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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.

trigger-king-rc-grave-diggerA few weeks ago you may of seen my piece on building a Tamiya Lunchbox for use in a retro monster truck racing series. Last weekend we held the first event and, despite mother nature throwing a curve ball, it was a blast!

There are 3 classes; Scale Monster Truck (Axial based hybrids, modded Tamiya TXT-1′s and Clodbusters), Retro Monster Truck (old style monster kits like Clods & Lunchboxes), and Mega Mud Truck (Axial hybrids and modded SCX10′s). The format is similar what you’d see in a “real” monster competition. There are racing, wheelie and freestyle events. Points are awarded for each event with the winners being who score the highest combined total.

The monsters race on their own course separate from the slop that the mud trucks call home. Originally all the trucks were going to be running on dirt but thanks to torrential rains we had to audible and build the monster course on asphalt. The whole crew did a fantastic job throwing things together at the last minute and the track was awesome for both racing and freestyle.

Racing was tight across all classes. Watching the old trucks rumble around the track was great fun, and then seeing the “modern” monsters literally fly over the same course was very eye opening. I’m well aware of how far the hobby has come since the old days, but actually racing different generations of vehicle back to back make it VERY noticeable. My race truck handles like an F1 car compared to the stiff and bouncy retro machines. That being said, both types of truck are equally fun to race!

Congrats to the  winners: Chris Blank won the retro class with his old school Sassy Chassis Clodbuster, Josh Rhodes took scale monster in his wicked ZRP Diablo based Grave Digger, and Jeff Bourgoine took the Mega Truck title with his Axial / CPE Barbarian. I had a great time and can’t wait to come out to the next one in the fall!

To see more of where the BigSquidRC crew has been lately you can click here. For more scale r/c news click here!

Click the “Read More” below to see more pictures. READ MORE

vaterra-ascender

Our hobby has seen it’s fair share of great rivalries. Back in the day Tamiya and Kyosho duked it out in a battle for monster truck supremacy. Associated, Losi and the aforementioned Big K have been waging war on the race track seemingly forever. When it comes to bashing it’s been Traxxas versus….well, everyone I suppose (at least for the last decade or so). It’s looking like another great rivalry could be on the cusp of happening – Axial vs. Vaterra in the crawling arena. (Note - RC4WD is also popular but I’m not counting them because they make aftermarket parts for other manufacturers in addition to offering their own kits).

Oh sure, Vaterra has been releasing vehicles for awhile now, but nothing like what was announced last week: the Ascender K5 Blazer. The rig has the scale crawling segment all hot & bothered and it looks like Axial’s SCX10 line could see its first true competition for market share. By now many of you have probably seen the press releases and all that, so let’s cut through the BS and talk about why certain features have scale 4×4 enthusiasts excited. Click the “Read More” below. READ MORE

jerseyville-rc-truck-pull-13Last weekend I loaded up the SUV and huffed it over the Mississippi River to the small town of Jerseyville, IL for a big r/c truck pull. The Central Illinois R/C Pullers (check em out on Facebook) were nice enough to invite me out, and it just so happened I had two trucks prepped and rarin’ to go (my RPM Mock Intake installation article last week featured one of them).

For those that don’t know how pulling works, it’s a cousin to drag racing. Whereas the object of dragging is to see how fast you can go, in pulling it’s how far you can go. Drivers pull a sled that transfers weight from a rolling to dragging load via a weight box that bears down on a skid pan the further a vehicle travels. Every class pulls the same amount of weight with distance measured from where the chain attaches to the sled pan.

The Central Illinois guys run the standard 30 foot track and give drivers two pulls; distance is combined to get a final total. 60” is max. If multiple drivers make 60” (i.e. full pulls) then there is a final pulloff where more weight is added to the box. Drivers then get one final yank for a tiebreaker.

CIRCP runs 3 main classes. Pro stock trucks are basically tweaked scalers with added front weight boxes (Axial SCX10′s are a popular platform and make quite capable pullers), and then the purpose built mod 2wd and 4×4 trucks pack big power and mega wheel speed. I had a great time pulling in 2wd and 4×4 (Modified and Smokin’ Mule trucks, respectively) and I’m already looking forward to my next trip up to Jerseyville. Big thanks to the CIRCP folk for running a great program and showing me lots of hospitality!

For full event results and more pics click the “Read More” below! READ MORE

rpm-mock-intake-blower-hat8Over the last several months there have been a lot of product announcements. While the big releases rightfully garner the most attention, one of the smallest made me the most excited – the RPM Mock Intake and Blower set. As a guy who’s been into scale looking trucks for a long time, engine parts are always a pain to find. How many of you have spent $30+ on a scale model (especially the 1:16 scale Muscle Machines) just so you could pilfer the engine pieces to use on a build? *RAISES HAND* I had a truck just jonesing for a scale mill sticking out of the hood so I ordered one immediately after the product announcement. It arrived last week and I just got it installed. Click the “Read More” below to see how it went.

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