Radio Controlled Vehicles and Scale

Rc Car In Mid-Air Over Field
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Radio-controlled vehicles are modeled after full-size cars, trucks, boats, and aircraft. When buying an RC vehicle, the box will often note its scale, which refers to the size of the model as compared to its full-size counterpart. For instance, a 1:10 scale Formula 1 Indy RC car is 1/10th the size of, or 10 times smaller than, the size of the real thing.

Different Scales

If you are new to the world of RC-vehicles, you'll soon discover that they come in many different scales, including 1:6, 1:8, 1:10, and 1:12.

The most common size or scale of an RC is 1:8 scale (or 1/8th scale). Mini-RCs come in even much smaller scales, 1:28 and 1:64 being most typical. Also note that because the scale of an RC is relative to its full-size vehicle, two vehicles of the same scale may be vastly different in size to each other. For instance, a 1:8 scale sports car is much smaller than a 1:8 Army tank because a full-size sports car is much smaller than a full-size tank.

Also, the words "scale model," "scale RC," or "large-scale RC" typically describe an RC vehicle that is not only a scaled down version of another vehicle in size, but also an authentic, realistic replica in body styling, paint job, and performance.

Slot Cars

Most RC-vehicles are designed to run freely along the ground. Slot cars, on the other hand, are electrically driven miniature race cars that travel in a slot along a track. Think Hot Wheels, only radio controlled.

In the world of remote-controlled slot cars, the more realistic scale models may be referred to as scale appearing, meaning they are designed to closely mimic the appearance of their full-size counterparts. Slot cars come in scales from 1:24 down to something called the HO scale, which is equivalent to the tiny 1:64 scale micro RCs.

Boat Scales

Radio-controlled boats can be as small as your hand or so large you need a trailer to transport them. These RC vehicles are scaled to mimic sailboats, powerboats, racing boats, and yachts. You can even buy RC-controlled submarines. So popular are RC watercraft that many hobbyists go on to compete in bona fide radio-controlled boating competitions, which are governed by International Sailing Federation rules. This organization also sets a series of scale designations based on maximum length and draft, which is the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull/keel. These sizes are designated in millimeters, rather than a certain ratio.

Choosing a Scale

When it comes to choosing a scale model, it all depends on what you want to do with your vehicle. Are you interested in piloting your boat around a small pond or do you want to race a replica of a yacht in an official competition? Do you want to race your car on the street against other RCs or would you like to take your replica monster truck out for rock crawling? A 1:8 or 1:10 scale model will likely suffice for most purposes, but feel free to ask your local hobby shop or check in with any number of online RC hobbyist forums for advice.