Paying for Practice

Imagine going into a bowling alley, walking right past the counter and just grabbing a lane to practice. You’re a league player, but you’re just looking to have some fun, test out your new ball and improve your game on an off night. The bowling alley won’t appreciate you sauntering on in without paying. Why is the RC track any different? It shouldn’t be, but the vast majority of us don’t pay to practice. In fact, a large number of racers are even rather insulted by the idea. Out of one side of our mouth, we’ll complain about the rising race fees or tracks closing and out of the other side, we’ll rebuke the idea of paying to practice. This makes no sense.

I don’t know of too many activity-based businesses that don’t charge for use. You can’t play billiards in a pool hall without paying. Whether it’s practice or a league night, you pay to play. Paintball is the same. As mentioned in our first example, bowling isn’t free when it’s just practice. Sure, they won’t turn the lane on without you paying, but you get the point. The facilities that host these activities have bills. Rent, electric, employees, taxes, inventory, insurance, maintenance–the list goes on. They need to pay those bills. And, it’s hard to pay those bills if you’re giving your services away for free.

So, if you want your local track to stay open, you should do the right thing and pay to practice. Or, don’t complain about the cost of race day. If they aren’t charging you to practice, they are (or should be) factoring it into the cost of race fees.

I know a lot of track owners hate to ask racers to pay to practice. Even if they have a sign up that says something like “$5 Practice Fee” they simply don’t enforce it. They need you there. They don’t want an awkward moment over $5 to cost them hundreds in future business. A lot of racers know this and take advantage of it. Then, to make matters worse, they do what most racers who complain about tracks closing do–they buy online or talk up their latest 50% off “sponsorship.”

It’s time we start respecting track owners and paying to practice or zip it when race fees go up.

Debate vs. Negativity in RC

At RC Truck Stop, we write reviews, tech pieces, which include how-tos and projects, new product announcements and commentary articles. The last ones, the commentary articles, are basically opinion pieces or editorials. In my opinion (see what I did there?), any RC topic, as long as it’s interesting–as in relevant and important–and handled respectfully, is fair game. We try to leave names out of it when possible, not to protect the innocent or hide the guilty, but to respect that not everyone wants to be part of the conversation. Over the years, I’ve written a good number of commentary pieces. I plan to do more. I like writing them and I know people out there like them too because they get a lot of traffic and because of the volume of comments they receive on social media. More importantly, I write these articles because they are topics that I believe are worth discussing. I believe awareness is a good thing. Recently, some comments on an article on the topic of clone products took me aback. I expect different opinions to be shared and I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but a few–probably two, maybe three–accused me of promoting negativity. I wanted to explore this notion a bit.

First, I have no desire to promote negativity. I do, however, want to promote awareness. It’s arrogant and ignorant to think everyone knows what you know. I say this in response to the “don’t beat a dead horse” mentality. Now, we’ve probably all used that phrase, but just because you have once discussed a topic doesn’t mean every single other RC racer is up to speed (pardon the pun) or that they don’t have the right to discuss it as well, when and if they want to. I accuse myself lightheartedly of being on a high horse, but some of these people really need to get off theirs. You don’t get to declare a topic done–sorry.

Another cliche that got tossed out there was the claim that I just wanted to stir the pot. I have no interest in stirring the pot. What do I get out of that? If I don’t believe it’s relevant and important, I’m not writing about it. I don’t pick topics because they’re interesting. The topics are interesting because they’re relevant and important. I also don’t get why some people are so scared of topics being discussed. Stir the pot means to cause trouble for others. I can assure you my goal is not to cause trouble for others. Are these topics potentially controversial? Sure. But, the fact that they can be controversial means they should be discussed, not swept under the rug.

Lastly, there was the claim that was these articles and the alleged negativity they create are bad for the hobby. Sir, if RC is too controversial for you, I’m sorry, but life must just suck. There are a lot harder topics out there in real life than motor claim rules. The RC topics we cover actually create zero negativity. In contrast, people choose to be either negative or positive and I have zero control over that. Have you ever walked around the pits at an RC race? Guess what racers talk about. Racing! Topics just like the ones I cover. If they discuss one because they read about it on RC Truck Stop, that’s great. Awareness was raised. Whether they are negative or positive is out of my hands. The negative people will be negative and the positive people will be positive.

I’m going to list some of the commentary articles below, but if you’re new, an example of a topic I might discuss is something like sponsored drivers racing in stock and spec classes. I haven’t covered this yet (that I can remember off the top of my head) and the topic has certainly been discussed by people before. According to some people’s logic, since someone somewhere has discussed sponsored drivers in stock and spec classes before, mentioning it again is beating a dead horse and is thus off limits. But, this is still an issue at numerous club races and big events. It’s relevant because it is still going on and it’s important because it impacts hobby participation. It’s worth discussing. If you think it’s beating a dead horse, what I hear is you’ve stated your opinion and aren’t open to hearing anyone else’s. But, talking about it will still the pot. What pot? Your pot? Who cares? Is it really better to stick your head in the sand and have participation bleed off? And again, is it really that bad to have topics come up and be discussed? As I already said, it’s happening in the pits right now anyway. While a bunch of others have fun, someone is discussing the rules, someone is griping about the classes and someone else is complaining about track conditions. And, that’s not even mentioning all the grumbling about who got hacked and who’s cheating. Sorry to ruin your fantasyland, Cinderella, but all of that and more is being discussed in the pits at every race. But, but, but the negativity. Go change your diaper. You’re being a baby. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I can’t control people. Negative people will be negative with or without these topics. Toxic people will show up at the track, Facebook group or online forum no matter what I do or don’t do. That doesn’t mean these topics aren’t worth discussing and that the rest of us aren’t entitled to share our opinions. Here’s the kicker, it’s far better to have the topic come up on RC Truck Stop and get discussed online than ignore it and have it fester behind the scenes.

The bottomline is you don’t have to agree with me on any the topics I write about, but don’t try to impact what I write about by making ridiculous and downright childish claims about me bringing negativity to the hobby. I can say with complete confidence do what I can to help grow this hobby and make it better.

If you’re ready and can handle the heat, below are some of the more popular commentary articles:

Claim Rules (Surprise hot button topic)

Ethics and RC — Clones, Bootlegs and Ripoffs

Pro-Prepped Motors in Spec Racing

Nice T-shirt! Did You Buy It Online?

Clone Wars — RC Style

RC and the Internet (I should have read this one before writing this article)

What Kind of RC Idiot Are You?

What I Love About RC Racing (How ironic. A rank against negativity. See? I can be positive)


Ethics and RC — Clones, Bootlegs and Ripoffs

We all understand that stealing is wrong. While plenty of people still do it, for the most part, we all can wrap our heads around concepts of rightful possession and wrongful left. These aren’t not hard concepts to comprehend. Yet, almost weekly, I see someone taking to Facebook to call out a thief. Most of the time it’s a person-to-person deal gone bad, but sometimes it’s a grab and dash from a hobby store. And, because we all get that stealing is wrong, we rally behind the wronged party. Interestingly, when the subject of clones recently came up in a Facebook group dedicated to crawlers and scale, the crowd was surprisingly split. Well, it was surprising to me, at least. To say the sentiment was split implies it was divided 50-50. I didn’t do an official count, but the positive endorsements of clones might have actually outweighed those crying foul. I am firmly in the latter group and unashamedly get right on my high horse when the subject comes up. Even when it’s not illegal or worth the legal cost in time and money, I believe, at the very least, clones are unethical and bad for the hobby. The quick and dirty summation of my position on clones is that it’s theft. It’s theft of intellectual property.

Unique ideas and concepts are worth something. That’s why we pay for them. Not paying for them is simply stealing. If ideas and concepts are worth something, certainly actual designs are too. Stealing the entire design of an RC platform is, undeniably, stealing and it happens in RC. The most common vehicle cloned in RC is probably HPI’s 5B. Back when it was first released, this expensive 1/5-scale gas-powered off-roader quickly earned a cult-like following and spawned an entire sub-industry of aftermarket companies. Then out came the 5B clones. You can read more about clones here. Again, the bottom line is cloning a product is theft. HPI has faced some tough times financially and there’s little doubt having one of its flagship products repeatedly ripped off didn’t help.

This is a clone Salvas MUDboss body.

RC vehicles, as mentioned above, get cloned all of the time and I thought the subject was basically old news. Thanks to Facebook groups and Marketplace, however, I’ve seen some new clone offerings–specifically RC bodies. Companies that offer back pours of Lexan bodies have been around for years. Sometimes these are copies of current bodies and sometimes they copies of discontinued bodies. Either way, it’s stealing someone else’s design. It’s legally and ethically wrong. Most companies just don’t have the resources to fight it.

And this too is a clone MUDboss body.

Another copy I’ve seen lately are the bootleg versions of the Salvas MUDboss bodies. I’ve seen multiple companies offering an “exact clone.” That’s their words. Yes, they openly admit their product is a ripoff right in the their product description. Again, let’s be clear because there seems to be some confusion. What is wrong here is making an exact copy of someone’s product. No one is saying any company can’t make an Eastern Dirt Modified body. Plenty do. That is 100% okay, but copying the Salvas design and marketing it as a MUDboss body is wrong. Back in the peak of touring car racing the go-to body was, of all things a Dodge Stratus. Literally everyone ran a Stratus. Every manufacturer came out with their version of the Stratus. Key words are “their version.” That is 100% okay and part of the competitive market. What wouldn’t be fine is doing a back pour of another company’s Stratus design. Another example from back in the day, is the Street Spec class. We were required in this spec class to use official Street Spec tires with their easily identifiable white stripe. Someone else’s lookalike copy of these tires is not only stealing, at least in my book, but it’s also bad for the class. According to the MUDboss rules, you are required to run an official Salvas MUDboss body. It’s a pretty difficult rule, however, to enforce. It really can’t be on the race tracks to police this. It has to be on us, the racers. Salvas has tried to combat the clone trend by including stickers designating a body as official and the latest versions of the official MUDboss have an “S” on each A-pillar. But, there are already a lot of bodies in circulation that don’t have a sticker or marked A-pillar. Salvas is fighting an uphill battle.

1/5-scale buggies and dirt oval bodies aren’t the only products in RC being cloned. Transponders get cloned too. If you race, these expensive devices are a necessity, but they can make racing multiple classes a budget buster. This has made cloned transponders pretty appealing. The cost may be high on genuine transponders and that certainly makes it temping, but does that make cloning right? I know I was once tempted because of the cost savings and also because I could get multiple transponders with the same number. While I sincerely felt genuine transponders were overpriced, I couldn’t pull the trigger on the bootleg product.

So, what’s your take on clones in RC? Are they ripoff or not really a big deal?

If the opinions in this commentary upset you or, more specifically, if you somehow believe merely expressing and sharing the opinions in this commentary negatively impact the hobby please read:

Debate vs. Negativity in RC

How to: Take Better RC Photos with a Cellphone

I am by no means the Ansel Adams of RC photography, but I have taken more than my fair share of photographs for RC magazines and websites. While working for RC magazines I tried to be a sponge around the true professional photographers. And, my wife also happens to be a professional photography. But, even without all of that, I know a good photo from a bad photo. It’s not some unique skill. Your eye knows the difference too. The downside is while you might be able to easily recognize the good from the bad, it’s the what specifically makes a photo good or bad that’s hard to identify. Check out tips below and you’ll instantly be taking better RC photographs using just your cellphone.

While I don’t believe there is any mistaking this rig for a full-size truck, the low angle definitely gives it a realistic stance.

This is probably the number one tip of RC photography. Get down low–as low as you can. The lower the better. You wouldn’t take a photo of your real car from the fifth story of a nearby building. When you get low you obtain a far more realistic perspective. This is always important, but it’s extremely important for scalers. So, bring a blanket to get down on. Take advantage of naturally accusing low spots to get your camera (most likely your phone these days) lower than the subject (your RC car). Also, while some phones have the camera centered, many phones have the camera in one corner. If you can, get the corner with the sense lower to the ground.

This would be a good photo if the people weren’t in the background.

One of the things that really separates professional photographs from amateur snapshots is bad backgrounds. We all focus on the subject of our photos, but you need to pay attention to the background. I can’t tell you how many otherwise decent photos I’ve seen with what looks like a tree or telephone pole growing out of someone’s head. Same goes for RC photographs. Pay attention to what is behind your subject. Avoid trees, telephone poles, someone’s leg, etc. Another thing to remember when it comes to backgrounds is to get outside. Despite seeing it on Facebook all of the time, the washer and dryer do not make for a good background.

I used the depth adjustment on my smart phone. The background blurred out looks great, but notice the missing details on the vehicle.

Shallow depth of field is fancy photography talk for blurred background. When the background is blurred out, distraction is eliminated. This technique makes almost any photo other than landscapes look better. Thanks to modern technology, you don’t need an expensive camera with adjustable f-stop or aperture, you just need a modern smart phone. For most of you this is old news, but using the iPhone as an example, switch to Portrait mode. After you take your photo, click on edit. You should see something like f 4.5 in the upper left corner. Click on this and a depth adjustment dial will appear under the photo. Slide the dial all the way to the right. As the f-stop number gets lower, the background will blur. You’ll quickly notice a photo with a depth (of field) setting of f 1.4 has a much blurrier back than the same photo at f 4.5. Most of you probably already know your phone can do this, so this tip is more of a reminder to use the feature. Word of warning: smart phones are only so smart. The depth feature can sometimes blur details you don’t want blurred out.

Not the worst I’ve seen, but the shadow in the foreground is certainly distracting.

Another common mistake is misusing natural light. Unless you’re going for some crazy effect, the light source (most often the sun) should be behind the photographer and not behind the subject. Also, watch out for long shadows from a low sun. And, watch out for your shadow or the camera’s shadow.

While this is a little in your face, having some negative space in front of the vehicle creates some interest.

Your car doesn’t need to completely fill the frame, but it shouldn’t be a speck either. Without pulling out too far, leave some negative space (area of the image not occupied by the subject). You can always crop as needed later. What you want to avoid is using the digital zoom feature. Get close enough that you don’t have to zoom in. You might have heard about the rule of thirds when it comes to composition. It’s a good guideline, but we’ll typically bend the rules in RC because we want to see the details and we want to show off the subject. The most important aspect of the rule of thirds is it prevents you from putting the subject dead center in the frame. Again, we don’t want to create too much negative space, but we want to have some and the photo will be more visually interesting if that negative space is offset. For example, there’s more negative space in front of the subject than behind it.

While the point of this photo was to show off the DIY tire chains, I took the time to make sure to check all the details.

At a professional photoshoot there are often many more people involved than just the photographer. There is usual an assistant, maybe a separate lighting hand, a stylist, an art director. They are all there to attend to the details. You’re not going to have a staff on hand just to get a photo of your 1/10-scale pride and joy, so you need to take care of the details yourself. You need to look and I mean really look at your composition. Are all the body clips the same and positioned correctly? Get four matching body clips and lay them down flat. And, for the love of God, please trim your body posts. If your car has an exposed antenna tube, remove it. Is the car clean? I now use ProTek TruShield (review here) on bodies and they come out like they’ve been freshly waxed. Are the tires clean? Use Simple Green if they’re not. Or, maybe you have a scaler and don’t want it clean. Other details to check are any decals. Make sure none of the stickers are curling up or have dirt under them. If you’re shooting an on-road car, choose your surface wisely. Make sure it’s smooth and doesn’t have noticeably large aggregate. Lastly, make sure your battery leads are tucked up in the chassis and not hanging below the body.

ProTek RC “TruShield” RC Car Detail Spray Review

I know for some people maintenance is a four letter word, but if you want your RC gear to last a long time and perform to its full potential, you need to take taking care of it. You need to do some maintenance. When it comes to maintenance, I’m a big fan of Simple Green on tires, Dawn soap on plastic parts and WD-40 on metal parts. And, I often also wipe down plastic parts with WD-40. It will seem slick and shiny at first, but WD-40 evaporates and lives a non-sticky coating that makes the parts look new again. What I don’t use any of those products on is bodies. To clean a body, I use warm water to rinse off any grime and then when it has no dirt particles on it, I clean it with Windex. The reason I get it dirt free before wiping it down with Windex is I don’t want to scratch the body. Now, I could leave it alone, but to take the clean to the next level I reached for AMain Hobbies’ ProTek RC “TruShield” RC Car Detail Spray.

There’s not a whole lot to say here. The ProTek RC “TruShield” RC Car Detail Spray is a 13 oz. aerosol spray can, which sells for about $13 at Amain Hobbies. The can is large, at over 9 in. tall, and the 13 oz. is net weight, so you’re getting a lot of product. Other than butane and propane, there isn’t a whole lot of ingredients you’ll likely recognize in the blend of chemicals that make of TruShield. What you do need to recognize is TruShield is not a cleaner. The spray is a final step that polishes and shines without leaving an oily residue that will attract dirt. In fact, TruShield is designed to help prevent dirt from sticking. It, as the label says, shines and protects.

I’m always going to use WD-40 on the metal parts like hinge pins and I’ve gotten really used to using it on plastic parts, but I was willing to try the TruShield on some chassis and bodies. Let me just say this right off, ProTek RC “TruShield” RC Car Detail Spray is fantastic on bodies. It definitely shines the body, but it also leaves the body noticeably slick. Again, not an oily slick. It’s more like it was professionally waxed. If I have a can, I will always use TruShield on my Lexan bodies. It’s that good. It’s also arguably better on plastic than WD-40. The upside of WD-40 is it’s about half the price of TruShield. For me, I’ll be using both. Again, WD-40 is always going to be my go-to for metal parts. TruShield is now my go-to for bodies. I’ll probably keep using TruShield on chassis and suspension parts as long as I don’t feel like I’m going through the can too quickly.

While the photo doesn’t really do it justice, the type of shine TruShield provides is visible on the Traxxas Stampede above. It’s fairly shiny and slick to the touch, but it isn’t oily at all. Besides making parts look good, TruShield did a great job keeping dirt from sticking to bodies and parts. It was part of my maintenance plan, but it also cut down on my needed maintenance. In the end, that’s what made me think ProTek RC “TruShield” RC Car Detail Spray was worth the money.

AMain Hobbies
ProTek RC

STRC CNC Aluminum Machined Precision Shock Shaft Pliers Review

There are a few ways you can get a shock end off a shock shaft. You can grip it with pliers with a few layers of paper towel serving as protection for the shaft or you can grab the threads that go into the shock end with side cutters. Both of these methods can work, but they can also completely destroy a shock shaft. The proper way to remove a shock end is with a pair of shock shaft pliers specifically made for the task. If you scratch your shock shaft, you can pretty much guarantee a leaky shock that will just get worse and worse. That scratch will damage the O-ring seals with each compression and extension. Shock shaft pliers are made out of a material softer than the shock shafts and, thus, do not scratch no matter how hard you squeeze. For years, I used a Duratrax Shock Shaft Holding Tool, which was made out of solid brass. It worked with regular pliers and didn’t mar shock shafts, but it really only worked with 1/10-scale shocks. It eventually broke. I replaced it with some shock shaft pliers, but they somehow walked away from my pit space one day. This led me to get my hands on STRC’s CNC Aluminum Machined Precision Shock Shaft Pliers.

The STRC shock pliers are, as the name indicates, CNC-machined out of aluminum. My test sample is anodized in “Tamiya blue,” but the pliers are also available in black, “Traxxas/AE blue,” 2-tone (silver/gunmetal) and “Xray orange.” The pliers are a simple two-piece design held to together by a single button-head machine screw. The jaws have three different size grooves and the pliers can accommodate just about any size shock shaft used in RC. Measuring in at a little over 5 in. long, these pliers are designed to provide enough leverage for even the most stubborn shock shaft ends. The handles have finger grooves to provide some comfort and grip.

I’ve been racing a lot of dirt oval, lately, which has meant I’ve disassembled a lot of shocks lately. These pliers have gotten a lot of use. Not that it matters, but thus far the anodizing is showing no wear in the grooves. Again, it wouldn’t matter, but it does indicate quality anodizing. The longer handles work great as they provide the leverage needed to grip even slick shock shafts. Even when disassembling RTR shocks for the first time, the pliers gripped the shaft tightly enough that I could remove the shaft end by hand. All of the edges of the tool are smoothed and the handles have been rounded even more for comfort. You really only use a tool like this for a few seconds at a time, but it is important that it is comfortable. Both handles have finger grooves, which really isn’t necessary, but it does mean it doesn’t matter which way you pick them up. The pliers are so smooth, the grooved part doesn’t dig into your palm at all. What I really like about these pliers is they’re big enough to actually work and yet still small and light enough to go in my RC toolbox.

Overall, the STRC CNC Aluminum Machined Precision Shock Shaft Pliers are great and are a permanent addition to my RC toolbox. The quality is there in appearance and performance. At around $18 to $21, they aren’t cheap, but they are comparable in price or less than other pliers on the market. In fact, when I was looking for new shock shaft pliers, the STRC pliers were the least expensive of the ones I found. All they do is work as shock shaft pliers, which is fine with me. No ball end press, no tire hole punch, just shock shaft pliers. Again, that’s fine with me. Sometimes all a hammer needs to be is a hammer and all a pair of pliers needs to be is a pair of pliers. If you’re not using shock shaft pliers, you should be. And, if you don’t have a set, check out these from STRC.

Learn more here.

Bump Ups

My goal every time I race–club race or big event–is to just make the A-main. Of course, I want to win, that’s always the ultimate goal, but I’m firmly in the ‘I rather finish last in the A than first in the B’ camp. Making the A-main is my success benchmark. Making the A-main means I was competitive. But, RC racing being what it is, not every competitive driver makes the A-main. Sometimes things just don’t go your way during qualifying. You get hacked to pieces in a bad heat grouping or have an unexpected failure of some sort. Even if there are three rounds or more of qualifying, it’s possible to have three rounds or more of bad luck. You can wallow in self pity in the C-main or get up on the wheel and drive your way to the A . . . if there are bump ups.

If you’re unfamiliar, bump ups are when a certain number of drivers, most often two, get to move up to the next highest main. With a bump up system in place, if you won the C-main, you’d get to race in the B-main. If there were two bump up spots, if you finished second in that C-main, you’d start last in the B. In theory, you could bump your way from the lowest qualifier all the way to the A-main. Sounds great, right?

Turns out not everyone likes bump ups and for good reason. Say your track can accommodate eight drivers in each main. In order to have two drivers bump up means only six will qualify directly for the A-main. Two empty spots have to be left open for the bumps. Guess what? If you qualified seventh or eighth, you just got screwed. You now have to race for the starting position you already earned. Another negative is that RC racing attracts racers of all different abilities, which is a good thing. Qualifying and reshuffles in-between rounds is designed to sort the drivers so that everyone can have a good race. Fast racers don’t like getting crashed into by rookie drivers and newcomers don’t like feeling they’re just in the way. Sometimes there’s a big gap in skill between a B- and C-main. Bumping two drivers up can cause a lot of necessary chaos. C-main drivers deserve to race just as much as anyone else and more than once I’ve seen C-mains that were cleaner than the A-main, but the reality is bump ups can take drivers and put them in races where they’re really out of their element. Chaos ensues.

What’s great about bump ups is everyone loves a Cinderella story. And, they do happen. While everyone thinks of dirt oval when they think of bump ups, bump ups used to be the norm at a lot of big nitro off-road races. I used to cover a lot of races when I was an RC magazine editor and I can assure you that when a fast driver was working his or her way through the lower mains and all the way to the A, it had everyone’s attention and became the story of the event. Everyone loves a Cinderella story. Bump ups also simply add a lot of excitement to lower mains. All of sudden you’re racing for something. You want to see someone excited to finish second in a C-main? Tell them they bumped up to the B.

So, what do you think? Do bump ups rob someone of their qualifying position and create chaos or do bump ups give everyone a chance to make the A-main and add excitement to each main?

If you want to read what ROAR says about bump ups, go here and scroll to section 14.9.3.

If you like these somewhat controversial topics, check out this article on claim rules here.



How to Go Faster

If you’re into RC odds are you have the proverbial need for speed we all seem to have. Whether you race or bash, going fast is fun. And, unlike full-size, there aren’t the same consequences–no speeding tickets and usually no physical harm to people. Sure, you can hurt yourself or someone else, so caution should be taken and good judgement should be used, and you can wreck your RC, but it is definitely a lot easier on the wallet and body to crash at 65 mph with an RC than it is in a real car. So, all of that are a big reason why we like speed so much with RC. We can get away with things we normally couldn’t. There’s the thrill without the danger. That’s all great, and in the immortal words of Ricky Bobby, “I wanna go fast,” but how do you go fast? Below are the top five proven ways to make any electric RC car or truck faster.

Making a gearing change is probably the easiest and least expensive way to get more speed. The two gears that are typically adjustable are the pinion (attached to the motor) and the spur. Installing a larger pinion will make your vehicle faster. Installing a smaller spur gear will do the same. All at the expensive of acceleration and runtime. You also run the risk of overheating your motor, speed control and even battery is you use too large of a pinion or too small of a spur gear. Also, keep in mind that the pinion, in addition to being easier to change, also makes a bigger difference, tooth for tooth, compared to the spur gear. Point is you’ll notice a two-tooth change on a pinion, but probably wouldn’t notice the same change on a spur gear.

How to Ruin Your Electronics

How to Gear Your Truck Correctly

More voltage equals more speed. In fact, more voltage might be one of the best ways to significantly increase performance because more voltage increases acceleration and top speed. Voltage, of course, all comes from your battery. If you’re running a 2S (two cell) LiPo, go to 3S. You can go to 4S for an even bigger speed increase. What you can get away with all depends of your current speed control and motor. Do not exceed their rated levels. If your speed control (aka ESC) is rated for a maximum of 2S or 7.4 volts, you will need to upgrade in order to go to 3S or more.

Going up in voltage isn’t always the answer. Neil Cragg won a 2WD world championship running a 5-cell NiMH pack instead of the allowed 6-cell pack. This was back in the day before LiPos.

The main way tires can make your truck faster is via size. Taller tires work like a gearing change with the same impact. Taller tires will increase top speed at the expense of acceleration and runtime. Small changes aren’t likely to be noticed. Lighter tires, however, can increase acceleration and improve runtime. Lighter tires, however, will not improve top speed.

While attending an IFMAR World Championship at a track with extremely low traction, I asked World champion Mark Pavidis, who worked at tire giant Pro-Line Racing at the time, what tire and compound he was going to go to solve the traction problems. His answer was that once he selects a tire tread pattern and compound, he rarely changes. When traction is low, he changes gearing. He increases the pinion until the tires won’t break loose.

We all know some motors are faster than others. This is true with full-size cars and RC. But why? How do we choose a faster motor? If you’re shopping, to understand which motor should be fastest, you can compare turns or Kv. Some motors are labeled with both and some are labeled with one or the other. With turns, the fewer turns the faster the motor should be. A 12-turn motor is faster than a 21-turn motor–most of the time. Be wary of comparing RTR motors to aftermarket race-worthy motors. A RTR brushed, sealed end bell 12-turn motor with bushings is not going to be faster than 17.5 turn brushless motor. By the way, the turn rating on brushless motors are made up numbers. Brushless turn numbers are just to indicate how a motor should compare to a brushed motor. Back in the day, brushed motors were the norm and they all were rated in turns. To help consumers make sense of brushless motors, manufacturers added turn numbers to their new motors. Kv numbers work the opposite of turns. The higher the Kv rating, the faster the motor. Specifically, Kv indicates how fast the motor should spin (rpm) when a single volt is applied.

Brushless Motors: Kv vs. Turns

Brushless Motors: Sensored vs. Sensorless

If you lose weight, you will run faster. Your RC car, however, will only benefit from increased acceleration if it loses weight. According to my high school physics teacher, mass only impacts acceleration. But, whether you’re drag racing your buddy down the street or tearing around a track on race day, your car spends more time accelerating than it does at top speed. Don’t underestimate the advantage of out accelerating your opponent. “Fast” isn’t always about top speed. Losing some weight will do some good. All of those aluminum accessories might look cool, but they hurt more than they help when it comes to performance.

Claim Rules

Hobby shop owners and race directors want happy customers who keep coming back. And, racers who feel like they stand a chance at winning often keep coming back. In obvious contrast, racers who don’t feel like they’ll ever win eventually don’t come back. It isn’t a hobby shop owner’s or race director’s job to make sure everyone wins, but they do want good competition. The same racer winning every week isn’t viewed as good competition. There’s nothing wrong with winning a lot. Winning is ultimately the point of racing, but just because the fast guy isn’t doing anything wrong doesn’t mean the other racers don’t think he or she is. And, that’s where claim rules come in. The most common claim rule is, by far, the motor claim rule, which means for a fee, the winner’s motor can be claimed by a competitor.

Claim rules satisfy the “I’m getting cheated” instinct. Claim rules, however, aren’t really about cheating. If a cheater motor wins the A-main, it needs to be taken out of circulation, not handed off to another racer. Claim rules level the playing field by making something others don’t have (in this case, race-winning motor) accessible to others. Again, claim rules aren’t typically about cheating. They may be a deterrent on some level, but they’re really about keeping competition fair and making sure everyone at the track has the same opportunities. Claim rules are about fairness, but do they level the playing field at the risk of bad blood?

Not all tracks use claim rules. In fact, most don’t, and in my experience, even when a claim rule exists, it’s rare to see the rule used. Racers are pretty divided on the subject. It can be a controversial topic, and it’s safe to say that, to many racers, claim rules feel like being punished for being fast. Winning takes talent, knowledge and effort. Those aren’t exactly things we want to see get punished. Some racers are just more talented than others. They have better hand-eye coordination, faster reflexes, better depth perception and better peripheral vision. Some racers have more knowledge than others. They know how to build cars better, setup cars better and tune motors better. Some racers put in more effort than others. They work hard on than cars in terms of setup and maintenance. They practice more. You can’t take any of those away from a winning racer, but you can take his or her motor . . . if there’s a claim rule. It might sound like I’m against claim rules, but that’s not really the case.

First, I believe claim rules are only appropriate in spec classes, where the equipment is supposed to be equal. I’ve never heard of claim rules being used in any other classes, but the idea of claiming a motor becomes a lot more palatable when you’re reminded that everyone is running the same motor.

Why have claim rules? I believe claim rules are good for the mental aspect. Most racers would never claim another racer’s motor, but they like the idea that they could. Say some racer has a magnet zapper, has a secret comm drop recipe and knows exactly how to break in a spec motor for maximum performance. Say he buys his motors in groups of ten and works his magic on each and only races the motors that really perform. If he’s lapping the entire field by five laps, his motor might be a good candidate for a claim.

What I believe most tracks get wrong with claim rules is the cost. If a new motor is $25, tracks will often set the claim cost at around $25. The racers loses his motor, but gets a new one. What about the value of his or her hard work? Isn’t knowledge worth something too? I’m all for claim rules, but the cost has to be higher. I recommend twice the cost of a new motor. So few people are claiming motors it’s not like it will kill the concept. I just don’t believe if a racer spent hours on a motor or even if he or she brought a pro-prepped motor (more about that topic here), he should lose his investment. My opinion isn’t shared by everyone. Talking with a race/class director, Brian Anderson, he stated he instituted a claim rule to keep the pro-prepped motors out of Vintage class. He settled on $35 to make it not worth potentially losing a $50+ motor. He’s seen pro-prepped motors ruin spec racing, further stating racers were spending well more than $100 on pro-prepped motors. Anderson also pointed me to a recent video of a racer dominating a field in a spec class. He gave the driver a lot of credit for his consistent driving and setup, but related how the other drivers were looking to pool their money to claim the motor. They didn’t want the motor and they were pooling their money to avoid one driver getting it; they wanted the suspect motor torn down.

Not everyone likes claim rules. Sponsored racer Josh Parrish states, “I am personally against a claim rule when it comes to a class using a stock Traxxas motor. Those motors are known for being inconsistent from the factory with some being good and some being duds. If someone were to claim my motor, I’d have to walk into the hobby shop and purchase a new one. That one could possibly be one of the “duds” and could result in spending more money than awarded during the claim. The other possible issue I see would be people filing a claim out of spite that is not based on performance. Some drivers are being beat at two points–the corners (handling) and driving ability (at the radio). In most cases, a race is not won down the straightaways. Also, I feel this penalizes the guys that know how to properly break in a motor.”

Did you know ROAR has a claim rule that started in 2019 with national events. It pertains to the spec wind classes and is a little different than a fellow racer claiming a motor. You can see the rule here.

Claim rules aren’t just an RC thing. Like much of RC racing, the idea is borrowed from full-size racing. You can find claim rules in everything from stock car racing to karting to even horse racing. What are your thoughts on claim rules? Does your track or any of the tracks you race at even have claim rules?



Mudboss Setup Tips & Tricks

Traxxas Slash Dirt Oval MUDboss Conversion

7 Ways to Cheat at MudBoss Racing

Pro-Prepped Motors in Spec Racing

Mudboss Setup Tips & Tricks

Mudboss racing continues to grow. In fact, it is undeniably one of the fastest growing classes in RC. If you’re unfamiliar with the Mudboss class, check out this article here. If you are familiar and want to go faster, check out the tips and tricks below.

Once you’ve seen a Mudboss in person it’s pretty easy to see how the body attaches. The stock rear body mounts are used as is and, usually, simple universal body posts from Duratrax or Parma are used up front. The posts mount to the forward holes used for the nerf bars. Another option used for the front is to take the stock posts off the front shock tower-mounted body mount and attach them with shock pistons as spacers under the posts. The pistons are just thick enough raise the body so that it clears the steering servo. The trick to getting the lowest CG and best handling is to skip the pistons as spacers.

This, however, requires lowering the servo by mounting to it the bottom of the chassis instead of the top. This lowers the servo enough that the body will clear. Believe it or not, but this can make a noticeable difference in handling. A Mudboss body weighs a lot and the lower you can get it the better.

The stock transmission is lubricated, as you’d expect, with grease. This is great for longevity, but not necessarily best for racing. Tacky grease stays on the gears and prevents wear, but that stickiness also slows you down–slightly. If you’re crashing every other lap, now is not time for this trick. It’s time for practice. However, if your racing is at the level where every tenth and hundredth of a second matters, take the transmission apart and remove all of the grease. Use motor spray for this. Clean each gear and the inside of the transmission case halves. When you rebuild the transmission, make sure each bearing is properly seated and use a single drop of oil on each gear. Wipe off any excess oil and test spin the transmission. It should spin freely. Do not over tighten the transmission when reassembling the case. Carefully snug each screw down. Work your way around the case and make sure it continues to spins freely. Do you have to do this tip to win? Absolutely not. Plenty of A-mains have been won by racers who have never taken a Slash transmission apart.

It should go without saying, but keep in mind a degreased transmission that isn’t completely cranked down will require more regular maintenance. That’s part of racing.

I recently saw a fellow Mudboss racer go from near bottom of the B to TQ (at least for one round) just by switching to new tires. He was using the original SCT Slash tires–both before and after. You don’t, by any means, need new tires for every run, but pay close attention to the edges of the tread lugs. These hard compound tires take a long time to wear down the lugs, so they might look to be in good shape even as the edges round off. And, what might look like a tire with many miles left on it may really be lacking in forward bite, which means you’ll be slow getting out of the corners.

Batteries make a big difference.You can buy speed. There I said it. Now, that speed won’t matter if you suck at driving, but I have never raced in an oval class on pavement, carpet or dirt where batteries didn’t matter, as in play a big role. Get the best batteries your budget allows. That’s a pretty simple tip, but anybody who tells you batteries don’t matter is, well, wrong. The truth is batteries won’t necessarily win any Mudboss races, but they will lose races. To learn more about LiPo batteries from an industry expert, check out this article.

If you race in the Sportsman Mudboss class, you’ll be using the Traxxas Titan 12T 550. Contrary to popular belief, you can run one of these motors right out of the bag and be fairly competitive–all other variables being equal. You will, however, be more competitive and more likely to reach your car’s full potential if the motor is properly broken in. Motor break-in is a whole separate article. We’ll have that for you soon. If you are not confident in your ability to properly break-in a motor, you can purchase a pro-prepped motor. More on that topic here.

Did you know (and the answer will be “no” if you’re honest) that it should be technically impossible to get 48-pitch gear mesh too tight? The tooth size and profile is designed in such a way that fully pressing the gears (pinion and spur) together would yield perfect mesh. I can assure you, however, that mashing them together won’t actually work. The reason why we have to make sure our gear mesh isn’t too tight is due to manufacturing irregularities in molded plastic gears and spur gear mounts, runout in the motor’s output shaft and/or the transmission top shaft and how the spur gear got mounted. In a perfect world, we would just tighten everything down and the gears would cleanly mesh, but because of all of these variances we must carefully check for proper mesh. The tip is to check the mesh in multiple spots. Rotate the gears and make sure the mesh isn’t too tight or too loose in different spots. If needed, ditch the plastic insert that sets the pinion position for the 16-tooth pinion.

I can’t give you a setup that is guaranteed to work at your track, but I can give you some general tips. While I rarely follow my own advice, it is always best to try one change at a time. Make a change, get the car on the track and see if it made a positive difference. One change at a time.

Read the rules and get your Mudboss as low as allowed. This means cutting at least four “rounds” off the front springs and installing internal limiters in the shocks. That said, consider making the left rear internal shock spacer shorter than the right rear spacer. A shorter spacer will create a taller shock and help the left rear tire stay in contact with the ground as the car leans going through the corners.

Again, get that race car low. I guarantee you the racer winning the A-main has a slammed Mudboss. A Mudboss with the rear end all jacked up isn’t worth much more than a facepalm. Here’s the deal, a Slash that has the suspension essentially stock will transfer a lot of weight, which is good for cornering. What I mean is this “setup” will create a lot of weight transfer and weight transfer can help a car corner. The car might actually be okay in practice, but it will be inconsistent. It will be a handful in an actual race where you have to make corrections, avoid other cars, etc. Get the thing low. Make it look like a race car and it will drive like a race car.

Don’t be afraid to add external preload spring spacers to the right rear shock . If you need more steering, add more spacers. Some racers run two thick spacers.

Mess around with camber, especially front camber. Rear camber matters too, but you’ll notice the biggest difference when tweaking front camber.

I am always surprised by the lack maintenance invested by some racers. Almost always, the cars that look like junk, run like junk. Step one in any maintenance regimen is keep the vehicle clean. At the very least, blow the car off with compressed air. To do the job correctly, remove each hinge pin and  clean out the suspension arm and arm mounts with pipe cleaners. Wipe each hinge pin down with WD-40 or similar corrosion preventative. Remove and clean the motor with motor spray. Use a single drop of bushing oil (slightly thicker than bearing oil) on each bushing. Again, use a single drop on each bushing, spin the motor by hand a few times and wipe off any excess. Next, check your shocks. Typically, you will not have to rebuild them after a single day of racing, but you should use a brush to remove any dirt from the shock shafts and shock bodies. If you open one shock and the fluid is discolored and not clear, rebuild the shocks. If the fluid looks dirty after one race day, you may need new shock seals.

In addition to the suspension arm hinge pins, check the steering king pins. These are notorious for bending. Check these often.

In addition to compressed air, I use a large paint brush and a denture brush (both bought at a dollar store) to clean the entire truck. Not only am I getting my Mudboss clean, but I am inspecting each and every component. I then wipe the chassis and suspension parts down with a light amount of WD-40. This dries and leaves the vehicle looking new.

The number one speed secret is, always has been and always will be practice. We spend a lot of time looking at our lap times and worrying about our finishing position when what really should be the focus is simply how well we drove. How often are you crashing on your own? Can you do a five minute solo run with zero crashes? The racer who won the A-main can. Best of all, the fix is easy–you guessed it–just practice.

STRC CNC Macined Brass Knuckles and C-Hubs for Element RC Enduro

Lowering a crawling’s center of gravity is one of the best ways to improve its performance, and one of the easiest ways to get the weight low is to add brass components. If you own an Element RC Enduro you have hopefully seen the slew of hop-up parts being dished out by STRC (ST Racing Concepts). Newest on the long list are brass knuckles and brass C-hubs.

These parts are CNC-machined and retain stock suspension and steering geometry, but add combined total of over 75 grams to the front drive axle of a Element RC Enduro.

STRC promises even more Enduro parts are on the way.

Learn more here.


ProTek RC Universal Radio Box Review

RC transmitters aren’t really all that durable. Sure, they’re not exactly fine crystal fragile, but they are electronic devices, and it doesn’t take a genius to know they can break pretty easily. But, even if having some no-frills RTR radios helped develop some less-than-careful habits, you’ll probably snap right out of it when you shell out hundreds for a computerized transmitter. And, that’s where a quality case comes in. When I recently upgraded to a Hitec Lynx 4S (review here), I knew I wanted some real protection for this high-end radio. I decided on the ProTek RC Universal Radio Box from Amain Hobbies. See the review below how it worked out. This review is actually a first for me, in that it’s a second–a second review of the same product. I first reviewed the ProTek RC Universal Radio Box over six years when I used one for a different transmitter. That setup, radio and case, are long gone, so I thought another more up-to-date review was warranted.

The ProTek RC Universal Radio Box is an aluminum-sided case that has all of its corners and edges reinforced. The hinges are strong metal components. There is no doubt this case is heavy duty. Empty other than a foam insert, the case weighs 3 lb. Speaking of foam inserts, the case if offered with or without a foam insert. Since there are all sorts of transmitter options out there, a variety of different inserts are offered, and ProTek even has a “blank” insert that is pre-scored for an easy custom fit for any radio. The lid of the case features egg crate shaped foam on the inside and the main compartment is traditional foam. Even the foam inserts that are precut for specific radios have pre-scored areas that can be removed for accessories.

At its widest points, the exterior of the case measures 15 in. long x 11 in. wide x 8 in. deep. The interior is 14 in. long and 10 in. wide. I do not know of a surface transmitter that it won’t accommodate.

The case with insert costs $64. Inserts are approximately $17.

I could have gone with a more budget-friendly padded bag that offered some limited protection, and I may have done so for a mid-range radio. But, for my primary transmitter, I wanted real protection, so the complete protection of the ProTek RC Universal Radio Box more than justified the extra expense. The ProTek aluminum case is on the expensive side and it is overkill, but any radio inside it is definitely protected. The bottom line is I love knowing with 100% confidence my radio will not be damaged going to and from races.

Learn more here.

Pro-Line Interco TrXus M/T 1.9 Tires

Big ol’ Boggers might look cool and they certainly perform well, but when it comes to vehicles that have to see any time on paved surfaces, more reasonable mud tires such as Interco’s TrXus M/Ts are far more common. They might not get the glory, but the TrXus tire is on a lot of trucks out there, so if you’re looking to keep it real and build something scale, you might want to check out Pro-Line’s latest.

The Pro-Line Interco TrXus M/T 1.9 Tire is molded in Pro-Line’s G8 compound and are 4.5 in. tall, which means this proportionally this would look like a 38 in. tall on a RC vehicle such as the Traxxas TRX-4 Bronco.

Just like the full-size TrXus M/T tires, the lugs of Pro-Line’s scale version is loaded with siping and features the trademark knife edge dagger style sidewall. The tires are sold in pairs and include open-cell white foam inserts.

Learn more here.

Axial SMT10 Monstrer Truck Raw Builder’s Kit

The RC community is a tough crowd. A few days ago Axial started teasing the re-release of the SMT10. What was coming out was technically a secret, but it was pretty obvious an Axial monster truck was happening. Most were happy to just have the Grave Digger version back, but of course there were angry barks from under the bridge saying, “it better be a kit.” To their surprise and probable disappointment, Axial delivered exactly what they asked for. In addition to the re-release of the RTR Grave Digger, Axial now has a kit version of the SMT10.

Unlike the Grave Digger, the Raw Builder’s Kit is all black with no trademark bright green parts. Other than that and the absence of a body, tires and electronics, the kit shares all the same specs and features of the RTR Grave Digger.

Learn more here.

Hitec Lynx 4S Review

The importance of the transmitter in radio control is pretty obvious. Without the radio, there is no control. These days, RTRs almost exclusively include 2.4 GHz systems, the need to upgrade your radio is arguably minimal–until you get a few models, start racing or get into any of the specialized segments such as rock crawling or drag racing. Once the RC bug really gets you, you’ll want a multi-model radio with glitch-proof reliability that’s highly adjustable and has more than just two channels. My first computerized radio was a Hitec Lynx 3D, and I loved that FM radio. I stopped using that transmitter because, one, someone broke it (funny story behind that, as in funny now, but not so much then), two, 2.4 GHz came out and, third, because as an RC car magazine editor, at the time, I had a lot of radios at my disposal. While I have used just about every brand of transmitter out there, I have a soft spot for Hitec. Plus, Hitec servos are among the best. So, about 16 years later, I’m switching my main transmitter back to Hitec. This time it’s Hitec top-of-the-line Lynx 4S.

The Lynx 4S is a fully computerized 4-channel radio that, as I’m sure you’d expect, is 2.4 GHz. The Lynx 4S uses what Hitec calls AFHSS, which means Adaptive Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum. In layman’s terms, this protocol automatically detects the “channel” within the 2.4 GHz range that has the least use. Basically, it’s the technology Hitec uses to eliminate interference. The Lynx 4S can hold 30 models, but if you add a SD card to the port, you can add another 30 models. And, 12-character model naming means you can actually tell those 60 models apart. The Lynx 4S features an assortment of nine assignable switches, buttons and dials.

The Lynx 4S is adaptable for lefthand use and can be setup up with a drop steering wheel. The wheel position can also be adjusted. The two most common setups are the stock configuration or the wheel dropped and inline with the throttle trigger. I weighed the Lynx 4S and it tipped the scales at 20.125 oz. In comparison, another computerized 2.4 GHz radio weighed in at 18.75 oz. and a RTR transmitter I had on hand was far less at 11.375 oz. Point is you aren’t likely to feel a difference from one computerized transmitter to the next, but will definitely know you’re holding a lot more radio if you’re upgrading from a RTR transmitter. The back of the pistol grip has a removable rubberized insert. A slightly thicker insert is included to tailor the fit. An optional lanyard mount is also included. The trigger position is adjustable and you can increase or decrease tension on the steering wheel and trigger to suit.

The screen in mounted on top of the transmitter. Overall, the LCD screen measures approximately 2.625 in. wide by 1.25 in. tall. Navigation is done via a rolling push button that allows you to easily scroll through menus and options and select them as needed.

For power, the 4.8 volt 1300 mAh NiMH battery, which is a 4-cell pack, is charged via the included wall charger. The Lynx 4S can also use a NiCd (4-cell), LiPo (2-cell) or LiFe (2-cell) battery.

Formed 1973, Hitec is a Korean company that, in 2003, acquired the German Multiplex company.

One of the coolest features of the Lynx 4S is, I’ll concede, mostly just a novelty. You can upload .WAV files and change sounds to custom clips. You can also listen to music. The Lynx 4S also vibrates. And, the Lynx 4S is also telemetry ready.

The version of the Lynx 4S I tested included a Hitec Axion 2 HHR receiver, which measures in at 1.25 in. long and 0.875 in. wide. Even though it’s a two-channel receiver, the Axion 2 has four ports, so powering my transponder was easy. As a HHR (Hitec High Response) receiver, it also has a 4 ms frame rate, which is extremely fast. That frame rate also means only digital servos can be used with the Axion 2.

Any new radio takes a little getting used to. A real test is how easy a radio is to navigate without the manual. The Hitec Lynx 4S comes with its instruction manual on a CD. I have a Mac with no CD or DVD drive, so I was on my own to figure it out or fail. (Note: the manual is online here) If you have experience with computerized radios, you should be fine. Hitec uses an intuitive, commonsense navigation. If this is your first radio with menus and dozens of adjustments, you might need the manual. For me, I was able to quickly setup the Lynx 4S with a few models and make the necessary adjustments. For example, I always start with model naming, subtrim and end point adjustments. I always use these features. I found them easy to find and adjust. In fact, I found the navigation of the Lynx 4S to be as easy or better than its peers. Bottom line is no head scratching was required, except for setting up the failsafe. It wasn’t complicated, but I definitely needed the manual to figure out what I was doing wrong. Overall, I liked the main roller push button and I really like the separate escape/back button, which makes backtracking a breeze.

I found the ergonomics to be great on the Lynx 4S. It’s a comfortable radio. I raced with it in the stock configuration and then dropped and offset the steering wheel. The process to drop the wheel was pretty easy. Be careful unplugging the wire loom in the back of the wheel. Take your time and make sure you don’t damage the wires or connector. When you remove the wheel, you’ll notice six screws. You only need to remove the three slightly larger screws. Also, while you don’t want to leave anything loose, don’t over tighten the hardware either. After making the swap, I don’t know if it’s a profound difference, but I’m keeping the drop setup. I do find it more comfortable. I also added the thicker rubber grip on the back of the pistol grip.

My first round of testing consisted of getting all of my settings for a few models into the Lynx 4S and doing a bunch of bench testing–just seeing how everything works. No issues to report. My takeaway at this point is the Hitec Lynx 4S is definitely a high-end, high-quality radio. It’s loaded with features, feels great, looks great and is easy to use. The fit and finish is as good anything on the market. The quality is there. You’re getting your money’s worth and then some. I then did a few short test sessions with some new vehicles. Same takeaway as before. For a real test, I took it racing. The Lynx 4S did great. However, I was kind of a bonehead. I had fully charged the radio and then did all of the testing I described. Looking back, I did more testing and used the radio more than I thought I had. I probably had the radio on and off for different durations dozens of times. I didn’t drain and recharge the battery for racing, and I have no idea what the starting voltage was. On race day, I made it through practice and qualifying, but the radio low battery alarm started beeping about halfway through my main. I should mention that is was sub-40º F and I had left the radio in the display-only mode for about five minutes that night. I need to disclose this happened, but it’s important to know I made a lot of mistakes and can’t fault the radio–at all.

To help slow the flow and maximize battery life, I took advantage of the high level of adjustability the Lynx 4S offers. First, I decreased the backlight level from 8 to 2. 10 is the max. I then decreased the light time from 10 seconds to 5 seconds. The latter means the screen will dim in five seconds after being turned on. These changes should noticeably help conserve power. Most importantly, I will remember to fully charge the 1300 mAh battery before racing. And, please keep in mind, there’s no need to panic about battery life. I got five hours and 32 minutes of runtime off two charges. It seems like the second full charge really woke the battery up. Between the battery being cycled and the changes I made to the screen settings, the runtime was exponentially better.

So, what did I think of Hitec’s flagship surface transmitter? The Hitec Lynx 4S is my new primary radio system. Because of the nature of the product–highly adjustable, computerized radio loaded with features–this will be an ongoing review. Look for updates. As I’m writing this, the Lynx 4S goes for about $245 to $260 with a single receiver, which is significantly less expensive than its top-shelf peers and still even less than some midrange models. Additional receivers cost approximately $28, which, again, is significantly less than the competition. The quality is there with the Lynx 4S and all of these computerized radios have more adjustments and features than you really need. A radio system is one of the biggest RC expenses and often costs more than a single vehicle. Without any reservation, I can say the money spent on a Hitec Lynx 4S is money well spent.

Hitec RCR