The Layman’s Guide to Quadcopter Racing

FPV Racing

Are you interested in becoming a quadcopter racer? Do you enjoy quadcopter racing, but don’t know where to start? I created a beginner’s guide that should cover many of the questions that come up about becoming a quadcopter racer. I tried to make it as specific as possible, and I will update it as time goes on. Enjoy!

Before we begin, check out how fun racing a FPV quadcopter is!

Once you start, it can be pretty addicting!

Getting Started

So before worrying about getting an FPV racing quadcopter, I would highly recommend getting some practice on a microquad first. Microquads are much smaller than racing quadcopters, but what they lack in size they make up for in speed and agility. Microquads are inexpensive as well, which is perfect since you will be crashing the quadcopter a lot when you are just starting off.

Hubsan X4 H107C

If you are a beginner wondering which quadcopter to get, the microquad I would highly recommend getting is the Hubsan X4. Here is a review of the Hubsan X4 H107L (no camera).  If you wanted the Hubsan X4 with a camera, than the Hubsan X4 H107C would be a better choice. These quadcopters are agile, fast, and fun to fly. Mastering fast quadcopters at an earlier stage will benefit you when you start flying your racing quadcopter.

How to Practice

Ok, so now you understand the controls and feel comfortable flying. What’s the next step? Improve your practicing! What does that mean? Well, part of quadcopter racing is going through obstacles and making twists and turns, so that is exactly what you should practice. Below is a video of exactly what I am talking about.

Practicing in this manner will make you such a better pilot, and will reduce the chances of you crashing a more expensive racing quadcopter.

Racing Simulator

If you want to practice flying but it happens to be raining out or the wind speeds are too high, I would recommend trying out a quadcopter racing FPV simulator. The one I have linked is called FPV Freerider. You can try the demo for free, and if you want the full version, it is $5. Check it out here. It’s not as good as actually flying a quadcopter, but it definitely helps! I have listed other simulators here if you are interested in trying out other ones.

Getting (or making) A Racing Quadcopter

“Ok, ok,  I practiced until my fingers bled and I mastered flying the miniquad. Now what?” Well, the moment you’ve been waiting for has arrived! You are now ready to own your very first racing quadcopter! But first, you need to answer a very important question. Do you want to build your own racing quadcopter or do you want to buy your own?

I can’t really recommend one or the other since it all comes down to personal preference. If you like to work with your hands, then I would definitely build one, as it would be pretty fun to do. Also, if you built your quadcopter from scratch and crashed it at some point, the repair would be easier than if you bought a RTF quadcopter. If you just do not want to spend time going through the hassle, buying a quadcopter is totally fine as well.

*Note* If you are worried about price, building your own quadcopter will be cheaper than if you were to buy a RTF (ready to fly) racing quadcopter.

Buying a Racing Quadcopter

If you’re not sure about which racing quadcopter to get, I would take a look at the Lumenier QAV250-G10-RTF.

Lumenier QAV250-G10-RTF

It is used by Charpu, a well-known (at least in the FPV racing community) quadcopter racer. His quadcopter does have modifications though, so your quadcopter will be a little different than his. (I might write an article on modifications if people are interested in that.) Some people have had complaints on assembling this particular quadcopter, so down below is a link to a guide showing all of the steps required to fully assemble it.

Click here for the guide!

Parts to build a Racing Quadcopter

If you are more interested in building your own quadcopter, you are going to need to purchase the various parts. I listed just some of the items you will need to get started building your very own quadcopter.

  1. Frame
  2. 4 blades (props)
  3. 4 motors
  4. 4 ESC (Electronic Speed Controls)
  5. Flight controller
  6. LiPo (Lithium-polymer) battery
  7. LiPo battery charger
  8. Board camera for FPV
  9. Video transmitter and receiver
  10. Radio transmitter and receiver
  11. Antennas
  12. Battery straps
  13. FPV monitor and/or goggles
  14. HD recording camera (optional)

I was going to write an article about assembling, but after further research I found a website that explained it much better than I probably could. The website is oscarliang.com. You can find the article here.

Part Synergy

Before purchasing any parts, you need to make sure that the parts that you are going to get work well together. Ecalc is a website that figures all of that out for you. All you need to do is use the drop down menu to select the specific products, and the website will show you only the products that will work together with the ones you selected.

Vendors

I listed some U.S. vendors down below that I felt were great for buying the different parts.

1. MultiRotorMania  (Sacramento, CA)
http://multirotormania.com/

2. Propshop Hobbies (Detroit, MI)
http://www.propshophobbies.com/

3. U Buy A Drone  (Florida)
http://ubuyadrone.com/

4, Multirotor Superstore (Aptos, CA)
http://www.multirotorsuperstore.com

Where to Go Quadcopter Racing

You have your quadcopter, you’ve flown it around, and now you are itching to race. A great website to check out is MultiGP. Choose the area you want to race in, and the site will give you nearby areas that host races. Another website in which you can find events is Dugn. To navigate the site, all you have to do is find a group near you and join the community.

Technical Terms

When first learning about quadcopters, you may run across some unfamiliar acronyms. I listed many of the popular ones below as a reference.

AP = Aerial Photography
ARF = Almost Ready to Fly
AUW = All Up Weight
BEC = Battery Eliminator Circuitry
BNF = Bind and Fly
CoG (or CG) = Center of Gravity
CPPM = Combined Pulse Position Modulation
ESC = Electronic Speed Control
FOV = Field of View
FPV = First Person View
FS = Fail Safe
Kv = Rpm per volt
LED = Light Emitting Diode
LHCP = Left Hand Circular Polarized
Lipo = Lithium Polymer Battery
LOS = Line of Sight
LRS = Long Range System
mAh = Milliamp hours
MR = Multirotor
mW = mili Watt
OSD = On Screen Display
PDB = Power Distribution Board
PPM = Pulse Position Modulation
PWM = Pulse Width Modulation
RC = Radio Controlled
RHCP = Right Hand Circular Polarized
RSSI = Received Signal Strength Indication
RTF = Ready To Fly
RTH = Return To Home
Rx = Receiver
SBUS or S.BUS = Serial Bus
TH = Throttle Hold
TVL = TV Line
Tx = Transmitter
UAS = Unmanned Aerial System
UAV = Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
UBEC = Universal Battery Elimination Circuit
Vrx = Video Receiver
Vtx = Video Transmitter

But what about Roll, Pitch, and Yaw?

A 45 second video should explain what those are.

Conclusion

With enough patience and practice, you can become one of the world’s best FPV racers! I really hope this guide was helpful, and if you think there is anything else I can add, feel free to let me know. If, for whatever reason, you want to fly something other than quadcopters, I created a review for the best RC planes for beginners and the best RC helicopters for beginners. Check it out!

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