Hobbies – Delayed

A few posts back, I mentioned that I am dipping my big toe into the world of Remote Controlled cars. A lot of research, some hands on handling, and some recommendations that I culled from various forums, and I pulled the trigger.

I ordered what I thought would be sufficient to get started. I was mostly correct.

Alas, it arrived the day I took off for a business trip to Spain, so it had to await until my return. As I arrived late (almost 10:00PM) on Friday, mid day Saturday was the unboxing.

Taking it slow, I knew that I needed to read the owner’s manual cover to cover before getting started. But I can’t lie, the idea of unboxing it, and getting familiar with my new toy was pretty damned exciting.

I started with the accessories. I had to buy a separate battery pack, and the accompanying charger. I also got a LiPo safety bag, to contain the battery while charging and transporting. Lithium ion batteries can be hazardous, as in big fire, if they are damaged and exposed to air.

Then I opened the box. It was as I expected. The car, complete, ready to run, was all there. Included was a kit of special tools, some of which are alien to me at this moment.

The bummer

I realized that the battery, and the car use the IC3 connector to – well – connect, but the charger uses the more common IC5 connector. So, I need an IC3 to IC5 cable.


So, I can’t yet properly charge the battery and get it on the road. A quick check of the local hobby shops (they all have online “stores”) and I draw a blank. So it is back to Horizon Hobbies.

Recommended activities

One piece of advice from the sage veterans of the sport was to at least partially disassemble the car, and verify that all the parts were properly lock-tite’d. No big deal, I have allen wrenches in SAE sizes.

I got started, and realized that allen wrenches are a giant pain in the ass. Now I understand why all the forums out there list a set of high precision hex drivers as “must have” tools.

So, I tossed a set of SAE hex drivers onto that order for the converter cables.

The Manual

The other advice, echoed loudly, was to read the manual in detail cover to cover. Naturally, I took that to heart, and figured that I would spend a couple hours poring over it.

It didn’t take that long. The manual has a few key sections. First, how to verify proper operation, essentially a pre-flight checklist. Good stuff.

Second, it said to run the car at full speed with only one side’s wheels on the ground (the differentials will spin the wheels in the air) for 30 seconds to break in the differentials, then repeat on the other side.

Then were instructions on what to do, and how to clean the car after it gets wet/submerged. The electronics are ‘water proof’ but not invincible. It is a car after-all, not a submarine. Also there was admonition to not soak it in salt water (in fact, the warning was to avoid the beach, as salt water is very corrosive and conductive, leading to damage and costly repairs)

There was a detailed section on how to program the ESC (electronic speed control, essentially the device that lets the radio send power to the motor). Interesting, and needlessly complicated (like many embedded systems, it is a strange incantation of button presses and then patterns of blinking lights.) Fortunately, the defaults are a good starting point. Good to know how to adjust the programming, but not essential at the start.

The last few pages of the manual is a complete parts list, with exploded views of all the parts, and how they go together. I will get intimate with these pages. But it is not essential to get started.

Other Observations

As I expected, the transmitter is a low end unit. It will work, and I will use it, but I have already put on my wish list a better transmitter. This is not a surprise, as one expects the RTR kits to make tradeoffs, and I would much rather have quality components in the car, than in the electronics. The question will be whether I will stay with Spektrum for the TX/RX or switch. I read a lot of positive things about the Futaba radios. We shall see when the time comes.

One economizing component on the cars is the fixed suspension. There are no adjustments for cam, castor, and Ackerman. All rigid parts, without any way to adjust. I do know that I will be upgrading these components from the Team Losi Racing equivalent to give me the flexibility to set up the car to handle at its best. Again, not a short term upgrade, but definitely on the list.

Ditto on the shocks. Yes, they are rebuildable, but they are composite (aka glass reinforced nylon) bodies, and the aluminum bodies of the TLR buggy will be far more tunable, and better operating. Again, for the future.

I do want to buy a second body, clear, and paint it. I am thinking a stripe pattern like the original Eddie Van Halen franken-strat.

The Waiting Game

Parts and tools ordered, awaiting their shipment and arrival. Hopefully soon. I plan to charge the battery, and on a Saturday head to work (their parking lots are empty on the weekend) and teach myself how to drive.

Product Manager in Tech. Guitar player. Bicycle Rider. Dog rescuer. Techie.