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Design Brief

Problem Statement:  We wanted a way to learn how to fly drones both in line-of-sight and also using FPV.  We wanted to be able to adjust, build, and fix our own simple FPV drones for racing.

Deadline:  2 months (4th quarter)

Audience & Scope:  Interested students at Lathrop

Criteria:  We wanted to be able to practice FPV drone flying and also host small-scale races of 4-8 drones at a time in various spaces in the school.

Constraints:  We were limited by our beginning knowledge of drones and FPV hardware and options.  We were also limited to a budget of $750 for our entire setup because that was all the grant money we had to spend.

THE BUILD

The spring of 2018 our engineering group found some extra time and a little bit of left over (and expiring) grant money to spend on something fun and engineering related.  We brainstormed different ideas when the students burried in our Aerospace Engineering class suggested that “we should learn how to race drones”.  We did some research into different types of FPV drone racing setups – from very simple and cheap to very complex and expensive – and eventually found a complete setup that could get us flying short competitive races within a few weeks.

Feedback & Future Steps

All-in-all, the eight weeks of drone racing went really well and the system is complete and together and will be easy to jump back into any time in the future.  The biggest positives were that it gave our drone flyers (both experience and novice) a chance to get together and learn to fly a new simple drone.  It also gave everyone experience flying both line-of-site and truly FPV.  Everyone eventually acknowledged the benefits of limiting your view to only what the drone could see, and everyone could see the potential benefits of immersive environments like FPV goggles.  Another big positive is that we’ve already been able to use the drone racing setup as a showcase event at different outreach opportunities.  It’s fun to try and make things fly, and as we try to recruit incoming 8th graders into the engineering program, the drones have been a great tool.

The next time we embrace our drone racing club, we’ll 

Total Build Time

  • about 4 hours per week for 8 weeks

Materials

  • 8 Inductrix FPV quadcopters
  • 8 View screens & controllers (included with drones)
  • 32 extra batteries
  • 8 Battery-powered LED racing gates
  • Extra replacement parts (props, motors, etc)
  • 1 rainbow propeller beanie (as a racing prize)
  • 1 pair of Overwatch Fingerless Gloves (as a racing prize)