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rc-trail-run-recon-g6

I’ve never run an e-mail in this spot before, but reader “Pfuture” sent me a few questions that I thought would be better served to answer/rant here.

Hello Doug,

One suggestion I have would be doing a guide for new scalers going on rides if you haven’t made one already. I don’t mean to sound bitter, scaling is one of my favorite activities ever.  Maybe you already wrote such a guide and i don’t remember it?  I have been organizing friendly rides for about a year in Montreal, Canada.  That’s little experience compared to lots of other scalers.

 

I often had to give transmitter batteries or some common parts like plastic servo horns to help someone.  People often do not bring tools, forget to charge their packs properly and don’t check their trucks before leaving home.  Also, i would insist that showing up late to a scale ride is very bad.  Every time i organize a ride, there is a new person showing up more than 15 minutes late.  Yesterday we drove around close to the start point because someone told us he’d be 40 minutes late.  His batteries were not even properly charged when he showed up. If you have ideas on how to deal with late people without being too harsh, i’m all ears!

 

I probably shouldn’t have told you all this, you most likely have experience all the same and more.  Maybe this could inspire a squidink comic or two? Hope this was helpful, forgive my sometimes strange english (I’m from Montreal). Have a nice day, can’t wait to read your next articles.  Even those about F-1 racing.

 

Pfuture

 

I actually did a write a basic “what to bring to a trail run” piece a few months ago, you can check that out right here (more importantly, show your friends!). As for the part of your question dealing with event organization (people being late, unprepared), I’ll tackle that in detail. I’ve organized events for around 2 years now, including lots of trail runs, so I really do feel your pain. Click the “Read More” below to see my advice….most of which I learned the hard way.

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axial-yeti-diff-lockThe Axial Yeti is a capable “do it all” type of truck, what-with a plush suspension, 4wd and a solid locked rear / open independent front setup. This works great for someone looking to do a bit of crawling but still maintain a vehicle that performs reasonably well at high speeds and/or in the air.

I didn’t buy this thing to use as a “do all” type of rig, though. My Yeti is being built as dedicated trail machine, and as such that open diff just isn’t going to cut it. I need full time 4WD at all times. It was time to lock it.

Before locking the front, lets talk limited slip. Some people use very heavy 1/8 buggy silicone diff oil which lets it spin only under heavy duress. This (in theory) gives the best of both worlds. You keep the front locked but if it gets really nasty it’ll have some give. You’ll also have a bit of easier handling given that the front will open up under hard cornering. I’ve never really seen this work out well. When crawling you almost always wind up just spinning the tires on the rocks. I saw that a lot with the Vaterra Twin Hammers last year.

So yeah, if you are wanting to really do any crawling with it you will have to lock the diff. There are several lockers available on the market but due to the fact that I have no need to ever unlock the front I figured I’d go with a very cheap and reliable method – JB Weld.

JB Weld is a two part bonding epoxy that can be had on the cheap (about $6) at most auto supply stores. I started using it in differentials around 15 years ago (I’m getting old, yikes) when I took my first foray into the world of r/c pulling and it’s never let me down. It’s still really popular with hobbyists as when allowed to cure properly it’s basically like welding your gears together.

Before I show you how to do it, remember that the big downside with the stuff is that it is permanent. If you ever want to unlock the diff you’ll need a brand new set of parts. It can also be messy if you aren’t careful. Another thing to be aware of is that if you roast the ring and pinion you can’t open up the front to salvage the internals…again, you’ll need all new parts for a new one. So yeah, in general a dedicated, removable locker is a more elegant solution. Ok, without further adieu hit the “Read More” and let’s get to it.
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proline_jeepcomanche_rusty
Picking the right body for a scaler is many a hobbyist’s favorite part of the gig. Over anything else, it defines your vehicle’s personality. There are so many trucks AND bodies on the market that it can be really confusing figuring out what fits what. With the holiday season around the corner I figure now would be as good a time as any to put together a guide so you can easily find a body that is of appropriate length for your rig.

Below you’ll find a list of every major scale vehicle with it’s corresponding wheelbase. This makes for an easy cheat sheet so you can cross reference the number with a body manufacturer’s designated wheelbase measurement (almost all aftermarket body companies list these). This can help you to make a decision.

Also, be aware that almost any truck can be made to fit any body with a little elbow grease and link manufacturing. By the same token sometimes even if a wheelbase is dead nuts you’ll still need to make modifications for correct fit.

This list isn’t definitive but most of the major trucks on the market are represented. It’s also pretty loose (i.e. Traxxas being a part of it despite not having a true scaler) but these are the trucks you’ll most likely see out at a run. (The new version of the HPI Crawler King is omitted because I couldn’t find the actual wheelbase.)

Axial
AX10 Deadbolt: 12.2″ (310mm)
SCX10 Dingo: 11.4″ (290mm)
SCX10 Deadbolt: 12″ (305mm)
SCX10 Falken Tires JK: 12″ (305mm)
SCX10 RECON G6 JK: 12″ (305mm)
SCX10 Dodge Ram Power Wagon: 12.25″ (311mm)
SCX10 C/R Edition JK: 12.3″ (313mm)
SCX10 Trail Honcho: 12.3″ (313mm)
SCX10 Wrangler Unlimited JK: 12.3″ (313mm)
SCX10 2012 Silver Rubicon JK: 12.3″ (313mm)
Wraith: 13.9″ (353mm)
Wraithspawn: 13.98″ (355mm)
Yeti: 14.25″ (360mm)

Gmade
Sawback: 11.3″ (287mm)

RC4WD
Gelande 2: 10.8″ (275mm)
Trail Finder 2: 11.3″ (287mm)

Vaterra
Ascender: Adjustable from 12.36″ (314mm) to 10.95″ (278mm)
Twin Hammers: 11.6″ (294.6mm)

Tamiya
CR-01: 11.34″ (288mm)
CC-01: 9.9″ (252mm)
High-lift: 12.25″ (311mm)
Mountain Rider/Bruiser: 11.3″ (287mm)

Traxxas
Summit: 14.84″ (377mm)
Telluride: 10.75″ (273mm)

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In scaling news, last week Vaterra announced the RTR version of the Ascender which is set to hit store shelves very soon. If you’re interested in the currently available kit version, Adam the Intern just finished our official review of the truck (kit version) which just went live today! It’s a dang fine scaler with the exception of the stock ring & pinions being on the weak side. Throw in some HD’s and you’ve got yourself a runner.

Axial Yeti hop-ups are flying to market as the aftermarket continues to throw it’s weight behind the platform. This isn’t really a surprise as the truck is selling like gangbusters. Keeping with the theme of this article, the Pro-Line VW Bug looks especially sweet. Speaking of the Yeti, my first piece in a “Making the Yeti a Trail Beast” series goes live sometime soon. The platform has had a couple teething issues but on the whole I think it’s a going to be a great rig.

Quick thanks to everyone for making it a good first year at Big Squid as my anniversary was a week ago. Good times. Also big thanks to racer Tim and grand poobah Brian for helping me along and giving me a platform to spew my garbage each and every Friday.

Variety is the spice of life and so I’m hoping to cover even more segments of scale r/c in the coming months (while still focusing primarily on crawling/trailing of course). Tanking, drag racing, battleships, demolition derby and F1 racing are a few things on my “to do” list for 2015.

If you have an idea you’d like to see, a deeply held grievance or just want to show off your custom creation in this space please drop a line to doug at bigsquidrc.com.

Have a great weekend everyone. Get outside and enjoy the brisk fall weather while ya can…not much good scaling weather left this year!

For more scale r/c news on BigSquidRC you can click here.

axial-yeti-gearhead-trail-torch-light-bar

Happy Halloween to you and yours! This week we are looking at things that go bump in the night!

Running your scaler at night is extremely fun and if you’ve never tried it you really should. It’s becoming more and more popular for clubs to take to the trails after the sun has gone down. The difficulty factor is upped considerably for both truck AND driver (it’s pretty easy to get whacked in the face when you can can’t see the trees in front of you!) and terrain that was easy before can seem much tougher when the visibility is low.

The rise in scale, high quality, affordable LED vehicle lighting is responsible for the boom. The folks at Gear Head RC, Vanquish, and Axial make some killer pieces to brighten the night. The above shot is my brand new Axial Yeti sporting a Gear Head Trail Torch mounted to their new low profile roof rack. I’ve been using this bar atop my SCX10 for close to 2 years now so, for me, installing it on the Yeti is a literal passing of the torch to my new main vehicle. (SCX10, we’ve had some good times buddy…*pours a 40 on the ground*). The delrin mount is pretty trick and protects the bar during a rollover. I plan on writing up a detailed mini-review on both products in the near future.

Anyways, if you are hardcore about running when it’s dark, a simple bar or few buckets won’t suffice; you’ll need to look into rock lights. Rock lights are LED’s that mount either under the body or somewhere on the chassis to illuminate the whole under carriage. When I first got into scale crawling I saw these lights and thought it looked completely stupid. “This is the r/c equivalent of a kid heading to Auto Zone and putting neon running lights on his Honda Civic”, I thought. Boy, was I wrong.

The Axial RECON G6 series is infamous for doing a night stage, and it was here that I discovered the importance of illuminating the actual terrain under the truck. You see, a light bar will shine straight ahead leaving a big deadspot/shadow in front of the tires. This makes wheel placement extremely difficult to see. A good set of rock lights coupled with a bar will turn your vehicle into an all seeing glowing orb, much like Mr. Burns in the woods after a life of working in the Springfield nuclear powerplant:

So yeah, rock lights in tandem with a good light bar are a must if you want be fully capable of taking on anything the dark throws at you. The trucks in the shots below are outfitted with Nickelfab rock lights…which I soon hope to have plumbed throughout the Yeti. Again though, that’s for another time :)

One last thing to consider before taking on the night: make sure you aren’t running illegally! National and county parks are traditionally popular spots for crawling and trailing, but pay attention to park ordinances before attempting to run after sunset. Many local parks around me close an hour after sunset so you don’t want to be ticketed by an angry ranger. It’s best to just call the Parks Department office for permission to put on a “night hike” OR just wait for a designated special day where they stay open late. To give an example, one of the biggest parks in St. Louis stays open until 10pm and permits night hiking/mountain biking one Wednesday a month so this has become the go to spot for big r/c scaling night meets.

Whatever you do, be safe and remember to bring friends…a long line of illuminated r/c’s is a real sight to see. Scaling doesn’t have to stop at sunset!

That’s it for this week, have a great weekend and be sure to snag lots of candy tonight! Happy Halloween!

For more Axial news on BigSquidRC you can click here. For the latest in scale r/c you can click here.

Hitec WP Servos BSRC
Crawling/scaling can be really hard on servos. Not only are they expected to turn heavy, weighted tires on unforgiving rock, but most of the time there is no servo saver attached. Yep, direct horns are the only way most crawlers roll (versus using a saver that will give) leaving the servo unprotected to absorb the brunt of what’s thrown at it. To make matters worse, sometimes its underwater.

I don’t care what kind of servo you have, eventually this type of abuse is going to leave you with broken teeth. Don’t just throw the unit away, though! A lot of newbies don’t realize that many mid to high range servos can quickly be fixed by a trip to the dentist (aka your local hobby shop) to pick up a new set of gears.

A super popular scaling servo (and bashing) upgrade is the trusty Hitec 5646WP unit. The servo puts out around 150 oz or torque, is waterproof, has metal gears, is digital AND is relatively easy on the wallet at $54.99. I think they are the perfect upgrade for an Axial SCX10. That isn’t marketing garbage, I currently own 4 of them and use or have used them in a variety of trucks; 3 SCX10′s, Wraith, CPE Barbarian, Tamiya TXT-2 and soon to be my new Yeti.

Last weekend I finally broke some teeth during a monster truck freestyle session and figured this was the perfect time to show how easy they are to fix. Keep in mind this unit ain’t no spring chicken. It’s about 2 years old and while it used to be blue once upon a time, I painted it black a long time ago and most of it is peeling off after abuse. Click the “Read More” and I’ll show you how easy it is to get the old girl back up and turnin’.

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bigfoot-open-house-trigger-king-monster-truck-race002014 has been a year of monster truck resurgence in the r/c industry. One has to look no further for evidence than right here at BSRC, as our review went live this week for basher of the year contender, the Pro-Line Pro-MT monster truck. What better way to end the week then, than with a recap of a major monster truck event that went down last weekend (both r/c AND 1:1); the Bigfoot 4×4 Open House and Monster Truck Spooktacular.

This free event has always taken place at the Bigfoot shop in Hazelwood, MO as a way to say thanks to the fans. With it growing in popularity each year, they decided to to move it to the bigger confines of Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, IL. The event was an all day affair as pit party festivities took place all morning/afternoon giving way to a big show in the evening. We rolled in at 8am and watched as the big trucks got setup on the premises. Once they were staged for their displays (7 Bigfoot trucks were on site) we got out the r/c stuff and setup our track. We laid out several scaled down versions of what you’d find at a full size show and went to town all afternoon.

We ran several sessions of racing with both old school retro trucks and modern race machines. When that was finished we topped it off with a big freestyle show (complete with mini Jet jump!). When the dust settled it was Josh Rhodes and his sweet Grave Digger Clodbuster taking home top honors for the race class, and Chris Blank doing the same in retro with his classic Sassy Chassis’d Clod. Danny Maass took home the freestyle win (judged by several Bigfoot team members and hardcore fans) with his “Heavy Hitter” Axial based monster truck.


Finally, as the sun went down the big boys came out to play. Despite being very muddy the whole fleet of trucks put on a heck of a show. It was especially cool seeing Bigfoot #1, the original monster truck, lead the fleet into battle. There was even an appearance by the 10 foot tall tired Bigfoot #5, the biggest pickup in the world, making a super rare car crushing performance!

Big thanks to the Bigfoot crew for letting BigSquidRC be a part of the action, especially to team members (and r/c racers) Bob Chandler Jr. (helped organize the r/c portion with me) and Danny Maass (shooting pics when I was running a truck or trying to keep everything moving). I also want to say thanks to the Trigger King R/C club for putting in the time and effort to make the event a success, and of course to the Big Squid readers that said hey and scored some stickers.  We are already making plans to do it bigger next year…hopefully the whole BSRC bash crew can make an appearance for total r/c anarchy!

Ok, so with that out of the way, click the “Read More” below to see a few more galleries and check out what else is kicking in the world of scale r/c.
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vaterra_ascender_trail2

While the gang was at iHobby last weekend, I was busy getting in wheel time with arguably the biggest “traditional” scaling platform release this year; the Vaterra Ascender. Big thanks to my trailing buddy Matt Worthington for letting me have at his new truck for an afternoon of trailing and neighborhood crawling. Given that this isn’t my own truck and parts of it have been changed from stock (like the tires/wheels) this won’t be a super detailed synopsis, but I still wanted to share a few thoughts.

The truck used in this piece was outfitted with big power – a Tekin Roc 412 (the crème de la crème of scaling motors) mated to a Castle Mamba Max Pro with drag brake dialed in. He opted to forgo the stock wheels and tires for Pitbull Growlers and RC4WD Mickey Thompson wheels. The servo is a waterproof Hitec 5646WP with a Spektrum radio system running the show. Click the “Read More” to see what I thought.


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axial-scx10-jeep-cherokee-xj

As the gang is busy in Chicago breaking exclusives, I’m stuck back here in STL holding down the fort. Don’t worry about me though, it’s nice coming in at 10 and leaving by 2 getting a quick breather before a torrent of news hits. And since we are in the calm before the storm, this gives me a few minutes to talk about the scale scene in general. No, not just scale crawlers…I mean as it pertains to the whole industry. Click the “Read More” below to read my wall o’ text.

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dachshund_axial_wheelchairAxial shared the above photo the other day on their official facebook page and it has since spread like wildfire across the interwebs. While I wouldn’t just normally shamelessly lift something from there, this is something you all should see. Apparently the owner of a paralyzed dachshund took matters into his own hands to outfit his little buddy with a special wheelchair utilizing various crawler parts. This pup now sports a solid rear/IFS setup similar to an Axial Yeti! Seriously though, very cool.

Big stuff going on over here at BSRC. iHobby is right around the corner and you will not want to miss out on what we have in store. You folks are gonna dig the product announcements! While I sadly won’t be up in Chicago with the crew, I will be engaging in my own form of wackiness the following weekend. On Saturday October 11th in Granite City, IL I’m hosting a big scale monster truck race and demo at the Bigfoot 4×4 “Monster Truck Spooktacular & Open House”. It’s a pit party during the afternoon featuring a car crush, custom truck show, battle of the bands and aforementioned r/c monster madness. At night all the side acts will clear out and the Bigfoot boys are putting on a monster truck show. It’s gonna be a blast! Here’s the info flyer:

bigfoot-4x4-monster-truck-flyer
If you are wanting to race a scale monster with us you can check out our rules here, or just bring whatever (buggy, crawler, etc) and bash it when we aren’t racing. Feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions about the r/c portion: doug at bigsquidrc.com. Due to the nature of the event it’s sorta gonna be “by the seat of our pants”. Whether you bring a truck or not, make sure to say hello and nab a few BigSquidRC stickers from me! I’ll be the guy walking around in a BSRC t-shirt with a confused look on his face, clipboard in hand.

Using that as a thinly veiled segueway, I spent last weekend working on a new project which I’ll write about as soon as I’ve had the time to properly work it over: a new Tamiya TXT-2. This truck is going to be a dedicated monster truck racer/freestyler and will make it’s debut at the open house. It’s sporting a Castle brushless system, custom Pro-Line C10 Chevy body with classic USA-1 livery (that was a fun body to do!), and I already ditched the stock tires for legit monster paws.

USA1_tamiya_txt2

It was a relatively big week for scaler news. Pro-Line announced two new sharp looking domestic pickup bodies. RC4WD joined the fun by releasing a trick new hard body AND super cool scale engine that houses your motor. I’ve also seen that Vaterra Ascenders have started reaching hobby shops. Two of my friends just got their kits in at the LHS and I’m hoping to scope one out very soon.

Hope everyone has a great a weekend! I’ll be checking out my first top fuel race Saturday as the NHRA is in town (I’m PUMPED) and then on Sunday I’ll be getting my scale on with the Roughneck Scalers at a big charity crawl near Troy, MO. Until next time!

For more scale r/c news on BigSquidRC you can click here.

axial_yeti_3

I’ve had a weird relationship with the Axial Yeti. I was caught up in the hype when it was announced a few months ago and had one on pre-order. As time went on (and ship dates were pushed back) I gradually started changing my mind and finally cancelled to take a “wait and see” approach. Hey, like many of you guys I only have so many hobby dollars to spend and they wound up going somewhere else. It’s not that I thought the truck didn’t look cool…I just didn’t know what use I’d really have for a hybrid vehicle. I have monster trucks for speed and crawlers for crawlin’, after all.

Two weeks ago my LHS finally got them in stock (note, they immediately sold 14 out of 15 kits…these things are FLYING off shelves) and let me check out a display model. Holding the truck in my hands had officially piqued my interest again. Well, as luck would have it the same hobby shop (shout out to Mark Twain Hobby Center in St. Charles, MO) held a customer appreciation bash and I finally got to see the Yeti in the wild. Not only that, I finally got to bash the $@*# out of one. Click the “Read More” to see what I thought!

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axial_ram_scx10_12

Brushed vs. Brushless is a non argument pretty much everywhere in the hobby. Everyone knows brushless technology offers the most speed, reliability, ease of use, etc at this point so why even bring it up? Because scaling/crawling is one of the last stands for brushed motors, a place where the discussion still takes place with merit to both sides, that’s why. Click the “Read More” to see both points of view (and for a guest appearance by a famous talking rock). READ MORE

axial_scx10_ram_power_wagon_06Axial announced their latest version of the SCX10 this week, the Dodge Ram Power Wagon, and it’s caused a good amount of discussion in r/c internet land. It looks like I’m not the only one happy see a full size pickup body on an Axial platform. Along with Vaterra’s Ascender Blazer, it looks like some other types of domestic iron are finally getting the spotlight.

Hey, Jeeps are the most popular off-road vehicle of time…but a breather is appreciated in this neck of the woods. With the positive reception that these new bodies are getting, I think its safe to say many besides me are on board with what (hopefully) is a new trend. Bring on the trucks!

As for the Ram, I think it’s the perfect candidate for a scale smoke stack, doing a dually rear axle and cutting off the “Power Wagon” text (details are details folks, a real PW is only available as a gasser so it would have to lose the badge if its gonna be a scale Cummins). The only thing I’d be afraid of is the transmission. I know the SCX10 is known for having a stout tranny, but having the Dodge logo on the side makes me worry.

Alright, alright that last line was a joke. I’ve always been a Ford guy and old habits die hard  :) Have a great weekend everyone!

For more Axial news on BigSquidRC you can click here. For more scale r/c news click here.

iron-mountain-depot-recon-g6-25Drag brake is one of the most important and subjective things you’ll deal with when getting into scale crawling. Some guys like a ton, some none at all. So what is it?

Simply put, drag brake is the amount of stopping power applied when there is no throttle input on the transmitter. It’s measured in percentage. 20% DB means that when you aren’t on the gas the vehicle is getting 20% of the standard full brake input. For a basher or racer you can use a mild DB to help a truck that wants to flip over backwards when jumping stay more neutral in the air without having to manual apply the brake yourself. It’s important in crawling because when you are climbing over an obstacle at slow speed you won’t just roll off if you let go of the throttle. (Bare in mind the motor factors into the equation as well, as mills with stronger magnets will hold better than weaker ones…but that’s for another piece.)

Competition crawling vehicles famously utilized crazy amounts of DB when that scene was hot. It would take a tow truck to move one of these rigs when there was no throttle applied. This works great when trying to adjust your line on some gnarly rock, but as crawling vehicles are being asked to do more nowadays the philosophies are starting to change. If you are rocking down the trail with 3S power and a front weight bias, ya know what happens when you let off the go-stick with a ton of DB enabled? You are gonna go a$$-over-tea kettle. Even if you don’t have bookoo power, descending a hill can be a chore when the truck jerks to a stop every time you let off the gas.

All decent ESC’s allow customization to control the amount of DB (dedicated crawling ones generally have the higher available settings) by either using push button programming or manually hooking it up to a computer (Castle Link, for example). I strongly recommend playing around with different settings and see what you like best.

When I started out with my first Axial truck a few years ago I was using a system with 90% DB (mated to a high torque 55t brushed motor) and it drove me mad. I kept with it because I thought “well, that’s what crawlers are supposed to be like”. That’s hogwash! I generally now roll with around with 40-50% DB and love the way it feels.

I like having a “looser” ESC setting so my truck doesn’t completely lockup when coming off throttle. Being the big fan of hill climbing that I am, I like how the truck will gradually descend a hill by itself with a lower DB versus having to burp the throttle manually (and therefore jerk back to a stop) with a heavy setting.

Is mine the “right way”? Absolutely not! There is no right way, only YOUR way. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your drag brake setting. It can wildly change the way your rig handles the trail. You may want ludicrous stopping power, you may just want a smidge. Grab your manual (or download a PDF, all reputable manufacturers have product manuals online) and start tweaking! You can always go back to the default setting later, after all.

So your backwater ESC doesn’t allow customization you say? Well you’re in luck. With the holiday season fast approaching I’m in the preliminary stages of putting together a big piece on popular brushed AND brushless crawling/trailing setups for you folk looking to make an upgrade. It’s going to have stuff for both penny pinchers and Scrooge McDuck types. Look for that to drop later this fall.

Until next time, have a great holiday weekend. And remember, if you are in the Chicago area you should come on out to our Back to School Bash taking place!

For more RC Rock Crawling news on BigSquidRC you can click here. For news of the scale variety why don’t you check this link out.