NOTE: This is a long thread where I rant about the DTS-1. For a recap, scroll to the end of the post.
Let me say from the start that I have been racing / bashing / enjoying RC cars of all types for over 30 years. I've been building and racing real, full scale, tube chassis drag cars for over 20 years. Finally, I've been in IT/Network Administration for over 15 years. I am probably the ultimate consumer for this stuff: the RC, Drag Racing, Technically inclined tinkerer type.

10 minutes after I'd seen an announcement from Traxxas about the new drag racing stuff, I was on the the phone with my LHS. I pre-ordered two 1/8 Funny Cars, two TQi Docking Base units, a DTS-1, four 3S LiPo's, a Hyperion EOS 0720i Super Duo charger, and a bunch of other goodies. Needless to say, I jumped back into the RC hobby in a big way after a few years off.

I was ecstatic to give Traxxas a big chunk of my hard earned money for this perfect convergence of the things that make me happy. Except...

The DTS-1 is not ready for prime time.

Any product that needs a firmware update -- out of the box! -- before you can use it was rushed to market. Yes, I guess you could use the DTS-1 out of the box without the iPhone / iPod Touch Docking Base, I bet the vast majority of customers want all the killer functionality that comes with the DTS-1 / iDevice combo.

After the 20 to 30 minute firmware updates came two hours of trying to get the DTS-1 / TQi / iPhone combo to work. There is ZERO instructions in the included manual on how to do this. It got to the point where I wanted to smash the DTS-1 into smithereens. So I left it for a week to cool my head.

A week later...
The next time I tried to setup the system, I found instructions in the Traxxas Link app, buried under a little question mark icon. They detail a ridiculous, multi step set of hoops that you must jump through to get some success. Yet, you can't do any of the steps and see the instructions at the same time, so it's a lot of back and forth, back and forth.

Finally, after another aggravating hour, I got the system linked and being controlled via my iPhone! I got everything setup, aligned and ready to go make my first timed run with my expensive new gadgets... except the DTS-1 was no longer linked to the TQi.

After jumping through the hoops, again, I finally got a (one lane) race in! Except the Traxxas Link app thinks the race is still in session. To continue, you have to "Abort" the current race. Well, "that must be a mistake" I thought to myself. Let's try it again.

Nope. Same thing. Let's look through some menus for settings... Oh, wait! The DTS-1 has unlinked from the TQi again... To keep from smashing the whole setup... I put it away for a week to cool my head again.

Another week later...
Oh, look! An update for the Traxxas Link app. Maybe they fixed some things! Let's update.

And... another round of firmware updates. There goes another 45 minutes.

So I got everything setup once more. Beams aligned, DTS-1 and TQi linked. Funny Car re-bound and relinked after the DTS-1 setup booted it off the TQi. Ok, let's go:

And... races still don't complete themselves. Oh, and look! The DTS-1 has unlinked itself from the TQi again! It's easy enough to relink now, but every time you do, you have to link the finish line unit to the starting line unit... in 10 seconds, 100+ feet away... by yourself.

So, I packed it all up again to calm down, when a friend called. He wants me to come by and we can race on his 200 foot long, freshly paved, perfectly flat driveway.

Let's try this again...
So, we spend an hour setting up the DTS-1, getting the start and finish units squared and inline, the beams perfectly aligned, his iPhone ready and installed, etc. We run our first race and you still have to Abort the current race even if two cars run a perfect race. Why, Traxxas?

And to top it off, the DTS-1 would unlink from the TQi every 3 or 4 races. You then had to shut off both DTS-1 units, relink. It's easier to relink the finish line with two people, but it's no less of a pain in the rear.

The DTS-1 / TQi / iPhone system is so frustrating to use that we gave up after less time than it took to set it up.

We tried racing in manual mode for a while, but that was almost as frustrating. What do all these lights mean? How do you start a race? Oh! Of course, you press the 'Set" button; that makes perfect sense. How do you run one lane races? Oh you press "Menu" except if you want to use the right lane... then you press "Option." Of course! How could I be so stupid.

Then, the Pièce de résistance: The DTS-1 just randomly locks up on its own. Every 4 or five races, just like when paired with the TQi.

I don't know what else to do. At this point, I'm really considering selling it all off at loss because none of it has been the fun it should be.

I think Traxxas has blown it so far with the RC Drag Racing stuff. It's a shame too, because Drag Racers are an odd bunch. They spend money like crazy in search of a good time, and I know dozens of guys at the track that would buy in if it worked better, or at all.

Anyways, this very long story has been sort of therapeutic. Sorry for the ranting. For those looking for the condensed version:

  • The DTS-1 has been rushed to market. It is not finished. I've been a fan of Traxxas products since the original T-MAXX days, and this lacks the typical Traxxas polish seen in their products.
  • The system is way, way, WAY too complicated to use for the average hobbyist. My job is to make complex systems work together, and then explain how to use it to decidedly non-technical users. I barely got the DTS-1 to function at all.
  • This is 2012. There is no room for random blinking light codes and mislabeled / confusingly labeled buttons. A $3.00 2 line / 20 Character LCD would have made all the difference.
  • There is something wrong with the DTS-1 and or the TQi connection. The start / finish line units frequently lock up and stop responding.
  • The related Traxxas Link app is adequate, but also leaves much to be desired. I don't think the race functionality works as expected / intended. Plus, to start a race, you have to go into the "Garage" area? How does that make sense: "OK, I want to race, so let's go to the same place I adjust telemetry setup and transmitter memory..."
  • Far too easy to red light. You get real Drag Racers, used to drilling a Pro Tree, and they will red light 9 times out of 10. There needs to be adjustable roll out or delay box type settings.


There is much more, but I'm tired and I want to go to bed. Plus, I'm uncertain whether this thread will end up in mod purgatory or not...