The Ultimate Drone Racing Guide

drone racing guideIf you want to learn about drone racing or flying FPV quadcopters, you are at the right place!  Our Drone Racing Guide is the ultimate miniquad resource for all skill levels!

As we’re sure you already know, or are soon to find out, there is a lot of learning involved in flying these amazing machines. When we got into this hobby, we were flabbergasted by the lack of cohesive knowledge regarding building and flying miniquads. Don’t get us wrong, all of the information you need to know is out there, it’s just spread out across several forums, hundreds of blog posts, and tons of YouTube videos.

Our goal is to organize all the information you need in one place.  This comprehensive guide will get you through the entire process of learning to fly, researching and buying parts, building your quadcopter, and finally flying it. Think of it as your “Drone 101” learning guide. Our articles also serve as extensions of this guide, providing even more references to valuable blogs, videos, and forums you can review for even more information.

To summarize, the goal of the drone racing guide is to:

  1. Provide a neatly-organized directory of articles and videos that can get a newbie with absolutely no experience in the hobby flying.
  2. Keep this directory up to date so that the miniquad you build will have the most up to date hardware and software.  This means you spend less money avoiding making the same purchasing mistakes we, and others in the hobby, made.

Having said that, let’s get into it!

If you are totally new to the hobby, we highly suggest you start from section one.  Reading as much as you can from sections one and two could save you a ton of money or prevent a dumb accident like cutting up your fingers or burning down your house.

If you’re experienced with RC aircraft, be it quadcopters, planes, or other multicopter devices, you can probably skip around a bit. You can use the section titles to direct your research to topics you are interested in.

 

Section 1: Radio Control, FPV, and miniquad basics (learn to fly)

Hubsan X4This section documents the basics on drones / quadcopters / multicopters / etc.  This is a great place to start if you want to learn the basics, refresh on terminology, or want to start training without actually buying anything too expensive.  If you are looking for information on how to start flying quadcopters, simulators for training, and introductory knowledge, this is definitely the section for you!

      1. Types of drones – toys, racers, and more!
      2. What you need to know before getting into the hobby
      3. Anatomy of an FPV miniquad
      4. Starting FPV Racing FAQ
      5. Common terms and acronyms in the hobby
      6. FPV Racing Simulators: the ultimate list of FPV simulators!
        1. Starting with drone simulators: The most effective way to train with an FPV simulator
        2. Setting up your Taranis to be used as a simulator controller
        3. Simulator Reviews
          1. FPV Freerider Review
          2. FPV Freerider Recharged Review
          3. Liftoff Review
          4. HOTPROPS Review
          5. DRL Simulator Review
      7. Learning to fly using a micro quad – the ultimate beginners guide to flying.
        1. Selecting your first micro quad
        2. Planning and prep for training
        3. Locations – where to fly
        4. Training exercises – flying and training exercises

 

Section 2: Advanced Learning & Research

P1080150So you’ve decided you want to build a quadcopter. The articles in this section will help you understand what decisions you need to make before buying parts, what the parts do, how to pick the best one, and where to buy it from. It also touches on some of the legal issues in the hobby as well as some important safety topics you should be aware of.

    1. Decisions you will need to make before purchasing anything..
    2. Buying your gear
      1. Radio Systems – RC Transmitters and Receivers
      2. Video Goggles Link
      3. HD Action Cameras Link also Video
      4. Battery Charger Link
    3. Everything you need to know about antennas
    4. What to look for when selecting miniquad components..
      1. ESCs
      2. Motors
      3. Flight controllers
      4. PDBs
      5. Frames
      6. FPV Video Transmitters
      7. Propellers
      8. FPV Antennas
      9. FPV Cameras
      10. Spare parts: extra quadcopter components for finishing your build and repairs
    5. Buying options: build from Kit vs RTF vs parts
    6. Where to buy stuff
      1. Choosing a retailer
      2. Propwashed miniquad vendors listing
    7. Legality
      1. Do you need to register your drone with the FAA?
      2. Is flying FPV legal where you live?
      3. Do you need an amateur radio operators (HAM) license?
      4. Bringing your quadcopter with you while traveling
    8. Safety
      1. General drone safety: How to protect yourself from your flying blender.
      2. LiPo Battery Safety
      3. How to pick a flying site.
      4. Interacting with the public while flying

 

Section 3: Equipment and Tools

Having the right tools available will make your life a lot easier when it comes to building your quad. In this section, we go over all of the one-time-purchase equipment you will need. We also discuss nice-to-haves and explain why you may want to buy them. Finally, we link some tutorials for some of the common things you may want to do with this equipment.

    1. Purchasing Tools
      1. What order should equipment by purchased in?
      2. Tools needed for building a quadcopter
    2. Using your tools
      1. Soldering 101
      2. How to use a multimeter
      3. Battery charging guide
        1. Charge multiple batteries at once Link
        2. Battery safety
    3. Advanced video receivers (diversity / ground stations / etc)
    4. 3D printing and quadcopters
      1. Using 3D printing for drones and quadcopters
      2. Drone Print – 3D printed parts and gear for your drone!
      3. Creating your own quadcopter parts using SketchUp

 

Section 4: Building your miniquad

So you have all your equipment and parts and you’re ready to build your miniquad. This section covers the basics of miniquad assembly.

    1. How to build a racing drone
      1. Frame Assembly
      2. ESC Installation
      3. Flight Controller Wiring
      4. Finalizing your build
      5. FPV System Assembly
      6. Finalizing your build: cleanup and testing
    2. Software Setup Guide
      1. Configuring your RC Transmitter (Taranis/Spektrum/FlySky)
      2. Flashing firmware
      3. Configuring BLHeli ESCs
      4. Configuring Betaflight
      5. Advanced software setup tips (filters, srates, etc)
    3. Blackbox Logging
      1. Setting up Blackbox
      2. Using Blackbox Explorer to view logs
      3. Finding common problems with Blackbox
    4. Advanced components:
      1. OSDs Options (Oscarliang) MinimOSD Setup (OscarLiang)
      2. LEDs Link (Oscarliang)
    5. PIDs
      1. Getting your first tune with in-flight adjustments
      2. Basic guide Link (Oscarliang)
      3. Advanced guide Link (iflyquad) Link (Joshua Bardwell)
    6. Building tips
      1. Crashworthiness – How to improve your quadcopter’s durability
      2. Protect your electronics with a “Smoke Stopper”

 

Section 5: Flying

flyin_over_treeThis section focuses on learning to fly and advice on how to improve your aerial skills.

    1. Beginner tips for becoming a better pilot
    2. Getting into rate mode
    3. Moving from intermediate advanced flying.
    4. Learning to race: moving from advanced to competitive flying

 

Section 6: Community and Drone Racing

This section will cover the community and hopefully help you find other like minded individuals interested in flying!

  1. Quadcopter YouTube channels to check out
  2. Active miniquad blogs and community sites
    1. Propwashed.com (this site!)
    2. Multicopter subreddit – Great resource for information, entertainment, and information on quadcopters
    3. OscarLiang.net  – resource for technical topics mainly covering quadcopters
    4. FliteTest – Build videos, reviews, and details on all things RC aircraft (not just focused on quadcopters)
  3. Active online forums for miniquads
    1. RCGroups – Quite simply the biggest forum and best resource for anyone getting into the hobby.
    2. FPVLab – Another popular forum that leans more towards the technical, DIY side of the hobby.
  4. Drone racing
    1. Things to bring to your first drone race: a complete list
    2. Video frequency management: keeping multiple quadcopters in the air
    3. Course design: Building a challenging and interesting drone racing circuit
    4. Organizing your first drone race: a complete guide to drone race event management!
    5. Drone racing organizations and leagues:
      1. Drone Racing League
      2. MultiGP
      3. IDRA – International Drone Racing Association
      4. Drone Racers – Racing events and news
      5. DR1 Racing
      6. F3Expo

 

Anything missing?

Do you have any links that you think would fit well into the framework above? We are always willing to link to good content, send us an e-mail:

community@propwashed.com

 

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