This past Sunday, I worked my way through the race heats and semifinals to win the novice class of our local Tiny Whoop race. I have been flying drones for quite some time now (mainly LOS rigs) and have been officially bitten by the micro FPV racing bug.
I’m writing this post to not only spread the word about Tiny Whoop racing but also to describe how fun this hobby is. On Sunday, May 20th, 2018 the DMV Droners MultiGP chapter held a pop-up race at Jailbreak Brewing Co in Laurel, MD. The track was fun and fast, even for an n00b like myself. Using Tiny Whoop’s TBS race gates, the LEDs lit the brewing area up! Besides, the public was able to enjoy the racing as the experienced pilots flew into Jailbreak’s taproom.
Jesse Perkins, the founder of Tinywhoop.com and creator of the micro FPV society race community generously donated a custom TWR to the first place winner of the advanced pilot class. To learn more about Jesse, I reached out to Mr. Tiny Whoop with these two questions, his responses follow:
1. What do I love about Tiny Whoop Racing?
“I love Tiny Whoop racing because it's both competitive as well as casual. It seems like no matter how high-profile the races get we all keep the mood of the event stress-free and people are never too serious to laugh. It's easy to set up a racecourse anywhere- I've raced in restaurants, atriums, hotels, houses, gardens, huge trees, etc. Because the aircraft can't damage anything most venues are excited to host a race, and anyone not directly involved in the races, like unexpecting spectators, is pretty amazed by the tiny flying drones.”
2. How do I see the culture expanding in the future?
“Tiny Whoop is now the largest FPV community on Facebook in the world, and is likely the most-flown quadcopter on the planet, but it's amazing how many people are still learning about the fun that can be had with tiny flight. Understanding the freedom that comes with the gift of flight is a big deal, but there is a certain whimsy to being tiny in a giant world that is my favorite aspect. The international Tiny Whoop community will continue to grow, and I expect to continue to see local races and fun-fly events popping up in homes, bars, and restaurants around the world. It's clear that the best part of the entire global movement is the friendships created thru social Tiny Whoop events, and the more people experience, the more they seem to want to participate.”
How the Tiny Whoop Bug Bit Me
My love for the micro FPV drones started before Thanksgiving, 2017. I saw a video of little FPV drones flying through a coffee house in Fort Collins, CO on YouTube. Instantly, I thought to myself “I need one.” Well, I called my buddy up who was heavy into FPV drones at the time and asked for his help to build one. A few days later, I had my first whoop; a modified Blade Inductrix with a BeeCore board because I am using a FrSky RC instead of Spectrum.
Once I posted the little drone on our local drone club Facebook group, interest among members peaked. Over the next few weeks, quite a few people that were and are still aerial rig users started to buy these little drones. Next thing I know, we have a MultiGP chapter set up, and we are organizing our first event. Forty pilots showed up to our first race in Alexandria, VA. It was a shit show LOL. We were overwhelmed and feeling the growing pains while we explored the micro FPV world head first. This past weekend was our third Tiny Whoop race, and it ran so smoothly, most pilots only had praise after the event concluded.
Micro FPV Society on the East Coast
Our race this weekend pulled pilots from all over the DMV and some from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For The DMV Droners, this is a huge success! I’m not sure if the custom TWR brought the out of town pilots to the event, but damn it was awesome. Jeff Walrich and I split the race director responsibilities. He kept track of the laps, I started the races but what happened during the races was the special part. I asked Jeff why he loves to Whoop so much.
From Jeff: “I love Tiny Whoop racing because of how simple the quads are, you can fly anywhere and love being in different venues, which brings a unique experience to the pilot and the audience. With the tiny Whoop quads, you can create your own look and theme with frames, canopies, and motors. That is fun to me!
I have met so many different people since we started to have races. Between races, people are talking about their quads and just having a good time. Even with huge prizes at stake, we are drama free and encourage new people to the hobby.
In fact, that is our mission on why we started the DMV Droners MultiGP FPV group. We want to host “pop-up” Whoop events and spread this awesome hobby to other folks around the DMV area. We always have an experienced and newbie level at our races, and often you see the experienced pilots helping the new pilots at our races. We also have a “theme” to our races and where we hold them. With the custom name badges at each race, everyone leaves with something! This is a great community to be involved in. “
As mentioned prior, the advanced pilots flew into Jailbreak’s taproom where the public was enjoying their food and beer. I have never seen drones bring so many smiles to people of all ages. The kids were running around chasing them, while parents wanted a go on the sticks. I think that is what captured my attention, to begin with, while people are wearing FPV goggles they are having a blast. In contrast to when a Phantom or Inspire is in the air, people are concerned you may be taking their picture without their permission and all that BS.
People within the FPV community are more chill. I’m not sure if it’s because 107 people are burnt out and trying to figure out how to make it in a heavily saturated environment after spending their life savings on a Matrice package. Personally, I pick and choose my commercial drone gigs because the race to bottom as far as compensation for drone work has begun. Furthermore, we see that companies, even high-profile brands are ok with sub-par aerial media. From blown out skies to tilted horizons, the commercial drone industry is questionable.
OK, so enough of the tangent, I apologize.
Spreading the Tiny Whoop Vibe
Moving forward, the DMV Droners are hoping to have a race within Washington D.C.’s city limits soon. We hope this brings a lot of attention to the group and the micro FPV world. Of course, this race will be indoors as D.C. has the most regulated airspace in North America (maybe the world). I’m not sure if this has been done before, but just having a legal drone race in D.C. is a groundbreaking concept in itself.
I continue to spread the word about these little drones, and you can fly them almost anywhere if the weather conditions are preferable. Recently, my fiance has picked up the addiction too. She loves it! While she may not be the fastest around the track, that’s not necessarily the end goal. Fun supersedes anything when it comes to hobbies, and I think this is the most enjoyable hobby I’ve found to date.
Also, we are very inclusive. We have young pilots, old pilots, hearing impaired pilots etc. Two DMV Droners built the light pictured below to help everyone start the race evenly. Before this race, we used a whistle to start each heat. They built it to have a two minute countdown with final buzzer, too. Now, after running the light through many races, there is a final design. Travis and Dustin are going to reprogram the light, so the yellow to green light transition is random. The DMV Droners and Tiny Whoop racing is something I never see going away :)