RC Banger Racing

RC Banger Racing is category that isn’t well known in Belgium, but it’s really popular in the UK. 1/12th scale cars with mechanic speed controllers (two-speed) and brushed motors racing on an oval track to get as much laps as possible. One tiny difference with normal racing: contact is allowed. When you see 30 to 50 RC Banger cars racing eachother in the videos online, you just want to get into the fun.

 

Ipswich Oval Racing Club

Ipswich Oval Racing Club (UK)

We’ve asked the Ipswich Oval Racing Club to do a small interview about RC Banger Racing. They’ve been around since 1996 and meet every Friday evening around 6.30pm.

What makes RC Banger Racing a fun category of RC?

IORC: RC Banger Racing is fun for everyone of all ages and abilities. It allows everyone to both race with a smooth drive or to crash their oponent, often proving fun esepcially for families!

What do you need to get started in RC Banger Racing?

IORC: To start RC Banger Racing, you need to contact Kamtec, LargeIT or Mardave for a 1:12th scale banger setup and you’re ready to go!

Do you need to have any experience in RC to get started?

IORC: No experience needed at all! Just grab a handset/remote and away you go! We even have a 2 year old who races at Ipswich Oval Racing Club.

How did your club got started?

IORC: Ipswich Oval Racing Club was started on 4/3/1996 by a group of men who had been travelling down south to enjoy racing with others. The sport was very small back then but now there are clubs within a few miles from where you live in the UK it seems!

What’s the main audience for this type of racing at your club?

IORC: Our main audience is usually children from approx. 7 years to grown men at 50+ years. We have two people with cerebal palsy and are wheelchair users, one amputee who only has one arm/hand plus myself, Chair of the club, doing as much as possible who is also a wheelchair user. We have children of all ages involved aswell as adults of any age. It really is great fun for everyone!

Do you have any advice for people who want to get started with RC Banger Racing?

IORC: My advice for people who are interested is to find their local club and go along a couple of times and try someones car, get a taste for it… I guarantee you’ll get the bug for it! Anyone in RC Banger Racing will chat with you and explain whats what and how things work. Keith at Kamtec, Large at LargeIT and Chris at Mardave are all great and will advise on how to get started and what you need. Hope to see you soon if you’re reading this!

RC Banger Kits

Good news! The car kits are very cheap and easy to build and repair. For about £99 you get a complete Kamtec SWB (short wheel base) Banger Kit, including a rolling chassis, servo’s, speed controller and motor. Even a ABS body shell of your choice is included. The only thing you need are batteries, a radio and receiver.

Kamtec SWB Banger Kit (£99)

 

Building the Kamtec SWB Banger Kit

All parts come in seperate plastic bags so that it’s easy to find the components you need during the build. Included is a clear building manual that is divided in 12 stages that show you exactly where every part goes on the car.

Kamtec SWB Banger Kit – parts

The build starts with mounting the wishbones on the 3mm aluminium chassis, together with the other support standoffs to mount the topplate and motor mount. It’s important here to not tighten the nuts on the standoffs too much, as this will deform them.
Next up is the servo. Drill out the middle holes on the sides of the servosaver to the width you need to insert the steering balls and secure them with a locknut. Before mounting the servosaver, it’s advised to center the servo first. This way you don’t need to disassemble it when connecting everything for the first time. Once that is finished, you can mount the servo to the chassis with the servo mounts.

Kamtec SWB Banger Kit – chassis and standoffs

Then we build the front wheel steering out of the stub axles, kingpins, springs, e-clips and ball joints. I used the middle holes to mount the ball joints, as the servo has more than enough range to max out the steering. Mount the turnbuckles onto the ball joints and we finished up the steering part.

Kamtec SWB Banger Kit – steering and suspension

Now that the front is finished, it’s time to work on the back of the car. The motor mount fits over the two screws we already assembled in the first part of the build. We then secure the motor mount onto the frame using the different parts (like O-rings) provided to dampen the movement of the mount.

Kamtec SWB Banger Kit – motor pod

On the back of the motor mount, we install the suspension springs. These might require some tuning depending on which track you race, but since all this is also new for me, I can’t give any advise yet.

Kamtec SWB Banger Kit – rear suspension

The top plate comes pre-assassembled and fits easily over the standoffs we mounted earlier. Before mounting the top plate, first screw on the body posts. Then secure the top plate with locknuts, easy as that!

Kamtec SWB Banger Kit – top plate

We move to the back one more time to fit the axle, bearings, spur gear and spacer. The whole part will align like it should when mounting the wheels to the axle. The mounting of the wheels is done with locknuts, so do not overtight them as this will block the wheels from moving and possibly damage the thread on the axles. Next up are the two other body posts that go onto the front of the car.

Kamtec SWB Banger Kit – tyres

The motor needs to be soldered to the two wires coming of the speed controller. After you are sure the wires are soldered correctly, you can mount the motor using the two screws provided. Put a piece of paper between the pinion gear and the spur gear and fasten the screws. Normally, this gives you the right play between the two gears.

Kamtec SWB Banger Kit – motor and gears

And you’re done! This car takes about 20-30 minutes to fully assemble, easy as that!

 

If you’re interested in RC Banger Racing, feel free to join the Facebook group for Belgian and Dutch drivers.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rcbangerracingbenl/

I’d like to thank the Ipswich Oval Racing Club for the interview and everyone who has helped me getting started!

 

Usefull links

RC Banger Racing BE/NL: https://www.facebook.com/groups/rcbangerracingbenl/

Kamtec SWB Banger Kit: https://www.btowstore.com/epages/BT4645.sf/secc87c8d610e/?ObjectPath=/Shops/BT4645/Products/K0445%5B4%5D

Kamtec Models Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Kamtec/

Ipswich Oval Racing Club website: https://iorc.weebly.com/

 

Build video

 

DronePortal 2017 by Drone-Racing Belgium

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After a great edition of the DronePortal event in 2016, Drone-racing Belgium presents an even greater version of their indoor spectacle. The members of Drone-Racing Belgium aren’t just testing the waters. In the two years they are active, they gave everything they’ve got to shape the FPV drone-racing in Belgium. Their website (www.droneracingbelgium.be) offers an ideal platform to get people together, to share ideas and to organise events. At the time of writing, the counter is at 75 public events and 463 registered pilots. Because of their commitment and together with the support of the FPV-racing community, a lot of things have been accomplished including periodical trainingsessions in the parking lot of C-Mine in Genk, a wireless timing system, etc.

DronePortal 2017 logo

For this edition of Droneportal, a whopping 64 pilots from 7 different countries have travelled to Droneport in Brustem to compete against each other on a breath taking indoor track. Just like last year, a lot of attention has been paid to the racetrack, which featured worlds first computerized RGB LED-gates. More than 50 illuminated track objects, 250 meters of LEDstrips (around 15000 LEDs), 1200 meters of cable and 5 DMX-controllers were used to shape the track. The public could enjoy the races with a full view of the track and live-video feeds on big screens that were set up all around.

DronePortal 2017 badges

This time the event was held on saturday and sunday. Saturday was all about qualification. The fastest 12 pilotes were sure of a spot in the finals on sunday and got the chance in the evening to do extra practice heats on the night track. The other 4 qualified pilots were selected on sunday, where 3 extra qualifying heats were held.

After registration, handing out the pilot badges and technical inspection of the quads, a general briefing was held were the rules were clearly listed. The qualification format was easy: 4 heats of 3 minutes were pilots tried to fly as many complete laps as possible. The worst result got cancelled and the other heats were add up to an endresult. These results lead to the first 12 qualified pilots.

DronePortal 2017 public fpv screen

Throughout the day, running the heats went almost flawless. The few problems that arose were mostly due to faulty video transmitters from crashes in previous heats. The organisation provided groundstations (the receivers of the video signal) for every pilot with ClearView receivers. These receivers provide a better video signal in rough environments like indoors and were the perfect choice for this event.

Throughout the event the public and pilots could enjoy drinks and snacks. The burgers and pasta were a perfect match for this great weekend!

DronePortal 2017 snacks and drinks

DronePortal 2017 final line-up

On Sunday, the remaining pilots gathered to fight for the last 4 spots in the finals. Around noon, all 16 qualified pilots were known and the finals could take off! These heats were flown in a double elemination tournament scheme, so that one crash doesn’t mean you’re out of the tournament.
The foreign pilots apperantly didn’t travel that far for a position in the midfield. The final four contenders were from The Netherlands, Russia and Germany. During the final race there was no room for tactics. Everyone flew to the limit from start to end. Dutch pilot Dino Joghi (again) took 1st place! The winner from last years edition extended his title as the number one of DronePortal with a perfect final race! 2nd place went to Bor (Gleb Shirshov), in 3rd was Fullstick FPV (Martijn De Kemp).

DronePortal 2017 winner Dino Joghi

An exiting end of an amazing event!

Aftermovie by JaZzMan251:

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Freewell ND filters for DJI Spark (4-pack Standard Day)

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What’s in the box?

The new ND filters for the DJI Spark from Freewell come in a nice plastic box. Very handy to take with you when you go out to fly.

The box contains four filters (standard day pack):

  • Polarizer
  • ND4
  • ND8
  • ND16

Freewell also offers a bright day pack which includes Polarizer, ND16, ND32 and ND64 filter.

Freewell ND filter standard day pack

What are ND filters?

ND filters (Neutral Density filters) reduce the amount of light passing through the lens. On a bright day, the Sparks camera will increase the shutter speed to avoid the footage being too bright and overexposed. The downside to that is that the footage will look unnatural because of the absence of motion blur which make movements look smooth. The higher the shutter speed, the sharper each frame is being captured, thus removing the natural motion blur we are used to.

The rule of thumb when shooting video is that you set the shutter speed as close to twice the framerate. The Spark does 30fps so we want the shutter speed as close to 1/60th as possible. You can see the results of what the filters do to the shutter speed on a sunny day.

  • No filter: 1/1000
  • PL filter: 1/400
  • ND4: 1/240
  • ND8: 1/100
  • ND16: 1/60

Freewell ND filters

How do they perform?

The filters work great and the difference in footage is quite noticable. Colors pop-up and contrast gets improved by the use of a longer shutter speed. As far as my experience goes, I didn’t notice any obvious colour shifting when using the filters.

The most important part of using the filters is applying the bracket correctly. My first try to install them looked succesfully but after testing, they seemed to be seated too far from the camera. This resulted in vignetting (dark corners) when taking pictures. I took off the first bracket and tried to re-install the second one that came in the box. This time, I could mount the filters closer to the camera and the vignetting disappeared.

Although it’s something extra to carry with you when you want to go out and fly, it really pays off in most cases to use the ND filters.

Check out the test footage in the video below:

 

DJI Spark – Unboxing and first impressions

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DJI Spark Unboxing & first impressions

Why I bought it?

Being active in the fpv-racing part of the hobby, most people will find this a surprising purchase. Why in the world would I buy a DJI Spark? If you check out my YouTube channel, you’ll find out that there are a lot of aftermovies of fpv-racing events I attend. For me, capturing the event is part of the fun the fpv-racing hobby has to offer. With the purchase of the Spark, I am hoping to find a decent platform to add some aerial shots to my videos. I want to be able to do this without the long preparation some other platforms require and without the risk people getting upset (or in the worst case even hurt).

DJI Spark

DJI Spark Fly More Combo

What’s in the box?

Running through the specs of the Spark, I decided to go for the Fly More Combo.
This pack features the following items:

The first thing in the cardboard box is a 16Gb MicroSD-card that DJI included as a gift in the Fly More Combo. It’s a Sandisk Ultra 16Gb card . Then there is the surprisingly small box the Spark Fly More Combo comes in. DJI clearly took a lesson from Apple as the packaging style is almost identical. In the box are two things: the travelling bag and a molded case, together with some documentation.

The molded case holds the Spark, together with the extra Intelligent Flight Battery and spare set of propellers. When seeing the Spark in person, it’s amazing how small it actually is. Although it’s a small aircraft, it looks very decent in build quality.

DJI Spark unboxed

DJI Spark apres unboxing

Out of the travelling bag comes the RC Remote Controller, a bit smaller than the one of the Mavic Pro. Compared to the Futaba T14SG I usually fly, this tiny transmitter feels a bit awkward at first, but I must say it does a really good job controlling the Spark. Then there is the charger with the charging hub which charges up to 3 batteries in less than 1.5 hours (55 minutes for 2 batteries, 50 for 1 battery). The charger also has two USB outputs to charge the RC Remote Controller (USB->MicroUSB cable included) and, if you like, a 4th battery through Micro USB on the Spark itself. The last items are the propeller guards that clip on in under 30 seconds to provide extra safety in situations where needed. They do add 38 grams to the Spark in total.

DJI Spark overview

DJI Spark overview

After unboxing all the items, there is not much more to do than charge the batteries and RC Remote Controller and get ready to get flying!

How does it fly?

First of all, despite its size, it’s amazing how stable the Spark is when flying, even in steady winds. I must say this really impressed me as I didn’t think a small aircraft of 300 grams would handle wind to good.

DJI Spark hovering

I like to take you through some modes and features that got my attention during the first uses of the Spark.

The first is Tripod Mode, which lowers the rates of the controls to make very slow movements. Also, the gimbal control is set to a lower rate to allow precise movements. The ability to lower the gimbal rate outside the Tripod Mode would be a welcome addition as it feels a bit to fast in general.

Active Track is another great feature that tracks and follows a person or object without the need of manual control. It can even automaticaly circle around the person or object while following. Adding the Obstacle Avoidance feature into the mix, this feature is quite safe to use if you keep its limitations in mind. The Obstacle Avoidance feature only sees what’s in front of the Spark. So when  you set it up to follow a subject sideways, keep in mind that won’t stop when an obstacle is on the left or right of it.

DJI Spark RC Remote

In Sport Mode you get a lot more speed out of the Spark, which is nice when shooting footage in a big area in a small amount of time. Sport Mode is easily selected by sliding the Sport slider on the RC Remote Controller to the right. The gimbal will follow the roll input when cornering, but stays level when moving straight forward or backward. When you can’t take-off in the proximity of your subject, Sport Mode can get you fast to your destination. You can then quickly change back to normal mode and shoot at a lower flying speed.

The Quickshot Modes are nice if you don’t want to waste time to manually shoot your footage. You can simply select a person or subject, tap the type of Quickshot you want (Dronie, Circle, Helix, Rocket) and press Go! The Spark will start the selected Quickshot and create a 10-second clip and return to the starting point automatically. Although I didn’t think I would use these automated shots, they come in quite handy.

The last feature I really like is the possibility to point the camera straight down and take top-down shots like this one. This might not sound like an amazing feature, but considering the size of the Spark and its gimbal, it’s really nice that it tilts all the way down to make top-down shots.

Those are the 5 features I like the most about the Spark so far.

I will continue to use the Spark for different projects and will report back with an update after some more experiences with this great little machine.