What? Quad Racing Simulator
When? Now! :)
I appreciate not everyone wants to read a blog, so if you just want the "goods", here you go.. :)
Just another sim?
If you're like me, with the poor weather during the winter I'm always looking to practice my skills and so the perfect place to do this is on the computer. There's various simulators out there already such as FPV Freerider, LiftOff, HotProps and DRL. All of them offer their own advantages and disadvantages as to how they fly / track builders / customization etc, but the one thing that stands out with all of them so far; they don't feel like you are flying an actual quad. Whether it's dodgy gravity, too much drag, or you just can't tune the rates to feel like your quad - they all (in my opinion) suffer great flaws and leave a lot to be desired. In fact, I started playing around with some of them seriously (3rd on DRL leaderboards), and it just taught me bad habits when it came to flying my quad!
So, is this one any better? Firstly I can just give you a simple answer: YES! It actually feels and flies like an actual quadcopter - the gravity, overall weight, and rates (even at stock settings), feel very very good. I probably won't be able to convince you with 1000 words, so I would say try it and see, everyone I've told to download it so far has been extremely impressed.
There's a few things that stand out to me and put this simulator above the crowd that are worth mentioning:
- Physics - the best so far of any sim I've flown, nothing else needs to be said here. The stock "settings" are actually flyable for once, and feel like an actual quad.
- Dedicated Racer - I'm sure there will be other features people want down the line (such as AirMode, freestyle modes etc), but right now the entire focus is on making the best racing sim out there, and it shows.
- Quad Classes - Whether you are a veteran or new to quadcopters, there is a profile to suit you. There are currently 3 available quads; Trainer, Advanced & Custom (more details on those further down..).
- XBox Controller Support - If you are new to the quad racing, or just want to try something different then you can hook up an Xbox controller to play it. Taranis is supported out of the box (as are other transmitters).
- Online Leaderboards - This speaks for itself - race against your friends, random people and even the top pilots in this new sport.
- Best Lap Ghost - I love this feature - when you start a new race you get to chase or beat a quad that is flying your best lap - it may help motivate you to push for those few milliseconds. I appreciate this may annoy people too but I think they will be allowing people to turn it off soon.
- Unreal Engine - this isn't so much a feature, but it's worth noting because I believe it's the first simulator to make use of the Unreal Engine, a hugely powerful engine that can also provide us with next level graphics.
Here's a quick screenshot of the ghost in action:
You can access the registration form here, you will need to submit your real or tag name and an email address and you will be sent an email containing your unique activation key and links to the downloads you require to install the simulator.
You are probably wondering why you have to submit these details - the simulator will (at the end of the 3 weeks) eventually become "Paid For" - a small fee will be required to purchase it for continued use and access to all the other maps so far available in the simulator (and more once they are made). edit: There seems to be confusion in my wording and some think this will be a subscription-based model - from what I am told this is not the case, it will be a one-off fee like any other game or simulator (LiftOff for example).
Formula FPV have kindly paid for these 3 weeks worth of server time for us guys, and you can of course play their course that was debuted in the UK last September and was one of the best events of the year.
Setup for a Taranis transmitter is super easy. You need to make a new profile (TAER), and that's it. No offset weights or reduced weights (like other sims), just make sure your output order is TAER and away you go. I'd also recommend you disable the internal module in the model setup too to save on battery life.
If you run another controller there are a few guides in the forums to help you along, and the simulator also supports an Xbox Controller as mentioned above if you do not currently have a transmitter, or one that will connect to the PC.
At current the simulator is a Windows only executable, meaning you will need to have a Windows-based PC, or you can run it via Parallels or other apps similar on a Mac, but you may suffer performance issues.
Computer setup is simple, download both of the files in the link provided on the email, and install both of them. You will need to run the controller utility once, and then you can skip anything to do with it if you run a Taranis. You may notice if you are running 64-bit versions of Windows the application will keep flickering - you can ignore that and just close it.
Once that is done, simply launch the Simulator and go to the controllers section of the menu (you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard), and select the RC Transmitter as your preferred method, and it should now work!
Once that's done you can now use all of the menus using the transmitter right-hand stick.
Firstly, when you load into the first map - press the Escape key on your keyboard, this will show you all of the shortcuts for accessing the various menus and allow you to leave track etc.
So you are probably sat there thinking how the hell do I get this thing to work, I've setup my transmitter but nothing is working still!?!? You have to arm the quad. :) Just like Cleanflight, move your throttle stick to the bottom right to arm. If you move the throttle to the bottom left it will exit out of the map to the menus (if you hold it there).
As I've said there are 3 classes - Trainer, Advanced and Custom. Both Trainer and Advanced have no settings you can change, not even rates or expo. This is actually a nice idea as it flies good on these settings so it will provide a true leaderboard where only skill is involved in the difference in lap times. Custom allows you to modify some of the settings, but even here there are not many you can change.
As you are aware, there's not much in the way of tuning required or possible, even on the Custom quad. If you are after lap times I suggest putting the Power Factor to max (6), and the Camera Angle to max (45 degrees). Aside from that rates are a very personal thing and everything else I leave at the default.
As a side note I would probably recommend setting the min throttle to 1% - if you go to 0 throttle and try and move you will see that the quad does not respond, setting the min throttle to 1% will fix that.
Here's a quick video of my Custom quad:
You can access the leaderboards here, there are separate leaderboards for each of the quad classes available so if competition is your thing then you can compete with others from all over the world to earn that top spot.
The leaderboards at the time of writing:
Latest News & Feedback
If you want to keep up to date on any new developments of the simulator, or experience issues then you can access the Facebook group here.
If you have any suggestions, come across any bugs or even just wanted to talk to other pilots there's also a forum here. You will need to register to access them.