The Basics of RC Transmitters for Racing Drones | Drone Racing Report | Vol 25

An RC transmitter, or radio control, is the device you use to control your drone Like your goggles, a transmitter can last for a while so we recommend sparing as much of your budget for a transmitter as you can

Here are some of the features you should know about when selecting a transmitter: The majority of RC transmitters operate at 24GHz, and that will suit most pilots and racing drones It also allows for something called “channel-hopping” which helps reduce interference when multiple pilots are flying However, there are also transmitters that operate at lower frequencies such as 13GHz, 900MHz and 433MHz

While they require larger antennas, they can offer a significant increase in range The RC transmitter must be compatible with the radio receiver on the drone Receivers operate using a certain protocol, and in some cases these can be brand-specific such as TBS Crossfire or Flysky, requiring you to use the matching transmitter However, there are also receivers that use universal protocols such as SBUS, PWM, PCM, and PPM Check to make sure the transmitter you are looking at supports the protocol of your quad’s receiver

A popular option is to choose a good transmitter, then replace the receiver on the quad with one that matches For maximum flexibility, some transmitters feature support for an external module, allowing you to operate using a different protocol or even a different frequency such as 900MHz This allows you to operate multiple drones with different protocols simply by swapping modules on the transmitter The number of channels the transmitter has will determine how much flexibility you have Each channel is used to transmit a piece of information

We recommend a minimum of six for flying racing quads You need four to control the quad: throttle, yaw, pitch, and roll A fifth channel is typically used to arm and disarm the quad, and a sixth to change the flight mode More channels will naturally allow you to add more features to your quad such as a buzzer or RSSI telemetry data While a drone can only be binded to a single transmitter, you can use one transmitter to control multiple drones

If you plan on assembling a small fleet, it is nice to have a transmitter that can store presets for all your different quads Simply select your drone from the list and you’re ready to go Every transmitter is operated by built-in firmware, and OpenTX is something you may wish to consider OpenTX is an open source firmware designed by pilots and is highly-customizable It is compatible with many popular transmitters, and some even come with it already installed

For the most power and flexibility, it is highly recommended Making the right choice is more than just picking the features you want Pay attention to the transmitter itself If you can, try one out so you know how it feels in your hands Pay attention to the size and weight and position of the controls and switches

Comfort is very important, as well as durability This is your connection to your quad, and you want it to feel right The types and quality of the gimbals has a very profound effect on your comfort and control Transmitters use two main types of gimbals: analog and digital Traditional analog gimbals use potentiometers with brushes

Over time, these parts can wear out, especially on the cheaper models “Hall Sensor” gimbals utilize magnets to measure the stick position While pricier, they operate smoothly and precisely and are less prone to wearing out The difference in quality between models and manufacturers can also be quite large The quality of the components will not only affect the durability, but also the performance and feel

Like drones, transmitters are also customizable Gimbals can be replaced in most transmitters, allowing you to start affordably with the option to upgrade the quality and type down the road Better transmitters will naturally provide you with more features and options, such as telemetry warnings, external module support, and the ability to an an external antenna For beginners and those on a tight budget, $50-$60 can get you a solid transmitter with the basic features and minimum number of channels you’ll need to get started The quality and options open up in the $100-$150 range, with more channels, flexibility, and the ability to save presets

We recommend starting in this range, as you’ll quickly be held back by the limitations of basic receivers, especially as you start flying more The options from $200 and up will provide an ever-increasing number of channels, features, quality components, and the ability to swap RF modules If you can afford it, a transmitter in this range will likely last you for many years Have any questions about transmitters, or anything else related to FPV or drone racing? Let us know in the comments You can also visit the Drone Racing International FPV Facebook group to ask the members your questions or share your FPV video

Subscribe to our channel to see our weekly Top-5 Videos chosen from the members Look in the description for links Thanks for visiting Dronucopia, and happy flying!

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