShow in France. Pit mode transmits a tiny amount of power on a pre-defined frequency to allow for quad setup at a race event without disrupting the show. Pit mode on the TrampHV is a little different than other offerings, being controlled by race directors transparently at drone races. A race director can stay legal by choosing a pit frequency authorized for use at the event, which can be different for events in different regions. Programmed at the event using the Touch’n’Race wand.
Touch ‘n’ Race for Race Directors
Touch’n’Race, a patent-pending technology which helps both the casual racer, and race directors alike.
Transmitters are placed in Race mode upon arrival at a race event, and remain in that mode until the event is over. Race directors can, without powering up a model, define the frequency and power output of the transmitter, in 5 seconds flat before a race starts. As soon as the race is over, and the battery disconnected, the TrampHV reverts to it’s race-director defined mode. Massively decreased inter-heat times are possible with this technology, meaning more practice runs, more qualifiers, and races which start and finish on-time (a rarity in the world of drone racing today). More importantly, the chances of a race being disrupted by an accidental power-up in the pits are eliminated, a dream for race organizers.
Touch ‘n’ Race for Pilots
Why let race directors have all the fun?. The personal TNR wand* avoids dip-switch hell even in the local park. Touch-free programming of video transmitters before you launch, eliminating frequency collisions, eliminating the ‘what channel was I on last’ question, and allowing power levels to be modified between flights to adapt to local conditions. Note that the wand is not required to operate the transmitter. A traditional button + LED user interface may also be used to program channel, band, and power level.
We have all experienced long delays at the starting grid before starting a race. No airflow over the electronics and video transmitters overheating. Most video transmitters (even the higher end units) have no thermal protection whatsoever and will happily cook themselves and prematurely fail. The TrampHV is a little different. It constantly monitors the temperature of the Tx, and gracefully reduces power output to increase battery life and protect the transmitter. As soon as the props start spinning, it detects the temperature reduction and quickly boosts power output.
Screened for Protection, and Certification
The only Video Transmitter in this size and weight class with a fully screened RF deck, providing protection against dust, dirt and knocks, while ensuring smooth sailing through the RTT&E certification process. An optional plastic case can be easily installed to increase this protection even further, without adding excessive size and weight.
The TrampHV was designed alongside ImmersionRC’s RF Lap Timing system, with certified compatibility. LapRF eliminates the need for transponders on the quad for lap timing, and instead uses the energy emitted by the 5.8GHz transmitter on the quadcopter. Two LapRF versions will be available, a 16-channel race version for larger events, and a personal system no larger than a hockey puck for personal use (up to 4 pilots). Both versions sport a wireless connection to a smart phone for timing and configuration.
Another first, introduced by ImmersionRC at FPVAirRace, is technology which allows video transmitters to power up cleanly on their assigned channel without wiping out neighboring channels. Gone are the days when your fellow pilots need to hover safely why you power up beside them. This technology enables asynchronous race starts, where pilots join a race at any time without creating any interference.
Each and every TrampHV is factory calibrated to ensure precise power outputs, especially at the critical low-power race levels. No more cross-talk from 25mW transmitters which are instead emitting 200mW!, or worse, 25mW transmitters which emit much lower power levels. No more RF lap timing issues caused by pilots running wildly different power levels.
We Know Racing!
ImmersionRC has been involved in drone racing since the early days.
Creators of the ubiquitous RaceBand, and involved in providing technology for some of the largest racing events to date, we have poured significant resources into racing, and more importantly, learned from these events. Our employees race, we ‘eat our own dogfood’, and we will continue to advance the state of the art.
– Dimensions: L=32mm x W=14mm x H=5mm
– Weight: 4g (Tx only, without SMA cable)
– Power Output: Programmable, 1mW to > 600mW
– Channels: 48 standard, arbitrary using race wand
– RF Impedance: 50 ohms
– RF Connector: U.FL
– AV Connector: JST-GH, 6 pin, locking
– TNR Connector: JST-GH, 4 pin, locking
– Audio: Mono, Subcarriers on 6.0 and 6.5MHz (cloned)
– Modulation: FM, Audio and Video
– Pit Frequency: User/Race Organizer Definable
– Video Impedance: 75 ohms
– Power Requirements: 2s-4s HV Lipo
– Power Consumption: ~4W max. @ 600mW, ~1.9W @ 200mW
The Tramp 5.8Ghz VTX shows it’s full potential in racing conditions. While many people who do not participate in racing do not realize, in race conditions, video interference kicked out many pilots from the air / race because somebody else behind the flight-line turned on a video transmitter. This is quite unfortunate and with the Tramp/TNR Wand combination it could be the thing of the past. When you go to a race, the race director will touch your Tramp with the TNR wand and that will put your Tramp transmitter into Race mode. In this mode even if you apply power to the quad/Tramp VTX, the power output will be minimal – down to under 1mW – which will allow you to troubleshoot in the pit even if you power it up. The low power output will prevent the transmitter from interfering with anybody else in the area – because your signal output is so low, that it will barely leave the table you are working on.
Once you line up for the race, the race director will touch your Tramp again, this time assigning you the correct race power setting, band setting and channel setting. When you power your Tramp on, these settings will be in effect for the duration of the race. When you finished your race and you powered your quad racer down, the tramp will go back into pit mode.
The beauty of this solution is that the Pit mode settings are completely defined by the race director. This can be defined on a frequency which is not even used at the race, to allow a bit more power output for pit operations. This started to already redefine the safety around race events. The past few events which used the Tramp in conjunction with the TNR wand were faster, more eventful and the downtime was minimized allowing pilots to fly more often.
Today we received the first shipment of the new Fat Shark Domintor SE goggles. Looking at the box the first time it seems that there is a typo on the label, it says “Dominator SE Modular 3D FPV Headset” while these are not 3D goggles. If 3D display is important to you, then these are not your goggles 🙂 The box looks like this, as you can see you can ignore the 3D from the titel as specified above.
The box is a high profile box to allow space for the tall zipper case holding the goggles with the faceplate installed. the box size is 21×14.5x11cm and the total shipping weight is around 850 grams or 0.85kg. Once you remove the zipper case from the box you can see a second layer underneath, where the manual, foam inserts for the face place and stickers are neatly arranged. With this packaging Fat Shark made a huge leap forward in packaging, the foam inserts come nice and straight ready to install.
Inside the zipper case are all the goodies:
According to Fat Shark, the content of the box is:
– Dominator SE Headset with Fan equipped Face plate
– Tall Zipper Case
– Raceband 5G8 Receiver module
– Spironet RH Omni antenna
– 7.4V 1000mAh battery with LED indicator
– Battery charge adapter cable.
In addition to the above we also found the following:
– Lens cleaning cloth
– one set of two -2 Dioptre correction lenses
– 2 sets of foam and the walcro plate for the face place
– Startup manual in English, French, Spanish, Italian and German languages
The Dominator SE (FSV1065) features a 0.44″ VGA LCD display set to provide this large FOV goggle at fraction of the price of the popular HDV2 used by most of the top racing pilots around the world. For analog video the difference one can see with the bear eyes between the Dominator SE and Dominator HDV2 is almost imperceptible. The orange and black color scheme makes this goggle a really unique and standing out from all others.
We can find the following specifications on the goggle box:
– 59-69mm IPD range (adjustable with sliders on the bottom)
– VGA 640×480 LCD Display
– NTSC/PAL auto signal selection
– Modular head tracker bay (No head tracking module included)
– Modular receiver bay
– DC In: 7-13V for 2S or 3S batteries
– Integrated DVR.
Fat Shark included the latest DVR technology in these goggles, where the file is saved automatically even if you forget to stop the recording before unplugging the battery.
This new set of goggles is a steal for the MAP of 349.95USD. You can buy it from New Generation Hobbies, by clicking on the following link or on the image below: Buy Dominator Se Goggles.
This article however will describe how to use a better – 25mW transmitter/camera combo on the tiny whoop/inductrix. The SMPVA1000 from horizon hobby is a 5mW only transmitter which will work well without modification on the Tiny Whoop, but it will give you limited FPV satisfaction because the 5mW transmission power only. To increase the range and signal clarity, you need to use at least 25mW (SPMVA2500), which is available, however it was designed to be powered from a 5V power supply. This originally was designed to be powered from a minimum 4.8V power line by being plugged into an RC Receiver. If it is, you can even change the video channel through a PPM link.
Let’s take a look at the SPMVA2500 and what do we need to make this work from 1S (3.7V) battery. When you open the box, the 25 mW transmitter/camera combo looks like this:
As you can see, there is a servo cable sticking out from it, this can be powered from an RC receiver. We will show you how to modify this without actually removing the original cable. YOu can remove it on yours if you will only use it for the Tiny Whoop that way you will save a few grams of weight. So let’s see what you need to make this happen:
– a small exacto knife or hobby cutter with blade no. 11
– fine tip soldering iron with temperature control
– needle nose tweezers
– a good magnifying glass, or good eyes 🙂
– solder wire
– some 28 gauge red and black servo wire
– 47uH micro choke to eliminate the interference coming from the motors
Once all these are in place go ahead and follow the steps below:
Carefully remove the casing from the camera, this will save you a bit of weight.
To remove the camera plastic housing, you can use a small screw driver to push out the back plate as per the images below. Once the back plate is out, slide the camera out from the casing, be mindful of the little button on the top, be careful not to break that off:
2. Identify the pins you will need to solder your 1S battery leads to. Two pictures below should clearly identify which are the pins you will need to solder your 1 cell battery wires to. The GND stands for Ground and this should have your Black or negative connection and the 3.7V is the positive, this is where your battery positive line would go. Now, if you would only solder it on directly, you will get quite a bit of noise and interference when throttleing up. The interference comes from the brushed motors and it can ne eliminated using a small 47uH choke on the positive line.
The part number for the tiny choke to be used in this project is: 445-1964-1-ND and you can get this from www.digikey.com or www.digikey.ca if you are in Canada:
3. The hardest part is to solder the choke to the connector on the PCB. You need a steady hand, good eyes and an even better soldering iron to achieve this. I personally used a microscope, so that made my life a lot easier, the following pictures were taken through the viewfinder of the microscope:
You can click on each individual image above to see the magnified version.
4. As you can see in the above images, you have to be brave to attempt this soldering job 🙂 After you installed the choke, now you can install the black and the red wires, these will be later soldered directly to where the battery leads are soldered into the Tiny Whoop controller board:
If you accomplished all this, congratulation, you have great soldering skills, now go ahead and help others out as well 🙂 All what is left, to solder the other end of the black and red wires to the battery leads on the Tiny Whoop.
With this installation we bypassed the main voltage regulator on the SPMVA2500. Since the main filtering on a power supply is happening before the voltage entering the voltage regulator, the out line is filtered only barely. For this reason we need to add the above mentioned choke to filter out all the incoming interferences from the motors.
Amazing power and extended flight time can be achieved if the new 200mA 1S LiPo battery is used in conjunction with the Tiny Whoop. You can order it by clicking on the picture below: