The huge surge of do-it-yourself FPV racing quads has finally trickled down into the mainstream. As such, Hobbico’s new RISE brand of racing quads just added a well-made and fun entry-level brushed quad to their lineup.
Meet the new RISE Vusion House Racer Indoor FPV Race Pack which comes as a complete package and the fun of optional FPV race gates!
Two versions are available. The complete FPV version (RISE0207) is the version I’ll be sharing. For those with FPV goggles and a radio with the Hobbico SLT protocol, an FPV-R version (RISE0208) will save the buyer US$100 at only $79.99.
This 120-class RTF quadcopter was offered for review in mid-February 2017; these models were still in transit from the factory and I’d almost forgotten about it until early March, that is, until an unexpected package arrived and inside was the terrific little quad I’m about to share. My friends at Hobbico also included the House Racer FPV Race Gate System (RISP0001) and a spare RISE 650mAh 20C 3.7V lithium-polymer battery (RISP2065). It adds up to one of the most fun models I’ve ever reviewed. If the factory video is any indication, this system is well on its way to becoming a new party game!
Speaking of fun at parties, Hobbico announced the House Racer Challenge at about the same time the first models and gate kits were being shipped in early March 2017 with the contest ending in April.
The grand prize? Five thousand dollars. The official entry page may be viewed here.
Let’s take a look at this little sweetie.
Size: 4.7″ (120mm) diagonally motor-to-motor
Width: 6.5″ (165mm)
Length: 6.5″ (165mm)
Height: 2″ (52mm)
Motors: 8mm brushed coreless
Propellers: 2.3″ (58mm) diameter; pitch not specified
Battery: RISE 650mAh 20C 1S lithium polymer with JST micro spade connector
Transmitter: RISE J2000 2.4GHz SLT protocol six-channel with dual rates, digital trim tabs, three flight modes and monitor holder
Camera: 600 TVL resolution 40-channel 5.8GHz NTSC/PAL transmission format; 25mW power output; 640x480p VGA AVI video format
Weight: 1.82 oz (51.7g) less battery
Operator Skill Level/Age: Beginner; 14+
Claimed Flight Time: 6-8 minutes
Catalog Number: RISE0207
Price (USD): $179.99
Available From: Tower Hobbies or any hobby shop which stocks Hobbico products
Fully assembled model
RISE J2000 six-channel SLT protocol transmitter with three flight modes and dual rate modes
Four AA-cell alkaline transmitter batteries
Tactic FPV-RM2 monitor, Tactic FPV-G1 goggles, receiver antenna and optional self-stick foam liner to retain other monitors
RISE 650mAh 20C 1S lithium polymer flight battery
USB flight battery charger
USB monitor charge cable
Detachable wall guard
Illustrated instruction manual
Required to Complete
Micro SD card up to 32GB
Optional Tactic 5.8GHz cloverleaf receiver antenna; 3dBi signal boost (TACZ5305)
Hobbico does an exceptional job of packaging and artwork and that of both the House Racer and the race gates were no exception. Manuals for both the model and the FPV system waited atop the tray cover and in typical Hobbico fashion, they are both well written and chock full of clear photos and beautifully rendered engineering drawings. Far too many no-name brand machines have nearly unreadable, machine-translated text. Not Hobbico. Their manuals are written by their own technical writers. The model’s manual may be downloaded in PDF format here and the manual for both the receiver and goggles here.
Although a USB charger was included, I first charge new flight batteries on my ElectriFly Triton EQ computerized charger. Both the supplied battery and the spare started at 3.88V and charged in exactly 45 minutes each. Later recharges at 650mAh, or 1C, brought the batteries back to life in an average of just over an hour.
The monitor should be charged as well via the included USB cable before its first use. Its manual states that it charges in about three hours, but I’d averaged less than half of that recharging it between test flights. The onscreen battery level indicator drops rather quickly, but given the claimed operating time, I was never in any danger of the monitor shutting off due to low voltage.
The above photos show the contents upon first opening the box, the contents with the protective plastic top removed and what lies beneath the goggles and the model.
As for the House Racer itself, Hobbico rejected the cobbled-together look of most so-called “Tiny Whoop” quadcopters. Instead, the House Racer has a frame, shell and propeller guards made of high impact, lightweight plastic. The lime green body shell and prop guards add visual contrast when flying line of sight.
Orientation is further enhanced by a bright red LED taillight which doubles as a flashing low battery indicator. An onboard alarm sounds as well when it’s time to land.
No tools are needed for the dark grey wall guards; they simply snap on over the motor covers, but once installed, the guards are difficult to remove. I’ve never been a fan of guards, but the House Racer’s are very lightweight, they don’t affect the flight or handling and allow the model to be stored in its display box tray.
On the subject of motor covers, RISE has truly risen to the occasion.
No soldering or even tools are necessary to replace the motors. Each cover simply twists off and once the propellers are removed, the motors are pressed out from below, their leads removed from inside the radials and unplugged from the board. The procedure is clearly covered in the manual.
If that isn’t a fantastic idea aimed at budding FPV pilots – or any FPV pilot – I don’t know what is.
The RISE J2000 transmitter is one of the nicest I’ve seen in an RTF. It’s nearly as large as a full-sized radio with excellent heft, rubber finger grips and buttery-smooth stick feel. Antennas are hidden which gives the unit an exceptionally clean look by omitting “rubber duck” antennas sticking out from atop the unit.
Buttons and switches are clearly marked, although in the case of the House Racer, the picture button activates the automatic flip in flight mode two and the video button isn’t used at all. Those functions are found on the monitor itself. I’ve reviewed a lot of RTF entry level quads and most have very toylike transmitters. Such is not the case here and with its SLT radio protocol, it can be easily bound to other small Hobbico models which share the protocol, but one should be aware that there are no channel reversing switches. As far as binding the House Racer to another SLT transmitter such as the Tactic TTX650, no problem and the manual gives all the setup details.
I must say that getting the transmitter and model to bind per the manual didn’t seem to work. I tried switching the transmitter off then on again which did the trick. A technical tip with an updated explanation of the binding process has since been published online and it does in fact recommend switching the transmitter off and on to establish the bind should the initial attempt fail.
With the House Racer bound and ready, it was time to go flying.
My first indoor line-of-sight test was done on the gentlest control rate setting available. The motors are armed by moving the left stick all the way down and to the right; moving the stick to the left disarms the motors.
Hobbico truly had first time users in mind when they designed the House Racer. The model was as gentle and predictable a flyer as one could imagine. It simply had no bad habits whatsoever and it smoothly flew around the living room.
Flight mode two on low rates added more lively control response, but high rates seemed a bit too high for line-of-sight in even a large living room. Flown outdoors, the settings are perfect and I predict that most outdoor users will fly mode two, high rates. That’s also the rate which allows the use of the automatic flip function. It’s the sort of “gee whiz” feature found on many entry level quads and it works well, but the flips should be done with a fully charged battery to avoid the risk of a crash.
The manual has excellent pointers for those just learning to fly a quadcopter and perhaps the best suggestions are that raw beginners practice outdoors over grass on a calm day. While I won’t say that the House Racer is totally indestructible, its light weight and high impact plastic construction make it darn near so.
Overall speed and handling were excellent; micro quads have come a very long way in a very short time. The House Racer simply went where I wanted it to go and it did so under nearly perfect, rock solid control. The name is almost a misnomer; this model does brilliantly well in outdoor operation, even in a light breeze. Flight mode one, however, is a bit too gentle for outdoor flight and I recommend any new user practicing outdoors use mode two on low rates in calm winds.
Flight mode three opens up a lot of exciting possibilities. Gone are the self-leveling features which not only make for advanced, high speed FPV flight, the model will also perform manual flips! My first attempt to do so outdoors found the model fully on its back and plummeting to the grass.
Not a scratch, nothing broken. Minor crashes also trigger the automatic motor shutoff, a very nice feature that will save the electronics. That same feature combined with the downward facing propellers make launching the model from grass difficult; the propellers will catch in grass.
Hobbico claims a flight time of six to eight minutes and that’s the average I was achieving as well. That’s especially impressive given the fact that the camera can’t be switched off for use strictly as a line-of-sight model.
While the House Racer is an excellent line-of sight sport model, its raison d’être is FPV. Let’s check it out.
The supplied Tactic FPV-RM2 monitor and FPV-G1 goggles themselves are almost worth the price of admission. The 40-channel, 4.3″ HD monitor can be clipped to the transmitter’s bracket…or placed inside the goggles for a totally immersive FPV experience. Should one own another monitor less than 5.9 x 3.15″, that monitor will fit just fine, but there’s only one opening for an antenna. If the monitor of choice is on the opposite side, no go. A loose fit can be resolved with the enclosed self-stick foam pad which, unfortunately, I managed to lose during the course of the review. The good news is, the pad isn’t needed when using the FPV-RM2.
The better news is that the pair is available as a separate package (TACZ5202) for those who are seeking an excellent entry level FPV monitor system.
The biggest problem I faced was that the head strap doesn’t allow for a lot of adjustment, so we with large noggins will find the goggles to be a very snug fit. What it does allow is for adjustment of the depth of field via a slider atop the goggles and there’s plenty of room for reading glasses. I’m farsighted, but none of my “reader cheaters” brought the image into better focus. Add to that the snug fit of the goggles and I decided to be content with a slightly blurry image.
Color saturation, hue and contrast are excellent and the monitor displays functions such as channel selection, battery charge, signal strength and a recording timer. Since no micro SD card is provided, I formatted a 4GB card I had on hand, brought the whole affair to a local park and gave it a try.
To record, the “V” button is pressed before the monitor is installed in the goggles; there’s no remote button to start the recording. That starts the count-up timer on the lower left corner and from there, I was off.
The image isn’t flat as I’d expected but rather, it’s a fisheye image. I was a bit leery at first, but I quickly adapted and I actually found it easier to maneuver about than if the image were flat. To my eye, it added a bit of artificial depth. As per the manual, signal dropouts are common and something to be expected from a system with minimum power.
I really wanted to see the difference that a cloverleaf antenna with a 3dBi gain would do, so I ordered the Tactic TACZ5305 antenna from the local hobby shop. For all of thirteen bucks, this antenna came completely assembled and ready to fly right down to its standard SMA connector.
A 3dB boost might not sound like much, but it should be kept in mind that decibels are measured on a logarithmic scale instead of a linear one.
In short, the difference was astounding in its first outdoor test. I tested the goggles and antenna at a municipal soccer park and even after taking out the House Racer further than ever before, signal dropouts were all but eliminated. The only dropout I noticed was in the burst signal, i.e., the video signal used to “tell” an analog color TV receiver that the incoming signal is in color. The weakened burst let to a nearly monochromatic image, but only at a distance and even then, briefly so as I accelerated out of turns.
Of course, the House Racer is aimed at first-time indoor FPV racers and RISE has just the thing to crank up the fun.
House Racer Race Gate System
The company’s own video not only shows the House Racer blasting into stacks of red Solo drink cups (there’s a song in there somewhere), but shows actual recordings of high speed, indoor FPV flight through the optional RISE House Racer Gate System (RISP0001). There are plenty of accessories in the box, not to mention a whole lot of value:
Checkered Gate (RISP0003)
(2) Wall and Floor Ring Gate (RISP0002)
Pylon Gate with Flag (RISP0004)
(4) Race Gate Flight Path Marker Arrows (RISP1004)
LED Ring Gate (RISP0007)
Elevated Ring Gate (RISP0005)
Arch Gate (RISP0006)
The entire parts list may be found here.
Rounding out the package are 3M Command Strips for attachment of the ring gates to smooth walls, doors and ceilings. These strips are often used for temporary mounting of indoor holiday decorations and are easily removed. They’re also readily available at big box stores, hardware stores, etc.
Available as well are the separate parts which, in the case of the checkered race gate, is a really good thing. It’s too tall with too small of a footprint for it to stand on its own. The tubes are all the same diameter and four per side can be inserted into each base to steady the gate. Small sandbags like those used in theater and TV work would do well. On uneven ground, the instructions say that small tent stakes may be used.
Another problem was the need to bend one of the tubes for the pylon gate. The plastic bends easily, but it took some manipulation to bend it enough. I may try my heat gun and report back.
Once the obstacle course has been laid out, raw FPV beginners should note that attempts to fly indoors via the goggles will be met with a lot of crashes. While I’m personally comfortable flying outdoors via goggles, I’m not quite as skilled indoors. In short, the sort of high speed hijinks seen through goggles in the factory video is only going to come with practice. Clipping the monitor to the transmitter is the best way to start and I was zipping in and out of the gates – and the living room – with a combination of the easy-to-see monitor and line of sight on the lowest possible control rate.
I did likewise in the video below with an indoor sortie at Uncle Don’s Hobbies in nearby Palm Desert, California. Not only does owner Kevin Koch stock the entire RISE line, he has some race gates set up for demonstration purposes! I arranged to shoot the video at the store soon after it opened on a Saturday morning and did so with a combination of line-of-sight and the FPV monitor clipped to the transmitter. The results are truly exciting!
In fact, a seasonal visitor from Canada and her two grandsons enjoyed the fun right along with me; the older of the two actually had some experience with FPV and he did a sterling job of explaining the system to her. I handed the monitor to his grandmother and I flew the House Racer line-of-sight around the store. She was absolutely delighted to see what the House Racer “saw” in real time and naturally, I referred her and her grandsons to RC Universe.
Back home, I plan to practice flying some inexpensive FPV machines through the obstacles and report back. It’s simply too much fun not to!
When one considers the completeness of the package, the $179.99 price tag of the RISE Vusion House Racer Indoor FPV Race Pack makes it quite a good deal. Literally everything is in one box including the goggles and monitor. Neither assembly nor complex programming are required; just charge and go. Add to that Hobbico’s world class customer support, parts availability and the fact that the House Racer “grows” as a pilot grows. It’s simply too well balanced a package to give it any less than the highest two thumbs up I can muster.
For those who’ve been reluctant to enter the world of indoor/outdoor FPV because of cost and complexity, be reluctant no more.
My sincerest thanks go to Natalie Rodrigues, the public relations and content manager of Hobbico who was kind enough to arrange the shipping of this fantastic package and its accessories. I enjoy working on behalf of Natalie and Hobbico almost more than I can express.
In the meantime, I have some House Racer batteries charging. Practice makes perfect, after all!
Earlier, I’d written that the House Racer may well be on its way to being a party game. Here’s proof:
This is yours truly flying the House Racer via both FPV and line of sight:
Pros and Cons
- Outstanding flight characteristics
- Nearly indestructible
- Outstanding documentation
- Outstanding parts support and customer support
- Can be used with more advanced SLT protocol radios
- The supplied transmitter feels like a top of the line unit
- Motors may be replaced in a matter of minutes without tools or soldering
- The camera’s fisheye lens gives a very good artificial depth of field
- Bright, clear monitor
- The optional receiver antenna all but eliminates video dropouts
- Quite possibly the current standard for affordable FPV
- No lens cover
- Snap-on wall guard is difficult to remove
- The headband for the goggles is too small and has limited adjustment range
- The checkered race gate won’t stand up on its own without additional tubing, weights and/or spikes