Saturday, August 20, 2011

Axial XR10

From: Axial Racing
Direct Link: Axial XR10
Used in Build: Tekin – FX-R with two T45 Motors
Used in Build: Punk RC – Dig Switch 3D (Punk Dig)
Used in Build: Futaba 4PK
Used in Build: Castle Creations BEC

What it is:
The XR10 is the latest rock crawling vehicle from Axial Racing. It is a MOA or Motor On Axle crawler, meaning it has a motor on the front and a motor on the rear axle. This really bumps up a few levels from your normal crawler.

What is needed:
You need a an extra motor and a speed control that can handle two motors at the same time. For this we used the Tekin FX-R ESC (electronic speed control) and motor combo, with an extra 45T motor. While most single motor rock crawlers used a few different styles of Dig that separate gears or drive trains, we used the Dig Switch 3D from Punk RC. This allowed us to use a 3rd channel to short either one of the motors locking them in place which can work a lot better then just having a set of wheels roll free. Our radio of choice was the Futaba 4PK. A lot of rock crawler die hards have changed over to stick radios that can really allow them some seriously precise control, but we know our audience is probably going to stick with their three channel wheel radio, so that’s what we did. Wrapping up our needed items was a Castle Creations BEC (battery eliminator circuit). A BEC was needed to help regulate our voltage to the steering servo. With all that power being used by the two motors, you can really run into some issues.

The Build:
The XR10 comes as a true kit. A box filled with a bunch of bags, filled with a punch of pieces. The directions were well written, and for the most part easy to follow. This is one of those projects where you don’t want to skip steps or say ‘I can take it from here!’. Just follow the step by step, and do it right. There are a LOT of screws in this kit, and the sizes are very close. Make sure you pay attention to size and put the right ones where they belong. There was a few cases where we picked up a screw that fit and worked just fine, two steps later we found out we needed that screw and used the wrong one. Not a big deal, it happens. Bill and I tag teamed this one, finished the build with wiring, tires, the works in two half days time. (maybe 8 hours, but we took our time, and there may of been some bashing in the slow spots)

We have heard of people stripping gears already, and having issues, but we have had none. Our guess is that the people having issues used the wrong screws when building the gear cases and something is moving on them that shouldn’t. We can’t stress enough, take your time, get the screw sizes right.

Wiring went smoothly. We recommend that you go out and buy some nice new wire, and make it look clean. With two motors and the Punk Dig, there are a lot of wires involved. We tried several combinations of placement, and found one we liked. It gave us access to the receiver, ESC and dig.

We have never used a Punk Dig before, so this was a new experience. Wiring and installation was simple, set up with the radio went smoothly, and it works like a charm. Honestly, we were surprised at how well it does work! If you can use an electronic dig for your crawler project, we recommend the one from PunkRC.

The Vanquish and Axial wheel weight systems work well. It’s cool to see this included in the kit, and not something you need to go get later.

The adjustability on the truck is everywhere. From gear box to suspension tweaks, you can get everything dialed in just how you like it.

Crawler in Action:
After all our hard work, we plugged in the battery, turned on all the systems and pulled the trigger. A minor ‘oops’ with motor wiring had our rear wheels rolling forward, and front wheels rolling backward. You don’t see that every day with a single motor system. LOL. A quick wire swap and we were in business.

The beast came to life and was rolling around the work shop. Crawling over minor stuff laying around, we could immediately tell this was like nothing we were used to. We packed up and headed to the crawling course at our local Hobby Town.

When we arrived there was probably 3 or 4 people already on the course getting in a little practice and testing. We pulled out the XR10 and caused some whiplash with all the head turning. As the crowd gathered, we lined up for the first section, a extremely rough and bumpy incline. With a constant pull of the trigger we were up and over as if it was a flat hill! The guy standing next to me with his crawler in hand said “Dude, that’s not even fair!” I then traversed the rest of the course start to finish in just over a minute. The same course that people are usually just getting done under the 4 minute mark. The course was designed with AX10′s and scalers getting the most use, so for a vehicle like this, it was barely a challenge.

Driving this truck was a whole new experience. Normally I am taking my time, picking and choosing my lines carefully, and taking the course one rock at a time. With the XR10, the attitude was, I want to go up there, pull the trigger, and it goes up. I want to go over that hill, drive at it, go over. Courses are going to seriously change around these parts with vehicles like this being used. The confidence that the XR10 gave me was incredible. It could handle whatever path I decided to take, and didn’t even break a sweat. Rarely was I using or needing the dig system. I actually kept forgetting I had it at my disposal, but when I did use it, it was great.

Using the Futaba 4PK worked out great. It allowed easy setup with the dig system, and it drove the truck well.

Overall impression, this truck is great! It’s going to change the way courses are built, and leave most other vehicles stuck far behind.

Time it took to get up and running – 7.5/10 – It’s a kit, and there is a lot of work to be done.

How difficult it was to set up – 9.0/10 – Nothing seems to be difficult to work on or service.

Car Show Rating – 9.5/10 – People see this thing coming, and know you mean business. Turns heads everywhere.

Durability – 9/10 – Haven’t seen any unexpected weak points. Everything is pretty solid.

Overall Rating – 9.0/10 - This isn’t a simple kit, but it has taken the kit crawler to the next level. Courses will need to raise the bar to give this truck a challenge.

This review was given by  Some slight modifications have been made for clarity purposes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Axial AX10 Redemtion

I have given the Axial AX10 some pretty poor reviews on this blog. However, I must admit that it does have one big redeeming value – the compatibility it has with almost every upgrade on the market.

When I first purchased my AX10, I had a high expectation for its performance. I wanted a quality rock crawler; instead I got a mediocre rock racer. As the various pieces on my crawler began to bend, break, and just plain suck, I immediately began to look for upgrades. I have been pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to find upgrades for the AX10. Every website that I have visited looking for upgrades has parts that easily fit on the AX10. I love that. Not only do I not have to buy my parts from one location, but because there are so many upgrades that work, the competition drives the price down. Also, I can customize my crawler the way I want…of course, by the time I am done, I don’t think I will have many (if any) Axial parts on my crawler…


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Integy High-clearance Lower Links

In an attempt to find some high clearance lower links that stay in the upright position (the aluminum Axial links spin around until they’re upside down resulting in less clearance than regular straight links), I purchased 2 sets of Integy high clearance lower links.

In the beginning, I was extremely disappointed because I could not use them on my crawler; the links interfered with the shocks. This resulted in my crawler not being able to articulate at all. At first I simply put the links away and wrote them off as a poor purchase decision. However, after speaking with a family member, he told me that he could make some “shock risers” that would allow me to use the Integy high clearance links without them interfering with the shocks. A couple of weeks later, they came in the mail.

By the way, if anyone would like a set of 4 chrome colored aluminum shock risers for $20 (they are $30 plus shipping for a set of 4 if you buy them off the internet), let me know, and I will get you a set.

I installed the shock risers and was then able to install the Integy links. The risers worked great! I was able to get a good amount of articulation after installing them.

After testing the Integy links, I was somewhat disappointed. I do like the way they look and like that they stay upright (they don’t twist around). I don’t like that they do not allow for as much articulation as the Axial lower links. I also despise the rounded diamond shape at the end of the link that attaches to the bottom of the Axial chassis (see photo). When attempting to go over rocks, wood, and so forth, the diamond gets hung up. In other words, instead of sliding along the skid plate on the bottom of the chassis, the rock, wood, or whatever else I am crawling over gets stuck on the links…not good.

To sum up, I would not recommend the Integy high clearance lower links unless you have a chassis that will allow you to keep the diamond shape of the links sitting higher than the skid plate of your crawler. If I had such a chassis, I would probably keep the Integy links on my crawler. However, until that time, it’s back to the Axial…

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tekin ESC and 55-Turn Motor

After months of testing the Tekin FXR electronic speed control (ESC), I have to admit…IT ROCKS! How did I ever live without it? Before getting the FXR, I was becoming extremely frustrated with the sport of RC rock crawling because my Axial AX10 was just not doing what I expected it to do (as you can read from my previous posts). Of course, I cannot totally blame Axial. The AX10 is built more for rock racing rather than rock crawling. I just wish I would have known that before buying it (If I were to do it all over again, I would go with the enRoute Berg or the Losi Comp Crawler). However, thanks to Tekin, my crawling spirit has been revived, and I am once again in love with the sport. As far as the testing of the FXR, I have the following to report:

First of all, let me say that I have no affiliation with Tekin; I don’t get paid by them, I don’t own stock in the company, I don’t work for them and there is no monetary benefit for me in giving a good review. In other words, this is nothing more than a candid review of my experience with the Tekin FXR and 55T motor.

(During the testing, I used the Duratrax 7.2V DTX 3800 battery pack with no battery eliminator circuit (BEC) [the FXR has its own internal BEC]. Also, I was using only one servo – the front steering servo, which is a Hitec HS-645MG Ultra Torque)

After speaking with a representative from Tekin, I decided to test the Tekin FXR ESC/Tekin 55-turn motor combo. When the combo arrived, the first thing I noticed was how small the FXR was compared to my Axial ESC. When Tekin says that their FXR has an “ultra small footprint” they are not just blowing smoke in an attempt to make a sale; the footprint really is ULTRA small, measuring approximately 1.15 x 0.75 x 0.4 inches.

After removing my Axial ESC and motor, I was able to easily replace them with the Tekin ESC and motor. Actually, it would have been much easier if I did not have the Proline Tuber Chassis in the way…I am becoming less impressed with that chassis the more I use it, but I digress.

A.D.D. Moment: I had not soldered anything since my sophomore year in high school and was extremely nervous to solder the Tekin ESC and Motor – I didn’t want to burn it up as soon as I plugged it in. It would be nice if Tekin added a “How To” video on their website specifically for soldering their ESC’s. My local hobby shop didn’t even know how to do it (they only sell Novak and Castle Creations products). Rather, they (the people at the hobby shop) wished me luck and sent me out the door (they were probably mad that I didn’t buy one of their products). Eventually, I was able to figure out how to solder the FXR using the instructions included with the ESC (not an easy read for someone electrically challenged like myself) and some “How To” soldering videos I found on YouTube. If Tekin were looking to improve on something, a nice easy-to-read-diagram-for-dummies in the instructions would be a nice touch.

After assembling my rock crawler with the Tekin ESC and Motor, I decided to first use it with the default settings. Merely driving my crawler along the flat ground and over some small rocks, I was able to see a huge difference. The accuracy and control I had over my crawler was amazing! I became so excited that I threw out my typical battery of tests and immediately took my crawler to my home-built track. I quickly found that I was able to crawl over obstacles and crawl lines that I was not able to with the Axial ESC and motor. The power, accuracy and control were so good, that after only several minutes of crawling, I broke several plastic parts on my crawler – They broke as a result of the power from the Tekin ESC and Motor (I had been running an Axial 27-turn motor). This set me back several weeks as I had to order new aluminum parts.

When the new parts arrived, I again started crawling. This time, I began experimenting with the ESC’s controls. I set the drag brake as high as it could go. I drove at full speed (not very fast at all with the 55-turn motor) along flat, level ground. When I released the throttle, my crawler stopped so suddenly that the upper Y-arm of my crawler popped out of the gear box roll mount and I was right back to making repairs again.

After again repairing my crawler, I continued with the testing, going through many different configurations of the ESC (there are so many different configurations, that it would be nearly impossible to try them all). It was so nice to be able to “fine-tune” my crawler just the way I liked it. It was also nice to be able to change the settings with such ease (by merely pressing two buttons – the mode and increment buttons). I could tune my crawler for all different kinds of terrain without any special tools, computers, and so forth. Plus, if I didn’t like what I had set, I could easily restore the factory settings by merely pressing and holding both buttons at the same time.

I decided to do a drag brake test (keep in mind, my crawler weighs 6.424 lbs.). For the test, I set up a highly sophisticated ramp system…okay, it wasn’t that sophisticated…it was a piece of B/C particle board.

I first set the drag brake as light as it could go (without using the FXR’s Hotwire PC Interface [sold separately]). During testing, I found that letting off on the throttle immediately (after driving forward up the ramp), my crawler began to consistently roll backward on a measly 20 degree incline. However, if I eased off on the throttle (bringing my crawler to a slow stop at the top of the ramp), I was able to consistently keep my crawler in place until the ramp reached a 35 degree angle.

I then set the drag brake to its maximum level (there are 11 levels when not utilizing the Hotwire Interface). When immediately letting off the throttle, I was able to consistently keep my crawler from rolling backward on a 40 degree incline (actually, my crawler would roll back about 2 inches and then stop). When I eased off the throttle, I was able to consistently keep my crawler from rolling back on a 47.5 degree incline. However, when it did roll backward, it was a very slow roll, even at 55 degrees (my tires did not keep their traction on anything steeper than that).

As far as overheating is concerned, I have run my Tekin ESC non-stop until the battery was nearly drained on multiple occasions and in weather ranging from below freezing to above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The ESC has never overheated and the performance has not changed – it still works great every time.

The only disadvantage that Tekin had to Axial, was that the Tekin motor made more noise, but I could deal with that since it wasn’t much more noise. Especially if a little noise meant that I received much better performance.

The other issue I had was that the 55-Turn motor was much slower than I anticipated. It had unbelievable power, but there were times that I needed more speed than power. This is by no means a defect in Tekin’s equipment – it is just a personal preference. I think I may try a Tekin 35-turn motor, to see if that is a better fit for me.

Overall, I was extremely impressed with the Tekin ESC and motor. I tried to find things wrong with them, just so this review didn’t sound biased, but frankly I couldn’t do it. Tekin has covered just about every desired feature in a rock crawling ESC and motor. I would highly recommend the Tekin ESC/Motor combination to both experienced and beginning crawlers alike. I know that as long as Tekin keeps up the good work, I will always be a loyal customer.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Integy Alloy Shock Set

A couple of months ago, I decided to give the newest version of the Integy alloy shock set (Part # C23033 [URL:]) a try.  The set was ordered, and it arrived a couple of days later.  After using them for several weeks, I have the following to report:

The Order and Istallation
At the same time I ordered the shocks, I was also sent some Integy high clearance lower links (Part # C23023).  I must admit that while looking through the products and attempting to decide what to review, I had very little help from Integy's website; they had great pictures of the products, but absolutely no other information was available.  For a seasoned rock crawler, this would probably not be too much of an issue.  However, for newbies, it makes the decision making process not much more than a mere guessing game (you probably could make just as an informed decision by flipping a coin).  Integy would do well to have their webmaster put in some descriptions of the product.

Because of the lack of information from Integy, I had no idea that the high clearance links were NOT compatible with the alloy shock set on my Axial AX10 (even though Integy's website lists them both as Axial AX10 parts).  I found out that they were not compatible when I was installing the shocks.  I found that the links interfered with the shocks in such a way that the axles of my crawler could not articulate.  In fact, when I attempted to articulate the axles, one of the shocks broke right where the metal shaft goes into the plastic eyelet.  I hadn't even put much pressure on the shock, and "SNAP!" 

I immediately contacted Integy.  By the way, did I mention that I do not like the fact that I cannot call Integy's customer service?  All customer service inquiries have to be done via email, which sometimes took several days to get a response (I contacted them several times).  This made the process long and frustrating.  Once I did get in touch with someone about my broken piece, it was then I was informed that the links and the shocks were only intended for a "custom made Axial."  That would be some nice information to have BEFORE I made the purchase.

One redeeming aspect about Integy's customer service, was that they replaced my broken shock - no questions asked.  Also, once I did get it mailed in, the turn-around time was quicker than Wyatt Earp (they had a new one back to me in a couple of days).

Because I could not use the Integy high-clearance lower links, I stayed with my Axial high-clearance lower links. They too interfered with my shocks a little bit, but I could live with it; my axles still had plenty of room to articulate.

The Shocks

First of all, I absolutely love the look of the shocks!  It makes my crawler look like a mean climbing machine.  I also like that the springs are internal.  This not only looks better (in my opinion), but it also keeps the springs on the shocks.  Before, the springs would pop off once in a while because of the high-clearance links would push the bottom bracket up onto the shaft, thus allowing it to come off.

The Shocks come with 3 sets of springs (12 springs total) of varying stiffness. Because of the weight of my Proline tuber chassis, I had to use the stiffest springs that came with the shocks...and they are almost not enough.

I performed a battery of tests and drove my crawler over anything and everything in sight. I climbed on steep and level terrain, large and small rocks, wood, dirt, and I even bounced it down several flights of stairs. The shocks not only held up (even though other parts of my crawler did not), but they worked very well. They were smooth and their recoil was nigh unto perfect. The shocks took every hit, and were able to quickly rebound without bouncing my crawler around. My crawler also seemed to be more precisely; it just climbed much better.

I must admit that I didn't expect to see much of a performance change with a change in shocks, but I was wrong. I found myself climbing things that I was not able to climb before, and I attribute that to the shocks. Great Job Integy! These shocks are definitely something I could constantly run on my crawler.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My first Comp. and how my Crawler perfromed

I finally attended my first competition and I have to say it was an absolute blast. I was nervous going into it and had "psyched" myself out in the days and weeks prior to the comp. but it was an entire different story when I showed up and started to introduce myself to some of the other competitors. There were 3 (that I know of) team drivers in attendance and several other really good guys. Overall I think everyone there did an outstanding job. Everyone was really nice, and willing to help with any question we had. I saw some really awesome "rigs" and was blown away at the excellent job everyone had done to prepare for the competition. In attendance were two "Berg" team drivers One "Rein RC" team driver and several really outstanding people!

The competition had 4 different stations or courses. As I got there and looked at the setup I thought "this is going to be embarrassing, this stuff is impossible for me to run with my crawler" as time went on it started to rain and the already impossible rocks became slippery. I thought "what the heck" I am here and these guys are really good guys, if anything I will get some constructive criticism.

As the competition started and went on I ended up getting more and more comfortable with the rules and with my driving. I ended up doing really well in the competition and I am looking forward to the next one!!

My crawler performed great, especially compared to some of the others that were there. I ended up with some more broken body parts, a fried servo, and a broken driveline. Hopefully I can get it fixed up before the next competition. The tires I was running that day worked great and handled the rain very well. I was very impressed with my ESC, radio, suspension and really everything.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Proline Tuber Chassis

Although the Proline Tuber Chassis (PTC) was somewhat of a pain in the rear-end to get set up, I must say that I have been thoroughly impressed with it. I have now used it for over a month and have the following to report:

The PTC is made of a durable black plastic, which can be painted to the color you desire. It is nothing more than a roll cage style body, but can be fitted with plastic add-ons to make it more suited to your style. Personally, I like the roll cage look and therefore left it as it came out of the box. However, I am sure that I will eventually add on the accessories to make it look more like an actual crawler.

The PTC was a lot heavier than the standard plastic shell that came with my Axial AX10 Scorpion. This was not too big of a deal, but initially I had to deal with tremendous twisting resulting from motor torque. This was an easy fix. I simply put stiffer springs on my shocks. It may sound strange to some people, but I found that putting a super firm spring on the rear driver’s side shock and leaving the rest of the shocks with super soft springs worked really well for me.

While crawling, my Axial took numerous rolls and falls. Although the PTC suffered some scratching, I am happy to say that it did not break. I am also pleased to report that my battery pack, my electronic speed control (ESC), and my receiver all stayed firmly in place, I never did have to readjust them after a tumble. Also, the scratches that the PTC sustained were hardly noticeable since the black plastic is the same color all the way through.

The only drawback that I have found with the PTC was having to take it off when I switched out my Axial ESC and Axial 27-Turn electric motor with the Tekin FXR ESC, and the Tekin 55-Turn motor. When I took the PTC off of the Axial chassis, I had to undo screws, remove my battery pack, undo and remove my ESC and unplug my steering servo from my receiver.

In short, I am very pleased with the PTC. I believe that it is a great body for those weekend warriors who don’t do much with their crawler other than drive it. It is also great for those who are looking for a durable body that can take a brutal beating and keep on looking good. However, for those who are competing and may need to make frequent or quick repairs, or for those who constantly enjoy tweaking their crawlers, I would go with something a bit less permanent, i.e. something that allows easy access to the crawler’s other parts.