FPV Racing Drones: Recommended Parts, Kits and Components | 2017

We made a guide with the intention to be a resource for anyone who wants to start with FPV and drone racing. To be honest, it's not easy. There's a steep learning curve and it can be overwhelming at first, but once you dive in there's no turning back. 

What is Drone Racing?

FPV Drone Racing is a sport in which pilots are trying to build extremely fast and swift aircraft for racing. Video signal from drone camera is transmitted to Goggles where pilot see's live stream camera feed from the drone. This type of flying is called FPV (First Person View).

fpv-racing-drone-freestyle

FPV Freestyle 

FPV freestyle involves navigating the drone around obstacles, small openings, or tight corners. It's not about lap race but to show the art and beauty of controlling the drone in different environments and executing precise maneuvers. In freestyle competition, you can combine both LOS and FPV flying. You're expressing your technical and artistic proficiency while adding unique flare when flying a quadcopter.

Mr.Steel from RotorRiot showing his skills while diving through the buildings with his Impulse RC Alien. 

Gab707 took the video with a GoPro Hero 4 Session mounted on a Strix Awk210, heading towards the peak of the mountain in  Hübschhorn Switzerland. 

In the following table, we listed the required equipment for certain drones that are ready to fly, and maybe missing the transmitter, goggles and the like. Clicking on the links in the column 'Additional Equipment' you can get a more detailed selection and our recommendations for each component.

Model

Description

Additional Equipment

Eachine e010

LOS / Micro Drone

Optional

Eachine e010c

Micro Drone with FPV Camera

TX/Goggles

Blade Inductrix

Micro Drone with FPV Camera

TX/Goggles

Eachine Wizard X220

Beginner FPV Racing Drone

TX/RX/Goggles

Immersion RC Vortex 285

High Quality FPV drone

TX/RX/Goggles/Battery/Charger

Immersion RC Vortex 250 Pro

Serious FPV racer

TX/RX/Goggles/Battery/Charger

RTF RACING DRONES

Micro drones - most popular known as Tiny Whoop

This tiny micro drones are ideal for indoor flying, when compared with bigger racing drones it’s easier to fly, and inexpensive to start with. Therefor it’s great choice for entering in the world of drones. They are not designed for outdoor flying, because they are too light, so even a little breeze can put them off trajectory.

Some popular models in this category

Eachine e010

This model comes without camera, it’s really good choice for your first drone or a gift. You can practice LOS (line of sight) orientation flying. If you decide to buy it, make sure to select Mode 2 (left hand throttle). Package includes small transmitter, battery and a charger - so it’s ready to fly out of the box.​

eachine e010

eachine e010

Eachine e010C

Second Eachine is FPV version of the same drone, and it’s excelent choice for your first drone. Package does not include transmitter and goggles. Depending on which transmitter you have, or decide to buy, you have to take care of which protocl to choose - FlySky Receiver/FrSky Receiver/DSM Receiver.

eachine e010s

eachine e010s

Inductrix FPV

The Blade Inductrix FPV has been designed in response to the global craze of Tiny Whoop micro FPV drones. To this end, micro-drones have been converted into real FPV drones. Starting with 'Tiny Whoop'  drone you have everything you need for real FPV experience.

blade inductrix

blade inductrix

Ready to Fly FPV Racing Drones

Eachine Wizard X220

Excellent Ready to Fly FPV racing drone for beginner. The kit has everything you need to start flying out of the box. We would recommend to buy a few extra batteries, preferably 4S, but you'll also need a new charger. For more information about Battery and Charger selection, see BATTERIES and CHARGERS.

eachine wizard x220

eachine wizard x220

ImmersionRC Vortex 285

Excellent Ready to Fly FPV racing drone for beginner. The kit has everything you need to start flying out of the box. We would recommend to buy a few extra batteries, preferably 4S, but you'll also need a new charger. For more information about Battery and Charger selection, see BATTERIES and CHARGERS.

immersionRC Vortex 285

ImmersionRC Vortex 285

ImmersionRC Vortex Pro

Upgraded version of the previous drone (Vortex 285) for more experienced pilots. It has a premium components and an OSD that makes it easy to configure everything. Station, Receiver, Goggles and Battery / Charger.

immersionRC Vortex 250 Pro

immersionRC Vortex 250 Pro

Best racing drones are built from ground up

Currently there is so many different models, both in RTF and DIY segment for FPV Racing - and it’s really hard to separete few of them. We combined three options according to price and purpose (beginner/advanced and expert)

​We always suggest to anyone who is interested in FPV racing to buy the drone in parts, and assemble it yourself. This way, you’ll be familiar with the electronics and be more prepared when something breaks, and that will happen for sure, esspecially during severe hits. Mostly these are minor reparis such as a disconnected connectors, off phase motors, antenna mass, cracked lens, etc. With the experience in flying/crashing/repairing you will recognize more and more failures, and you’ll be faster in detecting and repairing them.

But also, be patient, try to practice alot (use simulators, preflight check-list) and minimize the crashes​. In the end you want to have more flying time / less repairing time

best racing drones

Drone racing kits and components

Table with recommended parts. Each component is explained further below.

      Legendary 'FPV Racing - Crash Session' from PORKET

Frame

drone frames

As you may already know, to build a drone from scratch you’ll gonna need dozen different parts. Frame is one of the basic parts:

Liam LS-210

One of the most inexpensive frames on the market, so if you’re on tight budget this would be decent option. Only con is 3mm bottom plate tickenss ( we would recommend 4mm), carbon quality is not that good, so it brakes easier.

Martian II 220mm

Great for a beginner, it has alot of space for all equipment. 4 mm

Realacc X210 4mm

Also, good choice, a little bit more complicated to fit everything when compared to last two ones ( has less space). Advantage is it comes with PDB - Power Distribution Board

iFlight RACER iX5 200mm

Frame with good carbon, light and not so expensive. Also, because it dosen’t have too much space it’s more complicated to assemble everything.

Motors

Drone Motors

In general, prices go around from 10-20$ per motor, there are exeptions. In vast space of option, we would recommend the following:

4X Racerstar Racing Edition 2205 BR2205 2300KV

Entry level motors, cheap as ti gets. All in all they are not that bad, and have enough power for beginner. Next motor on the list is double expensive.​​

4X Emax RS2205-2300kv

Last generation of Emax RS motors are recommended fo more experienced pilots.

ESC's Electronic Speed Controllers

Drone ESC

Electronic speed control or abbreviated ESC works in a way that it transforms the signals we input throught the transmitter into voltage that ESC sends to motors, and in a way regulates the motor spining. They come in 4in1 option ( 4 ESC's on one PDB )  or 4 separate ESC's ( separate ESC's are more cost effective, you can change only one's that are damaged, unlike 4in1 ).

​It ranges from $ 6 to $ 20 per piece. What to look for is to choose an ESC that can withstand high enough electricity. The main mark is expressed in ampers and voltage (in our case the number of cells - 4). Most ESCs with the 20A mark will withstand the currents that arise when flying the FPV racing drone. The cheapest set of ESCs is:

Racerstar RS20Ax4 4in1

This is a combination of 4 ESCs in one. The ratio invested / gained is excellent, reliable and easy to install. They are mounted on the same stack as the flight controller

4x Racerstar RS20A

Same ESC’s as previous, only difference is they don’t come 4 in 1, but eaches separete (they are mounted on frame arms). We would recommend separated ESC’s, because if you crash, you can change only one or two ESC’s that got hit, not the whole ESC when it comes as 1.

DYS XSD 20A

More expensive and better ESCs, send’s more power to the engines than the Racerstar ESCs.

Flight Controller (FC)

Drone Flight Controller

Flight Controller is drone’s brain. All the inputs that we give through the transmitter are processed together with the data from the gyroscope, FC filters the signals and sends them to the ESCs.

As with other equipment, there is a large supply of FC’s on the market. FCs differ according to the processing speed of the main microcontroller. There are Flight Controllers that use: f1 (24Mhz), F3 (72Mhz) and F4 (84MHz) microcontroller.

Cheapest Flight Controller

​NAZE32 REV6a MPU6500 32-bit 6 DOF

​This is F1 controller. It has a sensitive gyroscope, therefor it’s mounted on an anti-vibration plates. It's good for a beginner, but its processor power is limited, so it will not be able to run more advanced options.

F3 Flight Controller Acro 6 DOF

Chinese copy of much more expensive SPRacing F3 EVO FC that works as the original. We recommend that you still take this FC when purchasing equipment for the first FPV drone.

Omnibus F4 Flight Controller

Currently, one of the cheapest F4 flight controllers. F4 microcontroller technology is a relatively new thing in drones world, so there are potential problems.

Top End Flight Controller

Power Distribution Board (PDB)

The PDB serves to distribute voltage across all components. It directs battery voltage that is transmitted to the ESCs which then continues to the motors, regulating the voltage level from 16.8V to 5V, power’s Flight Controller and Receiver, as well as the video transmitter (VTX) and the camera.

There are models of PDBs that have only voltage regulation (5 / 12V) and dissipation, and there are more advanced models that have On Screen Display (OSD) showing usefull data on FPV goggles, as remaing power, mAh, battery voltage etc.​

Matek Systems PDB-XT60

It comes with XT-60 battery connector, easy to assemble.​

Matek Mini Power Hub

Identical as the previous but without XT-60 connectors, it allows more freedom of assembly and positioning of components.

Realacc/Matek HUBOSD

Model with OSD. Other options are the same as the aforementioned PDBs

Drone racing kit

If you’ve been reading from beginning; we now went through parts that transmitt power to motors. In various offers there are available kits in combination of frame/motors/esc/fc/pdb. Props in kit are also cheaper then by piece.

One of such great combo options with balanced components 

Realacc (X210 4mm Frame w/ F3 6 DOF Racerstar BR2205 2300KV Motor RS20A V2 Blheli_S 5X4X3 Prop)

Transmitter

Drone Transmitter

Transmitter is one of the most important componenets in this hobby, and it can help you to progress faster. High qualitty transmitter is good investment as you can use it in different projects (simulators, fixed wing planes)

We listed few of them that we find worth checking out​

Chepest solution is FlySky/turnigy transmittet which comes with receiver. It uses flysky/turnigy protocols (afhds/afhds 2a)

FlySky-FS-i6

Turnigy TGY-i6

Use mode 2 when purchasing. It’s ok for beginner, but soon you will want more out of it. Its plastic and gimbals are not of high quality. For simulator you're gonna need additional cable which you plug into’mic’ on a PC.

Turnigy Evolution + Turnigy and A6C receiver

It’s purposely built for fpv racing, it has a good grip on hands, imitating playstation joystick. Good gimbals, easy to carry around due to small dimensions. You can plug it on simulator via usb cable. It’s only con is flysky/turnigy afhds 2a protocol, so it can’t be used for micro drone we recommended earlier.

FrSky Taranis qx7

Big upgrade from flysky/turnigy and we recommend it to everyone who tend to get seriously into this hobby - must have. It uses frsky protocol (sbus and ppm)

or his advanced version

FrSky Taranis X9D Plus​

​Great gimbals, build quality, frsky protocol ( most reliable), option to program switches, great tx interface, voice information ( it comes usefull while you have goggles on your head, and transmitter alerts you on battery level or that radio signal is weak ).

Receiver

Drone Receiver

Choosing receiver depends on the transmitter. There’ couple of different manufacturers, and each uses their own protocols that are not compatible with the other. For that reason it’s advised to study receiver specifications and compatibility with the transmitter.

Most popular protocols:

  • frsky - most reliable protocol
  • spekturm - solid one, mostly used in us
  • flysky/turnigy - chepest transmitters, slowly taking on the market
  • futuba

We don’t use FlySky/Turnigy protocol, but we beleive it would be OK for a beginner, as it’s relativly cheap. But either way, we recommend FrSky protocol because of build quality and reliability.

FlySky/Turnigy Receivers

Turnigy iA6C

Best choice for FPV racing drone because of the sbus signal, it uses AFHDS 2A protocol

FlySky X6B

Also a good choice. Unlike previous one, it is possible to connect via PWM. It uses AFHDS 2A protocol.

FrSky Receivers

FrSky X4RSB

The most popular receiver in the FPV racing world. Used by over 60-70% of pilots. It's small, robust and has a great range.

FrSky XSR

It is also an excellent receiver, whose hardware components are identical to the X4RSB, but is even smaller and is therefore an ideal choice for ultra-fast racing drones.

FrSky XM+

Model designed for micro drones, range up to approx. 300m. By dimensions it’s the smallest of the proposed FrSky receivers.

Propellers

drone propellers

Recommended frames in Chapter 1. are intended for 5 "propellers. It is also the most popular class among the FPV racers because on 4s batteries they develop enough thrust for racing drone equipped with HD camera.

Propellers, except for their size, are also distinguished by the "Pitch" and the number of "blades"​

The propeller choice depends on the engine and its characteristics. The simplest way to explain the KV values of the engine (engine speed per minute at 1V without load) for racing drones ranging from 2000 up to 2800 KV.​

For low kv motor's (2000-2400kv): Max. 4 blades, Max pitch 45

DALProp CYCLONE T5045C​

For high kw motor's (2400-2800kv): Max. 3 blades, Max pitch 40​

DALProp T5040V2 3-Blade

​KingKong 5040 5x4x3

Batteries

Drone Batteries

Batteries differ according to voltage, capacity and C-rating. Battery voltage is denoted by cell number 2s, 3s, 4s etc. In FPV drone racing, mostly 4S batteries are used. 4S denotes 4 cells each with a rated voltage of 3.7V which ultimately amounts to 14.8V. When the batteries are full, each one is charged up to 4.2V, or a total of 16.8V. Except voltage there are batteries with different capacities expressed in MAh. FPV drone racing uses batteries with a capacity between 1000 and 2000 mAh. The most commonly used batteries are those of 1300 mAh and 1500 mAh which are ideal because of their smaller mass. C-rating means the power that the battery can deliver eg 4s battery capacity 1300MAh with C-rating 45C can best deliver:

​45*1,3(capacity/1000)=58,5A

The battery prices range from $ 15 to $ 40 per piece. With 1300MAh 4s battery, if you are a beginner expect about 3-5 minutes flight, with 2000MAh 6-7min. Later, when you start more gassing the flight time will fall to 2-3 min for the 1300 mAh battery.​

Battery Balance Charger/Discharger

battery balance charger

To power your batteries you're gonna need a charger. Least expensive one we gound on the market, that charges 4S batteries:

​EV-Peak E3 35W 3A

​IMAX B6-AC

​Imax comes with alot of different connectors, and apart from the LiPo battery you can charge other battery types (NiMH,LiFE etc.)

FPV Equipment

When you build a drone composed of the above-mentioned components you have all the mechanical parts for the flight, and you can fly the Line of Sight (LOS). It's a good thing if you're a beginner and you want to get a feel for flying and to develop a motor skills.

But what makes flying really exciting is First Person View (FPV). To complete the FPV system you will need:​

  • Camera​
  • Video Transmitter with antenna (VTX)
  • FPV goggles / headset with video transmitter (VRX)

Camera

Drone Camera

The cameras come with 2 variations: those with CMOS sensor and CCD sensor. More quality cameras mostly use a CCD sensor that has less latency, faster adaptation to light change, and more resistant to vibration.

700TVL CMOS FPV Camera

It is not the cheapest CMOS camera, but the dimensions match the most popular camera from which frames are made. So the installation is simple (select PAL when shopping)

Eachine 1000TVL CCD Camera

The cheapest camera with CCD sensor. The problem is that its dimensions are not standard, so you'll need to be clever when installing the camera.

600TVL Sony Super Had II CCD Camera

A copy of the most popular FPV camera, video is excellent, a transition from dark to light spaces as well. If you can, go to this camera model because the FPV flight experience will be a lot better than the above-mentioned cameras (take PAL ver)

Video Transmitter VTX

Video Transmitter

VTX transmits the analog video signal received from the FPV camera to the video receiver. We differentiate them according to the available options, and to the antenna connector (SMA/RP-SMA). Modern VTXs, besides frequency and channel change options, also have the option of switching signal power (25mW / 200mW / 600mW), which can be useful if you are flying with several more pilots at the same time.

Eachine TX526

VTX with option to power-change and definitely best buy at the moment. Otherwise, VTX prices with that option range from $ 23 to more. RP-SMA connector!

Eachine VTX03

This VTX is the smallest in the market. It also has a power-change option. It is a bit more complicated to assemble. Try it with 5V!

FT48X VTX

Unlike the VTXs mentioned above, this has a 5V power output for the camera but this does not worth these additional $ 10. SMA connector.

Antenna

Male is screw thread inside, female is screw thread outside. SMA Male is needle, and SMA Female is hole. RP-SMA are opposite.

Aomway 5.8Ghz 4 Leaf RHCP

Best buy antenna, 1 pc is $ 6.5. Resistant to shock and excellent signal. Be careful when selecting a connector.

Rubbered FPV Antenna

The popular antenna among FPV racers due to their small dimensions and endurance. Also, be aware of the choice and layout of the L and W type connectors

The popular antenna among FPV racers due to their small dimensions and endurance. Also, be aware of the choice and layout of the L and W type connectors

Goggles Headset and Receivers

Drone Goggles

There are a lot of options and price ranges from $ 45 to $ 500 to $ 600

Eachine VR-007 Pro

Its disadvantages are that it has a low resolution of 480x272, and because of that the picture is pixelized, also there is no way to adjust the proximity of the screen. Comes with a rod antenna, so we recommend to buy better one separatly (connector is RP-SMA).

Headset Quanum DIY FPV Goggle V2 Pro

Eachine RC832 FPV VRX

Turnigy 1500mAh Bat

Somewhat more expensive and verified option is a comes in combo.  The disadvantage of this combo is that the headset is bulky, so you have to wear a special bag just for it. Unlike the Eachine VR-007, it has adjustable proximity to the screen and 800x480 resolution

Eachine VR D2 Pro

The advantages are that it comes with a diversity receiver (receives a 2-signal), has a DVR recorder, so it captures video on SD card, 800x480 screen resolution, close proximity, auto scan video channel.

the best goggles (full immersion, convenience, DVR shooting, comfort, etc.), and with quality comes price

Fatshark Dominator V3

​Fatshark Dominator HD3

In addition to your goggles, you will also need a receiver that does not come with them in the package​

La Forge v2 Diversity Combo

​Furious True-D v3

​Somewhat cheaper options

Realacc RX5805 Pro

Realacc RX5807 Pro

Helpfull Tools and Equipment 

Soldering Station

Soldering Station with Adjustable Heat Range 

If you want to build your own drone, and to service it later, you need a solid solder station. For start you can use the one from local shop, look to have the at least 40W of power, and don't forget to buy tinol.

soldering station

Best buy, at this price it has no competition. It has temperature setting, stand and sponge.

When assembling the first drone, you're gonna miss some small part, as a piece of wire, glue, tape or some tool. You will think that you have to wait for that part again for 3 weeks to arrive from China. We've all gone through this and don't let to get you down. You will always find someone who can help you.

Tools that will help you make and service your drone:

​Duct tape

Laces

Scalpel

Imbus keys​

Polyolefin H-type​ Tubing Tube

Silicone Wire's​

Velcro Tape

​XT60 Connectors

Hex Spacers Screw Nut Assortment Kit​

M3 Carbon Steel Allen Bolt​

Separate motor's, ESC's ... :)​

Usefull website's and channel's

oscarliang.com - indepth resource on FPV

miniquadtestbench.com - test's of ESC's and motors

​UAVfutures - excelent youtube channel for entering FPV experience

Rotor Riotone the most popular channels on FPV

Flite Testfrom Drones, to Fixed Wing RC, to Full Scale Flight

FPV Academy - beginners guide to fpv racing

FAQ

What is the difference between RTF, BNF and ARF models?​

RTF stands for 'Ready to fly', it means you can fly your drone out of the box. Charge the batteries, bind the transmitter and you're ready to go. 

BNF stands for 'Bind-N-Fly'. You need to have your own transmitter or purchase the one going with BNF model receiver. You need to check the details on each model.

ARF stands for 'Almost Ready to Fly'. Model needs additional parts/equipment to assemble functional drone. Parts needed can include batteries, motor's, servo's etc. 

​Before you fly

​Check your local rules, laws and regulations. Asses yourself (are you in condition to fly), observe your surroundings, inspect your gear.

Practice on simulators

There are many simulators for FPV flying. We would definitly recommend practicing alot, it will help you develop finger memory on the sticks without fear of crashing your quad severly. Even if you're best on simulator you're still gonna crash when flying your drone. More practice, less crashes, more time for flying.

Acro Mode

First off, when you learn to fly acro mode everything becomes more easier. So we would suggest to start flying acro from begining. Although it's steep learning curve, and it's much harder, once you develop finger memmory on acro mode you'll be considerbly more confident when flying. 

How fast are racing drones?

Drone speed is determined by various factors and combination of motors, props, battery and weight. If we take 250 frame racing quadcopter with three cell battery, you can expect around 40mph. There are  RTF version design specificaly for acheving high speed like Teal drone, or Nissan's GT-R drone which can top 115 mph. 

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Nathan Mayer
 

When not thinkering around drones, you’ll find me researching latest technology insights from UAV industry.

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