Wanna win one of the most potent ARF racers on the market, that’s built and supported entirely in the USA??!! Well, you have less than one day to head on over to Thrust UAV’s site and register in any variety of ways. Just hit the link, click one of the icons just below the photo of the Riot and sign up. Entries are taken until midnight (CST) June 6, 2017, so what have you got to lose … aside from your next FPV race because you won’t be flying a Riot if you don’t sign up?
Words By Matt Maziarz – firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos By Matt Maziarz and Brittany Maziarz
While RISE is a relatively new name in the RC game, drones are their one and only focus, so they’ve been honing their machines since the original release in the RXD 250. The Vusion House Racer is the cure-all for those trapped indoors due to weather, work, agoraphobia or any other suck malady. It’s a 125mm (actually closer to 120mm) brushed race machine packed with all the FPV essentials, including a flight controller with three independent flight modes. The coolest part is it’s a bit bigger than most other custom-tailored indoor rigs, but it’s also a heck of a lot faster than nearly any other brushed drone built for FPV action.
RISE serves up the Vusion House Racer in two different manners: an RTF version as reviewed here as well as an FPV ready version. The RTF is loaded with everything you need to get into the air and flying from the headset on the first pack. It includes the drone itself, a 2.4GHz 6-channel radio, flight battery, FPV monitor with DVR, headset for the monitor, a spare set of props and a screwdriver for the frame screws. The FPV ready version just includes the drone, battery and charger (both House Racers are SLT compatible, so you can use your favorite Tactic radio with them).
NEED TO KNOW:
TYPE: Mini RTF FPV Quad Bundle
FOR: FPV Drone pilots
WEIGHT: 2.4 oz
FLIGHT CONTROLLER: Integrated board
ESCS: Integrated board
MOTORS: 8mm brushed
PROPS: 2.3 in.
BATTERY: 650mAh 1S LiPo
FLIGHT TIME: 5-7 minutes
The RISE Vusion House Racer RTF Race Pack is an all-inclusive package. It not only includes the drone itself with camera and vTX as well as the radio, but also includes the Tactic FPV monitor that can be mounted to the radio or slipped into the headset and a spare set of props. Of course, the flight battery and charger are included as well as batteries for the radio, so you’ll need nothing other than your two thumbs to get into the air and flying FPV for real … for far less than 200 dollars!
- Unlike most RTF FPV micro machines, the House Racer comes with the already tilted upwards somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 degrees or so. That means you can get this little quad ripping without worry of losing sight of that next gate.
- The vTX on the House Racer is no slouch. It’s a full blown 25mW system with a full complement of 40 channels to choose from, so you can race your friends without worry of channel interference.
- The reverse mounted motors (with the downward facing props) offer superior blade protection during crashes and bumps. Not only that, but the House Racer comes complete with a set of upper blade guards that you can add for extra protection.
- Everything you need to fly FPV for less than the cost of a decent set of goggles. You’re not going to find more bang for your buck anywhere in the FPV drone world and to have the Hobbico name supporting you after the sale, you really can’t go wrong if this is your first foray into FPV. The reception on the headset and monitor isn’t HD quality, but it isn’t horrible either.
- The House Racer comes with its own RISE controller, but it is also SLT compatible, which means you can use any higher end Tactic transmitter or the radio of your choice with an AnyLink adapter. I, for one, actually like the feel of the included radio, so I really have no need or desire to use my TTX850 as the stock radio feels good and the House Racer flies great with it.
- The video monitor that can be mounted to the radio or placed within the headset for a fully immersive experience packs a full 40 channels to complement the vTX in the drone itself, but it also has a built-in DVR so you can record and upload all of your FPV exploits for all the world to see.
>> Complete FPV package without anything else needed
>> Great performance out of a tiny machine
>> 100% designed, built and supported by Hobbico
>> Lost model alarm beacon
>> Fast enough for outdoor adventures (see below)
>> Grass is a killer … especially with the inverted motors
>> A little too fast for some indoor venues
When I first saw the size of the House Racer, I knew I was in for a thrill ride. However, the connotation of the name itself had instilled in me expectations of something much slower and smaller. The fact of the matter is, the House Racer is bigger than most indoor machines and is also quite a bit faster than most other brushed rigs, but that’s all good as far as I’m concerned as such speed and agility allow this model to venture outdoors as well. A word of advice though, keep it in Mode 1 if you have anything other than a chateau with long, wide open expanses for a domicile … at least for the first flight or two.
IN THE AIR
As I mentioned before, starting off slow with the House Racer is the key to success if your living quarters are fairly humble size-wise. My 900 square foot cape has large rooms, but no hallways or openly adjoining rooms to speak of, but my pride had me thinking “bah, I’m an experienced pilot. I don’t need no stinking Mode 1!” Well, needless to say, my first flight lasted exactly four seconds before the humbling walk of shame with me muttering about how darn fast the House Racer was. I was so used to flying my Tiny Whoop and Nano QX at full tilt through my kitchen, into the dining room and then back out to the living room again that I employed the same throttle burying technique with the House Racer, to no advantage.
The House Racer is fast for sure, so I flipped back into Mode 1 and started things a little more cautiously through my makeshift race course. There are lots of hard 90 degree turns so I crept through the first lap and was glad I did as the stock monitor setup fed me quite a bit of interference once a couple walls and rooms were between it and the drone. A quick repositioning into the center of my course allowed for decent image transmission throughout the full run of the course.
Mode 1 – Bank angle limit of 30 degrees: Docile on the cyclic controls, but can also get the House Racer scootin’ pretty darn fast. In this mode you have full 6-axis gyro and accelerometer assistance, giving you easy flight with auto-leveling. My first few batteries in my house were flown in this mode until I got a little more familiar with the handling characteristics.
Mode 2 – Bank angle limit of 45 degrees: A little snappier on the elevator and aileron channels, but noticeably faster in a flat line. Now, the angle limiters are increased so you can pitch the House Racer further forward and open the big motors up for some blistering runs. Once I got familiar with my race course setup, I was all about Mode 2 while cruising in my house.
Mode 3 – No bank angle limit: For you experience FPV racers and flyers out there, this is your Rate Mode. There is only the 3-axis gyro feeding stabilization to the House Racer in this mode, but no self-leveling from the accelerometers. Pitch the drone forward and it will stay in that orientation until commanded otherwise. My house was way too small for Mode 3, but I did open it up and use it once outdoors. Other folks with larger indoor areas and/or better thumbs than I will surely be able to utilize this mode for indoor flying.
Auto Flips – Like many other RTF drones, the House Racer can do auto-flips with the push of a button. The House Racer does it as well in Flight Mode 2, but I was a little perplexed when after reading the instructions that outline the procedure contradicted what I was actually seeing with my own eyes. The manual explains that you need to push and hold the “Flip” button on the left side of the radio, but that button is actually labeled “Picture” (The Vusion House Racer RTF uses the same radio as the Vusion Extreme Racer). Once Hobbico support cleared that up, I was flipping like a pro, though the little House Racer does lose a bit of altitude when performing such aerobatics, so just keep a little distance between it and the ground when flipping.
Crashing: The House Racer is about as durable as any other mini/micro lightweight FPV machine. However, even with the prop guards added, there is still a good potential for blade strikes. After a few bumps with a makeshift gate (a café table’s legs) the House Racer would always end up on its lid. Once we employed a little rudder to allow the prop guards to take the brunt of the blow in such scenarios, the model would most often stay upright and aloft. The bottom line is, I crashed a lot and I crashed hard, but the House Racer showed no ill effects aside from a bent landing foot or two that were promptly rectified with a little elbow grease.
Race Gates: Unless you live in a cave, chances are you’ve seen at least some of the cool videos of folks flying in their homes with all sorts of gates borne from their own imagination (or 3D printers). RISE and Hobbico have you covered though, with their Race Gate system for the House Racer. For $40 you get two hoop gates, one logoed bridge gate and a turn flag. They also sell LED lit versions as well as arch gates and elevated hoops. I turned to Amazon.com for some LED ropes on the cheap and setup my own course using the Race Gate System and a bit of ingenuity (be sure to check back for a separate feature on how/where to get the setup I built).
I got to fly my House Racer, in the house, as well as a few other locations. I used my side yard at night, lit with my LED gates, which was awesome … especially when I could use the lost model beacon to find my downed machine in the dark … until I got close enough to see the red LED on the drone (just watch out when flying over grass at night as it’ll grab the House Racer with haste. I also got to fly quite a few packs over the turf track at The Hobby Hangout in New Milford, CT, abusing their drone race track for all the House Racer was worth. I must say, the model really excels in larger areas and is perfectly at home outdoors with little to no wind.
THE FINAL WORD
I think it’s safe to say that I’ve been fairly impressed with just about every release from RISE. From the RXD 250 up through the Vusion Race Pack, the House Racer is no different. It allows would-be FPV pilots to get everything they need to jump into the pilot’s seat for $179.99 and it surely doesn’t skimp on performance for those with more seasoned thumbs. Best of all, it’s distributed by Hobbico and that comes with a huge piece of mind in the form of support after the sale. Oh, and one other thing. Just because it’s called the House Racer, you can still buy one of these awesome little rigs if you live in a condo, apartment, your mom’s basement or a cave (assuming said cave has a USB outlet to charge the battery). Be sure to check back in for our FPV video.
If you like what you see, BUY IT HERE.
Words, photos and horrible video by Matt Maziarz
We’ve all seen the super cool videos of FPV racing on LED courses. Folks like David Moquay from FPV Lightrax create dazzling displays using the LED Neon Rope lights, sculpting them into incredible shapes and then laying them out in a sweet course to challenge, yet entertain the pilots and spectators. The problem is, many of us (myself included) dream of flying such courses at our own fields or even in our own yards. Heck, I’m sure that many of you have rigged up some sort of LED course in the dark just to get your fix. Well, I have done my fair share of trial and error DIY gate building and have finally settled on a setup that works incredibly well, looks great, is easy to transport and setup and best of all … is mighty friendly on the wallet.
I tried LED ropes from the big box stores with varying success, but couldn’t ever get the lighting just right. I also tried LED strips from various hobby purveyors, but also had issues with setting them up and eventually looked elsewhere as the cost and labor intensive nature was wearing me thin. What I ultimately found was some super cheap, but super bright battery powered LED neon ropes from Amazon.com that are marketed for “party” types (raves and such) to wear during their festivities.
They come in either nine or sixteen foot lengths, are powered by two AA batteries and can be programmed to stay on solid, blink slowly or blink rapidly. Here’s the best part: for $17.95 I got a 5-pack of different colors in nine foot lengths and two sixteen foot sections for around $8.00 a piece. The LED ropes themselves are only 2.3mm in diameter, but are very bright and so flexible that they can be folded back onto themselves. They can also be cut to any length needed.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
TRANSLUCENT PIPE: PEX pipe from Home Depot
PIPE/CONDUIT STRAPS: ½ inch 2-hole metal electrical straps
HARDWARE: Wood Screws to secure your gates to a foot pad
MISC: Strapping tape, batteries, scrap wood
Before getting started, let me clear something up first. I used the PEX pipe from Home Depot because it’s translucent, it’s amazingly flexible, it’s very cheap and Lowes doesn’t carry ten foot sections of the white stuff in 3/8 inch diameter.
Basically, what I did was bend the ten foot PEX pipe into a circle, doubling up the pipe on the bottom with a six inch overlap (to utilize the nine foot strips of LED rope). Once formed into a circle, I wrapped the overlap section with two pieces of the strapping tape and then bolted them to a 24 inch piece of leftover deck board I had in my wood stash. I used ½ inch straps (even though two pieces of 3/8 inch pipe together is bigger than ½ inch) to crush the pipes together to a certain degree so that the circle would stand up straight. Once the circle was in place and upright, I threaded the LED rope all the way through and was ready for action.
The nine foot diameter pipe and LED gates provide for a 34 inch diameter circle, which is more than large enough for Tiny Whoops, Nano’s and House Racers. However, there are a number of barbed 3/8 inch fittings that can be used to create all sorts of shapes for gates, including hanging gates and elevated sections. I considered hot gluing or screwing the bottom of the cicle to the wood, but ultimately decided to leave the pipe clamps as the sole means of retention for two reasons: 1) because I’m lazy and 2) because if anyone smacks a gate, it will flex and bend, rather than breaking. Even if someone folds a gate in half, it can easily be manipulated back into shape. If tiny machines indoors are not your thing, the ½ inch PEX pipe is much more rigid, but still bendable enough to form a nice tight circle if you want to create larger gates for larger drones.
To finish off my custom race course, I used the two longer LED ropes. On the ends of the sixteen foot sections, I taped the LED down onto linoleum tiles in the shape of arrows, leaving about ten feet of length in the middle. That lets them serve as course markers, laying them out in between gates. I normally set them on the rapid blinking while the gates themselves are set on constant. Using the smaller circle gates from the Gate System, I had about three feet of LED leftover, so I also equipped them with linoleum arrows. Lastly, I tend to use my gates outdoors and in the dark (duh). Such an endeavor could be hazardous to electronics, even if it’s not raining, as there might be dew present. To rectify that possible problem before it reared its ugly head, I snagged a few outdoor extension cord union weather-proof boxes, effectively sealing each control box and batteries in a sealed box (The LED strips themselves are waterproof).
- Bend pipe to desired shape
- Tape pipe ends together with overlap
- Secure pipe gate to wood (or other such pad) with straps
- Thread LED rope into pipe
- Have a ball!
Each PEX gate, LED’s included, cost me less than 10 bucks! That’s insane considering what you’d pay for such gates from a reputable dealer or source.
My race course is awesome, I really must say so myself. So far, I have only built two of the 34 inch PEX circle gates, but have also LED equipped two of the small circle gates from the RISE Race Gate system as well as the square bridge gate. Using the longer arrowed sections in combination with the gates transforms my small house into the ultimate LED race course. I did grow tired of burning through AA batteries, so tore open a bunch of the boxes to add secondary battery plugs for 1S LiPo batteries with a JST plug. Honestly, I was chewing through so many AA’s because I kept forgetting to turn them off. I get about two hours of light time on an 850mAh 1S from Dromida and about twice that on two AA’s from MaxAmps. Ii hope this helps some of y’all out there in drone-land create your own drone amusement park and by all means, get creative and do much, much more than I did!
The post Hot Tip Tuesday!!! DIY LED FPV Gates On A Strict Budget With VIDEO appeared first on The Drones Mag.
Hot off the heels of the original Kodo camera drone, Dromida has revamped the sturdy machine with new camera setup and comes complete with a headset that can accommodate all but the largest of smartphones for the full FPV experience. No, it is not a 5.8GHz FPV system. Rather, it relies on WiFi transmission for the signal, but fear not. The newest generation of WiFi based drone devices suffer from far less latency (125-250 milliseconds), so as long as you’re not cruising at 80 mph, you’re good.
- Everything you need (minus your smartphone) for 90 bucks!
- Durable airframe … It’s a Dromida!
- Spare props and batteries for the radio included
- Long flight times of 5+ minutes
- No SD card slot on the drone
SIZE: 106mm (4.2 in.)
WEIGHT: 40g (1.4 oz)
BATTERY: 350mAh 1S LiPo
Shucks, considering their low cost, you could buy one each of the Kodo FPV and Kodo HD models to satisfy all your aerial media and need for speed. The new red trim scheme on the FPV model looks killer and if the performance is the same as the HD, it should be a thrill ride through the headset. It also helps that parts are readily available at both retail locations, as well as through Hobbico and Tower Hobbies.
Due out July/August 2017
Check it out HERE
Buy it HERE
The post Dromida Kodo FPV: All In One FPV Starter Pack … On A Budget appeared first on The Drones Mag.
By Matt Maziarz
Traxxas had made a few brief forays into the rotary winged arena, but mainly in the small, toyish realm. With the Aton, fully equipped with a GPS enabled flight controller and a wide flight envelope, Traxxas now had a viable contender to compete with the larger, drone-only manufacturers … but which one(s)? Well, in it’s simplest form, all of them. Once again, if you’re familiar with the Traxxas Slash 4×4, you’ll know what we’re talking about when we say the Aton is the perfect Sport Utility Drone for any pilot, of nearly any skill level and in nearly any facet of the drone world. The Slash 4×4 is perfectly at home, in the backyard tearing up sod, but it can also be track prepped for club racing duties. Similarly, the Aton can be fitted with a gimbal and HD camera for amazing aerial media capturing, or it can be made FPV ready and opened up in Expert mode for speeds eclipsing the 60 mph mark while wearing the goggles. The Aton is a true “bash” approved model with its durable modular design and parts/product support that is second to none.
The Traxxas Aton has been out for a while now, but it’s really worth taking a second look at, especially given the low price it now sells for. You’ll not find the same compliment of features and capabilities in any other drone on the market and backed with such awesome customer support. The Aton can giddee-up to the tune of 50+ mph right out of the box, it is fully GPS enabled, it can store or change Home Points for Return To Home convenience and it has an “Air Brake” that can be used as a bailout function. For a smidge under 300 bucks for the base model sans gimbal, you’re not gonna find more machine for less money anywhere.
NEED TO KNOW:
TYPE: Multi Purpose Quad
WEIGHT: 30.33 oz (860g)
DIAMETER: 14.75 in. (370mm)
MOTORS: (4) 28×15 brushless
ESCS: Integrated board
PROPELLERS: 8.27 in. (210mm)
FLIGHT CONTROLLER: Integrated board
FLIGHT TIME: 20-25 minutes
With our “Fixed Mount” RTF version, the package includes the Atone drone itself, the transmitter, 3000mAh 3S flight pack, smart charger, landing gear, fixed camera mount, spare blades and batteries for the radio. For 80 bucks more, you can get the same machine in the “Plus” trim with the 2-axis gimbal and 5000mAh flight pack.
- No need to dance in order for the GPS compass to calibrate. Simply wait for the Aton to initialize, giving you all green lights across the status bar, and your home point has been stored. Not only that, but you can change the designated “home point” while performing a flight, without shutting the model down.
- Being the proverbial “Sport Utility Drone”, the Aton can fill a vast many roles. Whether you’re looking for long flight times with slow and smooth movement for media capturing in Film Mode or ripping up some sweet freestyle action in Expert mode while flying FPV, the Aton can do it and do it well.
- Apps such as Mission Planner (or other open source apps) can be used for flight logging. Using the satellites in orbit, you can track each and every mission with the app, a PC and optional SD card.
- The “Air Brake” function basically acts as a bailout feature. No matter what mode you’re in, simply press and hold the Air Brake button and the Aton will sit perfectly in place, ready for you to regain your composure and make the next move.
- The Traxxas Flight Link app (not needed to fly the Aton) opens up a limitless world of possibilities with the Aton. Within the app, you can increase or remove the geofence and altitude boundaries, change the speed or bank limits in each mode, preset the amount of flips performed when the auto-flip function is engaged, change the intensity of the onboard LED’s as well as a host of other features.
- 50+ mph speed right out of the box
- Awesome after the sale support from Traxxas
- 12 volt power tap for gimbal or vTX pre-wired
- Many optional colored bits to customize your Aton
- Pull the rubber landing feet off the arms and you can do touch-and-go’s
- Fast enough for FPV fun while offering GPS and Return To Home piece of mind
- Game style transmitter included
IN THE AIR
Getting into the air with the Aton is easier than any other GPS enabled drone out there. Simply fire up the radio, plug the battery into the Aton and wait for a full row of green lights on the status bar. No GPS dance to calibrate compasses or anything of the sort. Before arming the motors though, you need to choose one of three flight modes; Film, Sport or Expert Mode.
In Film Mode, the Aton feels sluggish, but that’s the idea. For capturing aerial media, you want nice smooth and fluid movements. Herky jerky flight can lead to nausea-inducing footage and that’s no good for anyone. Film Mode feels not unlike a machine with really low rates and loads of expo, but again, that’s exactly what you’re going to need to get those killer shots and clips.
In Sport Mode, the Aton gets a whole lot more fun. Dual rates are greatly increased and the stick response around center is markedly improved for aerobatics and sport flying. With a quick punch of the throttle, the Aton will lurch skyward with pretty damn impressive vertical prowess for an RTF of the 400mm(ish) variety. Flat line speed is also refreshingly crisp and with the assistance of the 6-axis stability system and the Air Brake, you can feel free to cut loose without worry of damaging your Aton.
In Expert Mode, the accelerometers are disabled, allowing for full travel in any direction without the aid of self-leveling. That means you can push you Aton to extreme pitch and roll angles for all out blistering speeds and aerobatics. It’ll flip and roll like an FPV rig, but not nearly as fast given the response time of the electronics and sheer size of the drone itself. Basically, if you’re an avid FPV race pilot and you’re looking for the perfect GPS enabled machine to bust some incredible freestyle flights with, look no further than the Aton.
Auto Flips are not an anomaly in the drone world, though they are usually reserved for smaller, more toyish machines. One would think that such a novelty would not quite work on a larger, heavier machine such as the Aton, but one would be wrong. Forward, backward, side to side or any combination thereof is easily achieved after pressing the top left button on the transmitter and then commanding the Aton as to which direction to flip with the right gimbal stick (joystick). There is a little altitude lost, but the Aton pops itself up a bit before each maneuver, so it isn’t more than a foot or so.
Flight Link App from Traxxas offers a world of possibilities with the Aton. Not only can you adjust the rates in all modes, but you can also alter the speed of the drone in Film Mode, increase or remove the factory geofence and altitude limits, adjust or turn off the LED lights, preset how many flips are performed when the Auto-Flip function is engaged and more.
Though I didn’t use a gimbal or action camera on the Aton (I didn’t even use the landing gear legs at all), I gave it a pretty hardy workout. After a good bit of LOS flying with it, I figured it was time for a camera and vTX. I’ve been pretty deep into FPV flying of late, so strapping the 3.3GHz Finch system from Electrify RC only seemed natural. I could send the drone far flung, behind and around obstacles without worry of signal loss or losing control of the machine per the niceties that are Return to Home and Air Brakes (it is worth mentioning that if flying the Aton below 45 feet, engaging the RTH function will send it to that exact altitude before heading back to the home point).
My local flying field is within a state park in CT and there are loads of trails laden with hills, ravines and steep inclines. Such terrain proved the perfect layout for low level cruising with the Aton. More than a few times, I got disoriented while speeding through tight trails I hadn’t yet been down, but a quick press of the top right button settled the Aton until I was ready to resume my run. I must say that the 3.3GHz system performed as advertised and when strapped to the Aton, it provides all the blood pumping action that raw FPV racing does, but with the added convenience of superior obstacle penetration.
Likewise, the Aton more than fed my need for speed, but never had me sweating bullets for fear of a hard crash. I did brush a few trees and biff the ground when I got a little unsettled, but never did any more damage than a broken prop or scuff on the canopy. Next time I head out to the club field, I’ll be sure to push it a little harder, knowing that the fully modular design of the Aton and a multitude of sources of the brick and mortar variety have parts will keep my machine in tip-top shape.
THE FINAL WORD
Well, I gotta say that I am quite impressed with the Aton after taking a second closer look (and that’s without even strapping a gimbal and camera to it). From performing airplane style aerobatics LOS to flying behind barns, trees and mountains with the Finch FPV setup, the Aton never disappointed me whatsoever. Whether I was flying high altitude over the field or low and fast through tunnels sculpted from foliage, the features and capabilities of the Aton had me completely at ease so I could just concentrate on “bashing” my drone and having fun. Does it keep up with my Thrust UAV Riot 250R or can it produce the same footage as a DJI Inspire 1? Nope, but it can do it a bit of both, which neither of those other two machines can do and it does it all at a great price with awesome support after the sale. Be sure to check back in a bit for our FPV flight video and full shake down of the Finch system.
The post Traxxas Aton: Worth A Second Look Follow Up Flight Review appeared first on The Drones Mag.