So you’ve seen the videos, you’ve read the websites, and a friend of yours keeps going on about these cool little flying thingies that people are racing. You’ve decided you want to try this stuff out. Drone Racing looks like a heck of a lot of fun… so where do you start?
One of the first questions pilots and others in the biz get is “That’s so cool! How can I get one of those??” – As you might guess, the answer isn’t simple. It’s like asking “Cars are cool! How can I get one?” It all depends on how much money you want to spend and what you want to get out of it.
For most people, a great first step is something small, inexpensive, and, lets be honest, disposable. Due to the incredible growth in this area, $50 can get you an extremely capable and fun to fly little drone that will give you a taste for what it’s like piloting your own little flying machine. These come pre-built, with transmitter, battery charger, and can also have a built in camera for recording your flights. There’s nothing like viewing your house or your back yard or your street from a drones-eye perspective and sharing it with your friends!
After that, if you’ve enjoyed the small palm-sized machines and want to keep going, the next step is to decide your budget and goals. FPV Drone Racing, like any hobby, can be a time and money sink if you let it. So set expectations before whipping out that credit card and hitting up Amazon, Hobbyking, or Helipal. Decide whether you’ll be building your own drone from parts, or buying a prebuilt machine. In either case, set expectations for each step. Prebuilt drones with FPV capability are available for not a lot of money. Decide if you’re going to be looking at a flat screen or through goggles. Flat screen FPV drones can be gotten complete for less than $150, but once you make the decision to go to goggles, expect that price to double and triple super fast!
Last but not least, if you do decide to build your own and start competing with the big boys, do your homework! Building a drone from parts is a complex, time consuming, and expensive proposition. It can also be the most rewarding aspect of the entire hobby. What you build will be yours and yours alone. You built it, you race it, you can repair it.