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Build Your Own Remote Control Car

Updated on August 23, 2017

Remote Control Hobbies - Why not?

Let's face it, there's not a boy or a fair few girls who haven't either played with or wanted to play with a remote controlled car, boat or plane and what father hasn't been drawn to the model department when considering Christmas presents for their offspring? In this hub I will attempt to explain the ins and outs of building your own. From the tools you need to tips and techniques.

Make sure you watch the walk through videos as they will give you a basic understanding of building your own RC car from start to finish without using a kit.

Images courtesy of sxc.hu

The History of Remote Control Technology and where did I start?

My interest in remote controlled cars began when I was a child. However, my interest in building them is a much more recent development. About 5 years ago I received a model kit as a Christmas present, which got me thinking about building my own and adding remote control components. When I started researching how to go about this, I became interested in the history of my hobby.

It all started when Tesla proved the theory of electro magnetic wave theory in 1891. This is the form in which radio transmissions are sent. In 1893 in India a man by the name of Bose (you may recognise that name) managed to ignite gunpowder to sound a gong using Tesla's theory. This was the birth of radio control we we know it. This developed thought the twentieth century in many forms. Most notably wireless audio transmissions, the radio.

Before you start building your own RC vehicle

Before you start spending money and getting carried away with electronics you must first decide what you what to build. Each type of vehicle has its own aspects to be considered.

Cars are by far the most common and easiest to build. Requiring only 4 main controls of forwards, backwards, left and right. These can be achieved by either buying a kit or a from scratch build.

Boats don't require to much more, however the interesting bit is making sure the whole thing a waterproofed correctly. It is much easier to convert a toy than to start from scratch. However, it is well worth the effort if you have the time.

Helicopters are next on the list in terms of difficulty level as they are actually easier than planes. Precision is most definitely required for a scratch build however the kits take the maths out of the equation, which simplifies things greatly.

Planes are the most complex of construction, due to the technical knowledge needed. Because of the nature of planes, building them tends to attract the more scientifically minded.

Once you have decided what you would like to build, it is time to move on to your shopping list.

Kits For Building A Remote Control Vehicle

If you are just starting out with building your own radio controlled car then you may decide to use a kit. There are some great ones on the market at the moment. Click here to see what's available in the US

Just starting out with RC car building?

Elenco  Radio Controlled Car Kit
Elenco Radio Controlled Car Kit

If you are just starting out and looking for a kit to start you off then this could be the one for you. A basic remote control car kit with everything you need to build your own.

 

If you are feeling a little more adventurous then take a look at this

Tamiya 58346 The Grasshopper RC Car
Tamiya 58346 The Grasshopper RC Car

With easy Assembly and easy control this is the perfect entry level kit. Based on 1 seater buggies seen on every dirt track the Grasshopper is loads of fun both during the build and afterwards!

 

Up for the challenge?

Build it or Buy it?

Build an RC car - Talk through video Part 1

Take it from me, this is one smart kid. Watch and learn, just bear with him while he grabs a pencil. Trust me it's worth it.

For me building is far more rewarding than buying

Your Build an RC car shopping list

Once you have decided on what you want to build it is time to think about how do build your model. you can try to build it all yourself which allows you to to customise your RC completely. Kits come either with everything you need to build although this will inhibit your customisation somewhat, or you can buy selected engine kits.

The common and accessible types of motors are electric, petrol and Nitro. Battery packs for this grade of model are somewhat beefier than their toy grade counterparts and are less likely to run out mid race. Petrol engines are hard wearing although they require considerable attention. petrol for 2 stroke has to be treated with 2 stroke oil to work. Nitro is the fastest type of engine however constant use will cause faster wear and eventual breakdown quicker than a petrol engine. It may be useful to have more than one type of of engine on standby just in case of mechanical failure.

The next thing to look at is suspension and axles, mostly the firmest suspension is best depending on your vehicle.

It is worth considering the amount of money being spent here as the more one spends on components, the better the product. It is always worth shopping around and looking at various makes before making your decisions, my main advice would be to speak to the people working behind the counters as they are normally a wealth of knowledge.

Essential Tools for RC Vehicle Building

The tools that you may need don't need to be expensive, a Dremmel with the attachments is very handy for a scratch build, and a set of watchmakers screwdrivers for those tiny screws needed to bolt in the components.

Looking for more information on building you own RC car?

Radio-Control Car Manual: The complete guide to buying, building and maintaining
Radio-Control Car Manual: The complete guide to buying, building and maintaining

If you are looking for detailed instructions on building your own remote control car then this should be your bible! Full details on how to plan, build and maintain your own RC vehicles.

 

Build an RC car - Talk through video Part 2

Power Types for Remote Control Vehicles

Once you have decided what you would like to build, the next to ponder is what power source to use. These come in 3 types, petrol, nitro or electric.

Electric is very popular to build with as the parts are widely available, easy to work with and have differing levels of capability, the downsides are that the battery packs are relatively heavy and can therefore add weight, and that the battery charge can run out very quickly depending on what you are piloting.

Petrol engines can be slower than both electric and nitro however the effort that these motors can give is massive. 2 stroke engines are of choice but they do require large amount of time and effort to maintain and run, although once this has been achieved I believe the results are incredible.

Nitro engines seem to be the front runners for RC cars as they run the fastest out of the lot, that being said nitro engines wear a lot quicker than their petrol counterparts and break down easier, if you are running nitro it would be a good idea to have another engine on standby.

Power!

What's your choice?

See results

Nitro Starters

All Nitro cars need an external starter, this is due to weight saving and size. If a starter was kept on the body the weight of the car would be too much.

The Starting kits usually comprise of a heavy duty battery, glow plug/igniter , fuel bottle and various tools for repairs.

The glow igniter takes a lot of power to get it going so it might be worth buying a couple of kits for major race days.

Power Types Starter Kits For Your Remote Controlled Build

Are you brave enough to go it alone or are you starting with a kit?

Starting your real build!

You have done your homework, decided what to build and bought your components. What now?

This will depend on whether you have chosen a kit or a "from scratch" build. For the purposes of this I will assume you have chosen a from scratch build. This is because if you have gone for a kit you should already have your instructions. If this is you then good luck, please come back and let me know how it goes. If you feel more confident and are starting from scratch then watch the third part below..

Build an RC car - Talk through video Part 3

Have you built your own RC car yet?

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    • profile image

      girivas 3 years ago

      at any cost i want to build........but now i don't have tht kit

    • profile image

      ColettaTeske 4 years ago

      My brother introduced me to radio controlled rock crawlers last month. I had a blast! It was so fun, I had to write a lens about it. I've been thinking about getting my own RC car and with your directions and my brother's help, I may be able to build my own. Thanks for the great article!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i want to build it but i don't have kit

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i want to build it but i don't have kit

    • Camden1 profile image

      Camden1 4 years ago

      My son loved RC cars when he was younger, but he's never built one. I should see if he's interested in building his own - that could be a fun hobby for him.

    • Diane Cass profile image

      Diane Cass 4 years ago from New York

      My husband and son are into RC planes. They haven't built their own yet, but I think that is the next step.

    • Resident-Nerd profile image

      Resident-Nerd 4 years ago

      Great lens. I have always wanted to build an rc car just never have gotten around to it.

    • mrknowitall54321 profile image

      mrknowitall54321 4 years ago

      Great lens, I built one as a kid. I'd love another go now.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 4 years ago

      No! But this is a great project for one or two of my grandsons. Great lens and featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2013. Hugs

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      No, but this is a project my son would love.

    • profile image

      wordpress-guru 4 years ago

      hmm .... interesting topic !

    • whats4dinner profile image

      whats4dinner 4 years ago

      looks interesting...

    • RealityTV LM profile image

      RealityTV LM 4 years ago

      Sounds fun ;)

    • profile image

      artmarks 4 years ago

      Not yet but had few RC and I love them. They are always fun to play, not only for kids :)

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 4 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      Would be great fun to build a remote control vehicle

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This is something my hubby would really enjoy doing for our daughter!

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      Thanks for your tips.

    • choosehappy profile image

      Vikki 5 years ago from US

      Awesome info!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I want to start building rc Cars (first electric) but in Don't know where to start because in Don't have any knowledge

    • profile image

      shellybenelli 5 years ago

      Thanks for the information and advice.

      Great lens !

    • profile image

      staceytracey01 5 years ago

      It takes time, patience, commitment and lots of learning for sure.