Toys or Hobby-Grade Cars ?

Onroad or Offroad Cars ?

ELECTRIC OR NITRO POWERED

Electric powered RC cars are powered by re-chargeable batteries, with an electric motor providing the propulsion. This form of racing is quiet and environmentally friendly, and because of that, electric powered RC cars can be run in more places than nitro-powered cars. Electric powered RC cars tend to be 1/10th scale in size or smaller, though there are now also larger electric powered scales available (eg 1/8th scale). The components in an electric-powered RC car include

  • Electronic speed control (ESC) – the ESC serves as the throttle where it takes the signal from the receiver and regulates the amount of current that is supplied from the battery to the motor. There are basic ESCs to really sophisticated ones that allow fine settings using a phone app or computer. Brake settings, turbo and boost settings allow for optimal racing performance.

  • Electric motor - an electric motor spins when powered by a battery and speeds up when more battery power is applied. Electric motors are typically rated in turns, which indicate the amount of wire wrapped around the armature (brushed motor) or stator (brushless motor).  The lower the number of turns, the lower the wire resistance, the higher the magnetic strength, and the faster the motor. Brushed motors cost less and are usually supplied in RTR kits. Brushless motors have become today’s standard choice as they offer superior performance with less maintenance.

 

  • Batteries – the battery provides the “fuel” that runs an electric motor. There are 2 main types of RC: lithium-based (typically lithium polymer, or LiPo) and nickel-based (most often nickel-metal hydride, or NiMH). Due to their chemical makeup, LiPo batteries offer significantly better power and run time due to their lower resistance and higher discharge rates, but they require specific chargers and special care to be used safely. NiMH packs, however, are typically less expensive and don’t require as much special care.

  • Chargers - battery chargers come in AC/DC or DC-only varieties, with the latter requiring an external power supply (either an AC converter or large 12V battery, like that used for a full-size car). Chargers, like other important RC items, can be as simple (start/stop button) or complicated (multiple charge profiles, adjustable parameters, etc.) as you’d prefer. If you’ll be charging batteries of different chemistries (NiMH, LiPo, lead acid, etc.) or multiple batteries at once, or you want to monitor the charging cycle of your batteries to ensure peak performance for racing applications, you’ll be better off with a higher-level charger.

If the sound of a blaring engine burning fuel and spewing exhaust fumes is more your thing, then you will want to choose a nitro-powered RC vehicle. You’ll need to be patient when learning to tune and maintain an engine. You will also want to note that the number of places where you can run a nitro-powered RC car will be more limited due to the noise and smoke. Most nitro-powered cars are run on purpose built race tracks. Nitro-powered RC cars feature the following components:

  • Engine - A nitro engine is a 2-stroke internal combustion engine powered with a fuel that contains some portion (usually between 10% and 40%) of nitromethane mixed with methanol.

  • Fuel – RC nitro engines are actually fueled by methanol, but the fuel is often doped with nitromethane as a performance additive. Nitromethane is a highly combustible substance that is generally only used in very specifically designed engines found in Top Fuel drag racing and miniature internal combustion engines in radio control, control line and free flight model aircraft.

 

  • Glow plug - the ignition system of a nitro engine consists of a glow plug which has a coil of platinum-containing wire alloy, usually platinum-Iridium. The glow plug is heated with electric current for starting, after which power is disconnected and the combination of residual heat and catalytic action of the platinum alloy with methanol ignites the fuel mixture.

  • Exhaust pipe – like their full-sized cousins, nitro powered RC cars also have exhaust pipes comes in varying shapes and construction. The pipes not only serve to muffle the engine noise, but can be “tuned’ to offer maximum performance at varying rpm ranges to suit different vehicles, engines, and environments.

 

  • Carburetors – a nitro engine carburetor determines the mix of fuel and air in the combustion engine. The carburetor usually features 2 needles used to tune the mixture. A high speed needle tunes how much fuel is allowed into the carburetor at mid to high RPM, and a low speed needle determines how much fuel is allowed into the carburetor at low to mid range RPM.

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