So maybe you’re tired of videogames. Maybe your parents have told you to do something outside and the extension cord keeps throwing the breaker when you put the TV on the patio. Maybe you go a little bit insane if you’re mind isn’t occupied on entertaining things. Maybe you’re like me and you heard about an RC track opening and it immediately brought back your lost and wonderful days of blasting through the dirt with your RC10T. Whatever the case may be, the world of RC offers a little bit of everything, with price ranges anywhere from affordable to slightly more expensive than a real car addiction. Whatever you’re into, and whatever you want to spend, the world of RC can get you your fix. But before you go out and spend a pile of cash on something that isn’t really what you wanted, learn the dos and don’ts of breaking into RC. Because it doesn’t have to hurt if you do it right.
Do: Research your choices. There is a huge variety of RC models available and reading the spec sheet is not going to tell you much about it. Sometimes, a vehicle that has all the bells and whistles just doesn’t stack up to the competition in real life. Read reviews on the models that interest you, and make sure you know what you want to do. If there is an RC track somewhere near you, it is definitely worth going down and taking a look. Some tracks will offer rental rides, so take one for a spin. You never know, you could be wasting your time researching a buggy, because as it turns out, you had a lot more fun with a stadium truck. Don’t take the salesman’s word for it. Know what you’re buying before you put your money down.
Do: Stay below your budget. You may have a set cash amount in mind when you buy your first RC vehicle. Try not to blow your wad all at once. Sure, you’ve got the latest and greatest Ready to Run RC, completely assembled with battery and a controller, but do you have a charger? Batteries for your controller? Tools to pull apart the diff you just burnt up? Chances are, even if your kit came with all of that, your charger takes all night, the AAs died after the first day, and the tiny right angle hex keys give you blisters. And have you seen how fast your ride would be with a 3s LiPO? It will pop wheelies. You’re going to want one of those too. So keep in mind that you might want a few dollars left over to buy that upgrade part that everyone is raving about, or get a charger that will let you run more than once a day.
Don’t: Assume you know everything. Everybody hates a know it all. I had been out of RC for over a decade until recently. You know, back when brushless motors were just beginning to come out, we all ran FM or AM receivers that required everyone present at the track to carry different crystals so they didn’t end up controlling someone else’s ride.
“Hey man, what channel you on?”
“Do you have anything else? I think it’s too close to my 67 and my 72 has been kinda weird lately.”
“Yeah, I got a 70, I’ll try that.”
Ahh, the good old days. I’d slap a different crystal in my receiver and transmitter and then have the same conversation over again with someone else, who’s running a 69 and doesn’t have anything else with him. But forget all that junk. Now, you bind the receiver to the transmitter and call it a day. No more interference, no more fighting over channels. Run them inside, it doesn’t matter. Oh, and waterproof. Waterproof wasn’t even a thing when I last saw RC. Building a boat? Well, you better slam all your electronics into a battery box or other watertight box that’s difficult to open and doesn’t quite fit everything you want to put in there. After returning to the world of RC, I realized that I didn’t know squat. Acknowledge that. No one respects the guy that has been back in the RC world for fifteen minutes, and he is not only telling you how to set up your car, but teaching you how to drive as well.
Do: Pull the trigger. If you find something that really gets you excited, then go for it. Just make sure you do your homework and mind all the other dos and don’ts on the list. You could spend a lifetime poking through websites and looking at specs and reviews, so when you find something that checks all the boxes and has some positive reviews, then you may as well lay your money down. By the time the model you’re looking at comes down in price, it’s really only because the new model is coming out anyway and you’re not even going to want the model that you just spent a year drooling over, you’re going to want the newest edition. You know, the one that’s a hundred bucks more and has a collection of fancy looking anodized aluminum.
So there you go, the do’s and don’ts of breaking into RC. No need to worry if the novelty wears off after a while, there are upgrades to do and new things to explore, and more terrain to terrorize. So the sooner you get out there and make it happen, the sooner you will be having more fun than a barrel of monkeys (sorry, that’s all I got.) Stick around, because next time, we’ll explore learning how to drive, because if you’ve never done it before, there’s a good chance you’re doing it wrong.
BY: Marc Aubin