The Year's Best RC

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Radio controlled cars are battery or gas-powered RC model vehicles that can be controlled from a distance using a specialized transmitter or remote. RC vehicles are powered by various sources. Electric models are powered by small but powerful electric motors and rechargeable nickel-cadmium, nickel metal hydride, or lithium polymer cells. Most fuel-powered models use glow plug engines, small internal combustion engines fueled by a special mixture of nitromethane, methanol and oil. These are referred to as "nitro" cars. Electric cars are generally considered easier for the novice to work with compared to fuel-driven models but can be equally as complex at the higher budget and skill levels.

Toy-grade Vehicles

Toy-grade RC cars are typically manufactured with a focus on design coupled with reducing production costs. Where as a hobby-grade car has separate electronic components that are individually replaceable if they fail, toy grade cars are typically made with components harder to find as spare parts and a single electronic circuit board integrated into the design of the vehicle. Toy-grade RC cars are a great introduction to the hobby, especially for ages 5–10, and are cheap platform for modifications and tuning even for older enthusiasts.

Electric Models

Electrically powered models utilize mechanical or electronic speed control units to adjust the amount of power delivered to the electric motor. The power delivered is proportional to the amount of throttle called for by the transmitter - the more you pull the trigger, the faster it goes. The voltage is "pulsed" using transistors to produce varying output with smooth transitions and greater efficiency. Electronic speed controllers use solid-state components to regulate duty cycle, adjusting the power delivered to the electrical motor. In addition, most electronic speed controllers can use the electric motor as a magnetic brake, offering better control of the model than is possible with a mechanical speed control.

Nitro Powered Models

Nitro powered models utilize a single servo for throttle and braking control. Rotation of the servo in one direction will cause the throttle on the carburetor to open, providing more air and fuel mixture to the internal combustion engine. Rotation of the servo in the other direction causes torque to be applied to a linkage and cam which causes friction with the braking material. The brake is commonly located on the driveshaft or spur gear in some cases and applies stopping power only to the driven wheels. Some models will also use an additional servo to control a transmission box, enabling the vehicle to drive in reverse.

Gasoline Powered Models

Gasoline-powered vehicles run on a mix of gasoline and oil. They cost much more than nitro and electric cars. They are also much bigger and therefore require much more space to run. They do not usually have as high top-end speeds but have lots of power and do not take a lot of fuel to run. These gas-powered vehicles really pertain to the individual who is more interested in scale than imagination.

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