All posts by Richard Green

Why so Serious?

You may have seen the RC Tech thread that we shared the other day on our facebook page titled “The Crisis in Our Sport: Junior Participation” , if not, you can find it here http://www.rctech.net/forum/australian-racing/813885-crisis-our-sport.html .  I’m not sure i would call it a crisis, but much of the discussion appears to be centered around on road numbers.  However as I don’t race at enough places here or on the big island, I can’t comment on numbers there.

The thread is a few pages long with some interesting ideas and thoughts thrown around the place.  Now a lack of juniors is a problem in any sport, but a sport such as ours where the numbers are much lower than many other sports to start with, it can be devastating.  Personally I think that cost is a problem as it has always been in this hobby, however I also think that not enough Fun and some entirely too serious people are also partly to blame.  At my local club I have witnessed some highs and lows in this vein. From a new racer leaving, never to return, after being the subject of another members dummy spit, through to seeing three boys, all under 7, playing together with short course trucks near to the track on a social day on the Saturday just passed.

The event on Saturday of the weekend just passed was at my home club, Launceston RC.  We had what can best be described as a Social / practice day.  Because the venue costs us a significant amount each time we use it, and it is some distance from town behind locked doors and gates, we can’t have the track regularly open for practice.  So the committee decided the best way to promote the club and bring people together socially, was to run a casual practice day.  $10 got you access to the track from about 9:30 until 4:00 pm, some snags from the BBQ, and the time to practice, bring mates out for a try, have a play outside with any vehicles that didn’t suit the track (A 10th rally car beside a Baja SC is quite a sight), and generally have fun.  Track time was not limited in any way, it was open for all with the computer on for practice. Pick a quiet time for a run, let a mate have a try, or let the kids have a go as my 6 year old son was.

 

My Distinctive Green, White and Black Blitz ESE and XV-01 Rally car that many locally know well.

You see at the moment I am working out if my son would use a proper RC car (he wants a 2wd buggy) enough to warrant the $250 odd dollar investment to get him one.  As he only has toy RC cars I dialed my Blitz back to 50% throttle, and for the first time let him drive on the track, unaided but supervised, while it was quiet.  He was struggling a bit with not going 100% left or right, but he was doing much better than last time I let him try, I was a proud father indeed.  Slowly the track got busier as more people finished lunch and came back on to the track.  Most people know my distinctive Green, White and Black Blitz and many figured that it was my son, not me driving as while I am not great, i’m a little quicker.  They were also giving him plenty of room which was good experience for him to avoid other cars on the track.

However one person just didn’t get that the day was about fun. There are many stereotypes at a RC track, this person falls within the Very Serious type of racer, I am at the other end of the spectrum as I race because it is fun. I have nothing against the serious racer but mixed with a bad attitude it can cause a problem. Mr Serious started mouthing off from the drivers stand (I was standing on the ground in front of the stand helping my son) saying who is that person, they keep getting in the way, they shouldn’t be on the track and becoming fairly irate and aggressive towards whoever the driver was. Beside him was my Brother, loving Uncle of my son who is also fiercely protective of him. For those that know him, they know that he too is passionate about racing for the fun of it and not taking it all too seriously. Needless to say, this kind of behavior and attitude directed towards a 6 year old did not go down well, and there were some very terse words said for some time between the two.  By the end of it, Mr Serious still didn’t get why we should waste time running controlled practice by classes and experience on what was a fun and open practice day where the track was open for some 6 1/2 hours to anybody who wanted to be there.

I personally think it is people with that kind of attitude that put off people staying at local clubs, and certainly I would not want any child exposed to that kind of behavior. Not the serious racer, certainly not, but the serious racer who gets angry and takes it out on the world. Our club is based around drivers having fun, and being a family friendly environment and having a class for pretty much everybody to get on track and have fun.  Abusive behavior like we witnessed on the weekend has no place in any sport or hobby, and certainly does those of us trying to promote the sport to others no good whatsoever.

I think one of the best things we can do, is loosen up, have fun, and bring all of your friends racing!

Tune up tips for the WR8 from HPI

I love rally cars, I just find the appeal of going sideways on dirt irresistible! To fulfill that dirt urge, I have a Tamiya XV-01 that I use, but at the time it was a real toss up between it and the WR8 from HPI.  At the time, the bodies and parts available for the XV-01 won me over, but this article from hpi shows just how many parts are actually available for the larger WR8 (happy to take donations of WR8’s from anybody that doesn’t want theirs by the way).

The article can be found on the HPI website here http://www.hpiracing.com/en/article/view/2014061302 and covers pretty much everything you could ever want for one of these beasts along with some great information and photos, enjoy!

 

Taking our own advice

I have a terrible affliction when it comes to RC Cars.  Not only am I a dreamer, but I am always wanting more RC Cars, and I have a VERY tight RC budget.

I had been toying with the idea of another RC car for racing, as when it comes to big 2 day events like the Launceston Cup event that my club holds, one car just isn’t enough racing as my RC “garage” currently contains one raicng vehicle, a HPI Blitz ESE as well as a XV-01 Rally Car.  My racing skills are about average, so a buggy to run in 4wd Mod was probably not ideal, and much as I love stadium trucks, the numbers seem to wax and wane.

So 2wd Stock looked like a good idea.  I didn’t like the TLR 22 because it couldn’t easily take a normal battery in mid mount configuration, i’ve never been an Team Associated Fan, Schumacher only had ball diffs (ball diffs and I don’t get along),  I didn’t mind the Durango DEX210 and HPI/HB haven’t had a production 2wd buggy for some time.

The DEX210 ready for delivery to me
The DEX210 ready for delivery to me

Then along came the release of the Schumacher Cougar KR, and I like that a lot, but as I race indoors on carpet, a mid mounted car would be more suited to where I race.  And then came the Schumacher Cougar KF, and I was in love!  A truly mid mounted, belt driven design on a carbon fibre chassis with a sexy body.  And if anybody knows indoor racing, it is British brand Schumacher.  I spoke with Scott at Action RC and got prices, and set a target to save enough money to buy one as all that sexy doesn’t come cheap.  After some months of slowly saving I was getting closer to the kit, but it would take some time to save for ESC, motor, tyres, receiver and a servo. One day sitting at work I had an epiphany, the KF would be great, but in the time it would take me to save for it I could have been enjoying a less expensive buggy for some time.  So I went back to Team Durango and their latest version, the DEX210 V2, and I liked what I saw.  An optional gear differential and I would be away. So a more modest target was set for a new DEX210 V2, or an original DEX210 if I could find a good 2nd hand one locally.

While I was thinking about that, I sent another racer at my club, Leo Lorenzen of the Durango Fansite fame, an email to keep an eye out for any good 2nd hand kits.  The response was that Leo had one for sale himself, and after some discussion what can only be described as a fantastic deal was struck.  A DEX210 with Tekin ESC and motor, Savox Servo, Spektrum Rx, a couple of sets of tyres and rims, an unpainted Pulse RC body and a few upgrades and spares for somewhat less than the cost of a Cougar KF kit alone. I was ecstatic as I had only $30 left to scrimp and scrounge to meet my target, and a few weeks until I saw Leo next to collect the purchase.

The next race meet came, payment was made and a very happy Richard was in possession of his first Buggy.  Leo had even included a couple of batteries that I was not expecting, but was very thankful for. In the coming week I had time to look at it more closely, and it really was a peach in excellent condition.  First thing to to was charge a battery and give it a try.  No dice, some research revealed that my Spektrum DX2.0 was not compatible with the SR3100, so a quick swap was done with another Racer/Drifter/Crawler Shaun and I had a SR300 installed and it was alive, I could run some laps of my garage! Next job, cut out and paint the body.  On this time defeated me before the next race meet and I didn’t have a body to race with.  However a quick message to Leo and I was able to borrow one of his spare bodies for the meet so I could run the DEX210 instead of my usual Blitz ESE.  And what a difference it was to drive, responsive, nimble, quick and full of grip.  It was exhilarating to drive and responded well to being pushed.  Obviously the setup Leo had done on the car for me suited the track, and my driving style, but whatever the case it left me with a grin from ear to ear by the end of the night. The icing on the cake was and winning the B final after only 2 qualifiers and 2 finals of driving a buggy at all!

Ready to Race last Friday night with a borrowed body, and the Pulse RC body in the foreground ready to be cut and painted soon.
Ready to Race last Friday night with a borrowed body, and the Pulse RC body in the foreground ready to be cut and painted soon.

The moral of the story, you don’t need to have the latest and greatest kit to be competitive, and certainly not to enjoy it on the track.  One in the had is always better than two in the bush (or the newest version in the shop window). So it seems that taking our advice on Aussie RC not to discount 2nd hand kits paid off for me in a big way.  A bit thanks to all those involved along the way, and those that offered advice and setup help along the way, Scott, Leo, Shaun, Sam and those I have forgotten to mention. I will update you all with the progress of the body and the rest of my fleet as changes occur.

A Basher or a Racer?

There has always been two distinct categories of RC Car driver, the Basher and the Racer.  The two groups rarely cross paths, and don’t talk about the other half at all, somewhat like a couple part way through a divorce hearing. It is almost taboo to claim to have a foot in both camps or mingle with the “enemy”!

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The thing that got me hooked on RC cars as a child was the Tamiya Stadium Blitzer.  I saw a pair of them being run in a hall in Devonport as part of a school fair many many years ago and loved anything RC from then on.  I started of my RC career in the late 80’s with a Tandy Porsche 944 Turbo which still haunts my children’s toybox in a somewhat sad condition to this very day.  Certainly not a hobby grade RC car  by any means, but as a young child of about 5 or 6 it was the best thing since batteries were invented.  The worst thing in the world however, was waiting for the Arlec C size batteries to recharge and the short time that they seemed to last.

Fast forward to adult life and my interest in RC cars was re awakened probably by my brother who had a few RC cars with a mate, Greenie and Brickwood, this is probably all your fault to be honest!  So as a university student I had a few dollars in my pocket and I invested in what I still believe to be a cracking RC Car, the HPI MT2.  This Nitro powered, 4wd stadium truck was similar to the Tamiya Stadium Blitzers I had seen, but it was more powerful, it was loud and when it worked, boy it was some serious fun!  I went to nitro because it was fast, did not need to recharge like those dreaded C batteries and it looked fast standing still! However nitro to this day is not my friend, and all too often I just couldn’t get it to run well, and it was eventually sold (to finance a E-Savage monster truck).  As with the 944, the MT2 is still alive albeit in a slightly modified form as it was my brother who bought it from me!  I always enjoyed running my RC cars in various parks and places round this beautiful state, but it was fairly rare to bump in to anybody else running a hobby grade car.

After that I had a few RC cars, E-savage, E-firestorm, Sprint 2, Blitz ESE, but all were electric cars as this was the time that Lipo Batteries and brushless motors were becoming the norm.  Certainly I classed myself as a basher and never contemplated stepping foot in what I perceived as the expensive world of RC racing.  Then something happened, a local group of people started getting together to investigate starting a RC Racing Club. At that time the nearest two clubs to my hometown of Launceston were 1 hour or 2 hours travel in opposite directions.  I’m not sure how the group of people found one another as I was dragged into it by my younger brother and his friends, but I do know that a key instigator was Scott Guyatt, to whom our local club owes it’s existence.  Weekends mostly were out for me, but an indoor venue was found with lights, and Thursday night racing began without the worry of interference from the weather (ok, a little as the roof had some leaks).  I wasn’t so sure, but I went along and gave it a go.  We had a few ropes and a lot of chalk marking out the track, we stood on the ground or broken chairs that were about the place in the disused indoor cricket arena, but it was great fun and boy oh boy was it addictive! The club ended up forming and incorporating and has been on the rise and rise since.  Many faces have come, helped and gone again, and we unfortunately lost Scott once again to warmer climates, but he can be sure that his smile, commentary, help and assistance will always be missed. Now I am the Secretary of that same club and I am fairly active in the operation of it.  Launceston RC is now one of the longer running indoor off road establishments (having lost our hybrid on/off road layout due to the popularity of off road 1:10 scale racing) in the country, and certainly the only indoor venue in Tasmania. Looking into the older posts on our website, the first post was dated October 14, 2009, and the first test session at the venue the 26th of October 2009.  And we have come a long way since then!

I still classify myself as a basher as well as a racer, despite my vehicles being mostly race cars with the exception of a Tamiya rally car.  However whilst not the world’s best racer, I love the challenge, the camaraderie and the friendships that I have forged as a part of my local racing club.  I guess my point is that the two camps are not so dissimilar than they think, at least at our club where fun and friendship is just as important as lap times and positions.   Both groups love their hobby, they love hanging out with their mates partaking in their hobby, and racing is a natural extension of hanging out with your mates and having fun.

Let’s face it, having fun is always better when you are having fun with your mates, regardless of which camp you put yourself in.

D413 first impressions from ShortCourseWorld

Ok, so personally i am only just starting to get into the 1:10 buggy scene at my local club, Launceston RC, but i’ll elaborate on that in another post.

1:10 4wd buggy has always fascinated my as the formula one of the off road 1:10 scene, with 4wd and all the power in the world.  However racing on an indoor track with a somewhat unforgiving surface when it comes to cars, I was always concerned by the physical toll this seemed to take on cars with many seeming to break on a very regular basis.

Those of you that know me also know that I am a HPI fan, with almost all of my previous cars being from HPI, with the only exception being one Tamiya currently in my garage.  So when HB (previously Hot Bodies, now a part of HPI) came out with their D413 4wd buggy in 2013 I was instantly interested.  It has an interesting specification with the ability to reconfigure for saddle or shorty packs by rotating the center differential (not slipper) and motor mount around and move the servo to the opposite side of the vehicle.  There was some debate at the worlds last year as to if the shorty packs were legal, but to date the decision to allow them has been carried.  As I mentioned before, the vehicle has three gear differentials instead of the more normal 2 diffs and a slipper which is a feature normally found in 8th scale vehicles.  The triangulated shock towers are also of interest as they provide a lot of strength, and that is a feature that the designer of the vehicle,  Torrance Deguzman, has stated was one of the core aspects of the vehicle’s design, strength.  If your vehicle is strong and can take a hit, you can push on with more confidence that you won’t break the vehicle, and some epic crashes at last year’s world championships certainly proved that the D413 can take a hit, with one crash breaking the two vehicles that the D413 hit and was hit by.

So the D413 was released last year, why the post now?  well to date, very few if any D413’s have been seen in the hands of the public with pre orders having only begun delivery about now. HPI has certainly copped some very warranted flack over the delay in making these available to the public.  What prompted this post was a video by Short Course World on youtube featuring their first impressions of their D413, and, well he is a little impressed with the D413 so far, and it will be interesting to see what their impressions are once they get it on to the track.  Hopefully I will remember to share those videos with you.  I wonder if I will get a chance to turn a wheel on one of these on day, because unlike most 4wd buggies, this certainly captures my attention with regards to owning one myself.

More information on the D413 at the HPI/HB Website here http://www.hpiracing.com/en/kit/112723

What to Buy – Rally Cars

Hello to all on my first blog post for Aussie RC News!

For those of you that know me, you know that I love Rally, in both it’s full size and small scale versions.  Even to the extent of keeping up with what is happening with the fairly active Colorado RC Rally Championship.

Given the recent release of a Rally car from Team Associated, I thought we would have a stroll through the RC Rally cars that are available on the market today, or soon in some cases.

Today I am going to focus on three similar vehicles mostly, the Losi TEN Rally X, the Team Associated ProRally and the Traxxas Rally.  Why?  Because all there are a similar size, 4wd Short Course truck based, Ready to Run vehicles. These are a good compromise between looks ,handling, durability, capability and price. Let’s start with some numbers, prices I have pulled from Amain Hobbies and are a guide only.

Traxxas Rally Losi TEN-Rally X Associated ProRally
Length 552 mm 540 mm 535 mm
Wheelbase 324 mm 334 mm 324 mm
Width 297 mm 296 mm 296 mm
Based on LCG Slash 4×4 Ten-SCTE ProLite 4×4
Waterproof Yes Yes Resistant
Motor 3500 KV 3900 KV 3500 KV
Tech  – AVC  –
Price  $410  $520  $380

Traxxas Rally

Of these three focus vehicles the Traxxas Rally was the first to the party with the first release of the official Low Center of Gravity (LCG) Chassis for the slash 4×4 platform.  Fitted with a low hatch type body and rally tyres the Rally expanded on an already popular shaft driven 4×4  platform for Traxxas. By all accounts it has certainly hit the spot with regards to durability and price although there has been some criticism of its BFGoodrich replica tyres and handling, but it was never a dedicated rally platform to start with so you shouldn’t expecting handling like the rally cars on television. Some criticism has also been leveled at the car for it’s lack of resemblance in shape and livery to a real vehicle, but I don’t think that is enough to not want to buy it. http://traxxas.com/products/models/electric/7407rally

I am quite partial to the Traxxas Rally in green.

Losi TEN-Rally X

Whilst the Traxxas Rally isn’t exactly an older vehicle, the Losi TEN-Rally X is a fairly new release and was one of Losi’s first models to be released with Active Vehicle Control from Spektrum.  Similar in appearance to it’s 1:24 micro scale cousin, it is a much larger package with a bigger punch.  Shaft driven and in the conventional layout of most 4×4 short course trucks, it is fitted with rally inspired tyres and a hot hatch style rally body. However the addition of the AVC to this vehicle appears to contribute to it’s price, almost a clear $100 more than the offerings from Traxxas and Team Associated. http://www.losi.com/Products/Default.aspx?ProdID=LOS03000

Looks great in action.

Team Associated ProRally

Released less than a week ago this rally beast is based on the Prolite 4×4 short course truck from Team Associated.  The associated has a much more realistic looking hatch body with a Rockstar sponsored livery that makes it look spot on like a real rally car. A good price point which appears to be under $400 USD this vehicle is listed as having water resistant components, whereas the other two vehicles here are listed as being waterproof.  How waterproof any are in real life I can’t ascertain from here, but as more real world reviews appear that will reveal itself. http://www.teamassociated.com/cars_and_trucks/Pro_Rally_4WD/RTR/

Looks more like the real thing, and a good price.

Other Rally Options

Now these three are far from your only options when it comes to rally cars, there is everything available form 1:24 rally cars up to the gigantic 1:5 Rally Car (both form Losi actually).

The HPI WR8 Flux available currently in the Ken Block 2013 GRC (Global Rallycross) livery is one that comes to mind.  Marketed as a 1:8 scale vehicle it has a similar wheelbase to the above three vehicles, but is actually a much smaller vehicle than these supposedly 1:10 scale vehicles from Traxxas, Losi and Associated.  The big difference is the WR8 is much narrower and is not only a licensed body shape with a real livery, but is nearer to a more accurate model in it’s scale.  At $480 USD it is a great looking vehicle for the money, and very durable and powerful, but a bit of an orphan when it comes to wheels, tyres and bodies with it being almost a unique size and scale outside of HPI. http://www.hpiracing.com/en/kit/112715

The Tamiya XV-01 is another that I really wanted to include, mainly because this is my personal rally ride at the moment.  With a range of realistic bodies available because it is the standard 1:10 size of most touring and drift cars. For scale realism, this is the car that ticks the boxes.  This belt driven vehicle has protection for not only the belts from dirt and debris, but for the electronics of the radio and ESC as well.  The motor is front mounted giving this vehicle an amazing scale handling characteristic.  However where it falls down is it’s small scale.  You really need to find some scale terrain to drive it on.  On blue metal, it suffers and gets rocks jammed in the steering, on a 1:10 off road course the obstacles are simply too large.  Whilst I have loved it, I have found fewer off road places to drive it than I expected.  Don’t let that put you off, if you have the right kind of terrain, it is an absolute BLAST to drive.  https://www.tamiyausa.com/items/radio-control-kits-30/4wd-rally-on-road-(xv)-36180/rc-subaru-impreza-wrx-sti-58528

Rally cars can not be spoken of without looking at the Rally Legends models.  Whilst not the most technically complex or advanced vehicles, they more than make up for this in incredible scale looks.  With licensed bodies and liveries of famous rally cars such as the Lancia Stratos, Fiat 131 Abarth, Lancia Delta S4, Lancia 037, Ford Escort and Iveco Tracker Dakar Truck.  http://www.rallylegendsrc.com/ and http://www.rallylegendmodels.com/RLM_-_Online_Store.html

In the LARGE scale, you have the monstrous, $2000 Losi Mini WRC car, complete with AVC, 29cc petrol engine with EFI, 800 cc fuel tank, remote operated start and a licensed Mini Body.  Great looks and would sound great, but out of the budget of many drivers. http://www.losi.com/Products/Default.aspx?ProdID=LOS05000

Slightly smaller is the Kyosho DRX VE, marketed as a 1:8 and 1:9, but more like a 1:7 scale vehicle.  Realistically it is a similar size to the three short course converted vehicles featured in this article, but the electric and nitro versions of this model have been on the market for some time.  With a few licensed bodies available the DRX VE is more like a converted 8th scale buggy than short course truck in it’s layout, size and configuration fitted with tenth scale electronics.  At around $400 USD it is a big model capable of covering a broad range of terrain.  There are some weak points of the DRX design, however while the model price is good, bodies can be very expensive to replace. However all in all it is acknowledged to be a good rc car.  http://www.kyosho.com/eng/products/rc/detail.html?product_id=108654

There are a lot of other rally cars of varying scales available, but I thought I would cover the more popular ones today rather than every one on the market!