Guinness link: Fastest ground speed by a battery-powered remote-controlled (RC) quadcopter

***This page will be slowly updated over the next several days***

DEDICATED TO: My late mom and dad. They may not have been here but I know they were watching.

Also, a special thanks to ROBOFORCERX2000 for starting me on this crazy journey.

Contents:

  1. Brief Overview
  2. Specs
  3. Video
  4. Other Videos
  5. The NOT Very Glamorous Speed Record
  6. The crew
  7. Is it a quadcopter?
  8. Practice Day
    • Flight List and Blackbox File links
  9. Attempt Day
    • Flight List and Blackbox File links
  10. Analysis of Results
  11. Future Development
  12. Frame Kits?

Brief Overview

This world record started out in late 2016 as a personal challenge to see if I could break 150 mph. A year later, the custom built VXR frame hit 172 mph using a 5S battery – I didn’t expect progress to go this well, so I pushed further. After the 172 mph speed caught the eye of a few of the right people, they helped to hone my aerodynamic skills to the point where I attempted a world record in Scottsdale, AZ on April 7, 2018 with the XLR 1 frame. The official average speed was enough for the record (195.99 mph, 202.11 mph max)), but due to the timing of when it happened, there were technicalities with the few witnesses on hand. Although Guinness was willing to work with me, it was a very long process, and by that time, I had a much faster frame; I cancelled the application and chalked it up to experience.

I continued development, intermittently, for another 2 years and set a personal GPS verified best speed of 257.25 mph on May 30, 2020 with the XLR V3 frame. It was the start of the pandemic and I went on a quadcopter development hiatus for 1.5 years. I had a frame ready to go for another attempt, the only question was when. On new years day 2022, I started making more XLR V3 frames and set a record attempt date for November 8 of that year.

Timekeeper Bill (right) and Engineer Ryan Lademann (with XLR V3 frame) discuss flight attempt procedures

On January 3, 2023, I got the official word from Guinness that the XLR V3 now holds the official Guinness world record at 224.00 mph (measured per Guinness standards) with a peak speed of 235.68 mph. In all, six XLR V3 frames were flown, all max speeds and average speeds were nearly identical. Sadly, 2 of the frames crashed, but I expected that.

Professional witness, timekeeping, and safety preflight meeting

Specs

Video

This is a compilation video of both the record setting flight and the max speed flight:

Other Videos

The First video is the best combination of all the footage from the attempt. For obvious safety reasons, flying was kept at a distance which made it very difficult to get any ground video. The first video has video from the ground with flybys and shows the FPV video in the upper left corner with blackbox overlay:

This video is the full fpv video of the record setting flight:

“Blooper Reel”

Not so funny bloopers… but they add a bit of excitement!

The NOT Very Glamorous Speed Record

I’ll be honest, when the final verified speed record is announced, it will be very anticlimactic. Why? Guinness uses a method of calculating speed records that gets as much of an objective measurement as possible. In other words, they want to rule out any factors that may affect the true speed that the quadcopter (or any object) can actually attain and hold. For a quadcopter, that means no diving and no tailwinds. However, we can never truly get rid of any tailwinds.

This method doesn’t sit well with us speed freaks, we don’t care how we attain a top speed, we want to see that number as high as possible. I actually knew a guy that tried flying a quadcopter in a hurricane, no joke, and I don’t blame him.

Official vs Enthusiast Speed Measurements

Guinness method of speed measurement:

  • Peak recorded speed means nothing
  • Speed is calculated by averaging 2 opposite direction passes (to negate wind effects)
  • Each of the 2 passes is the average speed recorded over a distance of (at least) 100m
  • To rule out potential energy (gravity), both the above distances must be flown level

The enthusiast “Speed Freak” method of speed measurement:

  • No averaging!
  • Our speed is the highest number our equipment displays
  • Take advantage of tailwinds whenever possible

I think I speak for us all when I say I prefer the peak reading – that’s what we always want to know. I will admit though that we can’t always entirely believe any number our equipment shows. If that was true, I almost broke the sound barrier with a quadcopter about 4 years ago when my FPV goggles showed a peak speed over 1100 kmh… Most of these absurd readings are easily identified if we see a quick jump in our speed. With all that said, us speed freaks should still try to keep it honest.

The Crew

The crew that helped to make this attempt event happen. 

Is it a Quadcopter?

Many people say that it is no longer a quadcopter since it flies horizontal at top speed. To be more specific, a quadcopter is a type of helicopter. The word quadcopter merely defines the number of rotors the helicopter has.

To go even further, a helicopter (regardless of the number of rotors) fits under the category of a rotorcraft. The definition of a rotorcraft: “an aircraft (such as a helicopter) whose lift is derived principally from rotating airfoils”

In other words, since helicopters (quadcopters) generate lift solely by rotating airfoils (propellers), they are a rotorcraft. The XLR V3 follows this criteria since it does not generate lift from any other part other than the propellers. 

Practice Day

Attempt Day

Analysis of Results

Future Development

I’m not convinced that we have reached the limit. The limit might have been set in (prop) tip speed, but there are other factors that haven’t. Development is well under way. A couple things were learned from the V3 and already one major design hurdle has been achieved – enough of a change to call it an XLR V4. I just need to build a few and wait for some warm weather so I can test them out.

Frame Kits?

Many people ask but the answer is no. The closest I have come to doing this is with a few frames I used to sell a few years ago which were marketed as racing frames. Although they were the fastest racing frames on the planet, they did not survive crashes with racing gates very well.

With that said, the XLR V3’s main problem is that it is an extremely time consuming process to make a frame. Explaining how to build it would be a project itself. It took me over a year to have all 6 frames ready to go and even with all the experience behind me, I crashed 2 of the frames (and countless others during development) – no room for mistakes. In fact, I only have 1 frame that has survived more than 5 flights. Even a slightly rough landing can destroy it since they’re not made for easy repair. They’re made for only one thing and I would like to say that thing is speed, but that thing is better described as frustration…

6 thoughts on “XLR V3: Guinness World Record Holder for Fastest Quadcopter Drone

    1. Quad Star Drones says:

      Thank you! The main problem is that it is an extremely time consuming process to make a frame. Explaining how to build it would be a project itself. It took me over a year to have all 6 frames ready to go and even with all my experience behind me, I crashed 2 of the frames – no room for mistakes. In fact, I only have 1 frame that has survived more than 5 flights. Even a slightly rough landing can destroy it since they’re not made for easy repair, they’re made for only one thing. I would like to say that thing is speed, but that thing is better described as frustration…

      Like

  1. Anthony Townsend says:

    Congrats man! Such an accomplishment but comes with a grain of jealousy on my part I must admit after working on my own top speed quad and having set backs, equipment fails, 3D printer breakdowns etc. Just out of curiosity what was the all up weight of your quad?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Quad Star Drones says:

      I’ve had the same setbacks, you wouldn’t believe how big my scrap pile is. Being a bit of a loner/huge nerd, I am able to spend a lot of time rebuilding, etc. 3d printers get frustrating when things go wrong. About a year ago, I decided to get an Ender S1 and added a PEI bed. Now I can literally just hit the print button and have no issues at all. The PEI bed and the auto leveling is what helped the most. In other words, if you’re on a budget, you can probably get away with an auto leveling kit and adding a PEI bed. The only issue with the bed is that you need to be sure not to scratch it. Out of the dozens of brands of filament I’ve used, I never had a problem. AUW of the quad is 490g.

      Like

      1. Anthony Townsend says:

        How did you go about the timing? Usually I just use the speed freak method with the OSD GPS read out, was thinking about using 2 gopros and marking 100 meters with 2 poles or flags. I could probably be able to make it to a speed trap at a drag strip but wouldn’t really make things official.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Quad Star Drones says:

        I used gps readings from the black box log but you need to use the “black box tools” to access this file from the log. I go through the whole process in the 2 articles listed below. Analysis of the data isn’t easy but I tried to make it easier using a spreadsheet that is available for download on the page. I think a drag strip would actually work just fine but I wonder if the timing is set to use only 1/4 mile? And then there is the problem of going the opposite direction. It might be worth it to find out.
        https://quad-star-drones.com/gps-data-analysis/
        https://quad-star-drones.com/gps-speed-run-analyzer/

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