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Drone racing has begun to go mainstream recently with large sponsorships and even network coverage by ESPN. Why shouldn’t you get to race in some of the same awesome courses you can find on TV and YouTube?
Drone race courses can be simple or elaborate. They can be setup in the most remote places in the wilderness or in your backyard. That gives them a great sense of versatility and excitement. If you want a cool setting, here are some places you should definitely consider for your next drone meetup.
1. City Park
The local park is often one of the best places because it usually consists of well maintained, flat, grassy areas. Trees provide the dual benefit of obstacles and shade to your course. What’s not to love?
Well, your number one problem (as is with anywhere you race) is pedestrians. You may have to worry about more than just trees such as joggers, dog walkers, and the occasional mime.
Find an area that is not frequented and go at times when you know nobody else will be there.
The fresh breeze, wild animals, and poop on the ground everywhere. No, it is not the San Diego Zoo. We call this little thing “nature”, and you should explore it more.
Find a trail off the beaten path, and use that as part of your course. Most trails aren’t short, circular tracks. So you’ll want to clearly mark out where the other turns are.
The most important thing is being able to locate your quadcopter after you crash. It is easy to lose it in thick brush. So make sure you have beepers attached, and bring SD cards for your FPV goggles if it supports them. It is way easier to play back the footage to track your last flight path.
3. High School Track/Football Field
Just looking at a track makes me tired. That’s why I prefer to let my drone do the heavy running.
On weekends, often times nobody is around. It also provides a nicely manicured area. Unlike the parking garage or house, there aren’t many features out there to mark a course with. Bring along some cones, flags or airgates. Then, you’ll be ready to start your own drone Olympics.
Tip: use the surrounding bleachers to extend the course size and level of difficulty.
4. Abandoned Warehouse/Factory
The old, run-down factory in your industrial sector isn’t just for Scooby-Doo to explore. This can be one of the coolest places to race.
These buildings are often “customized” with graffiti and broken dreams. And they can provide obstacles and features which you just can’t find in other places. These may include concrete pylons, large windows to transitions inside/outside, smoke stacks and more.
The downside is that these places also tend to attract vagrants and unsavory types. If that isn’t enough, you may have to contend with structural issues, hazardous objects, and even rats.
This isn’t for little kids or the faint of heart. Make sure you have the owner’s permission before setting foot on the property.
5. Home Sweet Home
Dorothy got it right when she said, “There’s no place like home.” Sometimes it’s better to race while just relaxing comfortably in your underwear.
Setup flags and cones that circle around your house for a quick DIY course. Try opening a couple of large windows and couple of doors. Bam! You just made an indoor/outdoor course.
Also, the only permission you need is from your mum. The downside is that space is usually limited and items tend to be breakable. So whip out your mini drone, and you should be good to go.
6. Parking Garage
Who would have thought that a parking garage could have multiple uses? It turns out that it can be one of the best places to race. Most garages are built in a type of circular shape which naturally lends itself to an oval track.
The trick is to find one that doesn’t wind upwards so that you can have one, long oval. Concrete pylons become the perfect turn markers. Once you find a great spot, make sure the level is completely empty to avoid incidents with cars. I’m willing to bet you don’t have drone collision insurance.
These also tend to be well lit which is great for night racing. The weekend at night is usually the best time to go since most people work 9-5. Again, get permission first or you may find yourself explaining, “well officer, drone racing is where you…”
7. RC Field
Sometimes it is nice to go where you know you fit in. Basketball players have their courts, baseball has its diamond, and RC groups have their airfields.
If you’re lucky enough to have a designated RC field in your area, then take advantage of it. These areas are often like parks where they provide long, grassy areas to crash, I mean to land in. Unlike a city park, nobody will give you any problems for flying too close and scaring Benji.
Not sure if you have one in your area? Try Meetup.com and search for RC or FPV groups. You may find some other great resources in the process.
Bonus: The Campground Drone Race
I’m a big fan of camping. I’m a big fan of drones. What to do, what to do?
Anytime I can combine things that you love into a new activity, well that’s a win in my book. Camping is a perfect time for drone flying anyways. You’ve got lots of time to explore and lots of space to do it in.
Just make sure you stay far away from any lakes, and bring extra batteries and props. A portable battery charger can be your best friend here.
Tip: tent poles and t-shirts make nice, quick airgates. Gather a few together, and voila… travel popup gates!
Did we leave out your favorite spot? Please let us know in the comment section below