Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Mr.RC-Cam

2015 US Drone National Championships

Recommended Posts

** UPDATE: The races have ended. See http://dronenationals.com for racing results and other information. **


The California State Fair is hosting the 2015 US Drone National Championships. There will be $25K USD in cash/prizes. Races will be held July 16 through July 17 2015.

Live video has begun!

http://livestream.com/dronenationals/events/4153857

Here's a recorded TV station segment from this morning:

I'll be there on Jul-16 to see the Team Sport Competition and Freestyle Stunt activities. If I can spare the time I'll probably get something wrapped in bacon at the fair concessions. Woohoo!

Edited by Mr.RC-Cam
Added link to racing results

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I left the race after they closed it down Thrusday night (Jul-16). It was a lot of fun and a treat to see some faces that up to now were just names in the forums. Here's some photos and comments from the event.

The race was held at the soccer field at the west end of the California State Fair grounds. The state fair runs for about two weeks in the summer and the organizers were excited to add "drone" racing to it. Here's the side entrance I used to get in.

post-2-0-94886700-1437149859_thumb.jpg

Somehow Hobbyking scored a prominent spot at the entry to the race field. A short walk through the banners is where all the action is.

post-2-0-32107000-1437149892_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There were several tents setup at the south end of the field for the pilots to rest and work on their models. At times it was very busy in there. Here's a view of the area during a quiet period.

post-2-0-80790000-1437150363_thumb.jpg

The AMA, FAA, and FCC were highly involved in this event. Representatives from these organizations were on hand. Safety was a top priority.

The FCC provided special permission to use the FPV RF systems. What is interesting is that most of the models used a common wiring scheme and video connector. This allowed the race coordinators to supply special 5.8GHz 25mW vTx's to each pilot. These were the new ImmersionRC "RaceBand" designs that have 40 channels.

Up to 8 pilots could be in the air at one time. This was possible due to the low RF power, a combination of RF channel spacing, and alternating pilots with left or right hand polarization antennas. This was further aided by the additional RF spectrum permissions temporarily granted from the FCC. But I overhead that some pilots used their own 200mW vTxs later in the day. The antenna on ibcrazy's tricopter appeared to be 2.4GHz size, so maybe that frequency was allowed too. But I am not sure.

The pilots' stations were positioned at the field's west end behind the starting gate. Each pilot was near the FPV ground station and the judge assigned to the racer was connected to their video link. Most pilots wore goggles, but I also saw a tripod mounted monitor. Whatever the pilot wanted to use for viewing their FPV camera was allowed.

post-2-0-07587900-1437151167_thumb.jpg

There were some notable names here, such as Charpu (Carlos Puertolas), AnthonyRC (ImmersionRC), ibcrazy (Video Aerial Systems), Trappy (TeamBlackSheep), and more. Given that the Fatshark name was posted everywhere it was not a surprise to find Mr Fatshark himself (Greg French) was there. Earlier in the day I tried to introduce myself to some of them but they were constantly engaged with others. So I remained a spectator and watched the excitement from the bleachers.

There were a variety of 250 class frames, motors, and ESC's being flown. I even saw a young pilot working on his wood frame quad, but carbon fiber construction dominated. Some started with 4S packs and later switched to 3S. The race was full of turns, gates, and obstacles (pesky sponsor flags everywhere on the course); As expected the actual model flown was less important than the pilot skills. But with the short straight runs and many sharp turns, the higher agility from a light weight model seemed to have the advantage over one tuned/powered for highest speed. Sorry no close-up photos of any models, but they looked a lot like what many of us fly everyday.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The race stadium is Bonney Field. It was built last year to host the Sacramento Republic FC soccer team. Its massive aluminum bleachers acted as a shield from the external urban area's RF environment. But inside the stadium all the metal was a multipathing nightmare. From what I could see of the pilot video quality, which was piped onto the giant Jumbotron monitor, the relentless video breakups added to their flying challenges.

It was a very hot day (100F degrees) with gentle breeze. I found a small shady area in the empty bleachers behind the pilot pits. It was a great place to see all the race action.

post-2-0-82015700-1437153412_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There were a large number of volunteers that helped run the event. Along with a lot of other things, they were responsible for placing the models at the starting gate. This allowed the goggled pilots to remain seated at their ground station.

post-2-0-20021200-1437153751_thumb.jpg

At the end of each race the volunteers collected the models and any broken parts from the field. They also handled the safety issues, including dealing with a couple smoking ESCs and vTxs. An army of volunteers were handling things all around the event to help make this a very professionally run experience.

Lastly, here's a video of an afternoon race. Sorry that there's not much to see, but you can at least hear the motors as models fly by. The field's Jumbotron screen is visible at the far right side; It was cool to be able to see the action from the pilot's view. At the end of this race the only model remaining in the air is a Parrot Bebop. Classic tortoise and hare exhibition. :)

ImmersionRC hosted a beer meeting in the evening that I was too tired to attend. My unused expired beer pass is up for grabs. :)

post-2-0-69661600-1437163219_thumb.jpg

I was hoping to leave with an official T-shirt (a mandatory thing if you ask me). But they didn't have any spares on site to sell to the spectators. Shirts or no shirts, if the US championship drone racing event returns next year I will definitely be there. It was a blast!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for coming out to spectate and for the coverage of the event and I am glad you had a great time as everyone there did! Definitely taking ya up on the leftover free beer ticket as I missed out on getting any of them to take home and would be nice to keep and display with the ticket stub. Thanks again Mr. RC-Cam! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great write up, seems to have been a really well organised event. If anyone does the same over here I will try and get along for sure :)

Terry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

beer ticket received today! I gave ya a quick shout out on my blog Mr. RC-Cam and will be writing up a few more posts about the whole journey soon, thanks again!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×