May 17, 2017
In the past few years drones have transitioned from a hobbyist activity to that of something many people enjoy. This is due in part to cost, availability, and of course entry level quadcopters making it easier than ever to pull them out of a box and begin to fly. For the most part there is a clear divide between quadcopters that are considered toys and those that are designed for either racing or photography/videography. RISE on the other hand decided to find the middle ground, and created a House Racer drone that offers out-of-the-box flight ready first-person vision (FPV) racing. Not only can you fly the House Racer in FPV mode (either goggles or through a monitor), the little thing packs a lot of speed for something designed to be indoors.
Over the course of two months we took the House Racer through both small and large indoor race tracks (also known as my townhouse and parent’s house), and also did the unthinkable, brought it outside (oops). We found the Vusion House Racer to be an interesting mix between the super easy to pick up and fly drones you can buy at gas stations (closer to this end of the spectrum) to custom built racing quads.
Setup and Unboxing
If you truly want a quadcopter for racing, you’re basically on your own for building it. The Vusion House Racer gives you some of the feeling and maneuverability that you’d get from an actual racing quadcopter, but with practically no build time, and at a much lower cost. Within the box comes a neatly organized set of accessories, pieces of hardware, and even the four AA batteries for the transmitter (remote).
Once you pop the batteries into the transmitter and charge the included LiPo battery, the House Racer is ready to be calibrated and launched. With the provided accessories you can also attach the FPV monitor to the transmitter or put them in the included FPV goggles. You’ll be up and running, or more specifically running into walls, in no time.
Overall RISE’s Vusion House Racer has the flexibility to support both novice and experienced quadcopter pilots, and high-quality FPV connectivity for a great price point. However, this is absolutely not designed for small spaces, even with the wall guards, unless you’d consider yourself an experienced pilot. The transmitter also doesn’t feel like the junky ones you get from entry-level drones, and is easy to handle.
In The Box
- Extra props + screw driver
- Tactic FPV-RM2 40-channel 5.8GHz FPV monitor with 4.3″ LCD and external antenna
- 25mW 40-channel, 5-band Raceband 5.8GHz video transmitter
- RISE J2000 2.4GHz 6-channel radio transmitter
- 650mAh LiPo battery
- USB charger + Cable
- Wall guards
If you’ve ever flown an entry-level quadcopter the Vusion House Racer has a very similar feel to it. With three flight modes you’ll either get stability, some stability and stunts, or full motion and maneuverability. Unlike most entry-level quads though, the House Racer is relatively large for an indoor drone and it’s not exactly slow either. At first we decided a small townhouse wasn’t quite going to cut it, so we did a few test flights outside, which is not advisable since it can’t handle wind. After a few bumpy takeoffs, we were able to get the House Racer zooming about, and this thing really packs a punch. With a better handle on the controls we covered up some expensive items indoors and braced for impact.
We are at a bit of a crossroads with both the name and specs on this, as it’s relatively large for an indoor quadcopter and it’s certainly faster than needed. In fact if you’ve never picked up a quadcopter before and don’t have a lot of indoor space to work with, you are absolutely going to get yourself into trouble with the House Racer. Even with the included wall guards you’re still going to smack around into things. That said, if you have the space, go nuts.
The first flight mode is relatively easy to work with and gives the quadcopter a more chunky feel. Stability 2 gives you a bit more wiggle room and access to the stunt button for flips (which is oddly labeled camera). Finally, Rate mode gives you full, unrestricted control over the pitch and roll, which pushes this into the racer territory. The other two options are more similar to that of entry-level quadcopters.
- Stability 1 – self leveling and limited to 30 degrees on pitch/roll
- Stability 2 – self leveling, stunts, and limited to 45 degrees on pitch/roll
- Rate mode – no self leveling or limits to pitch/roll
Overall the House Racer is a lot of fun, especially in Rate mode when there is enough space available, but it will be pretty hard for first-timers. Expect to go through your propellers quickly, and if you’re taking a crash landing, your landing gear may have some issues. Like most mid-tier quadcopters, the battery life is a bit weak at 6-8 minutes, but fortunately the LiPo batteries are easily swapped out and can be purchased separately.
FPV Monitor and Goggles
FPV and drone racing go hand-in-hand, and a lot of the toy versions of drones simply get this very, very wrong. They try to use Bluetooth or other horrible connections to apps, and typically you get a super fun laggy mess with an otherwise unusable feature. If there is one thing that really has us impressed is the House Racer’s FPV quality. In full color, with minimal to no delay, you get to see exactly what the front of the House Racer sees. This is ported over to a 40-channel 5.8GHz monitor with a 4.3” LCD screen. This means as long as you adjust the monitor channels, quite a few people will be able to use the same technology for FPV views.
The monitor also has a built in DVR or capture feature (as seen in our flight video), that allows you to record all the action (crashes). The resolution may not be great outside of the included monitor, but it does still give you playback so that you can get a better idea of why you keep crashing into things.
For drone racing, typically you need some form of goggles to really get the full FPV immersion. The House Racer gives you this option, which is the same technology as placing your phone in a headset for rudimentary virtual reality, but I found it to be a bit uncomfortable and bulky. Fortunately they also offer a mount for the radio transmitter, so you can see what’s on the monitor without strapping it to your face. In the accessories is also a sun shade, which is pretty interesting considering this is designed to only be used indoors.
- Flight time: delivers 6-8 minutes of flight time
- Stunt button for flips/rolls
- Video quality: 640x480p (AVI)
- Diagonal Size: 120 mm (4.7 in)
- RTF Weight: 68 g (2.4 oz)
Design and Durability
A typical quadcopter features propellers on the top rather than the bottom of a drone, but for the House Racer this sort of gives it an advantage. Due to the design, you can easily squeeze under tight spots (see the several failed couch drifts in the video) without snagging on anything. On a slightly negative side, this design also means your landing gear plays an important role, and without it you’re having to toss the drone in air to get it going. This is another reason the Vusion House Racer can’t really handle the outdoors unless you’re working on a flat surface. Any kind of grass will just get in the props and you’ve got yourself a mini lawn mower.
For an indoor drone, the House Racer is also quite large. The micro or small palm sized drones are the norm for indoors, with this particular quad taking up the size of more than two iPhone pluses next to each other. Being an indoor drone, size matters for a couple of reasons, but mostly due to maneuverability among your possessions and not smashing things up. Fortunately there are two included wall guards, which should reduce damage to the quad and household items, but if it’s light and fragile, you’re still likely to knock it down. The only other slight design issue, which is actually not a huge one, is that due to the propeller placement, these things are going to get ripped up relatively quickly. Props are notorious for taking damage, so just make sure you order some extras beyond the second set they give you. Vusion itself is pretty durable, and only when it met a two story fall onto a hard surface did the landing gear start to see signs of damage. Luckily it’s plastic and can be formed back into place.
Overall the design of the Vusion House Racer allows it to be maneuverable around low hanging areas in the house; however, due to its larger size you shouldn’t plan on flying this in small places. Large, open indoor environments are best, especially as you first start to fly it.
Pros and Cons
- Great FPV monitor and connectivity
- Rate mode gives you the drone racing feel on the cheap
- You need to buy a lot of propellers (welcome to drone racing)
- Kind of large and fast for indoors
- Not. Designed. For. Small. Spaces. Don’t do it.
Should you buy the Vusion House Racer? If you’re interested in drone racing but tepid for making the investment, this will certainly give you a first-hand feel for how they fly. For those just looking for a basic quadcopter to fly around inside, this certainly does the trick too, and offers a great first-person view. If you were to try to combine all the parts and features from the Vusion, it’d be a hefty challenge to find a drone at the same price point. While it may not exactly be beginner friendly, the House Racer gives you small taste of what using a real quadcopter racing drone is like.
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