We can witness the emergence of drone races in our surroundings. Racing events are being convened by small Facebook clubs as well as big budget enterprises. These events present an opportunity to pilots to display their prowess to the spectators. The prospect of a first drone race can be intimidating for pilots as well as viewers. In this post, we plan to share with you some of the stuff that you need to bring along to your first drone race.
The list has been segregated into two main sections: General Items and Race Items. The General items section discussed stuff for both viewers and pilots. The Race Items include stuff that is relevant to the pilots only. We have also included a few Nice to Haves and Group Ideas later on in the post. Let’s get going then!
Tomorrow is the racing day and you are still unsure what to bring along for the race. This list of items should ease your stress levels and enable you to concentrate more at the race!
Most of the drone races take place outdoors during the day. A few indoor events are being organized but they are few and far in between. If you reside in warmer climes, do not forget to bring along with you protection from the sun. Sunblock is a bare minimum but a hooded hat can be a bit of a respite from the sun. Most of the events last for a long time so ensure that even if you have to apply the sunblock again, there is no harm in it. The AAD recommends consumers to apply sunblock every two hours or so. You may even set up an alarm on your smartphone since all the excitement of racing can make you forget that you need keep yourself protected against the elements.
On the contrary, if you are living in a wetter region, an umbrella or a rain coat is a must. Most of the organizations tend to wait for the shower or drizzle to pass away instead of abandoning the race for the whole day. Similarly, do not forget to bring along with you something that can cover your equipment. There are some people who will remember to bring along a rain coat but will forget to bring along something to cover the gadgets. Check if your equipment carrying case has a cover and use it if it has. A trash bag can also come in handy as it can be stuffed easily in the bag. However, if there is a forecast of a thunderstorm or heavy showers, consider the race done and dusted!
Food and water
Do not let yourself get dehydrated. Ensure that you stay hydrated by bringing along a cooler packed with ice and bottled water. You can also share with the other spectators and pilots present at the race who may have forgotten to bring along their bottle of water. A Nalgene bottle with ice and water can be an option if you do not want to carry a lot of luggage.
A racing event generally comprises check in, multiple warm up heats and then actual races. So, a large portion of the day will be spent on the race. It can be a bit of a hassle for both the pilots as well as onlookers to leave the event in a bid to grab food. Moreover, if you happen to be at a far flung location with no food spot in the vicinity, it is prudent to bring along with you a few spill proof snacks. Try to carry along foods that do not create a lot of mess and can be trashed with ease. Here are some of the popular snacks in this regard:
- Dried fruits such as nuts, trail mix and other high energy items that can overcome your hunger in a jiffy. Some almonds should always remain in your equipment bag.
- You can also opt for energy, granola and protein bars. Do not carry along stuff that melts such as chocolates.
- Deli meat and bread for sandwiches can be an option for a wholesome meal on the race day. Chococopter showed up at the LAFPV with a supermarket French bread loaf and a massive bag of salami. The food was cheap and readily available.
If you want to view the other pilots fly, you can bring along with yourself your own FPV goggles and monitors and tune into the channels. This will help you learn plenty of stuff and also give a new perspective into racing. You can get the channel chart from the race organizers to know which pilot is flying on which channel. There will be a lot of people around wearing their headsets. You can ask them about different channels but avoid disturbing the race contests!
Always bring your trash bag with you to clean up all the mess you have created. You may have left food wrappers, electric tape and other such garbage. This will assist the race organizers when they are packing the stuff. You can also participate in any post event cleanup or share your extra trash bags with someone who is looking out for them. It is not easy for any race organizer to find a location that suits the spectators and pilots alike. So, if you leave it all covered in filth, they might not be able to get it reserved for the next event.
You can feel pretty untidy after a long day in the field. A hand sanitizer and baby wipes can come in quite handy. If you happen to be in a dusty location, a towel can be useful to clean off your dirty equipment.
Ensure that you bring some kind of seating with you to the race. A foldable camping style chair can be a nice bet as it is easily portable. Most of the events offer seating to the pilots but seating for the onlookers can be limited. The chairs in the image above come in quite handy as they break down into a bag about the size of a loaf of bread. You can make them a permanent part of your quadcopter gear.
Items for travel
Bring along some cash with you as some races have entry fee or parking fee. Typically, instructions in this regard are issued well before the event. Sometimes the events are organized at some arenas where people have to pay parking fees. Lunch or snacks are offered at some events on payment. Moreover, there may be some vendors selling off their gear or components at discounted rates. Bring along some cash since credit card reader or an app may not be an option at far flung locations.
Similarly, if you are continuously capturing images with your smartphone and sharing them on social media throughout the day, the probability is that your phone may end up running out of juice. A portable battery pack can be really useful in such a situation. These can also be used to charge up cameras, portable speakers and other equipment.
You also need to get to the exact location of the event. The offline version of the Google Maps is available so you can save the location of the race to your phone without having to worry about the reception. Things can get a bit messy if your phone runs out of juice and you forget your way back home. A set of printed direction can help you avoid chaos after a fun filled day.
Are you going to participate in a drone race for the first time? In this section we will be sharing with you all the gear that you need to bring along to your first race. Ensure that all the items included in this list are working properly before you head to the race location. Prepare well in advance to avoid getting panicked.
It would be a shame if you forget your racing equipment on the day of the race. You should have your quadcopter, radio transmitter and FPV goggles ready. A solid carrying case is a must!
Lots of batteries
You should bring along plenty of batteries to the race. Each heat is likely to consume at least one battery. You should be acquainted with the number of practice and race heats to figure out the number of batteries that you will be needing. It is preferable to bring along additional batteries in contrast to a charging station.
In the same manner, also bring along charged batteries for the FPV goggles. Even if you want to watch other people’s race, charged batteries should be in your repertoire. One battery should be reserved for flying so that you do not run out of juice when the heat is on!
Additional propellers and components
It is always prudent to have multiple propellers and a full set of batteries in spare. When it comes to spare parts, you are the one who is going to decide the number you are going to need. If something breaks, a few basic parts can help you get ready again. Extra propeller nuts and frame bolts are a must have. If you are cool with repairing the machine at a more intricate level during the race, then a few frame parts, FPV camera, ESCs, and motors in spare can be useful.
A propeller wench, hex drivers and a portable soldering iron should be there in your gear the racing event. This will enable to carry out basic repairs and detect and fix the issues. You should be accompanied by tools that you typically bring along to your general flight adventures. Moreover, stuff such as zip ties, electrical tape and heat shrink can come in quite handy. If you do decide to bring along a soldering iron, then do not forget to bring along solder wire as well.
Multiple contestants are involved in a racing event so it is imperative that every pilot flies only on the designated channel. A channel guide along with tools needed to change the video transmission channel will make your life easier. Changes can be made at the race line quite often so this will keep your prepared for the last minute modifications.
Left handed and right handed antennas
When you are assigned a frequency, a polarization is also designated. If you follow this recommendation, your range and video quality can be greatly enhanced.
Transponder or apps related to the race
Get to know the transponder that is being used by the race organizer or club. Trackmate system is the most popular that is used by MultiGP clubs. Majority of the vents may not make it mandatory but there can be some events that can make it imperative for the pilot to participate in the race. It is important that the IR LED on the transponder faces in the accurate direction so you should be aware of it. Most need to be directed in the upward direction but in certain cases it can be pointed sideways. Ask your group if you are unsure about this. Registration with Trackmate will be required when you get to the event.
A number of events are beginning to employ apps for race management and organization.
Nice to haves and group ideas
Are you travelling with a large group of people or have sufficient room in your vehicle? The items that we are going to discuss below will enhance your life experience if you have ample financial resources. None of the items mentioned below are mandatory.
Laptop and USB cable
A laptop may be needed to tweak or adjust PIDs or failsafe configuration at the field. Swift software modifications can be carried out with the help of a charged laptop.
Shelter, tables and seating
A shelter can help you stay clear of the sun for an outdoor racing event. You can also set up a shop for immediate repair and maintenance. You can coordinate with your fellow pilots to avoid bringing along duplicate items. Stakes or some other safe method should be adopted to ensure that the shelter remains intact in case of strong windy conditions.
Action camera and other auxiliary items
You can use your action camera to record your amazing race video footage and share in on social media platforms and video hosting websites. In addition to carrying out post processing of the video footage, you can also use it to conduct some soul searching. Some of you might argue that an action camera would add more weight to the quadcopter which is undesirable in a racing machine but if you are an amateur pilot, do not fret!
It is recommended that you tag your camera with your name and contact information. In the same manner, use a top quality mount that has been tested before. Action cameras tend to bounce off the aircraft after a crash and you can end up losing your camera in the heat of the moment.
Portable generator or charging station
If the race event is located in a far flung area, it is probable that there is no power source around. If someone in your group has a portable generator, it could come in handy. It may not be a financially viable option for individual pilots, but when it comes to groups, it could be a good idea and serve you in the long term.
It is possible that you get tempted to bring along your Tiny Whoop or RC aircraft to fly with your fellow pilots but it can distract organizers of the event. Moreover, the interference produced by a quadcopter integrated with a FPV video transmitter can be dangerous for an active racer. Before you plan to fly on the sidelines of the event, enquire of the organizers if they are fine with it and it will not disturb their event. Even if they let you fly, we would strongly urge you to avoid from flying if there are plenty of people engaged in the race.
It takes lots and lots of effort and resources to put together a successful event and they want the day to pass without any hitch. Ensure that you pay heed to their instructions.
We hope that this post will help you get rid of the pre-race jitters. If you have some issues and forgotten some of your stuff, you can ask around. There are plenty of helpful blokes out there who will be more than willing to lend you a hand or two. It is wonderful that you can get in contact to so many people simply by talking to a single person. If you need something or have an issue, do not hesitate and speak up your mind.
We will be updating the list every now and then. If you have something to add or want to share your experience of your first racing day and the stuff that you took along with you, do not hesitate to drop a comment in the comment box below.