I should know this from my past experience with hobbies. Yes, they are expensive. You have acquisition costs, and operating costs, but then there is the cluster of trivial shit that you have to acquire.
As an example, I used to ride motorcycles. Mostly off road, but, street as well. You can think of what is needed:
- A bike (or two, or three)
- For off road, you need to get to the trails, so you need a vehicle that can get you there. A truck, box van, or a trailer
- Tools. Because shit will break, and unless you are Howard goddamn Hughes, you can’t afford to take it to the shop for every little thing (and truth be told, there is a solace in working on cool mechanical things)
- Safety gear. Sure, you see people riding in jeans and tee-shirts, but that is for idjits. Helmet, Boots, Protective clothing, Pads/armor are MUSTS
- Variety of products – think lubrication, cleaners, fuel cans, etc.
Suddenly you have a whole ecosystem in your garage.
My recent foray into RC vehicles is following this pattern, but on an accelerated schedule.
Sure, I have three cars (and am eying my fourth, a monster of a Short. Course/Desert truck). But while I have a toolbox full of tools that are useful for working on motorcycles and cars, they are not suitable for the RC realm. And the lubricants I have remaining from my motorcycle days are not appropriate.
So I am rapidly adding to my repertoire of goodies. It is not cheap.
Things I have bought:
- Battery Charger – Currently using a Spektrum 2 channel “Smart” Charger. Will likely add one more
- A variety of LiPO batteries (mostly 4S variants but need to buy a few 3S ones for my newest addition, a crawler)
- Better soldering iron – my old one was for building simple circuits. But the RC world I am soldering 10 and 14 AWG wires into connectors, and that takes a lot of wattage, so I have a basic Weller 40W now. Eying a soldering station with a controllable power supply.
- Paint. Since bodies mostly come as unpainted, unadorned vacuum formed Lexan shells, I had to buy a variety of polystyrene compatible rattle cans. But I am considering dipping a toe into the airbrushing scene.
- Spare screws – I have (well used to have, finally dumped after we moved from Arizona) a lot of odd screws and other fasteners. But they are all not useful. You can buy spares 5 or 10 at a time for a ridiculous price (like $4 for 5 4-40 screws) or you can buy these kits for $20 that have a lot of spares. I buy them for each of my rigs.
- Upgrades. Out of the box, the RTR or ready to run cars usually have a few components that were chosen to keep costs low. But that means you have some things you probably aren’t happy with. Weak servos, lousy radios, bushings instead of bearings, wimpy ESC’s or motors, or gears that are plastic or pot metal. All good targets to upgrade.
- Consumables. Lubricants, cyanoacrylate tire glue, wire, connectors, solder, shock oil (need various weights,) differential fluids, tires, ad nauseum.
And I am certain the list will grow with time. Already I am thinking about how to add cameras to my rigs and capture footage to make videos.
But, like other hobbies, music, cars, bicycles, etc. this is all normal. And – more importantly – fun.