I have been asked for buying advice on a number of occasions since I've been involved with the club.
I am normally reluctant to give such advice, because buting RC equipment can be a very personal thing, and one persons bargain can be another persons nightmare.
However, i have been persuaded that a brief beginners guide might be a good idea, so here it is.
just read it with the view that there are almost infinite options available, and that nobody, least of all me, has all the right answers.
Absolute beginners guide to chosing a car to race.
There are many elements to consider when choosing how to enter the facinating sport of radio control car racing.
Much depends on whether you are already an experienced "basher", and can control a car already, or maybe you have limited experience, and want something to try out.
At Adur Model Car club we have a wide range of drivers of all abilities, and classes to cater for them all.
While looking at the awesome speed which some of these cars can do, it is tempting to want to jump in at the deep end.
However, experience has show us that a beginner with a fast car simply crashes more, and harder, which can be an expensive proposition, as well as limiting the build up of confidence.
This short guide, is therefore aimed at the absolute beginner, and concentrates on the classes which I believe are the best for an entry level driver.
That is not to say that they are easy. If anything, they are more competetive, and more focussed on driver skill than the faster cars.
The first thing to consider is whether you want to start driving at the offroad, or onroad tracks.
This choice is very much down to your preference.
For Offroad, there are a number of choices, but the choices are limited by the nature of the track we have built.
It is designed with 8th scale Nitro buggies and truggies in mind, and so not suitable in the main, for electric 10th scale cars.
The one exception to this, is the 10th scale Short Course trucks, which are big cars, with long suspension, and therefore cope with the track well.
The Short Course trucks are relatively inexpensive, tough, and being electric, if you run a brushless motor they are very simple to maintain.
This would be my choice and recommendation for an entry to offroad racing at Adur.
There is no reason why you couldn't jump straight into driving an 8th scale rallycross car, (buggy), or Truggy, (a cross between a truck and a buggy),
But the entry price for a competetive car, and engine is much higher, and the learning curve, much steeper.
Short course trucks are available in two wheel drive and four wheel drive variants form HPI Traxxas and a number of other manufacturers.
Adur puts no limitation of what motor you use, but many find a 19 turn brushed, or 13.5 or 10.5 brushless to be a good compromise between speed and traction.
Onroad, or Circuit racing at Adur offers many choices of classes. Perhaps too many, as some of our classes are now short on the numbers we need to run them at a meeting.
The most popular class is Electric Touring Car.
These cars are further split into more classes depending on what motor is fitted. At Adur, we cater for
Sportsman Stock :
Of these the Sportsman Stock class is designed for those who either don't want to try and master the crazy speeds of the faster motors, or those who need a good competetive class to test their skills before moving up.
Thats not to say the sportsman class is sedate, it is fast enough to be a challenge, while being slow enough to ensure that consistent driving skills are rewarded.
The sportsman class is recommended for beginners to racing.
There are three ways to enter this class.
- ProStock (10.5 brushless motor. The fastest of the touring car classes we run)
- SuperStock (13.5 brushless)
- Sportsman Stock (17.5 Brushless with "0 timed" ESCs, or 27 Turn Brushed motor)
The cheap route has benefits in that you can get a lot of kit for very little cash, and be on the track.
- Cheap but with limited upgrade potential, low resale value Ready to Run cars (e.g. Annsmann ARE-2)
- Medium but competetive in class , good resale value (Schumacher MI1, Xray T2/3R, HB Cyclone-S, TA-05 IFS)
- Buy the best straight off - expensive (e.g. Top race class chassis, Schumacher Mi3, Xtray T3)
If you don't like it, then little lost, but these cars will never be competetive with other cars on the track, and if you do get hooked, you'll want to upgrade sooner rather than later.
The medium route has much to recommend it. It will cost more in the short run, but the car is competetive in the sportsman class, and can hold it's own in the superstock class if you want to move up.
The Schumacher Mi1 is a recreation of a top of the line car of 8 years ago, using composites instead of the more expensive carbon fibre.
The Xray T2R and Hot Bodies Cyclone-S are similarly cut down versions of the full race cars from those manufacturers, but sadly discontinued. Spare parts are still available though, and these two cars make a good second hand buy if the price is right.
The Xray T3R is the clubmans version of the successfil T3 race car, but the demand is so high they are hard to source.
The TA05-IS is a very smooth car and forgiving car to drive, which has already proved itself a race winer in this class.
Any of these chassis coupled with a cheap brushed ESC, and a 27T stock motor will be a great introduction to the class.
For a little more money, a Brushless 17.5 motor and basic Brushless ESC mean that motor maintenance is minimised and racing time is maximised.
The Brushless option is also fractionally faster in expert hands than the 27T brushed setup.
Mini : Another good class for beginners to try is the Tamiya Mini class.
These cars are small and cheap but tough and robust. At Adur, we specify the Tamiya Black can "Sport Tuned" motor to be the only option motor upgrade from the silver can motor suplied in the kit.
After you have added oil shocks to sort out the dampiong, there is little else you can do to make these cars any faster or better.
This makes for really close exciting racing, again, rewarding drivig skills, and more importantly, racing skills.
I have a write up on racing minis here on my website. http://www.alphabeta.me.uk/
Unless you buy a Ready to Run car, (RTR), you will also need some extra parts.
Even if you do opt for a RTR, then sooner rather than later, you will probably want to upgrade the inexpensive parts supplied in the kit.
You will need
A final circuit option for beginners is our highly competetive, but very friendly IC RTR class.
This is for those among us who love the smell of nitro in the morning.
The RTR cars are available in model shops near ready to go. They are typically 200mm wide Touring car chassis, with up to a .18 cubic inch glow plug engine.
The Adur rules for this class are fairly relaxed, but aimed at trying to keep a level playing field for competitors.
There are a number of cars to chose from, each with their own merits and downsides.
If choosing one of these to drive at Adur, I'd strongly recommend coming to the track on a race day, and engaging all of the current drivers in conversation until one of them spills the beans.
- 2 Channel Radio gear
Radio gear comes in wheel or stick variants. Chosing between them is simply a matter of finding what you are most comfortable with, so you need to try.
You can buy radio gear which uses crystals to set the channel which connects the transmitter and the car.
These commonly come in 27Mhz AM, or 40Mhz FM variants, of which the 40Mhz FM is a better choice for a number of reasons.
In the past few years though a 2.4Ghz option has emerged which requires no crystals. At the cheaper end of the market, there are sets available which are only a few pounds more than the crystal based options, and will save you from having to have multiple sets of crystals to avoid clashes twith other drivers.
Until recently, batteries used in RC racing were small "Sub-C" cells similar to that you would put in a radio or a torch.
They were however rechargable, and much more powerfull than a standard alkaline torch battery. The stick packs supplied with RTR cars are still comprised of these types of cells, which come in NiCad, (Nickle Cadmium), or MiMh, (Nickle Metal Hydride) chemistries.
Most racers now use LiPo (Lithium Polymer), batteries, which give a number of advantages over the older types.
Whichever type of battery you chose, you must make sure that you use a compatible charger, on the right settings.
The energy density of the batteries we use is extremely high, charging incorrectly can lead to chemical fires which are hard to control.
A particular danger is charging a LiPo on a charger, (or a programmed setting), designed for NiMh or NiCad. At best this will destroy your LiPo battery by "puffing".
This is recognisable when the LiPo puffs up as gas is released in the cells. At worst, the LiPo can catch fire and lay waste to your model, your pit table, and anything else nearby.
Recommendations as at April 2011.
It's hard to recommend specific cars and electronics, because the scene changes so quickly, with new products coming out, old ones not being in stock, but I'll give it a go.
These recomendations are choices that I would make if I were going to compete as a beginner in one of these classes.
That's not to say that I am right, or that these are the best. You may have different views of what your needs are, and want to make diferent choices.
Short Course Truck : HPI Blitz.
This 2 wheel drive kit is basic but very very tough, and has proved itself more than capable of competing on our offroad track.
Electrics for SC truck
For offroad, motor size and power is less critical than for onroad.
The motor I have selected here is so cheap, that if you break it you just buy another one. The alternative is to specifiy a motor from a name manufacturer, which will be better built, have a little more power at the given number of turns, but be 3 or 4 times more expensive.
10.5 or 13.5 brushless motor : From Giant Cod
Similarly it is not important to have an Electronic speed Control which has the capability for dynamic, on the fly timing.
Basic zero timed brushless ESC : From Giant Cod
LiPo battery : See below
I have an extensive mini write up here... how to build a race winning Tamiya mini.,
Schumacher Mi1 : From Apex Models
Electrics for Sportsman Stock
Option 1 : Brushed
27T stock electric motor : From RC Direct
ESC : From Apex Models
Option 2 : Brushless
17.5 turn Sensored motor : From Demon
basic zero timed brushless ESC : From Giant Cod
Or, planning for the future...
Good BL ESC which can be set to "Zero timed" mode. : From Giant Cod
Batteries and chargers
While all LiPo batteries are not the same, the differences at club racing are so slight that it probably makes no difference.
This LiPo is a reputable make, from a reputable retailer, at a decent price. : From RC Direct
With LiPo batteries, it's important to have a charger you can trust not to overcharge your cells. The Bantam brand has been around for a number of years.
I have been using one since I fist had a LiPo battery, over 3 years ago, with no complaints so far.
This one is basic, and inexpensive. Little to go wrong. You will need an external 12V supply though, either a 12V leisure battery or PSU.
LiPo charger : From RC Direct
From RC Direct
The CORE radio gear has come in for a lot of criticism since it was introduced.
However, for this money, under £100 for a 2.4 Ghz stick set, Id be inclined to take the gamble.
There is an even cheaper option with less in the way of options here from Demon
If I were genuinely buying for myself, for the long term, Id be investing circa £200 in this
With wheels, there are again, very cheap options shuch as this one :
and slightly more expensive, with more options : here.
...but with the Spektrum branded product available for under £70, Id get this one.