When I got into Drones (way back in 2015), just like any newbie I was bombarded with so many acronyms that I couldn’t keep up with anything, but what kept eluding me was the difference between DIY-type racing drones (Racing FPV) and the freestyle FPV drones which I used to call DJI or normal drones at the time.
It was only a little later that I found out that both of them are FPVs but one is a racing drone and the other one are freestyle FPV drone. I quite literally hate FPV racing drones because I can’t fly one. I start to feel dizzy just after a few minutes.
So in this post, we’ll uncover the differences between the two so that you don’t have to look around when someone is asking you whether you race FPV or not.
This acronym means First Person View. Most gamers would be familiar with the acronym through games like GTA, etc. It lets you become your drone: quadcopter, plane, robot, vehicle, or whatever machine that can be remotely controlled. FPV perspective gives you the ability to immerse into the mechanical structure and control it as you become one. Yeah, it’s as fun as it sounds.
So What is FPV? The First-person view is predominantly how FPV drones are flown. There is no point in looking at the body of the quad the whole time. Placing the camera at the front for a First-person perspective allows the flyers to easily spot smaller details.
FPV is all about flying a quad very slowly and admiring the beauty of nature from up above (Freestyle FPV) or pushing the limits of a quad to its paces and competing against each other (Racing FPV).
TYPES OF FPV DRONES
As stated above, FPV Drones come under 2 major categories- Freestyle and Racing. There is no significant difference between Freestyle and Racing drones, with the only significant difference being the Drone frame.
Freestyle is a form of art and we all are artists painting from the canvas called nature. Some or most people are Freestyle flyers which involves slow and cinematic flying. Freestyle flying is all about flying close to an object, squeezing your Quad (quad means 4, a typical drone has 4 motors and the name stuck) through the tiniest of gaps, flipping-rolling, and everything in between.
Freestyle drones are not as demanding as Racing quads that require carefully selected parts to save every gram of weight possible. Freestyle drones are meant to be durable and are meant to take abuse. I call them- a poor man’s drone (I once built a freestyle drone with 3 different motors from 3 different manufacturers, and surprisingly the quad flew exceptionally well). The point is, a Freestyle quad will just work even with less-than-perfect components.
Fun Fact: There is a company called Armattan that provides lifetime warranties for all their freestyle frames. If you crash and break your frame; contact their customer support and you get a free replacement part.
Racing drones are meant to go round and round around a track that pushes the limits of the quad. Racing quads are very demanding on the quad with every pilot trying to squeeze the maximum performance out of their setups. The main reason being racing quads almost always flies at full throttle, who wants to go slow in a race right?
Looking from a performance point of view, a Racing drone can have the power to weight ratio of over 12:1 as compared to a Freestyle quad that can get away with a power-to-weight ratio of as little as 4:1. A 12:1 power ratio means that the power generated by the quad at full throttle is 12 times more than the maximum weight of the quad.
Flying a Racing quad requires immediate and short reflexes that only come by practice. Racing drone pilots were most certainly at some point Freestyle quad pilots and gradually moved to the Racing side of quads. Technology has cut short your transition time, cost, and money with FPV drone simulators. The advantage of FPV simulators is that you don’t have a $300 quad on the line, if you ever crash in a simulator it is as easy as pressing a button on your keyboard to reset the model.