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Ever since I was a child, I have always been a fan of trucks. I have always fancied living the life of a rogue lumberjack man. Rocking my denim and flannel outfit, mountain boots, axe on my shoulder and my big truck right beside me after harvesting and then transporting all the trees to be processed into forest products. I think if I retire, I will have a wooden mansion.
Anyway, I have had this fantasy for the longest time, but growing up in the city doesn’t make my self-righteous dream come anywhere near reach. Up until I found out about rock crawlers, everything seemed to be getting into shape.
Over the weekends and during my free time, I would always go to the park where there are little mountains or hills just to hang around by the rocks while climbing. There was this fine day when my neighbor just got a new toy and told me to join him explore the new gadget. It was a blue RC Monster Truck 4WD Tri-band Off-Road Rock Crawler RTR.
I was amazed at how cool the machine was and once he let me use it, it was like a dream come true! With my passion for cars, I couldn’t resist the experience I had. The thing that made it so cool first of all, it was an electronic RC (Remote Controlled) and looked exactly like a trail rig. I liked it so much that I had to get one sooner than later. I have to say it was the best birthday gift ever!
Out of all this, my passion for RC crawlers grew day by day so much that it has become my best hobby. I dug deep into RC crawlers and found that there was so much more to discover. Out of all the experience I had, my favorite cars have to be from the RC Kits. I will talk about them in the order of merit.
Now, if you are a first timer at the RC world, it would be wise if you try and begin with the RTR crawler. RTR is just an abbreviation which means “Ready To Run”. If you notice the crawling machine, it is generally composed of two major parts; the outer body and the electronic system. It is just like a normal car, the RC has a similar body and engine system.
“Ready To Run” means that it has been pre-assembled and packed already for you to use. The disclaimer about this is that most of the time you will have to buy a battery and a charger for yourself. For example, this ECX Barrage 1/12 4wd Crawler RTR, which is a Ready-To-Run crawler, contains a box that will come equipped with your car and remote controller. The disadvantage is that you might have to look for after-market chargers and batteries which I think in my opinion, should always be available.
Some of the features of most common RTRs include;
- A Scale Body that comes with a Chassis.
- Some of them come completely “Ready to Run”. Meaning everything that is needed is in the box.
- Majority of RTRs have waterproof electronics and generally you can drive them in any weather conditions. Be it wet, muddy, snowy or rainy.
- For them to operate in good function, they require Licensed All Terrain tires. Most probably, they should bare soft compound treaded tires that provide superior grip over most of the surfaces they are driven in.
- A Remote Controller whose buttons are easy to understand and can be simple to drive your RC.
- It should also come bearing a battery with a huge capacity of power to last a longer uptime. A 5000mAh 50C LiPo Battery is always desirable.
- A one step charger, whereby you just plug in the battery and it charges automatically without delay.
- The best ones are 4WD driven transmissions so that you get that extreme power for climbing on rocks and boulders.
- For durability and longevity purposes, it should have metallic gears so as to keep the RC more intact and for protection during those high collisions.
- Like any crawler, RTRs should have a multi-link suspension. This is just for the purpose of increasing the articulation to bounce and have the ability to climb most obstacles.
- They should have adjustable coils over shocks. This is just for adjustability and superior handling.
- As for Durability and styling, recommended Aluminum links, motor plating, wheel rings, and shock cap retainers always give that classic look.
- Auxiliary features such as LED lights, make it look appealing and you can also use to navigate when it’s dark outside.
- With an aluminum main frame, high strength and durability will be achieved.
- For maximum crawling power with a nice efficient package, you have to have a high torque motor. 35t brushed motors are recommended, both for faster than human walking speed and torque.
- An axle-mounted steering just to weigh it down low to provide low center of gravity. The lower the center of gravity, the more stable the device.
- Advanced battery mount system with adjustability for multiple conditions.
- For the best balance, full ball bearings are needed for efficiency and increased run time.
- Super user friendly speeds with impressive crawling capabilities make it all fun for anyone from a beginner to expert user.
As I delved deeper into RC, it sure was fun but I found it had started to become too familiar for me. But when I discovered about RC Kits, it really blew my mind away.
There is nothing more satisfying in RC than building your own kit, whether it is starting from bags of parts and putting the RC model together piece by piece or just adding electronics to a roller, the awesome feeling you get when you see your work racing down the road can’t be beaten. It always feels so much better when you see that the thing that you built with your own hands come to life.
I discovered all about RC Kits when I was doing my routine runs in the neighborhood. I was out hanging by the river streams when I saw a group of people out with their crawlers. I grew an interest and went ahead to ask them what they were doing. Turns out they had their own social club where they just meet up and share about their common hobby. It is pretty cool, right?
When I was a beginner, I had a difficult time to understand building my own kit. I thought it was way too advanced for me to understand but you truly never know anything if you don’t try it. One of the guys there was such an enthusiast, even more than I was, and showed me what RC Kits are all about.
At first I was really shy, but I said to myself, “Why not just try it?” For an RTR, which is just plug-and-play, you would just need a battery and charger and from there, you are ready to rock and roll. But for RC kits, it’s a whole new world of RC.
An RC kit, for beginners, may be a little bit harder to setup. At times, it may take a few days or weeks to assemble the whole thing but if you become well versed at the craft, you can surprise a lot of people depending on the extent of your ability.
Steps to assemble an RC Kit
All you have to do is buy a box full of parts and from that, you connect each and every part according to specifications to build your car from the tiny screw all the way to the installation of your carefully-chosen electronic speed controller.
These are just the basic steps you need to typically start with;
- Build the chassis frame
- Install the suspension
- Install the transmission, servo and motors
- Do the gear assembly
- Work the differentials
- Finish with electronics
Why an RC Kit?
The major reason why people get an RC kit is because it keeps you constructive. Say, if you have kids and you give them an RC kit, they will cause less trouble because it will take them a long time to figure out how to make everything work.
According to my experience, when you give them an RTR that is already assembled and all you have to do is plug it and go, they will figure out that that is not a lot of fun. When you give them something that is handy and requires their dandy attention in fixing the machine, then they will find value out of it. For instance, you can take them to an event and let them see how it’s done and from there on, they can establish an interest for their own benefit.
When I got into RC Kit, I had the chance to share the hobby with a group of people which was a wholesome experience altogether. However, I yearned for more and decided to go to the internet to seek for more of what is out there. I found out that in some places, they have competitions and events where they compete in different groups of classes. There are 3 classes. The first is just an amateur starter as the skill level with each truck climbs up. For the second class, that is where you can now start adjusting your controls and become a professional driver. The third is where you have established all the skills, tricks and angles to become an expert. The winner gets rewarded with a good prize to take home.
Advantages and Disadvantages of an RC Kit
- The first one and the most important that stands out is its assembly aspect. You have the chance to design and build your own car according to the craft that you like. Most of the factory made cars are not as satisfactory as the ones you can make on your own. For example, if you appreciate more aesthetics like making the mounting frame more metallic than plastic, that will be up to you and your creativity. You may even end up innovating something new in the process.
- Building your own kit gives a great feeling of accomplishment and personal pride. You will remember how it took you long hours of hard work and sweat to come up with your own creation. There is a kind of satisfaction to it that can never be compared to an RTR model.
- One thing about RC kits is the freedom you get. You can add auxiliary parts or customizations that will suite all your demands. For instance, if you want to install high performance upgrades other than using the ordinary plastic, weak battery cells and motors, just put some of your own excellent additions and see what a beauty you can make out of your hands.
- Another great aspect is affordability. The RTR tracks are usually overpriced based on the fact that the equipment that comes with them are not up to standard for the price you pay. For completing the kits, the price may be a bit high depending on the upgrades you can afford, but the important thing is that you will get the best value for your money out of it.
- You can easily spray paint it and give it the ultimate look you have always wished to have. Whether luxurious or sporty look, the ball is on your court now.
- Assembling your own kit takes a lot of skill and demands commitment. If you are not a patient person, this may be a little bit of a nuisance to you.
- The thing about kits is that you have to purchase a lot of components that may not be easy to find at one spot. This can sometimes be tiring and requires a lot of time consumption.
- Due to all the processes involved, one can confuse and make an error which may be too late to figure out until the car breaks down on you later on. This can cause a lot of frustrations.
- It will require you to buy servicing equipment like pliers, needle nose, power drivers, hammers, glue and other repair equipment.
Differences between RC RTR and RC KITS?
These two are very different entities and the main differences they have are;
For RC kits, building your own car will be much more flexible as you can design whatever it is you want. RC RTRs are more limited as it is on a give and take situation.
Automatically, electronics and mechanics for an upgraded RC kit are far much better than a ready-to-run device. With an RTR, you get low quality batteries, poor material and sometimes below standard motors.
- Knowledge and experience
When it comes to using an RTR, you do not need mechanical and engineering knowledge. All you need is really basic knowledge but for a kit, a lot of attention and craft is given towards the course.
Usually, prices vary depending on the level of quality you choose. Usually RTRs cost about $100 – $200, which may seem expensive considering what you get. But Kits depend on the expensive upgrades you choose to have yourself. Some kits may be a bit more expensive than RTRs but, it is the value you get out of your money that matters the most.
Generally, well-built RC kits are better than RTRs at performance in terms of output, power, durability and sustainability.
In conclusion, RC crawling is a really great hobby and I urge people to try it out for themselves. I prefer RC Kits as they will get you moving and generally the whole experience with them is very fun and exciting. Try it out!
Edited By: Carlos Santos, your webmaster.
Written by: Garon Helton (@GaronHelton). Garon is a native writer who has always been a fan of auto-sports. He particularly enjoys Formula 1 and V8 Supercars. His favorite auto manufacturer is Nissan. His dream vehicle is a Nissan Skyline R34 Nismo Midnight Edition.
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