Cars, Trucks and Boats:
Even though surface systems are used for boats, motorcycles, cars and trucks, we suggest the same thing for all: a 2-channel radio. And here, you have a choice between stick and pistol (wheel) styles.
Stick radios are square and flat and named for their primary control. In addition to (generally) lower prices, stick fans also note that 2-stick flight systems and 2-stick surface systems require the same skills — a plus if you plan to become a pilot down the road.
Despite those facts, pistol radios are far more popular. The trigger finger on the hand that holds the pistol (usually the left) controls the throttle and brake. The thumb and fingers on the free hand steer the wheel. Fans claim that pistols are easier to hold and less tiring to use.
Extras: NiCds, a high-torque steering servo (for larger vehicles); BEC receiver and ESC (for electrics); and steering dual rates, exponential and ABS braking. Here's another: a 3-channel radio, which may allow you to adjust or remote-start an engine, shift gears or control a timer.
| Surface Radio Shopping Tips
|Ordering a Radio? For synthesized or 2.4GHz radios, use the 6-character stock number shown. Stock numbers for all other radios will include two asterisks (**). Use that number to order if you have no channel preference. Otherwise, replace the asterisks with the 2-digit number of the channel you prefer. (Hint: specifying second and third choices will prevent back-orders and delays!)
|ESC/Electronic Speed Controls: Unlike manual servo-operated speed controls, ESCs reduce speed-robbing weight and extend run times.
||ATV/Adjustable Travel Volume: Also referred to as end point adjustment, ATV lets you preset the maximum travel of a servo either side of neutral. This allows a racer to shorten or lengthen their cars steering and throttle ranges to suit their own
||Servo Reversing: Allows you to change the direction your servo rotates by the flip of a switch. A nice feature that can save you the frustration of having your servo turn the wrong way.
|Dual Rates: A feature on your transmitter that makes the controls more or less sensitive. The lower rate is good for beginners who tend to oversteer their model.
||DSC/Direct Servo Control: DSC allows you to operate the servos in your system without transmitting frequency. This is ideal for pit checking your radio setup while others are operating on the same frequency.
||Rechargable/Dry Batteries: Some advanced radio systems come with rechargeable batteries for your convenience. Others require "AA" batteries and must be supplied by the modeler. All rechargeable systems also include the proper wall charger (110VAC).|
The pistol-grip radio with steering wheel offers the unique feeling of real driving control and is the more popular option for cars, trucks and boats. Turning the wheel of the transmitter duplicates the steering techniques of full-size automobiles and boats. The shape of the transmitter is similar to that of a pistol; the wheel is located on the right side of the radio and the throttle is controlled by the left index finger in the trigger position. It's a very comfortable and convenient method of control.
Great Starter Pistol Grip Radio Systems
Tower Hobbies' 224 2-Channel 2.4GHz Radio System is a great first choice for most cars and boats.
Futaba 2PH 2-Channel AM Radios
Futaba 3PL 2.4GHz FHSS 3-Channel Computer Radio
Futaba 3PM-X 3-Channel FASST 2.4GHz Radio
The two-stick radio is easy to use in cars and boats - even though they aren't controlled by a steering wheel. The two-stick radio helps you develop the same automatic reflexes for steering and throttle as with airplane radios. This enables you to make an easier transition if you choose to fly airplanes later on. (With a pistol-grip radio, some relearning will be required.) In addition, the two-stick radio is also the least expensive of the two types of car/boat radios.
Great Starter 2 Stick Radio Systems
Futaba 2DR 2-Channel AM Radio
There Are Four Different Frequency Groups To Choose From
Click here to go to our Frequency Channel Chart
- Aircraft Use Only (72 megahertz, Channels 11 - 60): This is the most popular choice for flying models. Most radios designed for model aircraft and helicopters will be available on these channels.
- Surface Use Only (75 megahertz, Channels 61-90): Cars, boats, and other non-flying models must use one of these channels. Radios designed for cars/boats exclusively with a steering wheel or pistol grip control are only available on these channels.
- All Uses (27 megahertz, Channel Code A1-A6): Although legal for all models, we suggest that you use 27 megahertz only for surface models. This is because of the possibility that some unseen operator may innocently be operating a surface model on the same channel within range of your model airplane which would cause interference and a possible crash.
- 2.4GHz Spread Spectrum Technology One of the most exciting new breakthroughs in hobby radio technology is the use of 2.4GHz spread spectrum technology -- which gives modelers of ALL skill levels the fastest, smoothest, most accurate and most reliable control possible. Futaba's 2.4GHz radio equipment in particular has advantages that greatly benefit new R/Cers. Simply by pushing a button, you link the receiver to a single transmitter -- each 2.4GHz transmitter has been assigned a unique ID code at the factory. Once that link is set, the receiver responds only to that one transmitter. In addition, Futaba 2.4GHz systems never stay on a single frequency for more than two milliseconds. You never have to worry about signal conflicts, and never need to wait for an open frequency when you're eager to enjoy a day of racing or flying with other modelers!
Note: that countries outside the United States may offer different frequency allocation schemes
Click here to go to instructions on
How to Order a Radio System.