So you’ve found yourself interested in the high-octane sport of drone racing. And who can blame you? Drone racing is an adrenaline-pumping, heart-pounding test of both man and machine.
Racing drones is a fast and furious sport that requires split-second decisions and quick reflexes. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves; before you can race like a pro, you need to know how to fly your drone as a beginner. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do just that.
Step 1: Choose the Right Drone.
The machine is just as important as the pilot in drone racing. You need a drone that’s lightweight, fast, and agile.
But most importantly, you need a drone that you’re comfortable flying. There are two main types of drones: ready-to-fly (RTF) and build-your-own (Kit).
RTF drones are just what they sound like: you buy them, and they’re ready to fly right out of the box. These are usually the best option for beginners because they’re simple to set up and easy to fly.
RTF drones are typically more expensive than kits, but they’re worth the extra money if you’re just starting out. They usually cost between $100 and $1,000. Some beginner-friendly RTF drones include:
- The DJI Mavic Mini
- Hubsan H501S X4
- Blade Nano QX2 FPV.
Check out Drone Flyer to learn more about the latest in the drone-flying community.
If you’re the DIY type (with some pre-existing knowledge of drone assembling), you might want to consider building your drone.
Kits usually come with everything you need to build a drone, including the frame, motors, speed controllers, flight controllers, and propellers. With a kit, you must assemble the drone and install any custom parts or software.
Building your drone is usually cheaper than buying an RTF drone, but it’s also more time-consuming and requires some knowledge of how drones work. Some popular drone kits include:
- The Flite Test Mini Scout
- The ImpulseRC Helix
- The Lumenier QAV250.
Step 2: Familiarize Yourself With the Controls
Now that you have your drone, it’s time to learn how to control it. All drones have four main controls: throttle, pitch, yaw, and roll.
You use the throttle to control how fast your drone’s motors spin. This, in turn, determines how high or low your drone is flying. In most cases, the throttle is controlled by a knob or lever on the remote control.
Pitch refers to how the nose of your drone moves up and down. When you pitch your drone, the nose points up and starts to fly forward.
When you pitch your drone down, the nose points down and starts to fly backward. In most cases, the pitch is controlled by a joystick on the remote control.
If the pitch controls how the nose of your drone moves up and down, then the yaw controls how it turns left and right. When you yaw to the left, your drone will rotate clockwise. When you yaw to the right, your drone will rotate counterclockwise. In most controllers, the yaw is controlled by a knob or lever on the remote control.
Envision your drone like an airplane: when you roll to the left or right, your drone will tilt in that direction and start to fly in a sideways direction. Like the other controls, the roll is usually controlled by a joystick on the remote control.
The roll is not to be confused with the yaw; even though they both make your drone turn, they do it in different ways. The roll makes your drone tilt to the side and flies sideways, while the yaw makes your drone rotate in a circle.
Step 3: Do a Pre-Flight Checklist
Before you take your drone out for a spin, it’s important to do a pre-flight checklist. This will help ensure that your drone is in good condition and that everything is working properly.
Here’s a quick pre-flight checklist:
- Check the battery level and make sure it’s fully charged.
- Inspect the drone for any damage, including cracks or loose parts.
- Check the propellers to make sure they’re securely attached and undamaged.
- If you’re using a First Person View (FPV) drone, check the camera and video transmitter to make sure they’re working properly.
- Make sure the remote control has fresh batteries and that it’s working properly.
NOTE: Do not skip this step. The pre-flight checklist is crucial to ensure that your drone is safe to fly.
Step 4: Take Off and Landing
Now it’s time for the fun part: flying your drone! The first thing you need to do is take off the propeller guards (if your drone has them). Next, find an open area where you can practice flying without worrying about crashing into something.
But before you take off, there are a few things you need to know.
Most drones have an auto-takeoff feature that lets you take off with the push of a button. If your drone doesn’t have this feature, you’ll need to take off manually.
To do this, slowly increase the throttle until the drone lifts off the ground. Remember that it’s important to be gentle when taking off; if you give it too much throttle, the drone will fly erratically and crash.
When you’re ready to land, slowly decrease the throttle until the drone hovers above the ground. Then, carefully lower it down until it’s resting on the ground.
Like with takeoffs, it’s important to be gentle when landing; if you give it too much throttle, the drone could topple over. The key to takeoff and landing is to be slow and steady.
Step 5: Flying Your Drone
Now that you know how to take off and land, it’s time to start flying your drone! There are a few basic maneuvers you need to know to fly your drone properly.
One of the most important skills you need to master is how to hover. To do this, simply increase the throttle until the drone is hovering at your desired altitude.
Once the drone is hovering, you can make small adjustments to the throttle to keep it at that altitude. Remember to be gentle with the throttle; if you give it too much, the drone will rise or fall.
To turn your drone, you’ll need to use the yaw control. As we mentioned before, the yaw is what makes your drone rotate left or right.
To turn left, simply yaw to the left. To turn right, yaw to the right. Remember that the yaw is not to be confused with the roll; the roll makes your drone tilt to the side, while the yaw makes it rotate. Always turn slowly to avoid losing control of the drone.
Moving Forward and Backward
To move your drone forward or backward, you’ll need to use the pitch control. As we mentioned before, the pitch is what makes your drone fly forward or backward. Move the stick forward to fly forward, and back to fly backward.
Remember to be slow and steady when moving the drone. The reason you need to be careful is that the pitch also controls the drone’s altitude. So if you give it too much pitch, it will start to rise (or fall) and could crash.
Moving Left and Right
To move your drone left or right, you’ll need to use the roll control. Handle the roll just like you would the pitch; move the stick to the left to fly left, and to the right to fly right.
Remember that the roll also controls how your drone turns. So if you give it too much roll, it will start to rotate (instead of flying straight).
And voilà! You now know the basics of how to fly a drone. Of course, there’s a lot more to learn if you want to become a master drone pilot. But these basic maneuvers will help you get started and avoid crashing your drone. Good luck!