World Drone Prix, Last Minute Tuning and Practice

It’s been a crazy week getting ready for Dubai.

Saturday – Ordered Frames
Sunday – Drove from Orange County to San Francisco
Monday through Friday – Regular work week at Google
Tuesday – Built first 6″ frame until 2am
Wednesday – Build party, finished 4.5 drones
Thursday – Build party, tuning, LEDs, additional power regulators for all the different WDP requirements
Friday – rained out, couldn’t practice after work. Only test hovered a couple frames, no real maiden FPV flights.

Saturday – woke up at 6am to go fly before it rained again. I was lucky enough to get a couple hours in before it poured. Was just enough time to PID tune and practice with different props and weight. Here are the results! Feeling excited and confident as we head to Dubai =).

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Battery Killing Combo – 2206 2350kv Motors and 5050 Tri-Blades

Want to kill your batteries?! This is the motor and prop combination for you!With these motors and 5050 tri blades, you better have decent battery packs!! My old ones sag down to 15V in less than a minute. My newer Bonka 1300 4S are holding up well to the abuse, but also don’t last for more than 2 minutes. I think lower-pitched tri blades or even 5045BN props might be better for batteries.

I ordered a bunch of Gemfan 5050 tri blades a while back and got a couple bonus backs of DAL 5045 BN tri blades in the box. Turns out the props are unbreakable and just slowly vibrate more and more after countless crashes. Probably good for competitions where some forgiveness can help keep drones in the air, but bad for nice videos! I put these props aside for practice days, but won’t be using them again for freestyle videos. I found PIDs for either set of tri blades were the same.

I’ve recently tried a bunch of different motors and the Lumenier 2206 2350 are my favorite. They are smooth and have tons of power. They make flying a tight racetrack feel effortless. They are lighter than the XNova 2206 motors and feel much smoother in the air. XNovas may have more peak thrust, but are heavier and not as smooth in the air. The Emaxx 2205 red bottoms are nice, light, and have tons of power, but don’t have the same smoothness as the Lumenier 2206. I’ll likely sell off some of the motors I’ve tested recently and focus on two types of builds:

1) Lumenier 2206 for racing, freestyle, and gopro flying
2) Super light builds with 2204 Cobras, maybe on a 5″ x frame without any gopro.

I also love F40s for garage flying. They are the only motors that I’ve used that can take dozens of crashes into cement and keep running. To be fair, I haven’t abused any of the other new motors yet: Lumenier, XNova, or EMaxx red bottoms. I hear they are all durable, but I need more stick time to decide how durable they are for myself.

HQ 5x4x4 and Gemfan 5x5x3 Propeller Freestyle Comparison

I tested two different props at the Ranch last weekend. HQ’s new four bladed 5040s and Gemfan’s 5050 three bladed props. Both were smooth and balanced. The HQs have that high pitched scream, similar to their three bladed props. They also felt very snappy and smooth on the F40 v2 motors. Coming out of flips and rolls and handling quick altitude changes felt crisp and effortless.

In comparison, the Gemfan 5050 tri blades created a much lower pitched sound. I tested them on Lumenier 2206 2350kv motors. Testing on different motors isn’t great for a propeller comparison, but these props didn’t feel as smooth as the HQ’s for acro moves. I will probably spend more time PID tuning for the Gemfans. I also noticed the Gemfans had more bottom end torque. You can see after quick altitude changes, my quad almost “Jumps” when I really want it to climb smoothly. Probably something I could get used to with throttle control or throttle curve. Again, could also be caused by the larger motors.

Overall, both sets of propellers flew great! I think both are excellent choices.

Waterfall Adventure!

Reiner is my hero! And mad respect to Marque and Reiner for climbing the waterfall before I could even think about whether or not it was safe. I used to be a rock climber and I always hated down climbing. The climb up the falls was probably similar to a 5.6 and was around 50 feet up. Wet, mossy, super sketch! So, thank you to Reiner and Marque for risking your own safety to rescue my quad! What a fun day.

BorisB Introduces AirMode

Have you guys tried Airmode yet?! If you haven’t, save your existing settings, download the latest betaflight 2.1.5 and put Airmode on a switch. It is awesome!

What does it do? Boris sprinkled some magic on the PID controller and your quad will be stable at all throttle positions in the air. This is most obvious while flying at min throttle, inverted, vertical, etc. Freestyle moves that used to wobble at min-throttle feel stable and precise.

How does the magic work? Simply put, the PID controller is allowed to spin the motors higher than min_throttle even when you have the throttle stick all the way down. This allows the quad to maintain attitude mid-air, to maintain stability. If you want the quad to stay upside down at min-throttle the motors will correct for wind, CG, wobble, etc. to keep the frame in the right orientation.

The tradeoff with Airmode is that the motors can spin up faster while the frame is sitting on the ground with the motors armed. It’s recommended to put Air Mode on a separate switch and arm it after takeoff. Just like a landing gear switch on a fixed wing.

Anyway, I tried it yesterday on one quad and immediately flashed it on all of them at the field. I was already using betaflight 2.1.3 with PID controller 1 and didn’t have to adjust my PID settings at all for 2.1.5.

Here are my PIDs in case you’d like to try on a similar setup.

P, I, D
pitch: 3, 15, 20
roll: 3, 15, 20
yaw: 10, 40, 10

Get out there and rip up the sky! Thank you Boris!