Hello tech fans! In the world of RC driving there are few things that are more important than the connection you and your RC vehicle have via your transmitter and receiver, properly called the radio system.
1. GET TO KNOW YOUR RADIO SYSTEM
The receiver is installed in the vehicle and you hold the transmitter. These devices working in unison are a radio system.
Today’s radio systems have come leaps and bounds from where we were just a few years ago. 2.4GHz spread spectrum technology has changed not only the operation of the vehicles, but the running of events, races, and easing your ability to run your RC worry free. So this month, we’re going to cover some important things you should all know about your radio gear, that perhaps we’ve started to take for granted.
2. TAKE CARE OF YOUR ANTENNA
The first thing that most people assume is that the antennas in 2.4GHz radio systems are a moot point, especially those of us with a few years of experience.
Back in my day the antenna had to be extended from the transmitter several feet and vehicles also had footlong or more wire antennas that needed to be routed and mounted properly.
Today’s 2.4GHz radio systems have almost no antenna or at most a few inches. These small antennas are just as important as they ever were and should not be ignored.
Transmitters that are equipped with movable antennas should always have them pointed straight up and down. Laying that little antenna flat next to your case may look cool, but in the right conditions will lead to slower radio response, and ultimately open your gear up for interference.
Transmitters that have no movable antenna have one internally, standing up as well. Receiver antennas are equally, and in some very extreme cases, more important than the transmitter antenna.
Your receiver is nestled right next to high power wires, battery packs, the constant banging around of the average RC car, and it has to choose your transmitter signals from all the noise it sees. Make it easy on the little guy and have your antenna standing as straight up and down as you can, and routed away from other wires.
3. MANAGE YOUR POWER
While we’re discussing the receiver, we should talk about the power to the receiver. All this high tech switching and magic mean that the receivers are sensitive to power fluctuations. Not just voltage going up and down, but the current that the BEC or receiver battery pack can provide. Add to that the high powered servos, all running their power directly through the receiver, and you have the perfect conditions for power issues.
Take Care of Your Wires and Plugs
Always make sure that whatever wires are powering your receiver are in good shape and the plug that connects the wiring to the receiver is nice and snug. A loose or weak power connection to your receiver can cause numerous problems.
Managing BEC Output
This pertains to the ESC’s BEC output. Some speed controllers’ BECs simply cannot cope with the loads of the servo and the receiver. This means simply that they will brown out or lose power to the receiver. Obviously, that is a very bad thing.
Several manufacturers offer large capacitors that plug into any open slot on the receiver. These capacitors are specifically targeted at making the ESC’s BEC’s, or the RX Battery pack’s job easier. It is common to find receiver capacitors at the race track in many top racers’ vehicles.
4. MOUNTING YOUR RECEIVER IS CRUCIAL
Receivers have lots of small parts in them, and while the receiver is small and compact, what you put your vehicle through might be less then gentle. Adding extra mounting tape that has some cushioning to it is essential to long and healthy receiver life.
Do not use the hardware store grey colored industrial mounting tape. That stuff has been proven to ruin electronics in crashes. It has little to no cushioning, and simply put is way too thin. Several layers would be okay, but why not just use proper tape.
5. KEEP IT CLEAN
Cleaning your receiver every few months is not a bad idea either. Case removal can be tricky at times, so tread lightly. The cleaning is simply brushing out the sand, dirt, and debris.
Even if you run in the cleanest of conditions, you will very likely find some dirt has built up in your receiver over time. This dirt will collect moisture and of course, that is very bad. An occasional cleaning will do wonders for keeping your receiver working for a good long time. Getting the crud out also makes the receiver less prone to damage in hard crashes or missed timed landings.
GET READY FOR A GREAT RUN!
When it’s all said and done, today’s radio equipment does work well even when used incorrectly most of the time. Rarely are runaway vehicles (Who’s on 66?) or frequency conflicts an issue that results in any real problems.
These pointers will help you avoid the occasional shut down, goofyness, or mishaps, in extreme conditions. 2.4GHz technology is wonderful, but it’s also a shared range of frequencies that is susceptible to outside interference. Events are growing to include more and more vehicles that are being run at the same time. Having your T’s crossed, and your I’s dotted may make the difference in you having a great run versus a frustrating run with radio issues. Bash On!
Words: Charlie Suangka