Building your racing or freestyle drone, what do you need?

Lets have a look at some of the common items on a racing quadcopter - so we can demistify the terminology for you:


A quadcopter frame.

Mostly available in carbon fibre because of the lightweight strength of the material. These vary in size, three inch to six inch mainly. Most competition frame sizes are five inch. You can buy a frame referred to as a unibody, which is one complete piece, or a body and replaceable arms. Next you need to consider if you prefer a frame where the battery sits on top or alternatively underneath which is referred to as underslung. Underslung is more suited to racing because of a lower centre of gravity by the time you add a battery, and a top mounted battery frame is more often used for freestyle. However, they can both be used for either so do not let this phase you overly. Its more about what you feel comfortable with; you’re the pilot after all!


Brushless Motors

Motors come in different sizes and varying KV ratings. The higher the KV rating, the faster the motor will revolve. It is important to make sure the motor size (so its diameter) is not too large for the arm it is going to be sitting on. Something about 2205 etc here. After this, much like most things, there are different manufacturers and designs, which is largely a matter of opinion.


ESCS – Electronic speed controllers.

One for each motor, the ESC controls the motor and communicates to the flight controller. You will need to ensure the ESC can handle the voltage required.


Flight Controller

The brain of your setup. The flight controller communicates with the other electrical components, managing and interpreting inputs. In other words, what you instruct the quad to do through the controller.


Power Distribution Board


Receiver

Your quad will need a receiver to communicate between it and the controller. You will need to install one to the quad and then synchronise it to speak to the controller. The receiver will operate on teo channels used in the sport; 2.4GHz or 5.8GHz.


Controller

You will need a controller to fly your drone, unless you have mastered telepathy! The industry standard makes are Spektrum and FrSky and they communicate using different settings so you tend to become one or the other. Any change in controller will mean you need to change the receiver on the quad.


Goggles

Optional. You do not have to fly FPV, you can fly line of sight. We will add that they don’t feel the same, and if you migrate from one style to the other, you will definitely need some time to adjust. Putting on goggles stops you looking at your controller sticks! Competition racing will require FPV.


Video Transmitter

The VTX connects the signal from the camera to your goggles. If you are flying line of sight, this element is not required.


Antenna

If you are using goggles you will need two antennas; one on the goggles to receive the signal that the opposite partner on the drone will be sending. To make the signal work correctly, the antennas need to be ‘polarised’ in the same direction, referred to a right hand circular polarised (RCHP) or left hand.


Camera

The camera, placed centrally at the front of the quadcopter (there’s normally a protected space within the frame as they can get damaged quite easily). Again, if you are flying line of sight, this is an optional extra, much the same as an action camera like a GoPro, which is mounted to record the flight.


Battery & charger Cells, storage, charging – refer to the other how to guide.


Accessories

Cabling, tape, heat shrink.