All of the quadcopter parts are ready for assembly.
The assembly is finished and the quadcopter is
ready for flight testing.
At the 2014 Heli Extravaganza, held at Triple Tree Aerodrome in Woodruff, South Carolina,
I got my first taste of FPV racing. A
course was set up on the southern side
of the 3-D line that consisted of yellow
caution tape to mark the way, with a
few natural obstacles thrown into the
My friend, Tim King, was responsible
for the course layout, and he offered
to let me use his 250-class FPV
quadcopter to race the course. After a
few laps, I was hooked, and unofficially
achieved the fastest lap time! Of
course, when Tim got his quadcopter
back, the propellers were slightly
shorter and an antenna may or may not
have been broken (I think it was like
that before I started!).
There is a certain amount of sheer
exhilaration associated with FPV flying,
and that exhilaration is increased
exponentially when you add racing
to the mix! Outside of helicopters, I
enjoy Pylon Racing, so it wasn’t much
of a leap for me to get interested in
FPV racing. As the Heli Extravaganza
wound down, I vowed that I would
build my own 250 FPV quadcopter
racer for this year’s race!
Fast forward to 11 months later,
and here I am scrambling to get one
together before I headed to Triple Tree
in September. I’m definitely late to the
party with this one! I turned to the
man who gave me my first taste of FPV
racing, Tim, and together we figured
out what the best setup would be.
My strategy for building this racer
was simple: build it cheap. I should
actually say inexpensive because cheap
is not really the right word. My logic
was that I would be racing hard—right on the ragged edge—so there would
inevitably be crashes along the way. As much punishment as this thing was going
to take, I wanted it to be tough and inexpensive—something that could take a
licking and keep on ticking!
There are some basic things you need to build your own quadcopter racer.
You will need an airframe, motors, ESCs, a flight controller, propellers, and your
chosen FPV equipment.
I planned my build in two stages. First, I would build the aircraft, fly it, and
tune it. Second, I planned to add the FPV gear. There is a plethora of software
available to go along with a build, so tinkerers should be happy!
I am overwhelmed by the variety of available flight controllers. A basic flight
controller contains a three-axis gyro and accelerometers. They range in price from
approximately $15 and up.
After talking with Tim and another friend and fellow pilot, I decided to go with
an OpenPilot CopterControl 3D CC3D Atom flight controller, which I purchased
from Anderson R/C, my local hobby shop. This is a newer-generation controller
that has been reduced in size. So far, so good, but now I have to decide which
software to use.
119 Model Aviation DECEMBER 2015