Drone Racing
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Racing drones – The formula 1 of drones

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Drone racing world championship ended on 14th December 2019 with the victory of the sixteen year old Korean Changhyeon Kang. Spectacular the evolution of competition drones piloted in FPV mode as seen from the video (link), created and posted by the FAI Air Sports Channel on the YouTube channel.

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But what are the characteristics of an FPV racing drone and how to start? Let’s find out in the following lines.

Features of drones for racing

Racing drones, even if conceptually comparable to professional drones or leisure drones, are in fact quite another thing.

In fact, there are various elements that distinguish racing drones from others. By simply considering the basic characteristics, we can therefore divide them into two categories: physical or structural and performance.

The basic physical or structural characteristics are represented by:

– size,

– weight,

– components (ESC, PDB, etc.).

The basic performance characteristics, on the other hand, can be identified with:

– speed,

– maneuverability,

– pilot mode (FPV).

Physical characteristics of drone racing

Dimensions

The size of a racing drone is very small. Generally the dimensions, which identify the classes, or the measure in millimeters calculated on the diagonal of the motors axis, ranges from 180 mm to 250 mm.

Weight

The weight of a racing drone ranges from 350 gr to 600 gr, therefore very light. Lightness is in favor of the speed of the drone.

Components

The components of a drone for competition are extremely sophisticated and miniaturized. All the major manufacturers of racing drones make the drone components available from spare parts, from propellers to frames.

The image below illustrates the components of a racing drone. The description of the individual components, present after the figure, allows those who are new to racing drones to familiarize themselves with the terms and functions.

Components of a Drone for Racing
Components of a Drone for Racing – Basi photo taken from Eachine store – drone BAT QX105 – Post processed by 4mydrone

Frame

It is the load-bearing structural part where the individual components that make up the drone are housed. It is generally made of carbon, both for its impact resistance / falls, and for its lightness.

Propellers

Present in number of four, they are light and ensure the flight of the drone. Sometimes they can be three-bladed or four-bladed.

Engines

They keep the drone flying, spinning the propellers. There are four of them. In general, brushless motors are used for competition drones. The abbreviation, the so-called Kv, is present on the motors: the higher the Kv value of the single motor, the faster the motor will turn. Kkv is often identified as RPM per volt: it means that a 1500 Kv engine with 10 Volt power will rotate at 15,000 rpm.

ESC (Electronic Speed ​​Control)

The ESC has the task of varying the speed of the electric motor and controlling its rotation direction. Present in number of four, like the motors, each ESC receives the supply voltage from the drone battery and distributes it electronically to the motor. During the flight, each engine can vary its rotation speed in order to vary and change the direction of the aircraft.

PDB (Power Distribution Board)

The PDB is a small printed circuit whose responsibility is to supply energy to all the electrical systems of the competition drone. It is therefore one of the fundamental components, even if some theories claim that it is possible to do without the PDB, they weld the battery cables to the ESCs.

Flight Controller

The FC is responsible for all flight operations and controls the flight sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, barometer, GPS).

Receiver, Transmitter and FPV Camera

The receiver and transmitter ensure the management and control of the racing drone, receiving and transmitting radio commands. Furthermore, through these components it is possible to see both the telemetry on our viewer (goggle) and the images captured by the FPV camera.

Battery

It is the source of energy for all the components of the drone. LiPo (lithium-polymer) batteries are used on competition drones because they are more efficient and less heavy.

Performance features racing drone

Speed

It is the peculiar feature of competition drones. They can reach 180 km / h with peaks up to 200 km / h. The high speed is required to complete the laps in the race circuit as quickly as possible.

Maneuverability

Power isn’t everything without control! Therefore race drones must have high maneuverability in order to perform spin and trajectory changes required both by the circuit and by the presence of opponents. Small and powerful is the paradigm for these racing cars.

Pilot mode (FPV)

The piloting of a racing drone takes place in FPV mode (First Person View), that is, in first person, thanks to a viewer – goggle – which allows you to view the images of the camera installed on the drone in real time, so that the pilot can pilot the drone between the various obstacles of the circuit and between the drones of the antagonists.

How to get started

For sure everyone would like to conduct their racing drone in international competitions.

The Drone Racing League and the World Drone Prix are the most important drone races worldwide.

Becoming a pilot of competition drones requires passion, time, dedication and investments. It is therefore advisable to start with a simple drone, and create your own indoor circuit at home, just to do the hand with the radio control, the obstacles, without using FPV viewers.

The second step then, could be to associate goggles for FPV piloting to your drone, to then pass indoor circuits with the presence of gates, flags and other elements of the race circuit (see article FPV Drone racing – Sport with drones).

Finally, take your first steps in competitions at city and regional level, and then move on, if there are conditions for more demanding races.

Detailed info about drones for racing, circuit elements and googles

For more info regarding racing drones, please visit the page “FPV drone racing“, while for the elements of the race circuits visit the page “FPV drone racing stuff“, and for goggles the page “FPV goggles for drone racing“.

Other information about drone racing are available in the article  “FPV Drone racing – Sport with drones“.


Note regarding the video and images: The video, showed as an example, on this page was created and published on the YouTube channel by FAI Air Sports Channel which owns it. The video has the sole purpose of facilitating a better understanding of the article. The image in the article and the highlighted one were made by 4mydrone on basic photos of the drone Eachine BAT QX105 – taken from the Eachine store (that is the owner).

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Last Updated on/Ultimo aggiornamento – 25/05/2020

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