This is a beginner’s guide to buying your first Radio Controlled Boat. WARNING: Please don’t buy your new RC Boat before you read this guide.
OK let’s get started with 3 imperative things you need to consider before getting into the wonderful world of RC Boating.
Where are you going run your boat?
OK the first thing you need to consider when purchasing a Radio Controlled Boat is where you are going to run it. This is a very important consideration because it will help you determine what type of boat you should buy.
RULE NUMBER 1 – Consider the surface area of the water where your boat will run.
Large Areas; Ocean, Lakes or Rivers
If you live near a lake, a large river or even a calm ocean bay then you are indeed fortunate. You can really take your pick as to which type of boat you want to start with.
Your only real concern is whether wind is a factor in creating waves or chop for your electric or nitro RC Boat or whether you’ll have enough wind power for your radio controlled sail boat.
TIP: Before you buy your RC Boat make sure you are allowed to run it. Speak to any necessary authorities and make sure there are no noise (or other) restrictions that will affect you.
Small Areas; Swimming Pools, Ponds or Small Rivers
If you don’t have any large bodies of water close to you, don’t despair you can still get into RC Boats. There is more than likely a swimming pool, smallish river, or even a small, man-made lake where you can run your new boat.
In this case you are probably restricted to electric radio controlled boats as they are slightly slower and therefore much more maneuverable.
TIP: It’s much better to have a heap of fun running an electric RC Boat in a small area than it is being out of control and risking your expensive Nitro RC Boat.
Electric or Nitro Power
Before you determine what sort of boat is best for you, consider your level of interest and your history of following through.
RULE NUMBER 2 – Buy a boat that suits your level of interest.
How serious are you?
So before you begin ask yourself how serious are you. Is your garage or attic strewn with unused hobby and sport equipment? If so it may be better to start off with a fun, electric boat and move up to a more serious nitro radio controlled boat when you get into it a little bit more. That way you’ll have a spare boat later if you do decide to pursue the hobby further and you don’t risk an expensive boat sitting idle in your shed.
Electric Radio Controlled Boats
Electric Radio Controlled Boats are fast, quite and tonnes of fun. They run off powerful re-chargeable batteries similar to the ones in a mobile phone. A typical battery charge (and therefore running time) lasts around 10 – 15 minutes, smaller toy boats may run for up to 45 minutes. Electric RC Boats have running speeds right out of the box of around 15 to 20 mph.
- Cheap to purchase (easy place to start to see if you like it)
- Easy to maintain (no messing around with fuel and tuning)
- Low Running Costs (much cheaper in the long run)
- Quiet Electric Motor (can run where Nitro boats are not allowed)
- Slower than Nitro Radio Controlled Boats
- Your running time is limited to your battery capacity
Nitro Radio Controlled Boats
Nitro Radio Controlled Boats are fast, load and exhilarating. They should come with a warning label stating that they are addictive, beware you’ve been warned! Nitro RC model boats run off a specially blended fuel mixture of nitro, methanol and lubricating oil. They use real, miniature engines that are capable of propelling them to speeds of around 25 to 35 mph right out of the box.
- Nitro powered RC boats can run for longer (a quick top up of fuel and you’re back on the water)
- Nitro RC Boats are faster than electric RC Boats (and therefore some would say more fun)
- Can be expensive to set up
- Fuel is more expensive than regular fuel / oil mixture
- Engines require regular tuning and maintenance
- Nitro boats are noisy! You will likely be restricted from some areas due to the high noise levels.
- Need a wide, open water area due to increased speed
There are basically two different hull designs on Radio Controlled Model Boats;
- Deep V (or Mono-hull)
- Flat-Bottom Hulls (also called a Hydroplane hull or sometimes a Catamaran Hull)
RULE NUMBER 3 – Choose a hull design that complements your environment.
Typically boats with Deep V hulls are easier to control than boats with Flat-Bottomed hulls, however once you get used to racing your model boat then you may choose to buy a more powerful boat with a fast hydroplane hull.
TIP: If you’re a beginner or the area where you are going to run your RC Boat is choppy or has high winds then consider a boat with a Deep V hull, it will be much easier to control.
Know your battery life
It’s not really very cool to run out of juice in the middle of the lake or a fast flowing river. Get used to your battery life while practicing close to the shore. You won’t regret it.
Know your Radio Control System’s range
Again stay near the shore when testing the limit of your Radio Control system – don’t head out to sea to see how far you can make your boat go.
Return to shore system
Some boats are equipped with a sophisticated return-to-shore system that allows you to bring the boat home if you run out of gas. You may want to consider one of these.
In conclusion, to make a wise, experienced decision on your first Radio Controlled Boat make sure you buy a boat that suits the area where your boat will run and that suits your level of interest. Also make sure that your hull design matches your environment.
Follow these simple tips and you’ll no doubt get hooked on your new model boat.
All the best on the water and off.