Hints and Tips
for RC Models
At the time this article was written, there are four types of Rechargeable Batteries that are commonly in use of Radio Controlled Models.
Ni-Cad (Nickel Cadmium) Batteries have been around the longest. My first stick battery, purchased way back in 1987 was rated at 1200Mah (Mili Amp Hours) and with a silver can 27 Turn motor my Tamiya Boomerang would run around in the back yard for a good seven minutes before slowly coming to a stop. Ni-Cad development continued until around 1998 to a maximum rating of around 2000Mah and matchers pack builders and battery technicians were able to put together six cell packs with voltages approaching 7.4 Volts, to give those that could afford them, an edge over the rest.
Ni-Mh (Nickel Metal Hydride) Batteries came along in the late 1990s, and by the year 2000 were available at ratings up to 3000Mah. Again, matchers and pack builders worked hard to provide the ardent racer with packs to provide that little bit of extra power, and ESC manufacturers also chipped in with improved controllers to take full advantage of this new technology.
Now the problem wasn't gearing the car to get to the end of the race using the available battery power, but to find the brushed motor that could handle gear setting that provided the speed and acceleration without the motor overheating and wearing the commutator too much so it needed a skim after every 2 runs. My favourite at that time was the 9 Double.
More recently, Li-Po (Lithium-Polymer) Batteries have appeared on the scene, providing are a huge step forward in performance when compared with Ni-Cad and Ni-Mh batteries. However, Li-Po Batteries are much more expensive than previous battery types, have a shorter effective life of between 200 and 400 charge cycles, compared to well over 1000 charge cycles for Ni-Cad and Ni-Mh, and a high degree of care has to be taken when charging Li-Po batteries. They have been known to burst into flames or even explode, for this reason I do not recommend Li-Po batteries for RC beginners.
Another problem with Li-Po packs is they are physically bigger in size, so for those with older "Vintage" models, they may not fit into the provided space for the battery on the chassis.
The latest development in battery technology for RC are Li-Ion. Originally produced for Laptops, Ipods, Tablets and the like, they are now available for RC models. Much like Li-Po for price and charge cycle life, the power and capacity is a moderate improvement, but for me, at the moment, not worth the expense.
One final word of warning. NEVER leave your charging Li-Po or Li-Ion battery unattended when being charged, and NEVER above the recommended charge rate. After use, store each battery with about 60% charge remaining, and always in a fireproof bag.
For More Setup Information check out my Hints and Tips page.