A new challenger has appeared


Meet Napkin, my new super light FPV quad. Making it was a test of patience and my soldering skills.

Another one?

A week or so ago, I was flying Ripley with all of it’s brand new FPV gear strapped on. First of all, that was super duper fun. I then decided to shoot a gap may just a bit too small as fast as I could make the thing go. Whoops.


No big deal, though. Fixing it was just a matter of ordering a new part plus a bit of soldering, but hey, since this thing was so much fun, why not order a few extra parts and make a second one?

So that’s what I did. I ordered the lightest chassis (that wasn’t plastic) that I could find and another Pico kit for FPV and waited. This time, though, I wanted to try things out that I wasn’t willing to on Ripley. I wanted to remove the need for the second battery and I wanted the wires to be much much shorter.

Tiny soldering


In order to avoid a second battery, I needed (I think) to get a 5v step up that just converts the power fro 3 to 5v. The thing is 30% connector so I removed the connector. This means I had some seriously tiny (and somewhat frustrating) soldering to do.

Not only was the soldering there a bit maddening, but shortening other wires and connectors for the transmitter and camera ended up being a little tricky. If it’s still rocking after a few days of testing, I’ll probably make similar changes to Ripley.

The results

Version 2

I think it came out pretty nicely. It’s incredibly light. From the short tests I’ve done on it so far, it flies really nicely. Will definitely be flying as fast as possible with it this weekend.

Meet my new quad, Five


On Wednesday last week, I finally got my Vortex ready to fly. All the pieces were here. All the batteries charged. All the cameras were strapped on. It was game on to finally take the plunge and try out FPV (First Person View flying). I took Thursday and Friday off to do just that. AND IT WAS AWESOME.

Oh, and I finally decided on a name for the little quad. After much deliberation, I settled on Five named after this beautiful robot:

Getting started

Before I could get started, I had to learn a whole bunch of things. I had to learn about the batteries, how to safely parallel charge the batteries, how to set up the controller, how to operate the controller, how to set up CleanFlight, how to change propellors, how to set the channel on the goggles and quadcopter, and probably a few other things I’m forgetting. I’ll post more on those topics later. For now, let’s get to the fun stuff!

I accidentally started in Acro mode. At some point I must have switched to a more advanced profile in CleanFlight which made everything super responsive.

I also started with some brief LOS (Line Of Sight) flights to get the feel of the thing. I basically flew it back and forth a bit. Nothing crazy. I just wanted to get a feel for the weight and how it reacted. Compared to the X4, it’s a bus. A super powerful bus, but still a bus. It’s not really watchable footage so I skipped uploading it.

The next day, I did my first ever FPV flight with the goggles. It actually went really well. I didn’t have any major crashes other than one kind of hilarious bump with some branches. The biggest problem I had was landing. Even on day two and three, I had issues with landing. It’s pretty hard to see when slowing down and getting a feel for how high up the thing is can be difficult at first. Here’s a video with the hilarious branch crash and some of the less boring clips from my third day of flying:

Some helpful meetups

On Sunday, I met up with some awesome people from a FaceBook group. They both had super valuable tips for me. One of the biggest was to just slow down, fly nearby, take my goggles off, and land it via LOS flying (waaaaaay better). That was an amazing tip from Justin Barnett. Bridger also gave me a bunch of tips for flying and some propeller recommendations. We had a blast near a construction site just doing laps over an empty strip of land. Here’s some terrible footage:

Yesterday, I went and met @keyalea (she got me into this drone stuff) and Scotty (a friend of hers who had built a 250) at a fun field. I finally opened up a little and did some well executed and not-so-well executed rolls and flips. It was a blast. No major crashes, though Scotty ended up breaking a couple props. Can’t wait to do something like this again

Broken things

When flying these things, crashes are inevitable, but I haven’t had too many bad ones yet. So far I’ve only lost about 8 or 9 props and a cam (just stopped working, but will be replaced). So far, the googley eyes remain intact.

Busted chassis

Crash with a busted arm

It took about a month of dozens of pretty hard crashes to do it. there was a slow increase in the amount of cracks around the arms. The biggest cracks were on the front right arm. I noticed how bad it was a few days ago and figured it was only a matter of time until it fully broke. I had a spare chassis, so I wasn’t too worried.

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Why Robotic Sports Will One Day Rival The NFL

Football has a diehard fan base, deeply ingrained tradition, and looks incredible on giant 4k televisions. Right now, robotic sports mostly just looks cool when you watch the YouTube videos on your laptop. But the community and money is hitting a turning point. There is an opportunity to go someplace new and weird. A sport that grows up on The Internet.

Source: Why Robotic Sports Will One Day Rival The NFL

Cody makes some good points. I can’t wait to get solid enough to participate. Even if it’s a drone recreational league.

Gateway Device

This is the video that enticed my brother to buy a Hubsan X4.

I’m thinking the Hubsan X4 is a gateway device into electronics. People who’ve never soldered before are suddenly finding themselves with a smokin’ hot soldering iron in hand, balancing coiled solder and tugging on black and red wires on the circuit board in an attempt to change out motors – all to get it flying again.