Pulling out the R/C Cars


It’s been several years since I’ve run my radio-controlled cars. We now live in a location where there is some great terrain to run on, so I’ve wanted to pull them out for a while, and finally did!

Something I’ve found interesting is seeing how much the hobby has changed over the past few years.


The first thing that I needed was some new batteries. Most of mine were some very old Ni-Cad packs that didn’t hold a charge anymore. I do have two packs that are a bit newer (ugh, well, probably about six years old), so even though they were functional, they’re also at the end of their life.

Ni-MH packs are inexpensive and provide monstrous runtime compared to the old Ni-Cad packs. I bought some inexpensive 3000 mAh packs. My old Ni-Cad packs were between 1200 and 1500 mAh. Wow, what a difference! Yes, that basically means double the run time!

While I was never into racing, I expect that capacity difference changes things considerably. In the golden age of R/C, racers had to carefully choose their gear ratios because overgearing could cause the battery to dump too quickly (meaning they can’t finish the race) and undergearing meant they would finish with juice to spare at the expense of a slower car. With such large battery packs, that concern is largely gone.

Electronic Speed Controls

The old ESC in the Bullhead was drifting terribly. I need to adjust the throttle trim many times during a battery just to keep it in neutral. I went with a Tekin FX-R Pro as a replacement, and it’s amazing how small it is. Plus, it doesn’t have a heat sink on it—does that mean efficiency has increased a lot, too? Perhaps. I need to take a side-by-side photo of the old and new ESC, but it’s definitely a big difference!

Radio Systems

AM radios are still the low-price winner, but the newer 2.4 GHz systems offer a huge advantage: you don’t need to select a radio frequency. There’s no concern about being on the same channel as another driver. Using a 2.4 GHz transmitter with multiple vehicles is easier because you can just “bind” the transmitter to another car’s receiver, rather than switching crystals. Plus, more resilience to interference (something FM systems also offer).

Ready to Run vs Kits

It’s a little disappointing to see that ready-to-run cars have taken over the hobby. In my opinion, building a kit was a very big part of the experience! Not just the actual build, either, but the knowledge that comes with it—when you build it, you know how to repair it.

Getting Out and Running

I’ve run the Bullhead and Hummer several times (and the Lunchbox once before breaking a shock mount). What fun! Jumping over stumps, twisting between trees, and wheelies on the pavement!

I have been rebuilding shocks and gearboxes for a few weeks now. It’s something I can work on five or ten or twenty minutes at a time with Patrick. It’s slow going, but nice to have something relaxing to work on where I can make progress in such small time increments.

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check out the new NitroRCX 1/16 scale crawlers
rtr 84 dollars they make great parts for that 4x4 you wanted to build or like me buy two and build a 6x6 lol
also check out RC Truck and construction

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