FPV TinyHawk Pilot - Krzysztof Jankowski

Each day with a grounded drone is a lost opportunity to be a better pilot.
Follow my progress and keep motivated to learn.

About me

Krzzysztof Jankowski with TinyHawk drone

My name is Krzysztof Jankowski. I am known on the web as w84death.

I'm a web and game developer and 3D artist. In 2020 I discovered drone racing and a very small vehicles known as Micro Air Vehicle. The new hobby begins

I started with DJI Tello but it was more of a flying camera. Then I got TinyHawk RTF combo and started FPV flying. Since then I'm addicted and the concept took me by storm. I just love to fly. I'm a big fan of TinyHawk... drones.

Flying FPV in Acro mode is not an easy task. But learning to master it is very satisfying. I created this page to document my progress. I hope it will make you interested in the hobby and keep motivated to keep learning.

My Gear

I started with just a Emax TinyHawk RTF combo with 1 battery :) And I still recommend this as a best starting point.
But over time I changed the gear with upgraded parts.

Essentials

Other

Planned

Project Falco

Project Falco Poster

Bring new life and awesome look to the TinyHawk drone using custom 3D printed frame and canopy.
Grab free STL and Blender files for your drone.

Go to dedicated page about Project Falco

FPV Playground

Project FPV Playground Poster

>Small set of 3D printable tiny tabletop drone racing track. Tiny gates, pylons flags and drones. Plan your racetrack at the desk.

Go to dedicated page about FPV Playground

Micro blog

My thoughts of micro, racing, whoop drones. Some tips&tricks. Stuff I never think of before starting the hobby. Anything I discovered and want to share.

New articles are on the left. Scroll right for archive.

│ POCKET GUIDE TO FPV DRONES
│
└──[ Sunday, September 20, 2020

Table of Content

    - Introduction
    - Drone classes
    - Hardware you need
    - The skill levels
    - Flying
    - The cool parts
    - Bottom line


INTRODUCTION

    I become addicted to flying a drone at the beginning of 2020. I like the 
    idea since the first DJI showed in the news years ago. It was very expensive 
    and big. But prices go down and the drones become smaller and just easier to 
    use. They are all designed for videography. And it's cool when you travel a 
    lot and visit awesome sites. But when you live in a city like me a classic 
    drone is hardly usable. An now we are facing the restrictions that will 
    prevent ppl from flying them over the other ppl. I also don't travel that 
    much. For those reasons I never bought one. I wanted it as anyone but don't 
    have a real reason to use it.

    That time I did not know anything about custom drones. They are made mostly 
    for racing. Hence the name that sticks to them. And those are way more 
    interesting. Technologyimprove to the level that racing drones become very 
    small and cheap. I watched a few videos[1] how ppl racing in the coffeeshop 
    under tables and chairs and over lamps under the ceiling. This looked 
    amazing. The best part was the live video feed in goggles. I was ready to 
    buy my first starter kit - EMAX TinyHawk RTF.

    China's delivery took some time. But it finally arrived and I was super 
    excited. Flying a racing drone is way different and harder than flying DJI 
    type of doing. So the first days were constant crashes and learning how to 
    not hit the ceiling right after takeoff. After a week the first challenge
    was to fly from room to room. It seems like an easy task but it's not for 
    a new pilot. And that's the whole point. I was hooked because it requires 
    leaning and rewards you at every step. And there is a lot to learn and a 
    hell lot of steps to take.

    [1] https://youtu.be/jnXgoRxyVqU

DRONE CLASSES / GROUPS

    Racing drones are mostly known for those big and dangerous beasts that 
    require a big chunk of a battery. In reality, all our hobby drones are micro 
    drones. The normal-sized drone is a military airplane that just doesn't have 
    a pilot in it. This micro category is divided into drone classes. Those are 
    invented by the community and have loosely defined definitions. But that's 
    fine. It is just to make life easier for discussions and finding information 
    about the given drone family.

    The most common is the "5-inch" class. Maybe also named "6s". One says about
    propellers size other about the battery cells count. Big drones need big 
    batteries. Those are packed in a series of cells. As I mentioned those quads 
    are very dangerous. Putting a finger in the rotating blades will cut it in a 
    split second. What you gain is speed and power to have a GoPro mounted on 
    them. With bigger antennas and better electronics range is also wider. They 
    are not cheap and require a lot of manual maintenance. Not for a newbie.

    Another group of drones is named "Toothipics". These measure around 3" and 
    runs on 2-3s batteries. They are way smaller and lighter. Are easy to carry 
    around. Still powerful to do all kinds of tricks. But instead of GoPro, all 
    they can have is a tiny Insta360 Go. Most pilots do not use the second 
    camera as those are mostly for training and freestyle in the backyard or a 
    park. The name was given by a kebabfpv[2] who first build such a quad.

    Third, the smallest class is known as "Whoop". From a TinyWhoop[3] drone 
    invented by Jesse Perkins[3]. For some time it was the only such small quad. 
    It was very cheap and safe to fly over people. Now there are many more to 
    choose and everyone hijacked this name as a new category. This is the best 
    choice for a first FPV drone. There are many ready to fly (RTF) packs for a 
    relatively low price to choose like EMAX TinyHawk. They run on 1s batteries. 
    This makes them unpowered. For flying in very tight terrain as an apartment, 
    it's exactly the idea. This also helps new pilots get used to flying. You 
    can fly outside but it will be not good for many tricks and wind will become 
    a problem. But it is still super fun at the beginning.

    [2] https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4yjtLpqFmlVncUFExoVjiQ
    [3] https://www.tinywhoop.com/

HARDWARE YOU NEED

    To fly FPV Drones you need three basic components: a drone, radio 
    controller, and a pair of goggles. Also batteries for all of them, spare 
    propeller, etc. But those main three are the most essential. You'll swap 
    batteries or propellers a lot but stick with the goggles and radio for a 
    long time.

    The drone part is obvious. But the other to are mostly ignored by the 
    regular people. And those are as important as the drone itself.
    
    Most cheap video drones use your phone/tablet as a steering device. Touch 
    screens are the worst thing to use for super-precise steering. What you need 
    is a (very) good manual controller. Each controller has two sticks and 
    operates in mode 2 - left stick controls yaw and throttle, right roll, and 
    pitch. Those are the most important parts. If there is an option, take one 
    that uses HAL sensors. Some Chinese controllers are not that expensive and 
    use HAL sensors like Jumper T12[4] or T18. I highly recommend them. Using a 
    cheaper, toy-like controller will result in bad flying. This is the first 
    upgrade you should make.

    Goggles are your virtual eyes. You can fly without them in LOS (Line Of 
    Sight). It means flying around you as far as you can clearly see the drone. 
    It's still fun to do but it's nothing compared to the FPV with goggles on 
    your head. Professional goggles are very, very expensive. It's the most 
    expensive part of the FPV hobby. But there are cheaper options. What's the 
    difference between them? Mostly ergonomics and features. I personally still 
    use cheap box goggles[5] that are big and bulky without andy DVR on board. 
    But the video quality is basically the same as it's all analog PAL/NTSC. You 
    can't go higher than that. Start with cheap ones and upgrade when you're 
    ready to dive into the hobby. 

    [4] https://www.jumper-rc.com/products/transmitters/t12-pro-hall/
    [5] https://emax-usa.com/products/emax-transporter-fpv-goggles

THE SKILL LEVELS

    I invented the 5-level hierarchy for a typical drone pilot. From complete 
    noob to a pro licensed sports star.

    Level 0
    You don't know anything about the drones. You know they exist and can fly. 
    You have all the hardware, the quad is ready to fly. You crash each time 
    seconds after takeoff. You need to learn everything.

    Level 1
    You fly in stab/horizon mode. Indoors. You can takeoff a hoover for some 
    time and move around a little bit. You crash after few seconds after 
    finishing any maneuver.

    Level 2
    You fly in stab/horizon mode. Indoors. You can fly from room to room and get 
    back. It takes time but you can avoid crashes on known paths. You learned 
    the knowledge of moving the sticks very delicately and don't panic when 
    something goes out of plan. You repaired your drone (physically).

    Level 3
    You fly in stab/horizon mode. Indoors and outdoors. You go outside and can 
    fly around the trees. You crash a few times per pack. You rescued a crashed 
    drone from the tree using turtle mode. You squashed the last juice from the 
    first battery packs and needed a replacement.

    Level 4
    You fly in air/rate mode. Mostly outdoors. You learned the rate mode and a 
    few basic tricks. You crash once a few packs. You can hit a small gap in a 
    tree. You own more than one drone. You know exactly what each part of the 
    drone works and what upgrades/replacements you want to do. You killed at 
    last one quad.

    Level 5
    You fly in air/rate mode. Mostly outdoors. You start in a race. You practice 
    individual tricks. You start to train racing. You place gates on the grass. 
    You were on at last one race with prizes.

    This is the last level as you can only be better at anything you already 
    learned. There is no new type of skill to acquire. You spend another 90% of 
    the time to become a master.

FLYING

    Keeping the quadcopter in the air and steering it is a very difficult task. 
    That's why almost all the drones are driven by computers. Especially the 
    commercial like DJI is making. It needs to be easy and safe to fly. They 
    have many sensors and systems for obstacle avoidance. Pilots do not steer 
    the engines. The pilot gives orders to the drone computer that he wants to 
    fly forward with a given speed, take a turn or stop. Stopping is 
    particularly important because it's way harder than most peoples imagine.

    Racing quads works a little differently. There is still a computer that runs 
    all the motors but there is little help. The pilot is deciding how much and 
    how fast the drone should rotate in a given axis. In reality, there is not 
    even a "forward" nor "stop" action. It's just a pitch rotation.

    Example. As a pilot you push the stick forward, wait for a second and go 
    back to the center. A computer-guided drone will fly forward by pitching 
    down and increase the throttle. Then after that second it will pitch up, use 
    the throttle to slow the forward movement, and then pitch to the horizon and 
    adjust the throttle to hover. Racing drones will pitch down and the drone 
    will fly forward but also decrease altitude. There is no stopping so it will 
    just pitch back and drift.

    If you understand that difference now we can get back to the most important 
    thing. Racing quads have two modes to control those axis rotations.

    Horizon / Stab mode
    In this mode stick movement control how much rotate the aircraft. Exactly as 
    in the example. If the pilot moves the stick in some direction the drone 
    will rotate the same amount. When the stick is centered the drone will also 
    center. Another benefit of this mode is that the computer helps with keeping 
    the drone aligned with the horizon. That way it's easier to fly and it is 
    used mostly for indoor flying. But this is very limiting.

    Acro / Rate / Normal mode
    This mode is where the fun begins. It's super hard to learn at first. It's 
    just so different that our brain needs to get used to it. But when it does 
    it's the most freedom and smooth way to fly. So what's all about it? The 
    stick positions define how fast should quad rotates ina given axis. There is 
    zero assistance from the computer. 
    
    For example, you do not keep the stick forward to fly forward it will just 
    keep the drone rotating - pitching slow or fast. Pushing the stick fully 
    forward and keeping it in that position will result in 360 rolls. Until it 
    crashes. To move forward you move the stick a little bit and go back to the 
    center. This way the drone will pitch a little bit and stay that way. You 
    also need to add throttle to not hit the ground. With the right amount of 
    throttle, it will fly forward with too much it will fly up and forward. And 
    it will do this until you correct position by moving the stick back the same 
    amount to pitch back. But if the craft gets the momentum it will drift 
    forward for some time. To really stop it you need to pitch up to use engine 
    force to slow and then in the right moment pitch down to the horizon. If you 
    do this too late it will start to fly backward... It does not feel like fun 
    and it is definitely not for a beginner.

    In both modes the throttle management works the same way - just changes the 
    motors speed. In commercial drones, this stick controls the altitude of the 
    craft.

THE COOL PARTS

    As you can see flying racing drones is fun and challenging at the same time. 
    Using small whoop you can explore your apartment like never before. See it 
    from the view of a fly. Build tracks from household stuff like chairs and 
    cardboard boxes. Then taking it outside to the garden or near the park is 
    another level of excitement. Racing between trees and branches, chasing 
    birds, looking at the neighborhood from above. Looking at yourself from all 
    angles.
    
    Finally when you learn acro mode and just start to "feel" the aircraft. Then 
    you become free. The pure feeling of flying whenever you want at any angle
     or speed. 
    
    You are only blocked by your own reflex and skills.

    To this day I love to just go in the air and fly around. Without any tricks, 
    hitting small gaps, or trying to get the fastest lap. Just be there and fly 
    like a bird. For me, it is an act of meditation. It's hard to describe to 
    someone who never experiences it. Looking at videos and flying yourself in 
    the area you think you know very well is on another level.
    
    Know what OOBE (Out Of Body Experience) is? Well, FPV is just like that. 
    You can look at yourself and just fly in places you'll never be able to be. 
    I think this is why it's so addicting.

    Not that important but still a perk is just a fact that you have a drone. 
    For many people, it will be a status symbol. Definitely a cool gadget. 
    Strangers stop nearby when I'm flying just to look and comment. And kids 
    love this stuff. When wearing a goggle with pointing antennas and a big 
    radio controller with many switches you look like form dystopian cyberpunk 
    future.


BOTTOM LINE

    There is fun and all. But it's also a good exercise for your mind. You will 
    sharpen your reaction time, spatial awareness, and being calm in stressful 
    situations. In the beginning, you will lack all of those and crash. Training 
    FPV is literally training your brain. You will exceed those skills thanks to 
    this hobby. It will help you on the road while biking or driving.

    Training outside will force you to take fresh air and find new exciting 
    places to fly. For me, it's a reason to leave the apartment. Each journey 
    now a quest to find that perfect spot to ripp. If you're like me and like to 
    spend a lot of time behind the computer everything that encourages me to
     move is a good thing.

    I hope I interested you and soon you'll be in the air :)

    Happy flying!
│ UPDATE YOUR SOFTWARE
│
└──[ Sunday, July 19, 2020

Rescently I got strange problems with TX on my quad. It failsafe withoud any 
reasons randomely during flight. I tried different antenna angles, calibrated 
the radio few times. Nothing helps.

Lastly I started to update the OpenTX[1] in Jumper T12 Pro and its 
multiprotocol[2] firmware. I also change the boot image with an image of 
the TinyHawk[3]. Just for fun.

Today I go for my usual "3 packs a day" training. And don't get a single 
failsafe. The reception was also more stable.

Update your software!

[1] https://www.open-tx.org/downloads
[2] https://downloads.multi-module.org/
[3] https://krzysztofjankowski.com/fpv/img/openTX_boot.png
│ SKILLS YOU LEARN FROM FPV 
│
└──[ July 4, 2020

Flying micro drones is fun. It can be beneficial for your brain also.
Training FPV flying makes you better in reaction time, fast decision-making 
planning, taming stress, orientation, and some electronics.

Reaction time combined with fast decision making is defining a good pilot. 
Flying at high speed between obstacles there is just no room for thinking. 
Decisions must be made instantaneous. And if the decision was bad or delayed 
it's a crash. And it's not that easy as just not hitting a tree in front of you. 
After that maneuver, there's probably more trees. Deciding how to fly over it 
you need to also think about what will be the next step. There just needs to be 
a space to continue the flight. Saving one hit to just hit something second 
after that is not good. And without this planning, it will end with chaotic 
avoidance one after another. You need to think of all of those possible paths 
and choose one that is a smooth, curved, and safe one.

And when you choose purely you need to correct that fast. Stress will run high. 
It's that moment when you can lose it and start to move the sticks all over the 
place. It always ends in a crash. With more experience, it becomes easier to not 
panic and just barely corrects the flight path.

Another cool thing that eventually becomes unconscious is to always remember 
your orientation in space around. Where the quad is, where are the key points 
of the path you chose and where you are as a pilot. You need those to keep the 
radio signal connected. Flying over that concrete building may end up in losing 
connection and crash. But this is an easy example. In the park you have trees. 
One tree will not make a difference. But when between you and the craft the 
number of trees increases it can be a problem. And when something happens, and 
it will happen for sure, and you crash you need to know where it was for a 
rescue mission. Everything looks different from above. You need to know the 
place you're flying. Keeping track of some distinguishing features of the 
terrain. Like a big tree, some house, you in the middle of a field. All those 
things that will make it easier to map in your brain where the drone is at 
the moment and where it is heading.

The drone will break eventually. You'll brake the antenna or motor. I learn a 
lot about antennas, why it needs to be exactly that long how to solder it 
correctly. Soldering alone will be the first skill you learn. How to handle 
lipo batteries. And many other little things about electronics, physics, 
and safety.

I think that all of those things are very useful in life overall. And learning 
them from such a fun hobby is a great opportunity. It won't be easy but it will 
be a well spend time.
│ TINYHAWK II RACE FIRST DAY IMPRESSIONS
│
└──[ Monday, June 15, 2020

Waiting is over - I got the TinyHawk II Race! My dream quad. Huge thanks to 
Joshua Bradwell for this awesome gift.

First impressions of the drone are overwhelmingly positive. I fly 6 packs 
already outside. And one pack at home. This is an outdoor beast.

This TinyHawk looks amazing. For me, it's the most beautiful drone out there. 
It's small and light yet extremely rugged. The frame is made of carbon fiber
 and the drone came equipped with Avan propellers. I still did not break any 
 on the classic TinyHawk. Those in the newest are even stronger.

Video quality thanks to Runcam 2 is also a huge improvement. It's bright and 
sharp. It has a good dynamic range. On top of that, the link is stronger and 
more stable.

But the Race would not be named that without a reason. The motors are top-notch. 
They are super quiet and have this nice low pitch sound. It's not like a 
mosquito as the drones just to sound but more of humming from a rack server.
The drone is super fast. At last for me. Even if I don't fly that fast it's 
important when I need this speed to escape some potential crash. It also helps 
with diving from high altitude. I have no problems avoiding hitting the ground.

With my slow, cine like flying I got around 6min for each 2s pack (2x1s). 
That's almost twice what I'm just too. I saw a lot of negativity against Emax's 
decision to make it double 1s battery instead of one 2s. But I'm glad they 
did that. I have now 3 packs for my new drone without buying any new battery. 
All the TinyHawks are using the same 1s batts. I don't see any problems with 
that.

Last but not least is the tune of this quad. It is just perfect. I didn't need 
to change anything. It flys superb out of the box (using second profile).

That's enough for a first impression. I'm very happy :)
│ ORQA SKYDIVE SIMULATOR
│
└──[ Wednesday, June 10, 2020

I once played the ORQA SkyDive simulator[1] on the day it went live (as a 
preview). I could not fly at all. The quad flew very strangely and 
uncontrollable. I was disappointed and forget about it.

A few days ago I heard about an update. It includes two very important fixes:
- 4s default quad (from 6s)
- new improved physics

Now I was impressed by how good the simulator works. And I think it's my 
new favorite sim!

1. Good Physics
Physics are on pair with DRL Sim. Dron feels controllable. It's still too 
powerful and big for me but closer to usable. In no time I was able to rip 
those bando sites. It is a construction site but I imagine it's abandoned.
I have a few favorite spots on that map good for training. For now on I don't 
need anything more.

2. Runs on IBM x3570 Server
I have a 40" NEC monitor hooked up to the IBM server. It's part media center 
part web/cloud host. It has 2x Quadro nVidia cards and 16GB of ram. And a lot 
of CPUs on top of that. I was very happy that Orqa.SkyDive runs so smoothly. 
I changed the resolution to something around 980p. I have half of that in real 
life FPV feed :) It's more than enough. Now I can sit on the couch and practice 
on a big screen [2].

3. Fast. Good and Free
What's sums it's all is that the simulator just works. Windows, Linux. It 
recognized my Jumper T12 (as a Taranis) and I was able to set it with no 
problems. The time form clicking play in Steam app to flying in the virtual 
sky is short. Significantly shorter than DRL. No bullshit videos and 
complicated menus. Just a few seconds of loading screen and a fly now button. 
Also, no intro showcasing the level. It gets straight to flying. I like that.

Ah, and it's free. As for now at last.

[1] https://skydive.orqafpv.com/
[2] https://krzysztofjankowski.com/fpv/photos/orqa.skydive.jpg
│ JUNE UPDATE
│
└──[ Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Since last weeks many things have changed. Covid is practycaly over. I can go 
to the park to lay on the hammock without any problem. On the other hand my 
resurrected TinyHawk broke agan. This time it's more serious - one of the ESC 
is not giving enough power to the motor. It's not quite dead but this makes 
the quad unstable and unable to use full power of all four engines.

In the mine time I started dedicated page for 3d printed parts for TinyHawk 
electronics as a Project Falco[1]. I designed new canopy. It is quite heavy 
so after few tests I made a super light alternative. But that was the moment 
that ESC broke and the project is on hold. I need to buy new FC.

Another project I started is FPV Playground[2]. It is a small set of 3D 
printable tabletop props for drone racing. Tiny gates, flags and drones. 
You can use the set to Plan your race track ahead. Or give it to a kid to spark
 the inspiration to become a fpv pilot in the future. Overall fun staff.

I'm still waiting for the new drone but it's very close. Few days remaining!


[1] https://krzysztofjankowski.com/falco
[2] https://krzysztofjankowski.com/fpvplayground
TINYHAWK RESURRECTED THE STORY
------------------------------
Thursday, May 14, 2020

EMAX TinyHawk is my problem child. It is a perfect drone for beginners. I began
 my hobby with zero knowledge about drones. TinyHawk forced me to learn how to 
 repair, maintain, and rebuild it. I want to tell the story of that process.

The first thing I learned was to check motors. If they rotate not smoothly it 
means there is some dirt - in most cases hairs. Taking them from the bottom is 
quite easy but requires unscrewing the motor form the frame. To make it easier 
I always unplugged the whole engine from the mainboard and work on it 
separately. Then those hairs got winded up and clogged inside. This was harder 
to get out as I needed to disassemble [1] the whole motor.

Turns out those plugs in the mainboard are the most failing thing in the whole 
drone. It's a known problem. They got loose and stops giving power. After some 
time mine got broken one after another. The solution to this problem is not that 
easy. At first, it's just a matter of pushing the cables by hand and it works 
again. But it's not a permanent solution. The day came and TinyHawk was grounded.
 To fix that I needed to solder the wires straight to the mainboard.

The frame and canopy are not designed to have fixed wires. It is impossible to 
solder wires and then put the frame and canopy or to solder while the drone is 
assembled. I decided I need a new frame. Helpfully someone made one and upload 
it to the Thingiverse. I printed it.
This way I now have a TinyHawk on a completely customized frame. And it's a way 
nicer frame. It's now looking more like a toothpick than a whoop[2].

Back to the soldering motor wires. I only have an old soldering iron that is way
 too big for the small spots. But after some try and error I manage to attach 
 motor wires. Some first test flights ended up each time with some broken 
 joints. But after resoldering them so many times I learned how to do it 
 properly and now they surviving most crashes.

The battery holder was another thing I removed. I printed a small piece of 
plastic that holds a velcro strap and also has landing gear. Replacing the 
battery is way easier now. And the landing gear - straight legs provide an 
easy way for the drone to lift off. 

Then the antenna bends in the middle making the reception way worse. I started 
to get the RX connection losses. I needed to fix that. I know nothing about 
antennas. This page [1] was very helpful. I took antenna from the original 
radio transmitter (from RTF combo) and welded it to the drone. Now the 
reception is fine again.

On one of the training sessions in the park I hit the tree and the drone 
crashed in a small pond. The frame broke, one of the props get lost and the 
electronics were flooded [3]. I get home as soon as possible and put the 
TinyHawk into the rice [4]. I printed the new frame and reassembled everything 
on it. The drone works again.

I learned how to solder small cables, why antennas have a particular length, 
how to make good and strong modifications and upgrades to the frame. I did not 
surrender and keep my drone working [5] :)

[1] https://krzysztofjankowski.com/fpv/photos/IMG_20200411_122029.jpg
[2] https://krzysztofjankowski.com/fpv/photos/IMG_20200508_095426.jpg
[3] https://krzysztofjankowski.com/fpv/photos/IMG_20200514_123153~2.jpg
[4] https://krzysztofjankowski.com/fpv/photos/IMG_20200514_125203~2.jpg
[5] https://krzysztofjankowski.com/fpv/photos/IMG_20200516_110956~2.jpg
ACRO VS ANGLE MODES
---------------------
Tuesday, May 12, 2020

I write in the last post how the Angle mode is the ultimate answer. I want to 
correct that.

Flying outside where you have unlimited space. Most of it is empty. Acro mode 
is so much fun and freedom. But doing the same indoor. Especially in a super 
small apartment trying to hit that gap between the chair and the flower next 
to it. In this environment Angle mode is your friend.

It's not true that using one mode will make you forget the other or make it 
harder to learn. From the time I learned Acro I become much better at Angle. 
I learned to move the sticks very jently. 

Long story short, use the modes according to the situation your in.
Acro Mode (air) outdoor, Angle Mode (stab) indoor.
FIRST ACRO FLIGHT IRL
---------------------
Saturday, May 9, 2020

During a time when my drone was grounded I started to learn Acro mode. Till now 
I only fly in Angle and Horizon modes. Learning Acro in real life using a real 
drone was too hard and too strange to me. And I didn't get it.

I spend 13 hours in Drone Racing League Sim flying only Acro. At first, it was 
super hard but after a few hours I was able to fly with some comfort and after 
a few days I finally get the idea. Soon I was able to race against time. I even 
beat my scores on easy tracks. All nice but how this translate to the real 
drone?

After three weeks I got a working drone again. I get the spare motor, soldered 
all wires to the board, 3D printed new frame, and was ready to go outside. 
I paired for the first time my new controller (Jumper T12 Pro) and switched 
to the Acro mode.

It flew like a bird! I was surprised by how good I am in this mode. The new 
controller makes a huge difference in steering. It's a must-have if you want 
to make progress. As of the Acro mode it gives me that connection to the drone 
everyone was talking about. Now I get it.

That saying I still think it's better to start flying in Horizon/Angle and get 
used to all the other things like looking at the battery, localizing yourself 
in the environment, don't get lost, etc. But forcing yourself in a simulator 
to learn Acro is very good practice.

Acro mode is the ultimate goal.
DRL SIM IS MY NEW ADDICTION!
----------------------------
Sunday, April 26, 2020

I started using simulators with FPV FreeRider[1]. It's very nice for its price 
but overall to simple. Then I bought an official simulator from Drone Racing 
League[2]. The DRL Simulator is available on Steam[3] for ~$9 (I paid 35,99PLN).
 With mixed feelings at the start after a few hours with it I got hooked for 
 good.

The first flys with it were complete failures. Physics are super realistic and 
it's hard to get used to. I chose 3" class as this is one step up from 
TinyWhoops and easiest to fly. I couldn't hit any gates nor made a lap without 
constantly crashing. That was a hard realization after getting quite good at 
the FreeRider sim. But I played more and try to get the feeling off the new 
quad.

After just 5 hours with the sim I could fly around over the trees and hit bigger
 gates. I get used to the weight of the drone - turning or stopping when you 
 gain the speed is super hard for beginners.

The next logical step was to take some racing practice. I started with the 
easiest and short track. It reassembles an 8 number. With two wide curves and 
big gates. After the first finished race I got the information that I'm 350-ish 
on the leaderboard. That was a very bad run just first I got finished. Then 
after a few tries later I got to the 155th spot! It was that moment when I 
decided to get to the top 100th place. Race after race I got better. Crashed a 
lot after being too aggressive on the curves or just missed the gate. In the 
end I secured 105th place. It was too late at that moment to try harder but I 
still was quite happy with the results. It was my first racing experience. 
That leaderboard and constantly trying to be better, finish the race faster 
by a second. This experience sold me a DRL simulator.

There are also awesome freestyle maps. Real-life and futuristic. Easy and 
capable editor to put props exactly as you want. A lot of maps created by the 
community. Lastly the exact same tracks that pro pilots fly at competitions! 

UPDATE: Next evening I got back to that track. After few tryouts I finally 
got to the #98th place! :)

[1] https://fpv-freerider.itch.io/fpv-freerider
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drone_Racing_League
[3] https://store.steampowered.com/app/641780/
SIMULATOR - LEARNING OFFLINE
----------------------------
Thursday, April 23, 2020

I never used a simulator before because I did not have a radio transmitter that 
could be connected to the PC. But now as I upgraded to the Jumper T12 I can.

I broke my TinyHawk and don't have any working drones at the moment. And As I 
always saying: each day with a grounded drone is a lost opportunity to be a 
better pilot. To not lose those days till I get TH2 Racer I decided to use a 
simulator. The FPV FreeRider[1] is my choice. It's cheap, works fine, and 
simulates physics very realistic.

I also never fly in acro mode before. Only angle and recently horizont. So why 
not use this time to learn acro the easy way, not hurting the drone? That's how 
I began to love the simulator. 
I follow the "How To Fly A FPV Quadcopter / Racing Drone"[2] by Joshua Bardwell 
and start learning acro.

After 30 min I get the idea and can fly around some trees. After 4 hours I was 
able to fly in the parking lot and thru towers! I'm still making a lot of 
mistakes and don't feel comfortable in small spaces. But looking at the rate of 
crashes I will be a nightmare to learn in real life.

I don't know yet how this will translate to flying a real drone but based on 
comments it should be fine. That's why I now highly recommend buying a good 
radio and using a simulator a lot for any new pilots.

[1] https://fpv-freerider.itch.io/fpv-freerider
[2] https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwoDb7WF6c8kjYXam4m3msvRbkORU41GY
BEGINNER TIPS #1    
------------------------
Saturday, April 18, 2020

If you're a beginner you should always have those simple tips in the back of 
your head.

1. Never fly over other peoples, crowds or private possessions.
2. Buy a DVR equipment and record each fly. If you lost your drone you can 
look at the recording and figure out where it was last in the air.
3. Enable turtle mode if you can! It **will** saves you from many dead-end 
situations like drone stuck in the tree.
4. Get familiar with your spot and pay attention to the places where the wind 
always winds from one direction.
5. Pay attention to the battery level. Fly closer to you when battery capacity 
is at the end (~3.0V).
6. Don't leave fully powered batteries for too long. Use them, recharge them.
7. Fly as much as you can. Each day :) 
WHY MICRO DRONES?
------------------------
Saturday, April 18, 2020

I started with drones at the beginning of 2020. First with the DJI Tello. 
An extremely capable drone for its price (~100 euro). But it's more of a 
tool - a flying camera than anything else. Also, it can only fly outdoors 
with no obstacles around. And it's as good as the environment around you. 
Living in the city in a small apartment it's not good. I use my Tello only 
on holidays and special occasions.

Then I found out about TinyWhoop[1] - a micro drone for flying indoor and with 
First Person View in mind. It started a "whoop" category. Small drones make the 
pilot feel like a little insect flying around the house. As with all the hobbies 
it instantly becomes a competition with racing around caffess[2] and small 
racing traks[3].

That instantly loved the idea. I can fly at home, take the whole pack in a small
bag outside whenever I go to the park. I can fly over the trees, under benches.
I can feel free!

[1] https://www.tinywhoop.com/
[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnXgoRxyVqU
[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8X93MH-2loA
FPV DOCUMENTING PROJECT
-----------------------
Saturday, April 18, 2020

Flying a micro drone is hard at the beginning. It doesn't have any AI assistance
 other than keeping the horizon straight. No obstacle avoidance. It flyes 
 exactly how the pilot moves the sticks on the controller. That's both good 
 and bad.

My first days with TinyHawk was filled with constant crashes. But slowly I 
getting better and better. I thought that many peoples will come to the same 
problems and challenges. I wanted to help others while learning myself. 

Lastly I wanted to have a history of my progress. A place where I can point to 
in the future and show that to be good you need to practice. And anyone started 
somewhere.

That's why this page was created. I hope you find something useful and stay 
inspired to keep flying!

DVR FPV Videos

Those videos are here to show my learning curve. I keep training as much as I can. Mostly each day. I wish to motivate any new pilots to do the same. Stay safe and keep the drone in the air!

Newest videos are on the left. Scroll right for archive.

TinyHawk II Race

Three Packs a Day project. Each (sunny) day I fly all my battery packs to practice. One 2s pack gives me around 5mins of fly time.

TinyHawk Classic

Drone photos

Newest photos are on the left. Scroll right for archive.

TinyHawk 2 Race

Drone Pilot

TinyHawk Classic Era

Links to social media & stuff

All the places where I share my stuff, discuss with others and get useful information/software.

Social

Leagues

Simulators (proffesional controller requied)