Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Old School is New School

We all want to relive the old days but don't want to spend the few hundred dollars building a vintage buggy from ebay. Stop dreaming and for heaven's sake DO NOT BUY THAT HOLIDAY BUGGY. I found something you can appreciate. Back in the day Academy was known as Minicraft Somethingorother. They made copies of Tamiya's more popular cars like the Grasshopper and Bigwig named the Road Runner II and the Mirage 4x4wd (yes 4x4wd). If you remember these you know we didn't care much for them because we were rolling in Optima Mid's, YZ-10's, gold pan RC10's, and Avante's. Now, those cars cost as much or more than brand new kits and NIB versions cost more than your first automobile. What do you know? Academy STILL MAKES THESE old cheap cars. Sweet deal for us since Tamiya re-releases have restocked the parts bins for the originals. I will find out where to order and how much they are going for someday. Right now enjoy a little info from their site.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Yeah baby! My glory days (90's) are coming back! Don't get me wrong I had fun in the 21st century but nothing compares to the "end of innocence" that was the 90's. People wore clear pagers, cell phones were the size of my shoe, and 2GB ram dual core processors were from outer space. Continue? You wore colors so bright they still embarrass you to this day, Japanese sports cars were embarrassing "American Muscle", Reality TV began and ended with "The Real World", and we were all preparing to "party like it's 1999".

What was all that about? well FWD touring cars are trying to come back. Yeah I passed on them in favor of belt drive carbon fiber and 4wd, but I had no clue. OK I still don't, but now I can appreciate FWD touring cars. I had an FF01 but lost it in the move from AZ to NJ before I could drive it. Now I have a NIB Tamiya FF02 with full options and a Kyosho Mantis that I just converted to FWD (more on those later). I will post up some info on the FF03 once I have all of the details, some people are having problems and I want to give you all of the nitty and some of the gritty. For now I give you the TOP Racing Sabre (Japanese RC's have the best names).

Sexy. I really like the luxury approach they took. It really looks like this car is a serious racer. It looks like its belt drive but its not. It uses the same gears as the FF02, that means the 3racing speed tuned gears for the M03 will work in it. Nice. I wonder if the carbon shafts will work too. Probably not. Now the only problem is 98% of fwd rc owners have plastic chassis parking lot bashers and we have to deal with the guy who dumps $275 on one of these monsters. Lets look at it more closely with RC Mini



Bored with the seemingly endless numbers of Touring Car chassis that all seem to look the same?
Looking for a new driving experience perhaps? We were, thats why we started racing Minis.
But now there's a whole new alternative as well. Something that even interests us..

Over at T.O.P. Racing in Japan they must have been thinking the same as us, and obviously someone at
T.O.P. likes the idea of thinking outside the square a little and was prepared to be a little more adventurous
than 'just another Touring Car' and came up with the Sabre FD.

Luckily for us, T.O.P. Racing Australia Head Honcho Rod Maslovsky was able to grab hold of the one and only existing assembled version of the Sabre FD and we're presenting it here to the world on for the first time.
At first glance you could easily mistake it for nothing special, but as your eyes settle on the car there's a lot of tasty little surprises. Like all T.O.P. cars there's a whole heap of red alloy and tasty carbon. And it's all quality stuff, superb machining worthy of any of the leading Major Manufacturers. I'd be happy to buy one on looks alone.

Take a closer look and the drive belt you expect to see running from front to rear isn't there! The rear bulkheads (from the Scythe) are still essentially intact, as is all the rear suspension as well. Most (OK, in fact ALL) of the rear end comes from either the Scythe or the Photon. And why not, no sense re-inventing the wheel here when you've already got quality components that will do the job for you. It also means that you've got all the built in adjustability that those cars have as well.

Moving on towards the front of the car and you've got an all new top plate that terminates in the 2 massive bulkheads lying just aft of the front end. Yep, this is where the motor goes, and here is where the Sabre starts to get interesting. The issue with FWD cars is trying to get everything (i.e. motor, diff and steering) all in the one place. Yokomo hung the motor out front, as have Tamiya with the FF03, T.O.P. have brought it back within the wheelbase and placed the steering linkages just in front of it with a really lovely carbon bellcrank system.

The big surprise for us is that T.O.P. have opted for what is basically a transmission, not just direct drive. Take a look at those gears, if it weren't for the black colour you'd swear they were gear sets out of an M03/05. Word is (although we didn't have the car long enough to confirm) that this is a deliberate design feature so that the final drive ratio is exactly the same as the Tamiya cars... If so, that's a super clever move and to be applauded.

The car has a ball diff as standard and also includes Unis too. Standard battery placement has it running down the side like the Photon. But, we figured out it would be a 2 minute job to move it inboard and have it almost down the centreline of the car. We also found that it could be mounted crossways, and we even think that with minimal work the servo could head up top and the battery could even maybe go right forward next to the motor to give you that extra weight over the front end.

This car really has a lot to recommend it. Superb build quality, innovative engineering and a whole lot of thought has gone into it. And it's great to see that manufacturers are moving out of the 'normal' Touring Car arena a little. After all, 95% of Touring Cars looks exactly the same now anyway.
The question a lot of you are maybe asking is 'Why do rc-mini care about a TOURING CAR anyway?' Very simple,later this year, T.O.P. are releasing a Sabre FD Mini!... And THAT is something we cant wait for!

Check out the optional battery placement

Horizontal or longitudinal

Friday, August 27, 2010

Your shocks are all squishy

You have trouble getting all of the air out of your shocks. You think we don't hear your shocks from here? I don't have that problem because I build my shocks ON THE MOON. No air to muck up my shocks. For those of you who do not have a Nissan 240sx that transforms into an X-wing fighter you will need one of these from Tamiya:

RC Damper Oil Air Remover Tamiya Item #53710
Optimizes damper performance by removing air bubbles in oil easily and quickly. Can also be used for a damper stand.

No that one is discontinued. But you can still find it. Those that can't try this:

RC Damper Oil Air Remover - Super Long   Tamiya Item #54152

When assembling your dampers, this air remover offers you a faster way of drawing out the bubbles to help save you time. This item can be used for machines such as 1/8 Nitro that use long dampers.

  • Air remover X 1pc.
  • Pump x 1pc.
  • Sticker x 1pc.
  • Instruction manual x 1pc.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Active Hobby "Angel Eyes" Headlights

So you just cut up your body to make Lamborghini doors and now you really want to rice things out. Well here's your chance! Bam! Angel eye headlights for RC. Actually they look pretty cool. I'm going to be honest here. No one will notice them while the car is driving and probably not even when its still. Only close up pics will reveal the angel eyes. If you're building a Tamiya BMW then here you go. Otherwise they're kinda ricey.

Any available light patterns can be wired to separate part of the ring. For White and Blue Ring headlights, taillights and red line for two types of red rings.
Size - Diameter: about 10.5 mm, Length: 45 mm l
Image is a prototype. Subject to change specifications and design. The installation process is required to Lightcap. The body shape may be difficult to install. Please be forewarned.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Speed Passion 1/8th on-road Brushless Conversion

You want one of those ballistic 1/8th scale on-road cars but you're afraid of gas engines. Yeah I know, not everyone can have the over abundant testosterone that I have. Now you can have your cake and eat it too. The brushless conversion for the Serpent 960 by Speed Passion is the answer to your wet dreams. Actually I don't see why this is a brushless conversion. It looks like you can use any 540 based electric motor. I am also willing to bet you can rig this up to work with nearly any 1/8th scale on road. Look at the pics and read what the manufacturer says:

Motor Mount
Ultra quick Set 2-piece
Aluminum motor mounting platform

One Way Adapter for Serpent 960

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

HKS/Ikkitousen Dodge Viper GTS-R

So I like big names. I picked up a rtr CEN SP-1 off the bay for cheap. It was in great shape so I decided it was worth being a project. I rummaged through my never ending pile of unused RC stuff and found an HPI 200mm Viper body. The Mercedes CLK-GTR body that came with it was in pretty good shape but I wasn't feeling it for this project. I'll throw it in the pile and let it turn up later. Now that I had a base it was time to imagineer.

BODY: I decided to do it in pro-drift style with Itasha style graphics. The paint scheme was simple/complex. I used the patterns from broken glass that has "spider webbed" but not fully broken. I picked a spot on the windshield as the point of impact and made lines radiate out from there. I then fractured those segments into smaller fragments. Finally I assigned each fragment a color making sure no two colors shared the same border.

Once the body was painted, I installed Yokomo S15 silvia headlight buckets and some homemade closed cell foam taillight buckets.

Then I mounted an HPI type-D wing and ordered up some Ikkitousen anime decals along with a set of HKS drift decals from my homies in China.

While I was waiting for my stuff from china to arrive I pilfered a few decals from the Tamiya HKS Opel decal set I have. I also picked up a flashing headlight/taillight set from China and installed them.

CHASSIS: I didn't do much to the chassis. I had a pair of Powerline Racing shocks many years ago. Not long after I got them I lost one, for FIVE years. I finally found it at the bottom of my RCCA collection. Built them up and put them on the back.

The front shocks came from ebay. I bought a full set for a different car but one set was missing the extra pistons and rod ends. I emailed the seller and asked him to send the missing pieces but he sent me a whole new set! Awesome seller. I used the blue/stiff springs, two hole pistons, and 50wt oil in them.

I also shimmed the suspension. This car has down travel limiters in the arms and that was nice. Wheels came from China, tires came with the car.

The only thing I did was soak the tires in GOOP hand cleaner for a few days to soften them a bit. I used the stock electronics (fail, more on that later) with a fresh Johnson silvercan.

The last few pieces ordered were a great big Kawada pinion and an e-sky gyro. My only other tricks were to move the electronics to the lower deck and de-grease the bearings.

TESTING: This puppy is fast! The parking lot was wet (It was raining!) but the gyro kept this 2wd beast in line. I could still spin it but only when I was trying. The stock esc is crap. Reverse never worked, you have to use the "set" button to power on/off, and it had a serious case of  "I go where I want" when the radio was off. My buddy gave me one from China so I expect it to feel right at home on this car. The radio was working great but it came with batteries. I accidentally left it on and killed them. One leaked and now the radio is acting up. I'll sort it before I take it out for round 2.

UPDATE: The body wasn't designed to be slammed with headlight buckets. At full lock the tires would jam against the lights and the car would push like crazy. I busted out my fake Dremel and sanded away at the lights. Still rubbed. Now I either raise the body or the ride height. I'll probably go with the ride height since during the first test a wood screw jammed itself into my chassis. The new esc works flawlessly and it has a switch that I mounted on the side of the chassis. Now I don't have to remove the body to turn it on/off. Also this thing beeps for "on" and has a neat little 3 note tone for "radio on". The motor was getting a little warm but some of that was from the tires rubbing adding extra load on the motor. I hope its not geared too tall, as I have a tendency to do that. When I touch up the paint chips on the front lip I'll take some night pics.

More pics here.