Updated: Apr 30, 2023 @ 4:30 pm

The full Team Drone Challenge Manual (Part I & II) is available to registered teams.   Those coaches who pre-register will receive Manual Part I, including drone & team specs.   We’re happy to answer any of your basic questions anytime:  CNYDrones@gmail.com.

If you would like to ask a question about the challenge that has not been answered in the manual or is posted on this website, please add a comment below and our members will try their best to get an answer to you.

If you have question that has nothing to do with the Challenge, please ask it on the Community Q&A Page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: Apr 30, 2023 @ 4:30 pm

Q:  Do I need to have a 30’x60′ field to practice?

A:  NO! We realize not everyone has access to a gym. A larger space is better, but not needed until basic flying skills are developed. Practicing indoors is best for beginners to learn the controls without risk of losing the drone. Just make sure to remove anything that could be broken by an impact with a drone. To reiterate, bedroom = bad, auditorium = better, empty gym = good. You can also fly outside, but make sure to start out on a large field with few obstacles. Also make sure it is relatively calm with no wind. Once you are comfortable flying then you can try more complex environments. Also to learn to fly First Person View (FPV), using a simulator is recommended. If you crash in a simulator, you can just restart. Here is a video from Flite Test that explains how to fly a multirotor (drone): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6btEFJJD4_o

Q:  How do I get the field elements to practice?
A:  CNY Drones creates an annual Team Drone Challenge with cost in mind.    Field elements are made with readily available parts to make it easy for teams to get started.  Any exceptions will be made available to teams that register for the competition.  We also provide registered teams with instructions for how to assemble field elements or recreate any needed heights or distances for practice.  Elements generally require maneuvering through obstacles, taking off and landing, the ability to land on a moving object, picking up items, dropping off items, and taking photos or video.  Additional elements, including any use of sensors, will be described in the Challenge Manual. We suggest starting with easier elements and working up to those that require higher level skills. Our Challenges are created to allow any team the opportunity to participate.

Q:  How do I get help starting a team?

A:  Ask us!  Use our Team Development Request Form  or simply email us anytime:  CNYDrones@gmail.com!


Q:  Does CNY Drones assist in placing team members?  

A:  Sorry, we do not get involved with team member placement.  We’ve made teams easy to form.  Start one on your own or bring the idea to your school.  Our thoroughly planned low-cost approach makes it easy to get started for less than $600.

Q:  When should I register for the next competition at SUNY Polytechnic Institute?

A:   Registration opens each season on Registration Kick-Off Day around the 1st of October.   With the expected growth of teams combined with our new 2 levels of competition, slots will fill faster than ever.  Early registration secures your team’s spot, gives you access to our mentors as early as possible & allows us to plan more pre-competition opportunities!

Q:  Who can compete?

A: The Middle/High School level is open to ages 12 to 18.  The new College/Adult level gives younger participants interaction opportunities with their upper-level peers.    We encourage companies to consider sponsoring teams and showcasing employee-created showcase entries!  We’re looking for participation – specifically from schools surrounding the NYS UAS Test Site in Rome, NY & the NYS UAS Corridor, but we accept teams willing to travel to us here in Central New York!  

Q:  How do I build a drone for competition?

A:  Our mentors are working with students from SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s CGAM (Center for Global Advanced Manufacturing) student clubs  (AMA UMASC, 3D Printing & Design, Fabrication/Combat Bots & Baja Club) to create registered team-exclusive build information for those looking for assistance with their first-build.  

Q:  What are the drone specs for our Challenges?

A:   Main Competition Drone –  Maximum drone size is 500 mm motor to motor.   Drone motors maximum size: 2213.  Drone motors maximum kv: 2500.   Prop size maximum: 10 inch & under.  Battery size: 3S & under.    Further details are in the Challenge Manual provided upon registration.  Always refer to the latest update of the Challenge Manual.  


Q:  How much assistance can teams request from CNY Drones Mentors?

A:  Mentors are available to answer basic build questions to help get teams started.  Mentors can be reached by email, phone and during scheduled hangouts that coincide with our weekly Planning Committee meetings.  Questions should be posed by the Team Coach.  As teams progress and attempt to add more technically challenging equipment to their drones, our policy is NOT give teams specific solutions that could give them a competitive edge.  

Q. Will drone specs change?

A.  Changes to specs are generally made in between seasons during our many manual revisions as we test missions and review safety.   We provide Team Email Updates along with Tech Meets to insure team information is shared quickly should any issue arise during the build season that affects a spec.   We will do our best to provide clarification as soon as an issue is identified.  Event staff could make on the spot modifications on Competition Day when safety is an issue or team participation is in jeopardy.   Any last minute allowance for a single team is considered in Judging.   We want everyone who shows up at our event to participate.  We do our best to insure that any allowance does not interfere with fair play for everyone else.  Awards are based on following the rules, including specs.

Q.  Do we want registered teams to participate, even if they are not ready?

A. Yes.  We believe that Competition Days provide some of the best learning experiences for teams.  The Pits are filled with idea sharing & assistance that make showing up worthwhile.   Other teams pitch in to help.   Mentors are there for support.   We all do our best to get everyone in the air.  Surprising things always happen.  Even teams that are not registered learn from attending.  You don’t want to miss the experience!

Q. Does CNY Drones offer ordering assistance?

A.  Yes and No.  Although we do not make any suggestions for exact parts or suppliers, we will generally give advice to those who request help with ordering.   Realize that drone parts availability and pricing can change hourly.   What we do suggest – always – always – order multiples of parts!    Our Team Resources Folder (for registered teams) will contain documents to help your team along the way.  And – we are open to suggestions for additions!  We are always an email away if you have any questions or concerns that you want to run by our volunteer mentors.  


Other questions?  Just ask!   We attempt to respond to requests within 24 hours.  Please give us as much information as possible – contact phone number, best time to be reached along with any photos that could assist us in diagnosing your issue.

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