Racing drones are small quadcopter unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) that are built with a purpose of competing in first person view (FPV) racing events that are held in various cities worldwide.
Drone racing is a brand new type of sport that is quickly becoming one of the hottest hobbies around with the rise of the drone market. As soon as drones came out, there were already people who were looking into increasing the power of drones in order to make drones suitable for high speed racing.
Drone racing nowadays is a real sport that has its own world championship which was held in Hawaii in 2016. The event was participated by drone pilots from different parts of the world where they battled and competed for a total prize pool of $100,000.
What is the difference between a racing drone and a regular drone?
Racing drones are different from camera drones. Racing drones are typically smaller in size, with a diagonal length of around 250mm and are usually configured in the H-style shape and have cameras mounted in the front of the chassis because they are designed for forward flight. They are also much lighter to allow them to be more agile in midair. Racing drones are meant to push the limits of maneuverability and speed. Racing drones are frequently made of carbon fiber which is an extremely lightweight but sturdy material that can withstand impact.
They are paired up with enthusiast grade receivers and transmitters to avoid having input lag and latency. A lot of these racing drones have mushroom antennas that help in having controls that are lag free and a smooth live feed. Most of the racing drones do not have autonomous flight modes.
Racing drones use high performance Electronic Speed Controllers that control the amount of power that goes to motors and lets them slow down immediately or speed up in an instant. The flight controllers of racing drones usually have a simple hardware and the software is the one responsible for all the adjustments for tuning to have a great performance.
Racing drones are usually FPV racing drones which means that they are flown FPV or first person view. Racing drones have an on-board camera and a system in place to send the pilot real time images or footage of the camera to let the pilot have a “cockpit” style view. An FPV racer may cost anywhere between $200 to $800 or even more.
Types of Racing Drones
Ready to Fly Speed Racing Drone or RTF
Ready to Fly speed racing drones do not need assembly and they are ready to fly out of the box. They are already packed with everything that will be needed except for the controller’s batteries. This is the type of racing drone recommended for beginners. The advantage of RTF drones is that you won’t lose time in assembling the drone. The disadvantage though is that you cannot just upgrade its parts that easily especially if you are not used to disassembling drones. Some racing drones also do not come with an FPV. If the RTF racing drone doesn’t have an FPV kit, you should buy a stand alone FPV that would match your racing drone’s TX bands and frequency. If they won’t match, then the FPV wouldn’t work.
Bind-n-Fly and Almost Ready-to-Fly Racing Drone
This type of racing drone doesn’t come assembled. A racing kit comes with a lot of small parts that need to be put together. It isn’t recommended for beginners and for people who have never assembled a drone before. It is usually bought by more advanced drone racers who have knowledge in assembling a drone. Putting all the small parts together can get tricky and you might need the help of a family member or a friend. It may take hours or even days to assemble a racing kit that’s why you would need a lot of patience. Your hands should be steady too because you need precise wiring and soldering, The sense of achievement that you get after setting up your racing drone and the drone works well is priceless.
Tips for Beginner Drone Racers
Research! After reading this guide on racing drones, visit YouTube channels that offer great videos and tutorials to help beginner flyers. Read the drone’s manual.
Spend wisely and start small. Racing drones equals crashing drones. Starting slow will help you learn and also save you money if you do have a fatal crash.
For those people who are new to drone racing or flying, you should start with RTF mini racing drones that are not expensive. You should get a starter FPV drone so that you can be able to learn how to race and be comfortable in flying a racing drone through a camera view without wasting time and money. Crashing your drone is part of the experience and you will crash your drone a lot of times that’s why it is advisable to get the cheaper ones for practice first. Once you have mastered the art of racing and flying a drone, you are now ready to upgrade and move up to racing kits or assemble and mod racers.
Tips for Advanced Drone Racers
Most of the racing drones that win in contests are the ones that are custom-built. Drone racers especially those who are already experts in drone racing modify their racing drones a lot. Drone racers are always actively seeking for tweaks and new gear that will give them an edge over their competition. Besides, drone technology is advancing rapidly that’s why modding is very common in drone racing.
For Advanced Drone Racers
- Pick the racing class and league
- Choose the racing kit, RC controller, flight controller, and FPV kit very carefully.
- Keep modding your racing drone until you win.
Beginner drone racers don’t usually use FPV goggles for drone racing so that they can be familiar with controlling the racing kit but at some point, they would need to use FPV goggles to have a real FPV experience. FPV goggles are one of the most important aspects of drone racing. They provide drone racers with a unique point of view that allows them to take a full grasp and control over their drone. Some of these FPV goggles even contain a head tracking technology that allows drone racers to control the racing drone by moving their head.
When purchasing FPV goggles, you need to make sure that they would work with your drone racing kit. Both your racing kit and the FPV goggles should have the same connection either via Bluetooth, wireless connection, or 5.8 Ghz for the high-end racing kits. You should also take note of the FPV goggles’ band. It should match with your drone racing kit’s band.
Reason for Drone Racing
People get into the sport of drone racing for different purposes. First of all, it is a fun kind of sport. Then some people enjoying attending meet ups and less formal events to get to know fellow drone racers and learn a thing or two from them. The others who are more competitive get into drone racing to join competitions and win. The racing format that you choose will help you determine the type of aircraft, FPV gear, controller, and budget that you will need in order to compete and enjoy racing.
Here are some of the reasons for drone racing:
- Drone Racing Leagues
- Local Meetups
- Indoor and Outdoor Activities
- Drag Race
Drone racing is an expensive sport as you will need to keep on upgrading your gear especially if you are the competitive type. Choose a drone racing kit that is within your budget and get ready for spending a little bit more for the batteries and accessories.
Drone Racing League
The World Championship of drone racing is happening right now. ESPN2 and SkySports is broadcasting Drone Racing League’s month long drone races. These futuristic drone races are Stars Wars in real life. 16 of the world’s most talented drone racers compete in over 6 races, spread over 6 different cities around the world, with the final being in London. Races take place in abandoned malls, football stadiums, historical landmarks, with IMPRESSIVE courses. Drone Racing League is the biggest professional drone racing circuit featuring the most elite drone pilots, thrilling aerial views of the race in real time, with a 100k prize for the winner. DRL engineers their own drones which the pilots use, so the playing field is even. This year they are introducing the DRL Drone Racer3, which is agile, reaches up
The thrill of the DRL Championships has probably sparked a fire and you want to know how you can get into drone racing.
I will review what racing drones are, the top racing drones on the market, how much racing drones costs, and beginner tips.
Buying a Racing Drone
How much are racing drones? How much do racing drones costs for beginners? Review our guide here for PNF (plug and fly/pre-build) racing drones with different price ranges and specs.
Blade Nano XQ
This is a great beginner racing drone. The drone is ready to use out of the box, with the micro FPV camera already installed. The beginner racing quadcopter is $59.99 on Amazon, making the price and its specs great for first time racers/pilots.
It uses Horizon Hobby’s SAFE technology which uses technology for precision hovering and accuracy in two different flight modes.
Fly the Blade Nano XQ indoors and outdoors. It flies in spaces as small as an office cubicle. This shows how advance it is to maneuver. The airframe is lightweight with blade guards.
It weighs 0.77oz (22g) and 5.5in (140mm) in length.
KingKong 260 FPV Racing Drone
Order this drone, open the box, and fly. Great for beginners and non-beginner racers. Read online for instructions to help you better fly the multirotor drone.
You can buy it for $99.87 on hobbyking.com. It weights ~0.9oz (26 g).
A negative aspect users say is the frame is brittle and difficult to reattach the arms if they break in a crash.
There is a green neon LED strip at the back of the racing drone, and it is the only part competitors see during a race. The mounted camera is included.
QAV250 Mini FPV Quadcopter
The QAV250 Mini FPV Quadcopter is more expensive, and we recommend it to pilots who have experience flying racing drones. Buy it on getfpv.com now for $499.99. The RTF (ready to fly) quadcopter is fully built; all you need to do is add your own receiver and set up the radio.
Features include 2 LED strips to help with the LOS (line of sight) and landing gear. Supports for HD cameras and 32mm board cameras.
The FPV video and photo quality is excellent. There is no jello effect or vibration in the recordings.
The mini racing quadcopter responds very well to the pilot’s commands. It hovers, and flies smoothly around and through obstacles.
The DYS 250 is a full carbon fiber folding drone that costs $87.50 on hobbyking.com.
The frame is flexible and is easy to use since it is a PNF model.
Features include brushless motors, a pre-tuned CC3D flight control board, and a full carbon frame. There is ground control software. You need a control radio and receiver and FPV gear.
Some users have had issues with the motors burning out. There is no manual, so if you need extra help, find everything online.