Christmas Challenge 2015

The Event

Location? The Triangle Leisure Centre, West Sussex.

When? 20th December 2015.

What? 180-size class indoor FPV racing, 28 pilots split into 4 groups. Bonus "Santa Sleigh" race :).

Who? Ran and created by Francis Harris, supported by Rotor-Racing.

Where it all began

The long journey down

For me, it began with a nice 3 hour trip down to West Sussex, including 35 miles on the dreaded M25. It was actually perfectly fine, no delays of any sort and no issues on my end either. I know for a lot of people it is actually a very close venue for them, hopefully in the new year we will see some more events centralized :) I know a few others who would have loved to come down but couldn't face an even longer drive than I did. Though, this was a semi-test event so now we know we can run 7 pilots easily, I think it'll open up more and we'll see a lot of the indoor events popping up.

The Sponsors

Selection of props and the goody bags

HQProp decided to sponsor the event by providing all pilots with propellors for the racing, we had all sorts of sizes from 4x4x3 to 3x3x3 which was real kind of them. I deal with HQProp often anyway, so it was nice that Luke brought them into the event, I think everyone appreciated it and there's a bunch of people who now want to run them a lot more.

I-Drone provided a fantastic Xmas present to all which featured a set of propellers, battery strap, 10mm Nut Spinner (to undo prop nuts), VTX nubs and the latest issue of RC Flight Camera Action. That was a nice present from them, as a pack was given to every single member participating regardless of finishing place. They also provided the VAS antennas to winners also :)

4Props I believe provided the prizes to the first place winners from each of the 4 groups including frames and other such goodies so again that was very nice of them.

And finally, it goes without saying all of the support that the guys at Rotor-Racing provide - I've been to I think 3 or maybe 4 events they have helped or indeed ran themselves, and each time they add another awesome element into the mix. They are currently the UK superstars at lap timing systems and race organisers. This event saw us having a transponder per person, something not seen at an event before, which saved so much time in between races it was insane. In a normal day from say 9am until 6pm we would get 1 practice, 3 qualifiers, a semifinal and a final. In the 6 and a half hours we were at this location, we got 1 practice and a whopping 8 races! It was tough for some to keep up at times if they had issues, but for the most part it went completely smoothly, not having to switch out transponders, change vtx channels, or faff about with any other stuff made it real smooth sailing - a real credit to them.

The Venue

All of the pilots together

Here we all are lined up and ready to see if we can make it around the track in one piece :D

The pits area

The pits area spanned the whole side of the track, with the netting forced under the tables and extra ballasts so that if it was crashed into (which it was quite a bit), the netting wouldn't just fly up and we'd be having quads for lunch! It actually worked very well, and certainly scared a few people working on their quads oblivious to the quads that were just about to plough into the netting just next to them.

Warren didn't quite crash in a way he was able to take off from

For others, the netting wasn't the issue. Warren had managed to crash not only once like this, but twice! That must have been some frustrating luck to manage to even crash like that, and to have no propellers or anything broken!

A familiar picture for some, including me

Another victim to the netting

Sadly for others, including me, we did not get so lucky like Warren. Though, we were in the same boat as we could not take off from our crashes either. Instead they had to be fished out at the end of the race.

Spectator area

The venue itself was fantastic - it had a raised seating area behind the pits that allowed for spectators (mostly family), but I imagine once some of the kinks are worked out for actually providing a proper spectator event (screens, commentary etc), then it would actually work as a full event.

Santa Sleigh Race

During the organizing of the race and discussions between those of us interested someone had come up with a great idea to run a fun race consisting of dressing your quad up to get in the spirit of Christmas.

Reindeer and Sleigh at the ready

I definitely wanted to take part in this as it's a good bit of fun, so quickly found some items I could print off of Thingiverse and set to gluing them onto a bit of spare carbon rod I had lay around. The result looked a lot better than I had thought. I also printed a bust of Jack from The Nightmare Before Christmas and stuck it on the top of my battery - it looked brilliant.

All of the quads lined up

Everyone else had also made a brilliant effort for the event, some even bringing quads dedicated just for the race. Unfortunately there was more of us than anticipated so we had to split into two groups so we had enough frequencies available for video, but we all had good fun.

Lukes Reindeer quad

The initial group of 5 pilots had been set the task of destroying the Reindeer on Lukes quadcopter, but much to our disappointed he managed to hit it himself while going through a gate. Nevertheless there was some brilliant displays from everyone, doing rolls and flips, and of course racing through the course.

On the second group we had been tasked with hitting the LoS plush quad, there were originally 3 of us in this heat, but one of the quads was having video issues so had to drop out, leaving just me and someone else. I had managed to hit the reindeer twice - the first time I actually had no damage at all and managed to continue flying, and even did some rolls and flips. I sadly forgot to record it though, so no footage of that - if anyone did record it please let me know - it looked hilarious just seeing some giant reindeer in full view of the camera, in fact that was pretty much all I could see!

The Racing

So, for my actual racing, it took a bumpy few starts with running my KC180 on 3s and finding it near impossible to scrub the height off after going over the obstacle. I think I ran for the first 2 races using 3s and slowly got better at it, but I had to lose so much speed it was just not productive, so took Brett's advice and went for the 4s. While it would provide more power (which would be useful in the straights), it would also add around 10% more weight - which should help in bringing the quad down on the 0% throttle descent.

Position after 4 rounds

After a few more rounds I got the hang of it - the 4s really helped so I stuck with that for the rest of the day. I was gaining more confidence in the track each time I went round, and getting faster each time as well.

Sadly, the progress didn't stay as I would have liked. We reached round 7 where I think I was around 4th or 5th still (crashed out a couple of times reducing my lap counts in earlier rounds), but had horrendous video issues so could not participate in the race - all I managed to do was take off, hit the ceiling, and then decide that was enough so just disarmed and watch everyone else fly. We were still not sure what actually happened to the video - others had witnessed it on my goggles and it was just unflyable - constant flickering and no colour on the picture.
For the next race the video had luckily cleared up but me and Luke were a bit late getting to our seating positions so we had to frantically rush to set the groundstation and goggles up - of which I failed pretty badly and crashed out soon after the start as I wasn't ready.

And finally, the last race - where everyone planned to just give it all they could, ended in a similar fashion. I actually had a really good race for the first few laps but then messed up the gate after the obstacle, meaning I then flew into the flag just after that. Though I crashed out and lost all my points (again, and ended up 11th overall due to that), it was easily the best "race" for me out of all of them. Me and Eurig were neck and neck for the entire time we were in that heat, and it was hilarious fun seeing his quad right literally taking up my whole screen a few times.

Here's my video of the action:

The Video

In the end it came down to Luke winning the 1st group, he had been a solid performer all afternoon with his Shrike (big up the Shrike!!), and his speed and accuracy were unmatched. There were other pilots doing very well as well, but they had some unlucky times throughout the day as well meaning they had dropped a few heats just like I did. But again, this comes down to racing - and it seems to happen at every event - it's a gamble as to where you finish a lot of the time due to things mostly out of our control it seems (video issues etc), but it was great fun so I don't think anyone was sore over the results.

Another brilliant event, thank you Francis for putting it on :) Can't wait to see more like this in the future!Cheers to Warren and Leo's dad for some of the pictures :)