The New Hampshire Techfest and the USDRA are hosting an open race event on Saturday, October 15th in Windham, NH. This is an open event any pilot with a drone can join. If you’re a new pilot or an old hand, this race promises to be a lot of fun. Last year we had an enthusiastic audience cheering from the sidelines, so come on out!
This evening I powered up my new Connex ProSight Digital HD video system for the first time. Even though this was just a bench test, it cemented my feeling that this system signalsl significant changes in FPV Racing are coming.
Virtually all hobbyist and semi-pro racers use a video system not far removed from old ‘broadcast’ television. Analog signals broadcast from a drone in the 5.8 megahertz band. These transmissions must be on their own frequency, and if another pilot turns on their transmitter nearby, and it’s on the same frequency, a pilot can lose the video signal to the drone, and thus lose control of it. At races, a significant amount of time and energy is put into making sure only pilots in their designated timeslots power on their video transmitters. Turning on a transmitter on a frequency at the wrong time is a serious breach of etiquette, and can get you removed from an event.
Even with perfect frequency management, video using the 5.8gig analog transmitters and receivers can be staticy, low resolution, and finicky.
Digital video systems have been around for a while, but they’ve been tremendously expensive, power hungry, and requiring a complex infrastructure to work. Now, it looks like the Connex folks have perfected their system to bring digital video to the hobbyist pilot.
The system, dubbed the Connex ProSight, consists of a high resolution camera, transmitter, flight controller interconnect, antenna, HD receiver, and all the appropriate cables. In our bench tests, the configuration was straightforward and the system came up already paired and ready to go.
Because the signals are digital (the same way remote control transmitters have gone all digital), it’s possible to run multiple video signals in the same space, without having them ‘step on’ each other. For events with over 5-6 pilots, this means more time can be spent flying, testing, and tinkering, and less time wrangling frequencies.
We’ll be doing a more in depth review of the Connex ProSight system soon, but our initial tests look very very promising.
The Connex ProSight system is $499, and available at ConnexHD.com
We’ve had to make some changes to the site to cut down the number of spam accounts being created… Apologies if folks have been getting any noise from the automated postings by these bots. Hopefully the new captchas will help stop the bot traffic.
Our partner site, Drone Racing life published an article USDRA Chairman Dave Shevett wrote regarding the AMA. Folks should check it out, it’s good stuff…
Eventually, the drone pilots and the AMA started talking to each other, and realized everyone was on the same side. All it took was an understanding that enthusiasts and builders want to have fun and be safe. It soon came clear is there was a common cause for both the AMA and the new drone community. The public, the press, and the government were all forming their own ideas about what our hobby was about, and the ‘risks’ they saw with it, and in our eyes… it didn’t match with what we all knew.
The FAA has released the final draft on the “part 107” rule set for drones and unattended aircraft.
The important part for most drone racers / enthusiasts is this:
Part 107 will not apply to model aircraft. Model aircraft operators must continue to satisfy all the criteria specified in Section 336 of Public Law 112-95 (PDF) (which will now be codified in Part 101), including the stipulation they be operated only for hobby or recreational purposes.
The included Section part 336 there is important, as that is what the AMA and other model aircraft enthusiasts settled in as ‘established law’ regarding remote control aircraft. This ruling, at least by our reading, seems to set things back where they were before the discussions started up again, which is good news.
This video is circulating in the FPV Racing community, and should be required viewing for anyone considering flying in a public space…
A group of FPV pilots were flying at an AMA RC field after a race. One fellows quad lost signal and did what it was supposed to do – dropped to the ground. Unfortunately, a woman walking nearby decided she had been ‘attacked’ by the drone and almost killed, so she stole the drone and tried to hide it from the pilots. The pilots had an RSSI fix on the drone, so they knew she was carrying it. She became argumentative, combative, and ultimately hysterical, threatening the pilots.
The GoPro was running the entire time, and recorded what happened.
Without this recording, it would be the pilots word against her. But even without this, this is the world all pilots must understand we’re living in. People distrust drones, and have unreasoning hatred toward them. Pilots must understand that people will lie to our faces, steal our equipment, and attack us, no matter how careful we are.
These pilots did exactly the right thing. Remained calm, recorded everything, did not threaten or confront other than wanting their equipment back. They brought in the police who immediately understood the woman was not being reasonable, and the encounter ended peacefully.
Remember – people are people. No matter how in the wrong they may be, do not argue, do not confront, and make sure you’re covered. Before flying in any area, no matter how ‘safe’ it may seem, make sure you have your AMA membership, FCC registration, and understand all the flight restrictions and permitting that are applicable.
And always, when the opportunity arises, educate. Talk with people, show them what we’re doing. Nine times out of ten, one experience with FPV goggles will do far more than an argument shouted across a park will ever do.