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FPV Quadcopters: Drones That Will Have You Feeling Like A Pilot Navigating The Skies

FPV Quadcopters
Jack Brown
Written by Jack Brown

How would you like to participate in a race with helicopters? Got your attention? Good! Well, we’re not talking about actual helicopters, but the next best thing: the FPV quadcopter. This amazing small machine is capable of flying at amazingly fast speeds and can withstand a series of mild to powerful shocks only to make you the winner of the day.

If you’re not yet familiar with the concept of drone racing then you should know that this is actually becoming a real sport. People from all over the world enlist their FPV drones and they race to the finish trying to prove that their drone is the fastest, smoothest and more reliable of them all. Not yet convinced?

FPV Drones

Well then you should know that in 2016, in October (17 – 22) there will be organized a World Drone Racing Championship with prizes in cash, products and trophies. The championship will be held in Hawaii and whoever wins the first place will forever be recognized amongst fellow drone pilots.

If you’re still not a believer, here are a few previews at how a drone racing looks and feels like:

After watching the videos up above, I’m sure you can’t wait to get your hands on your own FPV racing quad so that you can train for a real drone race. So, without further ado, let’s jump right into a detailed review of the best FPV quadcopter models on the market. These drones have proven to be among the fastest and most durable available right now which is why they made our list.

Top Quadcopters That Offer FPC Features

FPV quadcopters are great for those who want a drone that is similar to a race car. They are fast, intense, and bring some neat features to the table. While they may be more expensive that the other categories of drones, (such as toys, for example) they are well worth the time, money, and effort spent on getting to learn flying one.

Vortex Race Quad

Weight: 415 g (without camera & battery)Vortex 285 Race Quad

Size: 15.8 x 6.2 x 4 inches

Camera: GoPro Hero 3+

Battery:  3S or 4S Li-Po

Flight time: Highly dependent on the type of battery you’re using, speed, and flying style

Controller type: Compatible with any 5.8Ghz A/V receiver

Best use: Racing

This drone from Vortex is quite powerful and looks just like a small fighter copter, ready to take out anything that stands in the way. The drone is a racing quadcopter specially designed for speed and power without too much effort.

First, you should know that the Vortex Race Quad is delivered as an ARF ready to fly kit and it comes packed with a protective case which will make transportation so much easier.  This means that besides the remote and the FPV display everything else is included. You’ll just need to put everything together.

The design is simple and combines two powerful colors: red and black. However, the drone is highly customizable and you can change the standard colors in order to stand out from the crowd.

The frame is sturdy and durable, allowing enough space for all the necessary elements like powerful 2,300 kV custom motors that spin the propellers, second generation ESCs with OneShot, and a GoPro mount included that can accommodate both the 3rd and the 4th model. The arms are rigid and capable of meeting any unexpected objects without breaking or being damaged.

Watch the video to see it fly.

There is an included in the body flight camera which is in addition to the GoPro capabilities (the GoPro is not included in the package and you’ll have to purchase it).

Check the price on Amazon

Targethobby QAV210 Quadcopter Kit

Weight: 1.2 poundsTargetbobby QAV 210

Size: 11.9 x 8.5 x 2 inches

Camera: Your own, GoPro 4 recommended

Battery:  1500mAh LiPo battery recommended

Flight time: Depends on the battery used

Controller type: Not included, Naza32 or F3SP racing flight controllers recommended

Special features: None to report on

Best use: Those who like to build kits and add their own specs to the mix to make it their own

The TargetHobby QAV210 Quadcopter Kit is a great addition to any hobbyist’s collection of DIY drones. Whereas others only let you add a battery or a motor, for example, this kit lets you do it all. There are a number of mounting holes for the motors that can fit a wide variety of brands and sizes via the M2 and M3 screw mounting patterns.

You can use your own battery but it is suggested by TargetHobby and multiple users that a 1500mAh 3S or 4S LiPo battery be used for the best flight performance possible.

You can also bring your own camera to the table, such as a GoPro 4, GoPro Session, or a Mobius, for example. There is an existing camera mount already included in the kit, but you can also get an additional camera vibration mount for stability. You can choose from a 26mm or a 32mm board, which will depend on the camera of your choice.

You can also get a camera mounting kit separately which includes a vibration isolation component, which is essential if you are using a high-quality HD camera that needs the added support. However, the drone does not have issues with vibration when it comes to the onboard FPV signal for the camera, it’s just for those who feel they need it or will definitely need it.

Check the price on Amazon

Yuneec Typhoon

Weight: 12 poundsYuneec Typhoon

Size: 21.2 x 17 x 12.5 inches

Camera: CGO3+

Battery: 5400mAh LiPo battery

Flight time: 18-20 minutes average

Controller type: ST16 controller

Special features: 8 flight modes, GPS-stabilized flight control, one-touch takeoff, auto landing, ultrasonic proximity detection, 5 rotor fail-safe

Best use: Great for those who want a mix of aerial photography and superb flight performance all in one

The Yuneec Typhoon drone has all of the features, camera specs, and flight performance that any avid drone user could want. The 4K video quality equates to ultra-high definition paired with 12MP photos, as well as an anti-vibration gimbal that rotates 360-degrees and retractable landing gear. This creates the perfect stage for even better photos.

This drone also boasts a compact size with propellers that quickly disconnect for a speedy removal process. They also fold down from the position of flight to go into a resting position up against the drone, which makes for better transportation and eliminates the need for a protective case.

It’s compliant with the FAA and the laws for no-fly zones so no registration is required. The 6 rotors are made safe through the 5-rotor-fail-safe system and the ultrasonic collision prevention to avoid crashes and collisions whenever possible.

The GPS stabilized flight controls, automatic return to home, auto land, and auto takeoff features pair well with the 8 individual smart flight modes and this makes this drone a great choice. Point of Interest, Journey, Curved Cable, and Orbit are just a few of the 8 included modes that you can choose from and play around with.

Check the price on Amazon

ARRIS X-Speed 250B

Weight: 2.6 poundsArris X-Speed

Size: 12 x 8.5 x 10 inches

Camera: 700 TVL 3.6mm camera

Battery: 2200mAh LiPo battery recommended

Flight time: Depends on the battery used

Controller type: Radiolink AT9 transmitter

Special features: Adjustable flight parameters, camera adjustable

Best use: Great for those who want a drone that is purely made for racing and does not come with flashy features

The ARRIS X-Speed 250B is made for drone users who are all about racing quads. It’s small, lightweight, durable, and hits great speeds depending on the battery of your choice. These are all needed components when it comes to a great FPV drone crafted for racing purposes.  It’s made of a pure carbon fiber material, approximately 1.5mm of it, which ensures that it can gain speed quickly during flight.

You will need to provide your own battery, as previously stated, but you have a decent range to choose from. The mAh LiPo batteries that are compatible range from 1500mAh LiPo up to 2200mAh LiPo, but because it’s a racing drone the 2200mAh LiPo battery is better recommended for the highest speed and flight performance possible.

The double plated propellers, which are made from a carbon fiber material and nylon, are designed to ensure that they do not snap off should a crash and/or collision occurs, which is very likely to happen because it’s a racing drone. In fact, the propellers are really the only component on this drone that is susceptible to snapping and breaking in this scenario, which is good news.

The camera, however, is not great where quality is concerned, but it’s still pretty decent. It’s fully adjustable from between 0 degrees to 20 degrees upward, which is easily done on your part. Because crashing is expected for this drone, there is a plate that dampers vibration that filters them to ensure your videos are as stable and clear as possible. You are able to view in FPV or use goggles to make things more interesting, too.

The flight time depends on the battery that you choose to go with. For example, the 2200mAh LiPo battery will bring about 10 minutes of flight time, but weather conditions also factor into this as well.

Wind, for example, will bring less than 10 minutes of flight time with this battery, so it’s good that there are options available to which battery you want to go with instead of being given one with the drone right off the bat.

Check the price on Amazon

Cheerwing Syma X5SW-V3

Weight: 1.4 poundsCheerwing Syma X5SW-V3

Size: 12.2 x 12.2 x 3.1 inches

Camera: HD WiFi camera

Battery: 500mAh LiPo battery

Flight time: 6-7 minutes

Controller type: X5SW-14-Trasmitter

Special features: 360-degree 3D rolling, Headless mode, left-hand control, real-time shooting function, Android and iOS supported, HD lock

Best use: Great for those who want a very basic drone with a somewhat decent camera to either improve their flight skills or just a drone to putter around with

While the Cheerwing Syma X5SW-V3 may not be an entirely thorough unit where features and capabilities are concerned, especially when it comes to the battery life, it’s still a great FPV drone. The 7 minutes of flight time you get can be somewhat disappointing, but there’s a lot to do in that amount of time.

For example, the WiFi FPV capability allows you to view your flight, videos, and photos while the drone is flying, and is supported by both Android and iOS devices. The controller has a special smart device holder for this very purpose so you can focus on the controls.

It can also perform tricks, too. You can to continuous rolls, a key 360-degree roll, and fly like an acrobat in the air. There are a couple of features, such as 3D lock and Headless mode, which makes your flying experience more detailed and interesting.

Headless mode ensures that the forward direction of the multi-rotor has nothing to do with the direction that the nose of the drone is currently facing, and will therefore not affect the flight performance or quality. This allows pilots at any level, whether it be beginner or expert, to master the controls slowly and learn each of the specific orientations that this drone has to offer.

While the onboard camera is considered to be HD, it’s not the greatest but it does take decent still photos and videos. It’s only 0.3MP, but the FPV WiFi transmission is in both 480p to 640p and shoots at 30fps. You also have the option of real-time shooting function, as previously stated, where you can view the current flight in FPV mode without having to take a video.

Check the price on Amazon

DBPOWER MJX X400W Drone

Weight: 1.6 poundsDBPOWER MJX X400W FPV Drone

Size: 11.8 x 11.8 x 3 inches

Camera: FPV WiFi camera

Battery: 750mAh LiPo battery

Flight time: 8-9 minutes

Controller type: Radio and WiFi transmitter

Special features: 3D split screen display compatible with the 3D VR headset, FPV real time transmission, one key 3D roll, Headless mode, LED light, Android and iOS supported,

Best use: Great for those who want a basic drone with a decent camera for aerial photography

The DBPOWER MJX X400W Drone is another prime example of a great FPV drone that has superb flying performance and a decent camera to go along with it. The transmission range is approximately 100 meters, which is a pretty decent distance, and has a couple of features that are interesting.

For one, you can use the 3D split screen display through the MJX FPV application for a real-time flying experience, which is made better through the VR headset.

However, this headset is not included and has to be purchased separately on your own, but they are definitely something worth looking into. They are basically virtual reality goggles that connect with your drone so you can sit in the pilot’s seat.

Like the previous drone that we mentioned, this one also comes with the Headless mode, one key 3D roll, and can also be connected to your smartphone to view your live transmission, photos, videos, etc.

The camera, while not something superb, is pretty decent overall. It gives you an HD resolution of 720p and has a very clear picture when it comes to both live transmission and photos and videos. You can remove the camera if you wish to do so as well, as it is only onboard from a plug-in, so all you have to do is unplug it if you want to save battery life or want to lighten the load that is on the drone.

Check the price on Amazon

ARRIS FPV250

Weight: 359g (without battery)Arris FPV 250

Size: 9.6 x 9.1 x 5.3 inches

Camera: 700TVL 2.8mm

Battery: 3S 2200Mah or 4S 1500Mah

Flight time: 8-10 minutes

Controller type: Radio System (6-channel or above)

Special features: High-quality 2205 2300KV motor, BLHeli 20A ESC for extra speed

Best use: Racing

This one is actually a mini-quad designed to achieve the maximum speed possible. If you are looking for stability and getting nice pictures, this is not the drone for you (or the category of drones).  Also, the drone can’t be used immediately out of the box as the radio set and the battery are not included in the package.

The Arris FPV 250 is small and lightweight and the general flight time depends on how aggressively you are actually flying. You can try with a more powerful battery, but you must be careful at the added weight since this is a mini quad. The drone is equipped with brushless motors and ESCs but you will need to be prepared with lots of extra propellers as these are the elements that wear off the fastest.

The frame is made of a composite material which gives it the necessary sturdiness to withstand mild collisions. However, you should try to avoid such events as much as possible, especially with large objects.

The build is simple and the drone has open space within the frame which allows for customization while protecting the inner circuits and elements. All the connectors are standard, so if you want to add to the drone it will be quite easy.

If you want to see more, here is a test video made by a user.

As you can see the FPV camera is great for racing as it doesn’t have any delays and video quality is good. Also, the CC3D flight controller (included in the package) is very reliable and can be easily customized allowing you to introduce your style and flying mode.

Check the price on Amazon

How About FPV Racing?

So now that you’ve seen some of the regulations in place for drones and you know all of the important rules concerning them, wouldn’t you like to know how you can have even more fun with them? If your answer is yes, then it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to the exhilarating world of FPV racing.

To kick things off, I’ll like to start with a brief video which shows you what FPV racing is all about.

So from the video, you realize that FPV racing is the art of using your drone to avoid obstacles while racing with others down a predetermined path. It’s quite fun for many people and that is why it is becoming a growing hobby amongst amateurs and professionals alike.

Now the quadcopters that I showed you in this review can be used for FPV racing but they really are not built for speed. So you can play around with them with your friends but if you are really planning to get into some serious FPV racing with other like-minded people, then you will need to build your own quadcopter that specially designed for speed.

Watch the above video to learn exactly how to do it.

Not Sure What Model To Buy?

Today we managed to cover a top 5 of FPV quads that can be used for racing, but since this sport is getting lots of fans by the day, the number of models capable of high speeds has increased. If none of these models suits your needs, feel free to continue your search for the best quad that can win you all the races you want.

As you can see, with racing drones is not all about looks and stability which means that a beginner in the art of drone piloting may have troubles getting used with the controller. However, if you manage to get a pair of goggles, you’ll get to live a fantastic flying experience as these drones can take you far and high in just a few seconds.

FPV Drone Racing

With racing models the main care is the speed which is why you’ll see features like tilted propellers or open frame. Also, they are built to withstand shocks and collisions, but you must also be prepared with spare parts. With these models, usually the propellers are the ones to go first.

The best part is that most models can be customized and you can adapt them to your flying style quite easily. All the connectors are standard and, due to the open frame design, new pieces can be easily installed. You won’t have to open up the frame.

PROS:

  • Easy to put together if they are delivered as a kit
  • Fast and reliable in flight
  • Advanced capabilities when it comes to flight control and distance
  • FPV camera
  • Real-time video transmission
  • Amazing flying experience
  • Open frame design that is easy to customize
  • Powerful motors and batteries
  • Lightweight and durable
 CONS:

  • The flight time is quite short
  • Controllers can be quite complicated
  • The software setup requires some experience with drones
  • Beginners may have troubles mastering the drone in flight
  • Propellers run out pretty fast

In the end, if you like adrenaline and flying, a racing drone is exactly what you need. The FPV community is strong and once you get in, you’ll make new friends that share the same passion for speed and flying devices.

If our models impressed you, or if you have extra information about them, please don’t hesitate to leave us a comment.

About the author
Jack Brown
Jack Brown

Jack is the Chief Pilot at MyDroneLab.com bringing experience, expertise and knowledge in this quite new industry. He is a graduate of the Drone/UAV Pilot Training Certificate program and member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Besides having all the necessary technical knowledge when it comes to drones, Jack and his team love to spend the time outside by the ocean, working on new features and teaching others how to pilot these amazing and exciting new robots.

  • Andrew Taylor

    Indeed you are going to feel like a pilot in the skies. The exciting gets even bigger if you put it in a race. It is fast and durable, perfect for race. Plus the screen for your eyes makes the feeling even better. Drone racing is something I love to do, watch an talk about.

  • Frendrick Anderson

    Wow! This technology is just too good. I already fell in love with the eye screen. However, the worst feature of these kind of drones is that the batteries life is too short. Although, everything else seems positive. These kind of drones make races more interesting events.

    • And they are becoming more and more popular all over the world 🙂

  • Jim Clark

    The ARRIS FPV250 is my favourite. Awesome quadcopter, very fast. This was my first 250 racing quad, I wouldn’t suggest for beginners, due to the power of it. But basically learned this quad class on it so go for it! Great quality and well thought out design.

    • Jack Brown

      Well, to be honest, none of the models from our list is not quite suitable for beginners as they are unbelievably fast and powerful, but hey, who are we to tell people what to do, right? 🙂 If you think that you can start off with a racer, you can give it a shot. But, I would suggest starting with a smaller, less powerful model and then moving up to a higher class.

  • Francis Bock

    Bought Arris and its speed is amazing. Setting up takes a bit of time. Took me two hours to get the flight controller ready. To program it, make sure you have a computer and a mini-USB cable to. Everything else is perfectly assembled. Excited to try it for FPV.

    • Jack Brown

      Yes, it does take some time to set it up properly, but once you are done, the real fun starts! Let us know how your FPV flights went! 🙂

  • Violet McBean

    ImmersionRC Vortex 250 PRO ARF is easy to set up as the ARF model. I haven’t encountered any problem with this FPV drone because I spent some time reading through the instruction manual and also viewing video tutorials on how to configure the FPV. My only drawback is that the battery, transmitter, and the GoPro camera are not included. I guess that’s an opportunity for one to install the preferred high quality components.

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