finished air gate

DIY Air Gates for FPV Racing

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Something every FPV racer needs to help hone their skills are a few air gates. They are challenging obstacles that require you to fly low to the ground while making precise adjustments on the sticks. This is a cheap, easy to build solution for DIY air gates (and air flags/pylons). As a disclaimer, I can’t take credit for coming up with this design as I’ve seen similar looking air gates in YouTube videos and at my local field.

Required Materials

1 x pool noodle
1 x tent pole repair kit
Fishing line (or something with similar characteristics)
Duct tape

As you can see from the above links, my expenses for one air gate were about $8. It’s important to understand that you can get tent poles and noodles of varying sizes to meet your needs. Buying a tent pole repair kit (of any size) is a great solution as it will come with a properly sized shock cord and metal pegs for securing the poles to the ground. The air gate dimensions that this specific tent pole repair kit create are mentioned at the end of this post.

Assembly

The first step is to lay out all four (or however many you have) tent pole sections on the ground in the order you’re going to assemble them. The next step is to cut your fishing line about 6″ longer than the length of one individual section of pole. Take one end of the fishing line and tie a double overhand knot, slide the knot over the tip of the shock cord (about 1cm from the top) and cinch it down.

double overhand knot
Example of a double overhand knot. Retrieved from firstportofcall.com
double overhand knot over shock cord
Double overhand knot cinched around shock cord

Now slide the fishing line through the opening in the pole; once it reaches the other side pull on it in order to bring the shock cord through. When the shock cord makes it through the first pole, continue pulling on it until you have about 3″ of shock cord on the opposite end of the pole from where you just pulled the cord through (the terminal end). Tie a figure-eight knot on this end to act as a stopper.

figure-eight stopper shock cord
Figure-eight stopper tied on terminal end of shock cord

Continue to slide the fishing line through each section of pole, pulling the shock cord through behind it. Once you reach the last section, the shock cord will likely be pretty taut. Pull on the fishing line until you get about 3-4″ of exposed shock cord and tie another figure-eight knot to act as a stopper. You can now cut the fishing line off of the shock cord.

completed air gate pole
Completed pole for air gate

TIP: When you layout your sections of pole, ensure that for each section you’ll be sliding your fishing line through the end of the pole that doesn’t have the attached metal sleeve, it’ll make things a little easier.

Now that all the sections are attached, I taped a metal peg to each end of the pole (it wouldn’t fit securely without the tape).

metal peg
Metal peg secured with tape

One 52″ noodle was just enough to cover the majority of the pole. Here’s what the finished product looks like:

finished air gate
Finished air gate

The best part about this setup is that it is extremely modular. I could’ve chosen to add additional pole sections to create a larger opening (would’ve also needed a longer length of shock cord), but I like the fact that these are smaller than most standard air gates. That way, when I fly with larger gates I’ll feel like the opening is a mile wide (that’s the idea at least but I’m pretty good at crashing into air gates no matter how big they are).

You can also set up the pole in an air flag/pylon configuration by collapsing one section and sliding a noodle over it.

air flag configuration
Air pylon configuration

There are a lot of benefits to building air gates/pylons in this manner. It’s cheap, the noodles can take a lot of damage and won’t return the damage to your machine, and it disassembles into two very manageable parts.

disassembled air gate
Disassembled air gate

Dimensions

The materials that I bought create a 32 inch x 61 inch air gate and a 74 inch air pylon (with one section collapsed). As a comparison, a standard AerialGP air gate is 2.4 meters (~94 inches) tall and 3 meters wide (~118 inches). That’s quite a bit larger than what I’ve created, so if you want to build something closer to those dimensions all you have to do is find different length tent poles/shock cord.

Thanks for reading and happy flying!

Lover of all things drone. Looking to focus on FPV racing while dabbling in the world of aerial imaging.
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