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Electronic parts make an RC car move forward and steer. They are an essential part of both combustion engine and electric RC cars. Electric cars make extended use of electronic parts while engine cars rely mostly on servos.
Overview of RC cars electronic parts
A standard electric RC car includes several electronic parts which are wired together. The understanding of the role of each part is essential to driving and maintaining an RC car:
- Electric motor: controled by the ESC which applies the proper current to make the magnets inside the motor spin, the motor output shaft rotate and the car move foward (or backward) through a chain of pinions, shafts and gears called the transmission system. Electric motors exist in brushed or brushless versions and in many different sizes and power output. See the Electric motor article for detailed information.
- Electronic Speed Controler (ESC): an electronic circuit that controls and regulates the speed of the motor. It receives power inputs from the driver's radio transmitter through the receiver and translates it into power to the motor. Specific ESCs are used to control brushed or brushless motors. ESCs exist in many sizes and power versions. See the Electronic Speed Controler article for detailed information.
- Servo: controls the steering (and the throttle in combustion engine cars) of an RC car. It receives turning inputs from the driver's radio transmitter through the receiver and translates it into motion of its output gear which is then transmitted to the wheels by the steering system. Servos exist in brushed or brushless versions and in many different sizes as well as torque power and speed. See the Servo article for detailed information.
- Receiver: a radiowaves receiving device which is the second main part of an RC Communication system. It pairs with a radio transmitter and transfers inputs from the transmitter to the ESC and the servo. Each receiver supports one or several communication protocols which must be supported by the radio transmitter in order to create a functional communication system. See the Radio Communication article for detailed information.
- Battery pack: the source of power for an electronic RC car. It holds several batteries that can be charged over and over again and provide the electricity for all electronics in the car. Batteries come in all shapes, sizes and power output. See the Battery article for detailed information.
Operation of the electronics of an RC car
The operation of the electronics of an RC car can be viewed from two points of view: which device provides electric power to another and which provides commands. The process for each is different.
From an electric power point of view
The electric power in an RC car starts with the battery. The battery is connected to the ESC and powers it directly. The ESC then powers the receiver and the motor. The receiver uses the power from the ESC to power the servo and other connected devices such as other servos, LED lights, fans etc.
The ESC adapts the voltage and amperage of the current to serve each device with a current specific to its proper operation. The power button for the whole electronic system sits on the ESC. The only way to cut off power to the system is either by pressing the ESCs ON/OFF button or by disconnecting the battery.
From a commands point of view
Inputs are delivered by radio waves from the transmitter to the receiver. The receiver translates the power (gas) commands from the driver's trigger to the the ESC which then powers the motor accordingly. The receiver also translates the steering commands from the driver's steering wheel and sends it to the servo which then turns the wheels.
Although the ESC powers the receiver, it is the receiver that sends the commands to the ESC. None of them are considered the "brain" of an RC car electronic system. It is the combination and configuration of the ESC and the radio communication system including the transmitter which guaranties an optimal driving experience.
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