A hobby that is a combination of so many incentives and interesting aspects, you would love to try your hand at this. RC cars have been a hit among people of various age groups. It may sound that RC cars are only meant for kids and children, but it is grossly incorrect. It may seem to be just playing with toys, but the activity is much brainier as it requires real skill and technical understanding that is not child’s play. You can adjust the level of involvement, activity and advancement according to your interest, availability of time and expertise level. Once you start taking interest in this hobby, you will fall in love with it and would like to learn more and more about it. Especially those enthusiasts who like to play around with electrical and mechanical stuff would just be mad with this hobby. There is a whole world of activity that you can do with RC cars. You can just play around with, open and tear them apart, build and experiment with your own creations, hold competitions and races make different designs and types of RC cars. The world is open to your exploration and imagination.
Due to these interesting features and advantages, RC cars have become extremely popular among enthusiasts and have been developed in a very vast field. A lot of professional activity is taking place in this field. A lot of products and their vendors have come in to the market due to its huge potential and large following. Even if you just want start with this hobby, you will find a lot of support and lot of places to buy stuff from. You can also get lot of information and help regarding RC cars. However, most of these sources are distributed. There is still a requirement for a single source that will be able to tell you everything about RC cars. This book is here to solve this very problem for RC cars enthusiasts.
This book is all for those enthusiasts who have heard the name of a hobby called RC cars but have not yet ventured into it or are just trying to begin with it. This book will tell you all about RC cars and how to have fun with them. You will learn everything you ever wanted to know about RC cars. What RC cars are, how do they work, what do they do, how can you play with them, how can you build them, how can you modify them, how can you improve them, what are the different types of RC cars, where you can buy RC cars, who are the best vendors and everything else. You can start from a beginner’s level and move to as advanced level as you can and want. This book in your hands is there to make you capable of doing so with all the details, graphical illustrations, technical information and explanations on all aspects of RC cars through comprehensive, concise and illustrative articles.
Why RC Cars? – A Hobby for everybody
The most exciting thing about the hobby of RC cars is that they are not only meant for kids and children. The hobby has such a range of forms, levels of complexity and options that it can excite and involve people of almost any age group. Though it initially started as a hobby for small children with some very simple and basic RC toys, the models and technology have come a long way since then. Now-a-days several Remote control car enthusiasts and owners of RC cars belong to all age groups ranging from early teens to 30’s and even more. The involved of matured enthusiasts has made much more than just hobby or a matter of casual fun. RC cars have even grown up commercially making the field almost a sport being played at all levels. A number of racing tracks and circuits have been built for competitive racing where the level goes as high as national level. The competitions are held in several types or classes of amateur as well as professional RC vehicle racing. That doesn’t mean that people with handsome financial backup can only enjoy this hobby. As the range of available options is extensive, it is up to the enthusiast’s wish, how much and how deep he wants to get involved in the hobby and how much he is willing to spend on it. As the RC Cars is fun for the people from age groups, they also are popular among people of different financial strength. Some enthusiasts who have RC car racing as their sole lifelong hobby, they even end up spending their very last penny for the love of this game investing in new advanced parts, latest upgrades in suspension system or buying a high performance nitro powered type RC car. On the other hand, if you are only a starter in the field of RC cars, you may want to practice your hobby in your backyard or your parking lot or a local small race track to get the kicks.
One thing is for sure about the RC cars and that’s the level thrill and excitement you are going to experience when you hold the remote control of your car and make it follow your commands, maneuvering it around turns, across obstacles and even racing them on toughest of courses. They are quite speedy and you will be amazed to see how brilliantly they can perform. Again, the levels of power, speed and performance in RC cars are varied and can be chosen according to one’s own requirements. RC cars are available in different power versions like electrical powered or gas powered. During earlier days, Gas powered versions of RC cars were much faster on race tracks than the electric powered RC Cars, but this trend has changed to a large extent and even the electric engines have not come at par with the gas powered ones in terms of speed and power. A lot of commercial research and innovation in this field has made this change possible. This has made it possible to choose any type of model based on your preference without worrying about speed and performance issues. Some may like the quiet, subtle racing of electric engines while others may draw thrill out roaring exhaust sound of punching the gas. What ever the way, you will surely love the feeling of total over your vehicle.
Another exciting feature of RC car hobby is that is satisfies your dreams and desires for some actual car brands and models that you always wanted to drive. For example, if you are in love with the BMWs, you are excited about everything in relation to BMS, their new models, their latest M3 model rolling out of assembly line or even BMW brand merchandise; you are just dying to get hold of a BMW. You will find various RC car model making companies that make model versions of the actual cars and you will be able to get hold of many of the BMW’s famous models. Some of the latest cars are also available with the manufacturers. Some of them include the gas powered VW GTIs, Subaru’s WRXs model and BMW M3s as well. Various RC model versions of these cars are available in different sizes and scales. Such models have another advantage that require lower maintenance and have longer lives; therefore they are more popular among amateur followers. This way you will be able to get your hands on your desired car model. You just need to go out and pick up the one you have yearned for and would like to run it under your commands.
The most staggering limitation of RC vehicles is definitely the limited battery life. As RC cars are remotely controlled and need to have a stand-alone power source that is generally a battery, RC cars are able to run only small distance and for smaller periods before they would require a fresh set of batteries. Some of the simple batteries can only provide limited life and unsatisfactory speed performance. However, you need not get disheartened by this information, as with the growth of RC cars as hobby, this factor has also been taken care of my most of the companies that are operating in the field of RC cars. There has been a significant improvement in the quality of batteries with increase in their life, their reliability and their power. This has been made possible by adoption of some of the latest battery technologies for RC cars as well. For example, a new battery manufacturing company, Edge of Power, developed a new battery especially for RC cars made out of lithium-ion polymer. This battery has an on and off switch that tells you the current status of your battery. Moreover, they have the advantage that they are comparatively small, light, and much more powerful than the conventional batteries. These batteries with long lasting performance can help RC car enthusiasts finally have the chance of racing their cars for much more time and on longer race tracks.
What are RC cars and RC trucks?
RC or remote controlled cars and trucks are toys and models that belong to the category of RC toys. RC toys basically work on the principle of controlling the action of toy remotely by sending some signal. So, you are not actually touching the toy or are connected to the toy through wires. Instead, you send some signal from a distance which instructs the toy to perform some action. There are various kinds of toys and model designs that work on this principle. Such toys include cars, trucks, airplanes, helicopters, sailboats, motor boats, submarines, all types of robots etc. Basically, any type of machine that is capable of being controlled by electrical signals can be converted into a remote controlled machine.
Remote controlled cars and trucks perform exactly this function. As being cars and trucks, the tasks they do include running, turning or may be even carrying some load. Also, cars and trucks being capable of unlimited movement, controlling them remotely adds a whole new degree of freedom to them. Therefore, through the use of remote control, cars and trucks can move freely with greater speeds to larger distances without facing any problems of control and accessibility. The greatest advantage with RC cars is that they are much simpler in design and construction than other RC toys like airplanes, helicopters, motor boats or robots. These toys have lot other mechanics, design and operational features, for example, the design of a plane can be really complicated and will include a lot of considerations and expertise but build. Especially, if you are starting to work with remote controlled toys, cars and trucks can be the simplest ones that can get you started. Because of this purpose, we will mostly focus on the remote controlled cars and trucks, however, many topics of this book can be useful and relevant for other types of remote controlled toys as well.
Traditionally, there have been many different ways through which simple or oldest toys were controlled remotely. One very common method was through sound such as a clap or a tap. Till few years back, sound controlled cars were very popular. However, these cars had a lot of limitations. They only had very limited control and functionality as they could only understand few types of sound and couldn’t distinguish between them. So you could not make them to lot of functions like move forward/backward, turn, change speed etc. Also, their range of operation was also very limited. They couldn’t work properly when there were different loud sounds in the vicinity. Due to these limitations, sound controlled remote control cars had limited popularity and fan following.
The next generation of remote controlled cars was those that were electrically controlled. However, even in this category, the earliest cars were connected with wires to the controls. So, effectively, they were not remotely controlled in the true sense. Moreover, the wires were a major hindrance to their extent of freedom and degree of movement. This shortcoming again limited the scope of this technology, as with cars and other moving toys you want to have as much freedom as possible. Especially with cars, you want more speed and distance to really be able to enjoy it to its full potential.
The new advancement in technology that brought about a revolution and realized the true potential of toy cars was the radio control or remote control. Though radio control and remote control are slightly different terms with respect to technology and actual implementation, in today’s usage they are mostly used interchangeably. We will discuss the similarities and differences between these two terms in a later section. Here we want to emphasize on the importance of introduction of remote control in the field of toy cars or even all type of electrically controllable toys. Not only does remote control provides the luxury of controlling the cars or other vehicles from a distance without actually touching or holding them, but also opens up a lot of new possibilities of what the cars can do. They can now run much faster, have many more functionalities and motions and can have more many more controls.
What are RC toys made of?
There are different types of remote controlled toys. However, the most famous ones among them are RC cars, perhaps because they are the simplest of all other types. There are some differences in construction of different types of remote controlled toys, models and vehicles but there are some basic components that each remote controlled object must have. These basic elements of a remote controlled object include:
Transmitter: This is essentially the remote control device or simply the remote that you are going to hold in your hand and will use to control the toy. Functionally, it will convert the action you do like pressing a button, moving a joy-stick or turning a dial into appropriate electrical signal and transmit it over a wireless medium (transmission of radio waves) to the toy that you are controlling.
Receiver: This is the other end of the radio interface that will reside on the object you are controlling. The receiver will primarily comprise of an antenna and a circuit board that will be placed on the toy. The antenna will receive the radio waves or the radio signal sent by the transmitter. The electrical circuit board will convert those radio waves into electrical signal. The other section in the receiver will interpret the signals and decide what action to perform.
Actuator: Actuator is the mechanical section of the toy. A common example of an actuator is a motor. The purpose of the actuator is to convert the electrical signal into mechanical motion, so this is the part which will actually make your toy or its parts to move. In simple terms, the receiver will interpret the signals and use them to control the actuator that will eventually control the motion of your toy or any of its part.
Apart from these basic components, actual remote controlled toys will have many more detailed components and parts. These details will broadly vary according the type of toy you are referring to. As you can understand, a remote controlled car will have a completely different construction than a remote controlled airplane or for that matter, a remote controlled motorboat. In fact, even the type of actuators will vary drastically according to the type of toy or model.
Here are some brief descriptions to the type of systems used in different type of RC toys:
- An airplane may not have a motor to drive the propeller as it will be generally be run by a gas-powered engine. However, the actuator that may be in the form of a motor will be used to control the flaps, which incidentally will control the flight of the airplane.
- Similarly, in a sailboat the propelling force is the wind and the remote control is used to control the rudder that determines the direction of motion of the sailboat.
- Blimp requires helium or hot air for the rise or the lift. The small propellers are used to guide and control the motion through the use of remote control.
In some other type of toys that have other functions like holding and lifting, playing sounds, flashing lights etc., there can be other electronic circuit and control systems for those supplementary functions. This is the real beauty of the remote control functionality, as you can add a lot of controls to the device without making it complicated and difficult to handle.
Let’s look at each of these components in detail to learn about the working, construction and capabilities of each of the three basic components of a RC car system.
Transmitter – Remote Control
Transmitter or the remote control is generally the handheld unit of the RC toy system. This is the device that you will hold in your hand and use to control the functions of your RC toy. There can be various input mechanism depending upon the type of control, complexity and degrees of freedom of the RC toy and other factors. Some of the common types of controls include buttons, joysticks and scroll wheels. More advanced controls may also include touch pads or touch interfaces for more convenient and sophisticated control options.
This component is the major differentiating factor between a radio control and a remote control. Though both of these terms are used interchangeably these days, there is a minor difference. Remote control can be any type of control that is exercised from a distance (which may also include a wired medium), whereas, a radio control is specifically related to radio waves, so it is essentially wireless.
The remote control transmitter works by taking the input from user from the input medium. The input is then converted into appropriate electrical signal. To be able to handle multiple controls and use them unambiguously, each different type of input is converted into a unique electrical signal. These electrical signals are converted into radio waves by the antenna, which are incidentally transmitted to the receiver placed in the RC toy. The processing of electrical signals can include multiple steps such as modulation, encoding, encryption etc. depending upon the complexity of the system and level of secure communication required. For example, in a general RC toy, you may not require to do encryption of the signals. However, you need not go deep into these steps if you are not an electronics expert, as these systems will already be inbuilt in the RC toy systems that you use. In case, you are an electronics enthusiast, you can very play around with these circuits and customize them as per your requirements.
The radio control works by battery power that is generally a 9 volt battery. Specific frequency bands have been defined for use in RC toys, so that their functioning doesn’t interfere with any other type of communication. These frequencies are 27 MHz and 49 MHz. Some of the advanced models such as RC planes may even operate in 72 MHz and 75 MHz frequencies.
The complexity of the remote control depends on the number of control that a remote control can handle. The simplest version for an RC car can have only move forward and move backward controls. Most commonly used remote controls for RC cars include these 6 basic controls for cars:
- Forward and Left
- Forward and Right
- Reverse and Left
- Reverse and Right
However, more advanced systems that may have other functions such as controlling speed, holding and lifting objects, playing sounds, flashing lights etc. and will require additional controls in the remote control. Further advanced remote controls may even be able to handle multiple toys.
The Toy – Receiver and Actuator
This is the main component of the RC toy system i.e. the actual toy. Though the actual composition and construction of the toy will vary according to the type (such as car, truck, airplane, helicopter, motorboat, sailboat), there are two basic essential components in the system. The first is the receiver which is the counterpart of transmitter and performs exactly the opposite function of what transmitter does. It will receive the radio signals through an antenna and will process and interpret them. The received radio signals will be converted into electrical signals. The processing will perform reverse steps as were done to generate electrical signals in the transmitter. For example, if the transmitter performed modulation, encoding and encryption, the receiver will perform decryption, decoding and demodulation in the appropriate order. Hence, we will obtain a signal that was generated on pressing the input medium. Now, this interpreted signal will be converted into an equivalent actuation signal which will run the actuator like the motor. As the electrical signals are generally at low voltage and current, whereas, the actuators work at higher voltages and currents, power electronics components are used to perform the conversion and drive the actuators. These circuits can control the speed and the degree of movement of the motors for precisely controlled motion of the RC cars.
Obviously, the structure of each different type of toy varies drastically; here we will specifically discuss the structures of RC cars and trucks. Both RC cars and trucks are basically forms of motor vehicles that have a chassis and four wheels (two front and two rear wheels) to drive the vehicle. An RC car or truck can perform basic motions including moving forward, backward, forward-left, forward-right, backward-left and backward-right. There can be various different configurations to make these motions possible. If only backward and forward motion is required, the RC car or truck only contains one motor that can drive either the front or the rear pair of wheels. If you also want to turn the RC car or truck, you will require on more motor which will give the turning motion. This second motor can be used in different configurations. Either you can use two motors to drive the two wheels (either front pair or rear pair) separately, so that the vehicle can turn based on relatively opposite motions of the two wheels i.e.
- if the left wheel moves forward and right wheel moves backward, the vehicle will turn right
- if the left wheel moves backward and right wheel moves forward, the vehicle will turn left
Or, you can drive one pair of wheels with one motor and use the second motor to turn the axle of the other pair of wheels.
Though both of these configurations will solve the purpose of turning the RC car or truck, the turning will not be exactly similar in both the cases with regard to turning radius. Generally, the turning radius of the former configuration will be lesser than the later. So, you will have to keep in mind your requirements and how you want to use your vehicle while designing the construction and choosing one of these configurations. If you have a larger or heavier vehicle, the power requirements will also change drastically in these two configurations. The former configuration of using two motors on different wheels of a pair will generally require less power than the other configuration where the second motor is used to turn the axle of a wheel pair. This is due to the simple fact that in the former case, both the motors are in the drive and therefore, the power of both the motors is spent in driving the vehicle and turning happens as an integrated process of the drive. However, in the second case, only one motor is acting as the drive while other is purely being used for turning purpose. Once the chassis and the drive is built, you can install the receiver of the remote control system on the vehicle.
Based on the complexity of the vehicle, the level of performance and the criticality of the tasks it needs to perform; there will be numerous other details that need to be incorporated into the design, both mechanical and electrical, of the RC car or vehicle. For example, the drive may not be a simple connection of the motor axle with the wheels and may include gear assemblies for providing more torque and controlling the speed. The gears may even be adjustable through remote control to provide more advanced control to the drive.
We will try to understand the working of an RC car in detail through an example how the signals are produced, interpreted and actuated through the components described above.
Suppose that you have a remote control car system having a remote control with four buttons (forward, backward, left and right) and a RC car with two separate motors driving two wheels of a pair independently.
The following table provides a summary of the relation between the input provided by pressing the buttons on the remote control and the action that is performed on the RC car:
|Button Combination||Motion of Car||Action of Wheels|
|Left Wheel||Right Wheel|
|Forward + left||Left Forward||Backward||Forward|
|Forward + Right||Right Forward||Forward||Backward|
|Backward + left||Left Backward||Forward||Backward|
|Backward + Right||Right Backward||Backward||Forward|
In this configuration, you may not be able to control the speeds of the individual motors, so the turning will always be on a single radius.
When any particular button is pressed, the transmitter will generate a signal. The signal can be implemented in many possible forms. For the sake of this example, we will consider signals in the form of pulses which is also the most commonly used type of signaling. This is because using pulses is the mostly easily implemented form of signaling. A pulse is a combination of low and high level of voltage as depicted.
The frequency of the pulse is determined by the number of pulses generated in a second. Therefore, a pulse frequency of 27 MHz will mean that 27,000,000 pulses will be generated in one second. Accordingly, the duration of each pulse will be 1/27,000,000th of a second. The duration of a pulse (t) and the pulse frequency (f) are related mathematically as:
F = 1/t
One simple way of converting the press of a button to a signal is by specifying the number of pulses for each action. An exemplary combination can be:
Forward: 8 pulses
Backward: 16 pulses
Forward-left: 24 pulses
Forward-right: 32 pulses
Backward-left: 40 pulses
Backward-right: 48 pulses
This is just an example but the system you purchase may have any other combination or you may be able to define your own rules if you are constructing your own system. So, accordingly when a button is pressed on the remote control, the appropriate number of pulses will be generated by the transmitter. You can call this set of pulses a packet. Generally, each signal packet also comprises some start and end pulses that are different in frequency from signal pulses and are used to denote start and end of an action, so that the receiver can easily understand what action to perform. Otherwise, the signal will just be a continuous chain of similar pulses, which will make it impossible for the receiver to understand when to change the action.
Two-Wheel and Four-Wheel Drives
All the four-wheeled vehicles primarily covered by the RC cars and the trucks have two type of drive variations. They are either two-wheel-drives (2wd) or four-wheel-drives (4wd).
Let’s try and understand what they mean and what their advantages and limitations.
Two-wheel drive is the simpler version where only two of the four wheels are supplied power or driven by the power source such as the motor. The other pair of wheels is only to support the vehicle and to provide direction perhaps. These models are generally popular among starters as they are much simpler to build, assemble and use. You can control a two-wheel-drive (2wd) car or truck with limited controls and don’t need an expert to do that. Therefore, the two-wheel-drive vehicles are perfect for kids, beginners and occasional enthusiasts. These designs have limited capability as compared to their more complex version i.e. the four-wheel-drive vehicles. Accordingly, they may only be successful in limited applications and not suitable for some of the most critical sports like dirt racing, rocky terrains etc. due to their limited power, wheeling problems and limited control.
In a four-wheel-drive vehicle, all the four wheels are driven by power source such as a motor. Though, this definitely adds lot more control points to the working of a four wheel drive RC vehicle, it adds immensely to its capabilities and potential performance. The first clear advantage is getting a boost in power which actually gets more than doubled by providing power to all the four wheels. The four-wheel-driven RC vehicles become capable of crossing almost all type of obstacles, treading almost any type of terrain and facing the toughest of heat. They are highly durable and capable of jumping over the rules and make their own ones. But as we all know that with great power comes great it is quite a task to control these monsters. Not only two more controls are added to the remote control console, two more drives add a lot of dynamics, criticalities and instabilities to the functioning of the four-wheel-drive vehicles. Therefore, you require real skill to handle this responsibility. Also, to realize all these capabilities, you will use these machines in most difficult of the conditions. Therefore, you have to be aware and experienced of all possible problems that you can face and how to handle them. These big guys are definitely for professionals as this is no child’s play.
RC trucks have been existence for more than 30 years now and have seen lot of modifications and advancements in their design, construction, technology and capabilities during this long period. From the most primitive ones that had limited power and worked on short-life batteries, much more powerful and long-ranged trucks have evolved. These high capacity and high performance RC trucks mostly work on gas powered engines. Though these high performance have grown in popularity, they haven’t captured the market fully yet. Battery powered trucks still enjoy the majority of market as they serve the amateur enthusiasts and children due to their simple working and cheaper costs. Gas powered RC trucks are favored by those who yearn for more power and speed especially in dirt racing and tough terrain racing sports. These new rugged versions can survive any abuse and have been specifically designed to face any sort of torturous terrains, extreme speeds and destructive accidents; and still survive all of them. So, if you are in a competition and have a passion for winning, you can’t afford to compromise with an ordinary battery powered truck and have to hit the road with a super performance gas-powered RC truck.
So what makes these giants so special and thrilling?
Everything you can notice about RC trucks is big. Big size, big frame, big wheels, big engines, big speed, big power and above all big heart – they will give you all the thrill you are hoping for and will survive to most difficult acid-tests. They are designed to zip through dirt hills and tracks, rocky terrains and steep surfaces.
Now we know what RC trucks are capable of and how much excitement they can provide, we can go into bit more details about RC trucks. We will discuss the various types and specifications in which the RC trucks are available. Each of these different types of RC trucks can be used in some specific place or role. Therefore, after knowing about each of these types of RC trucks, the next task for you will be to know where you want to use your truck. Do you want to run indoors, outdoors, the empty lot down the street or your local race tracks? Or, chase the cat or dog around the house? Because only when you know that where you want to put your truck, you will be able to decide which one to pick up.
To get started let us look at the different sizes of RC trucks. The sizes of RC trucks are specified in 1/x scale, where higher the x the smaller is the size. We will start from the smallest size and go to the largest from there.
The smallest size of an RC truck is the 1/36th scale. An example of this size of RC truck is the Team Losi’s new Micro-T Stadium Truck which is one of the smallest in it class.
It is a two-wheel-drive electric powered truck. The size specifications read a length of 4.5 inches (114mm), a width of 3.5 inches (89mm) and a wheelbase of 3 inches (76mm). It features a fully independent suspension, 3 speed transmission with gear differential and slipper clutch. The Micro-T can fulfill your need for speed just about anywhere. On the tabletop, around the house, or just about anywhere you would like to take it. Its highly compact size gives it the advantage of fitting in an almost any place. So, even if you don’t have a luxury of going outside in large places, you can still enjoy your little baby’s adventures right in your home without the risk of damaging any of your household items.
The next in the list is an 1/18th scale RC and another member of the so called mini family. They are one of the fastest growing in popularity because of their capability of running on your commands at almost any place. Because they have got more power than their little brothers, they are very much capable of treading the outdoor terrains as well. It is a four-wheel-drive version and measures a length of 10.25 inches (260.4mm) to 10.75inches (273mm), a width of 8 inches (203.2mm) to 8.5 inches (215.9mm) and a wheelbase of 7 inches (117.8mm) to 7.5 inches (196.85).
Most of the popular models in this category are still running on battery power and many of these Mini monster trucks run oil filled coil over shocks, extra long suspension arms, slipper clutch and three differentials. So, as you see, their small size is just misguiding fact about their capability as they can be really tough and perform superbly in treacherous conditions. They can pack some punch in their little package!!
The next RC truck in the line is the 1/10th scale truck that is also popularly known as the stadium truck. They will measure in with a overall length of 16 inches (406.4mm) to 17 inches (431.8mm), a width of 12.25 inches (311.15mm) to 13.25 (336.55mm) and a wheelbase of 11 inches (279.4mm) to 12.25 inches (311.15mm).
The stadium RC truck is a two-wheel-drive and best thing about this category that it comes both the battery powered and nitro powered versions. So it can suit both type of enthusiasts: those who are looking for economical versions and those who are hungry on power and performance. Both of these models are great for both on-road and off-road terrains. The 1/10th scale stadium truck are famous for showing some great speed performance; some are advertised as having a top speed of 65mph. This is true irrespective of what power they are using, be it battery powered or nitro powered RC trucks. With all that speed they can be a hand full to keep control of.
The secret of the 1/10th stadium trucks being speed champions lies in their transmission and clutch technology. The transmission used is either a 2 or 3 speed shift on the fly transmission and a slipper clutch is used. Moreover, the 1/10th scale speedos have fully independent suspension, with coil over oil filled shocks that makes the suspension very adjustable for different conditions. One issue that comes as a part-and-parcel of their speeding capabilities and that can be considered a limitation of these models is their habit of doing wheelies. In some of the RC stadium truck models, this habit can be as frequent as associated with each shift. So, don’t get surprised if your racer topples over its lid when you try to speed it up. You can do with it by putting it back on its wheels while it does so just for the early stages till you get used to its controls and habits. By then you will be proficient enough to prevent the wheelies even when you touch top speeds.
Now we come to the last in the list but definitely not the least, in fact far from it. This one is the real star in the arena of RC trucks and you ought to get your hands on at least one of these real monsters if you are a true fan of RC truck. We are talking about the ever popular 1/8th scale RC trucks. This class primarily consists of two models – the Truggy (named so because of the combination of a TRuck and bUUGY) and the Monster truck. Both of these modes are four-wheel-drives. We will look at each of them in detail as they are the most famous ones among RC trucks and deserve a detailed mention under this topic.
First we will look at the truggy. As mentioned, the name comes from parts of truck and buggy. The history of truggies can be traced back to the times of RC nitro buggies which started with combination of Monster truck parts on their buggies. Bigger tires and longer suspension arms are just few of their noticeable strengths. The initial versions were mere modifications of the existing models. Manufacturers used to construct truggies by just modifying the existing chassis and suspensions on a monster truck’s buggy to turn them into the truggy. But truggies have come off that age and have their own stand alone identity these days. Today almost all manufacturers build a chassis and the entire suspension for especially for the truggy.
Truggys are going to measure in at around 20 inches (508mm) to 22 inches(588.8mm) overall length, with a width of 16 inches (406.4mm) to 17.25 (444.5mm) and a wheelbase of 13.5 inches (342.9mm) to 14.5 inches(368.30mm).
Though the truggy is available in both the battery powered and gas-powered versions, the gas powered or the nitro powered class is obviously more popular and successful. This is due to the simple reason of their hunger for power which can only be satisfied by the more powerful nitro-powered engines. However this trend may be close to seeing a change with the new brushless electric motors and battery technology making their way up into the market. As a result, you may soon see more of the battery powered truggies on the block.
The last one on the block is the most popular of them all because this model is the one that does real justice to the thrills and excitement of the sport. For this very reason it has rightly been named as the Monster Truck.
The monster truck is going to measure in with a huge variance in overall length, width and wheelbase. The rc monster truck has an overall length around 21.5 inches (546.1mm) to 24 inches (609.6mm), a width of 18 inches (457.2mm) to 21.5 inches (546.1mm) and a wheelbase of 14 inches (355.6mm) to 15.5 inches (393.7mm)
Its popularity and extensive use has led people and manufacturers to do lot of designing, innovation and experimentation with all its components, especially the chassis and suspensions. This has resulted in the monster truck market being full with lot of variations and options to choose from that suit your style, requirements and budget.
And obviously the options are added through the power source choices as well. Though traditionally these monsters have been feeding on nitro-power, as nothing else feeds their hunger for lot of power, today many are changing their monster trucks over to electric power due to the availability of better electric power sources. So now you can suit your requirement even if you are more inclined towards battery powered monsters. Effectively, there is not much difference in the speed and performance of these two variations; they both have their own advantages and disadvantages. The users themselves will be better judges of what is higher on their priorities and what is more suited to their requirements.
These discussed sizes and specifications are most standard commonly used ones. Though there are also scarcely used variations that include 1/16 scale and 1/5 scale titan variations. The 1/5 scale titan is a petrol powered version.
Type of Power sources in RC cars and RC trucks
Different types of power source options are available for application in RC cars and RC trucks. These different power sources can be suitable for different type of applications, uses, type of users, type and level of competitions, and terrains. Of course, like any other set of options, these power source options have their own advantages and limitations, so each of them is not completely replaceable by any other source. We will discuss these power source options in detail so that we have a clear idea about what each power source is capable of and where you can face problems using it. The limitations can be related to power, safety, life, cost etc.
The first one in the category and perhaps the most popular one, due to its cost effectiveness and simplicity, has been the electrical powered model. Electrically powered models are run by electrical motors. These electrical models utilize either mechanical or the electronic type speed control units that adjust the level of power provided to electric motor. The control depends upon the input provided by the remote control. The input from the remote control determines the amount of power to be supplied or the desired speed for the motor. The electrical circuits convert those inputs to provide appropriate voltage and current to the electrical motors that provide the desired output. Electronic units for speed control use solid state components to regulate duty cycle, adjusting the power that is supplied to the electrical motor. In addition, most electronic speed controllers use the electric motor as a magnetic brake, offering better control of the model than is possible with a mechanical speed control.
Apart from the electrically controlled systems, mechanically operating speed controllers are also implemented that use a combination of resistors or switches that work by rotation of a head element with a metal electrode built around a metal plate that contains electrical contacts. Mostly, mechanical control has been a traditional technology and is hardly in use these days due to lots of limitations. Mechanical type speed control units are generally slow in reacting, waste lot of energy as heat through the resistors, collect lot of dust, perform irregularly, and are devoid of special braking ability. These models however are cheaper than high performing electronic type speed control versions and are generally used only in the older type of hobby type models.
Mechanical controllers are almost obsolete now and electronic controllers are extensively in use. A lot of technical research and advancement has been done both on the front of electrical motors and the electronic control circuits to make them fast, increase their capability, low-power consuming and rugged to face harsh conditions. With regard to motors as well, most electrical motor driven RC vehicles used to incorporate brushed motors which are not being replaced by brushless motors. They have huge advantages of being able to supply substantially greater power and require lesser maintenance due to lesser wear and tear. Due to the higher capabilities, brush-less motor can also be used in extreme RC car sports and monster trucks or buggies.
Fuel-Powered and Nitro-Powered models
The next type of power source is the fuel-powered engine. The most commonly used fuel in RC cars and trucks is nitromethane fuel. This is why the fuel-powered vehicles are also commonly known as nitro-powered vehicles though other fuels may also be used occasionally. These engines work on the principle of internal combustion and are generally known to provide more power and speed than the electrical motors. However, one limitation of fuel or nitro engines is that they require more maintenance and are costlier.
The models powered by Nitromethane fuel incorporate servos for providing the throttle and controlling for braking; if the servo rotates in one of the directions it causes carburetor on the throttle to open, which provides more amount of mixture of air-fuel mixture inside an internal combustion type engine. If the servo rotates in the opposite direction, it causes application of torque to a braking element which results in building up of frictional force with the brake material. The brakes are installed on driveshafts, which are able to stop two out of four wheels of a 2wd (2-wheel drive) vehicle whereas all the four wheels are stopped in a 4wd (4-wheel drive) vehicle.
The models that utilize fuel-powered engines are able to reach moderate speeds if they do not undergo any modification. These models are able to generate maximum power when they are operating at either medium or high ranges of speed. Also you can expect somewhat slower response on the throttle than is provided by vehicles that are powered electrically. The RC cars and trucks that use Electric motors are successful in generating lot of torque very quickly; however models with the nitro type engines (such as large-size gasoline based engines) generally take some time in sufficient spooling up of engine and before the clutch can be engaged. One advantage with the Nitro or fuel powered RC car and truck models is that they can be refueled quickly and therefore they can return to the play field or the race track immediately, whereas it is not possible with the electrically fed models that need a longer process of removing the body cover, open the battery cover, take out the old batteries and replace them with the new charged ones. Nitro cars also have a very effective air cooling system that enables them to run continuously for longer periods of time with no requirement of taking breaks or wait for the system to cool. Nitro cars are generally larger in size than the electric RC cars and trucks. This is because high-performing yet affordable electronic components are mostly available with the 1/10 scaled and the smaller versions. However, equivalent scale models are also available in nitro as well as electric powered types.
The sizes of fuel engine sizes have range from 0.12 cubic inches to 0.35 cubic inches. The authorities and sanctioning associations generally provide rules for RC racing that also contain size specifications. However, engines in other sizes are also produced but they are generally for unofficial uses like household or toy-use purpose and are not used for professional racing as they are considered ‘outlaw’ due to their non-compliance with size specifications. Engine sizes always depend on the category to which the car belongs to; for example the 1:10 scale on-road type and off-road type vehicles generally utilize engines ranging between .12 and .18 cubic inches in size; whereas the 1:8 scale RC vehicles use engines from .21 to .32 cubic inches.
Nitro/fuel powered RC car models are closer to full-sized actual fuel vehicles in operation than the electric powered versions, as they make use of two-stroke engines as against the electric motor. Other main advantages of the nitro engines are their sound and interesting design of drive trains that attract the nitro enthusiasts. The disadvantage is that their chassis gets coated with the unburned oil that is produced by the exhaust. This results in requirement of more cleaning as compared to electric-powered models. Generally, the cleaning of the nitro models is performed by using compression type air nozzles and special cleaning solvents, for example denatured alcohol. The next big task in a fuel-powered RC vehicle is tuning that needs to be learned and implemented in order to maintain maximum levels of performance and economical fuel consumption. It also helps in minimizing the wear-and-tear and overheating of the engines. This special may be required in RTR model kits as well.
Wear and tear is a major concern in nitro or fuel models due to greater performance and general tendency of users to run nitro or fuel vehicle for longer durations of time, which is not the case with electrically powered vehicles. Moreover, the increase in the weight and speed specifications of nitro or fuel energized vehicles tends to increase the chance of collisions at higher speed, causing more frequent and more severe damages to the colliding vehicles, therefore, greater consideration is required to be given to the safety aspects of nitro or fuel driven vehicles.
The third and the last type of power source is a gas powered engine. Gasoline or gas powered vehicles are also known by names such as “fuelies” and “gassers” and run on a fuel that is a mixture of oil and gasoline. They are much more costly than nitro powered and electric powered cars. The cost differences are approximately $1000–$3000 RTR. They are much bigger in size as well and hence require larger spaces for running and racin. They are generally not very high on speeds but do pack a lot of power as compared to their fuel and electric powered companions. The gas powered versions are also fuel efficient and require lesser amount of fuel. Therefore, the running costs of gas powered RC vehicles can be much lower than the nitro powered models due to the higher costs of nitromethane fuel and higher wearing-out rate of nitro-running engines. On the other hand, gas powered engines always have a longer time span and hardly require any tuning or modifications. These gas powered large models have mostly been popular across Europe for almost a decade.
History of RC Cars
RC cars came into existence long time ago and the history begins as early as 1940s. We will browse though this history quickly to develop an understanding and appreciation about origination and evolution of RC cars through all these years to the present stage showing all the intermediate innovations, modifications, improvements and diversifications. The most appreciable fact about the long history of RC car models is that it is not just limited to any specific country or even a limited list of companies. RC cars enjoy immense popularity across many countries and interestingly all these countries have their own story on the progress and following of RC trucks and cars. A number of companies are involved in development and productions of products related to RC cars, trucks and other RC vehicles. These companies have had both bitter and sweet experiences in the field of RC vehicles with some becoming successful due to their widely used and extremely popular products while others could only manage very little contribution in the development and market of RC vehicles.
Models and companies of RC cars
You will be surprised to know that the earliest models of RC cars were with nitromethane-powered engines that came into existence in the early 1940s. Yes, the history of RC cars is actually that old and people have been involved in this hobby through all these long years. However, the early models were very small in size and had very limited capabilities. During those early periods, the RC cars had the ability for precise control in a similar manner as with a vehicle. However, RC cars were not a matter of commercial activity as none of the companies were involved in commercial manufacturing and distribution of RC cars.
The actual commercial activity in the field of RC cars started as late as mid-1960 when the Italian RC cars making company Elettronica Giocattoli (also known as El Gi) based in Reggio Emilia starting making commercially viable models for RC cars around that time. Their first RC model, which was a 1:12 scale Ferrari 250LM, was introduced in the market around December 1966. The place where it was first marketed was in the UK and it was brought there through importers named Motor Books and Accessories based out of St. Martins in London. Thereafter, the same model was introduced in Swansea during early 1967 by the Atkinson’s models shop located in Swansea. Elettronica Giocattoli further worked in the field of RC cars and followed their firm model with the next one which was 1:10 scaled Ferrari P4. The second model was first demonstrated at the famous Milan’s Toy Fair held around the start of 1968.
During mid to late 1960s, the British RC car making company named Mardave, based out of Leicester, producing RC car models that were commercially viable. Their initial cars were either nitro powered or gas powered models that were sold mostly in local areas during the early 1970s.
Several small RC car making firms also surfaced during the early 1970s and introduce various commercial products. Most of them first began as just slot-type car companies but also ventured into the field of RC car and truck vehicles with the increase in the popularity of this field. The most prominent of these were companies like Associated Electrics, the Thorp, the Dynamic, the Scorpion, the Taurus, and the Delta. Most of the kits produced by these brands were 1:8 scale models that were nitro-powered car versions with aluminum flat pans. These cars were powered by either .21 or even smaller engines. The structures for these vehicles were constructed out of polycarbonate which was considered to be most popular type made out of Lexan. The highly popular type of engine that was under use at that time was the K&B Veco McCoy. The main governing body for RC car racing was Remotely Operated Auto Racers (ROAR). During 1973-1974, another RC car company Jerobee, based out of Washington State, introduced the 1/12 scale model that was a nitro powered car featuring a Cox .049 engine. Based on this entry, various companies that manufactured aftermarket parts, created various parts for the Jerobee car that included refined bodies made out of Lexan, heat sinks, and large versions of fuel tanks. These versions further evolved into 1/12 scale electric-powered racing when the RC12E model was created by Associated Electrics in the year 1976-1977. After that Jerobee got converted into Jomac and developed an indigenous electric kit.
During the late 1970s, the 1:12 scale models in electric racing started equivalent growth as 1:8 scale IC racing models. The 1:8 scales was the only racing category at that time.
In 1976, Tamiya, a Japan based firm, which earlier became popular for their complexly designed plastic kits, launched a number of neat, elegant and quite detailed, but technically simple electric powered on-road type car and truck models that used to be marketed as “suitable for radio control”. Though these models were quite expensive, the kits and RC kits were sold quite rapidly. Tamiya then began to provide more purpose-built RC car models. In fact, Tamiya was the first company to introduce off-road versions of buggies that featured real improved suspension systems. The diversification of RC cars was credited to this development among the off-road class models which contributed to step increase in the popularity of the hobby. It freed the RC cars from the limitation of bitumen roads and smooth surfaces and made them capable of being driven almost on any type of surface.
The Sand Scorcher model and Rough Rider model were first of the actual off road models from Tamiya. Both of these were released in the year 1979 and both were based on realistic designs of the dune buggies. Tamiya further continued to develop and produce off road forms of RC vehicles in more and more numbers. These models featured real working suspensions, much more powerful drive motors, improved and textured rubber tires for off road applications and various stylized and diversely designed “dune buggy” bodies. Tamiya also manufactured trucks, for example the Toyota HiLux Pickup truck featuring close-to-real three speed gearbox with leaf-spring type suspension systems. All of the above models shared advantages of being realistic, robust, durable, convenient to assemble, capable of easy modifications, and quite simple to repair. In fact, these models became so much popular that they are aptly credited with the achievement of providing a boom to RC controlled car and truck vehicles during the period of early and mid 1980s. They provided the foundation for present day’s RC car market. Some of the most popular Tamiya brand models include the Grasshopper, the Hornet dune buggy, the Blackfoot and lastly the Clodbuster monster truck models. The first of the Tamiya models, specifically the early off road models are even sought after for collection by vintage RC collectors. This interest can possibly fetch those prices as high as US$3000 on online auctions and sales sites if still available in fresh, unbuilt form. The still continuing popularity has even resulted in many of the early kits being re-released by Tamiya lately, with a only few alterations.
As another major advancement to the field, the British firm Schumacher Racing was the first to design an adjustable ball differential during 1980, which allowed capability for nearly infinite level of tuning suitable for various diversified track conditions. Added to this, during that time, most of the on-road cars utilized a solid axle, whereas the off-road versions normally utilized a gear-type differential.
Modern developments in radio controlled racing
Associated Electrics, Inc. based in Costa Mesa, California introduced the first electrically powered racing car in the year 1984 which was the RC10 off-road electric racer; this development was a diversification from Associated Electrics’ normal line of nitro-powered on-road racing cars. Designed to work as high-grade RC cars, the chassis of these RC10 buggies were manufactured by using anodized, high quality aircraft-grade aluminum based alloy. It also featured improved shock absorbers that were machined, filled with oil and are completely tunable which were produced from the same aluminum based alloy as well. These models also included suspension control arms and the three piece wheels that were manufactured using high-impact nylon
The wheels and transmission of RC10 also optionally incorporated ball bearings shielded with metal. The RC10 transmission assembly also included an innovative differential that featured hardened steel rings which were pressed against the balls making it almost completely adjustable according to any track condition. The RC10 gained lot of popularity very quickly and became a dominant model in the field of electric off-road racing.
Another major company Schumacher Racing Products introduced their Competition All Terrain or CAT vehicle in 1986. It was soon considered as the best four wheel drive type off-road “buggy” racing machine of that time. The CAT even went on to conquer the 1987 off-road world championship. This car is in fact credited for sparking a new interest in the racing of 4wd electric powered off-road vehicles.
Another great contribution was made by Gil Losi Jr. His family owned and ran the “Ranch Pit Shop R/C” racetrack located in Pomona, California. Losi diverted his college education toward engineering, and focused on the field of injection molded plastics that led to the foundation of Team Losi. The first Team Losi buggy was the JRX-2. It sparked off rivalry between Team Losi and Team Associated which still continues to the present day. Team Losi went on to achieve a lot of accolades and successful feats. An important one of this list includes the introduction of first all-natural rubber tires of the RC car industry. Others include, the launch of the first American-made four-wheel-drive racing buggy, and the 1/18-scale Mini-T off-road model working on electric power, that was a completely new class of cars.
Although Team Losi and Team Associated seemed to have control over a major part of the American market, another American company Traxxas and Japanese Kyosho had also started making equally competitive two-wheel-drive RC car and truck models for off-road racing. While Team Losi and Team Associated were indulged in close rivalry in the USA, Schumacher with its off-road models continued to be popular in Europe, providing the European hobbyists some of the most loved RC models.
Interestingly, both the Electric and nitro powered car models have witnessed lot of improvement in the department of power. Electric cars moved on from motors which were non-rebuildable brushed and Ni-Cd based batteries to more efficient brushless motors and Li-Po batteries. On the other hand, Nitro cars have done away with small engines and have introduced huge .32 engines which find their use in big monster trucks.
Type of RC Car kits
Matching with diversity of the RC car hobby and variety in the level of participation of enthusiasts, even the RC car kits can be available as various different forms to satisfy the different level of expertise of the people. They vary in complexity, sizes and the amount of effort required in the process of picking up the kit and putting your vehicle on the track – ready to race. These variations in the type of kits can be broadly covered in three categories that are:
- Ready-to-run type RC vehicle kits
- Almost Ready-to-run RC vehicle kits
- To be assembled general RC vehicle kits
We will try to discuss each of these variations in the type of RC kits to describe compare the options so that you get a fair idea about each of them. This description will help you understand each of them and help you in deciding which one to start with.
The first in the list and the most popular among majority of users are the ready-to-run or RTR type kits. RTR or Ready-to-Run type RC racing kits can be suitable for both amateurs as well as expert RC racers. As a result they are obviously the most common and famous type of RC car kits that are being used. As the name suggests, Ready-to-run or RTR kits do not require any engineering, assembly, and connections to be done. You can just pick up your kits and start racing. RTR type kits are available as completely assembled models including all the things that are required to run the RC vehicle as soon as you take out the vehicle from the box. Some of the RTR cars or trucks may occasionally require some extra parts to run the vehicle. These parts may include a battery, a charger or some nitro fuel to run the engine. It does not mean that ready to run kits are only for amateurs who want to pick up the kits a start playing with their toys. Even commercial uses and participation in competitions also witness use of ready to run (RTR) kits wherever users can do with the standard models and do not want major customizations.
Team Losi provides such ready to run kits that include absolutely everything you will need to run your vehicle right out of the box. For few RTR vehicles you may need to buy nitro fuel, battery and charger, glow driver or AA batteries for the transmitter which supposedly is quite trivial stuff. So just take your RTR vehicle from the box, plug in the batteries and you are ready to race your vehicle on the road.
The next type of kits is RC cars assembly kits or simply RC car kits. They are the exact opposites of the ready to run (RTR) models. The RC car kits have no ready models to use. In fact, the kits just contain all the required parts for making an RC car model. One has to start from scratch and assemble all the parts together to come up with a working model. These kits may either provide instructions to assemble the constituents or may give the constructor complete freedom for building the RC model on his own. This way the constructor can play around with the design by doing experimentation and doing customization to the kits. However, this type of luxury is provided by most extensive kits only that will provide optional parts or spare parts. Such kits also don’t have the limitation of using the parts from the specific kit itself. You can use extra parts as well to be able to completely customize the design and working. For example, if you want to use special type of wheels for a specific race surface, that are not available in the kit, the wheels can be purchased separately and replace the default wheels with the specific ones. These kits are again available in different type of version with varying level of details and level of expertise. Though, in most of the cases, these build your own kits are meant for professional racers only due to the requirement of higher level of knowledge, skills and expertise, some companies also make starter kits that can easily by handled by beginners or kids. These kits only have basic parts but they are disassembled. So, the beginners can just join those basic parts through proper instructions and build their own car models.
Almost ready to run kits
The third type which is a sort of hybrid of the above two variations is the almost ready to run kit. If performance of your RC vehicle is a concern for you and you would like to do some modifications and customizations to your standard model of the RC car or truck but do not possess enough time to build the model right from the scratch, this option is ideal for your purpose. Such kits are semi assembled in nature where some of the very basic parts are already assembled to save time on steps which do not require much customization. However, some of the important parts or larger parts may be left assembled to do quick assembly or customization and be ready with the ready to run RC car or truck model very quickly. Some of these types of almost ready to run RC car and truck kits are also suitable for beginners so that they can build their RC car and truck models with very basic and minimum steps and start learning the art of building their own RC cars and trucks. This way they do not have to go into the detailed intricacies of the complete process if they were to build an RC car or truck model from a completely disassembled kit. One such famous example of this type of kit is the Team Losi’s race roller.
The kits that are have to be build from scratch and are meant for competitions build your own vehicle type kits and semi-assembled kits that are knows as race roller kits are generally designed so that substantial amount of modifications can be incorporated into the designs of the RC cars or trucks, therefore you will have to buy an number of extra components. These extra components can include engines, motors, electronic components, and obviously battery or fuel for power. Because of their capability of being customized, you add further level of customization by using specific wheel and tire assemblies and even paint and design for the RC model. This should not be a problem for people who have decent level of expertise in the field and are interested in working with the details of the models.
Factors to be considered before opting for the right type of kit for you:
As you must have realized that each of the above mentioned three types of RC car or truck kits are different levels of users and applications, you must clearly understand what your preferences are and what factors will affect your decision in choosing the appropriate type of kit for your purpose.
Kits or Race Rollers types are designed specifically for customization. Because of the customizable nature of their kit models and race roller versions, they do not contain the electronics such as radio system, electronic type speed control systems, servos or even batteries. They also do not contain any power system i.e the engine or the motor. Therefore all these items need to be purchased as separate items. This makes it critically that only if you actually have so much interest in working with so much detail and have detailed understanding about all this stuff or want to gain expertise in this field, should you venture ahead by buying RC car building kits or even race rollers.
The Race Roller type kits and RC car building kits require continuous maintenance, fine tuning and modifications for satisfactory performance. Due to the complexities involved in the RC kits and RC Race Roller, they are required to be handled very carefully while inspecting and fine-tuning every time they are used. This will ensure an optimum level of performance for these types of RC cars and trucks.
RC Kits and RC Race Roller type kits are mostly meant for participation in racing competitions. Therefore, if you do not have such specific and high requirement, the features of these kits may exceed your requirements and expectations. Moreover, be carefully before choosing to buy these kits if you’re only a starter in the field as it takes some time in getting comfortable with these advanced kits and building expertise in handling and working with these complex kits.
RC Car Tires
Car tires are very critical and important parts of your RC car models. Having a strong and powerful engine, a sturdy chassis and rugged body is not enough to build race winning RC car. Though it may seem that tires only a part and parcel of the package, those who take them for granted may be doing a big mistake. Even if you have done everything perfect in buying or building a high-class RC car racing model, the choice of tires may make or break your performance on the race track. The tires will decide that how well your RC car is going to hold on to the track when it is running at top speeds. This will decide if your car skids on the surface or is firm even while taking turns. What is even more important that each type of race track has different requirements of tires. What works on a flat cemented road can completely be a failure on a dirt track and vice versa. So here is all you ever wanted to know about the tires available for RC cars.
RC racing car tires are either available separately or are available pre-attached with the wheels. Generally, different car brands manufacture their own tires which may sometime be wearable by the models of those brands only. All the tires come in some specific size specifications and are designed for specific type or size of vehicle such as different sizes of RC cars and RC trucks. Even for a given model and a given size, there can be numerous types of tires that are available varying in tread depth, tread design and the type of material. They again may be suited to different preferences, type of use and the type of terrain.
The first type of tires is drift tires. They are specially designed for the purpose of drift racing. They have different tread designs that are mostly planar and suited for drift driving. One example of car that uses drift tires RTR type Sprint 2 Drift model. The material that is mostly used in RC car drift tires rubber, also including a special type of resin compound. This composition is used to ensure that the drifting type RC car tires don’t do any damage to the RC tracks as a lot of friction is generated between the tire surface and the track. The tires may preferably be mounted on special wheels i.e. touring car wheels.
The bowtie type of tires are generally long lasting and slow wearing tires that are specifically designed to survive hard RC tracks. They use special material that is quite firm and doesn’t wear down easily even on very hard and destructive tracks.
The ribbed tires are ideally for use on front wheels of the RC racing car and truck models. An example of such a vehicle using ribbed tires is the HPI’s Firestorm 10T. They are considered to be better in quality than the pin type tires as they are able to provide better grip on the surface.
All Terrain Tire
These are the multipurpose type tires that can be used to race RC cars on multiple terrains. Their special design and special material composition make them capable of doing this. These tires can be mounted on both real as well as front wheels. You may have seen such multipurpose tires on models such as the MGT 4.60 SE by Team Associated and Jato 1/10 scaled stadium class truck by Traxxas.
The street tire specialized type of tires that are specifically designed for top performance while racing on hard surfaces like roads and pavements make of materials like asphalt or concrete. An example of street tires is Anaconda 2.8″. This brand of street tires is usually fitted on the wheels of Traxxas Jato 3.3 and the Traxxas’ Nitro Rustler.
How to change RC Tire?
Changing tires of RC car models may be a tricky task sometimes. You should be aware of the standard way of changing RC car tires to avoid any trouble. Firstly you have to use the 4-way wrench for removing the factory nuts that are holding the tires in place with the RC car model. Take out the old tires from the wheels and mount the new tires in place of them. Each tire is meant to be put at a specific place, for example, wider tires are for rear wheels and slimmer tires are for front wheels. In some case, even the left and right tires may be different. After placing the tires on the wheels and positioned them properly, secure the tires with the wheels by using glue so that the tires do not slip. Once the tires are put in place, mount the wheel back on the axel and tighten back the nuts to an optimum extent.
Popular RC Car and truck models and Brands
In this section we will discuss some of the examples of actual RC car and trucks models and the companies that manufacture them. Every RC vehicle constructing company offers some specific type of RC models. So we will know which company has what type of expertise and what the offer. Also, some discussion on each of their most famous models will give us more insights and help in understanding the functionalities, key features and capabilities. By this information you can even choose the RC car or truck that you plan to buy.
Traxxas is one of the leading RC cars and trucks manufacturers that deals in RC models primarily related to hobby level participation. Traxxas is based out of Plano in Texas, United States. Traxxas offers a wide variety of RC vehicle models (cars, trucks and boats) that include both electric powered as well as nitro powered versions. Traxxas, apart from leading the RC models making, actively promotes a number of RC car and truck racing competitions. They have both launched new RC car racing competitions and have also supported already continuing competitions. Through their active participation in this field, Traxxas has contributed in taking this hobby to the next level of popularity and development. For example, Traxxas entered into title sponsorship of the brand new Traxxas TORC car racing series very recently in 2009. This is a big step as this series is a national level off-road version RC cars racing event in United States.
Traxxas offers different families of RC vehicles that cater to different type of models and different type of uses with specific features. These model families include:
- Maxx Family
The Maxx family includes the descendants of the T-Maxx which was one of the very first models of monster truck type introduced by Traxxas. This first member or the family, the T-Maxx monster truck was introduced during 1999. The T-Maxx holds the credit for starting the monster truck race as it got extremely popular and started a new generation of RC trucks.
The T-maxx one of the very advanced models in its class at the time of its introduction, therefore it set various benchmarks related to technologies and components used in the model. The chassis was made of single plate type aluminum material that was further supported by beam supports that are placed underneath the chassis. The suspension structure uses a completely independent design that is known as a double A-arm. It is further supported with eight coils of shocks, with two placed on each of the corners. The drive mechanism consists of a center-mounted engine that is Pro .15 type nitro engine. A centrally mounted dual speed transmission drives a permanent 4wd (4-wheel drive) mechanism that does not use any center differential in the system. The model uses massive sized 5.75 x 3.5 inch tires. These tires were “chevron” style and were mounted on special 3.2 inch wheels. Several versions of T-Maxx were introduced later on with minor improvements that included T-Maxx 2.5, T-Maxx 2.5R, T-Maxx 3.3 and T-Maxx Classic.
Thereafter, three other models, primarily around the design of T-Maxx but have significant improvements were included in to the family. These new incarnations of the T-Maxx include SportMaxx (introduced in 2003), S-Maxx (introduced in 2003) and the E-Maxx (introduced recently in 2007).
- Revo Family
Revo family includes a number of models that have been designed around the first version of Revo model. Though Revo was a so called advancement of the T-Maxx, it was actually a completely redesigned version of the original with a completely changed chassis used for monster truck that provided highly advanced and robust design as compared to the T-Maxx. The first version of Revo was introduced during 2004.
The Revo model was successful in gaining lot of popularity in the field of RC racing as it show consistent performance and tremendous capability while racing in some of the most hazardous environments and race tracks including dirty or rocky race tracks. There are many characteristics that make the Revo a special and extremely rugged model. The first notable feature is the suspension system which contains an inboard pushrod and includes a new “GTR” shock system and springs. It also has a special chassis which is a complicated “monocoque”-type made of aluminum. It helps in lowering the CoG of the vehicle. It has a much stronger transmission system that incorporates electronic control based reverse, sealed controlled slip differentials, pivot balls that are rubber sealed as well as reliable ball bearings and drive shafts. The wheels are 3.8 inches in size wheels with rugged “Talon” tires suitable for all terrains. The engine is an updated and improved version of TRX 2.5 class engine made by Traxxas and is named TRX 2.5R. This model has shown exceptional speed performance reaching up to speeds of 40mph and even more.
The next version of Revo had the TRX 3.3 class engine that was Traxxas’ advanced, newer, more powerful verson of the Traxxas engines. Its launch period coincided with the T-Maxx 3.3 during the year of 2006. The further versions of Revo included Revo Platinum (launched in April 2008), Revo 3.3 (launched in late 2008), and a more advanced Revo 3.3 in July 2009).
The successor of Revo was E-Revo, which was the electric powered variant of the Revo and was introduced during May 2008 by Traxxas. The electronics were similar to E-Maxx’s version 16.8 and consists of dual type “Titan” 550 motor model, EVX-2 version Waterproof ESC as well as advanced higher torque servos that are waterproof. The rear and the front assemblies are similar to that of the initial revo model. However, the chassis has been modified and is now made of plastic that is prepared by injection molding in place of the earlier chassis that was made of semi-monocoque aluminum. Other considerable features are enclosed battery enclosures incorporating air intake vents assisting in the cooling of system and a full sized skidding plate completely enclosing the transmission assembly and centrally placed drive shafts.
The other two members of Revo family are Summit and Slayer. The Summit model was launched during the early part of 2009 and hence it is among the newest models or Traxxas. It was actually meant to be the planned entry of Traxxas into the class of Rock crawlers. Many of the components have been inherited from E-Revo model that included the chassis, major part of the suspension and all the components required for steering, major components of the transmission assembly and the drive line, and lastly a waterproof ESC. Apart from the adapted old components, there were lot of new components as well such as the new tires that were 7 inches in diameter and were termed as “Canyon AT” which was a rock crawling or all terrain style tire. These tires were filled with the soft foam material and were used on new 3.8 inched “Geode” wheels that were beadlock style. The model also feature the innovative front and rear side remote controlling and electronically locking differential arrangements, new versions of CV joints with high articulation, new “TQ4″ transmitter with four channels built by Traxxas, and a ten piece LED illumination system integrated within the bumpers using four white colored LEDs (meant for use in headlights) and six red colored LEDs (meant for use in tail lights).
Another model, the Slayer is a four wheel drive nitro powered racing truck meant for shorter length courses. This model of Traxxas RC vehicle family has many parts in common with the other two models of nitro Revos such as the suspension (apart from the suspension arms, which have been made shorter and now contain only a single hole for mounting pushrod)and the chassis from Revo 2.5 model, and engine from the Revo 3.3 model. Another different is that the Slayer has a somewhat larger body as compared to the normal size of the 1/10 scaled RC vehicles; the difference it makes is that the tires are moved inboard in place of being moving outboard as it happens in the stadium truck models that are available these days. The Slayer kit is available in the RTR form incorporating the TRX 3.3 version racing engine that makes it possible to speeds of more than 50 miles per hour.
- Jato Family
The Jato family primarily has two members – the Jato 2.5 and Jato 3.3.
The Jato 2.5 model was released in the year of 2005 (that is simply called “Jato” in common usage). The Jato 2.5 is a totally new model based on the design of 1/10 scaled truck with a rear wheel drive that is a popular model in the industry. In fact, the new Jato 2.5 model substituted the Traxxas Nitro powered Rustler model high end range of stadium trucks. It uses the same engine as used by Nitro Rustler which is TRX 2.5 nitro powered engine but also has various newer hight tech features, out which some are taken from Revo which makes this model unique. Here are some of the new features that were incorporated into the model. Firstly, it included a more sophisticated two-speed automatic transmission system, which helped in improving acceleration and also the top speed as compared to te single speed Nitro powered Rustler. Another important and sophisticated feature was the suspension design. It also included “GTR” shock and spring systems that were new and were inherited from the Revo family, with a difference that it was used in the older configuration rather than the new pushrod configuration of Revo model. Also the suspension system included front and rear mounting points for optional sway bars, which were offered as Traxxas accessories in three different thicknesses.
The Jato 3.3 model was released in the year 2006. Changes as compared to older versions included the incorporation of Traxxas’ more superior TRX 3.3 nitro powered engine, taller first and second gear ratios, new wheels fitted with “Anaconda” tires oriented for the streets, standard form of front and rear sets of sway bars, standard type wheelie bar, new exhaust pipe made of aluminum and tuned with the resonator and a new scheme for the body paint. The body was also slightly modified to accommodate the TRX 3.3′s larger cooling head. It has a claimed top speed of 65+MPH.
- 2WD Stadium Truck Family
The 2WD Stadium truck family consists of a long list of nitro powered and electric powered models based around the electric Rustler model. These models include the Rustler, Nitro Rustler, Stampede, Nitro Stampede, Nitro Sport, Bandit and Slash.
- 4×4 Stadium Truck Family
This is the latest family of Traxxas products and consist only one member as of now. This member is Slash 4×4. The launch of the newest model is planned in late 2009, the Traxxas Slash 4×4 model is a four wheel drive 1/10 scaled version electric powered truck designed for short-course races and it features a new platform from Traxxas, the after the Jato model was launched in 2005. The name may be misleading as this model of the Slash which is a 4×4 version has only very few parts common with the previous two wheel drive Slash, or even the VXL 1/16 Slash. The only parts that were inherited from the old two wheel drive Slash over to the new Slash 4×4 include shocks, spring attachments, rear drive shafts and axle carriers. Apart from these features, the rest of the design of Slash 4×4 is a complete redesign in regard to the whole functionality and working of model. The central chassis of this model is in the form of a semi rectangular unit that has been molded from gray plastic which features triangular reinforcements throughout. The model also incorporates a four wheel independent unequal length double wishbone suspension with four oil filled coilover shocks and progressive rate springs in staggered lengths.
Just a little time after the first version of Slash 4×4 was introduced; the next “Platinum Edition” which was race ready was introduced as well. Similar to the Revo Platinum Edition, this version also lacks the already painted body, however includes most of Traxxas’ built accessories as the stock equipment. The other new features are its large bore shocks made out of aluminum, a centrally placed differential, hubs and axle carriers made of aluminum, wheel nuts made of blue anodized aluminum, front and rear placed sway bars, and compound tires for racing.
- 4-tec Family
The 4-tec family has two members which are 4-tec nitro model and 4-tec electric model.
The first model of the Traxxas 4-tec family that is Nitro 4-tec was first launched in 1998 and is Traxxas’ version of four wheel drive nitro powered touring car. It had the Traxxas’ powerful Pro.15 nitro powered engine and also featured a dual speed automated transmission and a four wheel drive system driven by belt. Another notable feature was the four wheel independent suspension and the chassis made of aluminum as well.
- 1/16 Scale Models
E-Revo VXL 1/16 is the 1/16 scale model from Traxxas.
It was launched in late spring of 2009. This E-Revo VXL 1:16 scaled model is actually a down-scaled version of the comparatively larger 1/10 scaled actual E-Revo. This version is almost the same with regard to features of wheels, body, the tires, components in the drive system or even the suspension to the actual 1/10 scaled E-Revo. The only difference is that it is a scaled version of the original one. This model is powered by a Velineon 380 4000kv model motor which is a type of brushless motor and a VXL-3m ESC, again a brushless motor. Both of these motors are scaled down forms of the original Velineon 3500 and VXL-3s ESC generally used in all the 1/10 scaled brushless vehicles of Traxxas. Obviously, some inevitable sacrifices had to be made that were inherently attached with the shorter version due to smaller size. These compromises include the missing option of 2 speed transmission assembly, number of components sealed with rubber, and double steering servos that were generally available in the 1/10 scaled version. The speeds that this model could achieve ranged from 30 miles per hour to 50 miles per hour depending on the number of batteries used to power the vehicle.
How to make your own RC racing car
If you are in the game RC car racing, you will be up against some stiff competition and will be racing your car against some of the very best ones. The sport of RC car racing has become so much popular that a number of people have gone ahead of the conventions to build their own standards in this field. What it means that the enthusiasts are not just satisfied to the standard RC cars that are available with the RC car manufacturers. They believe in defining their own design and performance features in addition to already high performing RC car models. People make their own completely customized RC car models according to their requirements to make their models race on any type of race track.
If you want to stay in the trend, you will have to start considering to get hands on some really high quality and state-of-the-art RC car racing stuff. That just not means that you buy a top quality RC racing model but it is just the start. You will now start making modifications to make it able to stand against any level of competition.
First thing to start with is to optimize your model. So firstly you will have to strip away any undesired pieces from your RC car. These can include any parts that are only adding to the aesthetic value of the car i.e. contributing only to the visual design or the looks of the car. You are not taking your car to an exhibition or a beauty pageant, it’s a real race track where only speed and performance matters. These parts may only be adding a lot of weight to your model without adding any real value. So just get rid of these parts at the first place.
Now we will start adding some stuff that will really add to the performance levels of the RC car model and optimize it for top level show. The parts that are added to such RC car models are often known as aftermarket shocks that help in optimizing the design and performance.
Once the aftermarket shocks are added to the RC car model, you will work on giving your car completely unique looks so that your car can stand out in middle of a number of other RC cars. You will have to give your RC race model a really nice paintjob to give it a person or custom look that no other car has. Giving your car a personalized look is an important part of making a statement on the track and is considered imperative in the field of RC car racing because a racer will only be known through his car, so the design of the car needs to deliver that personality. Apart from the paint design, you would also like to add some design accessories to your RC model such as spoilers, few rims on front and rear or sides, and some number of decals as well. But as mentioned earlier, don’t over do these accessories. Otherwise, though you may be able to give your car a totally exciting look, you will loose the primary purpose that is to race and win the competition. So do this ornamentation only up to a desired level. You will be able to get a completely customized look for your RC car as you desire. You can even imitate some of your most beloved car brands and models such as BMS’s, Ferrari’s or Lamborghini’s.
As you buy a new car especially an RCR, you will think that the car is ready for the task, that it is ready to run on the streets. But before you actually go on to see the show; you would definitely like to test it with a dry run. A good way to do that, i.e. to test the racing capabilities of your car and find out RC car’s top speed is to find a flat surface such as a cement road that is free from any people or traffic to give your car complete freedom. You can do whatever type of test you want to do with your car and there will be several types that you will have to do to find out the true capabilities of your RC car so that you have a clear idea of what you are going to handle. You will have to find out the top power and speed at different levels of gears or controls, how it responds to maneuvering, handling on the turns, any hints of skidding, braking etc. Once you are sure that your vehicle is up to the expectations and did whatever you wanted it to do, you are ready to hit the road. However, if you find some mismatch in your expectations and the performance of the RC car in the dummy test, you may still have to do some enhancements in the model to get what you wanted. For example, if the car shows signs of skidding while turning or braking, you will have to change the tires of your vehicle to give it better grip on the surface. However, you will have to be careful with tires as they different tires will behave differently on different surfaces. So, before you are going to change the tires, be sure that on what surface you are going to run your car finally and preferably run it on the actual surface to find the real response. There can be other such minor modifications that you would have to make to make your RC car completely suitable for the actual race.
There is yet another level of test you can perform before you go to perform on the actual professional racing track; you would like to assess the performance in actual racing scenario. You can take part in a local or street race to do only an amateur level of racing. This practice racing will actually be more of a test for you than a test for your vehicle. So apart from the real racing potential test for your car, you will also be able to test your nerves in a race. How well you are able to handle challenges, different racing scenarios, innovation and improvisation in actual situations and your response times.
After having the preliminary tests and practice, it comes down to the real stuff. You have had the dry runs on the streets, you have boosted the performance to meet your expectations by doing the necessary modifications and have done practice on the streets as well. It’s time to make your monster face the ultimate test which is the actual race. You know the stakes are high, but don’t let the pressure to build up on you. You have nothing to worry about having put in all the hard work before the race. Just try to stay calm and focus on the job. When you have done your homework right, there is no reason why you will have any problems in the actual race. Just be confident of your car and your racing skills, do your basic rights and you will be able to succeed. You will be able to race like a champion in your very powerful RC car and you will walk out being proud of yourself and your devil. Just remember how the moment will feel like when you stand on the podium and hold the championship trophy in your hands with your winner.
However, there may be some people who do not have the luxury of being able to modify or customize their cars. There can be any reason. They may not have the time to test and accordingly modify their cars or they may have financial limitations, as most of the times these modifications and customizations will cost money. However, even these people have different options for performing well in the championship races. You can look towards buying standard cars such as the Chevy Monte Carlo or the Ford GT. Even though these are standard RC models, they are very much capable of producing lot of power and speed. They will definitely be able to keep you up to the challenge in most of races. This is the real beauty of these special RC cars that you do not require any effort or investment of money or time to make your car capable of winning a championship. Another option is to take help of some RC car designers or vendors, who can do the customization and modification jobs for you. These people are in RC car designing business for a long time and are experts on what you want to get done. You will just have to shell some amount of money, but again that will be worth when you have the smile of victory on your face.
Another critical aspect that you always need to keep in mind is safety, both for yourself and your car. Though it may sound strange, but RC car racing is actually a quite dangerous sport. You will be surprised to know that a lot of RC race car drivers get hurt during RC Racing because of serious accidents. Therefore, it is imperative that you heed all the security guidelines setup by RC racing experts and always use safe and legal ways while you are performing the act. There are many professional racing organizations that hold RC racing championships and each of them security guidelines that every driver has to follow to get permission or remain registered as an allowed participant in the championships.
However, if you take all the necessary and very simple precautions, you can take these accident thoughts out of your mind. And then RC Racing will become a really rewarding hobby for you. You will just have to donate some time and money and that too according to your interest and will to participate. If you have the real zeal to be the best RC Racer around, then only the sky is the limit and there is no stopping you. You are there to test your mantle against thousands of drivers and beat them in the race to be at the top all by keeping your focus and aim fixed at the top.
So, do you think that you have it in you? If yes then the field is just waiting for you. You can not only become a top rank RC driver, you can also start building your own collection of RC car models. This can be a completely different part of the RC car hobby if you are just in love with cars and want to have your own cars. But to be able to do this, you may have to have some real fortune. Otherwise, you can start with smaller and cheaper RC car models and start building your collection in a financially simpler way. Afterwards, as and when you feel comfortable, you can add to your collection with more advanced and costlier RC car models, if your finances allow you to do so. If you are really crazy about RC car models, then you ought to have a collection of at least 5-10 cars. And if you still have some cash and are in love with them, there is no stopping you and you can have as many of them as you want.
Just remember that the most important thing about RC racing is to be confident and not to hesitate before entering into the field. Just know that everyone has the ability that is required to be an RC Race driver. What you need is lot of love for the game and lot of determination. Even money is not a problem if you know how to handle finances and make great deals. You can start by buying an RC car for as low as $15. Do not go by what everyone has to tell you about your abilities for being an RC car driver. Just know it by yourself that you definitely have it in you what it takes to be a successful driver. It is a guarantee that if you dedicated enough to put in the desired effort, you are bound to become a champion racer and enjoy all the benefits of becoming a popular RC Race car speedster. You can live your dream of making it to the highly esteemed RC pro stock car circuit, which is the arena for the best of the best drivers. Just know that you can and stay focused, and who knows you may one day be testing your mantle by racing your RC car in the Wal-Mart parking lot with a claim to all the fortune and fame of being a world champion.
Finer Customization Tricks
Setting up a slipper clutch
RC cars have seen so much advancement over the past few years and grown so much in performance benchmarks. Moreover, the level of competition has grown tremendously. Therefore, today’s high powered RC cars not only have to face extreme driving conditions but also have to handle extreme speed and power of motor. One very common way of making a car handle these extremities is to use a slipper clutch. The slipper is especially very helpful in controlling the operations for off road models such as buggies and trucks. These models often have a built in slipper clutch. The two prime functions of a slipper clutch on a buggy or a truck are: to control the spinning of the wheel and to protect the drive train parts from any failure or damage by providing cushioning protection to the parts as the RC truck model faces any shock. Wheel spin can cause large dents in a car’s performance as spinning of wheels does not actually make your car to move as long as there is no gripping.
Dual Battery power
Another way of boosting up the power of your RC model is to use more batteries. You can use two instead of one battery on your battery powered RC car model. But using two batteries is not so straight forward as it may sound. You ought to know the trick in detail before actually being successful. Firstly you need to make sure that our RC model is capable of and compatible with handling two batteries simultaneously. This does not mean only physical compatibility but electronic compatibility as well. Physically compatibility means that the RC car model must be able to accommodate and carry two batteries. Firstly, there should be proper allocations of slots for carrying two batteries. Most of the high performance monster trucks manufactured these days is designed with this objective in mind. Secondly, as most of the batteries are quite heavy in size, weight considerations are very important. Be sure that the addition of an extra battery does not exceed the safe weight limit of your RC car model. Then comes the electrical compatibility. Physical compatibility does not ensure that the model will still be absolutely compatible with two batteries. You also need to ensure compatibility of electrical specifications such as voltage and current of the batteries with the requirements and allowed limits of the RC car model. You can easily check this by studying the specification guide of the RC model and checking the maximum voltage and current limit that the electronics of the RC model can handle. It may be possible that you will be able to put two batteries in your model with one specification of batteries but not with other.
Once you have checked the compatibility of the pair of batteries then you have to physically mount the batteries and make connections of the battery with the electronics of the RC model. Physical mounting will be simple, as in most cases, you will have well defined mounting structures for the batteries in the electrical powered RC models. The next step is to make electrical contacts. There can be multiple ways of making contacts depending on whether you want to make series or parallel contact for the pair of batteries. One simple way of making a series contact is to use y-adaptor that is just an plugging attachment that enables you to make series electrical contacts instantaneously. The other brute force method is to make soldered contacts. The advantage that soldering provides is freedom of how you make the contacts and how you want to places. However, they come with the limitation of reliability and convenience of making the contacts as you need some minimum level of skill for making soldered contacts.
Jazz up your RC model with Stickers
This topic is not related to enhancing the performance of the RC model but is still an important aspect of the overall model. Every RC car driver wishes to make a statement on the track through his RC model. That not only means a strong and well performing model, but also one that makes a statement for itself just from the looks. Looks will obviously be built the overall structure and size of the model. But to give the finishing touches to the model, you need to add something extra. That extra can be added easily by using attractive color combinations and moreover by using stickers. You can either get stickers easily available in market for jazzing up your RC car model or you can get your own sticker designed from designers. This way you will be able to put sticker with specific design, colors or any name that you may have given to your RC car model.
Professional graphics designers provide services for designing customized stickers for RC cars and will be able to give you some great ideas for designs of stickers that you may yourself not have thought of. This will help especially in the case where you have a customized designed model of the RC car and you are not successful in getting an appropriate sticker from the market.
What can be even more interesting is that if you have some expertise in designing graphics or would like to do so, get your hands on any graphics designing software and come up with your own design for sticker? This way you will be able to save cost of hiring any professional designer as well. And you don’t need any expertise in putting the stickers on your model. So do as many as you can.
Radio Controlled Cars Do’s And Don’ts Beginners Guide
If you are a beginner or even an enthusiast who wants to venture into this highly interesting and prospective field of fast, thrilling and exciting sport of RC car racing, you have done the right thing by making this decision. But there are few things you need to know and you need to be sure off before you put your step in. As you will be putting in at least some money and a lot of effort in pursuing this sport or hobby, you would like to ensure that your investment of money and effort is not going vain and is serving your purpose. These simple sets of knowledge will help you in taking informed decisions and reaping maximum benefits and satisfaction from your choice of interest.
You must have come to know after reading though this book that RC car models are available in lot of varieties of shapes, designs, sizes, companies and version etc. Broadly speaking, each variety of RC car can be said to belong to one of the categories which are toy type and hobby type. You need to understand that these are two completely different types.
Be sure that you do not confuse between them as commercial market does complete distinction between these two types. Therefore, if you go looking for a toy type RC car in a store selling hobby type RC cars, there is a great chance that you will not be able to find what you are looking for and similarly vice versa. Any person well versed in the field of RC cars and models, will know the distinction between these two categories, so you would like yourself to sound ignorant in front of such people. As the name would suggest, a toy grade RC model is one that is normally meant for household or daily playing purpose. Such models are generally meant for children and generally are standard type of models. On the other hand, hobby type RC models are the more serious types. This is the category that is related to professional racing and involves much more serious thought.
Having said that, it may seem degrading or demeaning to call any RC model a toy grade, in reality the modern day vehicles are truly advanced and high performing even if they are toy grade. They also have some amazing functionalities and capability that make them capable of standing shoulder-to-shoulder in any queue of RC car models. Many of these models are based on existing and latest real car models. Many of the hobby grade cars may lack this advantage as they are mostly meant for racing purpose and do not focus of designing or looks. Some of the toy grade cars even incorporate many interesting features as that make playing with RC models very interactive and exciting. Some of these features include flashing lights, completely worked interiors, lots of sounds, talking radios and music functionality such as an mp3 player. If you find these playful features good for you, you make like to a standard RC car showroom or a common toy store and pick up an exciting model of RC car toy to get a feel of a real remote controlled vehicle. If you like what you have in your hands, you can keep on enjoying your latest purchase and even go on further to buy more models to have more fun. Share your new toy with your friends and have a really exciting time.
However, if you are not here just for fun and want more serious level of involvement in the field, then you are ready for more details to take a deep dive into the field of RC cars and vehicles.
When you take your first steps into the field of RC cars, especially the hobby grade cars, the decisions will become much more complicated. Perhaps, one of the initial questions will be that what type of kit you want. Should it be a RTR or ready to race type or you would like to get an assembling kit to make your own personalized and customized model. Buying a RC car kit or more so, buying individual parts for making a kit and building your own vehicle will require extensive knowledge regarding each of the parts, interchangeability, compatibility and replacement among all the parts. For example, each type of wheel may not be compatible with each type of chassis or car type. Also, as the technology and standards in the field keep on changing briskly, be sure that you get hold of parts that are actually state of the art. Otherwise, you may easily end up in a situation where you are about to complete the whole model but find that just one of the parts got damaged and you are not able to find a suitable replacement for the same. At such a stage you will be left with very few options.
The field of hobby grade models is so vast that almost an infinite number of modifications and version are available that vary in sizes, shapes, power speed etc. One major choice that affects over model is the type of power source. As we have already discussed the different type of power sources in this book, you must have a clear idea of what the pros and cons of using each type of power source can be. The simplest type of power source that is available is the electric battery source that can be ideal for the people just starting out in this field.
The electric power sources available for use in RC car models are primarily of three types: nickel cadmium (Ni-Cd), lithium polymer cells and nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH). The most important advantage of all of these type of batteries is that they are easily pluggable and replaceable. They have an external charger hook that can be easily connected to a power source and there for save the effort of opening up the lid of fuel tank in a fuel or gas powered source. However, you need to take care that your batteries are charged completely whenever you are about to use your electric powered RC car, otherwise you will not be able to charge your batteries quickly. Whereas, a fuel tank can be instantly filled with the fuel and the RC car model will be ready to run again. Variations are also available in the type motors. Both brushed and brushless types of motors are available and each of them has their own list of advantages and disadvantages. On one hand brushless motors are known for better performance, but they are dearer to your pockets. On the other hand, brushed motors are the traditionally used type of motors. Therefore, they are cheaper and easy to find but obviously be compromising on performance.
When you have grown enough in the field of RC cars and decide that it’s time to leave battery powered models behind and move to more advanced ones, the next obvious choice will be fuel powered engines. Even in fuel powered engines, the most commonly or in fact unanimously used fuel is nitro. Therefore, the terms nitro-powered or fuel-powered are always used interchangeably. These engines draw a very close similarity with the real car engines as they are spark plug based internal combustion engines just miniaturized in size and much more simplified. The nitro fuel is a mixture of multiple chemicals including nitromethane, methanol, as well as synthetic/castor oil. Typically, nitro powered cars are much simpler in design and construction due to the simple working of the engine and hence much cheaper than the gas powered version. However, the only limitation is that the nitro fuel is much costlier than the gas, so you may have to spend a lot of money on fuel over a longer period of time if you are very active driver.
Moreover, nitro powered systems are generally meant for the smaller models or smaller sized cars. If you are interested giant sized monsters, you may prefer roaring gas powered models. As the nitro-powered models are generally preferred only by the highly professional drivers competing in top level competitions, gas powered motor based models enjoy a wider customer base. These gas powered models use a fuel that is a mixture of gasoline and oil. A major advantage of gas powered engines is that they require much lesser maintenance or cleaning and therefore are more dependable and reliable than the nitro powered engines.
It is to be highlighted here that though gas powered engines are much more costly than the nitro or even the electric powered models but the cost limitation is only for the first time purchase. This is because of the cheaper gas as against the electric power or nitro fuel which makes these versions of engines almost equivalent in cost over a longer period of time. As far as the heating performance is concerned, both nitro and gas run engines have the capability of being air cooled, therefore they do not pose major heating problems and can run for long periods on longer race tracks without any danger of burning out or damaging any part. However, electric powered models have to be given breaks for cooling after sometime of racing as their cooling system is not that efficient. On another front, electric engines perform better than the fuel or gas powered engines which is the swiftness in gaining torque. Where electric engines can pick up top torque almost instantaneously when they are switched on, gas or fuel powered engines need to gear up and take time in reaching their full torque. You need to match all these parameters with your preferences, requirements and budget constraints.
After choosing the type of engine you require for your RC car, you can also make a choice of the type of body for RC cars. RC car bodies come in two main categories – on road type and off road type. The main difference in functioning is that the on road type models are only designed for running on smooth surfaces, whereas, the off road type models can run on almost any surface however uneven it may be. The main design feature that makes the off road models capable of handling uneven terrains is their suspension which is almost like our real cars. Opposed to this design are the on road cars which do not have those special suspensions and run on simpler surfaces such as roads and pavement. You cannot run these models on surfaces such as dirt or rocky paths. However, that does not mean they are inferior to on-road models in any sense. The on road models are known for their precision control and their top speed performances. This comparison can be drawn in parallel to the differences between a Formula 1 car and a mountain rally car.
Before you make a choice for the type of car body you want to buy, you will have to understand your requirements – where does your interest lie, in what type of races do you want to participate and which terrains you will be running your cars on. Hopefully, answers to these questions will be able to give you the correct decision for choosing the car body type.
When you decide to enter the much more serious domain of competitive racing, you will have to do much more ground work. You should have a crystal clear idea of what you are up to and what you are up against. Competitive RC car racing is already a very widespread domain and has a huge following. There are a number of amateur and professional groups and clubs that spend most of their time in learning and practicing about this field and work with their object of passion i.e. the RC cars. The best way to learn and understand about the world of RC cars is to talk to and work with the people who already have substantial experience in the field. You can start working with them as co-drivers or just assist them in their work so that you are able to gain knowledge and expertise from them. By then you will be able to learn about the parts of RC cars to know which one to buy, how to build cars and how to test them. Thereafter, you can start running RC cars in practice races or smaller races under their guidance. The ultimate experience will obviously be when you are able to run a RC car in a real race. Before being able to do that you need to get the feel of the field and should be completely convinced that you would like to continue into this field.
Apart from the technical details and homework that you have read about in earlier articles, another important factor especially while competing in official competitions and tournaments are the rules and guidelines. Most of the top level competitions have their own governing authorities that set the rules and guidelines for racing and RC car models. These rules and guidelines ensure that all the racers follow fair racing practices and none of them have any unfair advantage. It is a must that you follow all of them to be allowed to race in the competitions. Any violation can invite penalty or expulsion from the membership. The set of rules and guidelines for all of such events can be easily accessed from their websites or any literature published by the authorities. Otherwise, you can directly contact the authorities to get a clear idea of the rules and guidelines. You would not like to appear all geared up for a race with a completely customized car built by spending hundreds of dollars and days of your effort, just to discover that the fuel tank you used was just too big for the competitions and exceeds the size limits. You will directly be disqualified from the race which will not be a pleasant sight.
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