Monday, September 23, 2019

Oh, Lordy.....Another New Hobby..... a moment of weakness when I was at the local Hobby Shop, I bought an ARRMA "Senton" 4x4, Ready-to-Run, Radio Controlled model.

Hey, it's for the grandson, don't cha know?

Anywhoo....Back in the mid 1980's, during "Act II" of my life, I was hugely involved in R/C models. Even exercised my American right to run a small business supplying a few items to the local hobby shops. Barely broke even, had Tons 'O Fun, and met some cool people.

Fast Forward about 30 years.....

As I was digging things out down in the basement, I came across my little Kyosho "Mini-Z" R/C car. We used to "race" these on the ship during our transit back to Home Port, and we had a ball. The Company bought the cars (Radio Shack "X-Mods" cars), the track, and a truckload of AA batteries. I wanted my own car, asked if this one would be acceptable, and the "Sanctioning Body" approved.

So I ordered up some new tires, and was playing with it one day when The Little Guy was here, and he just loved it. I bought a couple of "RC Stunt Cars" at Harbor Freight for $7 each, but you can't really drive them; they're only good for doing spins, wheelies, and crashing in to stuff.

Naturally, that just won't do for TLG. I want him to learn how to control one of these, and to do that, you need something controllable.

And since he's a beginner (ya think?), that means learning how to drive one in wide-open spaces, like the cul de sac we live on, along with all eight front yards that line the sides of the street.

And that means 4-wheel drive, and something larger than a 1/12th or 1/10th scale car.

So we got this:

It's a 1/8th scale model (they claim 1/10th scale...HAH!), about 22" long and 12" wide.

The motor in this brute looks like it escaped from my Makita cordless drill:

It's a "550 Motor", indicating a standard "can" size. 540 motors are used in some models, and the 380 motor is about "slot car" sized, so this is a YUUUGE motor compared to what I've used in the past.

It's well laid out, and seems pretty well built.

It has hypoid-drive differentials for the front and rear axles (Just Like Dad's Car!), but NO center differential. Instead, the gearbox powers the driveshaft between the two differentials through a "slipper clutch", which is really there to protect the motor from the shocks that happen after a jump, when the wheels are spinning full power, unloaded, and then slam back into the ground. It's a clever, inexpensive way to protect the driveline. This would be a no-no for pavement racing because the front and rear axles turn at the same speed, but running in grass and dirt there's plenty of wheel slip so that it doesn't matter.

The only weak point according to the guys that have had these for a while is the steering servo, which fails under heavy use.

The orange box on the left is the servo, and the orange box on the right is the electronic speed control.

A direct replacement is $22 at the hobby shop, while the upgraded servo is $35.

HOWEVER....judicious shopping can find even better quality servos (stronger gears, ball bearings, more torque) for around $20. Since they pretty much all use the same connectors, and are the same size, installing a bigger, beefier, better-built servo is a no-brainer for $20.

And even though you can get a lot of Hot Rod parts for these, I'm not planning on buying any. When something breaks, I'll replace it with a better part, if available, but otherwise I'm just gonna leave it stock. I'm not going to compete with it, just have fun with TLG blasting around the front and back yards.


  1. R/C is a lot of fun. I was in charge of new R/C toy development during my short stint with Mattel in the 1980 timeframe. TLG will have a lot of fun with that setup there.

    I have a drone here that I'm still learning to fly. One of these days I will get it up and take some aerial photos of the place.

    We had a lot of rain today and expecting more tonight. Really could use it here in the desert. It's been really dry this summer.

  2. The WX radar shoes you've got some decent storms in the area. We're not expecting anything until Thursday, and then it's a 30% chance. Things change rapidly here, so we'll see what the NWS says in a few days.

    I'd forgotten you worked at The House of Barbie until just now. Toy development has to be very cost sensitive. If you're making a million of something, five cents here three cents there add up pretty quickly!

    I'd imagine at the scale Mattel worked at you probably had to worry about fractions of a cent.

  3. Yeah, you're gonna keep it 'stock-ish.' Right...

    I smell mission creep in 3... 2... 1...

    Hah, bet you were already looking up 'un-stock' upgrades, and you've got that itch to improve, dontcha?

    Other than that, sounds cool. Can't wait to hear the stories.

    1. Oh, I'll do a few things to it, but I'm not going to dump a lot of money into it.

      I've seen that movie (had a walk-on role in it years ago...), and these things can suck money out of your wallet at an alarming rate!

      I had about $2k in my RC-500 "Back In The Day" when I was racing it, and I'm NOT going to let that happen.

      For $2k I could have a fleet of these and rent them to the neighborhood kids.

  4. I foresee many TLG excuses in your future.

    1. Hey, "It's For The Children"!!!

      I was letting him drive it yesterday, and he's starting to understand that it has TWO controls, and you have to work them together.

      But he was driving it around in circles, and driving it up and down the street with much laughter, giggling, smiles, and other gleeful little kid reactions.

  5. Not going to hot rod it... Yeah, right... ;-)

    1. Not this one! Sure, I looked into it, and it would be quite easy to do, but for all the money I'd have wrapped up in it, it would still be an ARRMA-RC model.

      *IF* I decide to really go back into this, I'd just get a completely different brand and keep this one for TLG and the neighborhood kids to run, and have a rocket ship for me.

      And the neighborhood kids have already taken notice......

    2. Ooooooh. Nice cop-out with that 'Not this one!' comment.


      You. Not fiddle and 'improve' something...

      That would be like a certain airsmith polar bear leaving something completely stock...

    3. No, really, Beans, I don't want to hop it up. The forum I joined has lots of threads by people who do, and by the time you're done maxing it out, you could have bought a different one that comes with all the go-fast goodies.

      Fiddling with it, adjusting it, and "tuning" it is more than enough for now. I have enough "hobbies" as it is, and an aversion to spending more $$ than required.

      *IF* I decide I want a serious one of these, I'll get a Losi, Mugen, Kyosho, Associated, or Schumacher.

      I just don't feel like shelling out $1500~$2k for an R/C "Toy Truck".

  6. Looks like fun for TLG and grandpa!

    Since everyone else grabbed the jokes about not hot rodding it, I'll refrain.

    1. Thanks, SiG.

      Yes, the urge is strong, but it makes no sense to put $300 worth of upgrades into a $250 truck.

      It's plenty fast, and when this 2400mAH NiMH battery goes kaput, I'll change the jumpers on the Electronic Speed Control and get a 4000mAH LiPo for $5 more than the replacement time is more important in this case than all-out blazing speed.

  7. "... I was at the local Hobby Shop..."

    Well, THERE'S your mistake, going into the local crack dispensary!

    This reminded me of the time we ran my roommates' R/C truck in the Laguna Seca Raceway pits, in '86. I was racing an AMA support race, Heavyweight Twins. I don't remember what the major race was, but Kenny Roberts had a team there, and one evening someone from that group was running an R/C vehicle that had lights. We taped a set of eyeglass frame worklites on the body of his cheap truck and ran it around for a while. (hard to sleep in the pits, with all the noise the camping spectators were making)

    Roommate was an interesting guy. Had patents, one of which was for PageAlert?, the remote warning car alarm.

    1. The man knows me!

      The first day I was driving this around at dusk, and my wife said it would be "cute" if it had lights. I told her they make kits to do that, and she said I should put them on it.....

      I suppose I could get some NVG's and chase cats around at night.....

  8. If it wasn't sitting what looks like your shop bench I would say it looks like a full on Baja racer! So realistic!

  9. Mile Hi Con this weekend features fighting robots in 2 lb and 20 lb classes. If you have leftover parts for R/C cars, here's a use for them. TLG would love this I suspect.


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