I was able to test a ton of new products during 2017. Here are a few things that stand out for me as I look back over the year. It's mostly RC stuff…but not all!
The science of designing FPV racing quads is far from stable. Power systems, batteries, and flight controllers are still on ever changing trajectories. It seems that your new quad is obsolete before you can even get it airborne. One of the trends I've noticed is that quad frames are getting ever smaller. Not so long ago, 250mm ships were the norm. A snapshot of the current quad market would show many options measuring 150mm or less.
My first thought about smaller frames was that building them would be difficult. That was based on the difficulties that I had cramming all of the necessary gear into the 250mm racer I built a couple of years ago. The flip side is that all of the onboard electronics have become smaller as well. Perhaps my concern is unfounded. I hope to form an experience-based opinion by building a sub-100mm quad in the coming year.
While I did not build a small race quad in 2017, I did test a few factory-built designs. My favorite was the Vortex 150 from Immersion RC. This 150mm quad yields nothing performance-wise to my larger racers. In fact, it is probably the fastest and most maneuverable ship in my multi-rotor fleet.
One of the prime advantages of the smaller generation of quads is that you're dealing with less mass. Less mass means that you're not as likely to break something when you crash…and crashes are inevitable. Less mass also means that the aircraft is able to respond to quick changes in direction more quickly. That's definitely a bonus since the goal is often to dart about like a hummingbird.
A further benefit of the shrinking nature of multi-rotors is that truly great-flying indoor racers are now practical. Indoor FPV racing has become really popular, especially at this time of year. My favorite, and one of the most popular indoor racers is the Blade Inductrix FPV. It is tiny, agile, and tough. While my Inductrix FPV is still box stock, lots of people modify theirs (or build from scratch) with custom motors, flight controllers, frames…you name it. If you want to put your finger on the pulse of indoor quad racing trends, google "tiny whoop" and prepare to spend some time in the rabbit hole.