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?
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 5 quadcopters that offer FPV features
Emax Nighthawk Pro 280
This racing drone looks like a miniature battle machine covered in armored shields and ready to take down any possible opponent. However, don’t let the image impress you as this drone is delivered as an ARF kit that needs some assembly and a few other components before being ready to participate in races.
To make it ready for battle, you need to add a transmitter, a receiver, and a battery. The ideal battery for this mini-monster racing is a 4S 1,300 mAh Li-Po model.
This drone was specially designed for racing and if you can’t tell by the mean design, then maybe the specs will give you an idea. For instance, the Nighthawk Pro 280 is equipped with the Skylight 32 flight control board (integrated in the kit) and 4 x 12 Amp BLHeli OneShot speed controllers.
The flight controller is open source so the customization possibilities are endless (for the tweaker in your).
If you want to see the Emax Nighthawk Pro 280 in action, take a peek here:
The EMAX motors are powerful (2300 kV) and the propellers are mounted on a 10 degree tilt in order to give you a boost of speed without having to give up on your height advantage. The camera offers you the best horizontal view but, if you want, you can install tilt mounts to change the viewing angle.
To continue the talk about design, the frame is extremely durable and can withstand several serious shocks without too many scratches. To make sure you can distinguish you copter in a race, the drone is equipped with rear LED lights that can change their color.
If you like this product you can find and check its price on Amazon.
Immersion RC Vortex 250
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 device 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). The Vortex 250 from ImmersionRC weighs around 415g without the battery and the GoPro and supports 3S or 4S Li-Po batteries. The flight time is highly dependent on the type of battery you’re using, speed, and flying style.
Like this amazing product? Please check the current deal for it on Amazon.
Eachine Racer 250
This is an RTF racing model which looks a lot more futuristic than most of its cousins. Actually it made us think about Sci-Fi movies like Star Trek. The best part is that it can be easily customized so, if you’re not happy with how it behaves with the standard kit, you can always replace parts.
The standard version is equipped with a sturdy, carbon fiber frame that covers all the vital elements and encases the camera into a protective cover. The FPV camera supports real-time image transmission and can be angled so you’ll see better in any direction and can be equipped with an HD external camera – you’ll just need to get the gimbal that fits.
However, the drone is not on our list for its photo & video capabilities. It is on our list because it is light and fast, being able to take down your competitors in a drone race quite easily. It may not be the prettiest drone in the bunch but it can fly for about 14 minutes which is all you need to win a short race.
The battery is a 25C 35 1,500 mAh Lipo model and it takes about 60 minutes to charge so having an extra may be a good idea. To see at night or in dark places, the Racer 250 is equipped with white LED lights in the frontal side and, to see it during race, it also has rear LED lights which are blue.
The controller may seem a bit complicated at first, but once you get used with all the buttons, the drone is quite easy to fly. That’s why it is recommended to those who are just beginning with FPV racing.
If you like what you’ve read so far and you want to see the Eachine Racer 250 in action, watch this video:
If you think that this product could fit your needs, then you can buy it on Amazon.
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 drone is small and weighs about 395g without the battery. The battery you should use is a 3S 2,200 mAh which will give you about 8 to 10 minutes of flight time (this 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.
Like this product? Then you can purchase it on Amazon.
Walkera F210 Professional Racer
Well, Walkera is a well-known producer on the drone market and this is shown in the design of this bad boy. The F210 looks and feels like a war machine and seen from upfront, you can actually mistake it with a fighting helicopter.
This drone is quite small (even though it looks quite mean) and comes in an RTF mode. The frame is designed with carbon fiber which means that this little war machine is durable enough to withstand most collisions with foreign objects.
Next, the center of gravity is kept right in the middle due to the clever design. This means that the flight will be more stable and the quad will respond faster and better to commands.
The Walkera F210 Professional Racer is equipped with brushless motors and landing guards that absorb the shock in case of a forced landing. The F3 flight system is quite the buzz among FPV racers these days as it allows for faster processing and an improved flight experience.
This combined with the 5.8G image transmitter manage to create one of the best FPV quadcopters. The real-time video feed is very stable and smooth even at 800 meters away from the transmitter.
The camera is state of the art, with HD night vision lens and photosensitive sensors which automatically adjust the luminosity on the image. This means you’ll be able to race day and night, no restrictions here. Even more, the angle can be adjusted according to your needs.
If you want to see more, watch it in action:
Like this amazing product? Then you can buy it from Amazon.
General drone regulations all over the World
So by now, you have realized that these drones are for persons who want to fly quadcopters for fun and also for professionals who need to shoot high quality video. But did you know that there are regulations governing the flying of drones in certain areas? Yes; there are many regulations and they differ from country to country and we will discuss a few of them here.
In the United States, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) is the body in charge of setting regulations for drone flying in the US and they stipulate that all drones over 0.55 lbs. must be registered with the government.
Therefore all the quadcopters from our list except for the UDI U818A Wi-Fi FPV RC Quadcopter (weight= 0.0625 lbs.) would have to be registered since they exceed the weight limit of 0.55 lbs. After registration, you would receive a unique identification number which must be placed on your device at all times.
The FAA also has some other rules that drone owners must observe. These include:
- Do not be careless or reckless with your drone; you could be fined for endangering the lives of people or endangering other aircrafts
- Do not fly near stadiums or people
- Do not fly with five miles of an airport unless you have contacted the airport and its control tower ahead of time and gotten the permission to do so
- Do not fly your drone near manned aircrafts- stay far away from them
- Keep your drone within your visual line of sight at all times
- Fly your drone below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles
Canada has similar regulations that state that drones must be registered if they weigh more than 77.2 lbs. Transport Canada encourages drone owners to think of safety first when they fly their drones.
They encourage them to fly their drones during daylight and in good weather and also to respect the privacy of others by not taking videos or photographs of people without their prior consent nor fly their drones over private property.
Drones are regulated with a fairly light touch in Greece and their main rule is that drones must not be flown over populated areas. Countries like New Zealand, Mexico and Brazil are great places to fly your quadcopters because there are not laws that ban the US of certain drones. They just simply encourage you to use common sense.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.