Velocidrone – an FPV Sim Worth Your $20
If you’re involved with any FPV-related social media at all, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about a relatively new simulator out called Velocidrone. Some of that talk may have been from me, but even some top pilots have been showing it off via live streams on Facebook. So why all the fuss? Well, stick around and I’ll be glad to tell you.
There are a lot of FPV simulators out there. Some are decent, some not so much, but very few get it right. Either the physics are off, the menu is a joke, or it’s just a quick cash grab. Velocidrone is still petty new on the scene, but while some other sims are content with made-up frames (in spite of a few big-name sponsors – or maybe because of?), Velocidrone has real frames flying real maps with same really good physics. What Velocidrone does it does right, and that is saying a lot.
Pouring over the settings menu you’ve got your standard toggles like video interference and gate markers for races, but switch over to quad settings and you’ll realize the flight controller has an option for Betaflight, and suddenly you feel even better about your purchase. We’ll talk more about that in a moment, just know that you definitely want to choose Betaflight.
Setting up your controller is simple, and most controller are detected automatically. To set your control axes you simply click them and follow the on-screen instructions. a model on the upper-right of the screen demonstrates your actions, so you can check yourself as you go. I recommend setting up a switch for race start and reset, and also recharge battery if you plan on using the battery simulation feature. This helps you get used to flying with a time and power limit, though there doesn’t seem to be a way to know or change how many amps you are drawing. It would be nice to see this added in the future, as one could then more accurately simulate their normal race conditions.
Velocidrone contains both multiplayer and single player modes, as well as an in-depth track editor. There are 17 different aircraft to choose from, all of which are well-known brands and models ranging from old school hits like the ZMR250, inexpensive favorites like the Lisam 210, and even high-end RTFs like the TBS Vendetta. You’re sure to find something here that you enjoy – my personal favorite being the Catalyst Machineworks Speed Addict 210r, just like the one I fly.
Once you’ve chosen a mode and an aircraft , it’s time to choose where to fly. There are 14 maps to choose from ranging from indoor arenas to large open spaces, each with a number of track layouts you can switch between seamlessly. You’ve got football stadiums, warehouses, abandoned buildings – even a gymnasium. The track selection is not only impressive in number, but in variety as well. Neon gates line factory walls, official MultiGP courses full a football stadium – there is plenty here to please any pilots, no matter their tastes or skill level. Switching between maps is fast, and between track layouts is instantaneous even in multiplayer.
Once in-game you can slide your mouse over to the right to access the in-game menus. The advanced drone setup menu is where it gets good, as this is brings up the familiar Betaflight tuning interface. This isn’t just a name drop either, Velocidrone accurately simulates the Betaflight code in-game. What this translates to is an accurate representation of your IRL drone in-game. With the right settings you can create a pretty solid model of what you fly day-to-day, down to the stick feel, and put in more time on the sticks regardless of the weather outside. These skills will in theory translate to the physical world. Have Betaflight in a sim also doubles as a PID simulator, in case you ever wanted to work on your tuning skills.
Another settings menu adjusts the physical properties of your drone, such as drag on the front, back, left, and right sides, prop size, thrust, etc. Some of these controls seem aren’t exactly intuitive but through trial and error you can find a match for your real drone. I felt there was too much thrust in-game so I dropped to a lower prop size than what I normally fly. Maybe it’s time for a motor upgrade?
Being a less-than-stellar pilot, I tend to go for the more open and flowing tracks. Velocidrone lets you jump from freestyle flight to racing with the press of a key or flip of a switch. If you hit a gate while racing you are placed at the previous one for another attempt while the clock continues to run. Maybe that’s not realistic, but it’s a lot less frustrating than taking a walk of shame after every crash. I found myself taking more risks and experimenting with higher camera angles, more or less expo, higher rates – things that may be intimidating in real life. Being able to experiment in a consequence free environment is a big sell for simulators, especially that does it seamlessly and accurately.
If you’re tired of racing alone but don’t want to show off just yet, Velocidrone features a time attack mode that pits you against your worst enemy – yourself. Once you complete a lap, every subsequent lap you’ll be joined with a ghost of your best time. It’s a great way to monitor your improvement as you blast by yourself, or to cringe at all the times you crashed out on the last lap.
Multiplayer is a blast. Whomever starts the room gets to control the map and track, as well as start the races. You and your buddies and buzz around in freestyle, jump into and out of a race, switch maps, switch tracks – it all works perfectly. Tracers help you keep track of each other on the course, and it’s a lot of fun to see someone crash out, only to catch up and overtake you later. After a win you can watch your opponents in third-person spectator mode, or tap into their FPV feed and taunt them on chat. It all works in the way you’d expect it to, so much so that it’s a no-brainer. That’s a sign of good design by the way, you dont’ think about any of it since it works exactly as you’d think, and works well.
Should you tire of the many tracks included with Velocidrone you can try your hand at the track editor. You can choose from any of the maps to build your creation, and there are plenty of gates and obstacles to choose from. The interface is basic, in fact this is the only place I feel like Velocidrone could really use some work, but everything does what it should. It’s easy to rough in a track and then go back and add details, but I feel like it could be much more. You can press a key to display a small grid of 1 meter dots, but there’s no way to snap to the grid which would be really nice. Moving around the map can be frustrating, but becomes easier with practice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining – it’s a very good map editor and as a race organizer for a MultiGP chapter it is a great design tool to have at my disposal, I just hope it gets some attention in a future update.
Here’s the thing – I’ve tried all of the FPV sims out there. Seriously, all of them. I won’t name names, but you know the ones… The plucky little mobile app that could, the big-name-backed behemoth that had so much promise but feels empty, the TV star, whatever the hell this is… It’s a crowded market and there’s only so much money to go around. Velocidrone hits a sweet spot at around $20 US, and what you get is a serious sim that makes you want to fly. I keep going back for one more lap, one more race… something I never did in the others. Velocidrone feels good. It feels like flight, and isn’t that the point? It needs some love here and there, but not where it matters. No, where it matters is where Velocidrone shines – in accurately simulating the feeling and experience of FPV flight. This isn’t a video game, this is the real deal.
Seriously. Buy it.
Velocidrone is available at http://velocidrone.com