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A Comprehensive Guide for Buying Racing Drones

What does this guide have for you? 

If you are someone who is very new to the world of drone racing, then this comprehensive guide has been written exactly for you:

  • Details about FPV/drone racing
  • The main considerations you should make while purchasing a racing drone
  • The leading racing drones that you should get your hands on

Racing Drone 

A racing drone is actually a compact sized quadcopter or a Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) that has been engineered specifically to participate in First Person View (FPV) racing contests held on metropolitan cities all over the world. Take a look below at the drone racing contests held across the world for in-depth details.

Keep in mind, however, that the racing drones are nowhere like the machines designed for professional consumers and veteran drone enthusiasts such as  These devices generally fly at a lower altitude and at far lesser speeds and are merely fabricated to capture stunning aerial imagery of action sports, architecture and natural landscapes. To learn more about these kinds of machines, go through our detailed camera drone’s guide.

 

What this guide does not entail? 

Advanced modding, the complexities involved in installing performance-enhancing components and elaborate Do It Yourself assembly instructions are not a part of this guide. Moreover, we will not be discussing the intricate technical jargon such as the correct propeller blade angle of attack which is a crucial performance measurement parameter.

You can visit the following websites and blogs if you are a Do It Yourself and technical geek:

3 Best Racing Drones for Sale Today 

The following three devices come in either Ready to Fly (RTF) or Almost Ready to Fly (ARF) packaging. So, you will not require any major skills while assembling these devices.

Blade Inductrix FPV 

Worth $199, this is a magnificent machine that is renowned as a Tiny Whoop FPV drone and is ever so reliable. It is an ideal device for the novices out there.

Eachine Wizard X220 

You can this device for $299 from the market and is an extremely long-lasting and reasonably priced product that has been engineered especially for 250-class drone racing contests.

Vortex 250 Pro 

Costing around $499, this is a very light weight, reliable machine that is a great buy for experience drone racers who love to compete in the 250-class drone racing events. What’s more, there is no fuss involved when it comes to repair and maintenance.

Other FPV Drones for Newbies 

Beginner 
  •  (Ready to Fly) – price ranges between $70 and $100 and is a great device if you are a rookie
  •  (Ready to Fly) – Costs between $250 and $300
Intermediate 
  •  – costs around $350 to $400
  •  (Ready to Fly) – price tag of about $500

Customize your drone if you want to win!

Just an overview of the drone racing events results will reveal it unto you that almost all the winning drones, except for a few aberrations, were built by the owners based on their individual requirements and preferences.  The primary reason for this is that the drone racers tend to bring about a lot of modifications in their aircrafts as and when required. Similar to other forms of flying competitions, the drone racers are always on the lookout for innovative paraphernalia and adjustments that can give them the cutting edge over the competitors. Because of the massive revolution we are witnessing in drone technology with every passing day, Modding is a crucial phenomenon in drone racing.

Here are a few very important pieces of advice that we would like to give you if you want to win at drone racing contests:

  1. Choose the racing class and league you want to compete in
  2. Be very meticulous about the aircraft kit, flight controller, RC controller and FPV gear
  3. Continue to modd your device until you arrive at the desired formula that will bring your positive results

If you are a newbie, forget all what was said above! 

If you are a beginner in the world of drone racing or drone flying, for that matter, then you should start off with low cost Ready to Fly mini drone. It is also important that you begin your drone racing career by purchasing a FPV device since it takes time while getting accustomed to flying through the camera view. All this has to be done without costing you an arm and a leg and wasting too much of your precious time.

Trust me: you will undergo numerous crashes and mistakes are inevitable, folks!  So, it is always more prudent to start off with a low cost device that can help you get a hang of drone racing.

A compact sized Tiny Whoop Class micro quad FPV is one of the most popular machines among rookie drone racers around the world. For instance, the  can be had for a meagre sum of $199. It is light in weight and quite reliable. It is loaded with an inbuilt camera attached to a fixed mount, a radio controlled transmitter along with a FPV monitor that is mounted on the controller. It will help you master your drone racing skills using the FPV display screen.

You can view in this video the sort of experience you should expect while flying this fabulous device in your house.

Once you get a hang of flying a micro quadcopter in your room, you will then get ready to make a jump to assemble-and-modd racing devices such as the  And this will be the beginning of your successful drone racing career.

Why people love racing drones?

 The answer to this question is not that hard: it’s hell lot of fun! View this video to know for yourself!

Racing Leagues and Events

The foremost important thing that you need to consider while purchasing a racing drone is whether you intend to participate in a formal racing league or some informal event or meetup.  The racing format will ultimately decide what type of device, radio controller, FPV paraphernalia and budget you will be requiring to participate and compete with your opponents.

Drone Racing leagues

Drone racing leagues are becoming an emerging phenomenon all over the world. Each league comes up with its own sets of rules and regulations that basically specify the allowed equipment, racing atmosphere, ambience, combat, overtaking etc.

Here are some of the drone racing leagues that I know of:

  • Aerial Grand Prix: This is a gates and flags drone racing league primarily designed for 250Mini, Pro Super Mini and Open Class drones. It features contests in all the major cities all over the world and includes both indoor as well as outdoor tracks.
  • Aerial Action Sports League: This is a three hour long stunt drone and combat drone event.
  • FPV Racing.TV: This is basically a social network of racers that have been split into teams and includes events held all across the globe.
  • MultiGP: This event is only restricted to First Person View radio controlled quadcopters only. It began in 2015 and is in the process of augmenting more US city chapters.
  • RacingFPV.com: This is a Canadian indoor drone racing league that features 250mm and open class drones. It is basically a gates and flags drone racing league.
  • Drone Derby
  • Drone Nationals
  • The Mini Quad Club: This is a famous Facebook group where meetups and modds are discussed among the fans from all over the world.

Ensure that you get to know the minimum and optimum specification requirements with regard to aircraft suitability for the league you are most interested in. A number of leagues, these days, feature 250mm or 5-inch mini drones.

You can check out this link for a detailed map of the scheduled future drone racing contests.

Local meetups 

Alongside the drone racing leagues, a number of groups, FPV meetups and fora are organized in the major cities of United States and all across Europe. Most of the events are typically open-specification events which implies that you are not restricted to bring a particular type of aircraft to those events. You can bring whatever type of aircrafts and controllers you want.

The actual aim of these meetups is to actually spend some quality time with fellow dronies and learn from each other’s experiences. Well, socializing is certainly a great thing to vye for but when you have your FPV goggles on, it can turn out to be a complex affair more often than not.

You can look for drone racing events and meetups in your neighborhood by visiting Reddit and Meetup.com.

I personally am in favor of local meetups since it gives me the luxury to try out anything I want with my drone. This also gives me the opportunity to learn a thing or two about modding from my fellow drone enthusiasts. But of course, that is what I like. Your preferences could vary in this regard.

Indoor against Outdoor Events 

Majority of the drone racing league events take place indoors so that weather does not interfere with the proceedings. This prevents any single drone from getting an unwarranted advantage owing to external surroundings on a specific day. The primary concept behind drone racing is to let machine and team compete other machines and teams entirely on the basis of flying skills and machine capability.

On the contrary, local meetups and user groups let pilots compete against each other anywhere they want. In most of the cities, indoor and outdoor meetups also take place.

Rotorcross 

In this event, two or more opponents compete against each other in a bid to cross the finishing line first. Obviously, such a race witnesses a number of crashes taking place. This is quite an exciting format.

Drag Race 

This is a race between two or more racers simultaneously to see which of the competitors accelerates his/her vehicle the most over a short distance at the fastest rate. The distance tends to be 100 yards or 100 meters more often than not.

Time Trial 

In this racing event, each drone is flown separately on a track. The device that finishes the course in the shortest time wins!

What does FPV Racing Quad Includes? 

A common FPV racing quadcopter, whether it comes in assemble to fly or ready to fly packaging, consists of the following primary components:

  • Air chassis
  • 4 motors in addition to extras
  • 4 ESCs in addition to extras
  • 4 Propellers in addition to extras
  • RC flight controller
  • LiPo battery packs in addition to extras
  • FPV video transmitter and radio receiver
  • Radio control transmitter and receiver
  • Antennae
  • Battery straps
  • FPV goggles
  • Integrated camera for FPV real time video streaming
  • High Definition camera for video recording (it can be optional since it will add more weight to your vehicle)

A Ready to Fly racing drone such as the Blade Inductrix FPV and Vortex 250 Pro comes with all the requisites that you will be needing and will be free of any undesired shortcomings. Having said that, you may require additional propellers and battery packs.

If you are interested in building your own drone via the Almost Ready to Fly packaging, you should ensure that you have all the above components in addition to lots of extra propellers and battery packs.

Budget

If you just want to step into the world of drone racing, then you will not have to spend more than $200 but if you want to start winning, then it will require more investments. For those of you not inclined towards building a racing drone of their own, Blade Inductrix FPV can be had for as little as $200. The Inductrix is a fast paced device, that is reliable, long-lasting and comes loaded with an integrated camera, a trustworthy radio controlled controller with an onboard display for live video streaming and a phenomenal firmware. This will not guarantee you a lot of victories in the racing course but it will certainly help you to get a hang of the intricacies of drone racing without too much fuss.

You can get to participate in the local meetups by spending around $300 to $700 on a 250mm specification quadcopter that is loaded with a decent radio controlled controller, flight controller, FPV live video streaming and a compact sized video display. The Vortex 250 pro and Eachine Wizard X220 are two of the most popular devices among newbies.

You will have to spend another $300 to $500 for purchasing a pair of FPV goggles such as the

Nevertheless, if you are budgeting for competing in a drone racing league, at least $1000 will have to be left aside to construct a competitive racing machine.

Ready to Fly Racing Drones

Here are the manufacturers and retailers that deal in Ready to Fly racing drones. When it comes to Ready to Fly racing drones, all you have to do is to purchase them, unbox them, get the batteries charged up and set them whizzing through the air. No fuss whatsoever!

Let’s share with you the most popular Ready to Fly racing drones:

  •  (Tiny Whoop Class): This is a low cost mini drone designed for beginners and includes a 720p FPV video camera, controller and a formidable software.
  • This is a reasonably priced device that is ever so reliable and comes in 250mm Class. It has a lot of spare parts and upgrades available and definitely promises a fun flying experience.

Here is a word of caution: Plenty of Ready to Fly racing drones available in the market are actually assembled from kits and parts from retailers. I have nothing against them but I would like to warn you that you will be over-depending on the retailer staff.

View this tremendous video of a QAV250 and Storm Type A racing in a local park.

How to construct your own FPV racing drone 

I was planning to write an elaborate guide on this topic. But to be honest, the below mentioned half an hour tutorial by Charpu, who is one of the best drone racing pilots in the world, tends to explain the entire process far better than I could have put into writing. And Charpu is familiar with a lot of complexities way better than me.


Here are the components that were used by Charpu in building this device:

  • Chassis: QAV250 Mini FPV
  • Motors: Lumenier FCX1806 (2300kv)
  • Electronic Speed Controller (ESC): Lumenier 12A
  • Propellers: Gemfan 5×3
  • Battery: Lumenier 1300mAh LiPo
  • Flight Controller: Acro Naze32
  • FPV Goggles: FatShark Teleporter V3
  • Radio transmitter and receiver: Frsky Taranis X9D 2.4GHz

To sum it up, it is not at all difficult to build your own drone. But modifying it to get the maximum out of it is where things begin to become a bit tricky.

Assemble to Fly Components 

I believe that I am not experienced enough to enlist all the crucial components involved in building a top quality racing drone. But based on the research that I have conducted and the experience I have gathered, it is safe to say that the following components will surely help you a lot in creating a top quality drone.

Frames

Flight Controller

Motors

Following are the most popular motor manufacturers

Power ratings of motors are based on Kv which is thousands of RPM per volt. For a small sized 250mm specification racer, the motor’s Kv rating should be 1000 to 2300 Kv. It is recommended that you use a lower value of Kv for larger sized quadcopters.

  • More than 1Kg: 700 to 900 Kv
  • 500g: 900 to 1300 Kv
  • Below 500g: 1300 to 2300 Kv

You can compare the performance of different motors in real-time tests at MiniQuadTestBench.com.

Quadcopter Propeller

ESCs

LiPo Battery

Transmitter/Receiver 

HD Camera 

Video Transmitter 

FPV Camera 

FPV Goggles 

  • Cinemizer OLED Video Glasses (boasts a widescreen and is a leading product)

Speed and Power 

When it comes to FPV drone racing, the flying skills of pilots are more at stake in contrast to a drag race type of an event.

Speed 

Racing drones typically boast a maximum speed of around 75mph (120kph) but when it comes to flags and gates racing contests, top speed is not the everything that matters. Manoeuvrability is a crucial factor that ought to be taken into consideration.

Lift Power 

Lift power is another important factor. If your machine boasts powerful motors and propellers, you get more lift. This assists the pilots take sharp turns around corners and edges and accelerate at a faster pace in comparison to your opponents while taking a turn.

You will even come across a number of racing drones with a power to weight ratio of 10:1 For such drones, I would recommend you to opt for the high powered 3S and 4S motors such as those manufactured by Cobra. Carbon fibre is a go-to material with which most of the modern day propellers are made off due to its lightweight and sleek design. But be careful since the formidable Carbon fibre propellers can be very harmful to living things in case of accidents and crashes and cause serious injuries.

Manoeuvrability 

This is an extremely important performance attribute of racing drones and cannot be determined in terms of sheer numbers or quantities. Manoeuvrability is actually the cumulative total of the following important attributes:

  • Control response time which a function of flight controller and RC controller typically
  • Flight steadiness which is affected by the flight controller and flight control software
  • Predictable, seamless banking which is influenced by flight control software
  • Lift power to stop and modify direction and is dependent upon motors, ESCs and propellers

Generally speaking, if you go for higher quality components as mentioned above, the manoeuvrability of your racing drone will certainly get enhanced.

Durability 

The size and weight of your device greatly impact its durability. The smaller in size it is and the lighter in weight it is, the more durable it will be. The 250mm specification and the Tiny Whoop Class aircrafts are the most resistant to crashes and accidents since the propellers come in the way and protect the chassis from suffering severe damage.

Flight Duration

Drone racing contests typically do not exceed the time limit of 5 minutes. So, most of the racing drones are designed to provide a flight duration of 5 minutes. Hence, batteries run out of juice extremely fast. On the contrary, camera drones can last up to 20 minutes or so since they are engineered to fly low and slow.

Flight Controller 

Here are the popular flight controllers among drone racers:

RC Controllers 

You will get lots of RC controllers for your quadcopter in the range between $100 to $1000. When it comes to drone racing, you actually need a durable radio controller that boasts seamless and accurate manual control sticks that are long lasting and resistant to harsh weather conditions. If you get one with a long battery lifespan, you are in for a joyride. If you are interested in carrying out some specialized aerial stunts, manoeuvres, tricks or combat, ensure that the controller features sufficient number of buttons that can be programmed for the desired purposes.

Here are the popular RC controllers:

FPV Goggles and Gear

Majority of the racers out there prefer the First Person View option to race their devices since you feel as if you are sitting in the cockpit of your aircraft and this provides for an exhilarating immersive digital experience. You can view the real time video feed either on a pair of FPV goggles or on a display screen.

A complete FPV setup consists of the following components;

  • FPV video transmitter and receiver
  • Antenna
  • Display screen: could be your handheld mobile device or RC controller’s integrated display screen
  • FPV goggles which are not mandatory
  • Integrated camera for FPV experience
  • HD camera for video recording but is optional too

FatShark are the entrenched market leaders when it comes to FPV equipment. Here are three of their exciting products:

Performance Mods 

Typically, if you upgrade the below mentioned components, the performance of a racing drone is likely to get enhanced:

  • Propellers (lift power)
  • Motors (lift power and durability)
  • ESC (handling and motor sensitivity)
  • Flight control software and hardware

The racing capabilities of a drone can also be enhanced by simply reducing its weight. In particular, if the weight of the following components is reduced, it could have great impact on your drone’s racing performance:

  • Chassis
  • Battery pack
  • Motors
  • Motor mounts
  • Harnesses
  • Propellers
  • Landing paraphernalia

Other Mods

Turning sharp corners at a fast pace is a skill that is not mastered by all the drone racing enthusiasts. Some of the racing drones are modded to be better able to perform aerial stunts, tricks, combat and capture some scintillating aerial videos and photographs. Following are some of the more popular mods:

  • Combat mods
  • Stunt mods
  • Target shooting mods

Spare Parts 

For drone racers, it is compulsory that they have in store a fair number of battery packs, propellers, ESCs, frames and motors that can be used as backup and replacement parts. Because you never know when the bad times are going to strike you and your drone. Crashes occur out of the blue and you should always remain prepared for the worst situation. So it is advisable to consider the replacement parts for your drone before you actually decide to participate in a certain racing event, league or a meetup.

More often than not, you will have to get your propellers replaced every single time you set your drone whizzing through the air in a racing contest. A majority of the drone racers always keep a complete set of spare propellers, ESCs, motors and a few battery packs to stay ready for any untoward circumstances.

Warranty 

In contrast to all the other drone types out there, warrant is related to the separate components and deal with only defects and if they malfunction. Warranty does not generally include damage done due to crashes during a racing event. If you find yourself ending up with a damaged drone component, then the onus is upon you. This is true for both Ready to Fly as well as Almost Ready to Fly drone kits.

Resources 

There are tons of web blogs, forums and information websites where you will find out loads and loads of useful and handy stuff posted by expert drone racers regarding modding, race rules and regulations and advanced gear.  These are my favorite places to hangout on the internet:

FPV Racing Blogs 

Drone Forums 

How to fly a racing drone? 

. It is a detailed handbook that discusses the fundamentals of flight controls for novices and then goes onto provide in-depth information regarding advanced aerial manoeuvres, stunts and tricks.

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