Where it all started

FPV Event at Matamata , 3rd Jan 2015 (part of the 2015 Nat’s)

This is the first ever event for FPV flying run at a MFNZ nationals, and to my knowledge, the first run at an active airfield. The event was open to non MFNZ members.

It started out 6 months ago, when I visited an event being run down near Wellington at Battle Hill Farm Forest Park, where Jonathan Shorer broached the idea of running an event at the upcoming Nat’s. After a few days contemplation I said yes, and the next 6 months turned into a blur !

I started a Facebook page (as you do) to start assembling the tribe, generated interest and shared ideas. The event was also advertised in the November MFNZ magazine, and on the Parkflyers website. From the Facebook page 15 people indicated they would attend.

Mark Wilson organised an FPV event on the 1st of November, and we used the opportunity to set up a trial circuit (measuring 50 meters by  25 meters) and tried out  Pool noodles on poles and white arrows made from corroflute on the ground to mark out the course. Worked reasonably well, so over the next two months more pool noodles were acquired and white arrows made.

January the 3rd came around very fast, Aaron (my son) and myself set off at just before 4 in the morning to make the trip from Hawera to Matamata, arriving at 8am, in a white transit van borrowed from work. We were greeted at the site by Mike Morris and Christopher Macdonald, quickly followed by Chris Jackson (PMAC).

An FPV event requires a bit more set-up than your average flying event, after marking out the flight line and a 30 meter no-fly-zone between us and the active runway (the runway was in use all day, mainly with gyrocopters) with good old caution tape, the course was then set out. Its was basically a horse-shoe shape, 5 corners, two of which were fly-unders (a structure was set up that had to be flown under), and the course measure 65 meters by 40 meters. In total from the 15 that indicated they were attending, we had 5 pilots turn up to compete (plus me, but I had more fun organizing the show).

  • Chris Jackson (Auckland – PMAC) Nemesis Frame, 2206 motors and Naze 32 controller
  • Kim Clarke (Tauranga-TaurangaMAC) HK frame, 1704 motors, APM mini controller
  • Andrew Ferry (Hamilton – HMAC) Boks BQ250 and FPV250 frames 1806/2204 motors and Naze32 controller
  • Gareth Evans (Auckland), Spanky Frame, 1806 motors, CC3D controller
  • Chris Macdonald (Kaeo Northland) Boks BQ 250 frame, 1806 motors, Naze32 controller

Along with the 5 pilots we had in excess of 20 support crew and onlookers for the duration of the day. Kevin Foote from Hobby Hanger set up his large gazebo just behind the flightline , which was well used during the day.

Before racing commenced, we did a transmitter check, to make sure we had no interference between the pilots, all 5 were on 5.8 GHz, and as long as there was a 40 MHz separation between each transmitter, and the transmitters were kept at least 6 meters away from the pilots ,there was no interference. (Lesson number 1, keep the pilots at least 6 meters back from the flying area, and keep any powered up transmitters at least 6 meters away, any closer and you get interference). I had a chuckle that in this day of 2.4 GHz control for our models, we had to go back to a peg-board system, this time for the video gear !

We did some test flights, using coloured streamers to identify each of the racers, but this did not work, the streamers kept getting caught in the updraft and shredded, what worked was each pilot calling out their name when they passed the start/finish line.

Race length was 4 laps, and took roughly 2 minutes

Racing around the Circuit began about 11 am , and we made it thru 4 rounds quite quickly, before stopping to stretch the course out a bit. The short course worked OK, the pool noodles used as markers were not very effective, and thanks to Kevin, we borrowed 3 large flags from Hobby Hanger to mark the corners, these worked VERY well. The fly-under hoop made from dome tent fibreglass poles and pool noodles was an effective trap, knocking countless aircraft from the sky. The general feeling from the pilots that longer straights would be better, so the course was extended in length and width to 100 meters by about 70 meters. We held 6 more races (for a total of 10 for the day) , counted up the points during an informal beer back at Mikes, and crowned the winner !


Chris Macdonald (Dronewolf Productions sponsored a Craftrite Safe Case (value $50) as a prize for “most improved performance” and awarded this to Andrew Ferry ! Andrews effort around the short course in the morning ended in 4 non-finishes, but he got on form in the afternoon, winning 3 of the 6 long course races.

Chris Jackson set up an obstacle course, consisting of very tight hoops made from pool noodles – very tough to negotiate, and some props were harmed

What worked and what didn’t

  • Pool Noodles (orange) on poles to mark corners – in the very bright sun these did not work effectively, very hard to see on the video signal.
  • 3 meter teardrop flags – very effective, much easier to pick up visually
  • Large white arrows on the ground – very effective, showed up well, directing the pilot to the next corner
  • Streamers for identification of the multirotor – didn’t work, got shredded very quickly
  • Pilots calling their name out while crossing the start line worked well for lap scoring.
  • Having a spotter help the lap scorer is a must.
  • Fly-under gate 4ft high – didn’t work to well, took a lot of aircraft out of the race, or the pilots overflew. Raising to about 7ft worked a lot better.
  • Blue pool noodles marking fly-under didn’t work very well
  • 40MHz channel separation on the 5.8 GHz band is a must.
  • Keeping video transmitters 6 meters away from the receivers is a must
  • Short track 65 by 40 meters worked well, long track 100 by 70 worked better, we had closer racing and better pilot enjoyment.
  • Macdonalds at Otorohunga for breakfast and tea, overloaded the system

Written by Mathew Wellington


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