Makerfire Micro FPV Racing Drone is the latest entry into ducted fan micro racers joining the Tiny Whoop™ race. For the value and money, this quadcopter comes Ready To Fly or also available Crazepony the Bind-N-Fly version with DSM receiver. We received a BNF version from GearBest to test against a Devo 10 Deviation with DSM protocol and the results are good. ■ dronemission.com
Micro quadcopters have come a long way, with Jesse Perkins mounting a small FPV camera and video transmitter, showcasing some amazing indoor racing and calling it the Tiny Whoop™. Several manufacturers have since began to introduce their version of affordable ducted fan quadcopters and Makerfire Micro is noted to be a good entry in this category of indoor racing. The tall propeller guards allows the micro quadcopter to bounce off the wall without damaging the fans (propellers), surviving most crashes.
It is also beneficial to note that when paired with the popular opensource F3 flight controller, manufacturers are able to lower the cost of production. With a F3 flight controller, pilots can get several flight modes available instantly.
In Rate/Manual/Expert, this mode is the most challenging flight mode which uses the gyroscopes from the flight controller while the accelerometer is disabled . It allows the best control of the quadcopter, allowing pilots to do some amazing hairpin turns and aerobatics. This will however require some experience and not intended for beginners.
In Angle/Stability mode, the accelerometer is activated. This enables the quadcopter to self-level. If you don’t put in any input, the quadcopter will remain level. This is the mode that is used on the budget entry level quadcopters. It is however a great way for all pilots to practice control and orientation by flying in a number 8 pattern
In Horizon mode, this is a mix between Rate mode and Angle mode. It gives a pilot the best of both modes to perform flips and rolls and yet self-levels when the pilot centers the sticks but with Rate mode at it’s endpoint.
In the early days of racing drone, an inexperienced pilot would suffer a flip of death (FOD), but to the rescue, came “Air Mode”. In Air mode, pilots will be flying at all throttle levels, so if you chop the throttle, the stability corrections still come into play, even at minimum throttle, allowing the pilot to perform some amazing maneuvers at low throttle rates.
You will have to assign Air Mode as you would to a switch when setting up flight modes within Betaflight. The suggested best practices to test Air mode are:
- Arm motors (motors start spinning idling as an option)
- Enable AirMode with switch (check to ensure no idling windup on ground)
- Lift off and fly around (motors will never stop in flight even at lowest throttle and self levels)
- Just prior to landing, disable Air Mode by switch (as a safety)
- Land and disarm motors
The benefit of using ducted fans is they are fully protected and prevent the fans from causing any damage to walls, as well it is safe enough to be caught by hand!
One of the best kept secret of a Walkera transmitter is the ability to support multiple protocols with opensource Deviation. So if a pilot is flying a selection of models, such as Walkera, Blade, Eflite, Hubsan x4, Parkzone Micro Warbirds, Spektrum planes, you can turn an affordable Devo transmitter into a power house that supports these protocols. With a Walkera 12E 12 channel radio transmitter selling at $85 versus a Spektrum JRP12 at $1249, you can see the cost benefit of marketing a Walkera Devo 10 or 12E for micro racing drones.
Pilots can easily spend 5 minutes on each flight, setting up and flying. The actual flight may last 3-4minutes. On a Mode 2 radio transmitter, throttle stick is on the left.
Binding the Makerfire Micro to a new radio transmitter can be a challenge, you will likely need two pairs of hands to hold down the bind button, at the same time power on. However, you only have to do this once.
Once you have your radio bound to the Makerfire Micro, you will want to run some tests within Betaflight Goggle Chrome App. You will need a USB cable to connect your quadcopter to a computer. Make sure your throttle is within range, and the receiver is responding in the right direction for all stick movements.
To begin your first flight, power on your radio transmitter first, make sure your throttle stick is at the lowest point. Check to make sure all your switches are up (position 0). Connect your battery to your copter, lay the copter flat on a hard surface immediately.
Move your left throttle stick down to the lowest point and to the right, to unlock (arm) the motors. The copter is now live. To lock (disarm), move your left throttle stick down to the lowest point and to the left. You can change your setup to switches with Betaflight.
The Makerfire is easy to fly on Horizon mode and can be switched to Angle mode or Rate mode. It accelerates at a high speed, so setting up dual rates is a good idea. Low rates at 70 scale on 30 exponential is a good start. It survived all of our indoor and outdoor crashes, which makes this quadcopter a hardy little thing.
Competitors / Similar Models
The camera is a acceptable 520 TVL camera, capable for night flying. See video for results.
Flight controller: F3 EVO with STM32 F303 MCU
Receiver: DSM 2.4GHz 8CH
Video transmission: 5.8G 40CH 25mW
Video resolution: 520TVL
Receive distance: 300m
Motor: 615 coreless motors with 65000 RPM
Battery: 3.7V 200mAh 35C
Flight time: about 5 minutes
Charge time: 30 minutes
Charging method: USB
Market Demand Trending
Buy/Sell. Manufacturers and dealers, these tiny inspired whoops are hitting the market as fast as the first phantom and 350 pros were a few years ago, as hobbyist takes a turn towards micro quadcopters; showing a steady growth in the market. A snapshot from Grand View Research 2016.
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Makerfire 2017. From the DroneMission.com Desk Industry and Competitive Analysis (ICA)