Not your ordinary glue-together plastic model kits, Team Associated vehicles are created for aggressive speed and heart-pounding action. The following components are the major items that elevate our RC electric racing cars above the more common radio- or remote-control cars sold in toy stores - making us Champions By Design.
What makes it go?
Your hand-held transmitter sends radio signals to the receiver, which sends signals to the electronic speed control of the electric vehicle, which controls the flow of battery power to the motor, which drives the transmission, which powers the rear tires. The receiver also translates your steering commands to the steering servo to turn the front tires.
Let's break it down further. When it comes to racing, one size doesn't fit all. The following modular components allow the hobbyist to set up his/her vehicle to the track - whether it be off road, on road, oval, dirt, asphalt, clay, or grass.
The hand-held radio transmitter sends radio signals along a narrow frequency to the on-board receiver. It is powered by batteries of its own. The wheel knob for steering is popular in the USA. It is used with electric and gas vehicles. Some of today's transmitters are heavily computerized, with state-of-the-art IT technology, 10-model memory, large LCD display, and many other features.
Through its antenna, the "brains" of the vehicle receives the radio commands from your hand-held transmitter and relays them to the electronic speed control (ESC) and steering servo. It is the direct radio link from you to your vehicle. It is usually included in the purchase of a transmitter.
Electronic Speed Control
As its name implies, it controls the RPMs of your motor, and thus the speed of your vehicle according to the acceleration you give it at your hand-held transmitter. Nitro-engine vehicles do not use an ESC. Advanced ESCs come armed with a vast array of setting possibilities, including throttle level, brake travel, throttle exponential, servo trim, brake modes, and many other adjustments to fine-tune your setup.
The ESC feeds your radio transmitter commands to the motor, then the motor turns the transmission gears, which then turns the axle that drives your wheels. Motors come in many brushed and brushless varieties. Nitro vehicles use an engine instead of an electric motor. Brushless motors are all the rage. They are finely tuned machines in their own right and are carefully paired with a companion ESC to accomplish specific track performance objectives. Motors may be further tuned with an array of brushes, rotors, springs, and other components.
As in a real car, the transmission transfers the force of the motor to the axles. The sophisticated Associated transmission includes an adjustable slipper clutch that saves differential wear and maximizes your motor's power by allowing it to slip at critical moments, and independent outdrive hubs that drive each tire for maximum independent traction.
Under your radio direction, the servo arm pivots left or right, pushing or pulling the links connecting between the servo and the wheels to steer your vehicle. The servo is usually included with your purchase of a transmitter. Nitro engine vehicles also have a servo that uses the same push/pull leverage principle for throttle and braking. Advanced digital servos include an onboard microprocessor for precise outputs and ultra-fast pulse response.
The on-board power source for your RC vehicle's receiver, ESC, motor, and servo is the battery. Not your more familiar "C" cell batteries, these powerful NiCd, NiMH, or LiPo batteries are rechargeable and typically give you around 20 minutes or more of all-out racing. The four or six cells are soldered in series by the hobbyist or purchased already assembled in packs in a wide range of mAh ratings. A battery charger must be purchased separately. Racers usually buy several packs to keep racing, recharging the used ones in the meantime. Nitro vehicles substitute a fuel tank for batteries. Top-of-the-line battery management devices are highly sophisticated, complete with LCD screen readouts.
In addition to electrical and nitro components, the cars themselves are configurable just like their real race-car cousins. In many of our cars, the caster, camber, toe-in, ride height, antiroll, and ackermann are all adjustable. You can change shock oil, shock springs, and shock pistons. You may shift weight forward or back for more steering or more traction, change pinion and spur gears, and add or configure antiroll bars. Of course, you'll have a vast array of tires to choose from as well.
And if your car gets in a spectacular accident, you'll be able to walk away without a scratch.
What's a race car without a track? Some tracks are simple dirt layouts on vacant dirt lots. More professional tracks include lap counters, pit area, restrooms, store, challenging track layouts, and well-defined track barriers. Tracks come with different surfaces to accommodate the many types of cars and trucks—dirt or clay for off road types and paved surfaces for on road vehicles, both gas and electric. R/C clubs provide a place for fellow racers to compete, swap tips, and find friends. R/C car magazines help provide direction on everything from tuning tips, kit reviews, race schedules, to locations of clubs and race tracks.