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I'm looking for the best, reasonably priced FPV racing drone to start with. I would use a local shop but sadly there are none in a good distance from where I live. I have looked around quite a bit and it seems there is a wide variety of price and quality.

What would be good options to start with as I think it's really interesting but don't want to fully commit to it by spending a huge stack of money on the best stuff and then figuring out it wasn't quite what I expected? I've had some fly time with an FPV drone so no need to tell me to try one out before buying.

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    $\begingroup$ Are you looking for an RTF (ready to fly) or RTB (ready to bind) purchase or are you interested in assembling a drone yourself? Some of the best deals can be had at the level of individual components. Plus it's a great learning experience to assemble one yourself. $\endgroup$ – ifconfig Aug 19 at 20:26
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think it's possible to provide a definitive answer to this question, as it will change every few months. Also components exist on a spectrum of quality and features, spending more gets you more. fpvknowitall.com attempts to keep track of the current market. $\endgroup$ – Robin Bennett Aug 20 at 8:09
  • $\begingroup$ @ifconfig tbh i wouldnt mind both $\endgroup$ – NoahResch Aug 20 at 9:16
  • $\begingroup$ @NoahResch Both what? $\endgroup$ – ifconfig Aug 20 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ The Ryze Tello is a good starter drone, according to lots of articles. $\endgroup$ – Sovereign Inquiry Aug 23 at 18:53
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let me clarify a few things that may help you decide on direction, if any, to take. Your question is not really something anyone can objectively answer because you need to consider what your level of dedication to FPV is first. And of course rand loyalty is nothing short of a cult like relationship (#kiss)

Off the shelf "racing drones" don't exist. The term "racing" is applied everywhere, but very few units will compete against real custom drones.

A racing drone is a bad teacher I would not recommend that path for a first unit.

First - you must learn to fly FPV (rate/acro format) first, and a real racing drone with a high camera angle and a drivetrain for racing is a recipe for a bag of broken drone parts. A mellow drone to learn on, including LoS (line of sight) is key. Generally speaking the learning curve generates a lot of damage.

But if you want an RTF "racing drone" buy one form GetFPV or a similar larger vendor.

As a pilot with over 10k flights and the distinct opportunity to coach and train many people on FPV flight over the years I highly recommend using a small repairable RTF and learning how to fly, land, gap, and not get hurt first.

Next is your level of dedication. To fly FPV effectively you need to be able to scratch build and repair. Drones, especially racing units, break a lot and you need to have a pit crew (usually yourself). Anything other than full dominion on your build is a waste of time.

The #1 problem in FPV is "going cheap". If budget is a concern walk away right now.

I DO NOT RACE but each of my 5" builds are similar in spec to a racing unit. Here are my operational costs as a dedicated FPV pilot. Each 5" unit is $500-1200 in the air + my goggles (modded, high end) $700, controller (upgraded+customized) $500. Batteries are minimum $40 per and I am lucky to get 20 solid flights before sag hits, then another 20-30 before retired. So $1/flight in battery, when I factor in other year to year decay it costs me about $2-3/flight. I keep around 100 batteries active, a minimum 10 is required for a typical session. With the exception of new builds I spend about $200/month in upkeep for a modest fleet - comparable to any racer. I mention this because the hobby (not a sport) is quite expensive, lots of breaks, tons of crap gear and advice.

I don't mean to discourage you, but to race or fly with any serious intent is a legit commitment. The #1 path to success is having a friend teach and support you. I blew 3 ESCs on my first build's first power up - an experience like that is very common. I buy motors in multiples of 5 because they go poof. Everything I do is aimed to have high quality builds and minimal down time and repair.

As for the learning curve - the path I suggest is getting the right controller first and connecting USB to a simulator. If you ever bail, the transmitter will not loose a lot of value. After that get a cheap $90 nano unit and learn to fly LoS, exercises like "walking the dog" for LoS flight will teach you how the drone reacts in the world, knowledge critical for safe and sustained FPV flight. From there, grab either a nice RTF or start building. 5" drones are more expensive, but smaller units are a more difficult build from scratch. I consider 5" @500-700g AUW to be the sweet spot.

I may not be the norm, but despite an aviation background, all of my childhood and adult life playing video games, and having a lot of RC experience, FPV flight was very hard for me to master. I made a lot of mistakes and my post here is intended to make you, or anyone, think about the reality of FPV. There is a lot of peripheral gear and disposable elements plus a lot of breakage all the time (if racing or pushing the envelope). I knew the first time I saw FPV (via Trappy in 2012) that this was the hobby for the rest of my life. If you feel that way too - jump in.

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    $\begingroup$ Although I agree with your statement here, it might be a bit too much scaring for a beginner. I think you can get a feel of the hobby for a much lower startup cost. Some of the equipment might need an upgrade later but at that point you know this is the hobby for you. For 250 USD you can buy JB's Xilo kit, 100 USD for a decent box goggle, CHL batteries are 16 USD each, 50 USD for a charger and 150 USD for a radiomaster radio and you are ready to go. I started with some similar low cost stuff and gradually upgraded my equipment as I grew into the hobby. $\endgroup$ – Flyback FPV Aug 25 at 12:56
  • $\begingroup$ Buy good goggles and get a cheap whoop-ish unit. To learn on anything bigger is going to be expensive. Despite aviation background, tons of RC, and a lot of flight video games, FPV took work to learn rate, throttle control, how to read the motor sounds, radio engineering, stable builds, good form bad parts, and how to avoid crashes and build (field) repairable units. FWIW, I didn't mention how racing is still illegal in the US (unless you are 107 on 25mw no HAM) - no prizes, no sponsorship, nothing - no pecuniary gain because the FCC and FAA rules conflict. Not that the FAA can enforce. $\endgroup$ – Marc the Janitor Aug 25 at 22:32
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I would recommend starting with a so called tiny whoop like a TinyHawk. There are also some beginner kits availible, for example the BETAFPV starter kit or the TinyHawk starter kit.

If you rather want to build the drone yourself, you could follow this playlist. This, however, means that you will have to buy the controller and goggles yourself. If you want recommendations for that too, the EV800D is a grate pair of budget goggles and the TX16S is probably the controller to go with.

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