RcTek : Information & Resources for the Model Car Racer

Radio Controlled Model Car Radio Equipment: Basic Information

This section of the RcTek site provides basic information about the radio control (R/C) equipment used to control model cars.

Getting Started - Basic Information

If you have an interest in remote controlled model cars and do not know where to start, this is the place. This article provides the basic information about the control aspect of model cars.

Remote Control

Model cars can be remotely controlled (RC) in a number of ways, this article covers only remote control by the use of radio. The use of radio provides an effective means of control by the use of a transmitting device to send signals to the model car. Although there are countless different products available from the many different manufacturers, they all perform the same basic function of controlling the cars speed and direction.


Just as TV stations have their own frequency range, radio controlled cars operate within their own allocated frequency ranges. These vary from country to country and are devised in such a way as to minimise interference with other types of equipment.


Also, just as with the TV stations, model cars have their own separate channels, so that more than one car can be operated at the same time as another. Rather than having a button to change the channel, remote controlled cars utilise a system of removable units called crystals, which provide an accurate means of changing to a different frequency. These crystals employ either number or colour systems to identify the different channels.

We have a frequency listings chart for the UK & European countries available.

Proportional Control

All radio control equipment suitable for cars now uses a system of proportional control, in which the car will turn a relative amount to what you have moved the Stick/Steering wheel. The Throttle/Brake controls also function in the same manner.


Radio control equipment should be treated with care as it forms your only method of control of your model car. None of the parts respond well to being thrown about, dropped or getting wet. Any suspect parts should either be replaced or sent to a qualified service centre.

You should also be aware that two (or more) cars will not operate on the same channel within range of each other. Follow the rules laid down by any club you visit regarding frequency control, as causing interference to others is not going to make you popular.

Radio control equipment should be mounted in such a way as to reduce the effects of vibration. It should also be sealed to prevent moisture entering any of the components.

The Equipment

There are four basic items involved in a radio control system;

Electric powered vehicles also usually have what is called an Electronic Speed Controller (ESC), which may be covered in a further article.

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© 2001, 2009 by Darren Burnhill