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Radio control models

The popularity of the RC hobby is growing rapidly as new and more sophisticated devices are developed. Imagine fulfilling your dream of flying an aircraft without spending too much and without leaving your foot off the ground. Imagine racing and showing off you RC car or truck without a racing company's budget.

The use of radio control for model cars, airplanes, boats and helicopters started in the early 50s using simple, self-built equipment. But the hard-valve electronics was bulky and expensive. Commercial sets often used ground standing transmitters, single valve receivers and long whip aerials.

Later, by the early 60s transistors replaced the old valve models. Lighter and more reliable, transistors were more suited for radio control, outperforming valve-operated devices by far. The best models were using quartz crystals for frequency stability and selectivity.

All Radio control equipments for scale models have 3 essential elements:

  • The transmitter: usually a handheld box with control sticks, switches, triggers, and dials at the user's fingertips.
  • The receiver: mounted in the model it receives and processes the signal from the transmitter, translating it into command signals for the servos.
  • The servo system doing the actual mechanical work for controlling the model.

The best, hobby grade RC systems have a modular design and can be fine tuned, unlike most toy grade models. This way radio controlled vehicles can accept equipment from different manufacturers.

RC cars

RC model car

Radio controlled (RC) cars can be powered by various sources: electric cars are powered by small electric motors using standard batteries or rechargeable cells. The fuel powered models - or nitro cars - use small internal combustion engines using a special mixture of nitromethane, methanol, and oil. The large models are usually powered by small gasoline engines.

Both on-road and off-road cars are available. Off-road models are built with fully functional suspensions, suitable for every type of terrain. On-road RC cars generally have a limited or non existent suspension, they are strictly limited to smooth surfaces.

A hobby-grade RC car requires regular maintenance to ensure smooth and trouble-free operation. For those interested in mechanics, this maintenance provides an interesting adjunct to the hobby. Due to their modular construction, if parts of a hobby grade RC car wears out, they can be replaced individually. Cheaper toy-grade cars found in discount and consumer electronics stores are generally unserviceable.

RC model helicopter RC airplane