All posts by Richard Green

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!