Team Associated have added a Engine Sound and Vehicle Light all in one system to their product lineup. The product looks more flexible than the one that Traxxas released recently, although it will inevitably cost more. But with the ability to add lights and 25 different sound sets all in one package, I think it’s an accessory worth considering for any RC Car.
The ESS-One Engine Sound System lets you choose from multiple throaty race engine sounds, shifting, brakes, and turbo blowoff valves! The programmable ESS-One delivers these sounds in one simple, small box for a clean and easy installation. Whether you drive a short course truck, drift, or rally car, the ESS-One has the right sound to match!
Team Associated XP light kits cut through the darkness with realistic lighting arrays that feature headlights, tail lights, fog lights, and reverse lights – and a police light bar kit.
It seems to be a roller coaster for many of the Professional RC racing teams at the moment while the silly season driver changes are happening, and Team Durango and HPI/HB are two who seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum.
HB (Hot Bodies) seems to be increasing their number of drivers exponentially signing Reno Savoya and David Ronnefalk and confirming contract extensions for Ty Tessmann (they would be mad not to), Andy Moore, Tanner Stees, JJ Wang and Teemu Leino. This really takes HPI/HB form a fairly small team, to a fairly large one with some bug name drivers.
On the other hand, after announcing that it was dissolving it’s professional team, Team Durano’s drivers have all headed off to greener pastures with the exception of Travis Amezcua who was announced as the TD North American Technical Representative. I had to go and look at the release to see precisely what that meant, but it looks to be in line with the theme of strengthening local support, notably “Travis will be traveling from his SoCal base, around the US, bringing expert track-side support to local club racers and Team Durango fans.” So TD are focusing on you, the local racer instead of it’s professional team. A good thing for the local racer but will it work long term? Let’s look at Traxxas, the No.1 selling RC brand and their professional team, except that they don’t have one do they, they focus on what you the consumer wants. So while some are saying that TD’s decision is insane, there is not only a precedent, but a successful one. Another paragraph of the press release caught my eye as well:
Travis will work closely with our newly appointed, Champaign based, Hobbico Field Communications Manager, Brad Brucker, in the US. This new support team for Northern America will allow our fans to gain race-day support, whilst also feeding back important ideas and issues to our design engineers
Travis will also be scouting for new talent, in all racing classes, allowing us to build a base of local racers who will contribute to how we design new race machines.
Expect to see these guys travelling across the US to meet as many of you as they can at your local events.
Stay tuned for more news on how your local racing scene will benefit from regionally appointed Team Durango Trackside Representatives very soon.
So reading between the lines, the change comes after Team Durango was sold to Hobbico.
Also i would say that we will see more local Team Durango Technical/Trackside Representatives, which lines up with the rumors we are hearing from other quarters. We will probably also see more drivers with minor sponsorships in busy areas as well, anther plus for average joe racer at the local track.
Unless you are as blind as a badger, you will have noticed the 1:10 Electric Off Road National Championships held in Canberra last week. For those of you that missed the action, you can head over to this youtube channel to find videos of most every final that was held, I for one will be spending some time watching the videos! Find them at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_8HpfZExvwRZLWdIr5pDXg
I have to say, after handling a Gelande 2 for the first time the other week, and looking at the first impressions of the Ascender, I am seriously thinking of getting a crawler, anybody got a spare one for me? Anyway, have a read of RC Car Action’s first impressions here on their website http://www.rccaraction.com/blog/2014/10/28/kevs-bench-vaterra-ascender-sneak-peak/ . Another impressive vehicle from industry newcomers Vaterra.
However as sneak peeks go it’s a good one, so I’m reproducing it below, remember copyright belongs to Radio Control Car Action.
The Ascender is the latest vehicle to come out of the Vaterra Garage and like others before it’s very well detailed and is a performer. This scale truck is the only Vaterra model to be released exclusively as a kit. I just finished putting together my Ascender and am working on a review for the February 2015 issue of Radio Control Car Action Magazine. Here’s a sneak peak of the truck and some first impressions.
The stamped steel ladder frame chassis and suspension are unique. They are designed to allow for major wheelbase changes that will let you put just about any body that is available on it and it will change how the truck performs. The frame members are channeled and the thickness of the front rails are slightly smaller than the ones used in the rear and this allows the front to slide into the rear. All the hex screws that are used to assemble the chassis pass through the rails and thread into plastic cross members.
Check out those tires! They are scale replicas of Interco Super Swampers and come with foam inserts to support the rubber. They sure do look good and I am sure that they will find their way onto custom projects everywhere. The included 1.9 inch wheels are chrome plated and the tires are glued to them. Chrome plating can be found in the bead area and I recommend that you remove it before gluing for a better bond between the tire and rim.
The rear suspension is your typical 4-link deal. See the spacers on the links? That is part of the changeable wheelbase. The drive hexes are standard-size at 12mm, so there are endless wheel options for the Ascender. Inside the axle you will find a one piece spool/gear that is unlike other trucks where the gear is screwed onto the spool. The rear axle use a straight shaft to get the power to the wheels while the front has universals to do the job.
The front end suspension features a 3-link setup with a panhard bar. The shocks are molded out of plastic and smoother than some aluminum shocks that I have run in the past. The shocks are 108mm long (from mounting screw to mounting screw), have a body diameter of 11mm and 3mm diameter shafts for scale appearance. Having the servo mounted in the chassis gets it out of harm’s way but having it there does move the tires slightly through the linkage when the suspension is compressed and extended.
The transmission is packed full of metal gears and it can be modified to become a 2-speed. There’s even room and mounting holes on top of the housing for a shifting servo. The transmission was easy to assemble and felt very smooth once complete. A slipper clutch is used to protect the gears and driveshafts when put into high stress situations and needs to be set at 6 turns out instead of the kit recommended 5. Out of the box the single-speed transmission is geared for torque and delivers a top speed of about 3MPH with the 35 turn motor that I installed.
The battery is securely fastened to a floating battery tray. The rear of the tray pivots on bushings (circled) while the front is attached to the front axle and moves with it (as arrowed). This allows the tray to be mounted as low as possible and it puts more weight on the front axle which will increase the traction of the front tires.
Look at how much steering you get out of the hubs on the front axle. This truck easily has the most steering throw available in the 1/10-scale trail truck class. Yes, all that travel can be used. The servo is mounted on the left side of the chassis and the right side is left open for anyone who wants to build and use their own winch servo.
Vaterra includes a very well detailed 1986 Chevy Blazer body with the truck. Great stickers and an injection molded grill really add to the look. The body is however about an inch or more wider than your average scale crawler. Combine that extra Lexan and the injection molded grill and you have a pretty heavy body.
For the full review and to see how the truck performs you’ll have to wait for the Febuary 2015 issue of Radio Control Car Action Magazine to hit the news stands. So far, the Vaterra Ascender does not disappoint.
The RTR version of the Serpent Spyder SCT has launched and it is loaded with features including spring steel transmission components, 12mm big bore shocks, hard composite shock towers, wide side guards long throw suspension arms, a narrow chassis and a gear diff.
In the electronics package it packs a Dragon-RC sensorless 9T motor coupled with a 45A esc, Dragon-RC 2.4GHz radio with 10 model memory and it comes topped off with a sharp looking prepainted body.
Stadium Trucks are a category I love despite not currently owning one. My favourite, and one that has sat on my shelf in the past, is the HPI E-Firestorm, and for 2014 they have given it a bit of a makeover.
The Firestorm started out as the Firestorm 10T RTR, a 2wd, Nitro Stadium truck designed by Erik Shauver at HPI. If you look at the 10T here http://www.hpiracing.com/en/kit/10511 you will see many parts the same as the later E-Firestom, but with an alloy chassis and mid mounted gearbox. One does wonder if these parts could be adapted to make an electric, mid engined stadium truck, I never thought about that before today!
At the same time, the E-firestorm 10T RTR was released in Blue and Red (I had the Blue one) http://www.hpiracing.com/en/kit/10551 with 27mhz radio, 15t Brushed motor and basic SC15 speed controller fitted to a composite chassis, and well most of the other parts from it’s nitro brother.
Later came the E-Firestorm Flux http://www.hpiracing.com/en/kit/10554 with chrome wheels, a new paint scheme, and importantly a 5700kv brushless motor and Moviv SEC (both of which were rebadged Castle items, not a bad thing). The ESC could cope with 2s lipo, and had the appropriate Low Voltage Cutoff. The only downside, still a 27 mhz radio.
Next came the waterproof versions in Brushed (http://www.hpiracing.com/en/kit/105845) and Brushless (http://www.hpiracing.com/en/kit/105879) versions featuring a waterproof receiver box and ESC, another new colour scheme and finally a 2.4 ghz radio! Interestingly the Flux brushless version changed to a 4800 kv motor as it was reported that the 5700 got to some pretty stellar temeratures, and having a Mamba max and 5700 in my original E-Firestorm I can vouch that was the case. Gearing never changed particularly I believe because to date only one spur gear was available for the E-firestorm. The flux now could take a 3s lipo as well, and may have been part of the reason for the lower KV motor.
Enough reminiscing, what about the latest version for 2014? Well a new paint scheme featuring more black with orange highlights that HPI seems to be favoring this year. The big change is a new EMH-3s speed controller and MMH-4000 motor that is again a step down to 4000kv. Another new addition is an included speed pack featuring a wheely bar, a 3s lipo battery strap (taller) and a 77-tooth spur gear and 35-tooth pinion for insane top speeds. Also a new 2.4 ghz radio is included in what is a good looking package, it makes me want to buy one again!
New from HB (Hot Bodies) is the R8, 1:8 scale, Nitro On Road Car.
Making its premiere at the 2013-2014 IFMAR World Championships in Japan, the HB R8 surprised the RC world with a well-deserved appearance in the Final, before it even had an official name. The R8 is the first car from HB to enter the extremely competitive class of 1/8th Nitro Track racing – commonly known as the “Formula One of RC” because of the speed and complexity of the cars. With a 5mm thick 7075-series aircraft aluminum chassis and bulkheads built for fast settings changes, a 2-piece steering knuckle design and more precision machined alloy throughout the car, the HB R8 is purpose-built from the ground up to be competitive right from the start.
I thought it was about time for another review, one that could in truth be called a long term test as I have had the vehicle for a number of years. When Short Course Trucks came onto the scene I loved the way that they looked, but I had other RC cars at the time, in fact I had 5 different vehicles before I got a Short Course truck, and as they were all from HPI / HB, it was only natural to get a Blitz, and with some cash in hand I lashed out and got the racing version, the Blitz ESE so named after it’s designer (Erik Shauver Edition). At the time I also owned a E-firestorm, the platform that the Blitz was based on, so it made sense to get something with a level of parts commonality.
This was my first true Kit as well, with my previous vehicles, in order, being a new MT2, 2nd hand E-Savage, a new RTR E-Firestorm, a 2nd hand D8 which I never got around to converting to an electric vehicle, and a very 2nd hand Sprint 2. A little while after I got my E-Firestorm I became involved with a local club starting up, so I raced the E-Firestorm and Sprint 2 there, however the ESE was to be my racing mainstay as SCT was the most popular class at my local. So in October 2010 I started building my new kit.
Manufacturer: HPI Kit: Blitz ESE Website: http://www.hpiracing.com/en/kit/104559 Servo:Savox SC1251MG Radio:Spektrum SR3000 and Dx2.0 ESC: Novak GTB2 Motor: Novak 13.5 Body: Blitz ESE & Proline F150 Raptor Flo-Tek Rims: HPI, Proline & DE Racing Tyres Front: HPI Trepadors, Kyosho UMT601 & Schumacher Blue Mini Pin Tyres Rear: HPI Trepadors, Kyosho UMT601 & Schumacher Blue Mini Pin Differential: E-Firestorm Gear Differential Motor Configuration: Rear Mount Optional Items: For the most part my Blitz stayed fairly stock standard, but one optional part it benefited from was a STRC alloy steering rack.
Building the kit was a new experience for me, sure I had repaired breakages and maintained the cars that I had, but never guilt one from scratch. The excellent HPI manual made it very easy for me and I had no problems at all, even with the ball differential which was something new to me. Plenty of space for electronics to be installed and no fit or finish problems of any kind I am please to report.
Initially the car was fitted with the stock ESE body which was a little thinner than the standard blitz one, in the name of saving weight. I actually found that this body lasted some years, even under the duress of my terrible driving. I think that the thinner lexan allowed the body to flex more and crack less, even on the concrete and bitumen surface I was racing on indoors. Tyres of choice for the track I was on was the HPI Trepador, and so that is what I fitted to some HPI rims painted metallic green. As I mentioned before, I was impressed with the kit on the whole.
Driving the Short course truck was fun, it had realistic body roll and happily hung the tail out when pushed too fast. Racing was close with other drivers side by side and competitors of all experience in good supply. I had some trouble at the time with understeer, but after consulting with local guru Scott Guyatt it turned out that my driving (too fast into the corner) was more to blame than any setup issue. All in all it was well behaved without any quirks and did everything I asked of it, and then some!
Jumps are often the folly of the short course truck were handled with aplomb, with about 1/2 throttle applied while in the air a flat landing was easy to achieve. Our track had little in the way of bumpy sections depending on the configuration at the time, however the bumps were handled well.
Now don’t for a second think that this truck was pampered and only ever driven on an indoor track, it was also used whenever I had a chance for bashing at wherever I found. The Trepador tyres handled most conditions well, but as the surface became very loose and dusty, or on long grass, wheel spin and spins became more commonplace. The suspension however soaked up the lumps and bumps thrown at it very well, even those that really were much too large for it to handle.
A major change in the surface that I drive on came in late 2012 when the venue my club raced at went broke prompting a 6 month search for a new venue. Once that was found, the concrete surface was a polished one which was unsuitable for driving on unless you wanted ice dancing, so more carpet and artifical turf was acquired until the track was composed of 100% Turf and Carpet. This in turn created a whole new world of grip significantly increasing grip with the right type of tyres. I found my Trepadors too slippery and moved to the Kyosho Ultima tyres. You see we have a tyre list at Launceston RC to keep racing close, and costs down. However as time went on, Carpet tyres from Schumacher and Proline were added by the committee to the approved tyre list, and Schumacher Blue Mini Pin tyres from Action RC were fitted to my truck. Whilst the grip was similar to that of the kyoshos, it was far more constant, and the tyres are looking to wear much better, and evenly. This high traction surface calls for a whole different style of driving and car setup and whereas the blitz was happy on the old surface, on this surface it is really felling dated in terms of car dynamics. Newer Mid Mounted SCT’s from Losi, Team Durango and Kyosho to name a few are performing better on this surface than the older chassis. It’s not that the Blitz ESE is bad here, it is just not as suited to the conditions as other chassis, and the mid mounted engine balance makes a significant difference.
The list of damage over three years of bashing and racing were surprisingly short for a vehicle with a more stiff plastic than the normal Blitz (and therefor more brittle). No matter how much air I got on jumps, or how ugly the landing, I never broke anything jumping the truck.
How collisions, that was another matter! The bumpers on the Blitz ESE do well to soak up the impact with a variety of objects, but some things are just insurmountably hard. For example, a concrete slab that my brother in law crashed head on into. Result? One broken chassis just in front of the servo. This is one place that the chassis has been stretched over the firestorm chassis and appears to have resulted in a weak spot. One broken chassis isn’t really enough to come to that conclusion, a 2nd one broken in the same place however convinced me of it. On the 2nd occasion, another driver came of a jumps section and we collided at a fairly high speed head on. The break was almost precisely in the same place (I should have take a photo of the 2 broken chassis as I have them both at home!) and so I am on my 3rd chassis. Now I don’t know if HPI changed the material that the chassis were made of, but in the last 2 years I have not broken the chassis in the same place. I have not added any further bracing to that area as some alloy parts are available to do that. The only other thing I have broken has been a few steering knuckles, which is a natural part of my average driving skills! Not bad for 3 years worth of driving.
With a major distributor in Australia in the form of Hobbies Australia, parts are fairly easy to find reasonably well priced. Stock however was often an issue with many stores not carrying the parts, so more often than not I purchased parts online from mainland Australia, or in the US. There is also a plethora of aftermarket parts available in a range of materials and colours. Most SCT bodies fit and the majority of 12mm hex rims fit. I did have a set of Proline Rims that I purchased which fitted, but bound on the steering hub. I wrote to proline at the time because it was stated that the rims suited the Blitz. That said, the Blitz ESE has a slightly narrower alloy hex vs the thicker plastic one on the Blitz, but the fine print on the part stated that some cutting would be needed to make the rim fit. So after taking the dremel to the fins on the back of the hub, it fitted just fine, but it certainly left a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve since moved to DE Racing Rims and have been very happy with them.
Another part that I did change was the Ball Differential. The EXE came with a ball differential made by HPI. The later ESE Pro came with a MIP one, but I just could never get it right, it was either coming loose, crushing balls or not behaving as I wanted. Strangely enough the Gear differential from the Blitz could not be purchased as a complete unit, only as parts, and the E-Firestorm differential which is the same was in the same boat. On this case Ebay came to the rescue with one from a new kit being parted out, and I have never looked back!
I have loved the Blitz design from the outset, and I have had a blast with my ESE. It’s been reliable, fun and a real blast to race and play with. However it’s days in my garage are dated as it’s been used more and more for racing, a situation where it isn’t working as well for me as it could be. If I was racing on dirt or our old surface I doubt I would be looking to replace it, but as it is the old girl has the “For Sale” sign up and will be replaced with a Team Durango DESC210R when I can for parts and design commonality with my DEX210.