Drone Racing and FPV Drones
Apart from photography and other commercial uses, drone hobbyists and enthusiasts are using drones for fun. Drone racing is a new sport emerging after an increasing popularity of commercial and personal drones. It is also called FPV racing because drone pilots fly drones while wearing first person view goggles and control their drones using radio controller. While wearing the FPV goggles, the pilots feel as they are sitting in the cockpit of their drones. It is an amazing feeling and power of the virtual reality, and that is why drone enthusiasts love this sport. The use of FPV goggle also improves pilot control and response.
This sport is still in its infancy, but organizations, leagues, clubs, and associations are emerging at a rapid pace in US, Dubai. Australia, UK and other parts of the world. The first major national championships for drone racing roughly started around mid of 2016 all around the globe. So, it is a new sport where a lot of FPV drone racers all across the world are trying to establish themselves. The first US National Drone Racing Championship was held in New York city in August 2016. It was sponsored by GoPro and some other companies.
These drones are generally built from scratch to optimize their speed performance as a racer. You start from a light but durable frame and put motors, props, other electronics and camera to build a fully functional fpv drone.
Some Safety Measures for Drone Racing:
These racing drones although small in size but are not toys. These are very sophisticated flying machines with powerful propellers which can cause much harm if not used properly. Following are just a few of the safety measures which should be in place before the drone racing event:
- The design of the racing track plays a major role in the severity of the accidents. Experts in this field should do this. What types of turns are there, what is the sequence of turns, how many lanes should be used, placement of the low-speed safety lane and other many important aspects should be considered with care, and an inspection must be made before the start of the race.
- Drone racing rules should be made while taking safety as a prime consideration factor.
- Appropriate signage must be placed that drone racing is in progress and even better a place should be selected where no one could inadvertently enter into racing area.
- All aircraft should be registered with drone organizers for categorization into the appropriate classes of the race.
- The spectator area should be away and in one straight line. The location should be decided by keeping in mind the track design to minimize the chances and impact of any accident.
- The batteries of drones should be handled as per manufacturer’s instructions. Nets and barriers should be installed at appropriate locations.
- A spotter can be used to help the pilots if necessary.
- Local and council laws should be taken into consideration while planning for an fpv drone race.
Drone Racing Competitions:
There are countless drone competitions are being arranged by many organizations but here are few of these which I could find:
- World Drone Prix
- North America Cup
- US National Drone Racing Championship
- British FPV Racing Association Championship
- UK’s Calendar for FPV Racing
Live Video Streaming of Drone Racing:
Most pilot stream live videos. There are few important things you must consider while streaming live videos. For more information, you may read the article Live Streaming of Aerial Photography and Drone Filming.
Drone Racing Associations of Canada, US, UK and Australia:
- International Drone Racing Association
- Academy of Model Aeronautics
- British FPV Racing Association
- Australian FPV Racing Association
- Canadian Federation of Drone Racing
For further information on drone racing, one may visit the following website:
Indoor Drone Racing Circuits and Arenas:
FPV racing is a new industry arising with FPV racing. All across the world, we can see new racing arenas and circuits offering drone enthusiasts to show their skills. These arenas can be reconfigured to set new challenges for pilots. It is great fun and excellent practice opportunities for outdoor racing competitions. Some of the famous drone racing circuits are listed below:
Drone Racing Accessories:
Drone racing gates, hoops, launching pads and other accessories are installed on racing tracks, and you can find these things at “The Drone Circuit.”
FPV Racing Drones:
One of the highly loved quadcopters with fantastic reviews. Highly stable six-axis gyro which makes FPV flight much easier. The drone has tilting HD camera, lightweight packed with features. Comes with a controller and a spring loaded smart phone holder, ready to fly FPV. Also, you get two extra sets of props and three extra batteries. (It is however recommended to take 10 minutes break between flights!). Excellent altitude hold capability which is handy for beginners. It has 7-9minutes flight time.
Walkera Rodeo 110
Walkera is a famous company for their FPV racer drones. It is a micro FPV racer from Walkera with Devo 7 radio controller (transmitter) requiring eight AA batteries but you can also use 2s or 3s Lipo batteries. An extra port is available where you can put a receiver of choice to use with any particular transmitter you might have. The camera has a provision for slight tilt. The drone can perform flips. It has a strong punch. It has approximately 5 min of flight time. The battery charger has a red to the green indicator.
Husban X4 H107D
It is a palm size micro FPV quadcopter with a camera and video transmitter! The Radio transmitter has a large 4.3 inch LCD screen. It needs four AA batteries. You can use Fat Shark goggles for FPV. Videos are 720p X 480p resolution and stored on a micro SD card. The range is around 100 meters. The quadcopter is very durable and a good choice for beginners.
Buy Husban X4 on amazon
A quiet ultra micro FPV drone, very lightweight with 6 to 8 minutes of fun time. It has brilliant LED orientation design and a beautiful sleek body design.
Baby Hawk FPV Drone
It is a brushless FPV racer power packed for a great indoor FPV racing experience and fun to fly outdoor. This micro quadcopter has a real punch and power. It can perform flips.
How to Build Your Own FPV Racing Drone:
If you are into serious drone racing, you must consider building your custom drone. It is the way most enthusiasts do because you can tweak various components and design parameters to get the optimized performance. You would need to decide a frame size and configuration, motor, fasteners (depending on the frame size), props, cameras and FPV goggle. First, you select a frame for your quadcopter. There are many frames available in the market. One reputable company is Lumenier, and they make many products including very light weight and strong carbon fiber frames for racing drones. You can buy their products from any of their dealers listed here. The size of the frame you use will determine the size of the propellers, and the thickness of the frame will determine the fasteners you would have to use to install motors for example. Next step is to select a motor. The size of the motor will depend on the frame size and the pitch of the propeller. Roughly speaking, from motor sizes of 2000 kV to 2500kV would be suitable for a 250mm frame size. The speed of the motor should be taken into account when selecting the flight controller because they should be able to handle the speeds at which your motor would be spinning and the current (mA), the motor will be drawing. The current your motor will be drawing will again depend on the size of the propeller you are using. All these things are not very hard to figure out, and you can read this from motor’s documents, and a little bit of understanding will give you a kickstart and then you will learn from your experience. You have to look at the whole system and the design process itself is a going forward and coming backward type of process which you will learn. Once frame, props, and motors have been selected, you can then select a suitable battery keeping in mind the flight time of 5 to 9 minutes. Finally, you need to choose a flight controller. There are a lot of options available, and it depends on how sophisticated FC you are looking for. But for racing purpose, you do not need a very high-end flight controller
The next thing you need is a radio controller or transmitter. Again, the market is flooded with the supply. Few of the considerations are the operating frequencies (whether it supports one or 2 frequencies). The programmability of the radio controller is another factor which you might consider. Finally, you need to install radio receivers on your custom drone if the radio transmitter you have selected not comes with a receiver then you can use any third party simple radio receiver. I am listing two radio controllers just as an example for you:
- FrSky Taranis X9D plus
- Spektrum DX6E 6Ch Transmitter
Selection of FPV Components for your Custom FPV Racing Drone:
To complete the project, you need to select three more things for your racer drone:
- Set of FPV Goggles For more information you may read VR Headsets Buying Guide.
- Video Transmitter