FPV and quad racing just entered into a new era. For those who participated in earlier races, it was always a hassle to mount some kind of transponder right before the race on their quads. Now during the races many of these got damaged and often many of them got lost as they have fallen off from the racers. The IR based sensor often did not pick up the passing quads because these were either too fast to detect – or just the sun simply changed positon and blinded the sensors.
The introduction of the RSSI based race timing systems managed to eliminate the above problems. No more transponders, no more problem with the sun shining in the IR sensor. The RSSI based timing systems lock on the video frequency of your FPV racer and detect the maximum signal strength as it passes through the gate under which the race timer is placed. While the personal race timers like the LapRF have only one receiver built in and was designed to pick up the signal from one quad – or time sharing with 2-3 racers, the 8-way event timer system has 8 individual 5.8Ghz receivers where every single one will be dedicated to measuring one individual racer. This increases the accuracy of the measurement dramatically above other systems.
Instead of using a standard receiver module in their 8-way timing system, ImmersionRC’s hardware engineering team designed a custom module, which can be calibrated on-the-fly to adapt to the different power levels found in races. Sensitive enough to detect passing quads, but selective enough to ignore adjacent channel interference. Heavily filtered to ignore off-band interference common at race events.
They also designed custom antennas with gate-shaped beams which let the race director precisely define the detection area of the timing system. These antennas are designed for RHCP/LHCP, and Linear polarization, covering everything that will be seen at a race event. To adds to the above benefits, the LapRF is just as comfortable in the digital world as analog. Many successful mixed Analog and Digital races have been run by race director Joe Scully with a great deal of success. The Connex Prosight transmitter signal is just as precisely detected as the analog TrampHV video signal. The Prosight TX units must be in fixed-frequency mode in order to properly work with the 8-way LapRF.
At the time of this writing, the software a race director should run to properly benefit from the advantages of the 8-way LapRF race timing system is the LiveFPV scoring engine from LiveTime. ImmersionRC worked with the folks from LiveTime to improve the integration and support for the 8-way LapRF with their scoring engine. Joe Scully has run numerous races using these two systems and we could all benefit from the precise lap timing and race management of these two systems.
We also equipped the Fatshark RCC (Race Command Center) with an 8-way LapRF, and this way the FatShark Race Command Center can just show up anywhere, it takes about 30 minutes to deploy and connect the receivers and external equipment, then it is ready to race, This is the race flight line on wheels, it can be ready to race within 30 minutes of arrival. Please take a peak of the special 4 way Scorpion diversity receivers lined up on the side:
The 8-way LapRF is now available from New Generation Hobbies, please click on the ling below to purchase it:
Here is an update to this page after we received the first shipment. I prepared an unboxing video which was streamed live to Facebook and YouTube as well. Please check out the unboxing video below:
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.
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 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.
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.
The new FPV Inductrix was released on October 27th. For details please see the end of this article:
It seems that the new trend in town is to FPV an ultra micro ducted fun quad, add a 5-10mW transmitter/camera combo to it and fly indoors FPV. The new Inductrix, almost ducted fan drone is now available from our website in in BNF (Bind and Fly) or RTF (Ready to Fly versions). You can access the online store by clicking on the image below, but before you do that, read further:
While they claim this is virtually indestructible, I managed to break one of the ducted fan holding braces in just a few flights. However a well paced drop of CA and some kicker solved the issue, so the frame is strong again now till the next crash.
I originally opened the BNF version, because I have a Spektrum DX6i, and I was naively thinking that there are proper instructions on how to bind this with any previous DX Spektrum products. the documentation however lacks those instructions and I went ahead and used the “universal Fixer” of the 21st century called “google”. A solution presented itself right away by the hand of a fellow RC enthusiast, Marcus Mathos, thank you for your great video:
Now this solved one problem, but I found that the response was still slow – like I would have exponential set up all over the place. So I went digging in my older RC boxed and I found an MLP4DSM transmitter, this is the same – or similar to what the RTF version comes with. So I bound that to the Inductrix and man-o-man, what a difference. By pushing in the right stick you can change the rates from low to high – that is when this leattle beast will excel. If you push in the left stick (By pushing in I mean – straight down toward the remote while it clicks) then you go to acro/rate mode where you can fly like you would fly a racer. In this mode it really picks up speed and flies great.
In order to set this little craft with FPV, you will need to add a micro FPV camera/transmitter combo, SPMVA1100, which can be powered from a 1S battery and it is less than 4gram add-on weight:
You can order this by clicking on the image above. You will need to use a small piece of double-sided tape to install this camera and you will need to solder the wires to the controller boards battery lead, so when the battery is plugged in your FPV system is online as well. You can use the button on the camera to change the channel, or match the frequency from your Fat Shark goggles.
Once all set up you can go flying around the living room, race between the legs of your kitchen table and have fun. If you are looking for detailed building instructions, just do a search in google for “Tiny whoop build” and you will find several videos on how to build this.
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:
On October 27th Horizon Hobby Released their new FPV Inductrix which comes in a BNF or RTF version. This is a complete FPV Tiny Whoop with built in camera, 5.8Ghz 25mW video transmitter and a 200mAh battery which will allow about 4-5 minutes of flight time:
Well, it seems that the red-bottom revolution in quad racing continues with the new 1306 series. EMAX introduced these with two different KV settings, 3300 and 4000. We bring you today the 4000KV motors.
For their tiny size these motors definitely pack in a kick. Emax claims a 370g trust with the propellers they tested them with, which on such tiny size will definitely get your racer moving.
We received a shipment of Cyclone racing antennas a few days ago from Video Aerial Systems. So far there is not much information about these anywhere, so we are trying to fill the gap with this article to do a physical comparison between the three flagship racing antennas: RaceSpec, Duraspec and Cyclone.
But first let get some answers from VAS on some of the most pressing questions:
What are these Cyclone antennas?
The official announcement is the following:
“The Cyclone antenna is the highest performing Omni Directional antenna at the entry level price point. While the Cyclone has a Gain of only 0.71dbic it boasts a mind blowing Axial Ratio of 0.94 making it the most Circular Omni Directional antenna on the market at any price point.
Originally designed with the Professional Aerial Photographer in mind, the Cyclone’s Axial Ratio makes the Cyclone ideal for the Hobbyist looking to fly in previously “un-flyable” terrain or environments. Indoor, Underground and Urban flying present special circumstances that the Hobbyist must find “work-around” to fly comfortably, the Cyclone excels in these types of environments. We recommend only experienced pilots place the Cyclone on their Race Quads, but anyone flying Fixed Wing or larger AP platforms will love the performance of this antenna and should have this RF marvel in their arsenal.
Durability may be an issue for those newer race pilots who tend to crash a lot, and is therefore not recommended as a beginner transmit antenna, unless mounted to the vehicle per our instructions. The Cyclone makes on heck of a receiver antenna and anyone looking for a new one should take a serious look at the Cyclone. The Cyclone can be used as a Transmit or Receive antenna, no need to question which one of the pair goes where.”
Since they mention durability in the above announcement and we have all seem the video of Alex trying real hard to destroy the Duraspec antenna, I posed the question to VAS:
Are these Antennas indestructible just like the Duraspec?
Here is the answer: “It is durable, however we do not claim it to be Unbreakable. As you know the operators in this hobby could destroy a titanium frame if they put their mind to it. The antenna head will survive most any crash but the SMA may fail on impact.”
There you have it. So the design of the antenna head and casing around the antennas active elements are to withstand most of the crashes you can throw at them, it is logical that the SMA connector is the weak point – like on any other antenna. However I think that the benefit of using these antennas in difficult environment – as described above – will outweigh the weak link of the SMA connector and crimping.
Now, let’s see how is this antenna different design wise to the other two flagship antennas from VAS.
The length of the Duraspec antenna from the bottom to the top is about 110mm - or 11cm. That translates to about 4.33 inches.
The length for the Cyclone antenna is about 90mm, 9cm which is about 3.5 inches.
The length of the Racespec antenna is about 60mm, 6cm which is 2.35 inches.
The above table helps identify how tall these antennas will stick out from your quad. Of course on smaller – 150-180 size quads one tends to install shorter antennas – avoiding to stick the antenna head out un-proportionally above the quad.
The diameter of the Duraspec head is about 45mm.
The diameter of the Cyclone head is about 50mm.
The diameter of the Racespec head is about 33mm.
The size of the head of the antenna is really important for several reasons. Once – and not negligible – even with todays very powerful motors, is the air resistance. The bigger the head is the more air resistant it is. the more air pressure on the antenna head, the more torque (if installed vertically up) is applied to the SMA connector – or the shaft of the antenna. Also the heavier and more air resistance to the head, the (again if installed vertically without any additional guying or anchors) the antenna shaft moves just a tiny bit with every movement of the quad, this in a longer run will enlarge the pin/hole combination on the SMA connector and make it an erratic connection. On the other hand we also have to consider the lifespan of these antennas – it is very unlikely that one will survive crashes long enough to enlarge the hole on the SMA connector 🙂 🙂 🙂 The Racespec antenna will excel here, as it does not have a bulky protective case around it and air can flow freely around it.
The Duraspec antenna's head is 24mm tall.
The Cyclone antennas head is only 21.65mm tall.
For the same consideration as above the height of the head is just as important as the diameter. We did not measure the Racespec, because that does not have considerable air resistance.
The Duraspec is the heaviest of all with a hefty 24 grams. This is due to all the reinforcements to make this antenna s durable as possible.
The Cyclone is not too far behind with a measured 21 grams, this indeed shows that the antenna head is built beefy, will withstand most of the crashes, just like the Duraspec.
The lightest of all is the Racespec, with only 6 grams measured. Like I said before, use this if you are building a lightweight quad and you are not looking for maximum performance.
That’s all the measurements for today. I hope this clearly describes the mechanical differences between the antennas.
Many asked about the performance of the Cyclone antennas. Here is a quote from a guy on facebook (Shane Matthews – thank you) who already tried it:
“The antenna is awesome. I have some rejected ones that didn’t pass QC from Alex and they are still better performing than any other antenna I have ever used. I highly recommend.“
Updated on April 25th:
To do a fair comparison between two identical priced antennas on the market, we prepared a video over the weekend where we compared the ImmersionRC/Fat Shark Spironet antenna set to the above described Cyclone antenna set. The video with the results is embedded below. Please note the following:
– both tests were flown with exactly the same quad, same battery
– both tests were flown with the same power output – 25mW race-band TX, on channel 4 to be around the middle of the band.
– recording on both tests was done with the Dominator V3 goggles built in DVR, and the receiver in both cases was the standard Raceband RX module from Fat Shark
– for both tests we used a brand new antenna set out of the box – one was the LHCP Spironet set, the other was the LHCP Cyclone set
– I tried to match the flying course to show the results dropouts, cutouts in the identical spots and tried to line up the videos to match this.
– the first flight was the one on the left- with spironets – after we swapped the antennas on both transmitter and goggles and executed the second test.
I think this is the most fair test I can imagine to compare these two antenna sets. So if we call the iBcrazy Cyclones are an excellent set of antennas– the in all fairness we have to call out the Spironets from Immersion/Fat Shark being and performing at least the same good. So you folks who own Spironets out there – do not feel intimidated by the folks with Cyclone antennas on their quads. 🙂