First Person Drone (FPV) drone racing looks easy but it takes many hours to become a proficient pilot. You can make the most out of your practice if you set a goal for each flying session and work hard at building the muscle memory needed to be one step ahead of the competition. Here are some tips that I hope you find useful to make you a faster, safer, and more confident flyer.
VISION IS CRITICAL – If you are going to invest money into your kit, put it into video hardware because it's difficult to fly at your full potential if you can’t see clearly. Using a brand-name FPV Camera and Video Transmitter (VTx) with a high-quality antenna is a good start. If the budget allows, a quality Video Receiver (Rx) and goggles will ensure you have the best picture possible.
BE SMOOTH – Your vision is the most important link to your quad and flying smooth makes it easier to concentrate. Smoother flying means less disorientation so you can easily spot the next gate or flag which translates to faster lap-times.
SLOW DOWN – Many pilots build high-end copters that exceed their abilities. If you find yourself getting out of control, over-correcting, or shooting past your corners, set a goal to fly no more than 75% around the race track for a few packs. By slowing down, you can work on smoother race lines and transitions. You can increase the speed every other pack to keep it exciting but go back to the slow speed on the next pack. Repeat this and I think you’ll be very surprised at how much more relaxed and smooth your flying becomes.
THROTTLE CONTROL – Set a goal during a flying session to try and stay under a 10ft ceiling. It’s easy to do in a straight line but if you are on a course that has features such as slaloms, sweeper turns, and hairpins, staying low becomes increasingly difficult. You will find that it takes a lot of throttle adjustments to maintain consistent altitude. If the race course features gates, 5’ MultiGP gates for example, fly at gate height because the time wasted letting off the throttle to lower your altitude could have been used to accelerate towards the gate instead and better your time. This doesn't mean you have to fly under 10' all the time, it means that if you ever have to fly low, you can do it with confidence.
MEASURE YOUR PROGRESS - A great tool to measure your progression is to use a timing system such as the ImmersionRC LapRF puck which announces your lap-time when you cross the finish line. If you want to know that the effort you are putting into your technique is working, the LapRF will tell you.
BE SAFE - Know your flying-field and what’s beyond it. Safety is of the upmost importance when flying because nobody is immune to a failsafe or hardware failure that can cause your quad to fall out of the sky. Having a safe place to fly lets you put all your attention into your practice. If you are dodging dogs or people, pack up immediately. Not only that, by having an area where you won’t damage property or injure people, it secures a reliable place to practice. Remember that a bad accident can have a negative effect on all the pilots in your community.
If you found this to be helpful, let us know! If there is enough interest, maybe I should create a Tips and Tricks series?