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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Nitro Powered RC Cars - Tips for Choosing Your First Gas RC

RC (radio controlled) cars, especially the nitro or gas powered RC cars, are becoming increasingly popular. With speeds up to 70 mph, realistic looks, and racing clubs in virtually every large city, it's easy to see why.

If you want to join this exciting hobby, there're a few things you should consider before you buy your first nitro-powered RC car. The basic considerations are: size, type, 2 or 4-stroke motor, maintenance, 2 or 4 wheel drive, and ready-to-run (rtr) or kit cars.

The two most popular sizes to choose from are 1/8 and 1/10 scale. 1/10th scale is the industry standard for on-road racers, while 1/8th is more popular for off-road trucks and buggies. The larger 1/8th scale on road car comes standard with a 2 or 3 speed automatic transmission.

The touring and racing cars are are the popular choice for on-road use. For best performance, they should be run on a smooth surface.

Trucks and buggies are the choice if off-road action is what you want. Though not as fast as the touring and racing styles, they are still very impressive and extremely rugged as well. And since a smooth surface is not required, they also have the advantage of being able to run just about anywhere.

Nitro powered RC motors come available in the popular 2-stroke or the less conventional 4- stroke versions. The primary difference is that the 2-stroke motor, much like a weed eater or chain saw, requires a fuel oil mixture. The 4-stroke motor has an oil reservoir and can run on straight fuel. The 2 stroke engine has the advantage of producing higher rpm's (revs up faster) and is more suitable for racing. The 4 stroke engine has more power and torque and is better for offroad use.

The most popular 2-stroke motor is the 23cc (cubic centimeter) displacement engine. It's popularity is due to the amazing 2.5 HP of output it produces. The resulting high speeds and acceleration are what RC racers love.

Additionally, motors come with or without a pull start. The ones without a pull start are cheaper, but you'll also need a starter box.

Maintenance for Nitro Powered RC Cars
Maintenance is a definite requirement of running a nitro powered vehicle. Most hobbyist love tweaking and tuning their vehicles. In addition, you'll need to maintain certain parts such as:

Air Filter
Header and
Pull start cord

2 or 4 Wheel Drive
If you're new to the hobby, you'll find a 2wd car less expensive and easier to work on. The 4wd car has the advantage of better traction and handling in turns which makes it a better choice when you're ready to race.

Kits or Ready to Run (RTR) Rc Cars
Nitro powered rc cars come in kits or ready-to-run right from the box. The primary difference is the whether you want to save time with a RTR car or save money with a kit. However, because of the assembly process, kits better prepare you for required maintenance.

If you choose to build an rc car, don't expect to finish in one sitting. To avoid mistakes, familiarize yourself with the instructions first and get your work area prepared. Some of the things you'll need are:

Small No. 1 and 2 Phillips and flathead screwdrivers
Soap - as a dry lubricant for tight parts
Extra fuel line - to hold screws while positioning
Needle nose and regular slip joint pliers
Flush cutter
Hobby knife with no. 11 blades

When you assemble the car, make sure to work in a well-lit, uncluttered area. You should keep the parts and tools separated using tin boxes, trays, or even an old fishing tackle box.

These are a few of the basics you'll need to know before you buy your first nitro rc car or truck. You should expect to pay around $400 for a complete beginner setup. The price will vary a little depending on whether you choose a kit or RTR and how many tools you need.

Whether you race or just practice by yourself, get ready for a lot of fun!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What Type of RC Car

So you’ve you decided you like the simplicity of the electric RC’s, or the realistic sights and sounds of the nitro class. Now the next decision is just what type of RC vehicle is best for you. Choose according to what you plan to do with your RC, and your level of experience.

On-road cars are the most popular type of RC cars. The standard for on-road cars is 1/10 scale cars, though 1/8th scale RC’s are not uncommon. The recent increase in micro and mini RC’s means there are hobby quality on-road cars made as small as 1/18 scale. Both nitro and electric RC’s come in on-road versions, and are available ready to run or as build your own kits. Built and geared for speed, an on-road RC should be your choice if you plan to race your car. Touring cars need a smooth, paved surface on which to run though even running up and down the street you’ll be amazed by their speed.

If you want to be able to run your RC just about anywhere, you’ll definitely need the rugged construction of an off-road vehicle. These sturdy cars and trucks will handle jumps, uneven terrain, and hills, even sand. They come in two- or fourwheel drive versions, and are perfectly capable of driving in your back yard, a vacant lot—just about anywhere.
Like their on-road counterparts, off-road RC’s can be purchased ready to run or as build your own kits. There is a wide variety of both electric and nitro cars and trucks from which to choose. Off-road RC’s, though not the fastest cars available, are durable, rugged and can be run practically anywhere.

Touring and Racing Cars
The touring and racing cars are perhaps the most common type of RC's. The wide variety of styles and cars in both electric and nitro kits makes them an easy choice for the beginner, and the higher end build your own models can be great for advanced hobbyists. Lightweight and fast, these are the ideal racers.

If off-roading and rugged, sturdy vehicles were what you had in mind, then a truck is likely to be the RC for you. Both electric and nitro monster trucks are fast, tough RC's for running off-road courses. The ready to run RC trucks would be suitable for beginners.

These durable little RC's are powerful enough to handle on- and off-road terrains with speeds up to 60 mph. Usually only available in nitro kits, they are a lot to handle for a beginner.

Monday, January 7, 2008

RC Car Sizes : Standard, Micro or Mini

Once you know what type of RC you want, you need to decide what scale it will be in. Hobby quality RC cars come in a few different sizes: as small as 1/18 scale and as large as 1/8 scale. Nitro and electric cars are usually made at the industry standard 1/10 scale. This can be confusing for a newcomer, but if you’re in any doubt about the size of the RC you’re interested, just as at a local hobby shop and make sure it’s what you want before you buy.

To give you an idea of the amount of variety available when it comes to scale, this is a brief rundown of the sizes of nitro RC’s on the market today, as given by a prominent web retailer (
• 1/10 scale touring cars:
Engine powered touring cars can be extremely fast, reaching speeds up to 55mph. As with electric touring cars, nitro vehicles feature 4WD and realistic body lines, and are only meant for on-road use.
• 1/10 scale stadium trucks:
Nitro stadium trucks are identical to electric stadium trucks, except for the engine power. They're suitable for racing or recreation, on or off road, averaging a peak speed of about 30mph.
• 1/8 scale monster trucks:
These monsters are equipped with major horsepower. Consequently, they can travel on-road and off-road up to 40 mph, tearing through and over anything in its path!
• 1/8 scale buggies:
Similar to other 1/8 scale vehicles, they have the power to traverse rough terrain on-road and off-road, are very durable, and travel up to 60mph.
• 1/8 scale on-road cars:
The revolution of RC performance, these vehicles reach speeds of close to 80mph, coming standard with shifting 2- or 3-speed transmission. Intended for experienced enthusiasts, their foam tires provide tremendous grip, and they are suitable for smooth on-road courses only.

RC Micro and Mini Cars
The most recent development in RC in the last decade or so has been the introduction of micro and mini-sized RC from Japan and throughout Asia. These tiny but powerful little RC’s offer the same racing excitement as the big boys for only a fraction of the cost.

Only recently introduced to the North American market from Asia by companies like Radio Shack, micro RC’s offer an extremely low price-point for out-of-thebox racing fun. Priced at $50 or less, these are a great choice for a driver not ready for a full-sized RC or a newcomer to RC racing who wants to see what all the fuss is about.

Measuring only 2 ½” inches long, micro RC’s feature the same kind of motor that makes your cell phone vibrate. Best of all, these little engines are interchangeable, so you can tweak you micro RC with a different motor for more speed. Specialty tires and hubcaps can be added to customize the look of your micro RC, as well as enhancements to the torsion and steering controls. Mini and micro RC’s are always ready to run, right out of the box. Your little RC will come with the following:
• rubber non-stick tires
• micro scale working engine
• realistic, running chassis
• receiver and circuit board
• transmitter
• customizable body

The greatest advantage these little cars offer is their versatility. Unlike the noisy, smoky nitro cars, or the load hum of an electric race, micro RC’s are clean and quiet. They can be run indoors or out, even in your garage or basement. This means you don’t have to wait until the next race to run your car—these are small enough you can drive them anywhere.

Mini RC’s, like their standard-sized electric cousins, run on rechargeable battery packs. When your car is out of juice, it usually pops into the controller itself, which is then plugged into the wall. With your transmitter doubling as your charger, your car will be ready to race again in under a minute. If you want to race longer, the fast recharge time for these tiny RC’s is a great selling point. Overall, though they are not as customizable and intricate as the larger 1/10 and 1/8 scale cars and trucks, micro and mini RC’s have the same acceleration, controls and feel. Their tiny size makes it possible to run them anywhere from your garage to the kitchen floor so you can race any time you like—down the hall or up the street!

For about a quarter of the cost of a regular RC, you get a car with responsive controls, tunable suspension and customizable exterior But, like their larger counterparts, you can still get the kind of car you’re after: mini and micro versions of all the most popular vehicles are available. They’re the ideal option if you’re on a limited budget, but are still eager to get to the race.

Electric or Nitro Powered RC Cars

Just like buying a real car, deciding on an RC car takes research, price comparison and evaluation of your own needs. Though all RC’s have the same components—transmitter, receiver, motor, and power source—they vary widely in size, type, and degree of difficulty.

The first, most important decision to make is whether an electric or a nitro car is right for you. Nitro powered rc cars tend to be faster and more powerful, though their engines require a lot of maintenance and tuning. Electric powered rc cars, on the other hand, don’t run quite as fast, but they’re easier for beginners and run much quieter. Secondly, once you’ve decided whether an electric or a nitro car is best for you, you need to choose between a car that is ready to run right out of the box and a kit that you build from scratch. Ready to run cars are easier for beginners anxious to get to the race, though the build your own kits give you a better understanding of how RC’s work since you build it from the insides out. If you’re not sure, keep in mind that most ready to run kits still include full instructions should you ever want to take apart your RC or replace some of its parts.

Next, you need to decide just where you’ll be driving the car. Just like you wouldn’t buy a gas guzzling SUV if you live downtown and have a long commute, you’ll want to make sure you buy the RC that suits the kind of driving you’ll be doing. On-road RC’s are built for speed, so if it’s racing and road running you have in mind, you’ll want to stick to these lighter, faster vehicles. If you want to practice on rugged terrain and with jumps, the more rugged off-road RC’s are probably best for you.

The last thing to choose is the size and type of RC vehicle you’d like. The most popular class of vehicles are 1/10th scale, but there are also larger 1/8 scale and smaller mini and micro sized cars. Plus, the best part is you get to decide just what kind of RC vehicle you’d like best—there are cars, trucks, buggies, boats, planes and even helicopters to choose from.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Electric RC Cars

Electric RC cars and trucks are generally considered best for beginners, since even if you choose to build your own car, they tend to be simpler and easier than nitro cars. They’re also a great deal quieter and run much cleaner, meaning you’re less restricted by where you can run them. In terms of speed and power, they do have a great deal of pickup, though not as much as the nitro cars.

Electric RC cars use rechargeable battery packs to power their motor and steering, which are usually recharged from a 12-volt car battery or wall socket. Batteries run for about 5-10 minutes, depending on the type of engine your car has, and charging the battery usually takes 15-30 minutes. Because of this, it is strongly recommended you have at least two battery packs, to allow for quick replacement of the battery. This means your car can keep running while the other battery is recharging, giving the car more overall running time.

At first glance, getting started with an electric RC car can be much less expensive than a nitro vehicle. But there are other costs to consider as well, such as additional battery packs, a battery charger and other accessories that will add to the cost, making it closer to the price of a nitro car in the long run. Of course, this cost also depends on what kind of car you end up purchasing and what kind of battery pack it requires, as well as how often you run the car and the quality of the batteries you get. Though the initial outlay of cash can be steep, but you’ll want to get quality battery packs and a good charger to save replacing cheaper batteries.

The main reason electric RC’s are said to be easier than nitro is in the amount of maintenance and tuning their engines require. Though the care, maintenance and cost of battery packs is steep, it is still less trouble for the new driver than the air filters, tuning, fueling and various other engine parts that require attention on a nitro car. Instead, careful conditioning and proper storage of your battery packs will keep your electric RC car running smoothly for years. Always consult your manufacturer’s instructions to make sure you’re getting the right battery packs for your car, and that you’re caring for them properly.

Easier and cleaner, electric RC cars and trucks offer the genuine racing experience to the beginner on an easy learning curve. Proper conditioning and maintenance of the car and its battery packs are still easier than the many parts and problems often associated with nitro RC’s. If you’re a beginner, or if you just want to get to the races, an electric RC can offer you the speed and fun you’re after for less work.

Also keep in mind that if you think you’d prefer an electric RC, but still want the experience of building your own car, that you can also purchase electric kits. These include complete instructions to build your own car from scratch, and because their systems are less complex than the nitro cars, they are a little easier to build yourself.

Electric RC Car Motors In order to prevent unnecessary wear and tear on your electric motor, it is important to always break in your motor, before you drive it for the first time, and every time after you change its brushes. One easy method is to run the vehicle with the wheels off of the ground at about 1/4 power for about 5 minutes. This will slowly get the brushes fully seated to the commutator without causing wear and tear on the engine, and will allow your motor to run at its full potential. Your electric car will come with instructions on how to change the brushes on the motor, as well as guidelines for how often. Remember, if you change the brushes on your motor, be sure to break it in again. How often you replace the brushes—and the motor, for that matter—depends on where and how much you’re running or racing your car. Generally, a motor should be replaced after it has gone through five or more pairs of brushes, but it will always depend on the individual car, its motor and how well they’re running.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Nitro Powered RC Cars

Nitro RC cars are named for the special type of fuel that gives them and their motors such kick. Though not the best choice for beginners, they are the choice if speed and power are what you want from your RC. The great popularity of nitro RC cars and trucks is due not only to their speed, but is also because of the realism they offer—sights (smoke), sounds (tuned pipe) and smells (exhaust) just like the real thing! Over the last several years, the quality of nitro RC’s has been greatly improved, making them safer and more reliable than in the past.

There are four defining features of a nitro RC car:
• special nitro fuel
• high horsepower nitro engine
• tuned exhaust pipe
• Realistic, replaceable air filter.

Two different power sources are required for a nitro RC car, starting with battery packs for the transmitter and receiver. The car itself, as the name suggests, really does use gasoline as its fuel: an oil and gasoline mixture, much like a real car. There are two kinds of nitro motors: the 2-stroke and the 4 stroke engine. The more popular 2-stroke engine is similar to the kind of engine found inside motocross motorcycles, chain saws and weed whackers. This type of engine has no separate oil reservoirs, so the oil that lubricates it is included in the fuel mixture. Conversely, the less popular 4-stroke engine does have an oil reservoir and therefore depends less on a gasoline/oil fuel mixture for lubrication. When running or racing, the car’s fuel tank will need refilling every 5 to 10 minutes.

The engine seen most frequently in nitro RC cars today is a 23cc (cubic centimeter) displacement, 2-stroke engine. Its popularity stems from the fact that it’s among the most powerful engines available for nitro RC cars, putting out approximately 2.5 HP from its 23cc displacement (23cc means that the engine has about 1.4 cubic inches of engine displacement). This engine would be certainly powerful enough to impress you with its speed.

You’ll need a starter for the engine, of which there are two types:
• a pull-start nitro engine (these use a process like your lawnmower to start)
• Or a non-pull nitro engine (these fire up with a starter box).
The pull start nitro engines cost a little more, but you don't have to buy a starter box and it's less you have to carry around to run your vehicle. Just take it out, pull on the starter, and you're ready to go! Be sure to check your instructions to choose a starter that’s right for your car.

To keep your nitro RC running at its best, constant maintenance is necessary. This includes keeping the engine clean and well-tuned, setting it up correctly and using good clean fuel. As well, if you’re running your RC off-road, you’ll need to make certain it is properly cleaned after you run it, otherwise dirt and grit can slow down or even ruin your engine. Any special procedures particular to your car will be outlined in your owner’s manual. Remember that your engine will only run as well as you treat it—so take great care of it, and you’ll never have trouble on race day.

Fuelling Your Nitro RC Car
Nitro RC cars run on a blended fuel easily available at local hobby shops or online. It is made up of a blend of methyl alcohol (methanol), nitro-methane (nitro), and oil. In order to understand how nitro fuel work, you need to know what each of these three components does for the car:
• Methanol provides the main power to the engine and is the main ingredient in model fuel. It has an ignition point that allows it to be ignited with the kinds of platinum-element glow plugs used in RC engines, and it releases more energy per pound of air than gasoline. Because it’s easy to get, it’s not expensive—you’ll find model fuel much more reasonably priced than regular gas.
• Nitro-methane is added to assist the idle and acceleration and to enhance power output. Nitro is referred to as a “hot fuel,” and is only used in small amounts in model fuels. It can be explosive if not handled correctly, so take care to read the fuel tips offered here, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when filling up your RC.
• Oil is need as a source of lubricant for all the moving parts in the engine. Here 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines will require different fuels, since 2- stroke engines have no separate oil reservoir, and need oil mixed in with their fuel. There are two types of oil found in model fuels- castor oil and synthetic oil. These can be used by themselves or in a blend, with synthetics being far more common these days. This is mainly because synthetics are cheaper and less gummy than castor oil, which used to be the only oil used. For some engines, a blend with a large percentage of castor oil may work best, since it is actually a better lubricant at higher temperatures. The synthetics are far less messy, however, and leave less gum on your engine. You’ll be able to choose from blends of synthetic and castor oil that vary in their percentages- try out a few to find one that runs your engine best.

RC fuel blends are expressed in percentages based on the amount of each component ingredient used, and of course the one right for you will depend greatly on your car and engine. Most model fuels contain mainly methanol, to which about 20-22% oil and 10-15% nitro is added. Be sure to check your owner’s manual for suggestions and guidelines about which blend is correct. Bear in mind that you may have to try out a couple of different types and blends before you find the one that’s right for the way your engine is tuned. And if your engine isn’t running properly, one of the first things you should do is change the fuel. Taking proper care of your nitro car’s fuel is extremely important. Not only will it help your car run better and make for less wear on the engine, model fuels are flammable and could be dangerous if not properly stored.
• Nitro fuel should not be stored in unsealed containers. Because methanol mixes easily with water, the container you store it in should be completely air tight. Otherwise, air could get in and evaporation or condensation could occur, ruining the fuel. It will cause your engine to run too hot and be quite damaging to your car’s fuel and exhaust systems.
• Store your fuel at room temperature, and at a constant temperature. Again, you want to avoid any air in your container or in the fuel, which temperature swings can cause to condense. Do not store your model fuel in a room that varies widely from hot to cold or vice versa.
• Keep model fuel away from light. Nitro methane degrades in light, which means you need to store your model fuel in a cool, dark place. If you leave it exposed to sunlight or store it in a brightly lit place, the nitro will degrade completely, as though it hadn’t even been added to the fuel in the first place. This will cause your engine to run very poorly, or cause poor starts or stalling.
• Do not store fuel more than a year. In addition to following all these steps, you must also replace your model fuel frequently. Though proper storage will keep your fuel fresh and running clean, it cannot be stored for years and years. Most manufacturers offer some guarantees on their fuel, but these will not apply if you have stored it for an extended period of time. Most importantly, old fuel can be dangerous, so don’t leave it stored indefinitely.

Nitro Engines: 2-Stroke
The 2-stroke is the engine most commonly found in nitro RC’s. “Stroke” is meant by the number of times the piston travels through the engine sleeve in the combustion chamber. 2-stroke engines produce power in one cycle, which is divided into the two “strokes.” The piston has two positions: top dead center where the cycle begins and ends, and bottom dead center, which is the middle point of the power cycle. Combustion causes increased pressure in the chamber and forces the piston down. As this occurs, the exhaust ports are opened so gases can escape through the manifold. The second stroke begins when the piston reaches bottom dead center and the crankcase and then moves back up the engine sleeve. This causes the pressure to build up again as the piston approaches TDC once again, completing the power cycle. The next stroke occurs as soon as combustion from the glow plug sparks it again.

Nitro Engines: 4-Stroke
Less common but more powerful, 4-stroke engines are more like what you’ll find under the hood of your real car or your lawnmower. Though similar to a 2- stroke, a 4-stroke engine has 2 full cycles with 2 strokes of the piston each (for a total of 4 strokes). Unlike the simpler glow-plug ignition that a 2-stroke uses, a 4-stroke regulates the air and fuel in the chamber with a geared cam mechanism. Intake timing is how much and when this air/fuel mixture enters the cylinder, while exhaust timing refers to the escape of hot gas from the cylinder. The easiest way to understand what happens in the 4-stroke power cycle is imagine the 2-stroke cycle simply stretched out to get the most out of each segment of the piston’s movement. The piston begins at TDC and as it travels down the cylinder the geared cam allows fuel and air into the combustion chamber.

The intake valve closes when the piston reaches the bottom of the cylinder, which is then forced back up by the flywheel and drive train components. This compresses the air and fuel, and the pressure causes combustion as the piston reaches the top of the cylinder again, completing what is referred to as the compression stroke.

As the fuel mixture ignites it initiate the so-called combustion-stroke, during which the piston travels back down the cylinder and up again. In the final “power” stroke the gases are forced out to the exhaust systems—just as in the 2- stroke engine. The cycle is then repeated.

4-stroke engines rely on intake and exhaust valves to complete their power cycle. This is combined with a number of other features—a moving crankshaft, several valve-train components, camshaft, rod and pistons and the geared cam mechanism—to make a more powerful, but more advanced engine. The improved management of fuel and air flow in and out of the engine makes the 4- stroke more efficient, though their advanced mechanisms mean they require meticulous attention and maintenance.

Nitro Maintenance and Tuning So now that you know what’s under the hood of your RC, there are few more tips that will help your car run better:

! Improve your acceleration by proper preparation of your clutch. Over time, a glaze can form on the clutch and the clutch bell, which causes the car’s acceleration to noticeably decrease. Scuffing both the clutch shoes and the clutch bell with fine-grit sandpaper or steel wool and a good cleaning with motor-spray will remove this glaze, and prevent the clutch from slipping against the clutch bell.

! Extend the life of your car’s differential by breaking your motor in gently. Your car’s differential filled with small, complicated gears that make them both complicated and expensive. This is not a part you want to replace frequently, but carefully breaking in your car before racing or running it full out can greatly extend the differential’s lifespan. To break in your engine, run it at ¼ power a few inches off the ground, and then run some slow, steadily powered figure-8’s. This should set the gears in the differential and you can run it full out without damaging the engine. Make sure you keep your header in position.

Your car’s header is attached with a tiny spring, meaning it comes off very easily if you hit something or if your car gets hit by something. If you’re racing, this can be a huge problem to put back on in a hurry, so be sure to attach your header to the engine block more firmly using a small piece of safety wire. Make sure you twist the wire firmly around the header and be sure to cut off any excess.

! Brace your air filter to prevent losing or damaging it. The small piece of the same safety wire that secures your header should also be used brace your filter. Again, twist it tightly to prevent the filter from becoming loose and remove any excess.

! Protect your pull-start cord from fraying and breaking. Over time, the cord of a pull-start engine can often become worn and frayed. This can be prevented by covering the edges of the opening- try duct tape or cutting up a small section of fuel tubing. Make sure not to obstruct the opening, but rather create a smoother edge to the opening for the cord get in and out of with out fraying. Never leave your pull start cord pulled all the way out- if this happens, it could get stiff or be impossible to reinsert

! Follow your manufacturer’s instructions for the best results. Your car will come with complete instructions and owner’s manual, which you should read carefully for all specifications and any technical issues you have with your RC. Should you run into something you can’t fix or an engine that simply won’t run properly (or at all!), it’s best to consult your local hobby shop for some expert advice and help.

There’s nothing like the realistic roar and smoke of a nitro RC, which are fast powerful enough to make for some exciting races. Bear in mind however, that nitro cars and the engines that power them are very complex, and as such require frequent tuning and meticulous care—much more so than an electric RC. Because of greater complexity, you will also find they tend to be more expensive, as well. What this means to you as a driver is that you need to decide in advance what your budget is and just how experienced you are with engines and RC racing.

If you’re beginner but you still have your heart set on a nitro car, they can be purchased in ready to run versions that will get you in the race as soon as you open the box. Although these still require the same ongoing attention and maintenance, you will be saved the initial trouble of building the car from scratch.

Ready to run nitro cars and trucks are more expensive than the ones you build yourself, but they’re far easier if you’re still unsure about your mechanic ability. Also, since even ready to run kits contain complete instructions on how they go together, you can rest assured you’ll be able repair, maintain and add on to your car for a long time to come.

The main attraction of nitro RC cars is their realism and their power—they’re fast, they roar and they smoke—just like real cars! They can be tuned to reach speeds up to 60 mph and they can race as long as you keep filling the gas tank. Though not recommended for complete newcomers to RC racing, nitro RC’s are by far the most popular.

Introduction to RC Cars

Whether you’re seven or seventy, if you enjoy cars and tinkering with things, you’ll get hours of fun and excitement from RC cars. But there are a lot of things involved in getting to the race, and if you’re new to RC vehicles and RC racing, you’ve probably got a lot of questions. This website is a beginner's guide to purchasing and racing radio control (RC) cars. You'll find answers to questions you might have, along with the information you need to help you make decisions about just what to buy.

There's tons of RC vehicles from which to choose, and if you’re a newcomer, you may need help choosing between off and on-road, electric or nitro remote control cars. The more you know about RC cars, the better you’ll be able to choose the correct vehicle for you. Most people don’t realize just how exciting RC vehicles have become—the hobby quality RC cars made and raced today have can get up to speeds of 60+ mph and feature suspension systems that can be tuned just like a real car. Perhaps the most intriguing part is the wide variety of types of RC vehicles available. You can drive a race car, or run a monster truck on dirt tracks. Because of this, though, you should consider just what you plan to use your RC for before you decide to buy.

On-road or racing cars are made for speed, while off-road vehicles like buggies are meant to take more rugged terrain where timing your jumps between hills are the coveted skills. Plus, you can choose to buy your RC ready to run (rtr) out of the box or as a kit to build it yourself. These and many other aspects are important to know before you buy your first RC.

There are RC cars and trucks for most any kind of driver: nitro engines for the speed demon, or reliable, ready to run electric cars for touring. The electric cars run quietly and so are better suited to run right in your neighborhood, while the nitro motors give you the real feel of the racetrack.

What you buy should depend on your experience—choose your RC according to your experience to avoid frustration later on. Something to keep in mind from the outset is that RC vehicles are a high-end hobby, and can get quite expensive. If you plan to race your car, there are additional costs that come with competition. But if you’re prepared for the cost, and you buy carefully, you’ll benefit from an amazing new hobby whose rewards certainly outweigh the cost. Here are the decisions that need to be made before you buy:

• Do you want a kit car or a ready to run (rtr)?
• Do you want an on-road or an off-road RC vehicle?
• Which is right for you- a nitro or an electric RC?
• What kind of RC vehicle do you want- and what size?

No matter what you decide, if you keep your own experience and commitment level in mind, you’ll be certain to get the car that’s right for you. Whether you race them or just tinker with their engines, RC cars are a great hobby for kids of all ages. Though it might seem overwhelming at first, you’ll find that the more you work on your car and the more times you race, the more fun and exciting this hobby can be! The Race Is On!

Choosing And Buying An Electric RC Car or Truck

The important thing to remember when buying an electric rc car or truck is to choose a vehicle that suits your needs, budget, and the conditions in which you plan to run the kit. There are kits available for onroad and offroad, different sizes, and many different styles including Stadium Trucks, RC Monster Trucks, Buggies, Sedans, and other popular RC Cars and Trucks from many different manufacturers. I recommend beginners start with a vehicle from a reputable hobby quality manufacturer like Team Associated, HPI, and Traxxas but there are also cheaper toy style kits from companies like Tyco and Nikko available.

Ready to run kits are great for beginners. They come prebuilt and with just about everything you need to get started. For Electric RC Cars and Trucks, this should at least include a motor, a radio, servo, receiver, and an electronic speed control for sending the power from the batteries to the motor. If you decide to go with a build-it-yourself kit, make sure these items either come in the kit or purchase them seperately.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Between Gas and Electric RC Helicopter

RC helicopter has become one of the more popular “boy toys” that hit and hit big. Its popularity is not surprising at all. Imagine fulfilling your dream of flying an aircraft without spending too much. And most of all without leaving your foot off the ground. Now that’s a good plus factor if you simply don’t want to risk your life flying with a spinning rotor above your head.

RC helicopter usually come in either gas or electric powered. Here are the things you should know about the two:

Electric RC Helicopter

If you are a novice RC enthusiast, then the most advisable thing to buy is the electric RC helicopter. The reasons are simple. Electric RC helicopter is simpler than other types of RC helicopters especially the gas RC’s. With the electric, you don’t have to deal with the engine and the gas it will consume. You would not need to have proper knowledge about mechanics just to make it fly. You don’t have to spend a lot of time reader the manual just to understand how it works. And if the helicopter fails, you don’t have to figure out how to fix it.

If you are thinking that electric RC helicopter would not fly for long then you should change you perspective. Most modern electric RC’s are powered by lithium batteries and coupled with brushless motors. This makes it fly much longer. In fact it can out last some of the gas RC’s.

And lastly, it is quiet on air thus you cannot disturb other’s privacy.

Gas RC Helicopter

A more experienced RC helicopter pilot prefers gas powered RC helicopters for several reasons. One is, flying gas RC helicopter flies like flying a full-size helicopter since the sound that the engine creates can trigger excitement. Oh! You might think that it is quite absurd. But no! The sound of the engine makes it more exciting to fly. Another reason is that gas RC helicopter is more complicated that keeps its pilot more addicted with it. Why? This is because the pilot is not only limited to flying the helicopter alone. Pilot is involved with how the mechanics of the RC. This gives him more reason to become excited on the RC.

Choosing between an electric RC helicopter and a gas RC helicopter is up to you. Evaluate carefully so that you get most out of your RC flying experience.

5 Reasons to Fly Electric RC Heli

RC Helicopters capture people's interest since thseir very first inception. They stand as one of the most fascinating field of the RC hobby world. Very few can resist its charm. Nevertheless, not too long ago they also carried an extremely heavy price tag and required more maintenance than a ten-years-old car. To make matters worse, flying one required countless hours of practice and tremendous amount of patience. However, all that is about to change. With the introduction of electric RC helicopters, flying these amazing models are not as far-fetched as they used to be.

Here are five reasons why.

1. Low Cost

Flying RC Helicopter used to set people back thousands of dollars. People had to buy the helicopter kit (which comes in hundred small pieces - unassembled), servos, engine, starter, gyro, receiver, radio controller, a hundred other equipments, and of course - fuel. When everything has been purchased, you still have to assemble it!

On the other hand, electric helicopters almost always cost less than 200 dollars with cheaper but better versions coming out regularly. Even better, most of these helicopters come ready to fly right out of the box. In addition to that, every necessary equipments and accessories often come included as well. Finally, by using batteries, the running cost of these helicopters is greatly reduced as it is no longer necessary to buy gallons after gallons of gas.

2. Silent and Clean

RC Helicopters might be amongst the most fascinating radio controlled models, however, one undeniable fact still stands against it; they make more noise and create more pollution than a breaking down truck. This makes flying around the neighborhood almost impossible.

The problem of noise, pollution and size is almost entirely eliminated with the electric models; the amount of noise greatly decreased while the amount of pollution vanished altogether. These two facts allows these machines to fly anywhere without causing too much annoyance to other people.

3. Reliable and Easy to Fly

With gas helicopters, countless crashes occur not because of pilot errors, but because the engine fail in midair. Who's to blame? After all, everybody knows that gas engines aren't the most reliable thing in the world. They also notoriously require constant tinkering to run smoothly. On the other hand, electric helicopters fly undeniably more reliable. They almost never cut out in mid air, even when the battery runs down. Moreover, you can forget about having to crank up the engine over and over. These electric motors will run anytime anywhere as long as there's battery. There's nothing more frustrating than taking your helicopter to the field only to find that it won't start because it is too cold, too humid, or just because the engine wants to act up.

Electric helicopter are generally easier to fly than gas models, making them ideal for beginners. Some model allows beginner to start out with only 2 or 3 channels to worry about as oppose to 6 or 7 that the gas model requires. Avid pilots won't have to worry though, as professional fully 3D-capable electric models also exist.

4. Easy to Maintain

Maintenance used to be one of the biggest hurdles for anyone wanting to start flying RC helicopters. Thankfully, electric RC helicopters tremendously decreased the amount of repairs required. These little wonders were specifically designed to keep the amount of fixing necessary to minimum. Therefore, repairs can usually be made with just the bare hands or with only one screw driver. Even more impressive is the fact that these types of helicopter rarely need repairing at all. They can survive most types of crashes without any problem.

5. Small Size

Before electric helicopters, indoor flights and flights in your own backyard were next to impossible. Now, they are quick and easy. Newer versions are so small that even flying in the bedroom is possible. The smaller size of these helicopter means that it is easier to transport as well. However, for pilots who prefer big aircrafts, there are electric helicopters as big as.50 size gas models available.

The advantage of flying electric RC helicopter does not end with these five points. With new technologies becoming available, these aircrafts are improving at surprising speed. All in all, it is not hard to see why electric RC helicopter is the fastest growing field of RC hobby.

Learning 3D Heli Tricks

People will look at you with envy when you perform RC 3D flying tricks

3D flying is the most appealing feature for a Radio Controlled Helicopter flyer.

Usually the flyers starts from basic flying methods like hover tail in and then go on for other advanced 3d flying like figure eight flight or fly circles around you.

The more advance one becomes in RC helicopter flying, the more 3d flying technique he can perform.

Initially the beginners practice most of basic stunts like hover tail in, hover nose in , hover side-on, etc but later on when they have attained much of eye and hand movement , then they move on to more advanced flying techniques like Figure Eight, 180 degrees stall turns, 540 degrees stall turns and so on.

Usually the beginners will follow 3d flying in this order which is simplified for simple aerobatics from beginners level to intermediate and then to advance or expert level one for the 3d level

1. Hover Tail-In
2. Hover Side on
3. Circle around yourself
4. Hover Side on
5. Flying a Figure 8 pattern
6. Doing a 180 degrees Stall turns
7. Doing a 540 degrees stall turns
8. Loop and Roll-Ins

This is the list which one can follow but since everyone has a different interest and skill level, there can be 100 variation of order on this list but it's recommended to first know all the various aerobatics before trying to practice one.

Hover Tail In is the simplest move that a beginner makes as it is very easy to understand and commit both. But advanced 3d flying like 540 degrees stall must not be performed unless one has enough experience in the lower list i.e. the 180 degrees stall turns.

Beginners will feel little afraid to first try a 3D flight, but once they do so they are easily addicted to the thrills provided by the 3D flying. Just make sure to cover the basics like hover and the rest of the good stuff. Also remember that it will take some time to try to learn some 3d moves, but when you do it, it will be rewarding.

Flying Toy and Hobby RC Helicopters

Basic Flight Controls for RC Helicopters
In the RC hobby, flying RC helicopters is often considered the hardest RC skill to master. This might make the marketing claims for easy-to-fly toy RC helicopters hard to understand. The difference is in the helicopter design, the controls, and the range of movement that the helicopter is capable of performing.

Hobby-grade RC helicopters are designed to look and operate very much like full-size helicopters. Toy-grade helicopters are configured and operate a little differently. They are designed for more stable flight so that children can more easily use the transmitter and control the flight. These changes mean that the helicopter is not capable of the same speed or maneuvers as hobby-grade helicopters. Both can still be fun to fly.
Controlling RC Helicopters
What you can do with an RC helicopter (such as going up and down) are actions initiated by radio signals from the transmitter.

The number of channels on a transmitter tells you the number of actions that you can control on the RC.

These actions usually involve things like changing the pitch (tilt) of the rotor blades or making the blades spin faster. A hobby-grade RC helicopter normally requires at least four or five channels for normal flight that closely mimics the controls and flight of full-size helicopters. Toy-grade helicopters may have only 2 or 3 channels and much more limited actions.

Flying Toy RC Helicopters
The typical toy heli is a 2- or 3-channel model that can fly up and down, maybe forward and sometimes backward, and go left and right. It may run at a constant speed. It can hover in place but it's probably not going to be able to do high speed chases, loops and rolls, or inverted flight.

In order to provide more stable flight, the tail may not have the familiar tail rotor and blades of real helicopters that are set perpendicular to the main rotor. Instead they often have fixed pitch, counter-rotating dual main rotors (ringed for safety). These rotors eliminate the need for the operator to use tail rotor controls to counteract a natural phenomenom of helicopter flight that makes the body of the helicopter want to spin around and around.

Because the main rotors are fixed pitch (blades don't tilt independently), there are no cyclic controls -- tilting of the main rotor -- for climbing and diving or doing banking turns. Instead, the dual main rotors provide level turning. Some models have a small rotor on the tail (parallel to the main rotors) or vertical rotors in other locations that control forward flight and provides further stability.

These design changes sacrifice some of the maneuverability found in hobby-grade helicopters but it also means that the pilot needs to perform fewer actions to keep the helicopter in flight. Simpler controls, slower speed, and less aerobatics ability makes these toy helicopters easier to fly and provide children and novice pilots with more entertainment value. It doesn't mean that you can master RC helicopter flight right out of the package though. Even with the toy helis it takes patience and practice to hover, fly around the room, and land upright.

Flying Hobby RC Helicopters
With hobby-grade RC helicopters there are many more actions that the pilot can do and needs to perform to keep the helicopter aloft. Variable pitch rotors and other design features allow the helicopters to do more diving, climbing, rolls, and loops in addition to going up and down and hovering. These actions along with adjustable speed make hobby helicopters extremely challenging to fly but also more exciting.

Transmitters for hobby RC helicopters may come with many channels to control basic helicopter functions, provide more precise control of mixed actions, and change settings on the helicopter from a distance; but, for basic flight four or five channels is normal.


Q: How long do they stay up

A: Normally they can fly 15 to 20 minutes on one tank of gas.

Q: How far do they go

A: They go as far as the transmitter can broadcast, which is about 2 km. They will go very high and far out of sight before the radio looses contact, unless your batteries are low.

Q: How fast do they go

A: Same as a average plane, the record top speed is under 90 mph straight and level (without diving first) I think. Most 30 sized helicopters can do around 40 mph fairly easily.

Q: How much do they weigh

A: Most .30 sized helicopters weigh in around 6 lbs empty (no fuel or electronics)

Q: How much can they lift

A: A entry level (30 size) helicopter can lift 1-2 lbs with a significant performance hit. A typical 60 size can lift 5-8 lbs with a significant performance hit. A specialized 60 with flat bottom blades and designed to lift can lift around 15 lbs.

Q: How fast are the blades moving

A: Most .30 sized helicopters spin their main blades near 1600 rpm for easy flying around, and for sport loops and such closer to 1900 rpm. This calculates to over 200 mph at the blade tips and near 300 lbs of force pulling on the center of the blades. The average .30 engine produces a mean one and a half horsepower.

Q: How much do they cost

A: Starting the hobby from materials and tools, goes about $1000. You can get by with a .30 size helicopter for around $800 complete.

Q: What kind of mechanical experience do you need to build a heli

A: Minimal by , following the directions very closely and double checking everything will seems to have worked.

Q: How long does it take to build

A: About 2 - 3 days. With a pre-built ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) kit like the Raptor, you're only a few hours from ready to hover when you get it in the box.

Q: Are they much harder than planes

A: They are more complicated to fly than airplanes, however it is possible to learn to fly a helicopter by yourself which is next to impossible for an rc airplane because with a helicopter you can fly a little bit, 2 inches off the ground and land safely, but with an airplane it's all or none. Helicopters become more complicated because of the fact that there are more ways to fly them, and thus, more orientations you must get used to.

Q: How do you learn to fly

A: By use of a computer simulator which hooks up to your real transmitter through the trainer interface and large training gear which prevent the helicopter from tipping sideways when learning to hover a few inches above the ground.

Q: Do they run on gas

A: Not so much gasoline, as they do on a liquid fuel made of alcohol and nitro methane. They do make r/c helicopter engines that run on regular gasoline, but they're not as common due to their increased cost, weight, and lower power output. They are however much cheaper to buy gas for and can stay up longer, since the regular 2-stroke model engine gas can cost any where from $13 to $23 depending on the mixture. Model engine fuel (glow fuel) produces more power than conventional gasoline because of the high contests of nitro methane, which is why it is more popular than gasoline for model aircraft.

Q: What kind of engines do they run on

A: Special remote control helicopter engines. They come in 2-stroke and 4-stroke glow burning engines as well as 2 stroke gasoline models. They range in size from .06 cu inches to .91 cubic inches. The most common of these are glow fuel .30 and .60 two stroke engines. The O.S. .32 SXH runs at a peak power RPM of around 18000 RPM with 1.2 horsepower, while the 60 size engines can make 2 to 3 h.p.!

Q: Whats a glow engine

A: An engine that uses a glow plug instead of a spark plug. A glow plug does not require a spark to ignite the next cycle, it has a small coil which remains hot enough to ignite the next cycle when the fuel is compressed in the cylinder head. In order to start the engine, you must use a glow heater which heats the coil in the glow plug like a coil in a light bulb, and once the engine is running it produces enough heat by itself and you remove the glow heater.

Q: What happens when you crash

A: In a light crash (bad bounce) you might break the landing gear and a couple other things, in a average crash (lands on it's side) the first things to go are the main blades, the tail boom, the main shaft, the flybar, possibly the landing gear and the boom supports. Then there are the bad crashes where you look for the parts that aren't broken Wink

Crash Etiquette

While bent over your model tweaking with the needle valve, too often you hear "What the f***...," followed by a low frequency thump. Usually, several expletives will be inserted, some used imaginatively. A hand-crafted masterpiece of airframe miniaturisation crammed with state of the art electronic equipment and powered by an exquisitely machined engine is no more. The pilot, who is frequently the builder/owner, has made an unscheduled landing or has discovered the radio in his hands has a greater range than the eyes in his head.

Your immediate problem is how to react. Generally, it is considered bad form to immediately ask if you may borrow the pilot's glo plug battery. Similarly, you probably shouldn't ask if he's finished with the clip.

Any equipment related reasons for the crash you hear are by definition reasonable. Pilot error is too rare and sensitive to suggest, so don't say, "That's odd, I haven't had any problems on that frequency today," until at least an hour after the crash. Offer to help go look. Don't say, "It sounded like it hit something solid." Note that most lost models are found and returned. Don't ask if he had his name and phone number in the model or wonder out loud if the model hit a house or car.

If it looks like more than enough people have "volunteered" to help with the search, try to weasel out of going. There are ticks and poison ivy out there, and seeing a grown man cry isn't pleasant. If the pilot takes a plastic bag with him or comes back empty handed to get one, assume the worst. Actually, in a really bad crash, two hands and a pocket are enough space for everything worth salvaging.

Whatever you do, don't hold a postmortem on the spot. The pilot probably doesn't want to discuss:

* Battery condition
* Poor construction
* Pilot error
* Used rubber bands
* Fuel tank capacity
* Light blue covering
* Model selection vs. pilot skill

As best you can, avoid specifics, sound supportive, and look appropriately grave. You'll want the same consideration some day.

How to Get Started in RC Night Flying

Before you begin night flying, it is important to understand some basic concepts about how the eye works. I am certainly no optometrist, and I couldn't describe the differences between the cornea and a cone, but I can convey to you what I have learned through experience.

The eye is sensitive to contrast. The greater the contrast between objects, the more detail the eye can discern. That is why it is important to fly only when it is very dark (preferably on a clear, moonless night, away from the city) for your first few flights. This will actually make it easier to see your airplane, because the darker it is, the wider the pupils of your eyes will open, and the easier it will be to see the lights of your aircraft, for they will present a high contrast against the blackness of the sky. Also, it is important to keep in mind that your eyes can take up to 25 minutes (or more) to fully adjust to darkness after being exposed to bright light. The brain works in conjunction with the eye to protect the optic nerve and the retina from over-stimulation, therefore the eye is much quicker to respond when adjusting to light than it is when adjusting to darkness.

Many night flyers will argue that you need intense lights on your airplane to make flying at night possible. While this may be true within one school of thought, I say there is a better, more effective (and efficient) way. It takes a lot of power to generate intense light, and it is unfortunate that many night flyers configure their high power lighting systems in such a way that about 99% of the generated light is wasted!

A good lighting configuration is essential to a successful night flight. Remember that when you fly at night, your perspective will be very different from what you are used to seeing during the day. In the daylight, you can see your entire aircraft. At night, all you can see are the lights that you have on your aircraft. In other words, you don't fly an aircraft at night - instead, you fly a pattern of lights. You have to use some imagination to translate that pattern of lights in the sky into something that resembles your aircraft so that you can determine its orientation.

I have found that the simplest effective lighting configuration consists of four (4) points of reference: wing tips, nose and tail. The wing tip reference lights help you determine the orientation of the aircraft along the roll and yaw axis, whereas the nose and tail reference lights help you determine the orientation of the aircraft along the pitch and yaw axis. The combination of all reference lights forms a sort of "T" pattern, making it relatively easy to judge the orientation of the aircraft. I suggest you start with a simple, effective lighting system until you determine whether you like night flying or not. If you decide to continue, then you can pursue a more elaborate lighting system.

Probably the simplest way to prepare a model airplane for night flying is to purchase some cyalume chemical light sticks and use clear packaging tape or strong rubber bands to affix them to your aircraft. It is important to be able to see the light sticks from most any angle, regardless of the orientation of your aircraft, so the number of light sticks you use may vary depending on your aircraft. I would also suggest you fly a slow-flying trainer type aircraft for your first time up until you get a feel for it. Just like anything, you have to learn to walk before you can run.

It is best to affix a light stick on the very end of each wing on the edge of the wing tip and/or have them protrude from the wing, preferrably toward the nose of the aircraft. This gives them maximum visibility from above and below, and also allows them to be visible from the front and sides. You will need visibility from the front for when it comes time to make your landing approach. It has been my experience that the orientation in which the plane is least visible at night is when it is coming directly toward me. Therefore, all of my lighting configurations include some forward-facing wing tip lights and a light in the nose. I might also suggest that you use a different color light stick on each wing tip (traditionally, red on the left and green on the right). This will help eliminate disorientation problems that accompany certain aircraft positions.

The lights in the nose and tail should be visible from above and below as well. You might think at first that you would only really need to light up the bottom of the aircraft, since one has to look up to see the airplane. However, the top of the airplane is actually visible perhaps more of the time than the bottom, since it tends to bank toward the flight line when making turns around the field. The bottom really is only visible when flying overhead. But it is necessary to be able to see both the top and the bottom of the aircraft. Therefore, there is a good chance you will need two light sticks in the nose. You can generally get by with only one on the tail if it is mounted vertically up high on the fin.

I cannot fully emphasize the importance of being familiar with the plane you want to fly at night. The more comfortable you are flying it during the day, the easier it will be to make the transition into the night. But don't be fooled by your confidence. No matter how well you feel you know your aircraft - no matter how long you have been flying it - it will be a different experience flying it at night for the first time. Do not plan to do anything fancy during your first few flights, because your first few flights will be used to learn some new skills (or at least sharpen ones you already have). On my first night flight, I flew a plane that I had been flying for many years. Taking it up at night seemed almost natural. But that's only because I was already so familiar with the aircraft that I knew what to expect and could accurately predict its movements and orientation. However, on that first night, I felt confident enough to attempt a loop. That's when I learned just how different night flying was. I almost lost my airplane, because the lights fooled me and I lost my perspective of the plane's orientation (mostly because both wings were the same color). I gave it quite a few incorrect control inputs before I regained perspective and recovered. I did nothing more than fly around in circles after that.

Probably the most important thing you can do before making your first flight at night would be to relax, close your eyes, and imagine your first flight. Plan your flight so you know exactly what you are going to do, and don't plan to do anything more than take off, fly around in circles, and land. That will be enough for your first flight. The objective of your first flight should be to become familiar with how your plane looks in the sky, and how the pattern of lights can play tricks on you in certain orientations. The important thing is to remain calm. Be as aware as you can be of the orientation and direction of the plane. If you lose perspective, the disorientation should be only temporary - watch the plane come around until you can identify its orientation in a new position before issuing additional control inputs.

It also helps immensely to have someone with good eyesight stand next to you to help talk you through any disorientation you may experience. An extra pair of hands is also helpful when preparing your aircraft for flight. Chances are, you will need a flashlight or some source of light to use while refueling and starting your engine. If you have an assistant, have him or her hold your plane for a few minutes when it is ready to launch, to give you a chance to close your eyes and allow them to adjust to the darkness after having been exposed to the light in the pits. When you're ready, give the signal to launch, and enjoy the ride!

Perhaps I should have mentioned before this point that once you get the aircraft into the air, there will certainly come a time when you will have to bring it back down to the ground. Landing is probably the most difficult night flying maneuver, especially if you cannot see the runway. Before flying at night, you should have a good mental picture of the runway as it looks during the day. Pay close attention to how your plane looks on approach, touch down, and taxiing on the runway during the day. This will be of some benefit to you in the dark, especially if you stand in the same place to fly at night as you do during the day.

Aside from having a mental picture of the runway, it is good to have some reference of where the runway is at night in case you tend to turn or wander from your post while you fly. Some night flying enthusiasts may argue that you need to be able to see the runway in order to land. I have heard some amazing stories related to this. One in particular involved lining up ten automobiles with their headlights on just to light up the runway. This, to me, is ludicrous. Pardon the judgement, but ten automobiles lined up on the flight line is overkill, not to mention inefficient! It could also present itself as a safety hazard, creating lighting conditions that could interfere with the pilot's ability to see in the dark.

My experience has demonstrated that one does not need to be able to see the runway in order to land, any more than one needs to be able to see the airplane in order to fly at night. If you can fly by lights, you can land by lights. Therefore, all you need are a few (or just a couple) reference lights on the runway to let you know where the sky ends and the ground begins. Probably the simplest way to add reference lights to the runway would be to crack a couple chemical light sticks and toss them out on the ends (or wherever they work best for you). A friend of mine uses a couple of homemade lights consisting of a few LEDs and some old rechargeable NiCd batteries, providing just enough light to mark the runway, and they last all night long!

Chemical light sticks have a relatively short usable life span, but they should be adequate enough to get you through your first night flying experience. And don't push it! If you notice the light begin to diminish in the light sticks, making it even a little difficult to see your plane from a distance, then it's either time to land the plane and go home, or put on some fresh lights.

Flying with light sticks is not the best way to fly at night, but it is probably the simplest. Unless you happen to know someone who flies at night and can quickly rig up a lighting system for you to try out, using light sticks is a good quick-start approach to use. The ideal situation would be to fly with an experienced night flyer who has a proven lighting design and who would be willing to let you fly his plane (just make sure you fly the plane during the day to become familiar with it).

Your success and enjoyment with night flying will be solely up to you. Relax, have fun, and progress at a natural rate. Don't try to push it. There are a number of safety considerations to keep in mind while flying at night that you may not have considered in your daytime flying. If you are sensible, reasonable and patient, you can expect to be flying happily at night long into the future.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

It been a long long while since making a post. Marking the beginning of 2008 will be a series of Montages of my collection of RC Planes, Heli, Cars and etc all the way back as far as my memories recall and photos are still available.