I get so little time to do anything with Red20RC these days and my flying has suffered as well. It’s time to get both sorted!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done a LOT of building over the past year and I’ve even done a fair bit of flying. There is even some video footage in the can. But here’s the thing:

  1. Most of my builds have been private contract stuff or payload projects
  2. A lot of the flying has been commercial UAV flights
  3. The videos are all secret squirrel concept stuff and I can’t show you them yet 🙁

There will be a lot more coming about my adventures with the big boys’ toys in the future but that isn’t what this post is all about. With less time available for “fun” flying, I was finding that my skills were diminishing and my enjoyment of the hobby along with it.

Despite a love of anything fixed wing, most of my flying these days is multirotor orientated because it is so much easier to find space to fly them. But every time I headed out with a few new shiny frames I inevitably came back with a pile of broken bits and a hefty repair bill.

Now I know some of you will be saying “crashing is part of flying and you can’t get better without the odd mishap”, and I totally agree with that. The problem is that when EVERY trip ends early and you have to find another pile of cash and time to get airborne again, it is all too easy to put it in the “too-hard basket” and give up.

Back to basics…

Following a recent surgery on my jaw, I took a few days to clean up the workshop and office. In the back of a cupboard I found several unopened FPV250 frames from HobbyKing. I remembered that way back at the start, when I built the FPV250L as my first miniquad, I had inadvertently ordered 4 or 5 spares instead of just 1. On top of these was another built up frame with KK2.1 board still mounted inside!

I turned it over in my hands: X-frame layout, light, strong, compact centre section, belly mounted battery… It was a $2.50 5 inch racing frame!

I decided there and then that I had to get one of these flying again, but it had to be done cheaply.

I had an old Naze32 in the box and found some cheap ESCs on Nemo’s and even cheaper motors on HobbyKing. I drew up an adaptor to fit the Naze in place of the KK2.1 that the frame was designed around and 3D printed it in no time at all. The tiny little ESCs fitted neatly in the underside of the arms and I even printed some covers for them.

With a small PDB under the FC this was turning into a very tidy little build!

At first I didn’t even fit any FPV gear. I didn’t have anything that would fit at first and I wanted to try some line-of-site flying so I attached some LED strips to the arms and we were just about ready to go.

Another change I made recently was to buy one of those fantastic little Turnigy Evo radios. Yes, even I have upgraded my Taranis with M9 gimbals, but the Evo is so nice in the hand and so easy to use! The only downside is the size of the standard receivers. I have a few of the tiny ones but their performance just isn’t that good.

Angle mode engage!

When most of your commercial flying involves aircraft that cost upwards of $100k (and a lot more in some cases), you get used to all the stabilization and autopilot stuff. Flying in Rate then is just no longer a natural feel for me and I am used to having to keep the stick forward to fly forward!

For this reason I chose to keep this build in Angle mode (or Horizon if I wanted to do some flips). With the latest BetaFlight on board hardly any tuning was required and it flies like a charm.

I soon tired of just LOS flight though so the recent acquisition of a 200mw “Tiny Whoop” style all-in-one camera and VTx made the FPV conversion very quick and easy.

Finally, some air time!

So, for around $100 I’ve ended up with a fun little quad that I’m not scared to fly. When I head to the park for a session the carbon stays in the boot, the 4S Graphene’s stay charged and I burn through a pile of Multistar 3S packs with a big grin on my face.

I find I’m already flying faster and with more control than ever. I’m hitting gaps, avoiding mistakes and generally flying better than before. What’s more, at the end of a session I go home with my toys (and pride) intact, ready to go again another day.

So why not ditch the carbon, embrace the plastic and let the computer help out a little?