Combustion engines run on either Nitro Fuel or Gasoline (usually only for
the biggest RC vehicles).
You should also note that both the transmitter and the receiver pack are powered by batteries. In most cases they will require AA batteries but in some electric models, like the Hangar 9 Aspire Glider, the receiver pack and servos are also powered by the same rechargeable battery that powers the motor (for launching purposes only - prop folds when desired altitude is reached).
When selecting your first RC vehicle always keep in mind that a power support package is always going to be needed. For the electric versions you'll need the batteries and charger. For the nitro versions you'll need the fuel, a glow plug ignitor, wrench, and other accessories. Some vehicles come with everything included.
It's always important to check and see if any additional items are required to operate the vehicle when you buy it. This way you won't be running to the store for any last minute items you thought were included.
IMPORTANT - a brief note about Electric Powered Vehicles:
I always recommend to my customers that they purchase more than one
rechargeable battery even if one is already included with the vehicle.
This way when the first battery runs down from use, you can take it out, put
it on the charger, and attached the second fully charged battery and get back
to the action.
It sure beats waiting and watching every 30 seconds for the battery recharger
light to blink green!
Also: it's always a good idea to keep an oven mitt handy to put the batteries
on it while they're being recharged. The nature of recharging is a chemical
reaction and heat is always created. It's normal for batteries to get hot when charging and also immediately after use.
In some rare cases batteries have been known to get extremely hot and actually swell up in size (they cannot be used after
So PLEASE never leave a battery unattended for too long while it's charging. This is a very important safetly warning.
Battery Strength: you should also know that most of the rechargeable batteries (except LiPo's) used for RC need to be cycled two to three times before they reach their maximum power output.
This means that you will need to charge them
and discharge them three times prior to use. To discharge a battery put it in your vehicle and let it run on a slow speed until the motor stops. For RC airplanes I put them on my workbench and hook a right angle in front of the tail elevator. Then I simply move the throttle toggle into the slowest position to make the prop spin. In 15 minutes the battery has fully run down. I give it 10 minutes to cool down and then I put it back on the charger.
For RC Car and Trucks, do the same thing but put a shoebox under them so they remain stationary.
Boats are a little bit tougher since the motors typically need to be water cooled. As long as you remove the top deck and keep the motor(s) exposed, and run them at their slowest speeds, you should be fine.
If you're willing to make the investment, there are some battery chargers that also have discharge features.
Battery Chargers get their power one of two ways: from an AC wall outlet, or from your car battery. They can connect to your car battery either with a power socket adapter (cigarette lighter opening), or with two big clips directly on the car battery. some battery chargers come with all of these options while others have only one.
So make sure you which one you're getting in order to best plan how, where, and when you'll be able to charge your batteries!
IMPORTANT - a brief note about Nitro Powered Vehicles:
Nitro powered vehicles require a special type of fuel. This complete name is
nitro methane and they come in different percentages of concentration with different
amounts of natural castor oil and synthetic oil mixed in. The most common types
range from 15% to 30% nitro methane.
RC Nitro Fuel is made up of three ingredients:
- Methanol (alcohol)
- Synthetic and non-Synthetic (Castor) Oil (usually 11% of mixture is oil
- Nitro Methane
The percentage listed is the amount of Nitro Methane, so 20% would mean that
there is 20% Nitro Methane, 11% Oil, and 69% Methanol.
There are different blends for different uses:
The 20% blends are formulated specifically for 1/10th scale racing and the
30% blends are for 1/8th scale.
The Platinum Blends include more oil for prolonged engine protection. This
is a must if you are racing your engine frequently throughout the day!
The 15% blends are used almost exclusively for RC Helicopters and RC Airplanes.
This blend has a higher amount of oil in the mixture since these engines are
run at near full throttle the majority of the time.
You should also note that there are differences in fuel brands based on these
blends and also on whether they were refined domestically or at a non - U.S.
Domestic blends are better and here's why: in order to ship nitro fuel to the
U.S., foreign manufacturers have to add tri-ethylene as a moisture and combustion
prohibitor since this is consider a hazardous material. The engine then needs to reach a hotter temperature for combustion to occur. The hotter the engine runs, the shorter it's life.
In addition to needing nitro fuel to run your vehicle, you will also need a
few essential tools. These include:
- Glow Plug Ignitor - used to start the nitro engine
- Glow Plug Wrench - used to tighten or loosen the glow plug and other nuts
- After Run Oil - put into the engine cylinder at the end of the day's running
to protect it from corrosion
- Fuel Bottle - for easy fuel tank filling
- Fuel Hosing and Hand Crank Pump - to reach fuel tank in airplanes
- Tire Glue - for rc cars and trucks to attach tires to rims
- Carburator Adjustment Screwdriver
Megatech provides most of these items including fuel and wash in their Deluxe Nitro Support Pack which is custom tailored for RC cars and trucks:
Hobbico provides all of the necessary items in their Field Pack Deluxe which is custom tailored for RC nitro airplanes and helicopters:
Congratulations...you made it! ...you now know the RC Basics of the RC Hobby!
Getting started should now be a breeze!
You'll find that each of the sections you visit will pick up where we leave off here.
Take your time and check the areas that interest you the most and feel free to contact me if you have any questions by clicking on the Contact Us link.
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