Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Traxxas XO-1 - My Opinion

This isn't based on any real world review and is so far only centred around the information that has recently become available.

I have already done a post taking a quick look at the news and information released here.

This post is my own opinion and thoughts on the Traxxas XO-1 from what i have read from this released information.

Firstly, the question from some people, “How much will the XO-1 cost” and “When will the XO-1 be available”

To answer the latter question first, on the Traxxas website it says the XO-1 will be released on the 30th December 2011.

Whether that will coincide with a European/UK release is not made clear.

So how much will the XO-1 cost? The only hint I've seen on this so far is a comment made on the Traxxas XO-1 page saying it will retail for $1099.99.

Converted by todays exchange rate to Sterling and adding the VAT onto that works out to roughly £850… ouch!

The same money will have you comfortably in the 1/5th scale Petrol model category…

My first point of critique is that claim of 100+mph and that only experts are allowed to use it.

To start with, Traxxas claim these speeds are achievable “out of the box”. They are… and they aren't.

If you read the whole page including the slightly smaller text right at the end.

*Unlock the 100+mph speed only with the Traxxas Link App.

Unlocking 100+mph speed capability requires the Traxxas Link Application (download from the App Store) and an iPhone or iPod touch (sold separately). iPhone and iPod touch are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

So unless you own an Apple iPhone or iPod touch, you cannot do 100mph. I believe without it, the vehicle is limited to about 50mph.

Also, you need to purchase the separate iPhone/iPod docking unit for the radio in order to gain the functionality, as it is not supplied with the model.

On top of that… there is the Traxxas Link App, will this be free, i doubt it! So far, it doesnt appear in the App store as its not released until the 7th December.

So.. the cheapest way into this… buy a base model iPod touch for ~£160, and i will hazard a guess of ~£40 for the dock(?) and ~£5 for the App(?)

So that would be a roundabout £200 to obtain the full functionality. Pushing you over a £1000 if you don't already own an Apple product.

I'm no conspiracy theorist, but have Traxxas and Apple got something going on here? Or will the same limits be achieved by using the Castle Link laptop programming device to alter the ESC? The Link only costs ~£20 not including your Laptop of course.

Lets now assume you have all the elements to achieve that three figure speed. Fair enough Traxxas state this is for Pro’s only, as the only real situation i can see this model being any use in is oval racing, and if that’s its sole intention then fair enough.

However judging by the hype, most interest is coming from the common hobbyist.

You cannot run this calibre of model in your normal operating locations. It’s the equivalent of trying to fly your brand new jet airplane in your dining room.

Lets put its attainable figures into a metaphor. Considering that 100mph is approximately 45m/s, and a football (soccer) pitch is regulated at a maximum of 120metres, hit full speed, count to 3 and your model is the other end of the field! Count to 22… and your model is a kilometre away!

However the range will have been exceeded and the failsafe's will have engaged long before you managed that!

My point being that Average Joe doesnt need a 100mph hyper model, and even if you never intend to go that fast anyway, spend you money more wisely.

I don't want to sound like I'm completely putting down the XO-1 based on its speed claims alone.

It looks as beautifully engineered as all Traxxas models do, and will likely be a dream to work on.

The new Cush Drive looks like a fantastically innovative new idea, and i would like to see how it works (see my previous post for my prediction). Hopefully it will have great success and eventually phase out the pad based slipper clutches.

Despite it being heavily Apple biased i really do like the look of the TQi Radio. Being an iPhone owner already, i am really curious on if the TQi will be available as an individual purchase. As i would love to have a single control for my two Revo’s, and on top of that, fit Traxxas Receiver's into my other models?

I have tried using the normal Traxxas Link, but its a horrible system to be honest, compared to after market systems that use an LCD display already.

I like the Aerodynamic elements of the model, despite the lack of clear evidence that it has been thoroughly tested in accurate lab conditions.

My conclusion:

Do i want one? In a way, yes! But mostly for the new and interesting features (Cush Drive and Radio). I have no desire to specifically purchase a model on the 100mph claim alone!

Would i spend my own money on one? No, not for the predicted asking price. Plus, i don't really have access to ample flat asphalt or concrete, or a track, so would never be able to realise its full potential.

As said though, i would love to see the other features make their way into other Traxxas models or become available as retro-fit options for existing models, and i would love to give the TQi a shot.

Traxxas XO-1 - Announced

The 30th of November has arrived and their has been an explosion of interest into the new offering by Traxxas.

Boasting a top speed of 100+mph in a 1/7th scale package, the new XO-1 certainly looks the part and packs some very interesting new features and concepts.

The following images are from the Traxxas Facebook page, and the Traxxas XO-1 Gallery

The car has a distinct “supercar” type body shell. Although not based on anything production wise.

Traxxas XO-1

The chassis has some very interesting ideas applied to it, and its not hard to work out will get the most focus… that Aerodynamic Under Tray.

Claiming such high speeds, aerodynamics do start to play a major factor on how any vehicle will behave, regardless of it’s scale.

I would love to have come across some evidence that this element of the model has been done “properly” with the use of fluid dynamic modelling and wind tunnel tests… without that its just a gimmick to me that has been modelled by someone on a computer and made out to be aerodynamically superior for the sake of it.

It looks good though, and would do more good than harm.

The “scoop” is also an interesting feature for feeding cool air to the motor fins, whether that will also pickup moisture, grit and dirt from the surface is another matter. Three things that you don't want passing in the direction of the gearing and electronics.

Traxxas XO-2

Traxxas XO-17

The plan view of the chassis certainly gives you a bit of a notion on the physical scale of the XO-1, the long thin “spine” of the vehicle is probably no wider than a regular 1/8th chassis, with most of the breadth made up by the under tray.

It does look neatly laid out through, the twin battery clamps positioned equal about the width and length of the car should provide good weight distribution. Although it would expect it to be slightly rear biased due to the motor being at the back. Only time will tell when someone gets one onto some scales.

Traxxas XO-23

This leads on nicely to the motor itself.

Traxxas XO-3

A custom built design by Castle Creations. That's not a bad thing by any standards, but its nothing new. Essentially it appears to be a slightly scaled up Mamber Monster and associated ESC, but to make it a bit more melodramatic it has been labelled with the EXTREME badge.

Traxxas like to show us that it is indeed bigger than other products on the market…

Traxxas XO-26

This new ESC also has what looks like three of its capacitors in a position to aid airflow. Now I've got a bit of experience (and qualifications) when it comes to electronics and they look like run of the mill electrolytic capacitors, cheap and reliable yes… but to make up the EXTREME side and wow us with technology, lets get some solid state items in there?

Traxxas XO-16

That said its only a computer render, the final item may well be different.

Next the controller, the new TQi.

Traxxas XO-4

Yes that is an iPhone connected to the base of it! (Or iPod)

If you are already a member of the Apple fraternity you will be slightly excited now, if you're at the other end of the spectrum you are probably feeling a bit tight chested and short of breath now.

The iPhone dock allows massive expansion capability of your radio system, allowing the following…

  • Adjusting control settings
  • Save different ESC tunes for different driving conditions (high speed, torque, crawling, etc.)
  • Telemetry.
  • 30 model memory.
  • Compatible with a range of Traxxas receivers.

So one controller for all your Traxxas models!

Now i know that other Traxxas Link radios do the same thing, but it is a horrible and convoluted affair to set the things up, compared to aftermarket radios like the Spektrum DX range, as their LCD screens turn a chore into a dream. The iPhone mounted on one of these will offer that similar, if not better, flexibility.

Judging by the functionality it will also replace the need for the Castle Link Programmer that you can obtain to tweak the settings in the ESC.

Traxxas XO-19

Traxxas XO-18

Its not all rosy though, that iPhone dock is an optional extra, and believe it or not, the iPhone doesnt come with the model either! More on this later…

Another new concept…. the Cush Drive

Traxxas XO-8

A new generation of slipper clutch type assembly developed to handle the EXTREME power of the XO-1.

Quite how this system works, i haven't quite fathomed out yet, But a guess would say that blue part is some sort of semi flexible material that the silver component pushes against?

Giving a form of shock absorber to take the initial load of the motor on the drive train and then return to its original shape as the load tails off?

It would be nice to see and dissect one, and if its a vast improvement over the slipper pad type clutches that are rife with models at the present time, this system would be a welcome addition.

Traxxas XO-24

This is a screenshot of the exploded view available from the Traxxas website.

Traxxas_Cush_drive_Exploded.bmp

Digital Servo and waterproof receiver box also part of the mix. I don't think you would run this thing in the wet though

Traxxas XO-15

Traxxas XO-20

Plenty of included aluminium items to beef up the drivetrain and most likely withstand those 100+mph crashes…

Traxxas XO-14Traxxas XO-22

Special tyres also for those speeds, tyre ballooning at this level would without doubt cause catastrophic failure!

Traxxas XO-10

Two bundled 5000mAh 3S LiPo batteries. Nice.

Traxxas XO-11

This post has just been a general observation of the recently released news of the Traxxas XO-1, and isn't representative of an official review.

My own personal opinions can be found at this post.

Friday, 25 November 2011

LiPo Winter Storage

With the long, cold winter nights well and truly on top of us now, I've found it increasingly more unlikely that i get to go out with my models lately, and sadly even tough we had a nice bright and dry weekend last time round, i was unfortunately busy elsewhere and got no R/C time.

As a result i decided to set my LiPo’s into their storage state while they are going to remain unused for a while.

With it being the wetter months too, it makes sense to keep the electronics out of the way! I'm still bitter about myself when i blew my Flux Blur ESC recently!

So how do you store LiPo’s?

This i find is another slightly grey area about LiPo usage, depending on what you read exactly on the Internet.

When LiPo’s are to go unused for a length of time (at least a month) you should put them into the storage state, in order to keep the cells conditioned and maintain their life cycle.

Some people will argue that the batteries should remain fully charged at 4.2volts. Others say that they should be charged to a specific value.

The method that follows the latter argument, normally involves maintaining a charge of approx. 3.7volts. Which to me makes a deal of sense as this is commonly the nominal value of LiPo cells.

So this is the method i have used personally, and a it pays here to have a good quality digital charger. I used my XMove 2.0 to take care of this, which includes a specific storage cycle. Making it a simple case of choosing the desired cell voltage (conveniently it defaults to 3.7volts), plugging the battery in and press go.

A while later the charger buzzed to inform that the task was complete, and i bundled the batteries into LiPo safe bags and a secure container.

This isn't the end of the process though, you shouldn't just pack them away and hope for the best when you need them in future.

Ideally once a month you should take them out of storage and perform a full balance charge on them, discharge them (run in a model if you get the opportunity) and then restore them to the storage state. This should help boost the integrity of the battery and its cells.

Again, its a theory shrouded in mist, with no real black and white correct answers, in which case you own experience will play a big part.

To summarise the method.

  • Storage charge cells to 3.7volts
  • Store batteries in adequate containers
  • Once per month, fully charge to 4.2volts, discharge (use), storage charge back to 3.7volts.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Traxxas New Model

If you head over to the Traxxas homepage at Traxxas.com you will notice a repeating animation of a rotating “X” and a date for 11/30/11 (which is the 30th of Nov if your not used to backwards US date logic!)

All looks very hush-hush and no clues to what it may be yet.

Maybe Traxxas are working on their own C1 type buggy?

We will have to wait and see!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

RC Roundup

I’ve just been sent this video of a Traxxas Summit rounding up or at least intriguing a herd of cows!

I like how they arc round it when it stops as if its a visitor from outer space!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Monday, 14 November 2011

HPI Apache SC Flux - Official Release

Announced alongside the Apache C1 Buggy, the Apache SC (#107105) is as the name states, the Short Course Truck version of the HPI’s newest breed.

Fundamentally everything looks the same underneath, with the same Alpahstar Kv2350 motor and Q-Base ESC.

The main chassis looks to have minor differences but really this looks like the end users choice of having the SC looks or the C1 Buggy looks.

Interestingly the Short Course Truck appears to be retailing a little bit cheaper, so far i have seen prices for £500 (RTR) making it £20-£30 cheaper than its C1 brother.

HPI Apache SC Flux Webpage

Pictures from the HPI website

hpi apache sc flux - 1hpi apache sc flux - 2

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Oneill Brothers Racing - Twin X

Every now and then you come across a product or idea that just makes you go “wow”…

Admittedly this is the first time i have come across what Oneill Brothers Racing have to offer, and their 50.8cc Twin X mod for the HPI Baja is certainly one of those “wow” products.

The impressive thing is its also a twin cylinder engine rather than a single, so the power delivery must be exceptionally smoother… but completely brutal!

After all, 50.8cc is the same as a small motorcycle/moped engine, resulting in an extremely impressive power to weight ratio.

Not a cheap conversion considering the $1600 price tag, but if money is no object then this would definitely be a worthwhile project.

http://www.oneillbrothers.com/rc-car/engines-1/full-mod-50-8cc-twin-x-package.html

Pictures are from the OBR Website and HPI’s Facebook Page

obr two cyl - 1obr two cyl - 2obr two cyl - 3obr two cyl - 4

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

HPI Apache C1 Flux - Official Release

Finally HPI have shown the new Apache C1 with their own words and pictures.

Kit part #107108. HPI have confirmed most of the speculation surrounding their new Class 1 buggy.

  • 2.4GHz Radio System
  • Alphastar 2350Kv Brushless Motor
  • Q-Base Brushless ESC
  • Water Proof Steering Servo
  • Water Proof Radio Box
  • Innovative Battery Box
  • Licensed Yokohama Tyres
  • Front and Rear Sway Bars
  • Adjustable 16mm Shocks
  • Monocoque Suspension Arms

SPECIFICATIONS:
WIDTH: 300mm
OVERALL LENGTH 580mm
TIRES 114mm
WHEELBASE: 375mm

So there is a few interesting things in that list. The 2.4GHz not really being anything to scream and shout about, as that's pretty much the industry standard of things and would be a bit of an insult not to include it in a higher quality RTR model.

The Motor is stated to be optimised for 4S batteries, whether this means it is limited to 4S and cannot handle 6S is unclear. But still, 14.8volts isn't really to be sniffed at!

One thing that especially concerns me about the Apache C1 is the boast of having a Water Proof Servo and Radio box, which is great… but nothing said about the ESC? Judging by the released images, one would assume that the ESC is not water proof at all, going by the open grille on the top for a cooling fan. 

I for one have been on the end of a blown ESC due to liquid ingestion! Its not fun, satisfying or cheap to experience!

One interesting thing though, the ESC appears to be mounted under that “spare wheel” arrangement on the rear of the truck body, as the wires emerge from beneath it.

Is this spare wheel an actual usable part (as a wheel obviously) or is it an ingenious protective cover for the ESC?

hpi apache c1 09-11-2011 10-13-17

Intended purpose or not, its still precariously mounted out on the extreme end of the chassis and will not be immune to rolling or end-over-end flips! Although that surrounding structure should help somewhat.

I would have much preferred to see the ESC mounted inboard on the chassis with some form of protection.

The Innovative Battery Box is also an interesting item as it looks like a couple of battery stays and some Velcro straps… not a bad thing, but i fail to see where the term “Innovative” fits in!

The branded tyres… nice touch, but only serves as bragging rights in my opinion! No doubt most would eventually swap them out!

Front and Rear sway bars.. a nice touch for the harder surfaces, might be a bit of a drawback on the softer ground (it is an off road vehicle after all).

The Monocoque Suspension arms, honestly, i think they look great, and they should be substantially more resistant and tougher against the inevitable impacts that components in those areas are constantly subjected to.

This is obviously comparing them to the traditional wishbone type suspension components that we have all come to know and love… and snap.

The Monocoque design should add much needed strength into those zones.

How much will the HPI Apache C1 cost?

Up to this present moment I've seen pre orders being taken at a price of around £570.

Update! 11/11/2011

The original prices of the £570 mark look to be the prelim RRP prices. I am now seeing figures of around £520 from the same sources.

When will the HPI Apache C1 be released?

Again, at the time of writing, mid February 2011 seems most likely.

Conclusion

£570… That's the same price as a brand new Savage Flux HP, and the Traxxas E-Revo Brushless is only another £30 more, and they both run Mamba Monster ESC’s and motors, and are certified for 6S power.

The Apache C1 however, will most likely out handle them both (especially the Savage) with its proven HB suspension.

Basically if i were looking at buying a brushless off road vehicle in this price range and were a basher rather than a track frequenter. I would be more inclined to go for the Savage due to it being insanely rugged and having a well proven following.

I'm also slightly struggling to see where this whole Class 1 Buggy Genre is going to fit in.

HPI themselves say the Apache C1 is based on the HB D8 and Vorza Flux… so is it just a slightly different type of buggy?

I know there's a real race series and competition related to this type of model and its great that model manufacturers give the fans the chance to experience the same thing in the scale world. Just look at the success of the Short Course Trucks!

I do think it needs a bit of time to evolve and establish itself, but even with my minor criticism… i still think this is going to be a big thing over the coming months.

One thing is, it does look great! The video below is superb with the camera mounted between the two figures.

Apache C1 Flux on HPI Website

HPI Pictures

hpi apache c1 09-11-2011 10-13-55hpi apache c1 09-11-2011 10-14-00hpi apache c1 09-11-2011 10-14-06hpi apache c1 09-11-2011 10-14-10hpi apache c1 09-11-2011 10-14-14hpi apache c1 09-11-2011 10-20-30hpi apache c1 09-11-2011 10-20-35hpi apache c1 09-11-2011 10-20-44hpi apache c1 09-11-2011 10-13-16

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Bashing 06/11/2011

Not much done this weekend, after not feeling so well. But told myself i couldn’t sit lounging on the sofa all weekend and should get out and get some fresh air, and what better way to do so, but take a couple of models out!

As i had not ran my Hyper 7 so much since getting it rebuilt, it was the obvious choice.

It needs a bit of tuning to get it right, even though the weather was getting quite cold as the early nights draw in.

But it started fine, and ran well, although after a few passes once it had blown all the standing oil out and got to temperature it was obviously struggling a bit, so i tuned the mixture a little richer to cope with the cold air and opened up the idle slightly and it ran like a champ!

The Hyper 7 is a superb little machine, i would wholly recommend it to anyone, especially if they are just getting into the hobby.

The handling is fantastic too after its diff rebuild, the front wheels grip exceptionally well and provide excellent steering, while the slightly thicker oil in the rear causes much less slip, but enables the power to be pushed down into the ground equally instead of lighting one wheel up, and provides quite impressive power slide abilities!

Id ran a couple of tanks through it, then noticed the steering to be a bit ropey, initially assuming i had caught the trim, but to no avail. Even stood still it wasn't doing a good job of pointing the wheels in the right direction.

I go the initial fear of a mechanical failure or perhaps the Power HD servo’s budget price coming to light.

But it was much simpler.. whoever built this thing had not put the horn screw in properly…. *cough

HoBao Hyper 7 TQ Sport 06-11-2011 18-22-43

Ill have to have words with myself…

But that is all, it ran superb and its a great model! In fact it ran so well my E-Revo that had come along to provide back up services didn't really get a look in, as it was getting too cold and dark by that point.

I also still want to go to a track and see how much fun that will be with the Hyper 7. Will perhaps look at doing that in the near future.

HoBao Hyper 7 TQ Sport 06-11-2011 18-22-27

Project Revo 21TM - Part 1

Not much of a grand project as of yet, but worthwhile keeping an eye on if you intend to do the same conversion to your own Revo 3.3

If you aren't familiar with my Revo’s past, the bottom line is regardless of the time and effort i have put in, i just cannot get the standard TRX 3.3 engine to run satisfactory at all, and as a result i have still not ran this truck in anger since i have owned it!

You will find its history by clicking here!

The last thing i ever wanted to do was replace the engine, as i would have loved to see what the TRX unit was capable of, but with me significantly scorned due to all the problems and an opportunity to obtain an engine that i consider to be of superior quality, that is all now history!

The engine i have selected is the O.S. 21TM

OS 21TM 03-11-2011 19-43-28

A name that is synonymous with the R/C world, and i expect to provide more favourable results.

I could have chosen from a couple of direct fit engines. The other most well known being the Picco .26, however i have personally not used a Picco engine so cannot comment on them via previous experience.

O.S. however, i have used many times in the past and never had a disappointment, and being as this one came up with a good deal, i couldn't refuse.

On a normal day the Picco would be substantially cheaper and i would have been tempted otherwise, but for the sake of a few quid more i got the O.S.!

First things first that stand out with the 21TM is the Type 11k carb. I had never been a fan of the composite unit on the TRX engine from the word go. This was further tainted when the idle screw threads stripped.

In which case, i have no doubt was a fault of my own actions. But that's a self confessed fault by someone who has experience with these things. Had i been a complete newbie to the game i would have been pretty upset by something like that.

The carb on the 21TM is made of aluminium. Some may argue this is not a good thing and much prefer the newer composite carbs, due to the fact that they do not transfer heat as readily as the metal ones.

While I'm not going to argue this point, the standard TRX carb does not feel very well designed at all (stripped threads aside), the slide in both my carb bodies was a very awkward and jerky affair, sometimes it would stay open slightly even with the tension spring pulling against it, occasionally i would hear it snap back closed when it overcame whatever was obstructing its movements…

The O.S. Type 11k carb however is fabulous in comparison. Sure, it will transfer heat more readily, but that's never been a problem for me in the past, and i cannot see it being a major detriment to me in the future!

It is substantially more rugged, better positioned (more on that later) and all the fittings just have a feel of quality to them, and the slide action is silk smooth. It actually feels like a proper precision component.

The 11k also has a 3 needle setup. Which of course makes it a bit more intricate to tune, and worst of all, easier to mess up the tune!

However as most people, i don't intend to alter the mixture control and will go about as most would, and concentrate on the basic high and low speed needles.

To me the mixture control is only there for the really hard-core of R/C masters. Most bashers will get away with not needing to touch it.

So today i geared up to get the two swapped over, and to be honest is a quick and straight forward thing to do.

Revo 3.3 OS 21TM 06-11-2011 15-08-19

Four screws as per usual (and one for the exhaust mount) and its out and on the bench…

Revo 3.3 OS 21TM 06-11-2011 15-11-53

EZ Start and exhaust off…

Revo 3.3 OS 21TM 06-11-2011 15-16-18

Clutch and flywheel off…

Revo 3.3 OS 21TM 06-11-2011 15-23-58

The two together…

Revo 3.3 OS 21TM 06-11-2011 15-26-13

Then just a case of bolting everything to the 21TM. This is superb engineering by O.S. as there is no need to swap or change anything, all the original Traxxas parts just drop straight on…

Revo 3.3 OS 21TM 06-11-2011 15-40-32

Next to add the manifold. Again also engineered nicely as the flange is shaped to fit around the starter…

Revo 3.3 OS 21TM 06-11-2011 15-44-14

O.S. also opting for the more common spring retention rather than bolting it to the block…

Revo 3.3 OS 21TM 06-11-2011 15-50-29

And into the chassis. I removed all the linkages in order to make a fresh start…

Revo 3.3 OS 21TM 06-11-2011 16-09-14

With the linkages and mesh suitably set, i came across a small problem with the O.S. manifold.

The original Traxxas one has a flared end, and the silicone connector is also suitably shaped. Honestly, this is a good idea as it really helps to seal the exhaust system.

As a result it will not grip the O.S. manifold and just slips straight back off, so i will have to obtain a bog standard coupler and try and work round the flanged end of the muffler.

That said this is about the only bad thing about the O.S. setup so far.

Revo 3.3 OS 21TM 06-11-2011 16-18-48

Going back to the position of the carb on the 21TM, it has substantial clearance over the spur gear compared to the TRX 3.3

I swear the filter pipe actually catches the spur gear very slightly, and is incredibly awkward when trying to reattach back to the carb.

The 21TM has a good 3-4mm clearance from the spur’s teeth….

Revo 3.3 OS 21TM 06-11-2011 16-28-50

So there we go, its in and linked up, but not ran yet, just need to get that muffler attached before going any further…

Revo 3.3 OS 21TM 06-11-2011 16-34-47