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What Build State, RTR, ARR or Kit, is the Best for Your First Rc Vehicle

Aug 17, 2007
Are you considering the radio control hobby? At first the Rc hobby can be very confusing just trying to figure out what you want. With there being airplanes, helicopters, boats, motorcycles, cars and trucks to just name a few, it can be hard trying to decide.

One of the first things to understand about Rc grade vehicles is they are not toys, they are highly sophisticated pieces of machinery. Besides flying or driving their rc vehicles, most rc enthusiasts get many hours of pleasure out of building, modifying and repairing their planes, cars, trucks or boats.

When you are first looking at what rc vehicle is right for you, you need to decide on what build state is right for you.

With all of my experience being with Rc ground vehicles, let us take a look at what is offered in this aspect of the hobby. Rc ground vehicles are offered in three different build states, RTR - ready to run, ARR - almost ready to run and Kit.

The RTR models are completely factory assembled, with the electric motor or nitro engine installed, all electronics installed, servos and receiver. Plus, many RTRs will also include transmitter and some also include in the package batteries.

The ARR models are offered in a few different packages. All will be factory assembled will no electronics, you will need to add all your own electronics. Plus many come with no motor or engine, need to install your own motor or engine. Some ARRs will come with factory installed motor or engine and no electronics.

While others will be packaged with installed electronics and no motor or engine. If you are looking to purchase an ARR rc vehicle just make sure you understand what has been included and what is not included so there is no surprises.

If you are looking at purchasing a rc vehicle that comes in kit form. A kit comes completely disassembled and it is up to the hobbyist to completely assemble and build the vehicle.

Kits, like ARRs, come in a few different configurations. Some kits have no electric motor or nitro engine and no electronics. The hobbyist needs to supply their own power plant and electronics. While some kits come with motor or engine supplied and/or electronics.

Again if you are looking at buying a rc vehicle in kit form just make sure you understand what is and not included. Also some kits come less tires and wheels.

Now let us take a look at how you are going to power your rc vehicle. You have two options when it comes to powering your rc vehicle, electric or nitro.

If you are thinking about going with electric power you have the option of either using a brushed or brushless electric motor. With all the new battery technology of the last few years the run times of electric motors has been greatly increased.

In the early years of the radio control hobby electric power dominated the hobby. Then nitro engines became much more reliable and affordable and they started to dominate. Now today it is just about a touch up to which power source is the most popular.

The pluses and minuses for each different power source vary greatly depending how who you talk to and their favored power source. As to rc vehicles that are electric powered, the RTRs are close to being a plug and play model. In almost all cases the vehicle will come completely wired and soldered. All you will need to do is add your own battery pack and you are ready to go.

With an ARR or Kit you will need to install your motor, speed controller and batteries. This will require you to wire and solder all the components.

Soldering does require a lot of patience to get everything done correctly. One mistake here could cost you a fried motor or speed controller.

There are many advantages to running electric power. They are quieter, so you will be able to hear any problems you maybe having with the drive train. Also, you will be able to run both indoors and outdoors.

As for nitro powered vehicles, you are going to need some additional supplies and equipment. Items you are going to need are a glow plug igniter, temperature gun, fuel and possibly a starter box.

Not all nitro powered rc vehicles require a starter box, many are fitted with pull start engines while others are equipped with some kind of roto starter system. If the nitro engine in your vehicle is equipped with a roto starter system you will need batteries for the roto starter or a cordless drill.

As to the nitro engine its self, they can be and are very fussy little jewels. Many beginners become very frustrated with the break-in procedure and tuning of nitro engines. Nitro engines of today are much easier to break-in and tune, but it still needs to be done.

The optimal operating temperature for most rc nitro engines is some where between 200 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit (93 and 121 degrees Celsius). The optimal operating temperature does vary depending on the make and model of nitro engine you are running. The manufacturer will include in the operating instructions details on break-in procedure and operating temperatures. So read and follow manufacturers instructions.

When choosing your new rc vehicle, you do need to keep in mind cost. In today's market, the cost of rc vehicles vary greatly from being very reasonably priced to high priced. So, in most cases your budget is going to help determine the rc vehicle you can afford.

Do remember when you are choosing your new rc vehicle, that you are going to need to budget for additional equipment and tools. Almost all hobby grade rc vehicles are built so you have the possibility of repairing anything broke, modifying and tuning many different aspects of the vehicle.

For the most part all rc vehicles have drive trains, suspensions and chassis's that are tuneable, repairable and can be modified. For many of us the ability to tear down and rebuild are rc vehicles is a major part of the hobby. I can think of nothing better than spending a few hours working on my rc vehicles and trying to get them back in running condition or improving performance.

So, for you that are thinking about the rc hobby, what is the best for you. This is one area that has been discussed and argued for many hours by many rc hobbyists.

Some say that RTR models are the best for beginners. You have the ability to up and running quickly.

Others say ARR models are the best. You will be able to add the electronics you think is best and the best motor or engine.

While others support beginners building a Kit. In building a kit you know you new rc vehicle inside and out. You will have learned how it goes together and what works and does not work.

Almost all rc hobbyists do say that if you enter the hobby with a new RTR or ARR model, take the time to make sure all screws, bolts and nuts are tight. If you take this time even before you run your new rc vehicle for the first time it is time will spent. It will save you the frustration of lost screws, bolts and parts the few first times you are out running your vehicle.

No matter what build state your rc vehicle is in, RTR, ARR or Kit, do take the time to read and follow manufacturers operating instructions. Almost all rc vehicles come with a very good operators manual and instructions. Learning just how your rc vehicle is put together and how different things work is very important. It can save many hours of frustration.

If you are considering the rc hobby, go hang out are your local hobby shop and/or race track, if you have one close by. If you have access to a computer check out many of the manufacturer's web sites, check out many of the rc forums. Do not be afraid to ask questions. To have fun with this hobby it is important to have as much knowledge as possible before you buy your first rc vehicle.
About the Author
Douglas Taylor an avid Radio Control car and truck hobbyist, who enjoys helping other rc enthusiasts get the most out of their rc cars and trucks. If you are looking to get into the hobby or need help with some aspect of the hobby let us help at http://www.Rc-TrucknCar-Tuning.com.
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