Intro: Broken RC Vehicle Diagnosis: How to Fix an RC Vehicle
Hey guys! We all know that time when you're playing with your remote control vehicle and it breaks. Heartbreaking, right? (See my pun?) Well, this is the Instructable for you. It's simply a basic universal troubleshooting manual for common RC problems based on my experience. Alright then, let's get started!
Step 1: RC Cars
Alright, so arguably the most common type of remote control vehicle is the RC car. Some of the higher-end ones can get pretty pricey, and when they break, you're stuck. Now, the first and somewhat common problem, especially with cheap offroad cars, is a wire that has come unsoldered. According to the rules of circuitry, this is an open circuit and will not work. The way to fix this is to take a soldering iron, which you can buy on Amazon for pretty cheap (adjustable temp is the best), figure out the broken terminal, then strip and resolder the wire(s).
Another problem that may arise is, especially on lesser quality wheel and trigger remotes, is contact issues. Many of these types of controllers use metal contacts to connect to copper plates on the transmitter circuit board. Sometimes these contacts can become disconnected. The way to fix this is to unscrew the transmitter and take out the circuit board. Now, you can either bend the metal contacts toward you or screw the circuit board in closer by clipping off some of the screw pole and screwing the circuit board back in.
Also check for burnt-out parts in the circuit boards and loose components. If you have a burnt-out component, you can try to replace it, but it is generally very difficult. A better idea would be to call the company (if it's still under warranty) and try to get a replacement.
Moving away from electronics, sometimes a piece of plastic, especially in the steering system, can get broken and render the system useless. You can fix this generally by using a strong glue to secure the piece in place. In addition, screw pole can get cracked by the screw itself. What I do for this is squeeze the pole, glue the outside, and zip tie the pole together.
Cars are meant to be driven around, but that also encourages crashing. If you crash, it is important to diagnose what is wrong before you try to fix anything. I have many times fixed a problem on the outside of a car, glued it closed, and realized there was another problem inside. Make sure and take caution when fixing to not make any irreversible changes unless absolutely necessary.
Step 2: RC Boats
Let's take this Instructable to the next surface: water. As most everyone knows, electronics and water don't mix. If you have an RC boat, make sure there are no holes or cracks. If there are, take some marine sealant/glue, smooth it on the blemish, and test it in water to see if it was sealed correctly.
As far as electronics go, many of the same rules in Step 1 apply except for 1: electronics can get corroded if allowed contact with water. If this happens, treat it as a burned out component.
Other problems can occur with the driveshaft, especially the coupler that connects the driveshaft and the motor shaft. The driveshaft can get stripped, which usually requires a replacement, as do other stripped parts.
Mechanically, most problems in boats can be fixed by car solutions. If your problem isn't in the boat section, please refer to Step 1 and it may be there.
Boats can be tedious to maintain, but are very fun to use. Make sure you take care of your boat according to the directions.
Step 3: RC Planes
As far as the air, you're pretty much on your own. Although I am moving into RC planes, I have no clue how to fix them yet. But there may be other guides out there on how to fix a plane. Good luck and check out Flite Test for direction to the white plane above!
Step 4: Replacing the System
Sometimes, even though you've tried everything you can do to fix a vehicle, there is no fixing it. However, if it is an electronics issue, I often simply replace the entire remote control system with speed controllers, servos, batteries, and transmitters bought from Hobbyking. It is very inexpensive and often cheaper than buying a new vehicle. Remember, try anything and everything you can before attempting to replace the system.
Step 5: Conclusion
I really hope this Instructable was helpful. If you have a problem you couldn't find here, please leave a comment ands I will see what I can do. In addition, if I missed anything or did something wrong, please tell me. remember to be careful with these vehicles and have an FAA registration if using flying vehicles. Follow all the directions and have fun!