I normally post about airplanes and occasionally about rotary flight with helicopters or multirotor aircraft but today I want to talk a little about surface RC vehicles. My first RC vehicle was a toy grade RC car. It was a little black corvette my parents picked up at Shopko and I loved driving it around the living room floor. A few years later my dad started building an RC sailplane and my interest was peaked and off I went with RC aviation.
My boys have always had RC around so it’s nothing new to them. Love it or leave it to them it’s like having a TV in the house it’s just there. So sometimes it’s hard to get them interested in the cool things you can do with RC. I don’t want to push them into hating it so I offer to let them play and sometime they will bite. Other times they just want to grab the iPod and play Minecraft. Oh well you win some and you loose some. However this year was different. My oldest son started telling us he wanted a RC car of his own to be able to drive around. Once I heard this I was excited and more then happy to find him a good starter car but something that was hobby grade so we could get replacement parts and upgrades along the way. While I really hope someday to be able to fly together with my sons I know the surface RC can be the gateway to RC aviation. So for now we’ll race around the backyard together!
It had been a few years since I bought any new RC cars or trucks so I had a little research to do before running out and buying a new car or truck for him. I wanted something smaller that he could still enjoy indoors during the cold winter months but also something big enough to run outside without a perfectly groomed track. What I found was the 1/18th scale trucks from Dromida.
They are Ready To Run kits that are already assembled and include a 2.4ghz radio. The electronics are waterproofed so I don’t have to worry about him running through puddles and killing the electronics. The radio includes dual rates and trims so setting it up slow in the throttle and soft on the steering was nice for him to get used to it before turning it up to full rates. The stock power system is a brushed setup with a M370 motor that does quite well pushing close to 20mph. However if we ever get bored and want more power there is a brushless upgrade kit available for the Dromida trucks that will drop right in.
As this was my sons truck I let him break it in and get a feel for it. He first ran it around inside the house. He and his brothers would setup courses and try to keep it on the track. They all did well but really could not open up the throttle for any speed inside the house. Still with the throttle rates turned all the way down it was controllable and they all got used to handling the truck. But I knew driving around the living room and dining room would quickly become boring. Luckily we had a warm weekend after Christmas and we were able to take the truck out on the driveway and alleyway. Here we got to open up the trucks speed and see what it could do.
The tires gripped the pavement well and it was no problem steering at speed. We could see the suspension working in the turns. A few small jumps showed the truck could take some pounding and not miss a step. We’re not talking any 3 foot table top jumps just yet but curb hops and small 4 inch quickly made ramps. The brake worked well to bring the truck to a stop without sliding out. The speed was not blistering fast but as a starter truck I felt it perfect for enough power to be fun and take some jumps but not so much that the truck will tumble out of control for him at any turn. Perhaps after he has mastered this setup we’ll look into the brushless upgrade for him.
Now that the initial testing was over it was time to run it in the snow. The radio gear is supposed to be waterproof from the factory so off we went to the snow pack in the alleyway. I was concerned the tires would not handle the slick snow but they did great. Only when the truck bottomed out in the snow and came to a stop would it get stuck and not be able to power out of it. Keeping the power on in the turns would cause a drifting effect and really cranking on the steering would create some nice spinning doughnut maneuvers. It was a lot of fun in the snow and the truck never missed a beat until the 1300mah pack was worn out.
After the run we took the body shell off to find we had packed the inside with snow. We brushed it off and threw another pack in for some more fun. After we burned through both packs we blew out the snow with some air and let it dry inside. Later that evening we fired it back up and everything worked fine. I feel good that he wont wreck the truck by the occasional snow pack or water run.
Price: The street price or these trucks is $99 and a spare battery pack was another $17 so for about $120 I can keep him running for 20-30 minutes without recharging.
RTR: The trucks are ready to run right out of the box. It’s all setup and even the 4 AA batteries for the TX are included. Just charge the 6 cell 1300mah pack and go!
Suspension: The oil filled suspension with springs do work and help keep the truck running smooth over rough terrain. They include some spacers to stiffen the springs and adjust to your liking.
Spare Parts: This is a big one for anyone serious about surface RC. If you run them hard things will eventually break. Having access to replacement parts means your not just throwing away the entire vehicle.
Upgrade Parts: With the availability of upgrade parts such as aluminum shocks and brushless motor / esc that drop right, the truck can grow with you.
Charger: The included charger is nice for someone just getting started however it is slow. Anyone serious about racing will need spare packs and a better charger to keep them running at the track.
Suspension: While the suspension works great it tops out by hitting the stock body. Over time this could cause problems with wear on the body or wheels.
Wheel mounts: The wheel hubs use a small hex nut that is not common to many other trucks so using aftermarket wheels is limited at this point.
For the street price of $99 this is a great truck. It’s an excellent entry vehicle for someone interested in getting into RC racing. The 1/18th size makes it smaller then the average truck but still packs the power to run around the house, back yard or most RC tracks. With the availability of replacement and upgrade parts this truck will outlast any toy grade RC cars at similar prices. My main recommendation is to upgrade the battery charger to something that you can monitor the packs and recharge much faster with. I hope to try out the other Dromida vehicles and have more fun with my boys just bashing around the back yard or even finding a track to do some racing at.
Dromida RC – www.dromida.com
Buy it online at Tower Hobbies – www.towerhobbies.com