So, you’re interested in getting a radio controlled car, but which one? There are many different makes and types available, plus a whole myriad of other items you need, which can make it very confusing. Your starting point should always be to visit your local model shop (see below for a list of local shops) to see what they recommend, what makes they stock, and importantly have spares for. Your choice will ultimately be determined by what you want to do with it (do you want it just for fun on the street at home, to race it at a club, or both) and what your budget is.
To try and help we’ve compiled a shopping list of items that you need to get started and offer some suggestions which offer good value for money and will allow you to either run at home or competitively at the Milton Keynes club. We have limited the list to just items that are relevant to electric powered radio controlled touring cars because that this is the principle class catered for by the club.
Just because a specific make or item does not make it into the list does not necessarily mean that you should not consider it, although we would recommend you avoid very cheap (in comparison) cars or items – performance and spares availability will usually be limited and it will cost you far more in the long run to make them competitive.
Car Chassis – This should be an electric powered 1/10th scale touring car. There are many different kits to choose from but ensure it is 4 wheel drive and fully ball raced (or purchase a ball race kit as an optional extra). Manufacturers are continually changing their models but the most popular come from Schumacher (based in Northampton), Xray, Tamiya, Hot Bodies, Associated and Team Magic. These can be quiet complex to set up so prbably best to get a car model that is currently popular at the club so there is plenty of help and advice available
The cars are normally pretty robust but breakages are inevitable so make sure you can get spares for your chosen model.
Wheels & Tyres – These are made of moulded rubber, and use a foam or soft rubber insert to provide support. The car kit may already come with tyres but these may not be suitable for indoor racing on carpet.
Slick tyres are recommended but as in Formula 1 they come in a range of different compounds. It is best to get tyres in the range of 24 to 28 with Sorex, VTEC and Take-Off the most popular.
To provide extra grip tyre additive maybe helpful such as Corally Jack The Gripper
Bodyshell – A bodyshell may have already come with the car kit, but if one didn’t there is a wide range of choice. Even at 1/10 scale aerodynamics are important and you will need to make sure what ever shell you get has a rear wing. We’d recommend any of the ProtoForm range of shells. These cost aprox £20 each and don’t forget to purchase some lexan paint as well, ordinary paint will not stick to the plastic.
Radio Equipment – A basic 27Mhz or 40Mhz radio set is perfectly adequate for racing. This should include the handset, a receiver, a servo for the steering and a set of frequency crystals. Also purchase 2 extra sets of frequency crystals to ensure there are no clashes with other drivers. 40 Mhz sets have a greater range of crystals and are less prone to interference. However crystalless radios running on 2.4Ghz are increasingly popular as you do not need to worry about other people running on the same frequency. A typical basic radio set will cost less than £50. If you would like a set with many more functions then consider the KO Vantage which costs £200+.
Electronic Speed Controller – You need to decide if you are going to use brushed or brushless speed controllers and motors. The differences are many but basically brushed will be cheaper but require more maintenance, brushless are more expensive but require practically no maintenance. The trend is towards brushless so this will be a safer option in the long term. If you buy a brushless one then make sure it is capable of handling the type of motor you plan to use and we recommend the use of sensored motors.
Motor – The type and speed of motor is what we usually use to seperate the various classes. If your a beginner go for a stock (or 27 turn) brushed motor, or ideally a 17.5 or 13.5 brushless motor. If using brushless then make sure it is sensored.
Batteries – Batteries come in two main types – Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMh) or LiPo. The number after the battery denotes the capacity of the battery. Both types of battery work equally well although the NiMh are being phased out and Lipo’s need specialised chargers as well as being charged in a special Lipo pouch in case they catch fire (unlikey unless they are abused….but just in case). You will need at least two packs of batteries, although three is better if using NiMh (one charging, one in the car and one cooling).
Charger – The charger charges your batteries. Make sure your charger is compatible with the batteries you have purchased and set up correctly. Reasonable chargers cost between £20 and £200, depending upon the facilities they have.
All chargers will need a power source. Most people use a 12V car battery although they are not really designed for this type of use. Instead, go for a 12V Leisure Battery available from camping and caravaning outlets or a 12V mains supply.
Tools – To help build and maintain your car, some tools such as allen keys may be included in the kit. However you will probably also need;
- Small screwdrivers
- Needle nose pliers
- Small spanners or sockets
- Cotton Buds (for motor cleaning)
- Super glue (to glue the tyres to the rims)
- Motor cleaning spay (also use to clean the bearings)
- WD40 (to oil the bearings)
- Soldering Iron & solder.
Race Fee’s & Membership
OK, so you have purchased your car and everything else needed to go racing, what next? Well you could run it on the road outside your house but it would be much more fun to actually race your car on a dedicated circuit against other similar cars. This is where your local club comes in to provide you with such facilities. Inevitably clubs need to charge a race fee to cover their costs (hall rent, tape, etc.) and usually charge a membership fee which entitles you to either race more often, reduced race fee’s or other benefits. Most clubs also ask you to become a member of the BRCA (the sports governing body) for 3rd party insurance purposes.
At Milton Keynes; Race fee’s vary depending upon the event, how old you are and if you are a member or not. On top of these fee’s, when racing indoors, there is a refundable packing away levy.
We hope that we have answered many of your questions. Feel free to talk to any of the racers about the equipment they use – some may even have 2nd hand equipment for sale. If you’d like to discuss any aspect further then please contact Ian Devonshire via e-mail.