Tiny Whoops Pt.2

I was hooked… No doubt

But I had no idea what I was doing. The Whoop I’d bought (Blade Inductrix FPV) was WAAAAYYYYYYYY older than I realised. The sport had progressed so far in just a couple years and I was late catching the train. Still… I had a basic whoop and it flew ok and gave me an FPV experience. 

I realised that I knew nothing about Tiny Whoops and I really wanted an excuse to fly around interesting places with interesting people. So, I started a Facebook Group called Birmingham Tiny Whoopers and began to search for somewhere to host our meetups. I also wanted to make my own group and host events as something to push my life experiences and development, so this seemed like a good idea with something that was non-career related as a test base. After emailing what must have been 40 or 50 locations, eventually Tilt Brum got back to me and agreed to host us on quieter nights. This worked perfectly as it would fit in nicely on Wednesday nights once a month between another group meetups I attend in Birmingham.

I set the group up to provide a place where people can get together for free and fly their Whoops with others who are interested in them. I also believe that by full immersion, you learn the quickest about any subject so this was how I could hold myself accountable to learning what I needed to know. The first meetup was just me and my brother messing around with our drones, drinking the excellent beer and playing the pinball machines Tilt has in abundance. Next month was far more successful and now it’s got a core of 2-5 people who attend regularly.

Each time I didn’t understand something or needed to learn something new, I went to Youtube and sought it out. Everything you could ever need is available on there to understand any topic and Tiny Whoops is the same. It soon became apparent the main progression in Tiny Whoops was from “Brushed” motors to “Brushless” ones and the associated control hardware. My starter Whoop has Brushed motors and is SLOOOOOOWWWWWW.

Brushed motors work on varying the voltage to increase and decrease the speed of the motor. The power travels to a central rotor of coils via “brushes”. The resulting electromagnetism acting against permanent magnets around the edge, causes it to spin. As it spins, the next set of coils are brought into contact with the brushes and get their dollop (a super accurate measure) of power and so the cycle repeats. Because P=IV, by varying the voltage, you get a change in power output, in the form of higher or lower RPM of the motors. The brushed motors aren’t very efficient for a number of reasons but the main one is that they cannot respond very quickly to low throttle position changes as they take time to spool up and down the RPM as each coil has to take its time to connect to the power source. Coupled with a sliding contact brush that has its own inherent losses, it means they also wear out very quickly. We are talking about a motor that is about 1cm long by 6mm across spinning at thousands of RPM. They are very impressive bits of micro-engineering, but contain wearing parts so you usually only get about 8-12 hours flight time from them.


Over the year I’ve had My First Tiny Whoop, I have burned through about 6 sets of motors. Clearly I love flying it, but sometimes it’s been frustrating as it just doesn’t have the power needed to pull out of drops and dives around obstacles. With new motors (I found 17,000kv to be best) and new and lighter batteries (260mAh Lipo’s), my little brushed drone did great, ripping around the house, terrorising the dogs. (Haku really does not like Whoops) but just doesn’t compare to the modern kit available.

Just before Christmas, I took a trip down to visit Paul Jaggers, who runs Indoor Drone Racing London. He put on an ABSOLUTELY MEGA event in central London for Tiny Whoops and live streamed the whole thing, you can check out a snippet with me commentating here. I also took part and had the slowest whoop by far. Not only the slowest, but the least reliable and most troublesome as I just had terrible video feed break up meaning it was almost unflyable in places around the course. I’m making excuses for my shocking performance, but truly it was hard to get my little Duck Face flying properly. Then, about an hour before the end of the event, my video antenna snapped and pulled the electrical contact off the main circuit board, meaning it was practically impossible to fix. After a while trying to coax it back to life, it did fly, but now had truly awful video transmission. I determined that my poor little starter drone had gone as far as he could and it was time to upgrade.

The social media channels had been buzzing about the Happymodel Mobular 6 Tiny Whoop for a few months now and after watching some of the reviews I totally understood why. This little drone ABSOLUTELY ZIPPED!!! It is just insanely fast and still easily controllable! This Whoop uses “Brushless” motors and is the main reason its so fast. They are built in the opposite way to brushed motors, with the coils staying still on the inside and the permanent magnets spinning on a rotor around them. This means there are no moving contacts to create losses and the rotors can spin MUCH faster without issue. This does mean that the control equipment has to be much more complex and precise. Each coil has to be “fired” at the right time to make the motor spin. It’s all done with some electronic wizardry using feedback from the coils and their resistance to know the position of the rotor and which coils should be fired next to continue the rotation. Because each coil is fired at a specific time, it doesn’t need to be powered continuously and maximum power can be applied at the most efficient moment to get the maximum work out of the motor. This means incredibly long flight times, or what racers are more interested in, huge amounts of power and speed!

The Mobular 6 is a whole new ballgame and meant I had to get a Proper ControllerTM (I went for the FrSky Taranis X-Lite) and learn how to program all the settings on the computer using Beta Flight. It took a couple days of solid YouTube-ing to find out all the bits and bobs I’d need to get it into the air safely and pair it with my controller. Big shout out to Joshua Bardwell for his tutorials, he is truly THE Drone Man. 

The Mobular 6 turned up just in time for the International Race Day I hosted as my first big event. In future, this is what I’d like to do more of, finding cool venues and putting on special events for racers to fly and compete throughout the year.