Configuring your Airframe for RaceBand and Timing
Configuring your airframe for racing is easy. You'll need to add two things to your frame:
1) ImmersionRC/FatShark video transmitter and power cables. These are 5-pin molex and 2-pin molex connectors. Simply solder the cables like you would with any video transmitter, but give about 2" of length to wherever you will mount the video transmitter. The most common place is the top deck of your airframe. You can mount it on top of the battery, on the side (as long as you have antenna clearance) or in some cases the bottom. We will provide a single strip of 3M Dual Lock fasteners (a new version of velcro with both sides being the same) that you can mount on your frame. NOTE: Please ground your audio cables (i.e. tie the white and green leads to the black GND lead). You can see the video from IBCrazy about this here.
2) IR Emitter. The IR emitter (you need to purchase or rent if you don't already own an I-Lap IR emitter) is powered via a servo style 3-pin connector and easily plugs directly into your Flight Controller or receiver. The most convenient area to mount the emitter is on the top deck, on the right (Starboard) side, pointing the LED bulb perpendicular to the airframe. The sensors are located in the Start/Finish Gate, vertically up the right hand side of the gate. Note: If you purchased the version 1 emitter from us (without the large LED), please come see us at the Pro Shop and we will upgrade your emitter for free.
Q: I already use a FatShark or ImmersionRC transmitter with the molex connectors, do I need to change them? Nope! You can use your existing cables, just so long as they are wired correctly. You also want to make sure the audio cables are grounded and not removed.
Q: I purchased or have the older I-Lap emitter without the white LED bulb on it (mine has a small golden IR bulb on one side) will that work? Possibly, but we highly recommend upgrading to the new one for free. Just see us in the Pro Shop in the Pit area during the race and we'll upgrade it for free.
Q: Is there a workbench with soldering capabilities onsite? Yes we will have a workbench area for you to do custom work.
Q: I'm bringing several airframes, how do I use one IR Emitter? Easy, just attach your emitter to your airframe with velcro and move it between airframes. You should use the same emitter ID for the race, however it is possible to assign multiple transmitter IDs to your racer account if you want to buy two.
RaceBand in Action
Alex Greve (IBCrazy) discusses best practices in video transmitter installation and use.
Next Generation Drone Racing
In response to the ever increasing frustration of pilots and race organizers trying to use a very outdated and non standard video transmission system in a racing format, ImmersionRC debuted their RaceBand system at the FPV28 Races in Chartres France. Those frustrations are endless, from the varying array of video transmitters and power outputs, dip-switches, and having to constantly actively monitoring accidental power ups. In a racing format, coordinating each racer on which channel they could or couldn't race on became a nightmare.
The new RaceBand system fixed all that, and the only requirement was that each pilot pre-installed the cable connectors (FatShark/ImmersionRC compatible) on their airframe, put a piece of velcro on the top, and that was it. At race time, each pilot was assigned a slot in the heat of 6 racers, and they were given the corresponding Vtx channel for that slot. The pilot stuck on the Vtx, pushed the button on their FatSharks to that channel (or plugged into the A/V cable supplied on the Duo Diversity Receiver) and was ready to race.
The ImmersionRC Duo Diversity receivers were highly tuned to the new raceband with two Spironet antennas that offered 180 degree coverage. Each Diversity in the line alternated with a Left-hand or right-hand antenna configuration. That, combined with a lower power output (25mw compliant) gave all racers a much greater quality video. Racers did not experience any multipathing or any typical issues experienced when you have a mixed bag of transmitters all in close proximity.
Pilots were not allowed to use their own video transmitters or hook them up on their airframes while in the pit and in the racing venue. This actually turned into a very great thing, as it eliminated the accidental power up and stomping on a pilot racing. Solving this issue alone really made the racing pilots much more comfortable in knowing they did not have to worry about losing video.
The system was highly conducive to a race format with judges, spotters and coaches as well. Judges didn't have to figure out which channel you were on (which is difficult just by looking at a video feed). At race time, the judge simply sat down next to you, put on the pair of FatSharks already tethered to the system, and was ready to go. The judge would then 'ride' along with the pilot, viewing the pilot's video feed and could easily tell whether a gate was missed or the pilot flew out of bounds. This made it incredibly easy and safe, minimizing personnel on the field.
The real beauty of the system came when the semi-finals and final ladders commenced. By using the raceband system, pilots were not confined any longer to a particular channel they could use, but rather now the race organizers could use a typical ladder system or even a lap timing system that automatically organizes the racers in heats.
We polled many racers at the Chartres event, asking them their blunt and candid feedback on the system. We asked them their thoughts on the cables and having to install them before hand, and on not being able to use their own video transmitters. What did they feel about the system once they used it. What was their experience overall and from a 1 to 10 rating, how would they rank the system and methodology.
The unanimous result was: a 100% 10 out of 10. Installing the cables was an easy task, and many pilots installed double cable systems to use their own video transmitters before or after the races. The racers also loved to be able to hear their name called out for a heat, i.e. "Johnson Position 2", and simply walk up to Position 2, pick up the transmitter, plug it in and go.
The US Drone Nationals will use the RaceBand system under the guidance of the ImmersionRC staff who will be onsite to make sure everything runs as smoothly and flawlessly as it did in Chartres, France. Additionally, we will be using the I-Lap timing and tracking system, so with the combination of these two systems, our racing heats can now be rotated every 7 minutes. This gives a much more robust throughput of racers per hour, giving everyone more chances to race.