Intro: The (almost) COMPLETE Guide to Electric RC Cars
Hey everyone I'm back for one final Instructable...or one of the last at least. I have recently gotten into the hobby of RC cars and at first I didn't know too much about, well basically everything. I have decided to help everyone else out by sharing everything I have learned over the last year. And by the way, I appreciate positive comments since this is still a work in progress. I will be adding on more weekly and most of it will be related to comments. Thanks for the help :) Check out my homemade snow machine!
Step 1: The Brands
These are some of the biggest brands to choose from for buying an rc car. I know there are plenty more but these seem to be the most popular.
Traxxas cars are very fast, durable, and high quality. If you buy one of these, you will very rarely need to replace broken or worn parts. However, these cars and trucks start at about $300 and do not always include a battery pack and charger. To buy visit www.traxxas.com
Out of all of these, Exceed cars are the cheapest, but they often require spare parts and a rather high level of maitenence. I own an exceed, so I can personally tell you to only get an exceed if you do not want to spend a lot of money and you are willing to pay $10 for shipping every time a few pieces break. The cars start at $90 and are most of the parts are good quality. To buy visit www.nitrorcx.com
HPI cars are not all that popular, mostly because they are as expensive as Traxxas but not as good quality. There is not much I can say about them other than from what I've read they have good quality parts and will not need many replacements. To buy visit www.nitrorcx.com or www.hpiracing.com
Tamiya is the classic RC car brand. They've been making good cars for more than 30 years. I own the Grasshopper from about 1984 or something but its actually really nice. I have never broken a part on it and I've been driving it offroad for a year now. They start around $200 but are reasonably slower than other brands for that price due to the classical "Low-Tech" designs. To buy visit www.tamiya.com
Step 2: The Car Types
There are about 5 car types. I am not going to explain too much about each since they seem rather straightforward.
These are your average street cars. They are the fastest and the best on paved, flat surfaces. Do not get this if you are looking to drive in your backyard or want something with more power.
Drift cars are like on-road cars but with slick tires. YOu can slide around turns and still get almost as fast as an on-road car. They are good if regular cars bore you but you like to drive fast. Drifting is hard, however, so be warned.
Buggies are a cross between offroad and onroad cars. They are the second fastest on road but the slowest offroad usually due to their low wheelbase. Buggies are good for those who cant decide what type of car they want, since they can use it for both.
Truggies are also a crossover like buggies, but they are more for the offroad. It basically takes the frame of a Buggy and puts monster truck tires on it. These are the 3rd fastest on road and the 2nd slowest off.
Trucks are your monster trucks. They are amazing offroad but very slow onroad. They may flip a lot when trying to make high speed turns so these are not the best foron road and you should get these if you want to drive in the woods or in the grass the most.
Step 3: Electric or Nitro
Now that you know the brands and types of rc cars its time to decide if you want to go with electric or nitro. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Better for at-home use
Cars have faster acceleration in general
Limited run times
need to wait hours to recharge batteries
Brushless motors are expensive
Longer run times
Need to buy gas
Smells bad (my opinion)
a little more expensive to buy the car
cars are more complex (more can go wrong)
Step 4: Electric Motors and ESC
There are two different types of rc motors. Brushed and Brushless. Each motor type has its own kind of ESC (Electronic Speed Controller). Without an esc, your motor would just do nothing or go full throttle when you wanted to drive. Brushed motors are cheap but very ineffecient and lact power. The ESC's are also cheaper. Brushless motors are efficient, powerful, fast, and last much longer. Brushless motors and ESC's do not really have an expiration date, while brushed usually last about 6 months to a year. The main visual difference between the two is the brushless is sealed completely and has three wires, while the brushed has ventilation holes and two wires.
Step 5: Brushless Upgrades
If you are looking to buy a brushless motor you have a few choices. First, choose your brand. Hobbytron is the cheapest. There is also Mamba Max and Sidewinder but these are a bit more expensive. If you are upgrading from a brushed car, you should buy a combo, which includes the brushless motor, a brushless ESC, and usually a programming card so you can change your preferences (ie. brake force, inital punch, low voltage cutoff, etc.). These usually cost between $70 and $200 depending on size and a few other variables. A good place to buy brushless combos cheap is www.nitrorcx.com. There are a few other places so google it to see if you can find them cheaper.
brushless motors are labeled with two things, a large number followed by "kv" and a smaller number followed by "t". Basically, you need to check the ESC for that motor and read up a little. It will tell u what numbers followed by "t" will be good for your use. So if you want it offroad you will want more "t", but you will get less "kv". On-road is the opposite.
KV stands for the amount of rotations per minute per volt. So if this basically means the bigger the number, the faster your car will go. Just make sure if you want your car to drive good offroad you get a motor with the correct "t".
For example, my brushless motor was a 6000kv 5.5t brushless combo. I checked the ESC and it said you need greater than or equal to 5.5t for on road and greater than or equal to 8.5t for offroad. I got an on-road motor so i could go fast (about 45mph). If you wanted to go offroad you could buy the 4000kv 8.5t motor, which goes about 35mph but has more power. If you do not understand something here pm me. I will be glad to help.
Step 6: Electric Car Layout
This is the basic layout for exceed 1/10th scale rc cars and trucks. It has all the parts of other brands but the other brands have things in different places..
Step 7: LiPo or Ni-Mh
Most of the time when you buy a car they come with a battery, but some may not. If that happens, you may be faced with this choice, LiPo or Ni-Mh. LiPo battery packs are the batteries of the future and if given the chance, make the investment. For $10 more you can get a battery pack which will give not only longer run times but also more power. They also do not lose their charge over time. Ni-Mh batteries are cheaper and "safer" (LiPo batteries CAN explode if improperly charged) but in the long run they are not worth it. Spend a few extra dollars and save a lot in the long run.
LiPo batteries are rated by two numbers, and Ni-Mh are rated with only one
the mAh of the battery packs is the capacity of the batteries. The larger the better.
Only LiPo's are rated with "c" which is basically how fast they can deliver the power. Most battery packs are between 20-30c but you can find some that are 5000mAh 50c battery packs (those are VERY expensive; ~$50) or even an 8000mAh 50c battery pack (around $100) but BE CAREFUL!! Make sure you but a battery pack that will fit in your car!! Some battery packs are larger!
Battery packs are available at www.nitrorcx.com and www.cheapbatterypacks.com (or google it)
Be sure you buy a battery pack with the correct connecter, otherwise you will have to buy a connecter set off of www.ebay.com for about $4
Step 8: How to Pick the Right Car.
Okay if you are buying an rc car this is how you should pick it out
pick an answer and go to the # in parenthesis. If there is a hyperlink in parenthesis click it and that is the car or cars that fit you best. (Note. I am including 1/10th rc cars only. These are the "Standard" size but feel free to either go smaller (1/16) or larger (up to 1/5)
1. I want to have a family friendly car that i can drive immediatly when i want to (2)
I want a car that is a little faster but dont mind taking more time to prep and costs more (11)
2. I want a durable car and am willing to spend more money (3)
I want a cheap car that may break in the future (7)
3. I want an offroad car (4)
I want an onroad car (6)
I want something inbetween (5)
4. I want a fast car (E-Maxx, Slash_VXL, or Stampede_VXL )
I want a slower but cheaper car (Summit,Slash, Stampede, E-Maxx, or a Tamiya )
5. I want a fast car (E-Revo_Brushless,Rustler_VXL,Bandit_VXL)
I want a slower but cheaper car (E-Revo, Rustler, Bandit, or a Tamiya)
6. I want a fast car (Get a brushless HPI on-road car or drift car)
I want a slower but cheaper car (Get a brushed HPI on-road car or drift car)
7. I want an offroad car (8)
I want an onroad car (9)
I want something inbetween (10)
8. I want a fast car (Rally Monster_Pro or Dynamite-Pro)
I want a slower but cheaper car (Rally Monster or Dynamite)
9. I want a fast car (Champion_Pro or Drift_Star_Pro)
I want a slower but cheaper car (Champion or Drift_Star)
10. I want a fast car (Sunfire_Pro)
I want a slower but cheaper car (Sunfire)
11. If you want a nitro car you're on your own. sorry.
Look I know there are pleanty more choices for each section but I just wanted to give everyone an idea about what the car they want may look like and so on. There are more cars you can buy then I listed so please understand that.
You're all done. Now go research the the cars that match your style and find out which one to buy. It is smart to research simmilar cars also. Just keep in mind what you will want for the future. I made this mistake and now I have to pay a lot more money to maintain my car.
Step 9: Recommended Accessories and Final Tips.
I would definantly recommend buying a complete extra set of tires for your car and some CA glue the day and minute you buy your rc car. The tires wear very quick so be prepared. I highly recommend making an investment when you buy your car and get a good quality one. I promise you it will pay off in the long run. I know from experience and I believe that over about a 2-3 year period, the amound of money spent on most cars and spare parts, no matter what the quality, will be about the same. Dont be a cheapskate...unless you are under 18. If you are not sure on the car you want to get there are pleanty of forums out there about the specific car you may want. Please just research before you purchase, I don't want anyone crying to me because I said they shoud get this car and they hate it.