Introduction: How To: Getting Into Drone Racing
Drone racing is a very fun sport that has recently become popular, the aim for this instructable is to be able to guide people into getting into drone racing the safe and informed way, this also will help you to have more fun and less confusion!
Step 1: Goggles
goggles are not required, you can also use screens but are more complicated than simple, such as wiring and placing, goggles are much cleaner and simpler to use such as fatsharks, the pair on the right, those have a built in vvrx or video receiver, which receives a signal from the vtx or video transmitter witch sends video to your video receiver, goggles also have a very immersive feeling as if you've been completely disconnected from your body and actually in the drone, downside to the goggles on the right, price, they can be upwards of $300 but for their ease of use as long as you have the money you can buy them from places like amazon, on to the goggles on the left, this particular pair is called the quanum fpv goggle and is only $27 dollars, but does not come with video receiver or antennas but for that price you can't beat it and you can buy it at HobbyKing and to get a video receiver isn't very much, as low as $30 although it may seem I'm not going into too much detail, i will make separate instructables on how to do certain things in the future.
Step 2: Remote/Transmitter
The transmitter is essential to controlling your craft, this particular one is a spektrum 7 channel transmitter, 7 channels means 7 different functions, the most common and popular is the taranis, it has 16 channels and comes in at a price of about $200 here is a link to where it can be bought, this particular site has the transmitter and receiver, kind of like the goggles but for controlling the drone.
Step 3: Flight Controller
The flight controller is the heart of the drone, it controls the motors and keeps the craft level, depending on modes which will be for another time, without the flight controller you wouldn't be able to control the drone, there are many flight controllers, the three most popular are the Naze32, SPRacing F3, and Kiss fc, out of all of those the best is the kiss fc, in terms on how smooth it flies, but worst in the terms it is harder to program, but I can make tutorials on how to use it in the future.
Step 4: ESC's
ESC stands for electronic speed controller, these control the speed of the motors and the rotation as well, how it works is that the motors on drones are brushless, so they have 3 poles, the speed controller controls them by sending electricity into the poles in a sequence making it spin, and switching wires can also revers the rotation of the motors, the ESC's are powered via the power distribution board, witch will be mentioned next, and the signal comes from the flight controller through the white and black wires as shown in the picture, white:signal black:ground.
Step 5: Power Distribution
power distribution boards or PDB's are necessary to supplying power to all you electronic components, like irrigation with electricity, some have built in voltage regulators that turn the power from the battery (usually 16 volts) down to a voltage other components can handle such as the camera, flight controller, and video transmitter, which is usually 5 volts, it can also filter the power, and other cheaper power distribution boards don't have that but it is recommended to get a PDB with a built in BEC or battery eliminator circuit to cut the power down to other components needs.
Step 6: Motors
Motors are, obviously, what get the drone off the ground, some motors can only run on 3s batteries (12v) and some can run on 4s (14v) more about batteries will be explained later but motors are all different but are all brushless as explained in the ESC step, they have three wires and depending on what propeller and motor pull a certain amount of amperage, on a typical high powered drone it is between 20 and 30 amps, static bench tests help show how much amperage they draw max, videos of tests on certain props and motors can be found on the internet which is more cost effective than getting a thrust stand yourself.
Step 7: VTX/Video Transmitter
Video transmitters as explained in step one, transmit video to your video receiver and goggles, but antennas are needed as well, they have a power rating determined in milliwatts (mw) most common power rating range from 25, 200, 400, 600, and even 800, but with great power comes great responsibility, which means higher power creates more interference with other frequencies so it is recommended that you get a HAM licence or amateur radio license so you know more about what your doing, there are also channels you can switch on them, the most common is 40 channel, the more channels the better especially when flying with buddies so you don't interfere with their video.
Step 8: Antennas
Antennas are more important than you may thing, the antenna on the far left is a dipole antenna, they are light and cheap but don't have as much range and don't perform quite as well, although they are usable, all the other antennas are omni direction or cloverleaf antennas, they are much better and also get better range depending on what type, the most popular antenna racers are using is the TBS triumph, the black antenna in the middle, it is very durable and well performing.
Step 9: BATTERIES!
Batteries are an essential part to a days flying, the most common is a 1300mah which is the capacity, and for a beginner, a 3s (12v) which is lower powered that 4s, you can start with 4s but its not recommended, but once you have decided you are good enough 4s provides a whole new level of capabilities of speed and maneuverability, the chemistry is lithium polymer or lipo's, they are also dangerous, they can start fires if mistreated so it is recommended to ask friends if you have any for tips on how to keep them contained and well treated, this brings me to c rating or how much electricity it can put out at one time, the higher the c rating the more amps you can draw, say you are drawing 18 amps per motor, which means 72 amps total, but keep in mind that would only be full throttle, so its not continuous, so if it is a 1300mah battery you would put the decimal point three places up and multiply it be the c rating so 1.3*40 and you get 52 amps or 13 amps per motor which is sufficient.
Step 10: Frame
The frame is what houses the electronic components and frame size and form factor is key to how you fly, the ZMR 250 is a good frame for a small budget and does the job, although frames such as the alien 5" it flies better and is a little bit smaller, it is also more durable, although a steep price many pro pilots use it on all their racers and freestyle drones, freestyle is more tricks and flips rather than racing.
Step 11: Soldering
A soldering iron is key to putting together all your electronic components and is best if you have a friend help you and show you or watching a tutorial, this particular iron is high quality and about $100 but you can get other kinds and prices from your local radioshack or sears.
Step 12: Propellers
Also called props, these are about as essential as batteries to a day of flying, these WILL break and you will need to buy a few to learn how to fly, they are determined by length and pitch, 5inch is most common on racing drones and pitch is how much air is displaced by the prop, so for a propeller with two blades 5 inches long and 4 pitch it would be a 5040 propeller, and with three blades, 5x4x3, you can also refer to a friend with detail on this matter, and props have a lot to do with the amp draw on your drone.
Step 13: Friends
Friends are the most important part of getting into and going through the hobby, they can help and guide you with building, problems, and even if you are lonely and need to get out and race, a first step to finding friends is to find a local hobby shop and a local group which you might be able to contact through social media such as facebook, I also recommend joining multigp it will allow you to search for local races, events and fellow drone racers, it is a really helpful tool in the hobby, although my instructable was very lengthy I hope to have clarified and helped you with something you are confused about, I would also like requests for other instrucables in the future :)
Runner Up in the
Drones Contest 2016
5 years ago
It is a really good guide, but I'm sorry to tell you it was a little hard to read. There were no sentence breaks within paragraphs.
6 years ago
nice startup guid
6 years ago
6 years ago
Although I haven't gotten into "drones" quite yet, it would be good to mention RF 7.5 and the fact that due to FAA regulations you are not allowed to use FPV goggles unless you have a spotter, the fact that you will probably have to register your "drone" and other FAA regulations.
Reply 6 years ago
although i would recommend liftoff more, it is more accurate, and as much as i hate sating drones it is what people refer to, i started realflight quite a while ago when i was very young and i enjoy it a lot :)
6 years ago
Nice work, lots of great info. Thanks!