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All of the products reviewed here have been bought with my own money and nobody pays me for the time I spend writing these articles.

If you find any of this stuff useful and/or would like to see RCModelReviews continue to publish material like this then please consider making a small donation towards the operation of the site.

 

My Credentials
So who's doing this reviewing then?

Well I've been building and flying or driving radio controlled models for over 40 years and during that time I like to think I've built up a reasonable amount of knowledge.

I'm also a qualified electronics engineer who has worked in radio frequency, analog, digital systems and software for more than three decades. In fact I designed and built my first RC set back in 1969.

For the past nine years I've also been involved in the design and manufacture of some rather sophisticated engine technology and UAV flight control systems.

So, chances are I've been there, done that and have a huge pile of tee shirts to prove it.

Right now I'm heavily into 3D flying and enjoy all aspects of the RC hobby. I may be old but I don't feel it.

In the Pipeline

Here's just a little bit of what's to come on this site...

RC explained: Demystifying terms such as PCM, PPM dual conversion, single conversion, full-range etc., this feature will explain it all.

Cheap Chinese Engines: Just how good are those cheap Chinese glow and gas engines that sell for half the price of their "brand-name" equivalent? I put several to the test.

Build your own radio gear?: Back in the old days, building your own RC gear was not uncommon and now the arrival of 2.4GHz has made it practical again.

 

Lithium Polymer (LiPo) batteries

MAKING ELECTRIC FLIGHT REALLY PRACTICAL

Before the LiPo came along, electric models tended to be heavy and offered only limited performance and endurance.

Heavy nicads or NiMH batteries represnted a lot of weight and that really limited the designer's and builder's choices.

However, the LiPo has changed all that and now many electric models have superior speeds, rates of climb and endurance to their internal combustion-powered equivalents.

LiPo Pro's:

  • highest power/weight ratio
  • very low self-discharge
  • less affected by low temperatures than some
LiPo Con's:
  • intollerant of over-charging
  • intollerante of over-discharging
  • significant fire risk

LiPo precautions

Whenever a lot of energy is stored in a small space there are dangers.

Just as dynamite, TNT and nitroglycerine represent a huge danger if abused or mis-used, so it is with LiPo batteries.

There have been many well documented instances of LiPo batteries becoming powerful incendiary devices when over-charged or physically damaged so you need to be very careful when using these batteries.

Always charge them in a safe environment -- preferably placing them inside a fireproof box or bag "just in case".

Always use a suitable charger and charge-rate, don't ever be tempted to try and charge too fast or too long. The results could be very nasty.

And never over-discharge a LiPo. Unlike most other battery types, running a LiPo too flat will permanently damage it. Subsiquent attempts to recharge an over-discharged LiPo can result in a loss of capacity (at best) and a nasty fireball (at worst).

When to use

If you want to obtain maximum performance from an electric-powered model then nothing really compares to LiPo batteries.

Although a number of LiPo packs are now available for transmitters, I really don't recommend them for a number of reasons. Not only do they supply your transmitter with a higher voltage than the manufacturer suggests (and will thus void your warranty in many cases), they almost always have to be unplugged and/or removed from the case for recharging.

For a while it was quite popular to use LiPo packs and regulators to power a model's airborn RC equipment.

Since a two-cell LiPo produces 7.2 volts, a regulator is essential or it's very likely the servos will be damaged through overheating.

Given the fire danger and other risks associated with LiPo use, I can't really recommend that you use LiPos for your receiver packs -- the extra complexity simply adds extra things to go wrong.

If you want the benefits of lithium technology powering your receiver and servos then you need the next type of battery technology...

Next: Lithium Iron Phoshpate/A123 (LiFePO4)
Back: Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH)

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The Blog

Updated: 20 Sep 2012
Here's a blog that will keep you informed just what's going on behind the scenes at RC Model Reviews and also tells you a little more about myself.

How compatible are 2.4GHz RC systems?

23 Mar 2010
How come there's no compatibility between different brands of transmitters and receivers? Why can't you use a cheap Chinese receiver with your Futaba FASST radio?

How to get a product reviewed here

4 Mar 2010
Since this has become a very frequently asked question, I've posted this simple guide to getting your product, or a product you're thinking of buying reviewed here at RCModelReviews

How servos work

Useful information on what's inside your servos and how they work.

The Good Oil

Important facts you should know about the oils that are used in our model engine fuels.

Heads-Up: 2.4GHz RC systems tested

How well do five different 2.4GHz systems stack up when hit by interference? The answers are here, with more to come.

Review: Bushnell's $80 Speed Gun

Yes it does work on model airplanes but there are some limitations involved with this bargain-basement radar speed gun.

Review: TowerPro MG995 servo

These are possibly the world's worst servos, find out exactly why you should avoid these boat-anchors at any cost.

Review: SK90

2.4GHz

It's cheap but can it really stack up against other glow engines in the .90 market? Find out in this review.

Review: iMax 9X 2.4GHz radio

How does this cheap 9-channel 2.4GHz radio system perform when compared to big-name systems that can cost two or three times as much? Have the Chinese finally developed a real contender with the iMax 9X?

2.4GHz Explained

Does all this 2.4GHz stuff have your head spinning? 2.4GHz

I've done my best to demystify the whole subject so if you feel like a bit of learning, this is the stuff for you!

Fix That Engine!

How can you tell when your engine needs new bearings? Who has the best prices and service on replacements? Just how do you change them? Get all that information and watch a great video tutorial anyone can follow.

Chinese Servos - How do they stack up?

Servos

The Chinese are now churning out a huge number of very reasonably priced no-name servos. But are they any good?

Baffled by batteries?

Batteries Nicad, NiMH, Li-Ion, LiPoly, LiFePO4, A123... the range of different battery types has never been greater. So how do they differ and what type should you be using?

Possibly useful: