FPV Drone Racing Glossary and F.A.Q.
Some helpful information as you learn about FPV Drone Racing
A racing drone is relatively simple in build, these are the main components for a fully ready to FPV quadcopter:
Frame: This is the first thing to chose, you pick your electronics based on the frame you chose, racing quads are generally 180mm to 280mm (this is the distance diagonally between motor shafts).
Motors: Generally racing quads use 1804 to 2206 motors (this is the size of the motor, depending on what frame you chose different motors may or may not fit)
ESC: An ESC is an electronic speed control, it tells the motor how fast to spin and delivers power to it, they are normally rated from 4Amp up to 100Amp, a racing quad will need between 8 and 20Amp depending on what motor is chosen. The standard ESC is a 12Amp with SimonK firmware on it. There are many different brands of ESC but the one we have found to work best is the Emax 12Amp SimonK series ESC.
Flight controller: This is the brain of the quadcopter, it will need to be configured with a computer plugging into the micro usb on the board and using the easy to use software that is made for each flight controller. There are a few different types of board but the most popular two boards are the NazeAcro and the CC3D. The CC3D is easier to set up but some people argue that the Naze flies better, as a beginner the difference will be negligible.
PDB: A PDB is a power distribution board, these are not necessary for flight as it is possible to create breakout cables to power the machine but having a PDB makes the build easier and keeps the quad neater so that repairs are easier.
Radio and receiver: The radio is what you hold to control the quadcopter, the receiver is on the quadcopter and tells the quadcopter what you have told it, these vary in range from extremely cheap 2 channel radio sets to expensive 18 channel radio and receivers with telemetry. Racing quads normally do not use more than 6 channels and a beginner should purchase nothing more than a 6 channel computer radio. A computer radio allows settings to be changed on the radio to allow for easy corrections to the flight controller on the field.
Battery: The standard battery for a quad is a 3s 1500mAh (the s stands for Cell and mAh stands for mili amp hour) battery, this would be a good battery as it will give a decent flight time while not being too heavy. A beginner with this battery depending on the quad will get 5 to 10 minute flight times, normally pilots have between 3 and 10 batteries to allow them to fly for an hour or so in one outing. Some pilots chose to use 4s batteries to get the most power out of their quad, these work well but normally 4s quads are overpowered and require an experienced pilot to fly them.
Props: Prop size varies from 1 inch up to 20 inch, normally racing quads use props between 4 and 6 inch props, the size is first determined by what fits in the frame (a 180 will normally only take a 4 inch and a 280 may be able to take up to 7 inches), the size on the prop is written in the format of 50x45, this prop would be 5 inch with a pitch of 0.45 inches, the higher the pitch the more the air the prop is going to be moving with every revolution, with higher pitch comes more thrust but lower efficiency (lower flight times), for a 250 quadcopter we would recommend starting with a 50x30 propeller.
Camera: The camera gives a live feed from the quad to the video transmitter, these FPV camera's do not need to be HD cameras, the most important thing is that the camera has a wide field of view (FoV) between 110 and 150 degrees.
Video transmitter: The video transmitter sends a video downlink to the screen used to fly the quadcopter, these range in power from 25mW up to 1W (W being watt) these vary in quality and band depending on the manufacturer, we would recommend using the immersionRC 25mw Vtx (video transmitter)
Goggles/monitor: The goggles or monitor generally have a battery and receiver built in, the goggles we recommend using are the Fatshark goggles, these vary in quality from the teleporter v3 that has a field of view of 25 degrees with a resolution of 320x240 pixels to the Dominator HD that have a field of view of 45 degrees and a resolution of 800x600 pixels. Not all monitors and goggles come with a build in receiver, if they do not then a separate receiver is necessary. It is important to make sure that the goggles/monitor match the video transmitter as some brands use slightly different frequencies for video transmission.
Antennas: the standard antenna that ships with goggles is a whip antenna, this is a linear polarised antenna, they work well when the antennas are both parallel to each other but when one of the antennae is rotated through 90 degrees the video signal drops to nearly nothing, we recommend to everyone to upgrade to a circular polarised antenna which gives a good signal no matter what the orientation of the antenna, we recommend the ImmersionRC Spironet antennas.
Are racing quads hard to build?
No. If you can solder then there is nothing to learn in terms of building, anyone can learn to solder therefor anyone can build a racing quad.
Is it easy to learn to fly FPV?
This really depends on the person, the most important thing is to be able to fly line of sight first, when learning to fly FPV it is advisable to have an experienced pilot with you so if you get lost, confused or too nervous, you can hand the transmitter to them and they will land the quad for you. The main thing to remember with learning to fly FPV is that you have built the machine so you can fix the machine, committing to flying FPV is the best way to learn.
Are racing quads expensive?
Again this depends on what you want and what your budget is, it is possible to get a complete setup for under 100 pounds if all you want to do is race around and crash into things, you can spend however much you want into the thousands of pounds on a quadcopter setup but this is not necessary to experience FPV racing.
Is there a ready to fly quadcopter?
Yes (apart from the radio, receiver and goggles). The ImmersionRC vortex is one of the best machines in the world and it comes ready to fly, it is fully loaded with everything you need and an OSD (on screen display), it is one of best machines and you can't really go wrong with it. The setup is incredibly simple for calibration and it will be a machine that you can use for life. There are other options such as the TBS Gemini, this was one of the first ready to fly quadcopter and you can also buy packages that are pre-built with all of the parts you need to get yourself in the air.
Are there people to fly with?
Yes. There are thousands of racers scattered across the UK, the best way to get into the racing world would be to get in touch with your local racing club or send a message to the guys at BFPVRA who will be able to help you out with getting into the hobby, and you can also read about this new tech sport at FPVUK.org.
Is the quad stabilised?
It can be, most experienced pilots fly with no stabilisation as is gives a smoother flight while racing but most beginners learn with a stabilised quad."
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