So who's doing this reviewing then?
Well I've been building and flying or driving radio controlled models for over 40 years and during that time I like to think I've built up a reasonable amount of knowledge.
I'm also a qualified electronics engineer who has worked in radio frequency, analog, digital systems and software for more than three decades. In fact I designed and built my first RC set back in 1969.
For the past nine years I've also been involved in the design and manufacture of some rather sophisticated engine technology and UAV flight control systems.
So, chances are I've been there, done that and have a huge pile of tee shirts to prove it.
Right now I'm heavily into 3D flying and enjoy all aspects of the RC hobby. I may be old but I don't feel it.
In the Pipeline
Here's just a little bit of what's to come on this site...
RC explained: Demystifying terms such as PCM, PPM dual conversion, single conversion, full-range etc., this feature will explain it all.
Cheap Chinese Engines: Just how good are those cheap Chinese glow and gas engines that sell for half the price of their "brand-name" equivalent? I put several to the test.
Build your own radio gear?: Back in the old days, building your own RC gear was not uncommon and now the arrival of 2.4GHz has made it practical again.
Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) and A123 batteries
PERHAPS THE BEST BATTERY TECHNOLOGY AVAILABLE
Imagine if we could combine the safety and durability of nicads with the capacity and light-weight of LiPos. Wouldn't that be the best of all worlds?
Well that's pretty much what you get with the latest battery technology known as Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4).
Batteries based on this technology have almost the same power to weight ratio as LiPos but are far more tollerant of over and under-charging.
In a situation where a LiPo might explode into flames, the LiFePO4 cell will probably just vent some harmless gas.
- very high power/weight ratio
- very low self-discharge
- more tollerant of over/under-charge/discharge
- can be used for RC gear without needing regulators
- Only a limited range of battery capacities currently available
- Odd-sizes for most cells (not AA, C, D, etc)
- LiFePO4-capable charger needed
LiFePO4 and A123, what's the difference?
Some people tend to use the terms LiFePO4 and A123 interchangeably -- but there is a significant difference between the two.
The fact is that A123 is a brand name for a specific type of LiFePO4 battery that incorporates nano-technology to significantly increase the current-handling capabilities.
The capabilities of an A123 battery are truly impressive -- with a 2300mAH pack being able to deliver currents of up to 100A for 10 seconds or more without damage. That's a 40C rating.
A standard LiFePO4 battery by comparison, may have only a 3-5C rating which is perfectly adequate for most RC applications but nowhere near as suited to hi-current applciations (such as electric power) as a true A123.
When to use
Well the answer to this is simple -- use LiFePO4/A123 batteries whenever it's possible.
I've switched to LiFePO4 batteries for all my models now and have had absolutely zero problems.
My NiMH receiver packs now sit unused in a drawer under my bench, having been replaced by some 1350mAH packs I built myself for under $10 each.
My 30% Extra now has dual 2300mAH A123 batteries that can handle the nine hi-torque digital servos without even blinking.
Given that LiFePO4 batteries are cheaper, smaller, lighter and better in just about every way than any of the other technologies when used as receiver pack, I'd say there's little reason not to use them.
I also notice that hi-current LiFePO4 batteries are now becoming available to replace LiPos for electric power. They're a little higger and heavier than the equivalent LiPo but for many folks, this will be a small price to pay for the dramatically increased safety and robustness they offer.
If you found this information useful then please consider making a small donation towards the operation of this website.
Updated: 20 Sep 2012
Here's a blog that will keep you informed just what's going on behind the scenes at RC Model Reviews and also tells you a little more about myself.
23 Mar 2010
How come there's no compatibility between different brands of transmitters and receivers? Why can't you use a cheap Chinese receiver with your Futaba FASST radio?
4 Mar 2010
Since this has become a very frequently asked question, I've posted this simple guide to getting your product, or a product you're thinking of buying reviewed here at RCModelReviews
Useful information on what's inside your servos and how they work.
Important facts you should know about the oils that are used in our model engine fuels.
How well do five different 2.4GHz systems stack up when hit by interference? The answers are here, with more to come.
Yes it does work on model airplanes but there are some limitations involved with this bargain-basement radar speed gun.
These are possibly the world's worst servos, find out exactly why you should avoid these boat-anchors at any cost.
It's cheap but can it really stack up against other glow engines in the .90 market? Find out in this review.
How does this cheap 9-channel 2.4GHz radio system perform when compared to big-name systems that can cost two or three times as much? Have the Chinese finally developed a real contender with the iMax 9X?
Does all this 2.4GHz stuff have your head spinning?
I've done my best to demystify the whole subject so if you feel like a bit of learning, this is the stuff for you!
How can you tell when your engine needs new bearings? Who has the best prices and service on replacements? Just how do you change them? Get all that information and watch a great video tutorial anyone can follow.
The Chinese are now churning out a huge number of very reasonably priced no-name servos. But are they any good?
Nicad, NiMH, Li-Ion, LiPoly, LiFePO4, A123... the range of different battery types has never been greater. So how do they differ and what type should you be using?