5 tips to be a faster drone racer
Up until about September last year, I wasn't too serious about the racing side of miniquads. Of course, I would always be keen to attend events and such, but up until our trip down south to race in Nelson, I had never wanted to focus on getting fast and winning.
However, during race day in Nelson, a feeling of competitiveness came over me, and I wanted to be as fast as possible! I ended up coming 3rd that day, but that was through the luck of avoiding crashes, not speed. Phil and Ashton (1st and 2nd) were still miles ahead of me and Sean (4th).
This ignited the flame of competition for me, and since then I have been working heavily on getting faster. I feel like I've been achieving this goal, so I would like to share with you some tips to help you achieve your speedy goals!
We'll focus on gear tips first, then go into technique.
Number 1: Camera tilt.
Raising my tilt was a huge benefit for me, especially on my light quad. It changes where the thrust goes when you're looking at the horizon.
Instead of the thrust going mostly down the the ground and pushing you up, more of the thrust goes horizontally and pushes you forward. This also changes the charactaristic of Roll and Yaw.Since the FC controls Yaw, Pitch and Roll relative to the prop line, having a higher camera tilt will cause roll to turn you flatter, as if it almost looks like you're using yaw. This makes flying become much more "point and shoot" because wherever your camera is pointing is where you'll go thanks to the extra horizontal thrust.
I hope that makes sense! This is something I highly recommend! Either work your way up to 45 degrees and beyond, or just go straight to 50 degrees and deal with it until you're used to it. You'll know what I mean.
Number 2: Building.
Another tip I recommend is reliable building. It's good to have at least 2 identical quads that you have purpose built for racing. I personally have 3 of exactly the same quad.
Now I know for some people it's not really financially viable to have 3 identical quads, but if you start getting serious, I don't recommend having 3 DIFFERENT quads for racing. Having spare quads mean it's easy to swap out in the middle of a race if you break something, and having them all the same means that there is minimal difference in the way they fly.
Not only that, but when you buy additional spare parts, the spares you buy can be used on all of your quads as well. This tip doesn't actually make you faster, but it increases the amount of time you're in the air so you can practice more.
Number 3: Now we can move onto some technique.
There's a difference between "going fast" and "getting fast lap times". Quite often, I see people flying "fast" but still getting slow lap times. Their quad is physically going fast, but the lap times, or end position don't reflect that.
This is usually because they are gunning it to each gate or flag, but when they reach said obstacles, they take the corners too wide, or pause too long when lining up the next obstacle, or even missing lines altogether. If this sounds like you, then I'd like to help! If you feel like you're going fast on straights, but feeling shakey or blowing out corners, then I encourage you to just... Slow down... Sounds counterintuitive, but if you slow down, it means you can take smoother, tighter lines.
One reason peoples corners get blown out is because they're going too fast through a gate, turning too late, and having the momentum of the quad take them too far out of the corner. So slow down, focus on tighter lines, and as you become more comfortable with tighter lines, you will also start increasing your speed, naturally.
Number 4: Look where you're going mate!
This follows the theme of tighter lines.
A good way to get tighter lines is to think ahead! Start turning for the next gate/flag as you're going through the current obstacle. Try and line up your current gate in a way that you can "look" toward the next one.
"Look where you're going" also applies to Split S and Power Loop style gates. Always try to keen the top of those gates in your camera view. It will save you any uncertainty about where your next obstacle is, and it means you can line up your shot as you're taking it. This all works better with the higher camera tilt that I was talking about earlier.
You'll look at a the center of a gate, blip the throttle, and go there. It's awesome!
Number 5: Lower your rates!
Lowering my rates was super beneficial!!! Running low rates means you have a LOT more room on the sticks so you can be much more precise.
High rates are generally too twitchy for me personally, so lowering them down really helped me be more smooth and precise. I use FlightOne (Formerly RaceFlight), and in FlightOne, you can choose preset rates.
I'm currently using the BrainDrain preset, which is 280deg/s Yaw, 300deg/s Pitch, and 320deg/s Roll. It's ridiculously low for some people, but I suggest you try at least close to it, because it's something that has helped me a lot!
There we have it! 5 tips to help you get faster on the track! Increase you camera tilt, have reliable builds and spares, work on tighter lines (by slowing things down), look where you're going (either at your next obstacle as ealy as possible, or toward the next line), and drop those rates down! Racing at 1000deg/s rates is really really hard!
I hope this has helped you, share some of your own tips in the blog comments if you like!
Thanks for reading,
Posted: Monday 7 May 2018