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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Inaugural Event 1st March 2015

RotorCrossNZ ,Hamilton

 Well if you hadn’t heard of, or be partly caught up in the hype surrounding mini quadcopter racing at some point in the last couple of months then you were probably taking an extended holiday on Planet X.

RotorCrossNZ was formed after the successful event held at Matamata alongside the MFNZ Nationals. Although the pilot numbers were down on those indicated, this was not the case at last weekend’s event at our own HMAC field with a huge show of interest of 20 plus pilots from around the central to upper North Island.

When you included support crew/friends/family and a good number of spectators, a good crowd and a long line of cars had formed. Light hearted comments could be heard from the crowd like…….”attack of the drones”……”we’ve been over run”….possibly thrown out there buy certain HMAC members…..aahheemm..

 

The racing was split into two classes. A spec class which places limits on motor size/kv rating (2204 / 2300kv), prop size (5″ max) and battery size (3cell / 11.1v) and an open class where anything goes.

Spec class had around 15 entries split into 3 heats and open class had around 6 entries with a single heat. Four rounds were flown on the day which consisted of 16 races lasting approx 3 min each. Heat sizes are limited to 5 or 6 pilots because that is the maximum amount of 5.8ghz video transmitters that we can get working together in the legal ISM band range before you start having issues with video overlap. The winner was the first to finish 5 laps and points allocated to the position in which you finished. If for any reason you didn’t finish the race ( 99% of the time this was a spectacular crash into the ground, course obstacle or flag ) then no points were allocated.

 

The course itself (which seemed to take an age and a half to set up) was roughly based on a figure of eight with a slalom, three  fly unders and a fly over which was above the center fly under to separate the intersecting flight paths. This course was a step up in technicality compared to Matamata and although the consensus was that it was a well designed and challenging course, it proved to be a bit much for a portion of us FPV pilots that found it hard enough to complete a lap at pace let alone finish a whole race. Many races finished with only two craft left in the air however to be fair, this is the case for most fpv racing I have seen to date, because if the course is easier then pilots just fly even faster resulting in more carnage anyway. In essence, some of us, including myself, were just not good enough, whether by lack of preparation or lack of skill or a mixture of both.

However through all this carnage, I did manage to win the only race that I finished, ending in a spectacular wipeout into the finishing line flag and emptying the guts of my mini quad across the race course. Hey…a win is a win.

Many of the top placing pilots came from Auckland (there will be payback!!!) and the over all pilot placings and allocated points are listed below. Those pilots with good points on the board are keen to head down to next weekend’s race meeting in Levin. Pilots only need points from 3 meetings to go towards the National championships (early 2016) The idea is to do 4 meetings and pick the top 3 results. Going to more meetings means you can hen peck your top 3 results from a larger pool of not so good or better ones giving the dedicated traveling pilots an advantage.

 

Round 1 Hamilton 1st March 2015 Results

SPEC CLASS

1st Stephan Knapp 100 Points
2nd Erwin Vendel 89 Points
3rd Ian Richarrdson 78 Points
4th Nathan Toia 67 Points
5th Equal Chris Jackson, Chris Dorling, Andrew Ferry 56 Points
8th Danny Steenhuisen 22 Points
9th Equal Rob Haskett, Gareth Evans, Christopher Maca, Ryan Haste, Alister Ritchie, Gary Hawkins, Mike Wilson 11 points

OPEN CLASS

1st Equal Erwin Vendel and Stephan Knapp 100 points
3rd Chris Jackson 50 Points
4th Equal Stephen Domigan, Ian Richardson, Gary Hawkins, Ryan Haste 25 Points

 

A huge amount of thanks goes out to the club for letting the group hold the event at our field, but mostly to the guys that made it happen. Matthew Wellington, the driving force behind this series and also to Kim Clark who put down his goggles and transmitter for the day to help Mathew in the relentless heat, keeping up with

and counting laps of the tiny quads zooming around the course….heat after heat…round after round….entering data into the laptop and spitting out the pilot order for the next round and any frequency changes needed….Kim pushing pilots to be ready for their next heat, checking and sorting video issues and being ready to start 5 min after the previous heat. All this demanded constant work from Matt and Kim. A huge amount of thanks goes to them for this and they did an excellent job of handling the complexities of this new type of event.

What this means though is that all pilots at some point are going to have to help in lap counting and recording though. It is too much for the same guys to be doing this every meeting, nor should they be expected to. In the future, things may possibly get easier if some kind of medium range RFID tagging system is invented/made affordable for automated lap counting.

All in all I think this was a hugely successful event and when you compare the size of the meeting to the one at Matamata, it has quadrupled in size already. One can only imagine how big this could get. But with size will also come the added complexity of running this kind of event. There seems to be a loose kind of international standard that clubs seem to be adopting and I see this being built upon hopefully to a point where all the lap counting, point scoring and pilot rostering can be automated. This will make this kind of event much more enjoyable for everyone involved. Especially the organisers…Thanks guys.

 

Andrew Ferry

HMAC Editor.

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Stampede by Mike Morris

April 12th , 2015, Far North.

in flightswarm

April 12th 2015 – At 6am I awoke to the sound of Tui’s and a dark sky, soon the sun came out slowly over the hills over to the east of us, and no wind ! (welcome relief from the last week solid of wet and windy weather) What an awesome place to wake , on the start line at the Rotorcross Stampede event in Kaeo ( far north), hosted by Christopher Maca. Chris had been working on this course since late february

track

The day quickly started with the rest of the competitors arriving mid morning (5 including me had stayed overnite) , and practice started, Mini multirotors Whizzing around an amazing track that went further than any track had been made in New Zealand yet. Wide white lines for keeping racers on track along with flags and danger tape marking the rest of the flying area, everything came together on this nice piece of land.

Pilots

Racing started at 10:30am, I was in the first race, and being new to it , quickly crashed out. The race carried on to be an awesome sight,  With Ian Richardson taking first place (and then proceded to clean up almost every race he entered !) . For the rest of the racing (10 SPEC and 5 OPEN class races)there were a few spectacular crashes , Christopher Maca managed to destroy a FPV camera, but luckily Rotorstore.co.nz  was at the event, so he could buy another. I myself had a Nice crash in my second race, where i ran full speed into a pile of fence posts, and my Mobius camera was destroyed, ,but that’s racing, The biggest crash of the day was Stephan Knapp  during the last last race. He was moving so fast when he crashed that  a carbon fibre plate snapped on his blackout frame (almost unheard of).

Hobby Trend Prizes

Prizes – A Nice RC hel i and Micro Quad as prizes were sponsored by Hobby Trend (Auckland) and brought up to the event by Mike Faulkner. Christopher Maca won the Heli, and Stephan Knapp won the micro quad. Both were picked by a random draw.

Most Improved Award IVrotor and Rotorstore

A full set (4) of T Motors were donated by IVRotor.co.nz, and  I won them for being “the most improved on the day”and was also presented with a trophy for the same, donated by  Rotorstore.co.nz .

We Also had a Professional Photographer Show up from Aerial Vision in kerikeri to take some Pictures and video for us with his gigantic S900 It was a beautiful piece of kit and something to see while it hovered around taking photos of us while we posed for them,  Both SPEC and OPEN class were a sight to behold. I am defiantly am looking forward to the next event up this way at the North Shore MAC on the 10th of May!

Article written by Mike Morris. Photos by various people who attended.

Note by Mat Wellington – this sport (FPV multirotor racing )continues to grow at a rapid pace (we have 32 pilots currently racing), this Kaeo Event was our 4th round out of about 20 being held  from March 2015 to March 2016, events happen from the far north down to the deep south. Lots of fun, lots of banter , and LOTS of flying ! You can race for fun and for points. Come and check out the action when an event is held in your area.

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