Drones are hot. The expectation that these devices rise among consumers continues to grow. We checked with our shopping guide drones, where I proposed seven models of drones to take seriously this new hobby.
However, not all drones are equal. In this new shopping guide, we tell you everything you need to know about the competition drones and shopping list so you can buy and build your own model racing for less money than you think. Visit http://generationguy.com/ for more.
How are racing drones?
The idea is commonly Drone currently have is a device to fly and flashy video recordings. However, there is a booming trend that sees drones as equipment for racing, moving at full speed through complex areas or inside buildings, as well as show off stunts.
If we stick to the idea that a drone usually have help for flight, usually assisted GPS or flight modes, the race could get them out of that definition and consider merely quadricopters, for example. However, the broad definition and we assume for the word drone we find most appropriate. Of course, a drone racing has many peculiarities that affect their components and flight mode.
The drones competition or equipment for racing is where the main thing is the resistance of materials of all components, speed, the ability to maneuver easily and batteries.
In races they are usually set classes, differentiating competition drones basically because of its size motor Motor diagonal. The most common are the Mini 250 class (motor engine measures less than 250 mm), the class Super Mini 250(measures up to 330 mm) and 600 Standard, with MAM between 600 and 1000 mmm. Usually there is no restrictions motor, batteries or propellers.
Basic components to build our own race drone
Although there is possibility of buying ready to fly models, common in the world of drones racing is that the pilot is set to your taste and needs all the elements that make up a drone competition. On that basis, you can modify or expand the different components to suit the situation or possibilities.
In general, a racing drone can be configured and fully assembled by 200-400 dollars. We are talking exclusively about the drone, no station or possibly FPV system. Choose each item individually and fit is an important part of the appeal of this kind of unstoppable growth.
Chassis or frame
When our own drone of competition, the most basic is to choose a chassis or frame. It will be mounted on the other elements. When we go to pick one, the bottom line is to look for the best weight-resistance .
The most widely used and recommended frames might be made of fiberglass or carbon. With them we get little weight and much more resistance than plastic structures, although nothing prevents us initiated into the world of drones career with a plastic chassis.
Our recommendation is to opt for carbon fiber, tougher and more options on the market. It is the most expensive option (if you find models that claim to be carbon fiber but very affordable surely have trick and just be a layer which is made of such material) but also take special precautions with her and make a careful assembly components, conveniently placed and protected for possible to prevent a stroke or simply friction can cause a short circuit of an element when this chassis a driver. In addition, carbon chassis is advisable to mount antennas and video receivers on the outside to avoid interference.
The frames for racing drones usually consist of different pieces. It is the central body, the legs (usually four) to attach arms engines, the upper body and different accessory parts which serve to incorporate the best possible other elements such as chambers for FPV.
If we have to save on the budget, we can choose to combine parts of different materials. The essential thing is that at least the arms are carbon fiber, as is the part that suffers most in the flight and of course the blows.
In the commercial pack, frames are all these elements, plus the screws, spacing elements and even gums or parts to minimize vibrations drone. If we reduce to the maximum, we can achieve better control of the drone at high speeds.
When choosing a frame for our drone racing in addition to the dimensions of the same and manufacturing equipment, we must look at details like the quality of the hardware, which should be metal or nylon, if you wear plate distributor integrated energy, anti – vibration elements and of course sizes propeller that allows to avoid problems during assembly and flight.
In the market, we can find many frames or frames in different sizes. The most used are those of class Mini250. One of the best known is the ZMR250 chassis, which costs about 30 dollars.
One option from a store is the DARC SR250 for 68 dollars if we want a model of fiberglass, or DARC 210Pro, product leaving 75 dollars but that is carbon fiber, compact 210 mm (MAM) and a weight below 100 grams. Another highly coveted frame is Lumenier QAV210 CHARPU ($75), with that name in tribute to one of the best drivers in racing drones.
If you do not want to spend too much in the frame, there are one – piece configurations for less than 10 dollars as the HobbyKing FPV250 but more complex to assemble and with less resistance. If instead you prefer to play it safe, model Blackout H Quad Mini costs about 140 dollars and comes with integrated plate.
The best of these frameworks is that it is very easy to get spare parts from the hardware to any particular piece we need to change ourselves.
If you dare, a good next step in your adventure racing drones is to design and manufacture your own chassis. Fully prepared for your specific needs. 3D printers are a good ally, and in fact, one of the best drivers, Alfonso Borja, designed in collaboration with Juan Antonio García a model made available to everyone who wants to download and print at home.
Non – mandatory but recommended and very linked to the chassis element is the PDB plate. This part of our future drone will greatly facilitate the assembly of the different elements on the chassis, leaving a cleaner configuration and tidy.
The PDB board is responsible for organizing the connections of the main elements of our drone and provides them with power from the main battery then we connect directly to the PDB.
A previous step these plates are merely distributor plates, which facilitate us to maintain an organized space for different connections. A basic but very valid model can get out for less than 5 dollars in the shop From the RC Air. If we want international stores and some very basic, this one in Banggood out for less than 2 dollars.
If we want to go much further must opt for advanced PDB plates and created in some cases forming part of own chassis or frame. They already found from accessories elements such as LEDs or buzzers, to signal filters and all connections we need for our drone. Much of these elements can be added individually to the drone, but it would be a nightmare without this element.
These plates, if they are complete, make sure that they are compatible with our chassis, and then they replace one of the two bases. Therefore, we can also lose some resistance throughout the drone. We must also look at what kind of specifications supports batteries.
One of the most recognized among pilots racing drones is manufactured by Overcraft for ZMR250 chassis. The price is $ 25 start at home but it is all a guarantee that we will not cause problems for poor connections if we perform them correctly.
If you do not want to spend much but also reduce benefits, an option may be the Diatone, which runs for less than $ 10 or local shops, the PDB V2 ZMR for less than 20 dollars.
Among the options for any chassis plates PDB are the Matek with 12v and 5v BEC, which goes for 10 dollars.
As you are checking, set up a drone competition requires components with quite particular about how we could do the same with a classic drone. The combination of engine, propeller and a new element (drives), is one of the most critical elections for a real drone with which to fly very fast, accurately and safely.
If you have ever flown a drone know that the propellers are the elements that suffer most from breakage and damage. Imagine a drone of passing obstacles to competition and limit speeds above 100 kilometers per hour.
For a competition, drone propellers must choose easy exchange but mostly that are resistant and very light. The carbon fiber again becomes the most appropriate choice (also make less noise in flight) but also the most expensive. The pack of four can get out for about 12-13 dollars.
Since we do not have to think about the four basic because our arsenal of competition and fun will require that we take enough even to replace that we lost along the way for breakages and shocks, an alternative is to resort to those of nylon or reinforced plastic. In these cases we can find packs 4 propellers combination of nylon and fiberglass that leave us for about 3.8 dollars or plastic reinforced with carbon fiber for less than 6 dollars.
To choose a suitable propeller must look first at the maximum size supported by our chassis and engine. To know what size we are buying a particular propeller, the manufacturer usually gives two numbers followed. An example: If we are told that some propellers are 6×4.5, this means having a length of six inches and a pitch of 4.5.
The passage of a propeller indicates the distance in inches that runs at every turn. The larger, faster we get, but instability will also be higher. The opposite occurs with size: the speed increases with the size but in this case so does the stability. If our choice is three blades instead of two, have the same effect more thrust and stability.
Finding the balance between size and step is key, but depends not only on what we seek but the motor and its thrust capability combined with other factors such as the battery. More often find small propellers but big step if the engine is more powerful, and Mini250 models, 5×3 or 5×4 combination is usually adequate. The price of four – pack goes for about 3 dollars. The same carbon fiber but will double. Ojo also the direction of rotation when choose.
Motor and Drives
Once you have chosen the chassis and perhaps propellers, tap calculations properly to combine those elements with the following: engine, drives and ultimately batteries. We started with the engine, for which we need accurate as possible, so that the management of the gas in the issuer is the most suitable for racing and we will not fall below or above the power because in both cases we lose accuracy in the flight. The most common is that it is brushless motors or brushless.
As a rule, the whole engine of a drone should be able to lift at least twice the maximum weight that will have our quadricopter, although we can climb that relationship even three. However, the ideal is that we move in this power twice the maximum weight to get started in racing. More power means less control in less experienced pilots.
In drone’s competition, the maximum weight is usually between 400 and 700 grams. That weight multiplied by two and divided between the four engines that have (if our final configuration), we will indicate the value that we should look at the specifications of a motor. This figure is not an exact value for both propeller and battery we indicate the push we can get, and we will get consumption.
Once decided the push we need for each engine, which could be average for a drone initiation in the competition and Mini250 type, between 350 and 550 grams, is find the right engine. The indications that give us the manufacturers are very spacious with many numbers that can understand easily.
The key to choosing an engine data are the type of frame, which is usually standard for the type of frame that we are riding, as well as the so – called KV .They are the revolutions per volt and indicates the maximum speed to reach the engine with a particular battery. For racing drones, we are interested that this figure is high. Also, keep in mind the maximum voltage and amperage for the motor.
Many manufacturers make it even easier to look engines and data tables where indicated provide the maximum thrust that we get (weight lifting by the motor) according to the propeller size battery use and we have.
Another important thing to look at the specifications of an engine is the maximum intensity demanded by the engine when we take the limit. If such is 9 A, we have to consider them for a drive or ESC above this value, including a safety margin. Here fit an ESC 12 A or 20 A, because only affect us in the final weight of the whole. However, what are the drives and what it is used in competition drones?
These small components are key in a drone competition. The ESC are controllers that handle electronic speed directly manage each engine revolutions we took at all times attending to what we will go indicating the controls of the station.
Some ESC members of the so – called BEC or Battery Elimination Circuit. This element is a power controller that gives us the main battery, and using a specific firmware, distributed and properly limits the energy they need different elements of drone such as the drive itself or ESC, which, as in if the engine stops working if you apply a voltage difference or greater intensity than it supports.
Some models of ESC we can buy a variety of permissible maximum intensities are Simonk Emax, from 8 dollars. If we want to ensure more compatibility, the ESC FVT Littlebee work with battery configurations 3 and 4 cells, and are 20 A. They go for 19 dollars. In these models look especially in the loaded firmware, which can basically be Simonk or BlHeli. Either will do.
During several previous points, I have cited the batteries. In addition, I have associated curious acronym or 4s and 3s LiPo. These are the data that should interest us tochoose a battery for our drone racing, in which more than capacity, should sharpen much amperage we need we deliver immediately.
The batteries used in competition drones are Type LiPo (Lithium Polymer). In addition, they are quite special. We are interested in using them in racing drones because they are lightweight and with different ways to suit our design, usually have enough charge density and that discharge is high. On the downside should be mentioned that are more dangerous than usual and you need to take special care in both loading and unloading them.
LiPo batteries are made up of cells, each 3.7 V. If we choose, an 3s means including 3 – cell and therefore gives a voltage of 11.1 V. A 2s would give us 7.4 V. this figure must know it because as mentioned above, it depends on the thrust of an engine, for example.
Another parameter is of course the capacity, which is measured in mAh, but more interesting to us is the download speed. The number C in the battery itself indicates this. If ours is 20C with capacity of 2000 mAh, we can get up to 40 A (20Cx2A) maximum discharge. Logically when higher this download flight time or less will have autonomy. In this example we would discharge the battery in just three minutes if we used all the time that maximum value (120 A / min divided by 40 A)
As you may have guessed, the burden of these LiPo batteries is not classical. The chargers are special to allow a load recommended by each manufacturer (which may be even 1C) and the life of the cells is high minimum speed. Buy a model that can be used with USB power or 12 V as the cars is not a bad option. However, more important is the quality of it to avoid accidents or fire batteries. If also it carries balancing function (so that the load cell is made equal), the better.
Regarding the LiPo batteries, care should be taken also with the mode of storage and heat, which should not be excessive or would be dangerous.
The price of batteries is quite diverse. There are models with a capacity of 2200 mAh leaving for 16.50 dollars, but usually with less capacity have higher prices depending on the download speed. A model 1000 mAh battery with up to 90C discharge goes for 18 dollars , but if this discharge is extreme (up to 130 C), a model 1300 mAh sale for 35 dollars . If we go to more capacity, model 4000 mAh 20C cost us about 45 dollars.
Depending on whether you want an aggressive flight (faster discharge) or flight range, we will choose a combination of battery or another. In any case, we must ask several units.
Regarding the download, you should never stay less than 3V per cell. Elements that are not mandatory but highly recommended are the warning devices battery .These devices are responsible for notifying when the battery is close to reaching those 3V per cell we want to avoid. An alternative is to have the telemetry model to monitor, among other things, the battery charge.
The warning devices for LiPo batteries can install them along with alarms to an audible warning occur and we also serve in the event of signal loss. If that happens, the drone will sound for us to locate.
Controller and receivers
The next element that must be incorporated into the shopping list of our drone racing is the controller. This “brain” collects data; we will return information and manage orders intended for our flight is at all times under control. For drones, racing it is important that the weight and size of this device is reduced.
In this section there are not many options and recommended we limit ourselves to choose the simplicity of CC3D controller, which cost around 30 dollars, or AfroFlight Naze32 advanced model, it would cost us more or less the same, about 27 dollars.
Another element that we need in our drone is the receiver, transmitter, or link to our command. Here we also want the maximum reduction in weight and size, but without neglecting, we need enough channels for the flight.
A very suitable model for our drone race would be the FRSKY D4R-II with 8 channels and a price of less than 40 dollars.
On paper, with the above items already we have ready our drone racing. If you were flying other classic drone, you are probably already count off to the station. If not, there is nothing special in which you need for drone competition, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs, preferences and budgets.
Basics of your station are that he has enough channels, then each of them send the signal of certain control elements and functions. That is compatible with the receiver signal that we mounted on the drone (or vice versa), because those who come standard with some stations tend to be too large and general.
A highly recommended model for flying drones is the Taranis of FRSKY. Its price is quite high, 277 dollars in From the RC Air, but worth it if you want to take racing seriously drones. It has telemetry, is highly configurable, open source, and if we configure ads can be very useful built -in speakers.
Another option is the Turnigy 9XR coming out for less than 60 dollars or if you want something even cheaper, a basic six channels we would stay at less than 40 dollars.
Drone fly our careers is possible without vision system in the first person, but less exciting and safe. A little you want to take advantage or go beyond FPV’ll need a system which is quite different from that used in classic drones.
Here the camera is not intended to record what he sees the drone (nothing prevents us from mounting an accessory to carry a GoPro in the drone race and have those recordings) but help with piloting the drone at high speeds , distance and places escape of our direct visual control.
The FPV system of a drone racing consists of the camera (usually analog for its low price and minimum delay, the display element (glasses or external display) and transmitters / video receivers with their antennas, which also must place on the chassis of our drone.
In the case of analog cameras, the quality will be able to determine the number of horizontal lines or TVL. A figure of about 600-700 TVL is more than enough. Here we are interested, again, that is an element of very low weight and small. Cameras with 700 TVL and support multiple operating voltages (can connect multiple battery types LiPo, for example 3s or 4s) goes for about 35 dollars.
The issuer that should associate our camera that is lightweight and emission power does not have to be high. With a 200 mW us enough but no problem in choosing more (600 mW) or less (25 mW). The smaller we less powerful, so it depends on whether you’re going to give it a use beyond racing, agree that the power is greater or less. A transmitter for racing drones cost around 40-60 dollars.
Issuers can operate in several frequency bands, but usually you choose one for 5.8 GHz, which is commonly used and allows many channels to transmitters in racing more users participate. The we choose that is at least 32 channels. This frequency is also the best choice if our station, as planned, operating in the band of 2.4 GHz. A suitable emitter for our drone can leave us about 40 dollars.
The third element we need in a FPV system is the receiver of the video signal you send us the camera mounted on the drone. Here we must consider is working in the same band as the transmitter and with enough channels. 5.8 Ghz receiver with 8 channels could leave us for about 25 dollars.
To improve the reception of the video signal we can play with different antenna configurations, but we must ensure that the connectors are compatible, as well as the operating frequency thereof. The most suitable for racing drones are the polarization omnidirectional round, which allows us to receive and send signal in all directions and not have to go moving in search of the optimum angle with our drone. Thus, it is fitting that we not use, if we can help, which come standard on the receivers / transmitters that we buy. This type of antennas leaves us for about 15 dollars the pair.
The final element for our FPV system is the display. Here we can choose external displays or slaved to our station (costing roughly 120 dollars with 7 – inch diagonal), or as usual goggles.