FPV means First Person View where the user flies a drone using camera and goggles. The drone is fitted with a camera and via the goggles; the user or pilot gets live stream coverage just as if being inside a cockpit.  Drone racing is a sport where you need to complete a set course at the earliest. Using a remote control, the pilot who sees exactly what the drone sees, manoeuvres with the help of goggles connected via radio.

Drone racing was first started in Germany in 2011 and now is a popular sport. You can use any type of drone for racing but all have to conform to the standards of DRL (Drone Racing League). Racing drones are specifically made for speed and agility. They come with more features than the drones that are used for photography purposes.

The four motors of a racing drone are in an H pattern which thrust the drone forward than in the upward direction. Also racing drones use 3 or 4 propeller blades that are smaller in diameter for greater acceleration and manoeuvrability. Since they are built for speed, pilots need to have quick reflexes.

Racing leagues create complicated course routes for the competition at different locations both indoor and outdoor. The US National Drone Racing Championship conduct races in open areas which many people prefer since their drones are much safer.

How to get into FPV drone flying

There are several FPV meetups happening all over the US; FPVlab.com and FPVRacing.tv are popular places you can start with. Before racing, practice a lot in an open area like a playground or backyard. It is a good idea to get a cheap drone first and practice all the manoeuvres and tricks. Once you are with a league you can try better drone options.

What is required legally for drone flying?

  • In the US, if your drone is above 0.55 lbs then you need to register with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) before you start flying outdoor. If you are planning to fly only indoor then you need not register.
  • Fly drone below 400 feet.
  • Do not fly under influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Do not fly over people
  • Do not fly near Airports, airplanes, stadiums, or buildings.
  • Do not fly near emergency situations like fire.
  • Always maintain line-of-sight

When you follow rules and regulations, you will enjoy the sport better. After you join a league you may be required to take out insurance as well. In the US, AMA the Academy of Model Aeronautics offers insurance for drones. After you register with FAA, you will have to display the registration number on your drone and it has to be visible. Though many pilots are registered they forget to display the registration number on the drone. Most of the newbies make this mistake because they are not aware of it.

What you need to know about Drone Flying

Once you are legally compliant to fly, your next step would be to know more about drone flying. Since you are flying a drone using remote control and FPV goggles, it is a totally different experience when compared to actual flying. Here is what you need to know when flying a drone:

  1. Learn the app before flying the drone – Drone racing is all about speed, being agile and alert. Hand-eye co-ordination should be excellent. Sturdy hands and quick thinking is a must. Learning the app will make the whole process easier. Learn how to navigate through the menu and accessing important features especially during emergency situations. Do not spend precious time figuring out how to operate on the app while flying.

 

  1. Visibility – You will be able to see how your drone functions until a certain distance. After a threshold, you will not know if your drone is moving forward or backward. Only with practice you will have a perception of depth. If you let your drone go in the wrong direction you may end up losing or crashing it.

 

  1. Wind speed – It is always windier in the air than on the ground. It is best to avoid a windy day because you cannot work against the wind; it is not safe for the drone.

 

  1. Locate drone if lost – If you have lost the drone, use GPS or a locator on your RC to track it down. Sometimes, you may have a beep sound to help locate it.

 

  1. Ascent and descent speed varies – A drone always ascends quicker than it descends. Descending is slower and takes longer so keep your batteries well charged to avoid last minute crashes.

 

  1. Set up RTH (Return to Home) – Learn to set up the RTH feature correctly so that your drone is back safe without crashing.

 

  1. Battery charging and Maintenance – Understand how the battery warnings work. If it shows low battery then it is best to avoid long distances. Charging and maintaining well will help keep your drone safe.

 

5 Tips to excel in drone flying:

Here are some handy tips you can use while flying the drone.

  1. First practice using cheap drones – Initially, when you are flying for the first time, you will crash your drone plenty of times. Prevent heavy losses by using cheap drones. Once you perfect yourself you can switch over to a better drone with additional features. If you want to go the DIY way, you can build a racing drone yourself by following all the steps mentioned here.

 

  1. Have accessories handy – Having spare parts and accessories handy will help you save time and money. If you have damaged propeller blades, you could replace or repair them quickly with spare parts. It is best if you could do the repairs yourself. Have some basic tools handy too.

 

  1. Have extras – If you are participating in any flying event, it is best to carry additional gear. Ideally having 2 or more of the entire flying kit is a good idea.

 

  1. Try Emulators before buying – You can try emulators before you make a purchase, choose the best that suites your preferences and buy accordingly.

 

  1. Check out B4UFly app – This is an app created by the FAA. The app uses interactive maps that tell the pilots areas they can fly and areas they cannot fly. It is best to be compliant even if you are flying drones for fun.

How to build a racing drone

Though ready to fly drones are available in the market, some hobbyists prefer building their own racing drone. Crashing is a common occurrence and you will know how to fix it if you have built the drone on your own. In fact, you can easily detect the problem and work on the repairs. Building a racing drone may seem like a daunting task but it is fun when you know the steps involved in building one. You need to have some basic tools like soldering iron, solder, ratchet, wire cutters etc. to make the whole building process easier. Knowing all the parts of the drone will be helpful too.

In a nutshell, here are the 10 steps you need for building a drone:

  1. Decide the type of drone you want to build (ex. 2” class, 5“mini class etc.)
  2. Choose the right components (Frame, propellers etc.)
  3. Assemble frame
  4. Mount motors, FPV system and ESCs(Electronic Speed Controllers)
  5. Connect FPV system
  6. Connect ESCs to motor and PDB (Power Distribution Board)
  7. Mount and power the receiver
  8. Mount and wire the Flight Controller
  9. Software configuration
  10. and finally : Testing the drone

Before mounting the camera, it is best if you could test the drone. Crashes are inevitable and expect the worst like wires burning out due to wrong connections. There will be lot of challenges and if building a drone is not your cup of tea then you can buy ready to fly drones available in the marketplace. There are loads of DIY kits available that you could take advantage of. You also can find BNF (Bind N Fly) options that are almost ready to fly except that you need a radio transmitter/controller to bind with your drone.

How to set up FPV racing drone goggles to the camera:

Setting up FPV racing drone goggles is quite simple. The FPV system consists of the camera and goggles. The camera is for transmitting while the goggle is for receiving signals. First connect the FPV camera to the transmitter and antenna. The goggle has a similar set up like the camera. It has a video display like an LCD monitor and a video receiver inside. It also has an antenna that is visible outside. Once the battery is powered, the camera captures live feed and transmits it to the goggles so you can see everything that is in front of the camera. Remember that with goggles you cannot see the drone but can see what the drone’s camera captures.

Flying a drone is fun and is a thrilling experience. It can get expensive if proper precautions are not taken.  Whether you are a pro or want to enjoy the experience, this wonderful sport can get addictive!

FPV means First Person View where the user flies a drone using camera and goggles. The drone is fitted with a camera and via the goggles; the user or pilot gets live stream coverage just as if being inside a cockpit.  Drone racing is a sport where you need to complete a set course at the earliest. Using a remote control, the pilot who sees exactly what the drone sees, manoeuvres with the help of goggles connected via radio.

Drone racing was first started in Germany in 2011 and now is a popular sport. You can use any type of drone for racing but all have to conform to the standards of DRL (Drone Racing League). Racing drones are specifically made for speed and agility. They come with more features than the drones that are used for photography purposes.

The four motors of a racing drone are in an H pattern which thrust the drone forward than in the upward direction. Also racing drones use 3 or 4 propeller blades that are smaller in diameter for greater acceleration and manoeuvrability. Since they are built for speed, pilots need to have quick reflexes.

Racing leagues create complicated course routes for the competition at different locations both indoor and outdoor. The US National Drone Racing Championship conduct races in open areas which many people prefer since their drones are much safer.

How to get into FPV drone flying

There are several FPV meetups happening all over the US; FPVlab.com and FPVRacing.tv are popular places you can start with. Before racing, practice a lot in an open area like a playground or backyard. It is a good idea to get a cheap drone first and practice all the manoeuvres and tricks. Once you are with a league you can try better drone options.

What is required legally for drone flying?

  • In the US, if your drone is above 0.55 lbs then you need to register with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) before you start flying outdoor. If you are planning to fly only indoor then you need not register.
  • Fly drone below 400 feet.
  • Do not fly under influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Do not fly over people
  • Do not fly near Airports, airplanes, stadiums, or buildings.
  • Do not fly near emergency situations like fire.
  • Always maintain line-of-sight

When you follow rules and regulations, you will enjoy the sport better. After you join a league you may be required to take out insurance as well. In the US, AMA the Academy of Model Aeronautics offers insurance for drones. After you register with FAA, you will have to display the registration number on your drone and it has to be visible. Though many pilots are registered they forget to display the registration number on the drone. Most of the newbies make this mistake because they are not aware of it.

What you need to know about Drone Flying

Once you are legally compliant to fly, your next step would be to know more about drone flying. Since you are flying a drone using remote control and FPV goggles, it is a totally different experience when compared to actual flying. Here is what you need to know when flying a drone:

  1. Learn the app before flying the drone – Drone racing is all about speed, being agile and alert. Hand-eye co-ordination should be excellent. Sturdy hands and quick thinking is a must. Learning the app will make the whole process easier. Learn how to navigate through the menu and accessing important features especially during emergency situations. Do not spend precious time figuring out how to operate on the app while flying.

 

  1. Visibility – You will be able to see how your drone functions until a certain distance. After a threshold, you will not know if your drone is moving forward or backward. Only with practice you will have a perception of depth. If you let your drone go in the wrong direction you may end up losing or crashing it.

 

  1. Wind speed – It is always windier in the air than on the ground. It is best to avoid a windy day because you cannot work against the wind; it is not safe for the drone.

 

  1. Locate drone if lost – If you have lost the drone, use GPS or a locator on your RC to track it down. Sometimes, you may have a beep sound to help locate it.

 

  1. Ascent and descent speed varies – A drone always ascends quicker than it descends. Descending is slower and takes longer so keep your batteries well charged to avoid last minute crashes.

 

  1. Set up RTH (Return to Home) – Learn to set up the RTH feature correctly so that your drone is back safe without crashing.

 

  1. Battery charging and Maintenance – Understand how the battery warnings work. If it shows low battery then it is best to avoid long distances. Charging and maintaining well will help keep your drone safe.

 

5 Tips to excel in drone flying:

Here are some handy tips you can use while flying the drone.

  1. First practice using cheap drones – Initially, when you are flying for the first time, you will crash your drone plenty of times. Prevent heavy losses by using cheap drones. Once you perfect yourself you can switch over to a better drone with additional features. If you want to go the DIY way, you can build a racing drone yourself by following all the steps mentioned here.

 

  1. Have accessories handy – Having spare parts and accessories handy will help you save time and money. If you have damaged propeller blades, you could replace or repair them quickly with spare parts. It is best if you could do the repairs yourself. Have some basic tools handy too.

 

  1. Have extras – If you are participating in any flying event, it is best to carry additional gear. Ideally having 2 or more of the entire flying kit is a good idea.

 

  1. Try Emulators before buying – You can try emulators before you make a purchase, choose the best that suites your preferences and buy accordingly.

 

  1. Check out B4UFly app – This is an app created by the FAA. The app uses interactive maps that tell the pilots areas they can fly and areas they cannot fly. It is best to be compliant even if you are flying drones for fun.

How to build a racing drone

Though ready to fly drones are available in the market, some hobbyists prefer building their own racing drone. Crashing is a common occurrence and you will know how to fix it if you have built the drone on your own. In fact, you can easily detect the problem and work on the repairs. Building a racing drone may seem like a daunting task but it is fun when you know the steps involved in building one. You need to have some basic tools like soldering iron, solder, ratchet, wire cutters etc. to make the whole building process easier. Knowing all the parts of the drone will be helpful too.

In a nutshell, here are the 10 steps you need for building a drone:

  1. Decide the type of drone you want to build (ex. 2” class, 5“mini class etc.)
  2. Choose the right components (Frame, propellers etc.)
  3. Assemble frame
  4. Mount motors, FPV system and ESCs(Electronic Speed Controllers)
  5. Connect FPV system
  6. Connect ESCs to motor and PDB (Power Distribution Board)
  7. Mount and power the receiver
  8. Mount and wire the Flight Controller
  9. Software configuration
  10. and finally : Testing the drone

Before mounting the camera, it is best if you could test the drone. Crashes are inevitable and expect the worst like wires burning out due to wrong connections. There will be lot of challenges and if building a drone is not your cup of tea then you can buy ready to fly drones available in the marketplace. There are loads of DIY kits available that you could take advantage of. You also can find BNF (Bind N Fly) options that are almost ready to fly except that you need a radio transmitter/controller to bind with your drone.

How to set up FPV racing drone goggles to the camera:

Setting up FPV racing drone goggles is quite simple. The FPV system consists of the camera and goggles. The camera is for transmitting while the goggle is for receiving signals. First connect the FPV camera to the transmitter and antenna. The goggle has a similar set up like the camera. It has a video display like an LCD monitor and a video receiver inside. It also has an antenna that is visible outside. Once the battery is powered, the camera captures live feed and transmits it to the goggles so you can see everything that is in front of the camera. Remember that with goggles you cannot see the drone but can see what the drone’s camera captures.

Flying a drone is fun and is a thrilling experience. It can get expensive if proper precautions are not taken.  Whether you are a pro or want to enjoy the experience, this wonderful sport can get addictive!

By Simon Rossitto

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