We get many people turning up to the Raceway, who want to come and race, but haven’t a single idea as to the hows, the what’s and the whys that we use the kit we do. To the outsider, it can seem like an utter minefield of kit that we all seem to use. The truth is, you don’t need much to get started! Hopefully, this small guide will go a long way to helping the newcomers to the club understand what is what, and why is why.
Without doubt, the most confusing part of picking up this hobby is which class to go into. The 17.5t Touring Cars may seem easy to drive, but they are also very rapid and high speed breakages can occur often for new drivers. GT12 is a great beginners class for learning how to drive, with the enormous grip these foamed tyred cars produce and their tight turning angles. However, again, these have their downsides with foam tyres wearing quicker than rubber and being tough to get to grips with in terms of additive use and shore hardness ratings.
The most enjoyable and easy class to get involved with is the Spec MChassis class. With very clear rules on motors, the racing is always very close between all drivers of this class. Parts are cheap and you don’t need to spend £100s on the latest motor, Lipos etc. A set of tyres will last well in excess of 10 race meetings, sometimes more! You also, don’t have to get the most expensive chassis, there are many options available.
Tamiya are probably the biggest name in MChassis racing, with their M07, M06 and M05 variants being the most commonly used at the Raceway. Spares are in plentiful supply, and despite what you might hear, you don’t need to spend a fortune to be competitive. Yes, you can upgrade parts to shiny alloy ones, but this isn’t a necessity. The biggest “hop-up” we would suggest is making sure the car is fully ball-raced, this eliminates a lot issues in the drivetrain and makes things much more efficient.
3Racing also have a FWD M-Chassis offering that is affordable, competitive and legal to use at the raceway in both Spec and Open MChassis classes. These chassis have a slight advantage over the Tamiya MChassis in that they use parts that can be found on their bigger brothers, the 17.5t Touring Car class. Namely, spur gears, shocks and anti-roll bars. The cars are also available as ball-raced out the box, and the price from our sponsor SpeedRC.co.uk is reasonable.
Of course, which ever route you chose to go down, someone at the Club will always be able to answer any questions you might have.
Another huge area of the sport that will be daunting to the new comer, and even the old returning racer. Brushed or brushless, Lipo or Nimh and even what is a Blinky!? I’ll start with the two motor variants and we shall go from there.
There are chiefly two main types of motor on the RC market. Brushed and Brushless. The former is an older technology that relies on 2 carbon brushes (positive and negative) making contact with a copper commutator and wire windings in the middle of the can, adding electric makes it spin round. Of course, these are prone to the odd failure, as brushes wear down, and if run too hot, these motors can fail spectacularly. However, they are cheap to replace and the power of these motors makes it easy for the beginner to pick up and drive. They are simple, and usually supplied in a lot of RC Starter packs that are on the market.
The Brushless motor is a fairly new technology but one that has already taken over in many of the BRCA Approved national series’. They work by have a “ magnetic core or rotor” surrounded by a 3 phase system that switches on and off in an specific order to turn the rotor inside the can. They are very efficient with virutally no wearing parts and can be run quite hot before issues occur. You will only need to get a Brushless motor, once you decide to move on up into the Open MChassis class, or into any of our other classes at the Raceway.
Esc (speed controller)
The electronic speed controller is the heart of the RC Car and it’s what provides all the power to both the motor, receiver and ultimately the servo. Like motors, they come in two types. Brushed and Brushless. A brushed ESC is a fairly simple affair, with 4 wires (2 for motor, 2 for battery). Usually they are “stock” with no options to tune them. Very much a fit and forget type of product. The brushless esc, in contrast, can be tuned in a multitude of ways. Boost, turbo, punch, brake rates, drag brake… etc etc. Blinky mode is the mode we use at the Raceway and this, in a most basic sense, means the ESC blinks, literally. It governs a very basic mode of tune, without boost and without turbo, and means a restricted amount of power to allow a level playing field for drivers.
You can buy Brushed ESCs from as little as £20, with a lot of the Brushed driver opting for the Hobbywing companies offering. Brushless wise, there are many. A good, cheap but long lasting one, would be the SkyRC Toro TS50. Which ever you choose, there’s always a club member who can help you to make the choice and even solder in for you.
Lipo, Nimh or Nicd. Those are the three choices for powering your RC racer. A Lipo battery is the same technology as you would find in a smartphone or other modern device. Obviously, ours a little bit “juiced” up. Same goes for the Nimh or Nicads. These are essentially sub C size, single cell battery packs, made up in series of 6, to give the final voltage of 7.2v. The biggest differences between them all are the longevity. A Lipo pack can be recharged thousands of times before the performance even begins to think about deteriorating, whereas a Nimh pack will need attention and cycling every so often to keep the performance stable. Neither option is without its slight dangers, and we ask that ALL drivers charge their Lipos, Nimhs and Nicads within a fireproof sack and check with the committee as to the charge rate allowed. A well cared for battery will last you a long time. Chargers these days will handle all types of battery, and most can be bought for very little money. Always remember to balance charge any Lipo pack, and never exceed the manufacturers recommended charge ratings.
There are two main types of controller you can use with your RC racing car. Sticks, or Wheel. It entirely depends, which you feel most comfortable with as to which you will use. Price wise, they range from £20 for the very very cheap, up to the dizzy heights of well over £500 for a full blown professional race set. What you spend, depends on your budget. Most handsets available now are 2.4ghz system, meaning they will only pair to your own receivers and you don’t have to carry lots of spare crystals around to avoid frequency clashing anymore.
The steering of the RC Car is handled by a small servo. These can be bought from as little as £5, with higher priced versions offering faster speeds, more torque, ball bearings and stronger gears. We would always recommend using a Servo Saver for your RC car indoors, with the best two available being a hop up Tamiya one or an X-ray.
RC tool kits are pretty simple. We would recommend a decent set of 1.5mm and 2mm Allen keys with hardened ends if possible, posidrive screwdriver, needle nose pliers and a paint brush as essentials in your tool box. If you need anything more specific, someone at the raceway will usually have one you can borrow. We always ask for anyone visiting the club to bring a pit towel for the table top, so as not to damage the tables underneath.
You can buy RC specific tool boxes and hauler bags, but if you’re on a budget, anything you can fit all your kit in is perfectly fine.
Worlds your oyster with bodyshells. Totally your choice, and your choice again what colour to paint it! If new to racing, we’d recommend investing in some shoe glue and glass fibre tape to put around the edges of the shell to toughen it up. Make sure you get a polycarbonate bodyshell that has some flex and not a hard ABS one.
The main tyres used at the raceway in the Spec MChassis class are a mixture of Sweep, Pit Shimizu, Solaris and GQ Foams. The usual racers are well placed to tell you which compounds work well, and which last the longest. Additive is something you may eventually want/need with SXT and Hudy Additive being the most popular to use.
We hope this little guide will be of help to anyone just starting out in the hobby. If you have any questions, comments, or ideas to improve this guide, feel free to contact any member of the committee. Our Pay & Play sessions on a Sunday are a great chance to learn how to drive an RC in a safe environment, and there is always a committee member present who can help you.