Drone racing is a motorsport where participants control drones over a racing circuit with the aim of completing the quickest. Racing drones began as an amateur sport in Australia in 2014 and has become a global sport where winners can walk away with massive price –an example is the 2016 Dubai FPV drone racing where winners went home with about one million dollars.
*FPV (First Person View), also referred to as RPV (Remote Person View), is a mode of drone piloting where a drone is controlled from the pilot’s point of view using video piloting devices.
With drone racing having become a major sport worldwide in just a few years, the potential to grow further is phenomenal. It is estimated that the drone racing industry will be worth 4 billion dollars by 2020.
Now that you are here, you must be an enthusiast in FPV drone racing who is looking for information or wants to buy the best drone for participating in the Drone Racing League. Well, we have prepared this guide to tackle all these needs in the best way possible.
Do I need a license to race a drone?
You don’t need the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) license to race a drone. This is because the racing drones sold in the US by the local manufacturers have undergone a certification process to ensure that they don’t interfere with other radio equipment.
However, making modifications on your drone could tamper with the existing license meaning that you will need to get a new license. Good thing, the FCC license for FPV drones is easy to get and has additional benefits.
What drone racing competitions can I Participate In?
There are dozens of competitions worldwide. However, you cannot participate in all of them since some only require citizens of particular country. Some of the most popular competitions include the World Drone Racing Championship, National Drone Racing Championship, and the Dubai World Drone Prix. You can find other drone racing events here.
If you are in a hurry to get the best drone for racing, I’ll cut the chase. Here are top 5 racing drones with exceptional maneuverability and top speeds.
Types of Racing Drones
RC planes were used in the early years of FPV drone racing. However, the trend would later shift to multi-rotor drones or quadcopters since they are agile, stable, and easier to fly compared to the RC planes.
Multi-rotor drones built for racing possess exciting capabilities such as the ability to fly through tight spaces, flip over 360 degrees, fly forward or backwards, maneuver over obstacles quickly, and fly at high speeds without losing stability.
Things to Look for in a Racing Drone
Drone racing is increasingly becoming one of the most exciting hobbies in the world today. If you are new and just getting started on this activity, then there are many things that you should know. The following are some of the most important things to consider in a racing drone.
A Good Camera
If you want to clearly see what is in front of you during a flight, then a good camera is an essential component that drone must have. Ideally, a good racing drone camera needs to have a resolution of around 700TVL to 800TVl. With such a camera you are guaranteed of getting good image quality back during your fight.
When purchasing a racing drone, you either need to get a drone with powerful acceleration or top speed to keep you ahead of your competition. Based on this information, you should know that weight plays a major role in determining how fast your drone can fly. When choosing a good racing drone ensure you go for a lighter drone with high stability levels and take advantage of their high speeds.
Goggles or Monitors?
Once you’ve gotten a good camera, you need to complete this equation and get display options in which to receive your camera’s feeds. Thanks to the advancement in technology you have two most suitable options to choose from, goggles or monitors.
Compared to goggles, LCD monitors are cheaper options. However, its video transmission is as good as it gets and does not give users with the exciting experience. Apart from being expensive, goggles are the better option, they provide quality video feeds, minimize distractions and bring thee thrill to drone racing. Ideally, goggles are a perfect choice for professional drone racers.
Needless to say, a good racing drone is incomplete without quality batteries. Batteries are what helps keep racing drones on the air for longer. When choosing the type of drone racing to go for its important to go for quality batteries. Among other things, ensure that your drone’s batteries you are going for have high power retention capabilities and also have high charging rates.
Don’t waste plenty of time looking for the best racing drone for a racing competition. Whether you are a hobbyist or undertaking drone racing as a profession, considering the above factors would prove helpful in finding a racing drone that will see you pass the finish line first.
Review: 5 Best Drones For Racing:
1. Eachine Wizard x220
The Eachine Wizard x220 is a ready-to-fly drone that comes with a full carbon fiber frame, 2205/2300KV motors, 40 channel 200Mhz VTX, and Bl Heli ESCs. With a weight of only 360 grams this drone is easy to fly and highly responsive during flips and spins. It also comes with 5 pairs or propellers and LEDs for easy visibility at night.
The downside of the Eachine Wizard x220 is that both the ARF and RTF versions don’t have a battery voltage monitor making it hard to know when charge is low. Going for less than $150, this drone is perfect for beginners and intermediate racers and by far the best ready-to-fly drone when it comes to value for money.
2. Realacc GX210
The Realacc GX210 FPV racing quad is a ready-to-fly racing drone with a 210mm body. This drone comes with powerful Racestar 2300KV motors and 20A Bl Heli ESCs combination that allows it to cut through the air faster to reach insane speeds. Its 3S 1500mAh battery is fine but doesn’t give as much power as the 4S, if you can get one.
The Realacc GX210 features a tough carbon fiber X-type frame with a configuration that has ample space, enough to mount your GoPro HD camera for quality video recording at very high speeds. The drone comes with a 700TVL FPV camera and 200mw 5.8 GHZ video transmitter with shoots decent footage. At its price, it is quite a bargain.
3. ImmersionRC Vortex 250
The ImmersonRC Vortex quadcopter is built on the excellence of the Vortex 285 and comes with a Twill-weave carbon fiber and custom injected plastic design. This 250-sized drone weights 415 grams without a battery or a HD camera mounted, making it easy to navigate, flip, or enter tight spaces during flight. It is race-tuned out of the box and comes with a full-graphic integrated OSD.
With 2204-2300kV V-Spec motors, the ImmersonRC Vortex assures you of excellent speeds while the integrated 40 channel NexWaveRF 5.8 GHz Video Tx ensures ultimate control while in FPV mode. It also comes with an Anti-slip map, a spare set of 5045 bullnise propellers which are pretty solid and a mount for a GoPro HD camera. Given the price and features, the ImmersonRC Vortex is one of the best FPV drones that provide value for money.
4. TBS Vendetta
The TBS Vendetta is a 240-sized RTF FPV racer thatis equipped with cobra CM2204/2300kV motors and HQ 5x4x3 props. The drone features one of the most beautiful drone frames that is made from carbon fiber which allows agility in the air and durability.
The TBS Vendetta comes with all the features you would need for assembly and the whole process will take you less than 5 minutes. You don’t need soldering to replace anything, from the TBS core pro to the TBS Zero Zero FPV camera. It comes with a calibration wizard that helps you assemble the detached sections which makes it a perfect racing quadcopter for a beginner who wishes to know how to assemble and racing drone.
5. Walkera Rodeo 110
The Walkera Rodeo 110 is a mini drone that does exceptionally well at races. This quadcopter is configurable with Betaflight but can be flown as it is right out of the box. It comes with a Devo 7 transmitter and 7.4V 850mAh battery which provides plenty of power while the beeper gives a low voltage warning.
The camera on the Walkera Rodeo 110 is a 600 TVL with 40 channel FPV transmitter. This transmitter provides selectable power levels of 200mW and 600mW. However, you must set the transmitter to high power for 40 channels since low power only provides 8 channels and this causes the battery flight time to reduce. The thrust, agility, durability, and speed of the Walkera Rodeo make it a great drone for racing.
How to Get into Drone Racing
Drone racing is about the thrill, fun, and passion. It is the future of racing –any enthusiast should know this. Drones aren’t man toys; they are a way of life.
To get into drone racing, you need to develop sophisticated UAV navigation skills. This isn’t the only thing -you need a strong and stable drone to navigate complex circuits. And passion too.
You should start with non-league drone racing probably with your friends before you go to a big competition –unless you’re accustomed to epic fails. Racers at big tournaments are more skilled and will win against you easily, if you are a beginner. Furthermore, the circuits are too complex for beginners to control their UAVs properly.
Buying a Drone
To get into drone racing, you must have a drone. If you are new to the whole drone thing, I recommend that you buy an already assembled drone. In this blog, I have featured several guides to help you select the best drone for racing across different categories. Simply check the table on this page with the top 5 drones for racing.
If you are shopping on a budget, I have also compiled a list of cheap drones that perform exceptionally good. I have done my best to provide honest reviews – I criticize when necessary and praise when a drone deserves it. More sophisticated and faster drones are being manufactured and I’ll do my best to keep testing and writing reviews of them.
- How much does a racing drone cost? –A ready-to-fly racing drone can cost you from as little as $200. However, this quadcopter will only be enough for racing meet-ups and formal events. If you want to build a competitive racing drone that will win you major events, you have to invest at least $1000 in the most powerful quadcopters out there. The TBS Vendetta is the most powerful drone you can get if you are serious about winning races.
Building a Racing Drone
If you feel like you can do a little drone building, then let me introduce you to the drone racing starter kit.
The Drone Racing Starter Kit
It’s fun to assemble a quadcopter by yourself. That is as long as you follow the instructions on the manual.
A drone racing starter kit comprises of all the parts you will need to get your quadcopter up and running. However, they are not assembled for you. And that’s where fun kicks in.
Starter packs are normally made very easy to assemble since they are meant for beginners and enthusiasts who have never had a real drone before. Check here for parts of a quadcopter to have a heads up when assembling your first drone.
I have also listed the best starter kits for drone racing. These kits are not only easy to assemble, but the parts are sturdy
Building Your Own Drone
Once you assemble your first drone, it will be easy to take it apart and assemble again. At this point, you might need something even more interesting –buying drone parts separately and assembling them.
Shopping for parts is the only hardest parts because only good accessories can make a good quadcopter. But, hey, this is what this blog is here for -guiding you to choose the best drones and accessories. Simply go to the accessories page and you’ll find dozens of reviews of drone parts.
Assembling your own powerful drone will take you quite some time. However, this shouldn’t discourage you since it is a learning process. Once you build the first one you shall be able to build even more powerful racing quadcopters as the technology keeps improving.
How much does it cost to participate in drone racing?
The cost to participate in drone racing depends on the competition’s organizers TACs. Some competitions are free and consist of friends getting together in fields to participate in freestyle events. These competitions don’t have price money and if there is, it is only a small amount from the sponsors.
Engaging in such an event will help you grow confidence in racing FPV drones, learn how to use the drone racing goggles which is usually a challenge, especially when the drone is moving at high speeds. You will also learn rules of drone racing as well as new tricks and stunts to implement in your journey towards being a pro.
The best places to start are meetups organized by FPVRacing.tv, FPVlab.com, and MiniQuadClub.com. There are many other clubs and meetups in your local community that you can participate in too. Most of them don’t require a participation fee.
When it comes to competitive racing, some events are fully sponsored and you will only be required to cater for your own transport and accommodation. A good example is the Dubai drone racing competition that was fully sponsored by the city and winners walked away with over one million dollars. There are also other competitions all over the world where you are required to pay a small amount as participation fee.
You can also catch the racing events live on ESPN for an up-to-date schedule.
How fast are racing drones?
Most drones that are currently in the market have a top speed of 35mph. Racing drones, on the other hand, can be faster than 50mph. Recent developments have seen racing drones go over 100mph, with the fastest as of now being the 115mph Nissan GT-R drone that hasn’t yet been released to the public.
How To Fly A Racing Drone For Beginners
You should start by learning how to take off and move upwards. Don’t use FPV equipment at this stage. This is known as Line-of-sight flying and is the easiest to learn. Practice forward and backward movements gradually bringing your quadcopter to land after a couple of minutes.
Once you have mastered these movements, try speeding your drone in an open field and returning it to land. Master the controls and monitor the warnings about the battery and other stuff on your RC controller. Keep your drone in sight and increase the speed gradually as you improve your skills.
After learning to navigate your drone, you should now start using the FPV equipment. You might find it challenging at first, but you will adapt gradually. Finally, start navigating around obstacles such as trees. When you do this successfully, you will be in a position to begin making your own obstacles and working your way around them.
The goal is to navigate an obstacle as quickly as possible in order to finish the race the quickest. Some of the obstacles you can get at this point are air gates since they are commonly used in events and meetups.
Recently, there has been the development of a computer simulation that can greatly help beginners get into drone racing. This will really give you a heads up in FPV racing.
How stable are racing drones?
Most quadcopters are built to be agile and stable in the air hence you won’t worry about falls when doing flips or navigating obstacles.
However, there have been some complaints about the stability of some racing quadcopters due to the positioning of the battery. This only affected quite a couple of drones, but the issue can be fixed if you secure the battery on the bottom side using a wrapper.
How much weight can racing drones lift?
Seriously, you don’t want to turn your speed monster into a carrier drone. Speed drones have been calibrated to fly at their top speed with their initial weight. You wouldn’t want to add more weight on your drone since it will only end up unstable or damaged.
How big are racing drones?
The size of the racing drone depends on the manufacturer and your needs. There are some drones that are small enough to fit in your palm while others are slightly bigger than your palm. In general, most racing drones are 230mm to 300mm in length.
How do I tell if the battery is getting low in a racing drone?
You can see the battery percentage of your drone right from the RC controller and an alarm beep that comes with some drones. Typically, an FPV racing drone will take between 20 – 30 minutes in full flight for the battery to go low. You should bring your quadcopter to land when the battery starts getting low to prevent it from falling out of the sky on an empty battery. If your drone doesn’t have a battery voltage alarm, here are alarms that will work for any drone.
Top 5 Racing Drones in 2018
How to Win Drone Racing Competitions
As drone racing is getting more competitive thanks to improved manufacturing technology, winning is even more harder. The positive thing is that price money keeps increasing and you need to better your racing drone until you land the top spot.
If you want to drone at drone racing tournaments, do the following:
- Know your racing league and class. Don’t participate in competition with pros when you are still a beginner. You cannot also take an inferior drone to compete with powerful racing drones and expect a win. Check the racing league classes and leagues.
- Choose the best accessories for your drone. Select the RC controller, Racing Motors, Batteries, Frames very carefully. You can only do this if you are assembling the drone by yourself.
- If you choose to buy a drone, then get the most powerful racing drone you can find. Have a look at this drone racer’s comparison table. We have reviewed these drones carefully and only featured those we are confident they can win you races.
- Practice real hard. You don’t need an entire ranch to practice drone racing. Just find a sizeable field and put your skills to test. Include obstacles just to better your navigation. You can also get a sports timer to monitor your racing time over certain distances.
- Yes, you have to learn from other competitors and modify your drone to outdo those who beat you in the previous competitions. Learn the strengths of their drones and use even better replacement parts.
How to Find the Best FPV Racing Frames
FPV racing needs a lot of concentration and quick reflexes to stay in the air and avoid crashing out. You need excellent flying skills, as well as quality frames can also give you a competitive edge over your opponents. The following article will help provide you with the knowledge you’ll need to find the best FPV racing frames for your needs successfully.
When choosing an FPV racing frame, this is the first factor you’ll need to consider. Note as far as most racing drones are concerned there are four different propeller sizes namely; 3”, 4”, 5” and 6”.
- 3” frames fall into the micro-class category. These frames are fun to fly around and can virtually go anywhere due to their small weight.
- 4” frames are pretty cool too. They can support a wider wheelbase compared to the 3” frames. With the right build, you shouldn’t be surprised when they outrun the 5” frames.
- 5” frames are great when it comes to both acrobatic flight and racing. They have better-sized propellers to support GoPro to record your flight.
- 6” frames are technically built for speed purposes. These propellers will give you a high thrust. However, you should be prepared to have enough batteries to supply the much-required energy.
Frame thickness is another important factor you need to consider when choosing your frame. The thicker your frame material is, the more rigid and robust it is. Despite the weight concern always go for a thicker frame as this will help make your drone indestructible for the everyday races.
FPV racing frames come in different frame types with the standard ones being H frame, X frame, stretched X frame and V-tail frames. All these frames have their unique advantages. Therefore, before choosing the best frame type to go for your racing endeavor do your due diligence on each and every frame type the weigh your options.
The last point in our discussion and perhaps the determining factor is the cost of the frame. When choosing your FPV racing frame, ask yourself how much are you willing to spend? Judging from the answer you get, search for the best frame within that range. We have listed the best frames for different budget ranges to help you make a choice.
With the above factors under consideration, finding the best FPV racing frame shouldn’t be a mystery anymore. Purchase the best frame and smile all the way to the finish line of your drone races always!
Choosing the Best Transmitters for Racing Drones
A radio transmitter or TX is a device that allows drone pilots wirelessly control their aircrafts in air. Before you purchase any racing drone this is one of the many important things you ought to factor in your decision. Choosing the best transmitter for a racing drone can be quite demanding considering the many factors involved. To make this easy, the following are some of the factors you should give priority to.
Video Transmission Frequency
Basically, this is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing the best transmitter for your racing drone. Most transmitters come in four different frequency bands which are:
- 900 MHz
- 2 & 1.3GHz
- 3 & 2.4 GHz
Note that the lower the frequency of your transmitter, the better it is for its signal to penetrate through objects. Therefore, if you are planning to compete in drone racing involving flying around objects, the best transmitter to go for is a 900MHz. The reverse is true when it comes to higher frequencies.
Still on this point, the second thing to take into account when choosing a transmitter is the frequency in which your radio system runs on. The rule of the thumb here is that “You should never at any given point in time transmit your video on the same, close to or multiple harmonic of the frequency your radio system uses.” By adhering to this rule you will help prevent frequency interferences thereby giving you the best flight experience.
Power is yet another important factor to consider when choosing a transmitter for your racing drone. Usually, when choosing a transmitter for your drone it is always advisable never to go beyond the 500 to 600 mW maximum. When it comes to FPV drone racing the most ideal transmitter power to go for is always a 200mW. Note, the higher the transmitter power the more heat it generates which resultantly creates a lot of interferences during flight.
Hardware and Features
When choosing your drone’s transmitter, the hardware and other features are important in influencing your decision. In addition to choosing a transmitter with a good display screen resolution, you may want to consider a transmitter that is made from a quality material as this will help it withstand the harsh atmospheric conditions.
In terms of software additions, you may want to consider a transmitter with a programmable firmware in order to enhance your flying experience.
For most transmitters, the price ranges between $20 and over $100. As with most products price is always directly proportional to quality, therefore, the cheaper the transmitter the lower its quality is.
However, if you are running on a tight budget or you are trying out your flying skills, it is advisable to start with a low-quality transmitter and upgrade to better and costly transmitters as time goes by.
A good transmitter is most definitely a long-term investment. With the above factors under considerations, take your time and select the best transmitter for your drone racing events and for sure improve your racing experience.
How to Rebind Storm Racing Drone
If you are looking to rebind your Storm racing drone, watch the video below. It is a detailed clip showing all the steps you need to return your Storm quadcopter to normal functioning in just a few minutes.
10 Mistakes to Avoid When Flying a Drone
Whether you are new to drone or flying or you are a seasoned drone pilot, we are all prone to making mistakes. Whereas FAA requires that all drone pilots register their drones and pass the Unmanned Aircraft General examination, most pilots fly their drones right out of their box without complying with either of the requirements. It is risky and might lead to some drone-related disasters. The following are some of the ten common mistakes you should avoid when flying your drone.
Learning how to fly using an expensive drone
This is one common mistake a lot of people make either consciously or unconsciously. If you’re just starting out with drones, you wouldn’t want to risk your precious investment. Start small, purchase a less pricey drone and you wouldn’t feel the pain as you take on the few inadvertent collisions and hard landings in your flying lessons.
Trusting on “gimmicky” features
You should know as the drone market gets competitive, many manufacturers are trying so hard to add extra features on their drone. Note, some of these functions work great while others don’t. When purchasing your drone, it’s important, you be alert and avoid being caught in the trap of purchasing gimmicks for the real deal. You can as well test the drone before purchasing it for you to be sure about its features.
Testing how high your drone can go
Know the quickest way of losing your drone? This is it. One of the gravest mistakes most novice drone pilots make is trying to test the highest limit their drone can go. The biggest disadvantage that comes with flying your drone high up is that when orientation changes it becomes pretty hard to control your control your drone. Change in orientation happens when your drone is blown by the wind sideways, and instead of the forward stick sending your drone forward it sends it to further left or right. Whereas the advancement in technology has seen drones being developed with orientation mode, you still advised when learning how to fly, try and fly your drone at a reasonable distance.
Attempting tricks and stunts too soon
This is for the adrenaline junkies. This is easier said than done, however, for the sake of your drone it’s important you equip yourself with the basic flying skills first before you can think of attempting the complicated tricks and stunts.
Flying your drone’s batteries to complete discharge
This mistake not only damages your drone’s batteries but also may result in your drone disappearing. When flying your drone, regardless of your batteries, quality always land your drone once it reaches the 30% minimum.
Flying near obstructions and in poor conditions
This is one mistake you should always avoid at all cost. It’s beyond reasonable doubt that even the strongest and weather resistant drones get carried away by extreme weather conditions. Avoid any temptation that may come your way and fly your drone in a clear and calm weather and in a spacious open space if you are to enjoy flying your drone.
Flying your drone unprepared
To most drone pilots this is a big surprise. To avoid running into complications during your flight, ensure you take your time to prepare. See to it you have replacement propellers, extra batteries, memory cards and any essential tool that will be handy to your flight.
Not giving enough throttle during takeoff
This mistake is most common with newbies. When flying your drone ensure you give your drone’s wings and motor enough time to throttle and generate the required pressure for take-off. It is important as it will prevent your drone from flipping over and getting damaged.
Being ignorant of laws and regulations
As stated earlier, a lot of drone pilots are always ignorant of the laws and regulation governing drone flying. Before your drone leaves the ground to ensure you are aware of both safety and social laws being put in place since ignorance won’t be your defense once you get on the wrong side of the law.
Not being familiar with your drone
A common mistake a lot of drone pilots make is not knowing their drones well. Drones vary from each other. Immediately you purchase a new drone take time and familiarize yourself with its features, never assume that your previous knowledge will be of any importance to you.
Mistakes do happen even to the most experienced drone pilot; there is no running away from this truth. This, however, isn’t to say we shouldn’t be cautious. Hopefully, by going through these ten common mistakes, you will be able to prevent some mistakes from happening to you hence improving your flying experience.
Top 5 Racing Drones in 2018
Best Drone Manufacturing Brands
The following are some of the biggest brands that you cannot miss to see in the market when shopping for a drone. While some are focused on a particular niche, some of them do provide a range of quadcopters across different categories. We have not only talked about the brand, but also provided links to their best products.
- Blade– Blade is a drone manufacturing company from Champaign, Illinois, that is owned by Horizon Hobby. The company produces a wide range of drones and quadcopters. The blade range consists of micro drones, FPV drones, and photography drones, among others. They have also introduced a new range of drones that look like helicopters and are very stable in the air. An example is the Blade 180 CFX BNF Basic Vehicle.
- Walkera – Walkera is a drone manufacturing company that is based in Guangzhou, China.They are renowned for their fair-priced FPV racers such as the Walkera Rodeo 110 and the Walkera F210 Racer.
- Hubsan-Based in Dong, China, Hubsan is one of the leading drone manufacturers who are behind the popular Hubsan X4Two of the most popular drones by this company include the Hubsan X4 h407C and the Hubsan X4 h407L quadcopter.
- DJI – DJI Innovations is a renown drone manufacturer based in Shenzhen, China. This company has some of the best quadcopters and FPV drones in the industry. They manufacture a variety of products for both beginners and professionals. Some of their best UAVs include the DJI Phantom 4 PRO and the DJI Mavic PRO.
- Syma – If you are in the market for a toy drone for your kids, then look out for Syma drones. This company, located in Shantou, China, develops a variety of highly functional drones starting from $5. The most popular quadcopters include the Syma X11 R/C Quadcopterand the Syma S107/S107 G Helicopter.
- Holy Stone – Holy Stone develops drones for all age-groups. The company provides excellent drones at competitive prices. Some of the best quadcopters by Holy Stone include Holy Stone F181 Quadcopter and the Holy Stone HS170.
If you are not specifically looking for a racing drone, there are many other drones for various purposes. On our website, you will find plenty of drones and accessories that will help you select the best drone for your kids or any other purpose. Below are some of the major drone categories that are worth checking out. Follow the links to for our complete guides:
- Photography Drones
- Racing Drones
- Toys & Hobby Drones
- Military Drones
- Surveillance Drones
- Delivery Drones
- Endurance Drones
The Bottom Line
One of the major factors to keep in mind when looking for a drone is its purpose. Make sure that the drones you are choosing meet your needs adequately. Everyone has different preferences hence what might seem best to one person might be less perfect for you. The quadcopters that have been listed above are best on performances and the budget. If your main purpose is just to have fun with your drone, then you can go for something as simple as a toy drone.
However, if you want real racing, then the racing drone reviews that we have compiled have been thoroughly tested and are capable of withstanding various conditions to give you a thrilling racing experience.
We narrowed down to these models based on the quality, features, user feedback, and ratings. If you need any model reviewed, then get in touch with us and we’ll do our best to provide a comprehensive and unbiased review.