ZoeFPV.com – Coming Soon!

It’s been forever since I’ve updated this website! Hexinair.com was originally started as a pet-project to answer the majority of questions I get while flying and to help foster local community. I’ll be pushing a new site that will be dedicated to all things ZoeFPV and hopefully cataloging my various adventures a lot better than I currently am! Follow me on social media and never fear of missing out!

Social Media I’m active on:
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/zoefpv/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/zoefpv
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/zoe.stumbaugh
AirVuz: https://www.airvuz.com/user/ZoeFPV

STEM Racer Workshop – An Overview Guide

Teaching Kids how to Learn, Build, Fly, Create!

It only took a week to get kids to build their first aircraft and get it flying with their own hand built pair of goggles! Even doing flips and rolls by the end of the workshop 😀 It was over a month in the making with a lot of back-and-forth between parents to figure out the best workshop for their kids. We settled on a plan to build two 250 spec racers along with goggles for FPV. Cost a total of $400 per unit, including expensive international shipping.  Not that bad of a cost when comparing to a NanoQX FPV RTF or a new gaming console, plus all the parts are Hobby grade and can be used with other machines/configurations.

 

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Complete List of Parts Used

  • HobbyKing 250 Class Racer ARF – Pre-soldered kit with bullet connectors for a plug-and-play experince.
  • Quanum Goggle Kit – Cheap and effective, with some modifications they can be better than some of the more expensive pairs of goggles.
  • Naze32 – With it tuned correctly these machines perform extremely well. You can get them pre-soldered by Multirotor Superstore for $10
  • RC Breakout Cable – Connects the Naze32 to the Receiver
  • Receiver – Basic DSM2 receiver, worked great out to 1000+ feet and back.
  • Transmitter – OrangeTX – Full 6 channel digital transmitter.
  • Batteries JST / XT60 – Piles of 3s Batteries to keep them in the air. The Quanum goggle kit uses a XT60 connector.
  • 5×4 Propellers – Skipped the 5030 propellers and the tri blades, using the 5040 gave the crafts stable hover at mid throttle.
  • Charger – Cheap easy to use 2-3s charger that uses the balance port, great for kids.
  • Wide FOV Lens – Needed, without it the Quanum goggle kit is miserable to use.
  • Optional cage for the kit airframe.
  • Foam to mount the flight controllers to the frames.
  • Zip Ties – Zip-tie colors can be a fun way to customize your machines.
  • Launching Pad – Helpful for take-off in grass.
  • Training Quad to learn the basics of flying LOS.
  • Be prepared and have an extra frame handy. We didn’t need them but just in-case you do!

Pre-Setup

Before the build  process with the kids, I soldered & configured the flight controllers ahead of time. This way the kids wouldn’t have to do any soldering to build and fly their machines. No-soldering is a big deal, not only is it safer for younger kids, it also saves a lot of time during the build process and keeps things moving. Transmitters need to reverse Aileron and Yaw in setup to work correctly, and had to have the end points set to 120% for it to arm the flight controller. You’ll also need to use subtrim to get everything dialed in correctly.

 

Issac & Faith

Day One
The agenda for Day 1 is to get the kids familiar with the basics of multirotors plus some of the details. To do this we had a session on the training quad to go over the basics of yaw, pitch, roll, throttle, arming, disarming and safety. After all the batteries were burned on the training quad we brought the kids out to the field for a demo, showing off a race configured quacopter to get them excited to build their own. Giving them all homework to keep practicing with their training quads- best homework ever.

Safety First
The first thing each new pilot is taught is what to do in an emergency and to mentally prepare for a crash. If you’re about to crash? Cut throttle. If you can’t see where you’re going? Cut throttle. Heading towards people? Cut throttle. Craft is out of control? Cut throttle. I quizzed each kid every day about what to do in different potentially dangerous situations, mentally preparing the kids to crash at a moments notice. Also teaching them that crashing is part of the process- and that knowing how to build their own machines will mean they can also repair them. The majority of crashes happened with the quads un-powered, saving propellers and time repairing. 

 

 

Build Process

Day Two
Today is the day we get to building our machines with the kids! With the demo of day one and practice on the training quad the kids were ready to build their first FPV aircraft! It’s a good idea to take breaks with the training quad, and surprise quiz the kids on safety throughout the day until they’re responding before you can even finish asking the question ‘What do you do if-‘. Overall there’s a lot to do, and it took several hours to get it all built. During this process we took time to go over what each part does and how it works. It’s also a good idea to break this build process into two sessions.

The Build Process – Quadcopter

  • Start with building the frames from the kit- putting together the optional cage.
  • After frame assembly we attached the flight controller to the frame with a piece of vibration damping double sided foam tape. You may want to watch this video on the ins and outs of the Naze32
  • Attach the ESC’s to the frame using zip-ties
  • Connect the ESC’s to the flight controller using this diagram
  • Attach your receiver to the frame with a zip-tie
  • Connect the receiver to the flight controller using the CPPM RC Breakout cable
  • Attach the motors to the frame
  • Connect the signal wires on the motors to the esc’s, you’ll need to do a power test after completing the build  to check motor direction. To reverse a motor simply swap two of the signal wires. I put a piece of tape on the top of the motor for testing.
  • Attach the optional cage to your frame.
  • Bind the receiver to the transmitter by inserting the bind-plug in the receiver, applying power, and turning on the transmitter. It should bind after a few seconds, turn off the transmitter and receiver, take out the bind plug.
  • Test! If all motors are spinning the right way great, if not swap the ones that need it.
  • Add FPV gear, zip tie the video transmitter to the frame. The Quanum goggle kit has an easy to use power harness that plugs into the balance port of the battery.
  • Use some Velcro or 3M Dual Lock to secure the on-board camera.

Building the Goggles

  • The goggles have a fairly easy to follow step-by-step guide.
  • We used electrical tape to secure the lenses into the goggles, this allows for easy swapping out and placement of lenses.
  • Use some foam safe glue to attach it together.
  • You can attach everything to the top of the goggles, this will add weight to the front of it. It’s recommended to try and put the receiver & battery on the strap, sitting on the back of the head to equalize the weight.
  • You can cut the foam of the goggles to make them more comfortable for your head.
  • If you have a spare pair of ski-goggles around you can mod the goggles to fit more comfortably.

 

Takeoff

Day Three 
We have take-off! By the time they get to this point they’ve already practiced on the trainer and are ready to fly without much further instruction. Again covering the topics of safety and going over the basics of how to operate the aircraft. The kids were extremely excited to get in the air at this point- roshambo does wonders in settling who gets to go first.

Getting in the Air
It’s important to establish pilot-spotter communication with the kids before take-off. Explain what you mean by saying ‘forward’ and ‘backward’, establish different locations, how high they should fly, the difference between going left and turning left. Teaching them to communicate effectively with their spotter will go a long way with guaranteeing their first FPV flight will be a great one.  Set goals for their first flight- start small with a basic hover. Add in the challenge of going around an obstacle, and if you’re daring challenge them to fly over a tree.

 

 

Dronie

Day Four
At this point the kids should know everything they need to fly and to operate their aircraft and FPV equipment. They’ll have learned everything needed to start practicing on a regular basis with a spotter to direct them. Today we acclimate them to flying in a group with other people and to get more stick time and practice in.

Group Flying
The pay-off, getting to fly with others! After the workshop we got together with some local flyers for a night of fun at one of our local flying spots. The kids getting a chance to talk with other pilots about their new  hobby- all while learning tips and tricks from those that have been doing it for years.  Everyone had fun flying and crashing! It was a  great way to top off an amazing workshop with something that is so core to our hobby, flying with others 🙂

 

Pickup

“The coolest thing I’ve ever done” – Isaac, 13.
By the end of the workshop the world had a batch of fresh new pilots join the ranks of FPV flyers. Every kid had a good time, and every one of them left hungry for more time in the air. They were even doing flips & rolls by the end of it! For a first time workshop it went really well- and everyone including myself had a lot of fun! The next workshop will go a lot smoother and by that time I’ll have a fleshed out the curriculum- can’t wait to get it going!

Life’s Crazy- a Drone Nationals Debrief!

Finally emerging from the chaotic heatwave called the Drone Nationals! Wow, just wow.  I l did well all things considered and managed to have a lot of fun! Video was bad, course design kept changing, events cut short due to timing delays, lap times not recorded, transmitter issues, a gaggle of cameras adding to the pressure, and by Friday night I was suffering from heatstroke. The event had it’s issues sure, it was the first time and to be expected- none of it got in the way of showing the potential for an amazing future sport!

CBS did an interview with me that went out nation-wide. They met up with me in Santa Cruz and at the Drone Nationals
Roswell Flight Test Crew did an interview with me during one of my heats
Quartz followed me around from time to time during the event for an upcoming video
Science Friday did a short interview with me- what an honor!
CSMonitor talked with me about FPV Racing and the future of Drones.
Tested podcast briefly talked about me and my inverted capable rig. Squee!
Fusion TV followed me around for two days straight to be featured in an upcoming documentary on the future of drones. Isaac Feder, Kevin Roose, and Crew were amazing!

Special thanks to Multirotor Superstore for sponsoring me through this event- without them none of this would have been possible. 

Drones Take Over Fox40 – Promoting the 2015 US Fatshark Drone Nationals

Had a lot of fun over at Fox40 in Sacramento this past Wednesday to help promote the 2015 Fatshark US Drone National Races at the California State Fair. Scot Refsland started off the first segment explaining the basics of the US Nationals, how FPV worked, and what sorts of rigs people fly with. During the second segment the hosts were to race and we had two minutes to train the hosts on how to fly- which was an impossible task but challenge accepted. Paul had some experince flying and I was tasked with helping Mai & Bethany, who were both great sports and picked up as much as they could in a short time. The hosts started the race after a last minute change to do it Line of Sight, they all got disoriented on who was who and all heck broke loose. Was able to keep them up in the air during the segment while helping Mai get a good pass at Pandora’s Box. It was great fun, even when Paul flew one of the rigs into my hair while I was doing a demo- I didn’t even flinch and continued without a hitch:D 

Winning the AMA Sanctioned FPV Race @ Drone X Data Conference in Santa Cruz

My win of the race was covered by Medium.com, the Santa Cruz Sentinel, SFist. Since winning  a lot has happened. I’ve talked with Kextrel, Parrot, FGI, & Multirotor Superstore. Among a long list of others that attended the Drone X Data Conference. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve enjoyed talking with everyone I’ve met!  I love FPV & Mulitorotors -so this last week has been truly an experince to not forget 😀

It’s only going to get better. I’ll be flying at the California State Fair this July, more details soon.  I’ll also be at the West Coast FPV Meetup in October at the Santa Cruz Fairgrounds. Also excited to soon announce my first sponsor – with more to come! Exciting times – I’ll be able to do more of what I love for those that appreciate it. Hope to have a proper demo-reel out soon.

Hexinair will be getting a couple of updates including an expanded Resource & FAQ section & Learning to Fly FPV Guide.  I’ll also be working on a new build log for a prototype frame that’s been given to me to test out – I’ll be posting it to the Hexinair blog. It’ll hopefully be out in time for some summer racing fun on 4s!