First Things First. Before we look at which is the best racing quadcopter today, we will need to get a few things out of the way. A racing quadcopter is nothing like regular quadcopters. These are machines that are built for only one thing and that is racing. They are not built for aerial photography or videography. And these are not meant to be easy to fly for kids are those who are just starting out. These are built for experienced Drone pilots, and their optimised for speed and maneuverability.
Typically, the fastest drones cannot be purchased online or from a store. They need to be custom built. There are lots and tweaks and modifications that are needed if you choose to compete professionally. This is kind of obvious because if the best models could just be purchased off the shelf, then everyone and their uncle would have an equal chance of winning at any competition.
This guide is not about doing those kinds of mods. This is for someone who is just getting started and wants to buy a good starter racing drone to to hone their racing skills.
In case you are pilot in skills are limited or non existent , then you would want to buy a ready to fly quadcopter that's good enough for racing. You would want to practice for dozens of hours and get very comfortable flying it. It's essential that you buy a fpv quadcopter so that you can familiarize yourself flying through first person view.
You would want to buy a multirotor that has propeller guards and is relatively inexpensive. You can expect to crash scores of time everyday and so you would not want to buy every expensive model that can easily get damaged. Ideally, you would want to buy a drone that's available on amazon or ebay - so that you can easily shop for replacement parts and other related products if you need to. And you might want to check if any of the popular racing drones are on sale right now.
FPV Quadcopter racing is the latest trend. In a quadcopter race, you control your FPV drone from the "First Person View" (FPV) and experience it as if you were in the cockpit yourself. Even though most FPV racers are extremely powerful quadrocopters with speeds of over 100 km / h , so-called home racers are also available for beginners. On this page we would like to give you an overview of FPV Racing, provide a detailed buying guide that should come in handy when buying these racers, inform about safety and regulations and present a list of the top models and useful accessories.
Racing quadcopters happens usually in forests, multi-storey car parks or in specially designed FPV racing courses. This sport is becoming increasingly popular all over the worrld, and racing courses are being set up in several countries now where pilots compete with their FPV drones.
Of course, you do not have to compete in a real race to enjoy a FPV Racer. But it does take quite a bit of practice to maneuver a racing quadrocopter safely.
Flying a racing quadcopter is nothing like piloting a "normal" quadcopter. The difference between the two is like night and day. These quads can fly at speeds in excess of 100 kmph. You would need to have hours and hours of practice flying normal quads under your belt before you try your hand at attempting to tame one of these beasts. You would also need an extremely high degree of concentration and attention as well.
Basically, you only need a drone with a camera and a way to be able to transmit and display the camera image. Of course there are some copters that are better suited for FPV racing than others. Especially in terms of speed, there are big differences between a "normal FPV quadrocopter" and a special FPV racer .
These racing drones are offered either as a kit or as an RTF (Ready to Fly) version. While prefabricated FPV racers are recommended especially for beginners, with a kit you always have the option of hacking the machine and thus further improving it. And depending on the model, you will need additional FPV accessories such as matching FPV goggles and more.
If you do not want to fly primarily on drone courses, but also want to take first-class photos and videos with your drone, you would take a look at high-quality - and more expensive- quadcopters such as the DJI Mavic Pro or the Phantom 4 . Even these drones reach high speeds and have all kinds of fascinating extras and outstanding cameras.
Home racers are among the smallest multicopters available on the market. Often referred to as Nanoquads , the copters differ from conventional mini-drones mainly because they have an FPV camera.
As the name suggests, home racers are suitable for use in your own home or garden. Needless to say, you would want to use FPV goggles for the best flying experience.
Nanoquads are very light, extremely compact and, in terms of performance, are among the weakest race copters. The achievable flight times are usually relatively short (a few minutes) due to the small batteries - but they can also be recharged relatively quickly.
Currently one of the most popular home racers is the Blade Inductrix FPV Plus Rtf (BLH9600) .
Depending on the type of engines used, the small home racers are sometimes referred to as "micro brushless copters" or "brushed indoor copters". Due to the low weight and the low power compared to larger models, home racers are considered relatively harmless and are therefore also suitable for beginners.
These are relatively very small machines and lightweight that come with propeller guards. So it does not matter if you crash into someone while flying one of these. No one will get hurt and the micro drone will not be damaged as well. But that's not the case with the much bigger racing quads. You would never want to crash into anyone with one of those. Which is why you would only want to race in specially designed courses - or perhaps in the wilderness. You would never want to race drones in your neighborhood :-)
There are models that are purely meant for professional pilots, and models that are suitable for those who are just getting started with drone racing.
You would not want to attempt to fly the fastest models that are designed for professsional racers in your home or backyard. That would be dangerous. Ideally, you would want to fly them only in courses.
Generally, professional FPV racers are often offered as a kit. If you really want to get into FPV racing, you would want to assemble your competition drone from different components yourself. Although of course some ready-made models (RTF) are available on the market, the trend in race copters is clearly in the direction of a DIY kit.
The most powerful models often reach speeds well beyond 100 km / h and require great caution and skill in operation. If you are a beginner, you most certainly would not want to buy a professional racing quad.
You should already have a good deal of experience with quadcopters before deciding to purchase a racing drone.
Due to the use of powerful batteries as well as action cameras, race copters usually have takeoff weights between 300 and 700 grams.
Together with the high speeds they are capable of attaining, it quickly becomes obvious that these are not toys. Flying race drones requires not only great experience, but also a high degree of responsibility .
If you are just getting started with drones and not sure whether you will stick with the hobby, then you could use a FPV monitor. But if you are serious about the hobby and want the best possible flying experience, then you would want to use a pair of FPV googles instead. Manufacturers like Fat Shark or CamOne Tec offer different models in different price ranges.
Since an FPV racer must be as fast as possible, weight optimization of such a racing drone is extremely important. The camera used should therefore be as light as possible. Popular models include the Mobius Action Cam or the various versions of the FlyCamOne CamOne Tec. These FPV cameras have a low weight and deliver sharp images in real time to FPV glasses or screen.
That said, these are the best models for those eager to learn FPV racing ...
This little quad can fly outdoors, is sturdy, agile, fast, has an FPV camera and comes with prop guards so that you will not hurt either yourself or anyone else - or break something if you happen to crash it. That said, the stick frame is nott the sturdiest and if you crash too hard, it might break. In case you are worried about that happening, you might want to consider upgrading to the CrazyPony 820 75mm whoop. With that frame, this will be one really sturdy little quad that can take a lot of punishment without as much as a whimper.
It does not take a lot of time to master. Even if you have never flown a drone in the past, you should be able to get a hang of this one in about 30 minutes. And then you can be zipping around your house or your backyard. You do not have to worry about crashing too many times because this one is sturdy.
With the push of a button, you can flip the quad. So if you happen to crash and the craft is lying upside down on the ground, you will not have to walk to it to set it right again. Push a button and it will be upright again. This should save you a good deal of effort.
This is possibly the best racing quadcopter for you if you are not keen on spending a lot and are not looking to race professionally.
The propellers and motors are protected, and the camera is enclosed fully in a canopy. So crashes are not likely to cause any damage.
You can expect a flight time of around 6 to 7 minutes, and this comes with a FPV monitor. For the best flying experience, you would want to get a pair of FPV goggles - which is what the professionals use anyway. This works with any 5.8 GHz goggles. You could use FatShark, spektrum, sky zone, ExcelRC and other popular brands easily.
What makes this good for racing is the power it packs. The 1S 500 mAh drives 8 mm motors hooked to 40mm propellers. This combo does help it move pretty fast.
This is perhaps the easiest way to hone your FPV flying skills. Master this one, and you should be able to graduate to a more expensive and powerful model that's custom built for racing.
Flying FPV with goggles takes a lot of practice. It's one thing to fly LoS. That's not very hard, more so if you are flying indoors. FPV flying is entirely different. And the Blade Inductrix FPV Plus BLH9600 allows you to master FPV flying without costing a lot of money.
Though this comes with batteries and propellers, you would want to buy a couple of extra 500mAh batteries and at least an extra set of 40mm propellers.
This is another starter racing quadcopter that's suitable for beginners and intermediate level pilots. And is relatively inexpensive as well.
This quadcopter has a flight time of about 15 minutes, a flight range of about 100 M,720 p camera, 120 degree field of view . Also included
Is a transmitter 8000 million power Lipo battery which takes around 3 hours to charge fully.
This is a relatively larger drone with powerful motors. Beginners should find features like altitude hold, adjustable speed and headless mode pretty useful. The build quality is good but you would not expect this to survive a lot of crashes. Which means you would not want this as your very first drone.
And since this is a relatively larger drone this is not suitable for acrobatics as well.
What's really special about this quad is the camera has optical stabilization. Which means your video will not be jittery and you might not need a gimbal to mount the camera.
The wide, 120 degree FOV and the 720P resoultion - along with inbuilt optical stabilization - means the video is of pretty good quality.
The flight is very smooth and stable. There are three speed settings - and at the highest speed setting, it can fly really fast. This is a good drone to hone your racing skills on.
This is a very good entry level FPV racing quadcopter that's affordably priced. Once you have flown the Blade Inductrix BLH9600 for several hours and feel confident you have mastered it, you would want to buy the Eachine Wizard X220 FPV.
It's powerful, responsive, fast and nimble. The ultra light carbon fibre frame is strong and protects the onboard camera and video transmitter. So crashes will not be expensive. You might need to replace the propellers once in a while, though.
The X frame design eliminates several unnecessary components, makes the weight distribution more even and improves performance.
The Eachine X220 uses 3 blade propellers. While it may seem this design increases the weight, it also improves balance and stability.
Almost everyone of the professional racing quadcopters are custom built. So you will need to customize your drone if you were thinking of competing professionally. The Eachine X220 comes with a ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) version which lets you customize the quad to a degree.
But if you are not yet ready to think of competing, you might want to buy the RTF (Ready To Fly) version instead.
The powerful motors pack about 1.6 kilos of thrust between them - which is more than enough to lift the drone off the ground and propel it to high speeds. You can even mount a GoPro camera if you are interested in aerial photography or videography. But then you wouldn't expect high speeds if you mount a GoPro.
Included is a 2.4 GHz, 6 channel multi direction antenna that reduces latency and increases range. You can bind the radio to multiple drones and so you will not need to buy a separate transmitter for every quad you own. Once you pair it with a quadcopter, the radio saves the id from the drone. And then it interacts only with that drone, eliminating the possibility of interference from other drones that may be flying nearby.
While this is a pretty good drone, it does not have beginner friendly features like altitude hold, one key return and land. So this is not ideal for someone who has not flown a drone ever.
What really stands out about this is the ease with which it can be customized. All of the components used are standard - so you can switch and interchange any component you want to pretty easily. You can use third party components without running into compatibility issues.
In short, this is a powerful, starter level racing quadcopter that packs a lot of power, is highly customizable, durable and inexpensive.
The Diatone Crusader GT2 200 is one of those rare PNP drones that are built for racing without needing additional customization. High quality components used ensure that. A 5 mm plate provided at the bottom ensure that the drone can take the most severe of crashes without too much damage.
This uses a single piece carbon fibre design that reduces the width of the motor arm and significantly cuts wind resistance, allowing it to fly faster. A reduced frame width also means less space for the FC, PDB and other electronics. So a lot of the electronics commonly used had to be redesigned - which means this drone is a bit different from the regular drones you'll see on the market.
Diatone Crusader GT2 - build and frame
This drone is built from a 5 millimeter thick uni-body carbon which is epoxy coated. The resulting material is very tough and will not break easily - unless maybe if you happen to crash on concrete at high speed. The camera is well protected by aluminum so you do not have to worry about damaging that as well.
This is a relatively small and compact but very powerful and really tough drone that's built for racing.
The Diatone Crusader can reach top speeds of 90+ mph - upto 100 mph. Which essentially means you would not want to fly it anywhere apart from a specially designed racing track. And most certainly not in your neighborhood.
No matter which model you happen to get - 150, 175 or 200, it does not come with a transmitter or a receiver. So you will have to buy these separately and pair them yourself. You might want to use the FrSky X4RSB.
Since this drone has a set of powerful 2300 kV motors that draw quite a bot of power, you would want to buy battery like Flower Power Infinity 1500mAh 50C 4S LiPo than can provide the power the motors need,
You would want to use the Diatone D-Silver 2205 2300KV motor. It uses a hollow steel shaft that's around four times stronger than aluminum shafts used in other motors. It also uses a handcrafted winding silver wire and sunk snap spring design that allow for higher power.
You would want to use the 202X or 302X BLHeli_S or the BS430 ESC 30A 3-6S 4 in 1 BLHeli-S. The latter uses the latest BLHeli_S firmware and the performance is pretty good. These are pretty good for racing and provide a smooth throttle response and operate alost silently as they use hardware generated motor pwm.
They use damped light mode for ultra fast motor retardation and active freewheeling. These ESCs are suitable for the most demanding of racing applications as well as normal environments. You can configure the ESC to start beeping after a few seconds of zero throttle. This feature is very useful of you happen to crash the quad and can't seem to locate it.
You would want to use the D-Link F3 flight controller. It's based on Betaflight and features a in-built power distribution board (PDB) that supports 3s-6s LiPo batteries, 5 volt 500 mAh onboard BEC, MPU6050 gyro, gold plated solder connections and SP racing F3 Betaflight target.
The HS1177 would be a good choice. It's a 600 TVL camera. It's almost half the price of more expensive options like Swift or Foxeer - but offers the same performance. You could use the money you save to buy a superior lens and end up with a camera that offers flawless performance.
You would want to use the Diatone SP3 5.8G 48CH VTX.
This comes fully assembled, tuned and tested. All you need to do is plug inthe battery and it'll be airborne. It comes with a AT9S transmitter, 30A 4 in 1 ESC, 390 Tower, a F3 flight controller, on screen display (OSD), a 5.8 GHz 40CH video transmitter and antenna, a S2205 2300KV motor and a 4S 1500 mAh 50C Lithium Polymer battery.
It can fly fast, is pretty stable, rugged and can take a fair bit of punishment and still remain in airworthy condition.
It does not come with a charger - and so you will want to buy one. And you would want to buy at least a couple of spare batteries and propellers just in case.
When operating FPV drones, you should pay attention to safety and observe the applicable regulations. In particular, multicopters in general and FPV racers in particular can present a great danger to one's self as well as to others persons due to the rapidly rotating propellers. Some of the bigger models can weigh almost a kilogram and move at speeds in excess of 100 kmph. Therefore you would always need to be extremely careful and responsible .
In some countries, drones above 250 grams need to have a fireproof license plate on which name and address must be clearly noted. This does not only apply to just to racing drones, but generally to all multicopters.
Furthermore, drone owners are required to have liability insurance . However, since most liability insurance does not cover the use of drones, a separate drone liability insurance is usually unavoidable. Excluded from compulsory insurance are only small toy drones.
The area of FPV racing is generally a legal gray area. In the US and most other countries, you will always need to have your quad in visible range. When using a FPV glasses this requirement is not met. It's therefore recommended that you always have a second person with you on all flights. It's recommended that you read through the relevant requirements in your insurance policy and take appropriate precautions.
Further information on safety and legal issues at FPV Racing can also be found in relevant forums and at local model flying or multicopter clubs.
Although drone racing has been practiced by some copter pilots for quite some time, FPV Racing is still at the very beginning of its development. In recent years, like-minded people often met on meadows or in forests to host exciting drone racing events and to test their own abilities. Even abandoned halls or multi-storey car parks are often the scene of spectacular racing events.
The sport could has gotten a decisive boost by the founding of the DRL (Drone League Racing) . The founder and CEO Nicholas Horbaczewski has brought some energetic sponsors on board and now wants to start the first official FPV Racing League. The first race took place in July 2015 under the name "Gates of Hell" and was held in a disused power plant on the edge of the Hudson River in New York.
Nicholas Horbaczewski, DRL Founder and CEO, says: "When we think about drone racing, it's a real-life video game experience. It's a few minutes long, so it's bite-sized content and perfect for online consumption."
The DRL is planning a total of six FPV races for 2016 and has selected host countries for the US, New Zealand and Mexico. DRL's website and YouTube Channel has plenty of exciting videos on the preparations for the current season, as well as individual pilots being portrayed here. The actual races will also be posted on DRL's website and YouTube Channel.
According to DRL, a total of 12 pilots will participate in each race. They drive their nearly 130 km / h FPV racers through a special course, consisting of different goals, and determine their winner in several breakneck races. In order to make the experience even more interesting for spectators, starting in March of this year, additional camera settings such as 360 ° perspectives will be incorporated into the exciting drone races.
As a special highlight for all fans of FPV Racing, the DRL also offers its own, free online game in addition to the live recordings . Just in time for every new race, the corresponding course can be tried out online by anyone.
It will be interesting to see how FPV Racing will develop over the next few years and how long it will take before there will be big public events in Europe and other continents like the DRL. One thing is clear: FPV drones are the hottest trend this year!