First of all, Happy New Year :D!
January the 14th marked the date of the first “Beta” lessons of the newly founded school Dracer. The idea behind it is simple: at the beginning, the people who are on the verge of joining the hobby need a last push so they actually enter it. People with interest but no idea how to start or where to look. People that think the videos of all the pilots around the world look amazing and want to more know about them. In the long run, we want to have categories of expertise and also technical courses. I mean, what the hell is all that TXRXESCFCOSDLIPO stuff.
Now, with the first class of 30 completed, we can proudly announce that the result was amazing! People were laughing, happy at the end, asking questions, following up and most importantly, hooked. This has worked so much better than anticipated, but of course, we hit a few bumpers so I’ll try to write them down for future reference and other people to see. There is really is much to learn!
How it started
I was approached by two guys who wanted to do FPV but didn’t really have a clue on how to go about it. Which made them think that there must be more people like them who think that FPV is very very cool, but generally lacked the time to obtain basic knowledge scourging through internet, or missed having friends who are already in the sport.
Coming back from Korea with the foundation of the IDC, the topic of new players was also discussed of course. Any major sport has some sort of school and this is what this market right now is lacking: A point for people to go to which is dedicated to help and guide them. Yes there are Facebook groups, Reddit, forums and all that. But there is really people that like face to face discussions for the best and learn the fastest and safest way with experienced pilots guiding them.
I agreed to be part of the project Dracer as their knowledge base and teacher as I thought this is a great Idea.
What do we teach?
Well, how does a first lesson look like? What do you want these people to know? And as always, safety is the very first topic that needs to be discussed.
- 30 People, 10 each for a 2 hour lesson
- Gear is expensive, what and which to get?
- 2 hours is relatively short, so what do I show?
- How do you keep everything safe?
On the gear side, we have decided on the following. There was a lot of discussion around that because this is where the money goes first. It’s an investment we have to take:
- Taranis Radio, one of the most used radio the FPV Pilots use
- Fatshark Dominator V3, good glasses that don’t look to makeshift ( People Like Cool)
- TBS X-Racer brushed quad
What we want to give the attendees is the “first shot of FPV”. Learn basics like Hovering which results in basic throttle management. Learn some basic movement to see what the controls look like and in the end, have your first experience with the FPV. Fly with the eagle’s ( or in this case, maybe a chicken or pigeon with heavy legs ) perspective. And also, give them a look at what the sport looks like, what possibilities they have when they kept flying.
Of course, all of that will be guided by me and hopefully in the future by other pilots that want to help out.
As I only had 2 hours per class, I wanted to keep the talking short: Regulations, terminology of a quad, Safety instructions and some eye candy to show them cool things.
The rest of the time I wanted to dedicate to actual flying.
Each class had 10 people and we got five kits. I wanted to play the “Pilot & Spotter” scenario from the very beginning because it’s most fun to fly with friends and have their back.
Each attendee had the following flight lessons:
- Basic hovering where I disabled YAW input to make it a bit easier and less confusing at the beginning
- Movement, YAW is back enabled again. Let them fly around and practice
- FPV, the very first steps
I tried to explain and show them each and every step, went to all of the pilots individually and helped them with their struggle and give them feedback on what to do or could do better. Encouragement helps!
You could say, the work of the spotter here was one of the most important ones. The spotter had to have his fingers on the Disarm/Killswitch at all times.
It was his job to decide – after giving examples of course – to kill a drone before it goes out of control or is any threat to anyone. While I have restricted the movement and speed to bare minimum for them to hover and fly, I didn’t want to give them any chance. Kill it before it got dangerous was the moto here.
This system has worked really well! When we started enforcing this system, less and less bigger crashes happened.
What worked and what didn’t
- I liked the Spotter/Pilot scenario. You were with one person through all of the course which also gave a bond. You could also go with your friend and share the experience like that. To me, it took work away of observing every single pilot and offload it. It also worked in term of the Disarming/Killing of the drone. Because people have a lot more respect of the drone, they tend to Disarm it rather early than late – which works for our advantage.
- I feel the learning curve was okay with many people being really happy at the end flying FPV. It was amazing to see the whole group cheer when someone dared to take a gate (And they even cheered when they crashed)!
- Expectation management worked really well. Telling them from the start that they will crash a lot, all the time helps. Crashing myself in my demonstration helped that feeling.
- The TBS X-Racer is not an ideal quad for this school and beginners. While the flying certainly was okay and not really dangerous, they are not able to handle the abuse and crashing of a beginner – I had to repair several of these, turning away my attention to the other attendants – some of the X-Racers fried completely with very little crashing! Beginners really don’t need anything powerful, I want them to fly a school bus with armor of a tank and a sharpness of a blunt knife. We will look for another solution here and are talking to some good guys about it =)
- The point above leads to this: We didn’t expect that much breakage from a RTF quad. I didn’t bring my solder station with me which was bad because I had to re solder or even replace several motors which required soldering (why?)
- We need more experienced staff. There should be at least 2 to take care of active piloting students and someone that takes care of the technical background work like recharging batteries and fixing quads
- I am happy that it worked so well with the Taranis, demonstrating the course with one myself gave them a link to what we all do already.
- The Dominators were a good choice, the only thing I want to change is how we select channels. New users don’t really know how to handle that yet. We will have a solution for that soon.
Overall, this event has been an amazing success and all the people that joined us in the adventure left the hall smiling and looking forward to more!
Our next class will be held in February and we are already close to have a fully booked weekend again. I talked to many people around the world and all agreed that this is indeed a great idea, they offered their help as well and I want to thank them for all of their kind words and help! I hope we can work even better together in the future!
Thanks to all the people that attended the school and thanks to all of the people that helped create this amazing opportunity!
Anyone that wants to join or share his idea or opinion, please let me know through the usual channels like Facebook or Email, I would love to discuss further collaboration to make this school better for beginners!