Those of us who have remained dedicated to our RC hobby over the past 20 years have witnessed incredible changes in the technology, but those new to the hobby might not realize how much things have changed.
From radio tech to the batteries and motors, our hobby continues to benefit from awesome innovations. The latest tech innovations have been developed around the ever expanding drone market, but that market would not be possible without some earlier tech developments in both the surface and air markets.
Let’s take a deeper look:
2.4 GHz frequency radios
If you have recently returned to RC, you surely noticed that radio technology has made significant improvements. Nomadio was the first company to ditch the old 72 MHz radios and introduce a complete digital radio package. The new 2.4 GHz were quick and responsive. No more quartz crystals in 2.4 GHz radios eased the radio control registration at events. Old 72 MHz quartz crystal radios couldn’t the same frequency on two radios simultaneously, because it would cause interference between the two radios and make your model lose control. These new 2.4 GHz digital radios are far more reliable and have taken over the industry over the past decade.
The introduction of brushless motors have without a doubt revolutionized most categories in the RC. The absence of brushes improved torque, efficiency and resulted in less friction. Brushless motors also became popular as they required less maintenance, which was great for new comers. Today brushless motors have dominion over the performance market. Brushed motors are still available, generally in lower cost entry level products.
The introduction of LiPo batteries (Lithium Polymer) breathed new life into a stagnant segment of RC and is responsible for the greatest expansion in RC customers over the last 20 years. Almost all electric vehicles favor LiPo batteries due to the incredible power and longer run times. Prior to lipo batteries dedicated RC heli pilots flying larger scale machines, almost exclusively flew nitro birds. Before the introduction of LiPo batteries, electric RC vehicles were packed with NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride) or NiCd (Nickel Cadmium) heavy battery packs.
LiPo Batteries are lighter, offer higher capacities and offer much higher discharge rates; but just like every new tech innovation, there is a downside. LiPo batteries require the user to be very diligent and responsible, as LiPo batteries can be very dangerous fire hazards if not used and maintained properly.
If you left the RC hobby prior to the early 2000’s, you may not be familiar with the advances in radio tech, specifically in telemetry. Radios with built in telemetry features allow hobbyist to monitor critical data, such as voltage, running temp, and number of laps. As RC racing evolves, it has become vital to keep an eye on the most critical data points.
On-board telemetry was made possible by 2.4GHz DSM technology. The incredible signal strength and integrity, along with much needed component improvements made this tech a must have for the serious R/C hobbyist.
FPV (First Person View) technology has been around for awhile, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that the technology needed for proper FPV became affordable and consistent enough to proliferate the RC world. This new trend is one of the hottest in RC and enthusiasts are pushing it to the limits.
Mount a camera on the RC vehicle, send the video signal directly to a screen or to wearable goggles and all of a sudden you are flying over the earth, or zooming through race gates. More recently advances in stereoscopic, or 3D goggles now allow users to experience a full depth of field that emulates real vision. 3D flying require two cameras to provide true perspective. Equally exciting, has been the development of head tracking technology. Head tracking allows the user move there head (similar to VR) and the cameras move along with them, providing a surreal visual experience.
Are you interested experiencing the FPV sensation of soaring the skies or flying across the terrain at tops speeds? If you want to try out FPV without blowing the bank, several companies have introduced less expensive goggles that give you a taste of what all the excitement is about.
The RC Hobby has made some experienced some amazing technological advances over the past 20 years, but one thing has remained consistent, RC Hobbyists are always pushing the envelope looking for the next great RC innovation.
Written by Written by SwellRC