Though many consider them toys, RC cars have plenty of technology to offer.
Some would like to understand the science behind the machine, while others simply enjoy the thrill it brings.
We know they are not mere toys that move with a simple press of a button or flick of a switch, so how do RC cars work?
To better understand how they function, you will have to know their essential components first.
What Makes up a Good RC Car?
Most radio-controlled cars use the same set of components.
And while each element performs differently, they are designed to work perfectly together.
1. Circuit Board
A circuit board is a system that converts different electrical charges into action.
Basically, it has all the wirings that connect to the different parts of the RC car.
It is the central unit that sends commands to the RC car’s specific parts.
The engine or motor is what makes your RC car move based on the signals it has received.
It is what makes your vehicle move forward, backward, or slow down.
Some models have two motors. One engine turns the front wheels, while the other moves the rear wheels forward and backward.
You’ll even find older models that use four small motors, with one engine powering up each wheel.
Currently, electric RC cars use two types of motors, the brushed and brushless varieties.
Most toy-grade and beginner RC cars use brushed motors. They typically come with small contact brushes inside, allowing them to spin.
These brushed motors are available in fixed and non-fixed types. The fixed versions cannot be modified and adjusted.
On the other hand, non-fixed motors have replaceable brushes with an adjustable motor you can modify to a certain degree.
You can also clean the accumulated dirt and dust with ease from this motor variety.
Even though brushless electric motors are more expensive than brushed models, RC car owners still use them for their vehicles.
This motor type offers excellent power, as it has no contact brushes that may require constant cleaning.
With this design, lesser heat and friction will not affect and hinder the motor’s overall performance.
These brushless motor types can deal with higher voltage, allowing the RC car to run at an excellent speed.
At present, RC cars equipped with electric brushless motors hold the record for the fastest radio-controlled vehicle.
A nitro motor uses fuel instead of rechargeable batteries to function.
It also comes with an air filter, carburetor, clutches, crankshafts, flywheel, glow plugs, and pistons.
Apart from the mentioned parts, a nitro engine has a fuel system and a fuel tank.
Being able to regulate the air and fuel to control the engine temperature is an advantage over electric motors.
3. Power Source
The power source is another element that works with other electrical components by providing them with an electrical charge.
Presently, most RC vehicles use rechargeable batteries to power up their electrical motors, converting the energy into movement.
Other RC cars come with a different design and run on fuel instead of rechargeable cells.
The receiver intercepts the signal coming from the transmitter and then converts it into mechanical action.
Technically, the receiver comes in the form of an antenna that catches the radio signal, forwarding it into the circuit board inside.
The circuit board will process the information, activating the motor and other electrical components of the RC car.
An RC servo is a small and mass-produced actuator typically used for radio control.
It is a vital RC car component because it converts the electrical signal into mechanical action, usually intended for the RC car’s steering system.
You can depend on this cheap servo to guide your RC car in the direction you want it to go.
6. Speed Controller
The speed controller is the part that regulates the speed and rotation per minute or RPM of your RC car.
The battery-powered versions come with an electronic speed controller or ESC.
On the other hand, fuel-powered RC cars come with the throttle servo version.
The transmitter is a handheld device that RC car owners use to control the vehicle.
It sends the signal to the receiver to direct the vehicle’s movement.
Of course, this controller needs a power source to function efficiently, typically achieved with double-A or nine-volt batteries.
How Do RC Cars Work?
An RC car’s radio system utilizes radio waves or signals through the help of the transmitter and the receiver.
As their names imply, the transmitter sends the signal while the receiver accepts it.
Then, the signal goes through other components inside the vehicle for processing and movement conversion.
How Does the Radio Transmitter Communicate with the Receiver?
These remote-controlled cars use different radio channels or frequency ranges for specific movements.
You may experience some interference if two or more remote-controlled cars are using the same frequency ranges.
Some RC car models come with labels indicating the usable frequency ranges you can use.
What’s more, they also come with color-coded channel switches for making minor frequency adjustments while staying within the acceptable range.
At present, some modern RC cars function in a different frequency range, allowing exclusive connection between transmitters and receivers.
Signal interferences have been eliminated because of the unique signature frequency of each controller.
Even better, this setup allows them to move at longer distances.
How Is the Transmitter Connected with the Receiver?
The standard channels for both old and new transmitters and receivers come with unique plug-in crystals.
This allows them to work and communicate under the same frequency.
Most of the time, transmitters and receivers are connected even before they are sold in the market.
For this reason, RC car owners don’t have to worry about interferences even if several units use the same frequency simultaneously.
How Can a Radio Signal Turn into a Mechanical Action?
You will create an electrical signal every time you press a button or a switch on your transmitter, which the receiver intercepts.
It goes straight into the circuit board from the receiver, converting the electrical pulses into mechanical actions.
During this time, your RC car will start to move according to the required action associated with the electrical charge.
The engineers have programmed specific synchronization pulses equivalent to different actions you can do to your RC cars.
Different Power Sources for the RC Car
An RC car’s power source is among the vital components of remote-controlled vehicles, powering them up for action.
Currently, radio-controlled cars can choose from three power sources, which depends on the appropriate engine.
A pack of rechargeable batteries usually powers remote-controlled cars equipped with an electric motor.
You will find that most consumer-grade RC cars come with brushed motors, which are more affordable and easier to handle and control.
Experienced RC car drivers sometimes choose the more expensive brushless motor or upgrade their current one.
However, you might find that brushless motors are more challenging to drive and maintain.
Nitro is the second power source used for other RC car models.
It is a mixture of methanol-based fuel, oil, and nitromethane.
Fuel-powered RC cars can reach medium to high speeds without any modifications made on any essential components.
Petrol is typically used for bigger RC cars that function using two-stroke motors.
The engine used in these bigger models is similar to that found in chainsaws.
As such, they function well with a mixture of two-stroke oil and petrol.
Remote Control Signal Range
When searching for an RC car, most drivers will pay more attention to the controller and how far it can transmit.
This knowledge is very important, as it tells you how far the vehicle can go to receive the signal from the transmitter.
RC cars use radio waves that can travel further without interference, and they come in various models and different price points.
Most of the time, the more expensive the car is, the longer the transmission range it can offer.
With that said, if you are after driving your RC car long-range, make sure that you have the extra budget to pay for such a luxury.
The Bright Future of RC Cars
How do RC cars work?
The principle behind these remote-controlled cars may be overwhelming; hence, all beginners must take the time to know the basics.
Even today, the introduction of new technologies continues, constantly changing how RC car enthusiasts enjoy the vehicles and the thrill that comes with them.
You can expect further developments in the future as engineers continue to develop innovations.