So you want to experience the thrill of drone racing? Drone racing takes you to great heights of competing and a new way of racing. Especially if you choose a first-person-view, you get to experience actual flying, dodging obstacles and speeding at 70 mph as if you’re the one zooming through the air. It’s arguably the most exhilarating hobby yet, and it’s not surprising that many are growing fond of the sport.
But how do you get started with drone racing? How do you prepare to become a pro? Today, we’ve gathered the guidelines and the requirements of the sport that will help you launch your into the world of drone racing. Also, we’re sharing tips on how you can go from beginner to pro in no time.
Prepare your equipment
As you get started with drone racing, you’ll have to think about the equipment that you will need. Decide on the build of your drone, be it quadcopters or hexacopters. Then, you consider the size and cost of the drone as well as the additional gear needed.
Drone: As a beginner, choose a cheaper, smaller drone which is lighter and easier to operate as well as inexpensive to build or repair. However, select a brand that’s known for its sturdy frames because durability is all that matters in racing drones. So pick an entry-level racing model from that brand, which should be around a couple of hundred bucks, to help you get started.
Display: As for the flying experience, choose a monitor with which you can fly like in video games or first-person-view goggles for a virtual reality feel, depending on what kind of racing experience you want to enjoy. But FPV racing is what’s more popular these days, and if you’re planning to be pro anyway, go for the goggles.
Additional gear: You will also have to research on transmitters, batteries and action cameras if the drone doesn’t have a built-in one. These accessories are essential for determining the flight capability of your drone and the extent of control that you can have on your aircraft.
SOPs: Drone racing has been a growing sport but also has been a controversial one due to issues on the legality of commercial drones. Authorities are closely monitoring the use of drones that’s why we cannot emphasize enough the importance of safe flying and adherence to policies. So buying your aircraft entails that you will have to master standard operating procedures and all the legal and safety rules.
Join a community
Drone racing is a community, online and in the flesh. Enthusiasts of the sport are an eager bunch, and they’ve made communities as avenues where they can generously share experiences and tips. So you will benefit a lot from if you’ll become a member in one.
Find groups of drone racers in your area through websites that have information about the location of these groups. Pick one where you can make friends and flying buddies. Or you can look for online communities or resources such as YouTube channels like CharpuFPV and forums like RCGroups and Flite Test. You can enter events with other racers, learn from discussions, get tutorials, have racing lessons, join friendly races and so much more just by joining a community.
Put down your training wheels
Once you’re all set with your equipment, research, and support group, training is the only next step. The way to master flying is to practice, practice, and practice.
Simulation games: Try drone games or apps that give you the flying experience through your PC or phone. It’s a useful way to prepare even before you buy your drone or to hone your skills without the need to use your aircraft. All you need is a transmitter to use as your game controller.
Buddybox system: Another way you can efficiently practice is to fly together with a more skilled partner by linking your transmitter to his/hers. This way, your friend can take control when things get out of hand.
Obstacle course: To practice on your own, scout for a nearby place for safe drone flying. There’s an online database that lists all the registered fly fields in the world, so it’s almost certain that you can find one. Choose locations with natural obstacles like the woods, rocky valleys, and even abandoned buildings, or you may opt to set up your own course with flags, hoops, frames, and other props. Just make sure you always consult with local policies before you take your drone for a spin.
Learn to DIY
As a beginner, it’s advisable for you to buy a complete set of equipment for your first drone. For this, there are two kinds of drone kits that you can buy: a ready-to-fly or RTF aircraft and a DIY set. You can benefit from both depending on what expertise you want to hone. But whichever you choose, you must still train to DIY because it is an essential skill for a drone pilot.
RTF: If you want to start flying right away, buy an RTF. Your drone comes with the frame, motor, and transmitter, so you will not have to purchase additional gear. Later on, you can still stick to an RTF if you prefer it because there are a lot of models that are conveniently assembled and perfectly operational.
DIY: The greatest benefits of learning how to DIY are understanding more how your aircraft works and knowing how to improve and repair it. It is a necessary skill since flying your drone would inevitably lead to crashing it.
For the DIY kit, choose a trusted brand for your frame and do a tried and tested setup as a start. After some time, you can fully customise your aircraft with your hand-picked parts and personalised settings, but start changing one feature at a time, like the drone camera, controls, transmitter sensitivity, motor, and others. You can always consult trusted blogs and forums for information about the best parts and setups for your drone.
Set goals for flying
Measure your progress as a drone pilot by setting benchmarks and goals. At first, establish standards for speed, altitude, manoeuvres, and others that you can strive to achieve and overcome gradually. These goals will help you understand and improve your abilities for racing and the safe limits of your flying.
Whenever you try a new course, fly slowly for most parts of the race track to gauge how you can take on all the turns and obstacles as well as how you can do your transitions. Then, speed up little by little as you repeat your flight in the track. Use a timer to record your progress, and to see if your techniques work.
Also, maintain a good altitude throughout your flight. It’s safe to stay under 10 feet from the ground when it comes to drone racing. With this height, you can get to feel the drops and rises in the terrain as well as efficiently adjust when there are obstacles. When you’re too low, you’ll risk hitting objects that are close to the ground. If you’re too high, dropping your altitude will slow you down and will affect the stability of your flight.
Crash and improve
As we’ve mentioned above, drone racing often comes with crashing, and drone racers must be prepared to endure those misadventures and to get back on the race when it happens.
Again, this is the reason why it’s crucial that you buy a frame from a trusted brand. Their builds are heavy-duty and will require minimal repairing. With a reliable drone, you can set aside your fear of crashing, and you will be less reserved when flying. You’ll be able to practice a lot without fear, so you quickly get better from your mistakes, explore your limits, and be brave to experiment.
Sign-up for competitions
What’s left for you to do is to compete. Scout for events from drone racing sites online and your community, or you can opt to join commercial organizations for big sporting events.
Compete as much as you can and learn from other drone pilots instead of just reading off from resources. You’ll learn faster from buddies whom you do actual races with rather than from pros that you just read from or watch online.
Then, just start signing up for races as soon as you have practiced enough. The sooner you compete, the faster you gain confidence and mastery. Start looking for events locally then search for more games from drone racing database. Try checking out websites like Rotorsports, Aerial GP, MultiGP, and others for these competitions. There are countless of racing opportunities out there if you’re diligent enough to search.
Get started now and enjoy the exciting world of drone racing. With our tips, you don’t have to worry about venturing into your new-found interest. Meet new friends and rivals, learn new skills and master your technique to become the pro you aspire to be.