The RC hobby is about building, learning, driving, having fun, finding friends and so much more. So the last thing we want at The Hobby Hangout is for you to not feel comfortable while you get into the hobby so we’ve come up with a sure fire way for you to get into RC with complete success. We have a lot of experience in the hobby so we’ve gathered up all the questions we’ve been asked over time from first timers like you and come up with an easy to follow, yet lengthy guide to get you headed in the right direction.
What type of car should I get? This is not an easy question and we will be breaking it down into several categories so you know what types of vehicles are available and what fits your specific interests.
ON-ROAD OR OFF-ROAD:
There are two surfaces cars and trucks run on. On-road, which is driven on concrete, asphalt or carpet and Off-road which is driven on grass, dirt, rocks, sand, rocks and sometimes turf; you get the idea. With an On-road car, you be looking at a range of cars with sedan or sports car style bodies similar to what you see in the full-scale world or on real racetracks. With Off-road machines, these are typically buggies or trucks and variations of those that can tackle bumps and all types of surfaces. Its necessary to determine what surface you want to drive on from the start because on-road cars typically can’t be run off-road with the exception of rally cars. Off-road is a bit more versatile, they run great just about anywhere and they can even be run on-road for fun.
ELECTRIC, NITRO OR GAS:
There are three types of power systems for cars. Electric which is battery/ motor operation, nitro which is an engine powered car that runs on a special blend of nitro methane fuel that you purchase at a hobby shop or gasoline engine power that runs on the same 2-stroke pump gas and oil mix your home weed-wacker runs on.
Electric cars are the easiest for a newcomer to the hobby to get into with great success. With most ready to run (RTR) cars, you simply install a charged battery in the car, turn on the radio switch, car switch and you’re off and running. Depending on the car, motor and battery type, the cars can be anywhere from slow around 10mph to fast over 50mph out of the box The run time will vary also from five minutes up depending on the car, motor, battery and how you run it. More batteries can be purchased to extend run times.
Nitro cars are a bit more complex since they run on fuel. The engine will need to go through a break process to insure a longer life and better running. During and after the break-in process, tuning the engines carburetor is pretty much necessary. Most companies included good instructions to do so. Nitro cars are exciting with the sound and smoke they emit, run times can be extended by filling the fuel tank while the vehicle is still running.
Gasoline power is typically found in large-scale cars with weed-wacker style engines. These gasoline-powered machines are typically easier to run because they require little to no tuning, just mix 2-stoke oil in with the gas and go. However large-scale cars are not the best place to start in RC. You should get some RC skill under your belt before moving into the large-scale world. Large-scale RC machines are typically costly too. There are advancements in 1/8-scale gasoline powered engines, but as of now, they require involved break in processes and tuning.
The term scale refers to the size of the RC vehicle and how it relates to a real vehicle, which is 1:1, scale. So if for example you are looking at a 1/10-scale RC car, it is one-tenth the size of its full-scale counterpart. From smallest to largest in size, common scales are 1/32, 1/18, 1/10, 1/8, and 1/5. There are a variety of other scales available from manufacturers, but the aforementioned are the most common.
RTR OR KIT:
Your next decision in which RC vehicle you buy depends on how involved you want to get with the machine. Do you want to build it or do you want it to come preassembled? Probably the majority of the vehicles that are available today come in Ready To Run (RTR) form. Many people want instant satisfaction of buying an RC car and playing with it a short while after the purchase. RTR’s come from the manufacturer preassembled with the electronics installed, body painted and ready for you to charge the battery, slide it in the car and go.
There are some vehicles called ARTR which stands for Almost Ready To Run. These are kits that are mostly assembled from the manufacturer and may require you to install your pick of electronics and or you may have to paint the body.
Kits on the other hand need to be built similar to a plastic model. Instructions are included with kits that teach you how to build your machine from the ground up. Many race cars come as kits so they can be built to the drivers liking. If you are not afraid of building, then kits are a great way to start so you understand the inner workings of the car in case you need to make repairs later. Kits often require you to purchase all of the electronics separately.
TALK TO YOUR LOCAL SHOP
There are certainly plenty of on-line RC retailers now-a-days where you can conveniently purchase and RC car and have it shipped right to your house. However we strongly urge you to visit your local hobby shop to buy your RC equipment. By purchasing from your local shop you’re often getting your exact questions answered by a professional and they will lead you into the right purchase for you. Also if you have additional questions after your purchase, shop professionals are often happy to help and give free advice and even repairs. With on-line purchases you may not get the assistance you need and if you need help with a repair, you are often on your own. If you do take an on-line purchase to a hobby shop for repair, you are often charged a premium for the fix. So although you may save a few bucks by shopping on-line up front, you might wind up paying more in the long-run if you need local shop repairs. In some cases local hobby shops are too far away from your home and its understandable you’ll go to an on-line retailer for a purchase. For help with these repairs you may have to hunt for on-line forums and groups to help you with your questions.
Those are the major points to consider when purchasing your RC vehicles and support gear. The most important thing to look for is what products will give you the most bang for your buck. Take the time and do the research to determine what type and scale machine is best for you, talk to the people at your local shop, join on-line groups or if you are in our area in New Milford Connecticut, stop by The Hobby Hangout and we’ll get you going in the right direction.