So, I’ve been beating the ever living bejesus out of my standard Vusion House Racer, when low and behold, a Limited Black Edition shows up at my door. Initial inspection (and a quick call to my product guru, Natalie Rodrigues) defined that this was, indeed, the same awesome machine I had grown to love and abuse, yet was cloaked in all black and gray. Folks who know me are well aware that I do not screw around and that means I always cut to the chase. Yes, the House Racer is an amazing machine and for the RTF version, you get a hell of a lot of FPV drone for not that much cash. My one point of contention, though, has always been that the damn thing is too big and fast for most indoor venues. That’s not a bad thing, I just think the name might carry too much denotation when prospecting for new buyers.
Back to the point at hand, the new Black Limited Edition House Racer is just as cool as the original, but it looks more the “drone racer” part than the “big box toy” part. I am no expert, championship worthy FPV pilot, but I am also no slouch and I can tell you that (lost memory cells aside) I have never cartwheeled an FPV rig so violently and so often as I have the two House Racers. The fact is, though, I have yet to break a single part aside from the motor guards, which retail for less than 2 bucks for a four pack! Yes, the downward facing motors suck outdoors if you “land” on anything other than a smooth surface, but the model screams to be flown outdoors.
The speed, agility and multiple flight modes are exactly what the doctor ordered for training pilots, not to mention the supreme durability. I, for one, firmly believe that the inherent nature of the House Racer to be flown outdoors is a further selling point to the model itself. For less than 200 smackers, you can get an RTF rig that is tame enough to fly indoors, yet fast enough to tackle any outdoor course you bestow upon it. The Limited Black edition only takes the cool factor a step or two further, by giving the House Racer a whole new aesthetic value. Worried about planting your darker, new House Racer into a bush outside and not being able to find it? Simply turn the transmitter off and follow the beeps (like I did in the video).
RISE and Hobbico are serving the Black Limited Edition House Racer up in FPV-R (FPV Ready) fashion, meaning you’ll need to supply your own goggles, 6+ channel SLT compatible transmitter or any such capable transmitter that can run an AnyLink module. Check one out for yourself today, whether you’re just looking to get into the FPV game or are a seasoned pro who is looking for the perfect indoor/outdoor basher. Be sure to check out out initial runsown of the House Racer over HERE.
Benedikt and the rest of the crew at Micro Motor Warehouse (MMW) have been producing top notch electronics for our mini and micro machines for a while now and the Tiny Whoop seems to be their specialty. To that end, they put together a sweet Whoop package dubbed Rambo Whoop.
WHAT IT’S GOT
BeeBrain FC (FrSky)
MakerFire E010S Frame
PH2 Battery Lead
20 & 35 Degree Camera Mounts
All of these awesome parts that normally retail for 100 bucks can be yours for a 2 dollar raffle purchase. Slap some MMW Fast or Insane motors in that bad boy and power it with some of the 205 or 255 HV packs they just got in and you too can have one bad ass Whoop. Check out the Video from MMW right HERE.
You’ve got less than two days to enter, so get on it!!
It’s a necessary evil … carbon fiber, that is. It’s strong, looks amazing and gives our machines the ultimate in rigidity, but it also chews through wire insulation if not prepped properly. It’s super easy to file and seal your frame or to simply cover it with fuel line or some other soft-ish material to protect those vital wires from wearing thin. Check out the video for all you need to know and be sure to hit us up on Facebook.
The Star Wars Imperial Aratech 74-Z Speeder Bike drone is a must have for any fan of the movies, whether you fly drones or not. The scale details are absolutely amazing and the flight performance is on par with drones from reputable hobby suppliers that are fully rebuild-able and much more expensive. Not only that, but this drone features sensors for altitude hold capabilities indoors or out and is pretty darn quick in experienced hands.
Those who are more than familiar with the franchise are also well familiar with the Aratech 74-Z Speeder Bike. While in the movies, it didn’t make an appearance until Return of the Jedi, it was actually featured in many of the earlier “episodes” before the recent prequel releases. The staple reserve of the Imperial forces for recon and ground patrol, the 74-Z is fast, nimble and deadly in the right hands and now you can be blasting past rows of trees and vines on your own Speeder Bike drone thanks to Spin Master and Air Hogs.
NEED TO KNOW:
MANUFACTURER: Spin Master/Air Hogs
DISTRIBUTOR: Various retail and online sources
TYPE: Scale RTF drone
WEIGHT: 3 oz (85g)
FLIGHT CONTROLLER: Integrated board
ESCS: Integrated board
PROPS: 4.75 in.
BATTERY: 450mAh 1S LiPo
FLIGHT TIME: 4-6 minutes
The Speeder Bike package contains everything you need to get into the air and performing your own chase scenes on the surface of Endor. The manufacturer includes the drone itself, the radio/charger, a small USB cord and manual.
The detail on the Speeder Bike drone from Air Hogs is incredible. From the armaments and communications arrays on the bike itself, to the foam molded Scout Trooper that looks like the real thing, this drone looks amazing whether in the air or perched on a display shelf.
Priced in most locations at just under 40 bucks, the Speeder Bike Drone is a pretty decent bang for your buck. You get a fairly large machine, completely ready to fly and it’s fully licensed by Disney for the Star Wars name.
Height Lock … in such an inexpensive machine from a big box store? Yep, and it actually does work. There is a small sonar sensor on the bottom of the drone, allowing for worry free altitude holding capability whether indoors or out. There’s even a “Jump” button on the top right of the controller that can be employed to clear a fast approaching obstacle while cruising in Height Lock mode.
I was fully expecting the Speeder Bike drone to perform in a toy-like manner … anemic power and control response at best. I was wrong. This little gem from Spin Master and Air Hogs actually flies pretty well and is fun to pilot. It’s no 250 class 4S race rig, but it’ll get a pretty decent lean on and pick up the pace in a hurry.
The flight battery for the Speeder Bike is hardwired into the drone itself, so there’s no chance for quick battery swaps (unless you want to dissect such an attractive airframe and MacGyver something together as far as a battery plug). That also means you have less to carry with you when you head out for flights.
Keeping with the “less is more” theme, the radio for the Speeder Bike doubles as the charger for the flight pack in the drone. There is a little hatch in the lower right of the face, from with unfurls a small charge lead. The AA batteries take a beating when flying and charging for multiple cycles, but the drone includes a micro USB cord that can be plugged into the radio while charging, negating the drain on the AA cells.
>> It’s a freakin’ Star Wars Speeder Bike drone!!
>> Awesome “scale” detail
>> It flies surprisingly well
>> Transmitter doubles as the charger for the drone
>> Not a single replaceable part available … one and done
>> Outdoors only in little to no wind
As a child of the late 70’s and early 80’s I, like most other fellas the same age, am a die hard Star Wars fan. Of course, my first few times watching the first two movies left me with more questions than answers, being such a young lad, but when Return of the Jedi came out in 1983, I was about as pumped as an 8 year old could be to see how the rebels would defeat the evil Lord Vader and the Emperor. Of course, I was all smiles when the good guys won and was all giggles about those stupid, furry little creatures (don’t get me started), but the one thing I was most pumped about in the new movie was the Speeder Bike chase scene with Leia, Luke and the Imperial Scout Troopers. That scene alone sticks with me to this day and is probably the reason I love woods cruising with my FPV rigs so much. Now that I can fly a drone modeled ridiculously well after such an iconic vehicle, my only other wish is for a functioning light saber.
IN THE AIR
Charging the flight battery is as simple as stuffing six AA batteries into the radio and then plugging the charge cord into the belly of the drone. Oddly enough, there is no polarity to the charge lead or corresponding plug on the drone. The light on the radio will flash red while charging and turn solid green once complete. My initial (and subsequent) charge took 25-30 minutes … kind of long for a battery that can’t be swapped out, but oh well. I opted to use the USB cord, plugged into the 5v out on my Graupner Polaron to save some life in the AA batteries.
Once ready to rock, I grabbed the Speeder Bike and radio and headed outside. It’s certainly small enough for flying indoors, but I wanted a nice soft lawn to ditch onto if anything went awry. After turning the radio on, I switched the drone on and placed it flat on the grass. Once it was armed and ready to fly, I bumped the throttle to about half and the bike lurched skyward, assuming a level hover right in front of me. Two first impressions … Holy smokes this thing is quiet and holy smokes this thing is stable. I popped the throttle again to gain some altitude and nothing happened so I landed. WTF?!
Turns out, I had the radio switch on Height Lock, where the throttle is only used for takeoff and landing. Like they always said, haste makes waste and I rushed out the door without checking the radio over per the instructions. Either way, I had the Speeder Bike back up and ready for action after disabling the Height Lock function. A couple quick pirouettes and I began some forward flight. The drone will lean quiet a bit will full forward elevator, which looks awesome with the rider assuming the pursuit stance. Carving figure-8’s was not only effortless when coordinating rudder and aileron, but it felt like a much more expensive machine while doing it. I was also surprised with how quick the Speeder Bike can get when you really push it.
In Height Lock, the Speeder Bike keeps a consistent altitude thanks to the dual sonar sensors on the belly of the drone. Simply flip the switch to “locked” and mash the throttle to takeoff. The bike will assume a level hover four feet or so off the ground, awaiting your next command. You still have full control of the rudder, ailerons and elevator, but to vary the altitude of the Speeder Bike, you have to use the two up/down arrows beside the Height Lock switch. Also, while cruising in Height Lock mode, you can press the big orange Jump button above the right stick to pop the bike over an obstacle. Again, pretty damn snazzy for a 40 dollar drone.
I was suspect of the advertised 200 meter range of the radio system included with the Speeder Bike (who the frank can even see LOS that far?!), so I had to push the envelope a little. Heading off to the local ball field, I was able to fly from home plate, way out over the center field 400 foot marker and back, without a single glitch. On the way back, I opted for slalom approach rather than a straight line, for which I paid the price. At such great distance, I lost orientation with these old eyes and had to plop it down. I was worried that I might have done a number on any one of the plastic detail parts or Scout Trooper, but nothing was broken or even bent. The plastics used are mighty flexible and even if your happen to decapitate or explode your rider alla Princess Leia, you can always glue him back together with some foam safe CA glue.
Subsequent flights in the back yard proved to be the most fun. I strapped a Spektrum AIO camera/vTX unit to the front of the Speeder Bike and was blasting past trees just like a Jedi (I really need to get a few of the local club guys to get one and do the same so we can race FPV Endor style). Later in the afternoon, the wind picked up a bit and I quickly realized the limitations of the little Speeder Bike. With all the plastic fairings on the bike and the foam Scout Trooper sticking up like a mast, the drone does not like wind. It is extremely lightweight and even though the onboard accelerometers will keep things level, anything more than a 4-5 mph breeze was enough to take control of the drone from me and put it into the hands of Mother Nature. More than once, I had to ditch it in the neighbor’s yard because I wasn’t able to penetrate the mild wind.
THE FINAL WORD
All I gotta say is, for 40 bucks the Star Wars Imperial Aratech 74-Z Speeder Bike is a must have drone for any Star Wars fan, any drone fan or any Star Wars fan who flies drones. The thing looks plain awesome and the performance isn’t bad at all for something you can buy at Walmart. A couple sub micro AIO FPV units up the fun factor immensely and even though you can’t buy replacement parts, the flexible and resilient airframe will take some hits and keep doing what it’s supposed to. Spin Master also makes a battle set with infrared lasers that contains an X-Wing and Tie Fighter as well as a couple different Millennium Falcons. Check em all out to get your Star Wars Drone fix.
I’m sure you’ve all suffered the same fate as me at some point or another. You reach into that spare parts bin for a replacement camera, only to find out the lens is all scratched up from flopping around in the compartment it was in. Perhaps those replacement motors you grabbed to repair your race rig before the next heat have dirt in the magnets from rolling around loose, exposed to the elements. Maybe you grabbed your AP rig to grab some sweet video of a spectacular sunset, only to find out that your filters are all dirty from not being stored properly or that SD card is no where to be found in the case. All of the above are frustrating for sure, but there’s a simple and dirt cheap way to effectively store and transport all those tiny bits and pieces we are so direly dependent on. Custom cut foam parts trays made from material you probably have laying around the shop or man cave.
I had a few foam pieces left over from a recent charger acquisition (Dynamite Passport Ultra Duo) that came upon the chopping block during a heavy cleaning session. I was about to trash them, when it occurred to me that I was always worried about my FPV parts and pieces getting all bashed up in my transport cases. I snatched a few cams and vTX’s from said case, traced some rudimentary outlines with a sharpie and had some custom cut foam parts trays made within seconds for all my small, and vital, yet usually expensive components. The foam I used seems to be somewhere in the neighborhood of polyethylene or polyurethane, but it really doesn’t matter what you’re working with, so long as it’s available and flexible.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
Leftover foam from a recent purchase
A hobby knife with a new blade
A cutting mat or some cardboard (To protect your work surface)
A marker/pen to trace your parts
Trace a rough outline of your parts on the foam
Cut said outline with knife, making sure to cut a bit inside the lines (Don’t worry, with flexible foam, the parts will fit and be nice and snug)
Cut entire piece into a block that is slightly larger than the bays in your case
Stuff part into foam and foam into case
Voila … safe and secure parts cases!!
WRAP IT UP … I’LL TAKE IT
Seriously though, I’m kinda pissed I didn’t think of this earlier … like, back in the 80’s when I was racing RC cars and couldn’t ever find what I needed because my parts box was an utter disaster. It literally costs nothing (in most cases), it takes mere seconds to do and the benefits of making such trays pays big dividends in the long run. If you’ve got loads of crucial, but delicate components floating around in your parts boxes, dig around and see if you’ve got any foam you can scavenge to protect your investments.
Until next Hot Tip Tuesday … Keep it real and keep it up.