With the different drone racing classes and drone racing specs required for FPV pilots, it can be a little confusing at first. With the drone racing season underway and the sport rapidly growing, many new pilots are entering league events and races for the first time. This brings up many questions about where you and your drone fit.
Although there is some variation, races typically fall into several classifications. These drone racing classifications are
- based on the size of the quad
- the size of the battery
- or both
Why is there different drone racing classes?
Having different drone racing classes and drone racing specs are important for a few reasons.
- They level the playing field so one pilot doesn’t have an advantage over another by using more powerful equipment. This allows the pilot’s skill to win the race, not their equipment.
- Team builds can be planned knowing that their drone will be accepted into competition as long as guidelines are adhered to.
- To ensure radio equipment is compatible with fellow pilot’s equipment as to not cause interference.
Drone Racing Classes and Drone Racing Specs
Tiny Whoop Class Drone Racing
The first and smallest drone racing class is the Tiny Whoop.
Looked upon as toys by some, the Tiny Whoops racing class are fast, maneuverable, and fun to fly. Drones in the Tiny Whoop racing class are small and have protected props making them perfect for indoor events, small venues, and exhibitions.
Tiny Whoop Class Specifications
Generally limited to a 1s LiPo battery and roughly 1 inch propellers.
Tiny Whoop drone examples.
Micro Class Drone Racing
A step up from the Tiny Whoop
Micro racing quads typically sport a 2s LiPo battery and weigh only a handful of ounces. Props are normally in the 2-3 inch range.
Micros are also great for indoor events and smaller venues, but still provide exciting racing. Their slightly larger configuration also allows for more custom modification than a Tiny Whoop.
The next level starts bringing us into the more serious racing classes.
These classes are normally organized by the battery size limit, with classes for 3s, 4s, and even 6s LiPo powered racing quads.
There are also often requirements based on the size of the frame as well.
How are Drone Racing Quad frames measured?
Drone Racing Quad frames are measured diagonally from motor to motor. This size will determine the components you can use, like the size of battery and props.
3 s and 4 s drone racing quads can have frames up to 300mm, with props up to 5 or 6 inches.
Open Class Drone Racing
The Open Class allows you to use any size quad or battery you choose with only a few limitations.
In MultiGP League’s “Open Class” only limits the weight at 800g, with no limits for the frame and prop size or the battery type.
The International Drone Racing Association only requires that your drone is battery powered, rotor propelled, and piloted by FPV, in addition to having LED lighting installed.
In these open class events, there is only the practical limitation brought by the course layout and the size of the gates, challenging the pilots to build the best quad to get the job done.
The FAI Drone Racing World Cup series has a single classification for their events. It allows up to a 4s LiPo battery, 330mm frame size, and 6” propellers. Limitations include a maximum 15° tilt on
the motors, and a ban on metal propellers and prop guards.
Many leagues including the Drone Racing World Cup now also strongly encourage LED lighting, while some even require it. This is mostly to improve the fan experience, making it easier to see and identify the drones during a race.
For the same reason, the pilot’s callsign is now often required on their FPV display as well.
Stock Class Drone Racing
There are also a lot of stock racing events out there, where every pilot uses a drone with the exact same setup. The most famous example right now is the Drone Racing League, where every pilot uses the exact same drone, just with different colors.
Stock races also can pop up to accompany larger open-class events, and are sometimes sponsored by a racing quad manufacturer. The IDRA events at the Dutch Comicon and Denver Internationals both featured stock events, with pilots flying a Vortex 150 at the first and a UVify Draco at the second.
Drone Racing Video Transmitter Specifications
Many races will also set requirements for the video transmitter. In many cases there will be a limitation on the max output.
MultiGP – Tiny Whoops are limited to 25 mW, Micros at 200 mW, and all other classes up to 250 mW.
FAI Drone Racing World Cup – The video transmitter is most often determined by the local rules and regulations of the host country and are set for each event.
Most events and leagues will also require that the frequency can be changed quickly and easily to avoid conflicts with other pilots.
If you want to join a league or enter a race, make sure to check the quad requirements and racing class limitations first.
Racing events and leagues will post the drone racing classes and drone racing specs for FPV pilots well in advance of a race, or list the classes and requirements on their websites.
Find a class that suits you and your drone, or build one to spec and enter a race.
Get involved. And have fun!
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