There are a few different aspects of the drone that drone pilots always crave to expand, and speed is one of them. Therefore today we are going to talk about how you can boost your drone speed. Shortly, the combination of proper selection of components, customization, and fine-tuning is the main recipe to achieve the drone’s optimal speed. In this article, we will talk about each aspect of that recipe detailed to help you to boost your drone speed and unlock its full potential.
- Reduce overall weight.
- Optimize the aerodynamics of the body.
- Upgrade to a higher voltage drone battery.
- Use a high-quality, low-resistance power distribution board (PDB).
- Upgrade motors with higher thrust and RPM.
- Improve motor cooling.
- Upgrade to high-performance electronic speed controllers (ESCs).
- Fine-tune PID settings.
1. Reduce overall weight.
Lighten the drone’s overall weight can help with boosting the drone’s speed as then the drone has plenty of force just to obtain higher speeds which were previously used for gaining height and stabilizing. Below are the common ways you can reduce the drone’s overall weight.
- Choose lightweight frame materials such as carbon fiber.
- When assembling the drone, consider lightweight versions of components such as motors, electronic speed controllers, flight controllers, and cameras.
- If the drone carries a payload such as a camera or additional accessories, consider lighter alternatives or minimize the payload’s weight as possible.
- Consider 3D printing certain parts of your drone to create lightweight and custom-designed components.
2. Optimize aerodynamics.
Optimizing the drone’s design aerodynamics is also so important if it’s possible for you. Unnecessary protrusions or bulky structures can create drag and affect the optimal speed the drone can achieve. Designing the drone with a streamlined shape can make the drone cut through the air more efficiently and increase its top speed. Below are some strategies to optimize drone aerodynamics.
- Consider an aerodynamic drone frame with smooth contours and reduced protrusions. Also, try using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software or wind tunnel testing to refine the design.
- Consider a frame with less frontal area as it decreases the amount of air resistance the drone encounters.
- Ensure that the surfaces of your drone are smooth and free from imperfections. Rough or uneven surfaces can cause turbulence and increase drag.
- Consider minimizing the use of propeller guards if they are not necessary.
- Finally, Perform flight tests and measure key parameters such as speed, flight time, and responsiveness to identify areas for improvement.
3. Upgrade to a higher voltage battery.
Switching to a battery with a higher voltage would supply more power to the motors and increase speed. 4S LiPo, 5S LiPo, 6S LiPo, and 7S LiPo are some common higher-voltage LiPo batteries used for drones. Sometimes upgrading to a higher voltage battery may require corresponding changes in other components such as the ESCs and flight controller.
Upgrading the battery to a higher voltage battery can increase drone speed in the following ways.
- High-voltage batteries can provide the potential for the motors to spin at higher RPMs. Therefore the drone can generate more thrust, resulting in increased forward propulsion and higher speed.
- Higher voltage batteries provide a higher initial burst of power, which translates into quicker acceleration. Then the drone can reach its top speed faster, enhancing its overall speed performance.
4. Use a low-resistance power distribution board (PDB).
Building the drone with a low-resistance power distribution board (PDB) can improve the efficiency of power supply to the components and increase drone speed. Below are some points explaining how a low-resistance power distribution board can increase the drone’s speed.
- When high currents flow through the PDB, higher resistance can occur voltage drops, and reduce the power reaches the motors. By building the drone with low resistance PDB can ensure that more power is available to the motors.
- A low-resistance PDB also reduces heat generation. When resistance is high, more power is wasted as heat in the PDB. By using a low-resistance PDB, less power is lost as heat, allowing more of the battery’s energy to be utilized for propulsion and achieving higher speeds.
Below are some low-resistance power distribution boards (PCB) available on the market.
- Mamba F405 Power Tower: A popular PDB for drones and combines a flight controller and PDB into a single stack, reducing weight and improving efficiency. Also, It offers low-resistance power distribution with reliable voltage regulation.
- T-Motor F55A Pro II: A High-performance PDB specifically designed for racing drones. It has low internal resistance and efficient power distribution. Also, it’s compatible with up to 6S LiPo higher voltage batteries.
- FlightOne RevoltOSD: A combination of the flight controller and PDB which offers low resistance power distribution, integrated OSD, and advanced flight control features.
5. Motor Upgrade.
Upgrading to motors with higher RPM (rotations per minute) can generate higher thrust and spin the propellers at a faster rate and gain greater acceleration and higher top speeds for the drone. Also when upgrading motors, it’s crucial to ensure compatibility with the drone’s frame, power system, and other components.
- Motors with higher RPM capabilities can spin the propellers faster. Therefore the drone can accelerate faster and achieve faster flight speeds.
Below are several drone motors available on the market that are known for providing higher speeds.
- T-Motor F80 Pro: A high-performance motor designed for racing and freestyle drones. Offers excellent thrust and efficiency, making it suitable for achieving high speeds.
- BrotherHobby Avenger V3: A popular choice among drone racing enthusiasts due to its high RPM and responsiveness.
- EMAX RS2306: Also regarded as a high-speed motor for racing drones. Delivers impressive thrust and acceleration, enabling fast and agile flight.
- Lumenier RX2206: Also a popular choice among drone racers. Delivers a good balance of power, speed, and responsiveness, making it suitable for high-speed racing.
6. Improve motor cooling.
Improving drone motor cooling can indirectly contributes to increase drone speed by addressing issues related to motor efficiency, heat dissipation, and performance. Below are some better practices to improve motor cooling.
- Enhance the airflow around the motors by using propellers with a higher pitch or increasing the number of blades. Those modifications can generate more airflow over the motors, facilitating heat transfer and dissipating heat more effectively.
- Ensure that the motors are securely mounted to the frame with proper spacing and isolation.
7. Upgrade to high-performance electronic speed controllers (ESCs) and calibrate.
Consider ESCs that have higher amp ratings and support higher pulse width modulation frequencies for better motor control and responsiveness. Also calibrate it to ensure they are properly synchronized with the flight controller, allowing for smoother and more efficient motor control.
- High performance electronic speed controllers can handle higher current levels and deliver more power to the drone’s motors, resulting in increased speed.
- Also, Some high performance ESCs can handle higher voltage levels (such as 6S or even 8S batteries). So more power can be delivered to the motors, resulting in improved speed and thrust.
- High-performance ESCs provide faster and more precise motor response. This improved responsiveness translates into quicker acceleration and higher top speeds for the drone.
Below are some high performance electronic speed controllers (ESCs) in the current market.
- T-Motor F55A Pro II: Supports up to 6S LiPo battery voltage, has a high continuous current rating, and features BLHeli_32 firmware for smooth and responsive motor control.
- Hobbywing XRotor Pro 50A: Supports 3-6S LiPo batteries, has a high current rating, and features advanced motor control algorithms for precise and efficient performance.
- Holybro Tekko32 F3 45A: Supports 3-6S LiPo batteries, has a high continuous current rating, and features BLHeli_32 firmware for advanced motor control.
- Spedix GS45 45A: Supports up to 6S LiPo batteries, has a high continuous current rating, and features advanced firmware for smooth motor control and enhanced performance.
8. Fine-tune PID settings.
Fine tuning the Proportional Integral, and Derivative (PID) settings on the flight controller optimize motor response and stability, leading to better speed performance. Fine-tuning the PID settings of a drone is an iterative process of adjusting the parameters to achieve optimal flight performance and stability. PID settings can be set through softwares as mentioned below.
- Betaflight Configurator. (Recommended)
- Cleanflight Configurator. (Recommended)
- Baseflight Configurator.
- Butterflight Configurator.
Below are the general steps of approaching to fine-tuning PID settings for a drone.
- Start with the default PID values provided by the drone manufacturer or flight controller software.
- Adjust Proportional (P) Gain: Increase the P gain gradually and observe how the drone responds. Higher P gain amplifies the response to errors, but excessive values can lead to oscillations or instability. Find the P gain value that provides a quick response without introducing oscillations.
- Tune Integral (I) Gain: The I gain helps correct steady-state errors that the P gain alone may not address. Increase the I gain slowly while observing the drone’s behavior. A higher I gain can help the drone maintain steady flight in the presence of external disturbances. However, too much I gain can introduce overshoot or instability.
- Refine Derivative (D) Gain: The D gain helps dampen oscillations caused by rapid changes in error. Gradually increase the D gain to reduce oscillations without introducing additional instability. Finding the appropriate D gain value can improve the drone’s responsiveness and stability.
- Test and Repeat: After adjusting the PID gains, test the drone’s flight performance. Observe how it responds to different inputs, such as throttle changes, pitch, roll, and yaw. Pay attention to any oscillations, overshoot, or sluggishness. Iterate the process by making small adjustments to the gains until you achieve the desired flight characteristics.
- Consider Individual Axes: Fine-tuning PID settings for each axis (roll, pitch, and yaw) independently may be necessary. The drone’s flight controller may provide separate PID settings for each axis, allowing you to optimize them individually.