How Do I Get Started In R/C?
Getting Into High-Performance R/C
Welcome to the fascinating realm of “hobby-class” radio controlled cars, trucks and boats. The world of R/C is a family-oriented hobby that allows people to come together and have fun driving and racing their high-performance radio controlled vehicles. There are many types, shapes and sizes of radio controlled vehicles to accommodate anyone’s interest and budget. Most everyone, at some point in his or her life, has had some form of a toy car or truck that was operated by remote control. This article is designed to inform you about the high-performance attributes of “hobby-class” radio-controlled vehicles and what you’ll need to get started.
What is “Hobby-Class” R/C ?
Hobby-class R/C vehicles, unlike “toy-class’ vehicles, are engineered for maximum performance with sophisticated suspension systems and power trains. Hobby-class R/C models are also made incredibly durable to stand up to the extra abuse that results from their higher performance capabilities. Traxxas makes it easy to get into this level of R/C excitement by preassembling and adjusting the model for you at the factory. Traxxas even takes it a step further by providing a pre-painted body and equipping the nitro models with the EZ-Start®™ on-board electric starting system. A simple push of a button is all it takes to fire up the engine. These models are referred to as Ready-to-Runs (RTRs).
Hobby-class R/C vehicles can reach speeds faster than 70mph and have fully adjustable suspension systems that operate just like their full-size counterparts. Hobby-class R/C models are designed to be serviced and repaired by the owner with basic hand tools. The materials used in manufacturing hobby-class R/C vehicles are very durable and can withstand many crashes or rollovers. Replacement parts are also available through hobby stores and hobby mail order stores in case something does happen to break. There are many types of hobby-class vehicles available to accommodate a variety of different budgets and skill levels. Your hobby dealer can help you find the right model for your skill level and budget.
Traxxas is RTR – Ready-To-Race®
Traxxas invented RTR. In the early days, most R/C models had to be built from unassembled kits and did not include a radio system. Traxxas RTR vehicles come professionally assembled and are built with a complete two, three or four-channel radio system. Traxxas also includes select accessory items that would otherwise need to be purchased separately such as electronic speed controls, small tools and on-board starting systems for nitro models. Traxxas started the RTR market in 1986. Now, Traxxas leads the R/C world in product support and innovation. With today’s fast-paced lifestyle, most people want to start having fun with their new hobby-class R/C machine as quickly and easily as possible. Traxxas is here to make that happen. Traxxas RTR models offer a very easy and convenient way for a person to start having fun with his or her hobby-class R/C model immediately, without having to spend hours building and wrenching on their new ride before they ever get to drive it.
Traxxas doesn’t stop with just building and setting the model up for you. Traxxas models come complete with very detailed and colorful operating manuals, along with award winning instructional DVDs. Everything you need to know about operating and maintaining your new Traxxas model is covered for you.
Nitro or Electric?
Nitro powered R/C vehicles are extremely fast and are typically more powerful than electric models. They are powered by 2.5cc two-stroke glow engines and offer the convenience of extended run times. Electric models offer similar performance, but are quieter, cleaner and are simpler to maintain. Electric vehicles are usually a better choice for indoor running or driving in a confined area. For people under the age of 16, we generally recommend an electric model, though our nitro models are simple to use and well-documented enough to be used by first-time hobbyists. Not to mention the award-winning service/support you will receive after purchasing a Traxxas nitro or electric model.
Another important note to consider about nitro vehicles is the extra maintenance required to keep the vehicle operating correctly and consistently. Correct carburetor settings, fresh fuel and routine maintenance are needed to keep nitro-powered models in tip-top shape. All Traxxas models (electric and nitro) come complete with a comprehensive instruction manual for the operation and upkeep of the vehicle. There are also plenty of informative articles and “how-to” tips from nitro experts published in R/C magazines and on R/C websites, such as www.Traxxas.com to help you get going in the right direction.
Electric vehicles are very quiet in comparison to nitro-powered vehicles. This may be important if you live in an apartment complex or a neighborhood that may have noise-level restrictions. Electric vehicles are simple to operate as well. Just charge up the battery(s), plug them in and you’re off and running. There is a very minimal amount of tuning or maintenance required on electric powered vehicles. Under normal running conditions, electric vehicles will generally last around 8-to-15 minutes on a charge. A full tank in a nitro vehicle can last about the same amount of time, but the benefit with the nitro model is that you can quickly refill the tank while the engine is still running and continue to have fun, tank-after-tank. The battery pack that powers an electric model will drain with use, and must be recharged or swapped out with a charged pack to continue operation.
The bottom line is that there are advantages that both the electric and the nitro R/C models have over the other.
Traxxas Support - Why Traxxas?
Traxxas is famous for its outstanding customer support. Traxxas puts customers first, and focuses on a customer’s questions (especially one who is new to R/C). Traxxas support is there with fast and friendly answers if you have questions about running your model or if you have a problem and are in need of service. Traxxas offers a full-service, in-house repair facility that is manned with a team of experienced R/C mechanics who know everything about each Traxxas model. Traxxas also offers excellent cost-effective programs such as the Lifetime Electronics Warranty and the very popular Engine Replacement Plan. Traxxas manufactures every component on a Traxxas model. Some companies farm out duties such as the design and manufacturing of engines, radio systems, and more. This can lead to many headaches for the customer when trying to get warranty work or general support for that particular component. Since Traxxas is the only manufacturer of its product, everything is handled at Traxxas. Traxxas also offers outstanding parts support available through any Traxxas dealer and online at www.BuyTraxxas.com.
Where do you find Traxxas RTR R/C models?
There are many ways to purchase a hobby-class R/C vehicle and accessories. Local hobby shops, internet hobby shops on the web and mail-order hobby retailers found in the various radio-controlled hobby magazines all offer a wide array of radio-controlled vehicles, parts and support equipment. Local hobby shops are the best sources for R/C gear. Local hobby shops offer more than just radio controlled models and hardware; they also provide assistance and support after the sale. This is especially important for a newcomer to the R/C hobby/sport. At local hobby shops, you will find experienced personnel with a vast background in the R/C hobby to help you with your decisions on selecting the right equipment and most importantly, technical help with your model after the purchase. Many hobby shops also provide service for the vehicles they sell. To find the hobby shop closest to you, click here!
Radio-controlled hobby mail-order stores and Internet companies also offer hobby-class vehicles and equipment. Sometimes, the equipment can be purchased at a lesser cost, but the savings made through mail order does not always outweigh the advantage of buying from a hobby shop locally for the personal, “hands-on” tech help and service for your new R/C model.
What else is needed?
Most R/C vehicles only require basic hand tools for disassembly or adjustments. Many hobbyists already have everything they need in their tool box. There are also many companies that sell their own line of regular and specialty tools for the R/C hobby. Traxxas includes a few small tools in the instruction package with each model. Here is a list of some of the more important tools that are needed to start with for most models. After operating your new R/C vehicle for a little while, you will find out what other tools will be handy for that particular model.
Commonly used tools:
• Long, thin flat-blade screwdriver
• Medium Phillips screwdriver
• Medium needle nose pliers
• Lexan scissors
• View pictures of these items here
Tools for nitro accessories:
• Fuel bottle
• Glow plug wrench
• 12 AA batteries for the radio system
• After-run oil
• Thin CA glue (for the tires)
• Note: Many nitro models come with pre-glued tires.
• 7.2V battery(s) and charger (for the EZ-Start® system)
• View pictures of these items here
Tools for electric accessories:
• 8 AA batteries for the radio system
• 7.2V battery pack
• Charger for 7.2V battery pack
• View pictures of these items here
Many hobby shops offer accessory packages or “combos” tailored for a specific class of electric or nitro models. Don’t hesitate to visit your local hobby shop and ask questions on what is needed for a specific model that interests you. Remember, the items listed above are the major items needed to run and maintain your new R/C vehicle. Once you’ve gotten your feet wet and have learned the basic skills of driving and tuning your R/C model, you may want to try some of the specialty tools and high-performance accessories that are also available. Try to avoid jumping into the highest tech tools and accessories at the start of your new R/C venture. This may only complicate your experience. Instead, keep it simple and buy only the necessary items in the beginning. Use this time to learn about the model and develop an understanding of how these fascinating little machines work.
Go Have Fun!!
Now that you have a good idea of what you will need and where to get it, it is time to find that special Traxxas RTR vehicle that is right for you. Go visit your local hobby shop, talk to some friends and flip through the pages of the many hobby-class R/C magazines that are available to see what appeals to you and your needs. Check out everything this spectacular hobby has in store for you. By following this guide, you can be assured that your venture into hobby-class R/C modeling will reward you with nothing but great times. So, go have some fun!