The Basics of the RC Car Controller and Radio Control
An RC car has many components and an important one is the RC car controller. If you're new to the RC hobby, here are the basics of RC radio control.
While RC cars and vehicles used to be a hobby just for kids, it's matured into a multimillion-dollar hobby industry with all kinds of bells and whistles. Everything from the RC car controller down to the material of the antenna is now scrutinized by hobbyists trying to trick out their vehicles to be the best around. With so many people committing to the hobby, not everyone even knows what the basic elements of the cars do.
Here is everything you need to know to understand the basics of your RC controller and radio controller.
Car Controls Have Never Been More Precise
With the wide variety of radio controlled vehicles available, there are dozens of great radio systems. While every company has their own twist on radio control, ensuring that they can outdo their competitors, there are still some basics. The rules that every radio control unit follows persists from vehicle to vehicle.
You'll find a basic transmitter and receiver between the radio and the car. You'll also find one or two servo motors on the vehicle. There should also be an on and off switch to ensure you don't drain the power.
The radio system is the most important part of your model in many ways. When you're steering, you need the handling to be tight and bound to the controller. If you find that it doesn't respond, then you need a different system or a different vehicle.
Depending on the way that you like to use your vehicle or what kind of goals you have, you might need some upgrades or changes to the system it's built with. If you need to win, you need to have a powerful system which is allergic to interference.
Most of the models built today work on precise frequencies. That means they don't have a lot of interference and the transmitter is tightly bound to the receiver.
Learn the "Crystal" System
While every single vehicle out there is different from the next, one of the most unique is the crystal system. When you're worried about getting to the right frequency, so that you don't lose your signal and that it stays as strong as possible, you tweak the frequency. However, with crystal models, you need to remove your crystal and then replace it with one to match your control better.
The crystal you choose transforms your system. It now transmits and receives different signals when you've swapped out the crystals.
With crystal systems, there are two different band ranges to worry about. One range transmits at 27 MHz and the other transmits and receives at 75 MHz. While 27 MHz is much more common with the models that are Ready to Run, others use 75 MHz when they're souped up.
If you get a vehicle that's upgraded to offer you more options, it'll run at 75 MHz. You could also be transmitting your signal over AM or FM. AM is cheaper but you'll get a much stronger signal if you use FM.
The 2.4 GHz System is More Common
When you're looking at advanced models, you'll find them running off of 2.4 GHz. This is called the "spread-spectrum" radio system. If you're looking for advanced systems with strongly bound controls and vehicles, look for this system.
Hobbyists love this system because it's convenient and a system that's really to go right out of the box. Rather than having to check your frequency against others and make adjustments, you know you're getting a linked system. Your controller is precisely linked to your vehicle, ensuring that can race with dozens of others around you.
In fact, the 2.4 GHz system allows you to be around 80 or more racers all in the same range. This kind of system has the flexibility to flip its frequency really fast in the middle of racing to ensure that you stay closely linked even as conditions change.
The 2.4 GHz system has a built-in fail-safe device. This safety feature means that your control is going to keep running, even when you run into problems.
Choosing the Right System
If you're struggling to figure out which system is better, you need to consider how serious you are about your RC hobby. If you're going to be racing every weekend with a whole group of other racers, invest in a strong radio system. When you buy a high-end radio system, you make it easier to have fun and commit to your hobby.
The latest models out right now have the best technology, usually based on 2.4 GHz systems.
On top of having a high-end radio, you should have some extra receivers for your multiple RC vehicles. If you have crystal systems, have some extra crystals on hand. You should also bring extra batteries for your transmitters to ensure that you're not left in the lurch when you're out racing with friends.
Always have your charger on hand so that you're ready for anything.
Ask around among other hobbyists you know or who you're planning to race with. See what seems to work for them and test drive a few different models. You learn a lot by taking the controller and racing a vehicle around for a few minutes.
Every make and model has its own idiosyncrasies but for the most part, modern systems are dependable and robust. When you buy a modern RC car controller and system, you ensure that you're getting something much more dependable than you would have 10 or more years ago.
Your RC Car Controller is a Powerful Tool
When you choose the right system, you pick a set of tools that are robust and dependable, flexible and efficient. The right RC car controller and radio system ensure you not only win races but that you get the handling you're looking for from your RC vehicle.
Check out our latest guide to ensure you know everything there is to know about your battery.