Model Building Tips & Tricks
Radio Controlled Basics
By Glen Kingsford

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Converting a model boat to a working remote control model is very easy once you understand the basic equipment needed. In this section we will cover the radio transmitter and related equipment.

The most basic system will require a two channel system. The number of channels depends how much you want the model to do. For each control function (rudder, speed, whistle, etc.) you need one channel.

Coved on this page are three systems:
1. Two Channel System
2. Two Channel System with Speed Control
3. Advanced systems

Two Channel Radio System

The image to the right shows a simple two channel system. Key components are:
1. Transmitter
2. Receiver
3. Servos 
(two, one for the rudder and one for a mechanical speed
                     control or can be converted to power small models)

4. Battery pack
(Motor, battery and propeller shafts are covered in a separate section)
This system uses a Battery Eliminator Circuitry (BEC) which eliminates the need for a separate receiver battery.

Shown above is the Futaba Attack SR. This 2 channel radio is available at most hobby shops and sells for about $60. The system includes transmitter, receiver and 2 servos.

This is an example of a typical 2 channel receiver.
The servos or speed control (see below) are plugged into the top slots and batter power to the bottom.
Channel 2 is the left stick (throttle) on the transmitter.
Channel 1 is the right stick (rudder)
The transmitter and receiver include a frequency crystal that can be changed if desired. Model ships run on channels 61-90 in the 75mHz range (see chart below). This allows many models to be operated together.

*Never trim the receiver antenna

Servos are used to move the rudder by connecting a control rod between the servo and rudder arm. The Servo contains an electric motor that travels a set number of degrees.

 The second servo can be used to control a mechanical speed control. If an Electronic Speed Control (see below) is used the second servo is not need.

A wide range of servos are available depending on your needs. Standard size servos are normally included when you purchase a radio system. Other types can be purchased separately.   Examples of other types include micro servos that are used in very small models while higher torque servos may be used in large models.

Two Channel System with Electronic Speed Control
Electronic Speed Control (ESC) is a small electronic device that controls the speed of the motor. The ESC will allow variable speed when traveling in forward or reverse and also allows the motor to stop. 

An Electronic Speed Control should be considered for any model project, with out it the motor will run at a constant speed, with out the ability to stop or reverse.

The ESC is plugged directly into Channel Two on the receiver and wired between the battery and the motor. (see image below)

For models with multiple engines one ESC can be used to control both motors, but two ESC's will allow the motors to run independently.

The ESC is rated by voltage and motor draw, check the specs when ordering. Prices Range from $30 to $100. The lower cost models with suit most projects.


Advanced Systems

Radio systems with multiple channels allow a modeler to include more working features. Multiple motors, bow thruster, pumps and sound modules are just a few examples.

Ace Nautical Commander

The Cadillac of remote control boat radios. The pricey Nautical Commander boasts 7 channels (5 from factory) and is built with a case that allows the modeler to customize the controls and switches. Included in the system is the Transmitter and receiver.
Click here for more information
The Nautical Commander costs about $250

Radio Channels

Regulated by the FCC, your R/C transmitter must operate on a "Surface Craft" channel.

75 MHZ
Ch Freq Ch Freq Ch Freq
61 75.410 62 75.430 63 75.450
64 75.470 65 75.490 66 75.510
67 75.530 68 75.550 69 75.570
70 75.590 71 75.610 72 75.630
73 75.650 74 75.670 75 75.690
76 75.710 77 75.730 78 75.750
79 75.770 80 75.790 81 75.810
82 75.830 83 75.850 84 75.870
85 75.890 86 75.910 87 75.930
88 75.950 89 75.970 90 75.990


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