Two Races, One Weekend // First 150 Lap Team Race

Last weekend, I competed in two California MultiGP races. It was fun, exhausting, dramatic, and I’d totally do it again.

The first was the year end race for the Sacramento chapter located at Gibson Ranch. The venue is amazing and they set up tracks similar to the Regional Finals track from 2016. It’s a long drive, but I always have a great time hanging out with the Sacramento crew and so it’s totally worth it! I competed with my AirVuz and Spektrum teammate, Colby. I won first place and Colby won 2nd, only a single point behind.

The second race was the “Treasure Island 200” team race hosted by the 415 MultiGP Chapter. Due to time constraints, the race was cut down to 150 laps, but that was still enough for one hour of the most enjoyable chaos I’ve ever seen. It was the most fun I’ve had racing in 2016. We had five teams racing head to head, non-stop for an hour. Pit stops were located 30-40 meters away from the pilot area and we powered up/down while others were in the air. I was concerned about this, but was mostly unaffected and never felt I was going to crash from someone else powering up while I was flying. We transmitted 200mW on FS2, FS4, FS7, E2, and E6.

During the race, my team alternated between pilot and pit stop positions. To my surprise, I enjoyed retrieving, placing, and straightening props under pressure for my team almost as much as I enjoyed flying. Running around a field of drones flying at 60MPH certainly gets the adrenaline pumping (not advised)!

Overall, my team’s strategy and execution was almost flawless and we won the race by completing all 150 laps in the shortest amount of time (1 hour and 3 minutes). Congrats to my teammates: Mewo, JFK, and Jrey.

Also, congratulations to the second and third place winning teams:

Team Baylands 2 – Snoke, TenFPV, RandomMoon, DV
Team Propsman – SFPV, LAZD, Charlie, ElliotSkiis, Hunter, and Fred

I want to put out a HUGE thank you to both MultiGP chapters for hosting these events. I know hosting a race is a ton of work and it’s greatly appreciated!

Freestyle Season – Ep 3, DVR

So all of my gopro rigs are busted for one reason or another…so here’s some DVR footage! The weightlessness without a GoPro is awesome, I wish I could freestyle and get HD footage without the mass.

I haven’t been freestyling as planned…turns out I simply can’t freestyle more than a few packs and really be into it. Racing is more compelling to me and gets me engaged with my friends. Freestyle was nice today after a long week and was a great way to de-stress, but I don’t always crave it.

I have been putting a lot of hours into the DRL Simulator. Damn you NytFury for ruining the leaderboard. Not cool man! I think the simulator is really helping me with stick control and picking better racing lines. I can feel more confidence and control whenever I get real flights in =)

Anyway, please enjoy this flight. It’s a ShenDrones prototype frame with the new Lumenier Axii antenna. Solid performance, even 100m away through some trees.

http://www.getfpv.com/lumenier-axii-5-8ghz-antenna-rhcp.html

Freestyle Season Episode 2 – A Quickie

Work’s been pretty demanding over the past couple of months and it’s taken a toll on my mood lately…wah wah wah. My outlet after work used to be flying at the park until sunset. Unfortunately Mr. Sun has been lazy recently and isn’t working long hours anymore. COME ON MAN!

Lacking Helios’s cooperation, I finally tore myself away from the office at lunch today and flew a few packs at lunch. I’m being a good little drone pilot and am focusing on freestyle. Some buddies at Baylands setup an awesome track, but I only had time for a few freestyle runs and had to get back to the office.

The Kiss FC is super smooth and snappy, but maybe it’s the HQ 5040×3 props? I can’t even remember the last time I used these props on a Betaflight rig. I may try them out on a BF rig to see if I get similar results. I’m still messing with rates and find I don’t really like the “super expo” settings on any FC. I had it at 0.1 in this video with expo at 0.7. I cranked it up to 0.2 and didn’t really like how unpredictable the rates were above mid stick. I think I’ll lower back to 0.1 and try higher expo or lower deg/sec to get softer feel aroun center stick.

Watching this video, I think fast freestyle far away from the trees is kinda boring to watch. Next time I’ll try to slow things down, be more technical, and keep it tight to the trees. Sounds like I’ll probably break some props! And probably more rate tuning =)

Drone Racer vs. Freestyle Artist? Be both.

It is not enough to be a “pure racer” to win. Race directors are adding more complicated freestyle maneuvers to tracks and I need to develop my freestyle abilities in parallel to racing to succeed. As a new sport, it’s premature to say “this is racing” or “that isn’t racing.” Drone racing is still evolving in the early stages of infancy as a professional sport. I believe freestyle elements will become typical and a standard in drone racing.

As I realize this, I am dedicating more time to freestyle. I’ve even built an all Kiss mini-quad specifically for freestyle. I have to say, the kiss FC is the pickiest controller I’ve ever setup, but it performs well. The FC is sensitive to vibrations and I had to use HQ 5040×3 props to remove “gyro” jitters. No other prop worked and would shake the frame violently at min throttle and before takeoff. Even RaceKraft props in the same 5040×3 geometry shook violently. I will admit the unibody 3mm frame from the Mako isn’t the best structure to protect the FC from vibration. A 4mm frame or a non-unibody construction would be better. However, NONE of my other FCs have issues on this frame with any motor/prop combination. Something to consider if you are interested in a Kiss build, or are currently struggling with gyro jitters on yours. HQ prop explosions, here I come!

This is Episode 1 of my freestyle journey. I’m going to dedicate time to freestyle just like I have for racing practice. Where will I find time for both? I don’t know. I may have to pause racing practice so I can work on freestyle and then return to racing drills in the future.

How to Make Betaflight 3.0 Feel Locked-In

For weeks my BF3.0 rigs have sat on the sidelines because they just didn’t feel as tight as my BF2.9 builds. I finally figured out how the key to BF3.0 (for me anyway) is to run I values between 90-100. Seems insane right?

In 2.9, my I values were around: 65, 75, 75. I never thought the PID controller in BF3.0 would be so different. However, it felt loose and I thought the solution was to mess with the rate curves and super expo values. This did help a little, but the quad still didn’t feel “locked in” and tight. On a whim, I jacked up the I values last night to 95, 95, 95 and now it feels great! If you’re experiencing the same looseness after coming from BF2.9, please give this a try!

Heres a video right after I increased the I values. 3.0 feels smoother and more precise than 2.9. With some more tinkering with the rates, it’s going to become my main firmware! This speed addict was also running some older hardware: F3 Dodo, LB20s, and XNova 2206-2300kv motors.

https://www.airvuz.com/videoPlayerEmbed/57e75d662bd9796a39397f14%20height=

Getting ready for USA Drone Nationals

Dad always said, “practice makes perfect.” In 2016 I applied this to the growing sport of drone racing, it’s no longer a hobby for me. I used to fly a five to six batteries per practice session and would only practice 2-3 days per week. After going to a few big races this year, I realized I needed to commit more time to the sport if I wanted to remain competitive with the big boys.

For the past couple of months I’ve been practicing every day after work and heavily on weekends. I’m trying to replicate my dedication to sports from high school. Back then, I got out of school, headed to the pool for swimming or water polo practice until 5:00pm. I would go home, have dinner, and then go to the community college for Tae Kwon Do from 7-9pm. Lastly, I spent the rest of the evening studying and finishing homework until midnight. I often feel asleep with my face in a textbook. Was it worth it in high school? Completely!

Now I am trying to do the same with Drone Racing. The sacrifice to my personal life is significant, but I love to fly and my family is supportive. I often don’t get the park until around 7pm, but it’s summer in California and the sun is thankfully out well past 8pm. I typically get home late to have dinner with my wife, Pam, around 9pm. We hang out, I make repairs if needed, and then we are in bed between 12-1am. I don’t sleep very much so I drink lots of coffee to keep me going! Kimera Koffee for days where I need an extra boost =) On weekends I try to fly 30-50 packs a day which can take a few hours.

People at public parks look at my equipment and often comment, “this looks like it takes a lot of time.” I smile and nod because they see right through me.