Tag Archives: featured

FPV Racing – What You Need To Know

What is FPV Drone Racing?

Drone racing is exactly what it sounds like. The pilots use an FPV (First Person View) system to allow them to race the drone just like if they were in the cockpit. As you can imagine FPV is absolutely necessary given the extreme speeds of the drones.

Despite there being drone racing leagues now, drone racing is certainly still new. It has gotten a lot of attention recently due to the huge 1 million dollar investment from Stephen Ross. This only confirms that drone racing will eventually get popular pretty soon.

Let this video show you exactly what it looks like:

What Type Of Drone to Use For Racing?

FPV racing drones are specifically made just for one purpose, racing. You will have to look around online to find them. Most drones are small in size. Originally, drones were bigger in size but people started making racing drones much smaller due to the benefits in maneuvering the drones at high speeds. The smaller size also reduces the chance of them crashing into an object and it allows them to fit through smaller spaces.

There are a coupe of choices. You can either make your own drone, buy it or modify a pre made model.  Some websites such as helipal.com have drones for sale but there are many others, so be sure to shop around in order to find the one that suits you. Making your own drone is pretty difficult, but it’s definitely doable. So what should you look for when buying or making a drone for FPV Racing?

  • Speed – Speed is extremely important for obvious reasons. You want to find or build a drone that’s fast. You should try to aim for speeds of at least 50mph or above.
  • Durable and Easy To Repair – Even if you aren’t racing a drone, there is always a risk of crashing one. So you can imagine now that if your racing drones then you’re almost guaranteed to crash eventually. It doesn’t always happen but you still want to make sure that your drone can at least take a hit. You also want to make sure that you can repair it if it does get damaged.
  • Quality FPV Camera – What’s the point of having a top notch drone if you can’t see where it’s going? The FPV camera is probably the most important out of all of these. You want to make sure you can clearly see where your drone is going at all times.

Learning how to FPV Race?

If you’re interested in racing a drone then you should probably learn how to fly one first. Learn how to hover a drone and control it. After learning the basics of flying a drone, you can start learning how to race.

Now this is when you first try FPV (First Person View). First, do it in an open space while you get used to watching through your googles for the first time. After you get accustomed to it, try taking it out to a more crowded space with a few obstacles. Learn how to fly around the objects such as poles, lights, and tree’s.

It’s important to learn how to do tricks such as nosedives, flips, rolls and other things because you might eventually use them when racing. Also this help’s you understand your drone a bit more and how it reacts when moving it at high speeds.

How to get started?

Alright, so you got the drone you wanted and learned how to race it. Now what’s next? Well now you just need to join a league. A quick google search can show you drone racing leagues around your area. Some big drone racing leagues are Drone Nationals, International Drone Racing Association and The drone racing league. I would recommend you start off in a local league before you go for the big boy’s. It’s good to get some experience under your belt before you enter into competitions.

Well that’s it. I hope this can show you the basics of what FPV racing is. There is still a lot more to learn but now it’s up to you to go out and do it. You can read, read, and read but you can only learn so much reading. Going out and actually doing it will help you learn a lot more. You can check out my blog rcjudge.com for drone reviews.

I did it again! 2nd Discovery Pro build

As we all know, my first TBS Discovery Pro crashed horribly with no hope for easy repair. So what should one do with all The FPV gear and not model to fly? Right. Build a second TBS Discovery Pro. It should not take too long, as I’ve documented my last build in detail  (build log part1, part2 and part3). This time however I want to make some minor modifications:

  • move the X8R receiver inside the frame next to the NAZA instead of having it sitting on the back outside.
  • repositioning of the video antenna to the top of the frame for better reception
  • Add RSSI connection for the OSD
  • Put the GPS puck on the stick for better reception

Continue reading I did it again! 2nd Discovery Pro build

How to bind X8R to the FrSky Taranis in different modes

The official instructions for binding the X8R receiver to the Taranis are quite confusing and cryptic. Therefore, I try to give step by step instructions about how to bind them in the different available modes as well as some background information. The whole process is split into a preparation phase, mode selection and a binding procedure.

Continue reading How to bind X8R to the FrSky Taranis in different modes

Traveling Indonesia with a Phantom

I’m just back from my trip to Indonesia, a beautiful country with big contrasts, lovely people and impressive volcanoes. On my journey in November 2013 I visited two islands, first Java and then Lombok. In my backpack I am not only carrying a GoPro but also the Phantom quadcopter 🙂  I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to take some great shots and videos at very unique locations. But please see yourself.

Gili Air, one of the three Gili islands off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia. Photo taken with the GoPro on a Phantom copter.
Gili Air, one of the three Gili islands off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia. Photo taken with the GoPro on a Phantom copter.

In the following days I would like to share with some of the nice spots I was visiting with the copter:

  • Ijen crater, a volcano and sulfur mine at the same time. I was there at night to catch the blue flames and inhale some nasty stinky sulfure clouds.
  • Mount Rinjani on Lombok. It is the second highest mountain in Indonesia with 3726m above sea level. We hiked all the way to the top in three days. Check out the video!
  • Gili Air,  tropical island off the coast of Lombok with is great for snorkeling and relaxing.

I am still sorting through the Gigabites of photos and videos. Please be patient for the final videos to be edited and uploaded. But they are coming!

Mount Rinjani crater lake on Lombok, Indonesia.
Mount Rinjani crater lake on Lombok, Indonesia.
Ijen crater in east Java
Ijen crater in east Java.


Advice for traveling trough airports

I had no problems at all at the airports in Indonesia. I guess they don’t really know what it is, but I also never had to open the bag for special inspection. I just followed the general ‘air travel’ regulations, which request, that you put the batteries into the carry-on (FAA rules). There are no regulations regarding the drone (electronics) itself. The airports in Europe and the bigger hubs in asia (e.g. Singapore) usually know the rules for batteries very well. The  www.fpvlab.com forums are a great resource for travel reports, especially flying through exotic airports.

Packing the Phantom for air travel

I’ve put the phantom, remote and charger into the check-in bag. I removed the landing gear and propellors to fit it into a large backpack. The batteries and the GoPro went into the cary-on. I had no space for the Phantom there, but that should work too.  In case they want to open your bag at security, always tell them first, that you have batteries inside. Sometimes, security personnel gets scared by the look of batteries.

Getting around in Indonesia with a drone

In Indonesia itself, people have rarely seen a drone. Therefore, they are mostly curious and a bit anxious at the same time. People ususally just watch from a distance, sometimes people start talking with each other. Sometimes they approach you. They are always friendly and just want to talk and find out what the white thing is that you bring and fly. When asked for the price of your toy, you might not want to give exact numbers to any stranger. Given the average daly income of $5 in Indonesia, your toy might look absurdly expensive.
When walking around / hiking, I had the phantom hanging off the backpack. In order to attract less people I usually put a rain-cover over the phantom, so people can’t see the drone. This makes it easier for you to get around without explaining to everyone what that white thing is you are carrying….


Build Log TBS Discovery Pro, Part 2

This is part 2 of the epic TBS Discovery Pro build. It got a bit delayed because I really wanted to show you the Leistkamm Video before finishing my second quadcopter. But now, back to the Discovery Pro.

After assembling the gimbal and motors and soldering the bottom plate in the TBS Discovery Pro build part 1, I put all the pieces together. It’s relatively straight forward to mount the four arms and red spacers to the bottom plate and then close up the sandwich with the top pcb plate. All the electronics and wiring is integrated into the frame and aside from the gimbal and controller, there are only a few cables connecting to individual parts.  During the build I got to appreciate zip-ties for fixing all sorts of things, such as the electronic speed controllers (ESCs) onto the arms and the flight camera to the frame. The last piece I screwed on was the gimbal and it slides from the front.

Wrongly assembled gimbal. The tilt motor should face the other direction. Oooop!
Wrongly assembled gimbal. The tilt motor should face the other direction. Oooops!

At this point of the build I realized for the first time that something was a bit strange with the gimbal cables.  I had to cross them to reach the appropriate connectors on the frame, which seemed a bit like a design flaw.  But as it turned out later, I had misassembled the roll axis by 180 degrees, so the pitch motor facing the fpv camera instead of away from it. It took me until after the first power-up to realize this. The crossed cables lead to a second mistake: mixed up roll and pitch motors. The result of this is a hysterically spinning gimbal, rotating constantly as if were fully drunk. After fixing the gimbal orientation and connecting the motors into the correct pitch/roll connector everything was OK. The gimbal was level as expected. Wow, it looked cool!

Fully assembled Discovery Pro
Fully assembled Discovery Pro

I finished the ‘mechanical’ part of the build by adding more electronics, such as the video transmitter with the 5.8GHz cloverleaf  antenna on the front right arm and the FrSky RC receiver X8R in the back on top.

More images in the build gallery. In the next part of the build log I will set up the Taranis RC radio and NAZA flight controller.