Digital HD is the future of drone racing. This proves it. // EVAN TURNER INTERVIEW
I tried to um like on drill. We have these little flags that, like wave in the back, but that um put it back to green screen, well key something in okay: okay, all right yeah, but you dont know what were gon na key in yeah, exactly evan turner, uh im really excited to talk To you today, because you recently did something that has never been done before, which is you raced and won at a nationals level, competition on a digital hd, video system, yeah um – that was uh, quite the controversial decision for sure um. I was one of id say three or four pilots that were running digital at the event um in the pro class, that is, there were pilots in the sport class, running it as well um, but yeah. It was very controversial. It went way better than i think even hd0 expected lets. Talk about lets, save that well save that were going to talk about how it went. But, as you said right there, i think a lot of people when they hear that someones running digital fpv, they would go oh yeah. Well, obviously it must have been dji and then they would say: wow somebodys racing dji. I thought the latency was a killer and so forth, but it wasnt dji. It was no. It was uh hd0, so uh. That is, i guess, djis competitor. They uh stemmed from shark bite. You know, youve heard bite, frost shark bite, you know its slowly.
There were some problems with it, but now its getting better and better and now it is truly a competitive system for for racing and maybe even freestyle someday. But it is getting better and better, and i think that this race really proved that to a lot of people. Well, thats. What i want to talk, i mean we got theres a lot of things we could talk about. We talked about your company 533 and all the cool products that youre working on youve got a new youve got a new frame, thats come out, and certainly i think that we should have some and also youve got uh a race coming up in costa rica and Youve got a really cool race series. The tiny trainer race series going on is that tiny trainer race series going on in st louis yep. So i want to talk about all that stuff because you have so much cool stuff going on, but the number one reason i wanted to talk to you was today was that you, like you, have made the decision to switch from analog. At least you did for nationals, and i presume, if you did it for nationals thats, just where youre going going forward. Are you done with analog uh? Well, analog does have its benefits. You know on a whoop that weighs 20 grams. Hg0 is just not to that point yet uh, nor dji. So for something like that, maybe analog might be better and the nice thing about um.
I guess uh hd zero. Is that its just a module at the time that clips onto your goggles and you can still use analog – and you know, theres the analog attachment to your dji, goggles and stuff, but its really cool with ht0 that its just a clip on? And you can turn it off and then turn on your analog and fly anything analog, but um yeah. I really do think digital is the future. I saw um well, i guess to tell the full story behind it. All the first time i flew hd0 was at 2021, a multi gp. I o um and id heard all this um like talk around it and um. I was, of course flying analog. I dont know really too many people flying ht0 at io, but they brought ryan quellet brought ht0 a quad there and he was like. I gave him an hd frame as a prototype. He built it up that day and then he let me fly and i was like wow like this could be something and you know i stayed in contact with him and carl whos, the owner of divi math and hd zero, and we got to talking and then Um they were, i was like okay. I i really liked their story. I really liked what they were doing and i was like if we want to put this on the map. Nationals is just around the corner if we, if myself and maybe a few other top pilots ran it.
I think this would change the game and uh. The first step of that was that we wanted to put hd zero on the global qualifier. So well thats a question that i had when you made this decision uh and you did make the decision at the last freaking minute i was people said i hear i hear evan turner says hes going to run ht zero at nationals and i said well, surely Hes tested it thoroughly, theres so much at stake and your dad actually said. No, he doesnt currently even have one quad running ht0. You just made this decision. Not did you make it based on what you thought was a competitive advantage, or did you make it to kind of make a statement or like a little of both um? Well, in all honesty, so um, i did not run ht0 on the global qualifier. I this. I ran my my only global qualifier far before i had had any talks with hd0. However, after flying at i o, i really did believe in it. So i was, i would say, the big middle man between these top pilots and hd 0.. So i you know, i have a great relationship with all the top pilots. We worked with them with 533 a lot, and i also had a great relationship with ht0 uh after i o and wanting to talk with them more. So i kind of connected those two and we set up a deal to where i think it was two or three of the top pilots were flying ht0 at third global qualifier and after that happened, i heard the feedback from the pilots and it wasnt perfect, and This that and the other, but going into nationals.
I am a big im, a big advocator for drone racing, and i think that i i would love for it to get big and you know uh. I wanted to grow so i felt that if it that were to happen, digital has to be involved in that, like analog, we saw so much growth come when dji came in the freestyle side of things, and i just felt like, as far as a spectator sport That were trying to turn drone racing into digital has to come into that, and it brought so many new people into it, made it so much better in so many ways that if we could prove that it was viable for racing, if we could prove there was Viable at the highest level, then that could totally change the direction of drone racing and the speed at which it grows. So i wasnt trying to make any sort of statement saying. Oh i can win on digital. I wasnt even necessarily trying to say it was better or worse than analog. I was just trying to say that i felt that if i made the decision to run it that that would show people that it is capable of competing at the highest level and that even regardless, if i won just showing that i had the confidence in that Company and these people to run it that it could totally change the direction of drone racing moving forward, and i was willing to take that risk whether or not i had practiced with it or whether or not i tested it extensively.
I was willing to take that risk to hopefully push drone racing further well, and it was a risk too, because i mean the the whether the hardware can hold up to the kind of abuse that racers put on it. Whether it was gon na give you some kind of a weird interference or drop out at the last minute, i mean there is no higher stakes in drone racing uh. Some would say than these than this race, and especially with your reputation as much as youve got on the line uh. This was your third time winning multi tgnets correct uh, so i mean uh theres a lot on the line there, and you certainly put that all in the line to try to sort of make this make this push forward for fpv and for racing correct, and i Um you know uh, it would definitely it definitely was a risk and uh. One thing that i definitely want want to put out there and be completely transparent is that i received zero payments. Zero they get. I was given free gear um. I was given free gear. Just like i would, if i flew analog, you know i have sponsors through through that and whatnot, but so many people are like, oh, its just a money grab. This is just that. You just want money and its like. I received zero dollars for this yeah and it was truly out of me wanting to push run racing further and i i believe in it i really do and i wasnt out there trying to make a couple bucks.
I wanted to push it further and yes, im going to make products that are compatible with hd0, but regardless of my affiliation, i was going to do the same thing so yeah. That is definitely something i wanted to put out there and thats one of the things that i thought about. As i thought about you know, whats your motivation here and, as i think about the motivations of someone like you, a top racer one of the motivations is certainly to win, and i think you would argue that it gives you a competitive advantage. Um. Do you feel that it gave you a competitive advantage, thats a double edged sword for sure um, the competitor, the advantage it gave me during the day i felt was much higher than the advantage gave me in at night during the finals, so um a lot of These drone racing, if youve ever watched the streams on any sort of multi gp you qualify during the day and then you kind of most the finals end up under the lights at night makes it uh really cool, but um. During the day i felt like i could see so well in comparison analog, i could watch other analog streams and then i could watch mine and i was like i really do feel like. I have an advantage, but going into the night. It seems like all these analog cameras are like kind of they kind of stem from uh security cameras that work so well at night, so they seem to really get better when they get to that.
Like twilight flying under the lights kind of thing, so i felt the analog kind of caught up to hd0 in that regard, but by no means that i feel like i was any worse um i still felt like i had. I mean, as far as the static goes or any multi pathing. There was none of that. I mean there were like the little sparkles here and there just from when you get really far away or what not, but it was none of this. Oh, i saw part of his video or anything like that. It was the system performed as it should. It performed amazing. The cameras are only going to get better. This was another argument in the fact that i said that digital will never take off if its not adopted, like did all of these things, especially owning a company. I understand that you need funding to be able to grow and to be able to convince yourself and others to put money into this to try and grow it. So if nobody ever adopted, if nobody ever took that risk, maybe like this, would have gone nowhere. Just because people would have thought that it didnt deserve that funding. So i thought, if i put that in there other people would try it that would give divi math and hd0 more funding and then now all these other companies are putting r d in their own money into making cameras that are even better.
So maybe in the next year maybe htc will be better not only during the day but at night too, but it just needed some funding and some encouragement to these other companies and the criticism of the night performance is really a criticism of the camera more than It is a criticism because the system itself just carries the signal from the camera and currently were just starting to see some really decent cameras come out for the first cameras that came out for the system were not that great um and there certainly are cameras that Many racers prefer for their nighttime performance and others that they dont, like um, so, like you said hopefully in the next year, well see more of that coming out. But but, like you said, if nobody wants to be the first one to invest 50 000 or whatever. The number is a big number in making a run of 5 000 cameras where they just dont know. If the market is there, if theyre going to lose that money, and they just want to kind of looking around to see whos going to go first, and it certainly would be exciting to see your performance at nationals like there has to be demand from people who Want the system and then companies like a run camera or a foxer will go. Oh well lets make lets, make cameras uh yeah exactly so. We want to see, and i think thats happened for sure.
Do you think thats happened? I mean i think 100. I mean you saw, like i mean uh, i mean heres, the quad that i used. This was the quad that one right here um. So if this was using the ht0 micro cam, this i believe had just came out when i flew it at nationals and um. Now, since then, like youve seen fox year coming out with all these new cameras – and you see the apollo or the did you say, yeah yeah looks amazing, um and thats just been in two months, since the race even happened less than a month. Since the race has happened – and i think if you take that and then go over a year of all these other people adopting it and these people seeing the market thats thats coming about if theyre, just gon na dump even more resources into it, to try and Make it even better and try and be that top camera thatll be used next year, yeah well um! Well, i i think its really exciting. What percentage of uh razors do you think are going to be using, i mean if you had to guess how much adoption, how many versus people who say you know what analog works. Fine for me, im not going to take a chance. Uh! Are you talking about? Next year at nationals, yeah lets say next year at nationals whats, you know yeah thats, a hot tape, throw a number.
I think that ill say that over fifty percent of people at nationals next year will be using digital is my is my guess. Okay, thatll, be i mean right or wrong its going to be interesting to see how that comes out um. What about what about you know? One of the things with racing has always been issues with the timing system. We know that dji is has various reasons, why its not perfectly compatible with existing timing systems and, of course, the ability to dvr the race, so that officials can, you know, can officiate the race and also for spectator perspective. How did uh, how did shark bite perform or hd0 perform? In those regards? I had absolutely no problems with any sort of interference with other pilots. I didnt have any problems with timing. I didnt miss a single app. I didnt false trigger a single lap and my quad performed as if any of the top racing vtxs that we use on analog, i would expect them to perform so i wasnt interfering like there were heats we were in qualifying. We were flying in heats of eight pilots up and they would just drop an hd0 pilot somewhere in there and they could interfere with any of those people, but i flew 25 milliwatts didnt affect interfere with anyone. I flew timing, didnt interfere with anything there and they didnt have to change any setting. They didnt have to go in there and change my gate or lower anything or raise anything.
It was as if i was an analog quad the antenna i used. It was a. I took this antenna off an old analog. Quad put it on. It looks like a normal analog quad for the most part, and i flew it and it was as if nothing had changed. I just could see a lot better than everybody else. Yeah yeah well, thats. Really nice um ive, said uh ive said that that theres a good chance that you could win flying pretty much any equipment that you chose just based on your your sort of raw skill, but the fact that hd0 didnt, let you down, is actually all it had To do in a sense now, maybe it helped you, maybe it made you because people have said he didnt win because of hd0. He could fly anything and im like look if he won in spite of hd0 right, if it just stuck with you even that at this high level of competition is saying a lot yeah. No, i uh. I talked to a lot of people about kind of that decision, as i was going in and i kind of saw it almost as a lose lose or i dont know it was because it was like if i won with ht0 people would say well, he only Won because hd zero, then if i lose and i do terrible, then people would be like well. If he would have won. If he would use analog, then he would have done better and it was.
It was a huge, but it was a huge uh make or break moment, because if you had raced, hd zero and lost people would say man evan was a favorite to win and he took this chance and and ht zero. Let him down yeah, damn it its! Not ready, but now that now that you have won using it, i feel like it really has made good in in a sense, and i think its gon na be very interesting to see where it goes. Um so lets talk about some of the other stuff uh that youve got going on because uh its not just nationals um you uh 533. Is your company correct, um and you are making? Obviously you make the switchback frame. What did you see the equipment survey? What percentage of people at nationals were running your frame? Uh? I mean, i think it was. It was almost 75 and i i wanted to be 75, so bad, but it was a big number yeah. How does it feel? I mean all these people who are competing with you, theyre like yeah, no, but im going to run his frame. It really is humbling, um to say the least, and by by no means is it all like. I i didnt, i didnt necessarily do any of this or all of this you know i work with armando whos, the guy whos designing all these frames. You know we work together and i i couldnt be happier with finding a better like teammate uh in doing this than armando, and he does amazing work uh, but to have the support of all these people.
I dont believe is just necessarily because were like good at marketing or good or making the products are so much better, but at the end of the day we are were trying our best to support drone racing, as best we can were were putting on these tiny Trainer spec races were putting on these freedom. Spec races were sponsoring, pilots were giving out, discounts were giving prizes were supporting other races that arent even affiliated to us whatsoever, and we are trying to give as much back to drone racing as its given to us. You know drone racing has totally changed my life. It is my life and um. So the way i take it is when you, when you support 533 youre, not supporting us and making us some monopoly of drone racing youre supporting us so that we can turn around and try and support you and give you a better experience in drone racing by Regardless, if you use our products or not, if you buy a shirt from us, some of that money, a lot of that money is going to go back into supporting drone racing and supporting the making of new products. Thatll, hopefully make fpv better and um. That is, i think, kind of is, or i would hope is the draw behind 533 – is that we are trying to take what we get and put it right back in to make this bigger, make this better and to be a part of whatever if fpv ends Up being well, and it is interesting to see the ways that 533 has expanded, the definition of what racing is, because you know it would be very easy for you to say, im going to focus on top tier multi, gp style, racing balls out 6s min chan Kim alex vanover and, and that is so cool, but also so inaccessible to so many people and the two things i can think of that youve done is number one.
You pioneer the tiny trainer which is a three inch uh racing build uh, its a spec racing, build and then youve also pioneered freedom spec, which, both of which are accessible to a wider range of skills, that let people have fun racing talk about talk about freedom, Spec um, if you would yeah so what freedom spec is, is um theres been multiple attempts at spec racing in the past, the multigp had a spec um. It didnt really work out kind of feathered out, but what freedom spec is is where you have to run. Theres one motor thats available theres, one propeller thats available theres a minimum weight thats set, and then you have to use a three cell battery. So the draw to that is that you can take your freedom, spec quad, and then you can fly it on three cell race through the friends in freedom spec and then you can turn around then take the battery off plug in a six cell battery and then Go fly a very, very competitive quad at any multi gp race, so youre, not just building this quad itll be useless. When you go to another race thats. The issue i found with specs in the past we found with the specs and sean aims. Hes like his name, is sean and he is the guy who came up with this idea wholeheartedly and hes, a very close friend of us at 533 and um. He kind of brought us this idea and we were like and what a spec needs is.
It needs a company behind it to support it. It needs people putting money towards running the events and these people putting money towards supporting these pilots with the products, and it just needs a company really pushing behind it to make it work and thats what our role is were trying to be. So you have to run the fight like this. Here is a freedom spec quad, its the quad. I use the multi gp, but i can put a three cell battery on it and im ready to go in freedom, and you take that and you sort of lower the top speed of the quads and what i mean. The fast guys are still fast and theyre. Still probably going to win, but it really brings it compresses that skill level down so that you can focus more on lines and less uh. If you, if you only if youre one of those racers like me, who seldom gets above 65, throttle yeah like why dont, i just run a throttle limit. Well, now everybodys sort of running that 50 throttle limit and it means you have to focus on technique in a way and you dont maybe necessarily need those twitch reflexes and kind of everybody can try to be competitive, correct and so youve got and then youve got The tiny so youre not currently running a freedom spec series is that right, uh the freedom spec series yeah its not going up the tiny trainer series goes over the winter and then were gon na, have the freedom spec series starting in february and then well have Open class racing, of course, with multi gp later in the year, and this tiny trainer series now this is at this church in st louis.
That is also a skate park. Yeah right, the venue is amazing, its called like skate laboratories or something like that, but basically its this old church in the heart of st louis truly that was abandoned and then these people took it over and turned it into this incredible skate park, um and um. So theres, like theres, like literally a half pipe that were putting gates on theres all these ramps and rails and stuff um. But then we pretty much rent it out. Uh uh pretty much a saturday uh ever once or twice a month in st louis and its posted, the dates are posted and you we set up a pretty much a full on race track in there, where youre racing, spec, tiny trainers, leds required. We have a um, a media outlaws whos, a production company, so youre running a a relatively high level for a drone race production. So you and thats streamed on youtube. You either qualify. You get uh the top 16 go into this bracket where its streamed via media outlaws, and we pretty much put on it at full race production. Using these tiny trainers in this amazing venue and gives you almost a drl esque experience, yeah and youre running it, and so there are six or seven races how many races in the city. I think theres six uh like regular season and a championship and and youre running it as a point series. So i mean people can come to st louis and they can race and obviously, if they, if they place in one of those races, then theyre seated into the finals.
But then there are also seats. Uh that are that are points based and if you come back and you race multiple times and build points, yeah uh, so uh people can really they can race one race, they can come race. All six, i guess just depends on how far from st louis you live, but its a its a really cool and tiny uh tiny trainer racing is just again a really fun it kind of bridges. The gap like tiny whoop racing is so kind of fun and not that its not high stakes but its kind of loose and fun and then, like five inch racing, is kind of really high stakes. The tiny trainer racing is kind of the best of both worlds. In some ways so yeah yeah, i totally agree. I think the tiny trainer is a great way to get not only into racing but into flying because its its such a durable little quad, and it teaches you so many things about racing. Five inch like you, go out in five inches, its relatively intimidating high stakes, like you said, and the quad will go over 100 miles an hour, but this tiny trainer – you can run it and were like, were flying through like concrete and wood and all this stuff And we are destroying these things like running them into walls, but were not breaking them like they kind of balance. You put new props on whatever and thats, so it gives you so much more confidence to all these newbies and even though these tracks might be difficult for a newbie theyre coming like weve had these new guys coming in hey.
This is my first race. I have my tiny trainer that i built a couple months ago: theyre ramming it into half pipes at full throttle and they take back off again um. So i think that gives them a lot of confidence and then they can take that confidence to go practice more and try more. Instead of when you go to a five inch race, you go and you hit a gate, your quad catches on fire. You almost hurt something and then youre, like i dont know if this is for me, so i think it gives a lot of confidence to new people wanting to get into racing. Well, youve got one more race coming up, and this one maybe is not for new people, but ive heard it being touted by some, as potentially like the biggest fpv race ever because its gon na the location is in costa rica and some of the pilots, who Are coming, i think, im not sure theres ever been youll. Tell me if its if im wrong theres ever been a race with all of these pilots in one place at one time, yeah. No, i um. So the race is called like the 533 pura vida freedom. Spec race so its being held in costa rica um, the first weekend in february and the the roster um. Actually i i can pull it up here in a second, but the roster has, if you can find a race that has a more competitive roster.
I i ill ill pay for you to come to costa rica, because i i truly dont know of any race that has a more competitive, roster min chan kim alex jacob. Let me pull up the list here. Let me see uh yeah because so min chan kim going to any race, especially in the past two years, kind of makes it exciting, because he often doesnt leave his home turf yeah, which means that if people want to race him, they got to go to his Home turf, which can be tricky, yeah, um heres, something that uh you dont even know so uh min shan kim is not just flying directly to costa rica, so the race is first week in february, min shan kim is flying to my house january 12th um. So very soon and hes renting an airbnb down the road from my house with his friend, hajin yu and hes gon na fly here and were gon na go on like this little like tiny tour to race all over before we even go to costa rica. So min chan will be at the tiny trainer race january 29th. Hell be at the 20. hell be at the tiny trainer race february 18th, as well, because hes staying for that long is he racing yes uh and then hell be also in costa rica um. I mean thats cool, but ive been thats thats, just one seat knocked right out right, someone who was someone who thought they had a chance now does not have a chance.
So i i almost want to go just to watch and fly like min chain. Is such an incredible pilot and competitor, i think itll be amazing, absolutely and were gon na get to see him rip your practice track too right. Yeah, no, its gon na, be super embarrassing for me, because hes gon na Laughter – and i can send this to you but im just going down the line. We have patrick white engineer second place in nationals this year, propsical third place at nationals this year, jake hammer top five qualifier this year, uh drobot top set our top eight qualifier this year, neuqua fourth and nationals this year alex campbell the chief uh neil merrick, who Designed the champs track, knight fury the two time, multi gp champion his wife, alex van over mason lively, the tq at multi gp nationals, sauron, monroe anderson fat, kid, the winner of 2019 nationals, uh lets, see kyrie schneider, min chen kim levi johnson, the utq at i O are there like? Are there any seats left? How many seats are there uh? Last i checked, there were 14 uh seats remaining were tapping in at 64., okay, so people could still get in if they want to. If they, what do you just buy in yeah? Its a hundred dollar uh ticket um that goes towards the the prize, pool and stuff um. I believe last i checked radio masters. A sponsor hq is a sponsor. Orca is going to be a sponsor.
I think theyre going to be launching a new product there um and we are all kind of renting these big airbnbs. The venue itself is actually a huge airbnb um on like eight acres of land, i believe its actually, where theyve hosted several international surfing competitions. So like its at a beach and they host, but on the like, you come in off the beach and theres this huge field with palm trees and everything were going to be racing on there and then like say, like all, these people are bringing their wives off Their spectators come if people arent racing, can they just come to coastal, like hang with you, spectators can come for free theyre, more than welcome to come watch wow and its going to be like truly some of the best racing. I think weve ever and itll also be live streamed as well, so you can watch on a stream. All right well well put links to all of that stuff down below uh. You got a lot of stuff going on um you committed to hd0 going into the next multi gp season, uh yeah. I know im gon na be flying hd zero. At this freedom, spec race, um people are running htc on their tiny trainers. Once these new whip boards come in and also going into multi http this year, i think um were going to all be using or i and hopefully more pilots are going to be using h20 moving forward.
Well, it would, it would be uh rude of me to finish the interview without at least mentioning your other sort of major project, which is drl. In fact, i think youre sitting on a drl set right now and weve youve, given us the liberty of green screening in whatever you want behind you yeah. I am so sorry for whatevers sitting right here: um hows, the drl season going um so currently im uh. First, in the seasonal points goes, i believe there are three races left, uh theres its pretty much every wednesday, so we have a sim race, uh wednesday, night um and then the next wednesday and then after that, theres about a two or three week break and well Be racing live in vegas, uh right outside the t, mobile arena um in las vegas alongside ces, so the computer, electronics show and thatll be the championship race, but i believe right now: im uh, sitting 11 or 13 points ahead of van over and hes in second Uh thats a lot of points is that a lot of points yes uh at the mall but um, so its uh, coming down to the wire for sure. I think this is the fourth league change. As far as seasonal points goes between van over and i um throughout the season, but right now im in the lead, um and uh im gon na, i really want to win two years in a row but yeah right.
Obviously, how do you feel that the i know there was a little bit of a shake up at the beginning of this season? Uh, you know how do you feel that the uh caliber of the competition is this year versus last year yeah? I know the the competition as far as this year, its a hybrid season, which is honestly pretty cool. In my opinion, that were racing in person for about two thirds of the season and uh on the sim for about a third of the season. And that has really made an interesting dynamic because you have to not only be good at real life. You have to be good at the sim too, so theres two different types of training. You have to do two different types of competition. You have to be ready to to prepare for, and that has really been a kind of cool thing, because you have to be the best average pilot between both of those so um yeah vandover was in the lead, uh coming out of the real life portion. I believe by like six points, um and then i was six points back and then going into the sam now im um 11 points ahead, so um it is so close, but at the end of the day it really just comes down to that average um yeah Between them, i was gon na say: do you feel that that helps you? Do you feel that that uh, having how part of it be on the sim, gives you an advantage? Do you think that holds you back? I think youre stronger in real life, i mean, as far as points goes.
That definitely has helped me this season. Um uh, as far i feel like that is one of my strong suits, is being able to adapt between these two different um types of competition, and it has helped me more than hurt me for sure, and i you know i cant wait for it to be All real life racing again, if that ever happens, uh to to compete against man over hes amazing in real life uh, but when its on the sim, like you uh you got ta, do you got ta, do both of them all right, all right! Well, evan turner, good talking to you, thank you for your time and uh, looking forward to see how you do next year with hd zero and seeing what the future holds for digital fpv and racing yeah. Thank you patrons are the people who make all this possible? Not to disrespect you because youre watching all the way to the end which really helps the analytics.