Flying quadcopters started off as a simple hobby, but now, it’s turning into a fast-paced, adventurous, and extremely exciting sport known as drone racing. In this sport, participants pilot very agile RC drones around a course as quickly as they can. The person to fly their drone past the finish line first is the winner.
But that’s not what makes drone racing so awesome. What makes it so great is that flyers use FPV (First Person Viewing) systems while in the air. With FPV, people fly using an LCD screen. The LCD shows, in real-time, what the drone’s camera is seeing. More advanced monitors include FPV goggles (like in the image above), which allow you to become completely immersed in the drone-flying experience.
Drone Racing- A Super-Exciting Sport for Drone Enthusiasts
Traditionally, FPV flying was limited to the RC plane industry. But thanks to improvements in RC technology, flying drones via FPV has become much more popular. Drones are easier to fly, more agile, more stable, and for the most part, less expensive.
FPV drone racing started becoming popular in late 2013, and hasn’t showed any signs of slowing down. Throughout that time, enthusiasts have managed to build RC drones that are smaller, faster, and more maneuverable than ever before.
Because of this, they’re allowed to squeeze into tighter spaces, as well as resist damage during crashes. FPV drone racing is likely to continue increasing in popularity in the near future. To get a glimpse of what we’re talking about, check out the video below:
A New Sport on the Horizon?
While the sport is becoming more and more popular each day, it’s still in its infancy. Think about it: you probably didn’t even know it existed before reading this article! With that said, it’s likely that it will be booming within a few years. The people who participate in this sport today are amongst the earliest pioneers of the new sport, and will play a big role in determining how the sport is regulated, what the rules are, and what it’s going to be like overall moving forward. There’s no better time to get involved in FPV drone racing than today.
How Can You Get Into Drone Racing?
First and foremost, you need to become proficient at flying quadcopters. If you haven’t already, I would recommend reading my article, How to Fly a Drone Like a Pro. It should provide you with all the fundamentals for getting in the air and controlling your RC drone with more confidence. Once you learn how to fly, you’ll need to buy the right gear- FPV goggles, a transmitter, and of course, a durable quadcopter (preferably one made of carbon fiber). Drone racing is incredibly fast-paced, and so you’ll want a quadcopter that can effectively withstand these crashes.
What Qualities Make For a Good Racing Drone?
Start by reading my article on the fundamentals of building an RC drone (which you can check out by clicking here). I highly recommend reading it all the way through so you can get an idea of how drones are built.
You’ll definitely want to have this knowledge if you decide to build your own FPV racing drone. In the meantime, here’s an overview of what makes for a great FPV racing drone:
- Durability: Drone racing revolves around speed, speed, and more speed. And no matter how experienced you are, you’re going to crash. For this reason, it’s important that you have a drone frame that’s capable of withstanding high-speed impacts (carbon fiber is used pretty much the universal frame type used in the FPV drone racing). Your racing drone should be also be easily repairable. What do I mean by this? Basically, all of the parts should be quickly accessible. Also, you should have spare parts readily available so that you can get back in the air as quickly as possible.
- Responsive Transmitter: With the everyday consumer drone, super-precise responsiveness isn’t that important. I mean, it’s still a huge factor to consider when buying a drone, but transmitter responsiveness is 100x more important in drone racing. The reason why is because you’re traveling at much higher speeds than you normally would compared to a traditional consumer drone. I’d recommend investing in a really great transmitter like the Spektrum DX6i 6 Channel Transmitter.
- Quality FPV Camera: It goes without saying that your drone’s camera need to be of high-quality. If there’s any lag whatsoever between what the drone’s camera is seeing and what you’re viewing in your FPV monitor, then this dramatically increases your chances of a crash. Remember that when flying in FPV mode, your field of view will be much more limited than normal, so you’ll need to practice a lot to get the hang of things.
- Speed: How fast do drones fly in a typical drone racing course? I’d say that you won’t see anything slower than 35 MPH. Most racing drones have an average speed of at least 50 MPH (many of them are much faster). Building a speedy drone requires a few different things, including an ultra-light frame, powerful batteries, etc.
Remember that you don’t have to build an FPV racing drone from scratch. There are pre-built kits that come ready to fly right out the box, which is better for newbies who don’t have any experience building drones. If you’re a beginner, I’d recommend buying a pre-built model first, but continue building your knowledge of drones so that you can build your own in the future.
Drone Racing Isn’t Just About Winning and Losing- It’s About Having Fun!
What makes drone racing awesome is that it’s not just about winning and losing- it’s about immersing yourself in fast-paced, exciting FPV flying experience where the sky’s the limit (literally). There’s no better feeling than zipping through tree lines at 40 or 50 MPH with your partner hot on your tail. For many people, drone racing is simply about trying to complete a course as quickly as possible. So, whether you’re trying to beat other flyers, or simply beat your own personal best time, this is a sport where you can do both.