How to choose a radio-controlled model

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Radio-controlled model is a small copy of a vehicle or military equipment, as well as an animal or robot figurine, which can be controlled from a distance. Such a toy introduces the child to technical devices, develops their spatial orientation skills and the ability to concentrate on completing the task. The game with a radio-controlled model will give a lot of bright positive emotions.


Children’s – the easiest to use and cheapest models with a minimum of functions, low power (electric motor) and speed. Children’s models are often called “mini” (mini-boats, mini-helicopters), which indicates their small size. This class of equipment is ideal for introducing a child to the world of radio-controlled models. Children’s models can be used both indoors and outdoors.

Amateur – a more complex technique, designed for teenagers who already have experience playing with children’s models, and for collectors. Amateur models are more expensive, have more functions, are characterized by increased power (internal combustion engine) and speed. They differ in larger dimensions. Amateur models are used outdoors.

Professional – the most complicated type, suitable only for experienced adult users. Models of this class has the maximum number of functions, the greatest power and speed. Professional models are the most expensive, large and most similar to the original. They are intended for outdoor use only.


A car (including special vehicles and special equipment) – able to move in any direction, overcome obstacles of varying difficulty, turn on headlights and brake lights. There are anti-gravity machines that can move on vertical surfaces, such as walls and ceilings.

By the place of use, cars can be divided into two categories:

  • for home – the game takes place on the floor or table (children’s class);
  • for the outdoor use – racing on the highway or off-road (amateur and professional class).

Radio-controlled car models are divided into several types

Off-road vehicles (“monster”) – copy monster trucks (pickups with huge wheels, powerful engines). These models are characterized by high traffic, but are unlikely to be suitable for high-speed driving.

Off-road vehicles are divided into the following types:

  • stunts – designed to perform jumps and acrobatic numbers, to overcome obstacles. Models have large wheels, a powerful engine and suspension, high ground clearance;
  • short-course – used for driving along ring dirt tracks of a relatively small size. Cars are distinguished by a high level of protection against impacts and collisions when jumping, have a very solid construction and reliable shock absorbers that can withstand severe loads. A good choice for a beginner.

Buggy – light all-wheel drive cars for off-road driving, for example, sand. In terms of quality, they are close to SUVs (short cors). The model accurately copies the original, for example, it also has safety arcs.

Truggy – resemble buggies in their characteristics, but differ from them in larger wheels and long suspension arms. Thus, the truggies are inferior to the buggies in speed, but are superior in cross-country ability. Used for stunt riding and short-course.

Rally – the good enough option between SUVs and highway cars. In appearance, they resemble “tourings,” but they have a powerful engine and increased protection against dirt that are the characteristic of off-road vehicles. The best option for riding on a dense coating of fine gravel or sand.

Highway cars (“touring”) – by sight they really accurately copy real cars. Differ in high speed and controllability. They can be divided into such types:

  • drift – designed to ride on an asphalt road at maximum speeds with the constant use of controlled drift. Models have rear-wheel drive and rear differential lock. Tires in these cars are smooth or have a shallow pattern. Drift models are much closer to the original cars than the ring ones;
  • ring – are used for competitions on time on flat paved tracks. Ring cars are characterized by a smooth body shape, which increases the aerodynamic performance of the model.

Tank – able to make sounds when driving, move in different directions or rotate in place, shoot, raise and lower the gun. To increase realism, the tank can include headlights and sidelights, simulate fire when firing, and even “smoke”.

In appearance, the tank can have a shape that only remotely resembles a prototype (children’s class) or it can accurately repeat the original model. The cannon in the tank is pneumatic (shoots with rubber or plastic balls, number 40-100) and infrared (shoots with infrared rays). There are also spy tanks equipped with a video camera and having increased cross-country ability.

Helicopter – able to take off and land, perform a variety of figures in the air, hang in the air, etc. The key element in the helicopter is the propellers, which allow you to take off and perform various maneuvers.

By design, the screws can be divided into two categories:

  • coaxial – the screws are located one above the other; models with this design of screws are easy to manage, but their maneuverability is limited; found in children’s class helicopters;
  • classic screws – one main screw is on top, the other in the tail. Helicopters with such propellers are more difficult to control, but more flexible maneuvers are available to the operator. Classic screws are equipped with amateur and professional equipment.

Airplane – can take off and land, including landing on water, perform various figures in the air (for example, a dead loop), etc. In professional models, you can find a jet engine – more powerful and expensive than an internal combustion engine.

Aircraft models are divided into several categories:

  • training – inexpensive models with a good aerodynamic system and a wing, made in the form of the letter V. Most often there are high-planes. This model is suitable for both children and adults;
  • aerobatic – maneuverable aircraft designed for experienced pilots. Most often, they are low-planar, medium-planar and biplanes;
  • copies of real aircraft – imitate their prototypes as accurately as possible. They have mechanized wings, retractable landing gears, wheel brakes, side lights;
  • fan flyers – used by aerobatics enthusiasts. They are equipped with a fast and accurate system of mechanization and automation, which allows the model to perform complex figures in the air.

Ship – boats, yachts, hovercraft, submarines and large ships:

  • boats – are able to move in different directions and jump along the waves at high speeds;
  • yachts – in addition to the motor they have a sail, which provides additional speed;
  • submarines – can plunge deep into and surface, move forward and reverse.
  • large ships – smaller copies of battleships, destroyers, cruisers.

A robot is a mechanical humanoid creature that can not only move, overcome various obstacles, but also carry out assignments (bring a small object or keys). Some models transform into various shapes, for example, into a ball, and vice versa.

Animal – fish, snakes, tyrannosaurs, ladybugs, beetles. They look like their prototypes, can move and make characteristic sounds.


Electric is a universal type of engine. It is found in a large assortment of different price, power and speed.


  • small sizes;
  • low noise level;
  • environmental friendliness that allows to use it indoors;
  • simplicity in operation – no need to adjust or lubricate anything, and changing batteries or charging the battery is simpler and cheaper than refueling the tank.


  • long battery charging time;
  • dependence on weather conditions (temperature, humidity);
  • less play time (up to 15-20 minutes) than internal combustion engines.

Models with an electric motor are the best option for children and beginners.

Internal combustion engine (ICE) is a more complex engine that copies the full-size analogue in real cars.


  • high power, which allows you to develop high speed (more than 80 km / h) and provides a larger supply of game time;
  • maximum realism of the game (a characteristic sound of the engine, exhaust emissions).


  • higher cost, that is because of the engine itself and its operation, taking into account the price of fuel;
  • inability to use indoors due to exhaust fumes;
  • the need for thorough and complex maintenance – washing, rearrangement, special storage conditions;
  • engine tuning requires certain knowledge and skills.

Models with internal combustion engines are suitable for fans of radio-controlled models, for whom the realism of the toy is especially important.


The scale of the model is the ratio of the size of the model to the size of its real prototype. Thus, using the scale, you can estimate the size of the model. A ratio of 1:24 means that the real machine is 24 times larger than the model. The larger the scale, the smaller the model.

With an increase in scale, the functionality and power of the toy increases, the complexity of its control increases, and the price rises.

Radio-controlled models can be of such scales:

  • cars – 1:24; 1:18; 1:16; 1:14; 1:10; the most common scale is 1:14;
  • tanks – 1:36; 1:32; 1:24; 1:16; scales 1:16 and 1:24 are most common;
  • ships – 1:25 (boats), 1: 115; 1: 325; 1: 360 (battleships, destroyers).

Small models can be used indoors, larger ones – outdoors, on a dirt or asphalt road, in a pool, river, etc.

Important: the scale does not always reflect the actual size of the toy. Being of the same scale, the size of different models can be different, depending on the actual size of their prototypes. For example, a battleship can be made on a scale of 1:1000 and it will be a model of impressive size, while a car with a similar scale will be tiny.


The age of the user is recommended by the manufacturer for a particular type of radio-controlled model. Since it is difficult to control a toy that can develop a sufficiently high speed, it is not recommended to purchase it for children under the age of 2-3 years.

For kids up to 5 years old, cars that are not realistic or models of animals with a radius of action of several meters are suitable. The main thing is that the toy should be bright.

Children of 6-7 years old can choose more complex and realistic equipment – cars, helicopters, robots, planes, boats.

Children of 8-10 years old will be interested in tanks, larger and more complex analogues of previously mentioned models.

Adolescents of 14-15 years old will like the most realistic models, equipped with a video camera, gyroscopes, servos, etc.

Top speed

The highest speed that the model is able to develop depends on engine power. Some car models reach speeds of up to 110 km / h. The best indicator for a car is up to 15 km / h. Also, the speed is determined by the type of engine. For example, a boat with an electric motor can accelerate to 55 km / h, and up to 80 km / h on an internal combustion engine.


Radio remote control is the most common.

IR remote control – is protected from radio interference caused, for example, by high-voltage lines, but does not work well in sunny weather. In addition, for the operation of the IR remote control, a line of sight between the transmitter and receiver is necessary.

Remote control via Bluetooth / Wi-Fi – in this case, the control panel will always be at hand. This requires a smartphone / tablet with a special control app installed on it.

The control range can vary from 5 to 500 m. The greater the radius of action, the more interesting the game and the more expensive the equipment will be. The range depends on the conditions in which the equipment is operated:

  • up to 50 m – for models designed for indoor use;
  • 100-300 m – for aircraft, boats, cars that are used outdoors;
  • 300-500 m – for aircraft that move not only in the horizontal, but also in the vertical plane.

The more functional the model, the more radio channels are needed for control and the more complicated the control process is itself. But that gives the operator the opportunity to perform more maneuvers and tricks.

  • Car – 2-6 channel communication;
  • Tank – 4-6 channels;
  • Helicopter – 2-9 channels;
  • Aircraft – 2-5 or more channels;
  • Ships – 2-4 channels.


A battery is a device that stores energy, which is then used to power a model with an electric motor.

Important: pay attention to the power of the battery of the model. The more powerful it is, the longer the toy will work and move fast.

There are two types of batteries:

  • Ni-Mh (nickel-metal-hybrid) is relatively inexpensive, reliable, has a significant capacity, and is resistant to temperature extremes. It is also characterized by the absence of a drop in capacitance when the battery is not fully discharged. The disadvantage is that these batteries can be fully discharged for only a few days.
  • Li-Pol (lithium polymer) – has a small size and weight in the absence of a drop in capacity when not fully charged. Disadvantages: high price and sensitivity to low temperatures.

Replaceable elements:

  • AA – are found most often, are inexpensive and make it easy and quick to replace a “dead” battery. The disadvantage is poor power. Therefore, several batteries are usually needed.
  • AAA – differ from previous ones only in a smaller size. The disadvantage is a weaker power than of an AA. Radio-controlled models running on such batteries are almost never found. AAA are mainly used to power on-board electronics.
  • 6F22 – has a rectangular shape and two contacts on one of the ends. More powerful than AA, but less common. 

Type of drive

The following types of drive are found in car models.

Full (4×4) – thrust from the engine is transmitted to 4 wheels. The advantage is high traffic. Ideal for SUVs and especially stunt cars. Good for drifting, too. The disadvantage is the high price associated with the complexity of the design. In addition, the four-wheel drive vehicle consumes more energy (fuel) than the “one-wheel drive”.

Rear – traction is transmitted to the rear pair of wheels. Such a drive is simple, reliable, inexpensive and most common. The disadvantage is a tendency to drift. The best option for drift racing, but hardly suitable for off-road driving. Beginners are encouraged to start mastering models with rear-wheel drive.

Front – traction is transmitted to the front pair of wheels. This drive provides high stability of the car when driving, which eliminates skidding and facilitates the management of the model. Disadvantages: high cost and low reliability. Not suitable for drifting. It is also rare.

Crawler – traction is transmitted to the tracks. Found in tanks.


The material of the model depends on its class and type. For example, children’s cars are made of plastic – an inexpensive and lightweight material that can be given any shape and color. However, plastic models are not durable enough when used in difficult driving conditions.

There are plastic car models complemented by metal parts. They are more durable, but also cost more. The most expensive are professional cars which have a full metal body that is resistant to shock.

Aircraft (airplanes, helicopters) usually have an internal metal base covered with thin plastic panels. This provides good aerodynamic performance with the optimal combination of strength and weight of the model.

You can find models made of carbon fiber – a high-strength, very light, but expensive material.


To enhance realism, the following effects may occur in radio-controlled models:

  • light – the glow of headlights and emergency lights in a car or the illumination of a gun when fired by a tank;
  • sound – roar of the engine, screech of brakes, whistle, siren, horn at the car;
  • shooting – gun shot, machine gun shooting, the sound of an explosion when hit by a tank.

Functions and equipment

Moisture protection – prevents moisture from entering parts and components of the car. This feature is required for SUVs and other models designed for use outdoors. Otherwise, short circuits, corrosion and other unpleasant consequences are possible.

Dirt protection – protects the model from dirt on parts and assemblies. Like the previous one, dirt protection is required for models that are used outdoors.

Center differential – found in four-wheel drive cars. This device allows the rear and front wheels to rotate at different speeds. Increases car patency.

The metal deck of the chassis is the frame on which the body and engine are located. High-strength decks are found in models that experience significant loads when riding (short cors). Metal decks are most often aluminum, which combine high strength and low weight.

Gyroscope – found in helicopters and ensures flight stability along the vertical axis.

Servo-drive – provides the connection of the engine and the control system of the wheels, blades, chassis. It is an intermediary between the machine and the operator. There are analog and digital servos. Digital process works more accurately and quickly, but it also cost more.

Video camera – allows the operator to see the world from the point of view of the RC model. A particularly breathtaking view opens up from an airplane.


Before purchasing a model, carefully study its technical specifications. This applies not only to the speed or range of control, but also, for example, the operating time (flight duration) of the toy, the wingspan of the aircraft, the diameter of the main rotor of the helicopter.

The radio-controlled model in terms of power, speed and control complexity should correspond to the age of the child. Remember that a toy that is too complex and fast can break down quickly and even injure a child, as the young operator simply cannot cope with its control.