Let’s say you have an RC vehicle, but you want it to be different from the others. There are various ways to achieve this. One is to strip the old paint and decals off and refurbish the body to your liking. Another is to buy a clear, readymade shell and customize that. Or, you can buy pre-painted RC bodies and rework them. Each of these approaches results in a unique RC vehicle.
This page reviews 10 pre-painted body shells for scale models. Don’t skip the intro if it’s your first ever project, though. There are a few tips and tricks to follow that guarantee a successful outcome.
Trimming and Mounting RC Bodies
Trimming and mounting is a straightforward process if you take your time and follow the necessary steps. First, make sure you have the essential tools needed for the job. They include:
Prepainted bodies may need some trimming if they fit a wide range of RC vehicles. If they’re “model specific,” then the trimming will be minimal. Your beautiful new body should come with contoured trim lines for you to follow. There are two ways to cut along these. One is to use curved body scissors, and the other a sharp hobby knife. Knives are the hardest of the two.
Model-Specific RC Bodies
Model-specific bodies are those that fit a particular brand or series. There’s no guesswork or compromise to worry about with these shells. All the molded dimples and contours should be a perfect match. A simple reamer tool and curved scissors will have your shell fitting like a well-tailored glove in no time. The secret is to take your time to ensure all cuts and holes are perfect.
Cut and Uncut Wheel Wells
Some pre-painted RC bodies have the wheel wells cut out. Those that don’t allow you to cut the wells to fit whatever model you want the shell to cover. There are usually contour lines to guide you, so it’s not hard providing you use the proper tools.
Mounting the RC Body
Choose an RC body that has molded-in guidance dimples for the posts when possible. If not, you must find the exact place to drill. One way to do this is to shine a bright light up through the body as it sits on the vehicle. The torch on a smartphone might do it. The body posts should become visible as they contact with the painted shell. All you do then is mark the spots, remove the cover, and drill the holes.
There’s a plan B if the posts are not visible using the bright light method above. You need a little brush-on pain or nail varnish for this approach. Add a tiny drop to each of the vehicle’s body posts and then gently lower the shell into place. You now have small paint spots on the exact location to drill.
About My ‘Pre-Painted RC Bodies’ Guide
There are 10 mini-reviews below that highlight some popular RC pre-painted bodies. There are many shells to choose from today, and these are some of the current favorites. I also considered user feedback from sales pages and RC forums before making the shortlist. The first three are the Editor’s Choice for Best Budget, Best Value, and the Top Pick.
The table below shows these products as they appear on the page.
The Best Budget RC car body goes to the HOSIM 1/12 scale shell for GPTOYS’ monster truck. It can also fit over the 1:12 Savage Flux XS, though you need to drill new holes. The cover comes in either blue or green colors. The paintwork is a high-quality finish. Also, the plastic material seems thicker and more durable than the stock shell. It’s an excellent replacement part with an affordable price tag.
Compatible with: RC 1/10 scale Traxxas Slash and other models with minor modifications.
The SummitLink custom RC body with its striking US flag design makes the Best Value slot. This replacement shell has pre-drilled holes and is ready-to-use on the Traxxas Slash. It fits over other models too but needs new holes drilling. You may have to change the height of the mounting posts depending on the model. This cover also comes with a custom decal sheet.
The Top Pick goes to HPI Racing’s glossy gray shell for 1/10 scale Porsche RC. It’s a beautiful replacement body in every respect. It replicates the iconic Porsche 911 shape that never fails to turn heads. There’s nothing to compare the urban camo look with and its stylized shark-mouth at the front. It’s a durable product that comes with a full decal sheet of no less than 30 attractive stickers.
Cons: It’s an excellent product but still pricey for a replacement shell.
The Chevrolet Camaro PVC plastic body is another value for money RC shell by Coolplay. The hip looking stickers are also pre-applied, so what you see on the sales page is what you get. The shiny finish gives any model that brand-new car look. It would be hard to find a body at this scale and pro finish for twice the price.
Cons: Need to trim the wheel wells and drill mounting holes.
This is a muddy green over glossy black RC replacement car body by SummitLink. The holes are pre-drilled and the wheel wells are factory cut, so it’s ready to use right out of the box. It’s a perfect fit for 1/10 scale Rustler VXL too. SummitLink has even thrown in a bunch of extra Traxxas, Red Bull, and Monster Racing stickers. It looks and feels more like a 60-dollar shell than $20 (at the time of writing).
This RC pre-painted body is another quality product by SummitLink for the popular Rustler VXL. It’s a police car custom cover finished in high gloss black. The shell arrives plain, but there’s a full police/sheriff decal sheet included. There’s nothing else to do other than add the glossy stickers. The holes are predrilled and the wheel wells cut, which makes it a snug fit right out of the box.
Compatible with: RC 1/10 scale SCX10 II 90046 90047 Cherokee.
These INJORA soft plastic decorative interior shells are for the Cherokee RC body. Details include a steering wheel, dashboard, plus front and rear seats. Interior details like these give any SCX10 II 4×4 Jeep Cherokee a more realistic appearance. They look much better inside the car than they do out, so don’t let the bare product put you off.
Cons: Needs a little pruning and drilling to install.
Compatible with: RC 1/10 scale Short Course Trucks (SCTs).
This RC body by JConcepts is for 1/10 scale trucks. It’s an attractive shell that’s well-made using high impact strength material. The cover is thin and lightweight, but it’s more durable than it feels. It comes with front & rear fender flares to allow maximum clearance. And the large blacked-out side windows give models a futuristic appearance with an air of menace.
Cons: Need to drill holes and cut wheel wells. The good news is that the body comes with dimples and a template to make prepping easier.
Compatible with: RC 1/10 scale Axial SCX10, SCX10 II, Traxxas Trail Rock 4 TRX4.
The last mini-review is a durable, DIY body kit for the RC Cherokee by INJORA. The high-quality plastic used has a load-bearing of more than 132 lbs. (60 kg). The body is clear, so you can leave it as-is or paint it in whatever colors you wish. The pack includes soft rubber fender flares and inside decoration. The interior parts consist of a dashboard, steering wheel, and car seats. Other welcome extras are the convenient, pre-reamed holes and easy-to-follow instructions.
Cons: Beginners may find mounting certain body parts awkward. Also, the side mirrors are too rigid and break off easily on impact. Rubber ones would have made a lot more sense.
Many of the ready to run (RTR) stock RC vehicles look fantastic. Some hobbyists, though, prefer unique designs that no one else has. That’s entirely possible thanks to the clear custom RC body kits available. There’s also a huge sense of achievement from personalizing an RC model with custom paints and decals. My guide shows you how to achieve that, and then reviews 10 RC body sets.
Prepping an Old RC Body
You can revamp the body of an old RC model, but the prepping must be meticulous. First, remove all the existing paint for the best results rather than cover it. Don’t use regular paint stripper of you may end up with a ball of goo. It needs to be a something made especially for polycarbonate Lexan that’s kind to the surfaces of RC models. Carefully follow the maker’s instructions on how to use the product.
The old paint should wipe off easily after a few hours. It’s then a simple case of washing and drying the body before proceeding. Ask at your local hobby shop if you need advice on paint stripping.
Prepping a New RC Body
Customizing an old or new RC body is a lot of fun, but it does take time, and you mustn’t hurry. If you’re short on time, put a hold on the project until you can give it proper attention.
Here are the 6 steps for a successful outcome:
Trimming (new body)
Wash the body
Draw the design
Apply the new paint
Add the decals
Finish with a clear coat
OK, let’s look at each of the above in a little more detail.
#1 Trim the body
Most new RC bodies need a little trimming. You do this by placing it over the vehicle’s chassis to assess the fit. What you’re looking for here are any areas that are too tight to the wheels, or too big in other places. You can use a quality hobby knife or pair of curved modelling scissors to trim off any fat. Gently sand any burs or rough edges until they feel smooth to the touch.
Tip: Always trim the body BEFORE you paint it to avoid damaging the new coat.
#2 Wash the body
One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is a failure to wash the RC body thoroughly. To skip this process can result in the paint cracking or peeling soon after it dries. All you need for this step is some gentle dishwashing soap diluted into warm tap water. Make sure you cover the entire body inside and out before rinsing the soap solution of wit plain water.
You can dry the RC body with a lint-free cloth, a hairdryer on low heat, or let it air dry. Which method you use doesn’t matter, as long as it’s 100% dry before you start to paint.
Skip this step if you’re painting the vehicle body with a single color.
Now it’s time to draw the design onto your RC body. It can be a delicate process, so take your time. Make sure you know what your plan is before you start to draw on the vehicle. Use a permanent marker like Sharpie so that the lines don’t fade or rub off. These defined lines now act as guides for when you apply the masking tape. Try to keep the design straightforward if it’s a first-time project.
Carefully cover any parts of the body you’re not painting with masking tape. The tape must be tight so that no wet paint seeps under its edge. Use your fingernails to press the tape down.
Tip: The cardinal rule of painting RC models is to apply dark colors before light.
#4 Prepping and applying the paint
It’s time to apply that first coat of fresh paint to the RC body. You should already have the spray paint, but recheck that it’s a purpose product for polycarbonate Lexan. Universal paint will cover your model just as well, but it’s unlikely to last as long. Getting an even cover takes a bit of skill, so practice on a few throwaway parts before you start on the car.
Get some protective goggles to cover your eyes before you begin. You may want to wear a disposable respirator mask to protect the mouth too. Also, make sure the spray area is free from dust and has adequate ventilation. It’s not wise to spray outdoors unless it’s a windless day. Even then, you risk tiny bugs sticking to the paint. Always STOP spraying if you feel lightheaded or nauseous at any point.
Make sure there are no family pets in the area. Finally, read the directions on the spray can before you begin.It’s time to start painting once you check all the above boxes.
Paint & decorate your new RC body
Remember to practice spray painting on a few throwaway surfaces if you’ve never done it before.
Here’s a quick rundown on the 7 steps of spray painting:
Hold the spray can about 3+ inches from the RC body
Spray evenly from one end of the model to the other
Let the paint dry thoroughly between coats
Apply as many coats as necessary for your desired effect
Remove the masking tape when you’re ready to move on
Progress through the colors as necessary, darkest to lightest
Add the RC decals to the newly painted car once it’s dry
Tip: You can use a hairdryer on a cool to low heat to speed up the drying process if you need to. Keep the dryer a few inches away from the body, and don’t have the fan on too high.
#5 Add the RC decals
Add the RC decals to the newly painted car once it’s dry. Applying stickers to your new model needs as much care as the painting. Read our piece on ‘How to apply RC Decals’ and decal mini-reviews if it’s new to you. It’s not a difficult process, but it can go wrong with a lack of know-how.
#6 The finishing touch
Congratulations, you’ve now got a newly painted and decorated RC body, but we’re not quite finished. All that excellent work needs a clear coat of protective spray paint. Tamiya’s TS-80 is a decent product, but there are others with different finishes. A transparent coat does a few things. It prevents decals from peeling, makes the body more scratch-resistant, and it improves the look of the vehicle.
Tip: Mask the windows before applying the finishing coat as they don’t benefit from clear paint.
About My ‘Custom RC Body’ Guide
The first part of this guide looked at how to prepare, paint, and customize your RC body. The second half reviews 10 clear bodies for various models. These are my personal favorites based on experience and real user feedback. The first three are the Editor’s choice for Best Value, Best Budget, and the Top Pick, in that order. The products below those are by price, starting with the least expensive first.
Compatible with: RC body for Redcat Racing’s Shockwave, Tornado BB, Tornado Epx/Epx PRO.
The Best Value RC body pick goes to Redcat Racing’s clear buggy body for 1/10 Scale models. It’s a high-quality shell with peel-off plastic, and a decal sheet. The material is super easy to cut and drill. The finished product looks fantastic with or without a paint job. Being a ‘genuine part’ means it’s exactly like the stock body, but you get to give it a unique, custom look.
Cons: No window masks included.
Dimensions: 12 x 7 x 3”, Weight: 3.2 oz., Wheelbase: 11”
The 1956 Ford F-100 clear body by Pro-Line Racing gets the Best Value slot. It’s an excellent body project for anyone into vintage style trucks. The material used is genuine Lexan—a strong yet flexible polycarbonate resin thermoplastic. The body has a simulated wood bed, window masks, and detailed sticker sheet. It’s a high-quality body that fits over most 1/10 scale vehicles.
Cons: quite expensive.
Dimensions: 21 x 9.9 x 6.5”, Weight: 8 oz., Wheelbase: 11.2”
Compatible with: RC Jeep® Nukizer 715 for Axial SCX10 vehicles.
Axial’s Jeep® Nukizer 715 clear body kit get the Top Pick. It’s molded from thick 040” clear polycarbonate material and comes with LED light buckets. Also in the box are front & rear body assemblies and a window mask sheet. You get a full set of decals as well. This body won’t disappoint those who love to trim, paint, and decorate Axial SCX10 RC models.
Cons: Takes more time and work than one-piece clear bodies.
Dimensions: 20.5 x 9 x 5.8”, Weight: 6.1 oz., Wheelbase: 12”
This RC body shell is for the 1/10 scale Mazda Rx7. It’s pre-painted PVC shell, but hobbyists can easily remove the coat if they prefer to prep and paint it in other colors. The wheel arches need cutting out, but there are clear markings to follow. The shell stands up well to knocks considering its low cost, but it’s not indestructible.
Cons: Some complain that the material is too hard to cut. That’s certainly true with the wrong type of scissors. Make sure you use proper curved scissors made specifically for cutting RC model bodies.
Dimensions: 3.9 x 2.2 x 1.6”, Weight: 4.6oz., Wheelbase: 9.8”
This clear RC body is by Traxxas for its ready to run 1/10 scale RC vehicles. It’s a genuine part and thus a perfect fit. One of its main attractions is the precut wheel arches and edges, so that’s one less job to worry about. The body looks fantastic when coated with polycarbonate paint and decorated with decals (included). The kit also comes with window masks.
Cons: Traxxas stock bodies are not the most durable options. Some creative RC’ers use fiberglass tape to help strengthen the shell.
Compatible with: RC Toyota Tundra TRD, PRO-2 SC, Traxxas Slash, Associated SC10, and others. Some models will need a body mount kit (sold separately).
Sixth on the list is a clear body by Pro-Line Racing for 1/10 scale short course RC trucks. The body is easy to work with and comes with clear instructions on the best painting practice. All you need are some hobby scissors, a reamer tool, and Lexan paint of your choice. The product arrives with window masks and a full decal sheet to decorate the finished model.
Cons: Everything as advertised, no negatives to report.
Dimensions: 23 x 13.4 x 6.5”, Weight: 14.9 oz., Wheelbase: 13”
This crystal clear long bed body by Pro-Line Racing is a for the timeless 1972 Chevy C10. Now classic car fans get to capture the spirit of the C10 in 1/10 scale format. The kit comes complete with body molding trim, headlights and a detailed grill to replicate the C10’s distinct look. There’s a custom decal sheet in the box and masks for the windows. The material used is high-quality, GE .060 Lexan.
Cons: Everything as advertised, no negatives to report.
Dimensions: 18.6 x 6.4 x 26.8”, Weight: 10.6 oz., Wheelbase: 12.6”
This clear Lexan RC body kit is for the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. It’s an excellent choice for any RC Wraith fan who wants to create a distinct off-road custom jeep look for their vehicle. The product has body molding trim, headlights, and a well-defined grill. It also features low-profile doors, a new look dashboard, and comes with dash and body decals to boot.
Cons: Everything as advertised, no negatives to report.
Compatible with: RC Volkswagen (VW) for TRAXXAS Slash 2WD and 4×4.
The VW beetle has been around for eons because of its much-loved design. This clear, unpainted .040 Lexan body brings you the classic VW bug with Baja flair. It has simulated rear engine detail, add-on spoiler, full decal sheet, and window mask. This is a Pro-Line product too. That means it’s durable, long-lasting, and guaranteed quality.
Cons: Cutting and drilling take a lot of work. That’s also a pro for enthusiastic DIY fans.
Dimensions: 11 x 5.8 x 31.9”, Weight: 0.96 oz., Wheelbase: 12.5”
Last of the custom RC bodies is the 1991 Ford Mustang Fox by J Concepts Inc. It’s a clear polycarbonate Fox body with a gorgeous low-slung appearance and snug wheel wells. The extended front fascia, hood-scoop, bobbed tail, and the rear spoiler adds further to the design. The kit includes a full 1991 generation decal sheet and custom window mask.
Cons: Everything as advertised, no negatives to report.
Dimensions: 23.5 x 12 x 6.5”, Weight: 15 oz., Wheelbase 13”
This guide looks at the beasts of radio control with 7 excellent nitro and gas RC truck choices. Electric-powered RC has come a long way in recent years, but some still prefer engines to motors. Most fans of liquid fuels start their radio control journey with electric-powered vehicles. You don’t have to, but there are several reasons why you might want to (see next).
Exceed-RC Short Course Gas
Engine: .18 (18 CXP)
2-speed transmission, high capacity fuel tank, metal disk brake system.
Electric RC cars, trucks, and buggies, etc., are much quieter than their gas/nitro counterparts. Some of the powerful brushless motors are now faster than engines. Battery-powered RC vehicles are easy to operate and need little maintenance. You can also drive them indoors as well as outside. However, there are some negatives to electric RC as well.
Brushless motors can be expensive, and they suffer from shortish run times. Most users invest in extra batteries that add further to the cost. Charging times can take a few hours with some models. And the cheaper brushed motors are slower, noisier, and have a shorter lifecycle than the brushless options.
Why Choose Engines over Motors
The summary above highlights the advantages and disadvantages of electric powered RC. Let’s now look at the side-by-side comparison for Gas Vs. Nitro RC trucks pros and cons.
Gas RC Pros
Gas RC Cons
Nitro RC Pros
Nitro RC Cons
Gas is less expensive than nitro fuel
Slower than nitro
Offers the most realistic experience for the driver (smoke & noise)
Very noisy and dirty compared to gas
Large scale models available, e.g., 1/5
Long running times
High cost of fuel
Easier maintenance compared to nitro
Higher price tag
Opportunities to tweak and fine-tune
Needs skills to tweak and maintain
Longer running times
Most don’t have reverse
There are other, more subtle differences. Still, the ones outlined above are what influence buying decisions the most. So, which is right for you, gas, or nitro?
Nitro and Gas RC Truck Considerations
The table above should give you a reasonable idea of which type of truck best suits your needs. There are also shared buying considerations for either class, so let’s look at those.
#1 Assembly Options
RC gas and nitro powered trucks come in various formats. The most common is Ready-to-Run (RTR) that include everything to get started. Always check what the model comes with and what—if anything—it needs to complete. The 7 nitro and gas RC trucks in this guide are all RTR. The only things you need to buy extra are fuel, fuel cans, and a battery charger if you don’t already have one.
#2 Drive System
The model’s drive can vary, but most of these beasts are 4-wheel drive—also 4WD and 4×4. That’s because 4WD is easier to handle and drives better over off-road terrain. 4WD is also the best choice if you plan to use the vehicle over wet or slippery surfaces. The 2-wheel drive—also 2WD and 2×2— models also have pros and cons. One of the many attractions of the 2WD system is that it’s cheaper.
A 2WD RC truck is less complicated than 4WD and is thus easier for maintenance. 2WD models are faster too and excellent jumpers due to the lightweight chassis. They are ideal for mud-bashing, power slides, and donuts. The main downside to 2WD vehicles is that the rear end is prone to slip and swing. The choice of drive systems depends on what you need from the truck and your driving style.
#3 Model Scale
Scale RC trucks are smaller versions of actual vehicles. Each model has a scale number that tells us how much it’s reduced in size from the real thing. If the model is a 1:5 scale, then it’s 5 times smaller than the original. The scale must not be confused with size (see next). Some large-scale gas and nitro-powered vehicles are big, heavy, and powerful. Please check the maker’s recommended age.
#4 Size (Dimensions) Matters
Most gas and nitro-powered trucks are large, stable, wide, and sport oversized wheels. Most buyers of nitro and gas RC vehicles know all about scale and size. However, the uninitiated often overlook the size of a model truck and regret it later. It’s one of the most common buying blunders. You often see reviews where new owners complain that the model is too small or way bigger than they thought.
Weight is another vital buying factor. Heavier trucks are less versatile at speed, but they handle better over difficult terrains. Some vehicles need to be heavy and others lighter depending on usage and driving style. Experienced RC’ers can modify the weight of their model by upgrading the parts.
About My ‘Nitro and Gas RC Truck’ Guide
The 7 nitro and gas-powered RC trucks in this guide are current favorites with RC’ers. I chose them based on personal experience, user feedback, and the opinions of industry experts. There are others, but the ones here are excellent representations of what to expect. The first three are Editor’s Choice for Best Budget, Best Value, and the Top Pick. The remainder is in price order, low to high.
The Best Budget pick goes to the Exceed-RC short course off-road 4WD gas-powered truck. It’s an affordable model considering its size and pedigree, but is it worth your money? Let’s take a look.
Best feature 1: New .18 (18 CXP) nitro-powered engine
Best feature 2: Ready to run (RTR) 100% factory assembled
Plus points: 2-speed transmission, high capacity fuel tank, metal disk brake system
Minus points: Parts not always easy to find
Exceed-RC Gas Short Course Truck Highlights
At the heart of this nitro-powered truck is a new, upgraded .18 engine and high capacity fuel tank. This model has a new crankcase, better cylinder, piston, and other upgrades on the older version. It arrives ready to run (RTR), and that means 100% preassembled and tested at the factory end. It’s also pre-painted, well-trimmed, and includes a quality radio system.
The 2-speed transmission delivers super-fast acceleration and a fast top-end for its class. Metal disk brakes provide drivers with safe deceleration and precise control over the vehicle. Access to both the front and rear of the truck is quick and easy. That’s great news as maintenance is all part of the nitro experience. It’s fair to say the Exceed-RC short course nitro truck punches well above its price tag.
The Not So Good
Parts and upgraded components are not as readily available as they are with some brands. Finding and ordering items is getting better than it used to be, but it can still be an ordeal at times.
The Traxxas Jato makes the Best Value pick. It’s a nitro-powered 2WD stadium truck with incredible power. Despite that, the model is easy to control and comes with easy-to-follow instructions.
Best feature 1: TRX 3.3 extreme nitro engine
Best feature 2: Traxxas Stability Management (TSM)
Plus points: Insane top speeds, versatile, crash-resistant, TQi 2.4GHz Tx, EZ-Start button
Minus points: Needs upgrades for optimal performance, stock tires wear out fast
Traxxas Jato Nitro Stadium Truck Highlights
The stock model is perfect for anyone new to 1/10 scale trucks. It’s also easy to source upgrades when you’re ready to tweak the vehicle to match your driving style. The TRX 3.3 nitro racing engine is a beast that can exceed speeds of 60+ mph in just over 4 seconds. And the Traxxas Stability Management (TSM) helps you to keep the model steady on slippery surfaces.
Here are some of its other standout features at a glance:
Radio System: TQi 2.4GHz (included)
Telemetry sensors (factory installed)
Tuned pipe: Resonator™ blue-anodized aluminum
Front/rear sway bars
Mandatory wheelie bar
Body graphics: aggressive style design
Charger: 2-amp DC peak-detecting
It’s an excellent RC stadium truck for nitro beginners and experienced drivers. There’s an impressive variety of aftermarket parts available too. Best of all is that most other vehicles in this class can’t touch the Jato for speed, stability, and ease of handling.
The Not So Good
Most RC’ers at this level expect to play around with their models. That’s just as well as the model needs tweaks and upgrades to bring out its full potential. What those are depend on how you intend to drive it. Lastly, the Anaconda™ stock tires wear out far too quickly.
Traxxas makes the Top pick with its popular T-Maxx nitro-powered 4WD monster truck. It’s one of the best-selling nitro MT in the world right now, and there are good reasons for that.
Best feature 1: TRX 3.3 nitro racing engine
Best feature 2: Ready to race (RTR)
Plus points: EZ-Start, fast, TSM, Giant Maxx tires, Bluetooth module, telemetry sensors
Minus points: Quite expensive, no reverse
Traxxas T-Maxx Nitro MT Highlights
The T-Maxx comes ready to race (RTR). That means it arrives with an AA battery holder, EZ-Start and battery, charger, and fuel-filler bottle. There are a few precision tools in the box and even a spare glow plug. At the heart of this monster is the TRX 3.3 nitro racing engine that can take the beast anywhere. The incredible torque accelerates the vehicle from standing position to 45+ mph in seconds.
Driving the T-Max
The T-Max is super stable thanks to Traxxas Stability Management (TSM). TSM is what keeps the truck straight and steady as it accelerates, even on slippery ground. It’s an invaluable feature as lesser vehicles lose control or suffer spinouts. The Giant Maxx tires give plenty of ground clearance and phenomenal grip over multiple terrains.
T-Max owners also appreciate the TQi 2.4GHz transmitter and Bluetooth module. Bluetooth lets drivers use any regular mobile smart device as a functional tuning tool. And telemetry sensors collect real-time data from the performing truck.
Here are some of the other T-Max standout features:
Large dual-stage high-volume air filter
Tunable, front/rear differentials (sealed)
Digital high-torque steering servo
Servo saver w/ heavy-duty bellcrank steering system
Mirror-chrome 3.8-inch Hurricane wheels
2-speed transmission (auto-shifting)
Consider the Traxxas T-Maxx if you relish the power, smoke, and the noise produced by nitro engines. The realistic experience provided by this incredible truck is its main attraction.
The Not So Good
Most fans of the Traxxas T-Maxx agree that it’s an excellent value nitro truck. It’s still expensive, though, and it needs regular maintenance and tweaks. Also, most users spend more money on upgraded parts to customize the car to match their driving style. There’s no reverse gear either. That’s typical for nitro-powered trucks, but it does dissuade some hobbyists from buying.
This guide reviews affordable LED RC cars lights, including decorative underbody illumination. We review lights for specific models and others with universal application. There are all kinds of creative LEDs that you can control as needed. My guide looks at some of the current favorites.
You can add lights to any radio-controlled model with a little creative imagination. The same products may work for RC cars, trucks, boats, planes, and drones. Keep reading if you want to add a touch of bling to your model.
Choices in LED RC Car Lighting
Some RC cars come equipped with lights, and others have none. You can modify or build a new custom lighting system in either case. LED lights and supporting accessories are cheap and great fun to boot.
Here’s a quick list of the type of lights available to customize RC vehicles:
Brake & tail lights
Auto hazard lights
Light bars, constant, flashing, or both
You can buy single LEDs or entire plug-n-play systems with multiple lighting modes. Look for waterproof units if you drive off-road in wet and muddy conditions.
How-to Install RC Car Lights
How you install RC car lights to your model depends on several factors. They include the lighting system, what you need it to do, and the model you want to customize. Some lighting kits come with instructions, and others have none. There are RC LED sets without wires and those with wiring. Most are easy to fit, even for the inexperienced.
Search for YouTube video tutorials if you get stuck. Failing that, head over to your favorite RC forum and ask fellow RC’ers for guidance. Finally, it’s always useful to have a basic RC tool kit to make the job easier, and maybe a soldering iron. At least get a drill, or a reamer tool is even better.
LED Light Controllers
You need a way to control LED lights with multiple features, and for that, we use LED light controllers. There numerous options to choose from to match any setup. It’s possible to control some lights from the product via simple switches or buttons. Control can also come from a remote device.
Here are 4 typical LED control functions:
Turn On/Off using a simple remote
Change colors and color temperatures
Pre-set scenes for favored lighting effects
Dimming to adjust LED brightness
You can use a simple infrared (IR) remote and receiver for straightforward functions. Dimming and color-changing effects need something a little more sophisticated. Controllers include:
Single color LED controllers
RGB color LED controllers
RGBW color controllers
Color temperature controllers
DMX / Dali controllers
Don’t be put off by any of this. Installing and controlling most LED car lights is not difficult.
About My ‘RC Car Lights’ Guide
There are lots of RC car lights to choose from, some excellent, some good, and others mediocre. The 15 reviewed here are all LED kits that sell well within the RC community. I considered user feedback as well as personal thoughts in the final selection process. There’s a good variety here for a wide range of radio control vehicles. The table below lists the products in the order they appear on the page.
This is an 8 piece bright LED light set for 1/10 and 1/8 scaled models that costs only a few dollars. There are 2 white 5mm LEDs, 2 red, and 4 yellow. The lights take power directly from the receiver. A durable, hard metal lampshade helps to protect them from knocks and crashes. It’s a simple set that you can install and run in no time, and there’s plenty of wiring too.
Cons: It’s a basic light kit that stays on permanently with the default set up. One workaround is to power the lights using a 9V battery and a simple on/off switch.
Light compatibility: Universal use with RC model crawlers, cars, and trucks
The Best Value RC LED light set goes to the universal Angel/Demon Eyes. These are ultra-bright 17mm blue (outer) and white (inner) headlights for 1/10 scale RC vehicles. There are several sizes and colors to choose from. You can install them pre-wired or use a lighting switch. Installation is quick and easy when plugged directly into the model’s receiver battery jack.
Cons: No mounts included, so you need to do a little DIY to attach them. The maker’s suggestion is to drill holes and then hot glue them into place, but you’re free to be creative.
Light compatibility: Short course trucks, Traxxas Slash, Slash 4WD, TRX-4, RC Nitro Slash, X-Maxx, RC Axial Score, Yeti XL #9045L, and many others
My Top Pick goes to this super-bright LEDs set for 1/10 scale RC trucks. The light bar has 56 dazzling LEDs that illuminate the way in dark or dim conditions. The bar looks best on the roof of a model, but that might not be the most practical place for it. It can fit on most hoods too, which provides better protection in the event of rollovers. The kit comes complete with mounting screws and bolts.
You can turn the light bar on and off via the controller and electronic switch (spare channel needed). The kit has everything you need in the box, so no creative DIY required.
Cons: Most people are than happy with this product, but it’s still a tad overpriced.
Light compatibility: All types of RC cars and trucks
This is an 8 piece 5mm headlamp and taillight kit. There are 4 red and 4 white LEDs, directly powered by the receiver. The makers use hard plastic and metal lampshades to protect the product. Installation is quick and easy, even for the novice. You may need to undo a few screws before you plug them in depending on the model. It’s a simple kit that’s plenty bright enough for night driving.
Cons: No-thrills LED lights. They’re quite bright but don’t expect the intense glow of costlier products.
Light compatibility: RC car, multirotor, airplane, helicopter, ZMR250 QAV250 FPV 250, RC FPV quadcopter, and other model types.
These LHI RGB night navigation strip lights are for those who love to DIY. There are 7 colors, i.e., green, white, red blue, yellow, cyan, and magenta. The lights are ultra-bright and give users the ability to switch between the various colors on the fly. The makers aim these lights primarily at quadcopter pilots, but they also make great floor lights for RC ground vehicles.
Cons: Power leads need soldering to the panel. Another drawback is that the dip switch is quite fragile. Still, this flexible light system takes some beating considering its price.
These super-bright LED lights are another affordable product for 1/10 scale RC. There are eight 5mm lights, i.e., 4 white and 4 red, protected by metal lampshades. The LEDs are easy to install though you may need to drill holes in your model to mount them. The product comes with plenty of wire too. Typical uses are headlights, taillights, and for underbody illumination.
Cons: These are DIY LEDs, so you need to make holes to mount them. A reamer tool makes the job simple. Also, there’s no on/off option, but you can get around that by using a simple wire extension.
Light compatibility: Universal LEDs for most models
This super bright LED headlight and taillight kit comes complete with silver bezels. It’s an ideal universal set that should easily fit most 1/8 and 1/10 scale models. There are four 5mm lights, 2 red, and 2 white, that take power directly from the receiver. It’s another easy-to-install plug-n-play LED kit. Use a reamer tool to drill the holes and then slot the LED holder and light into place. That’s it.
Cons: The headlights don’t share the same intense brightness of the red LEDs for some reason. The white lights don’t seem to last as long as the red taillights either.
Light compatibility: Climbing/crawling trucks, rally cars, monster truck, short-course truck CC01, D90, SCX10 4WD, and many others.
This police car white LED light set is for 1/8 and 1/10 scale RC cars and trucks. It has strobing-blasting, flashing fast/slow, and alternately flashing modes. There’s a multi-function button located at the back to switch between the different lighting effects. You can also decide to keep all lights on (no flashing) or turn them off altogether.
The kit comes with an aluminum alloy support that’s both attractive and practical. The light’s power line connects directly to the receiver through its CH3 (third channel).
Cons: The aluminum support is sturdy enough, but the lights are housed in plastic. That means they’re vulnerable to breakage if the vehicle rolls over, especially when roof-mounted.
Light compatibility: Any RC car, truck, or other model types
Everyone loves the luminous underbody effect produced by blue LEDs. This affordable light set by Apex RC Products doesn’t disappoint. There’s even a built-in on/off switch. The installation is the easiest of them all. All you do is peel the protective strip off the back, and stick them to the underside of your RC car or truck. The lights get their power from a standard 9V battery. That’s all there is to it.
Cons: Not quite as vibrant as some products, but still excellent value considering the price.
Light compatibility: Most scale RC cars and trucks
This 8 piece 3mm RC light set comes with 2 white, 2 blue, and 4 red LEDs. They fit any model from 1/16 up to 1/8 scale. There are metal holders that help to protect the lights. You get 15.7” (40 cm) of wire with each unit, so there’s lots of room to be creative. Use a drill or reamer tool to make the holes in your model. The lights get their power from any standard 9V battery with connector (not included).
Cons: There’s no on/off switch. Not suitable for anything smaller than 1/16 scale.
Light compatibility: Helicopter, drone, multirotor, other RC models
These 5mm LEDs are sold as RC plane navigational lights. Even so, you can use them on any RC model with a little imagination. The set comes with 2 white, 2 green flashing, and 2 red flashing LEDs. Each unit has over 15 inches (40 cm) of wiring. There’s also a 9V battery connector in the box, and other plug types are available, i.e., JST or JR. The LED holders are chrome, or you can request black plastic.
Nitro and gas RC boats are starting to catch the imagination of serious RC boaters. They’ve been a long time coming, but if the trend continues, then it’s here to stay. The earlier gas-powered models used modified weed eater engines which sat well in RC hulls. Over time, fully converted engines began to emerge and the rest—as they say—is history.
Understanding Engine-Powered RC Boats
This straightforward beginner’s guide introduces gas boats and their engines. It looks at the typical topics talked about by fans of these mighty vessels. Knowing the basics is sure to help you make better sense of reviews, sales pages, and online discussions.
The 7 sections covered on this page include the following:
A typical RC Gas-powered boat
A typical RC Boat engine
Fine-tuning gas boat engines
Gas boat fuel
RC gas boat maintenance
RC boat’s and tuned piped
Gas boat propellers
#1 A Typical RC Gas-Powered Boat
Smaller boats can run on gas engines, but the interest is with larger vessels. Most of these wave-making beasts are around the one-meter mark (approx. 40”) or more. But why gas and not nitro? The answer is simplicity. Nitro engines are more complicated, harder to start, and they need regular tuning. Most RC engine enthusiasts love to tinker, but within limits.
Big boats like these are not cheap. Still, fans of these models will tell you that we all spend a percentage of our income on wants. So, it makes sense to invest a little cash on something that brings so much pleasure. The beauty of RC is that it lasts, unlike a night on the town or throwaway fashion.
Gas boat disadvantages
Gas-powered RC boats cost more than the electric and nitro alternatives. That’s due to the larger size and heavier weight of these phenomenal crafts. Another disadvantage—for some—is that the models need routine maintenance to keep them in tip-top working condition. For many, though, tinkering with engines is part of the joy. They’re loud too, which is something you either like or you don’t.
Types of gas-powered boats for sale
The variety in gas RC boats is few and far between compared to electric models. More choices are becoming available as the demand for RC engine vessels grow. Current options include:
Some serious RC hobbyists like to scratch-build their gas-powered boats. That’s a surefire way to get the model you desire, but it’s not something a beginner would want to tackle. A softer alternative is to check out some of the nitro and gas boat kits. A typical kit includes parts and build instructions.
#2 A Typical RC Boat Engine
The gas engine is at the heart of any of these boats, and the thing that everything else centers around. They normally range from 2.0HP (smallest) to 5.0HP and above. Buying engines separate from the boat is not an overwhelming experience. That’s because there aren’t many to choose from. The crucial thing is to get something that matches your craft and meets your expectations.
RC boaters must break a new gas engine in before they can release its full potential. Manufacturers have different approaches to this, but it’s not a complicated process. Despite that, you must follow the exact procedures as set out in the user’s manual.
#3 Fine-Tuning Gas Boat Engines
Do you know what a healthy engine sounds, smells, and performs like? If not, then get someone to teach you or to do the tuning until you’re more familiar. A boat’s gas-powered engine must be running to fine-tune it. A few passes with a wide-open throttle is enough to warm it up sufficiently. A poorly tuned engine is going to either run lean or rich, but what’s the difference?
Running too RICH
The ideal fuel/air mix for an engine is called the stoichiometric fuel ratio. It’s total perfection but rarely achieved. Most engines tend to run a tad richer than the perfect ratio, and that’s okay. Even a fine-tuned engine runs richer when it’s cold, during acceleration, or when it’s under a heavy load.
A poorly tuned rich-running engine has too much fuel and too little air. A gas engine that runs too RICH will exhibit some of the following symptoms:
A rich mixture smells gassy, a bit like rotten eggs
Noticeable drop in fuel efficiency
Poor performance, low power
Rough engine idle
Black, sooty spark plugs
Black smoke spewing from the exhaust
There are several causes behind a rich running engine. It might be something as simple as a dirty air filter. It could also be faulty oxygen, mass airflow, or engine coolant temperature sensors. Other causes might be injectors that are stuck on open or a defective engine control unit (ECU). With newer engines, though, a little fine-tuning of a carburetor’s high or low-speed needles may suffice.
Running too LEAN
A lean-running gasoline engine has too much air and too little fuel. A gas engine that runs too LEAN may exhibit some or all the following symptoms:
Trouble starting, if at all
Clean or white spark plugs
Common causes for a lean engine can be a dirty MAF sensor, spoiled oxygen sensor, and damaged or broken fuel injectors. Tuning the carburetor may be enough if there are no major underlying problems.
You need to know something of the two carburetor needles to fine-tune your RC gas boat.
High speed needle (HSN) controls fuel mixture
Low speed needle (LSN) controls how much fuel enters the carb at idle or slow speed
Adjusting these needles lets you fine-tune the carb so that the engine doesn’t run too rich or too lean. The adjustments should always be in small increments. It takes some experience to know whether to lean or richen the mixture. It’s better to read or watch video tutorials before attempting to tune your carburetor. Better still, get someone with experience to show you person-to-person.
#4 RC Gas Boat Fuel
There’s nothing complicated about the fuel for RC boat engines. It’s the same stuff we put in our cars and therefore available at a gas station. The engines run on either 87-octane or 91-octane. It’s the addition of two-stroke oil to regular fuel that makes it a slightly different gasoline. The amount of oil must be exact for peak performance. Always refer to the user manual for optimal fuel mixtures.
#5 RC Gas Boat Maintenance
Maintenance should be a labor of love and not a necessary evil. Keeping your RC gas-powered boat in tip-top condition requires some routine upkeep. Pay particular attention to the hull as that helps to improve the longevity of the vessel. You also need to care for the engine, lubricants, and all fasteners.
Gas RC boats engine maintenance
Knowledge of your boat’s nitro or gas engine is vital. Follow the steps below if you don’t plan to run a nitro-powered engine for five or more consecutive days.
After-run oil works by coating the engine’s internal parts and thus keeps moisture out. You need to rotate the engine to ensure the oil reaches all the vital components. Two or three pulls should do it, or a couple of seconds if the starting mechanism is electric.
Don’t forget the shaft
Get into the habit of lubricating the boat’s shaft, especially with high-powered hulls. It’s a simple process that you mustn’t neglect. Here’s how you go about it:
Vibrations, bangs, and accidents can all loosen the boat’s fasteners over time. Failure to check these is asking for trouble. It should be routine maintenance after every single run.
It’s not unusual to come across a screw or two that gets loose after every run. If you have any like that—and the screws don’t need frequent removal—secure them with a permanent thread locker. Or, you can use a low strength thread locker with screws that need routine removal. You can also weaken permeant thread locker if you need to with localized heat.
#6 RC Boats and Tuned Pipes
The tuned pipe is a super-charger for the engine. The tune of a pipe varies between boats, props, and setups. It’s possible to adjust or modify them to achieve optimal performance. Pipes work like this:
Helps to evacuate (pull) exhaust gases from the engine
Pushes unused fuel and air mixtures back to the combustion chamber
The way to maximize performance is simple in theory. You tune the pipe so that its push and pull harmonizes with the stroke. That’s done by adjusting the header length in fixed expansion chambers.
#7 Gas Boat Propellers
Propellers are what provide the RC gas-powered boat with its forward thrust. Radio control boaters often like to experiment with different types of props. Knowledge and experience help to narrow down choices, but testing blades in the water is the only way to know for sure.
Here’s a breakdown on 2-blade vs. 3-blade props assuming equal diameter and pitch.
2 BLADE PROPELLER ADVANTAGES
3 BLADE PROPELLER ADVANTAGES
5 Higher top speed
Less load on the boat’s engine
Engine turns higher RPM
Higher thrust and faster acceleration
Better stability especially cornering
Higher lift characteristics
You don’t need to own a nitro or gas-powered boat to start your journey. Join an online forum and partake in conversations, ask questions, and read the threads. There are also plenty of RC clubs to join once you get your radio control engine-powered boat.
OK, that concludes this short guide on boats with gas engines. You should know more now than when you started to read this page. Driving gas RC boats is always exciting and never dull. There’s an entire community surrounding scale RC boating that’s friendly helpful, and growing fast.
Drone technology has seen an exceptional rise in popularity in recent years, both as recreational and professional devices. With a variety of models to choose from, anyone with a passing interest in drones can buy a drone according to any budget range or set of desired capabilities. The continuous improvement in technology of drones only means that they will continue to become cheaper and have more advanced features in the future.
The future of drones is bright, and the time may come when being able to fly a drone is as common as being able to use a smartphone. Both casual and professional drone users nowadays are looking for ways to level up their drone skills. If you belong to this group of eager learners, you might be wondering: where can I go to learn about more advanced drone techniques? In this article, we provide a run down on what drone schools are, what they deliver, and the top drone flight schools that are currently operating.
PART 107 Made Easy
161 Question and Answer Study Guide
105 pages of illustrated content
Covers all parts of the Part 107 test
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What are drone flight schools?
Drone flight schools provide training courses on a variety of topics related to drone flight. Training schools have become a rising industry that came about as a natural consequence of the increasing popularity of drones. Depending on the flight school, training courses can be offered online or in-person.
Flight schools also differ in the range of the topics that they cover. Some schools only teach the basics, such as FAA regulations, Part 107 certification, basic drone controls, and drone maintenance. Other schools can provide more specialized training such as drone photography and videography, advanced drone maneuvers, mapping, thermal scanning, and drone business management. Students from any background are welcome, and drone flight schools have been known to receive trainees with backgrounds in photography, construction, rescue, law enforcement, and geology among others.
Why should I enroll in a drone flight school?
Drone flight schools can provide a comprehensive and organized training course facilitated by drone flight experts, FAA-recognized flight instructors, Part 61 certified pilots, and meteorologists. In other words, you get to undergo a training that is designed and supervised by the proverbial experts in the field. You can even interact with them and ask them questions on whatever topics you may be curious about.
Most drone flight schools also provide a wealth of study materials on the topics of your choice. Better yet, the subtopics are organized and presented to you in a manner designed to maximize understanding and long-term retention. To aid the learning process, flight schools use a combination of video lectures, reading materials, exercises, interactive quizzes, and knowledge tests. Some schools offer in-person training sessions, which may be very helpful for courses such as advanced flight training.
Having finished a training course in one of the many FAA-recognized drone flight schools will look great on your portfolio or resume. If you plan on running a drone business, having undergone a professional training course should go a long way towards creating an impression on your potential clients that you are a skilled and reliable drone pilot.
The top drone flight schools today
Drone flight schools have been popping up even before the release of the Part 107 regulations by the FAA. With the release of Part 107, drone flight has become more popular than ever. Many drone flight schools claim to have seen a month-to-month increase on trainees after the publication of Part 107. Listed below are some of the drone flight schools that have risen to the top.
Pilot Institute – Part 107 Made Easy
Pilot Institute offers a comprehensive and easy to follow Part 107 course. The FAA recommends 20 hours of studying to pass the Part 107 exam. Pilot Institute offers 12.5 hours of instruction, which makes this course perfect when combined with the light-reading included in the course. Most other courses leave you with surface-level knowledge. The course is taught by an actual airplane pilot who is a professor at a prominent university. The videos in the course are short and easy to follow.
Pilot Institute offers lifetime access to their course. This means that you will save money since you can use to course to brush up again in two years after the FAA requires that you renew your license. There are 252 practice questions and 2 full practice exams that you can use to prepare.
Pilot Institute has taught over 3750 students and they will send you $150 if you fail the exam on your first try. Pilot Institute has other courses on drones too in their catalog.
Master the FAA’s test concepts with their database of 350+ multiple choice questions and 5 full-length practice tests. After completing a practice test, you’ll be emailed a performance report and a breakdown of your incorrect responses. The curriculum of the ground school was developed in partnership with certified flight instructors and a former chief pilot of a Part 141 flight school.
The course costs $299 (use code ‘3dinsider50’ to get $50 off) and consists of 70+ video and text lectures. Students pay once and get lifetime access to the course. They receive industry update emails once a week and can reach out anytime to ask questions.
And one more thing — Drone Pilot Ground School will not only help you to pass the test, but they offer bonus lessons to give you an insight on how drone service businesses are run. Discussions on this topic will cover the legal factors you need to consider, how drones can be used to market real estate, the liability of drone business owners, and how you can successfully run a part-time or full-time drone business. If you are specifically geared towards someday running your own drone business, then this bonus material will be a goldmine of knowledge for you.
We have secured a coupon code for the course. Use ‘3dinsider50’ to get $50 off.
2. Drone Launch Academy
Drone Launch Academy is an online course that is based primarily on videos. It primarily teaches you about Part 107 rules and the course can be purchased for $179. There are over 200 sample questions that you can use to study for the exam. You have access to the course for a lifetime once you purchase it, which means you can use it to study once you need to retake the exam in two years.
You can use the code ‘3d50’ to get a $50 discount on the Drone Launch Academy course.
DARTDrones is one of the most famous drone flight schools today due to a successful pitch in “Shark Tank” where Mark Cuban invested $300,000 to the company for 10% equity. Since the feature, DARTDrones has seen a rapid growth in terms of trainees, training staff, and curriculum. They currently have more than 40 training centers distributed across the United States.
DARTDrones has a wide range of topics covered in their training courses, from Part 107 test preparation to a professional drone pilot package. They even offer more specialized courses such as an aerial photography course, and courses on specific drone models such as those from the DJI Phantom and Inspire series. Most courses are conducted online, but in-person courses are also offered where appropriate such as in advanced flight instruction.
The prices of the courses offered by DARTDrones vary based on the subject matter and the manner of delivery. They have a $19.99 Drones for Beginner course that is completely video-based. If you want to experience the maximum training capability of DARTDrones, then you might be interested in their Professional Drone Pilot Package which you can get for $1450, and includes Part 107 knowledge test preparation, in-person flight training, and a bevy of their most popular online courses on drone photography, starting a drone business, and other topics.
4. Drone U
The Drone U flight school probably offers the widest range of training courses. From beginner courses to courses on drone photography and different drone sensors, you are sure to find a training course that is just right for your skill level.
The selling point of Drone U is their unique pricing model. Instead of paying an upfront fee for a single training course, they charge a $47 monthly fee for access to all their training courses: past, present, and future. You will also be a part of their private community of like-minded drone pilots, and have access to drone and business experts.
For those who cannot afford the monthly fee, the fine folks at Drone U also offer free content on their website. For absolutely no fee, you are given access to their video and podcast resources which should still prove to be valuable to you as a drone pilot.
5. Fly Robotics Ground School
The Fly Robotics Ground School has received the endorsement of DJI, the most popular drone manufacturer today, and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). Fly Robotics maintains a vast electronic library of study materials covering a wide range of topics – from basic aerodynamics, to air safety guidelines, and even ethical guidelines for drone photography and data collection.
Fly Robotics believes that nothing can beat the effectiveness of in-person training, so it has partnered with the various branches of the AMA to deliver in-person training to various parts of the United States. This is a multi-day mentor-assisted course, designed for maximum learning and creating a well-balanced foundation for future drone pilots.
The Part 107 training course is being offered by Fly Robotics for $249. The other courses are generally more expensive – $995 for the Public Safety Introductory Course, and $1295 for the in-person flight school. If you are not sure if the Fly Robotics Ground School is the right flight school for you, then they offer a free course – an Introduction to Unmanned Systems.
6. Unmanned Vehicle University
The Unmanned Vehicle University (UVU) is a full-fledged university licensed to grant Masters Degrees and Doctorates in Unmanned Systems Engineering. Their faculty consists of engineering PhDs and UAV instructor pilots with a combined experience of over 60,000 hours piloting various drone models. UVU operates on four quarters per year, with a quarterly tuition of $1600.
Aside from the Master and Doctorate programs, UVU also offers a remote pilot training that costs $3500, and includes an online ground school module, PC simulator module, and in-person flight training. This is a highly comprehensive and detailed course that covers topics on basic aerodynamics, remote sensing, aircraft design, and the applications of UAV technology. The in-person training module can be conducted in any one of their 9 training centers distributed across the United States.
Are there alternatives to drone flight schools?
If you have only read about drone flight schools in this article, then you have probably noticed a fairly obvious attribute: training courses can be quite expensive. Discounts and coupon codes can be found easily for many flight schools to lighten the high costs associated with courses.
If you’re a casual drone pilot and you are not too eager to spend cash for drone flight training, then YouTube has dozens of free video tutorials you can watch. Other free resources can be found in the form of podcasts, mobile apps, study guides, and reading materials. Not having extra cash to spend isn’t really a hindrance to learning; it only means you’ll have to be a bit more creative, resourceful, and willing to spend more time figuring things out.
Depending on how much you are willing to pay and how much time you have, enrolling in a drone flight school may be a very good idea if you are a drone pilot looking to improve your skills and knowledge. The level of popularity of drones today is unprecedented, and should continue to rise further with increasing applications and improving technology. Developing your drone flight skills now puts you ahead of the curve and places you at a better position to leverage your skills for commercial and recreational uses.
Are you looking for the best cheap in-ear monitor systems, but are not sure which ones to buy? Then you’ll love the options in this buyer’s guide since they are the best of what the marketplace has to offer. There is no need to waste your time researching when we have done all the legwork for you.
Read the buying consideration section to get a better sense of the factors that are worth paying attention to. The factors included in this section are comfort, durability, brand, extra features, and audio quality. Consider each of these buying factors to make the right buying decision.
We had a blast writing this buyer’s guide and are confident you’ll find the right cheap in-ear monitor system for your needs. Read until the end of the guide for a complete overview of what’s offered.
The in-ear fit is minimalist and comfortable, but the choices provide a different feel. You need to compare to end up with the wearing experience that best matches your expectations. Here are some of the top comfort related factors to consider with the cheap in-ear monitor systems:
Eartips: Earbuds should come with extra eartip sizes so that you’re able to achieve a fit that’s secure and provides noise isolation. Furthermore, a choice of eartip materials is also handy if there is a particular type that you prefer. You could buy additional earbuds if you want a specific wearing style. Make sure the eartips you buy are compatible with your earbuds.
Body pack: the body pack must be light so that you don’t feel like there is a big weight that you have to deal with. Also, convenient buttons and useful LCD screen helps improve comfort because you can quickly alter settings while playing music.
Wire quality: the wire that’s used to connect the earbuds to the body pack must have a good implementation. It should not tangle easily and the wire length must be ideal.
The bodypack, earbuds, and transmission box must be made from durable materials so they can take a beating. It’s especially important if you constantly move from one stage to another and require a setup that can take physical knocks. Furthermore, it helps if a sturdy carrying case is included so that you’re able to transport the earbuds from one location to the next securely.
Take a look at the warranty deal to figure out if the brand has faith in their system. Warranty deals that run for multiple years and cover many damage types is ideal. Also, read customer reviews to learn more about what issues others have had in the past. It allows you to figure out how to accurately determine what problems you may experience ahead of time.
You must pay attention to the audio quality to ensure you achieve accurate reproduction. The in-ear fit does a good job of providing accurate audio so that you’re able to create good music. Here are some audio quality factors to consider:
Selectable frequencies: opt for setups that have around 100 selectable frequencies so that you’re able to select one that is free from interference. We have added the number of selectable frequencies in the fact boxes underneath each review.
Frequency range: note the frequency range produced by the transmission box to determine the audio depth. Wider ranges lead to better audio, which means you can accurately monitor instrumentation performance while on the stage.
Noise isolation: the in-ear wearing format allows for excellent noise isolation because the earbud creates a seal within your ear canal. However, you must choose the eartips that match your ear sizes to achieve the best noise isolation possible.
Consider the brand you’ll be buying from to ensure you understand what kind of quality you’ll be getting. Reputable brands must uphold their reputation by releasing units that do not suffer from durability problems. Buying from a proven brand is a no-brainer if you want trustworthy performance out of the box.
You can also buy from a brand that has yet to prove itself in the marketplace, but you must do background research. Look at customer reviews, the official website, and social media posts to get an idea of what the brand is about.
Do you love getting a great deal when buying in-ear monitor systems? Then you need to look out for additional features that add value to the purchase. Here are some of the top extra features you should look for:
Extra bodypacks: look for in-ear monitor systems that allow you to buy additional bodypacks. It’s ideal if you have a specific number of musicians that you need to include in the setup. Easy integration of additional bodypacks is ideal if you want to get going without a lengthy setup.
Selectable frequencies: more selectable frequencies means you can reduce interference. For example, if you notice distortion at a specific frequency, then you can switch over to another one.
LCD screen: an informative LCD screen allows you to figure out what frequency you’re using and the battery life. Also, additional useful info is displayed, which is determined by the manufacturer.
Are you on a strict budget and require the cheapest in-ear monitor system out there? Then you’ll love the 2 options we present in this price bracket. They do not come with advanced features, but they are ideal if you need a simple design to get started with. There are no complicated buttons that can confuse you if you’ve never used an in-ear monitor system.
However, if you need better performance, then take a look at the more expensive price category for monitor systems with an improved design. They are also well-priced to ensure the musician with a small budget can purchase.
The ANLEON S2 in-ear system is one of the cheapest options in this buyer’s guide but offers excellent performance for the amateur musician. You’ll love the mixture of the simple design, comfortable in-ear fit, and reliable wireless connection. Delve deeper into the features to learn more about the type of audio reproduction that can be expected.
The compact stage monitoring system has an intuitive design that allows you to hear audio reproduction accurately. There are no advanced features so it’s not the best choice for professional musicians that demand excellent performance. It’s a good entry level piece of kit that can get you started with your musical career. An unlimited number of additional receivers can be added, which is ideal if you have a large group of musicians.
The system works at the frequencies of 526-535MHz and there are only 6 selectable frequencies. Therefore, you do not have a lot of flexibility to find the frequency that provides the least amount of distortion.
The operating range is up to 100m and the LCD display is useful for quickly reading information such as battery life. The manufacturer has carefully considered the design to ensure easy use, but there are no advanced features that are required by professionals.
Overall, the ANLEON S2 in-ear monitor system is the right choice for the buyer on a budget and does not require audiophile performance. There are only have 6 selectable frequencies and no special features. However, you can add as many additional bodypacks as you need to ensure every musician on-stage is accounted for.
The TP-WIRELESS in-ear monitor system is the cheapest option in this buyer’s guide, which is ideal if you are an amateur that doesn’t require advanced performance. You can choose to buy the system with up to 10 bodypacks, so you have the flexibility to buy the package that best matches your needs. Delve deeper into the features to figure out if the TP-WIRELESS in-ear monitor system has enough on offer for your needs.
The system makes use of the 2.4GHz band, which is free and legal all over the world. However, the downside is that you’ll suffer from interference from modems and other devices in your local area. You have a choice of 6 preset frequencies to minimize the chances of interference. It’s small compared to the 100 frequencies that some of the other in-ear monitor systems offer.
The frequency range is a good 20-20KHz, which is the range the human ear can hear. Also, the maximum decibel level is 89, which is within safe levels allowing you to enjoy monitoring for multiple hours at a time.
The TP-WIRELESS studio monitoring system is the right choice for amateurs on a budget that need to hear the music they are producing accurately. However, the lack of advanced features means professionals will not be satisfied with the quality that’s offered.
To summarize, the TP-WIRELESS is the right choice if you want the freedom to add up to 10 receivers, are happy with the 2.4GHz band, and only need 6 frequency presets. It’s one of the best value for money systems in the marketplace due to the affordable price.
Do you have a limited budget but want competitive performance for accurate monitoring? Then you’ll love the execution of the systems in this price bracket. They come with intuitive designs that allow you to get started fast. Also, the number of selectable frequencies is significantly increased so that you’re able to reduce the chances of distortion.
There are a lot of similarities between the cheap in-ear monitor systems here so carefully consider the options. Weigh up the pros and cons to ensure you’re able to find the system that best matches your requirements.
The Audio2000’S AWM6304U in-ear monitor system can be purchased with one, two, or four receivers. The one you buy should depend on the number of musicians that are on the stage. Buying more than you may need now is a good idea if you need to add more musicians down the line. The versatility means you have the flexibility to create the setup that best matches your needs. Read onwards to learn more about the features that are included in the package.
The 100 selectable frequencies mean you can use multiple units to transmit in various languages. The high number of frequencies ensures interference is not a problem. You can also switch between a mono or stereo sound to better match your preferences.
The value for money here is off the charts when you consider the value offered at the affordable price. The accurate audio reproduction allows you to accurately hear instrument output, which in turn means you can improve the end result.
A black PVC carrying case is included that allows you to store the in-ear monitor system without worrying about damage. However, if you buy additional body packs you will need to look for alternative places to store them.
To conclude, the Audio2000’S AWM6304U in-ear monitor system does a good job of providing value at an affordable price. You’ll love the combination of the 100 variable frequency design, comfortable in-ear fit, and choice of bodypacks. It’s highly rated in the marketplace so you can buy in confidence knowing that you’re getting an excellent piece of kit.
Pyle is a trustworthy audio brand that’s known for their excellent speakers. The Pyle PDWMN49 in-ear monitor system is a good choice for the buyer that’s after affordable pricing, freedom of movement, and a simple setup. Continue reading to figure out if there is enough value offered for your specific requirements.
The compact and wireless setup allows you to be up to 330 feet away from the transmission box. It gives you freedom of movement while on the stage, which is great if you walk around while performing.
There are no complex controls, which is ideal if you have never used an in-ear monitor system and want to get going without a steep learning curve. Also, the system does a good job of blocking out ambient noise and provides a safe listening volume level. The system is ideal for amateurs that are getting started and trying..
Catamarans—cats for short—are the type of boat you either love or have little interest in. This guide is for the former. An RC catamaran is a multihulled vessel with dual parallel hulls. With sailing cats, there are at least two beams that connect the hulls, with a mast on one of them. The absence of a keel lets the boats sail or race in shallow waters. That means they get to go where other models can’t.
The Catamaran’s unique design is not only for riding the shallows. It also makes the boats a lot wider, more stable, and faster than conventional monohull crafts.
R/C catamarans are miniature versions of real boats. Most models are ultra-fast speedboats that achieve plane quicker than other vessel types. Hobbyists love to race them because of their pace on the water and aggressive turning ability. The downside to cats is that they’re not at home on choppier waters, and are more vulnerable to turnovers. Consider an RC cat for smooth water, sporty fun.
RC Catamaran Buying Considerations
The price between models can vary a lot, so set a maximum budget before you do anything. Knowing your budget narrows down the search to only those within your price range.
Here’s a quick breakdown of buying considerations for those new to RC.
Gas vs. electric
Gas Vs. Electric Power
Opt for an electric cat if you’re new to the world of RC boats. They’re cleaner, easier to maintain and still have plenty of oomph on the water. Gas-powered cats are for experienced hobbyists. They’re for people who love the realistic experience provided by liquid fuels. But they’re also dirtier, need periodic oil changes, engine tune-ups, and regular maintenance.
Speed is half the fun, but the faster the boat, the more space and skills one needs to control it. Some models have variable speeds, whereas others are plain fast from the off. Think about where you intend to use the boat. High speed is not your friend with small bodies of water such as pools and tiny ponds. Novice users should opt for a slower cat or one with variable speeds and precise throttle manipulation.
Electric-powered catamarans use brushed or brushless motors. The brushed options are the cheapest of the two. They are also slower and have a shorter life expectancy than their brushless counterparts. Brushless is the best option because they pack more power, are quieter, and require no maintenance. Most agree that the higher cost of a brushless power system is justifiable.
Running & Charging Times
The time an RC cat runs on a single charge depends on how hard you push it and the battery used. Running times vary between models and can range from single digits to 30+ minutes. There are two other things to consider here. One is the charging time and the other is the cost of extra batteries. I include the battery and charging times in each of the reviews.
The control range is how far the boat can travel from its transmitter. Make sure the distance is acceptable for your needs. Likewise, it’s not necessary to have a range that goes further than the line of sight (LOS). If that happens, and you lose power or the signal, you may not be able to recover the boat. Some models come with low-battery and low-signal warning indicators.
The range also depends on the radio system used and other factors. The control distance is acceptable with all the models featured in this review guide.
Make a list of what features are important to you. Consider the boat’s materials, especially its hull. Others might be a breakaway rudder system, low battery protection, and a self-righting function. Make a note of the dimensions too. Beginners often buy a model that’s either smaller or bigger than they thought. Also, heed the manufacturer’s recommended age if you’re buy the boat as a surprise gift.
About My ‘RC Catamaran’ Guide
The purpose of this simple guide is to put all the jumbled seller’s spiel into plain English. These short reviews highlight the boats good and not so good features—if any. There’s also a tech specs column that gives details of the specifics mentioned above.
The 7 RC catamarans below are the result of personal research. I also took the views of industry experts into consideration, along with user feedback. The first three are the Editor’s choice for Best Budget, Best Value, and the Top Pick. The cats below those are in price order for convenience.
The Miss Geico RC cat has a durable, rigid, impact-resistant ABS hull. A powerful 380 motor system provides the boat with plenty of torque for a model in its class. Consider this vessel as a first catamaran, especially if it’s a gift for younger children. It makes an excellent trainer craft with its precise throttle manipulation and easy-to-use controls.
The streamlined design and bright yellow color offer more than just an eye-catching appeal. It also gives the Miss Geico high visibility on the water. Another feature worth a mention is the breakaway rudder system. That helps to protect the drivetrain should the boat hit ground.
The Not So Good
At 12–15 mph, the 17” Miss Geico is not a super-fast catamaran, but then it doesn’t claim to be. The run time with the supplied battery only lasts about 10–15 minutes at best. That’s quite typical for this category, but disappointing nonetheless.
The Best Value pick goes to Aquacraft’s Wildcat EP brushless catamaran. This boat is a step up from the beginner-friendly model above. Let’s check out some of its best features.
Best feature 1: Molded ABS hull w/ transom drain plug
Best feature 2: Powerful 35-36-1800Kv brushless outrunner motor
Plus points: Tactic Tx, striking graphics, breakaway rudder, failsafe features, boat stand
Minus points: Too fast for beginners, no battery included
Wildcat EP Catamaran Highlights
The Aquacraft Wildcat EP catamaran is everything you’d expect from a model in its category. The boat has striking graphics and a beautiful streamlined molded ABS hull complete with a transom drain plug. A powerful brushless 35-36-1800Kv outrunner motor propels this cat to speeds exceeding 40 mph (64 km/h). Control is easy and interference-free thanks to the TTX300 SLT Tactic radio system.
Safe & Secure
There are plenty of safety and protection features with the Wildcat EP Catamaran, namely:
Adrenaline fans won’t be disappointed with the speed and handling of this cat. It’s super stable on the water even when it’s choppy. It may fall slightly short for expert users, but it’s an excellent second boat for those at the intermediate level. There’s also a stand for safe storing out of the water.
The Not So Good
The Wildcat EP catamaran may temp beginners though it’s too fast for novice users. It has superb handling, but driving at high speeds still takes skill. The model doesn’t include a battery, so you need to add at least 15 dollars to the price or more if you want spares.
Pro Boat gets the Top Pick with it’s incredible gas-powered Zelos 48” catamaran. We’re in the big league now. It’s the kind of model that beginners and intermediate enthusiasts aspire to.
Best feature 1: Wide, triple layered fiberglass hull
Best feature 2: Sturdy canopy w/ thumb screw fasteners
Plus points: Powerful 30cc engine, water cooling, metal prop, centrifugal clutch, boat stand
Minus points: Needs experience and maintenance skills
Zelos G Catamaran Highlights
The Zelos™ 48 Type G Catamaran is a gorgeous boat. It has a classic sporty look with a striking trim finish. That makes it an attractive display model when it’s out of the water (stand included). And it’s well-protected against brutal crashes thanks to the extra layers of reinforced fiberglass.
The Zelos G Power System
This powerful high-speed boat springs to life when it’s on the water. Expect speeds of 50+ mph (80+ km/h) from its gas-powered 30cc Dynamite® Zenoah G300PUM engine. It starts effortlessly too with the EZ Starting System, so no pulling needed. The boat has a 3-blade metal prop that’s durable and long-lasting. It’s also possible to sharpen and balance the prop to improve performance further.
The metal propeller won’t spin when the engine is idle thanks to the centrifugal clutch. This safety feature protects hands and fingers when moving the boat in and out of the water. Surprisingly, not all big boats include a centrifugal clutch. Also, the propeller strut has anodizing to protect it in harsh conditions, and that includes salt water.
Another feature to mention is the water-cooling system. It uses water pickups on the bottom of the hull and the boat’s rudder. They work by feeding water to the cat’s engine and its tuned exhaust. Keeping operating temperatures down is vital for safe and optimal operation.
Spektrum™ DX2E Transmitter
The Zelos G Catamaran comes with a Spektrum™ DX2E transmitter. It’s a quality controller with adjustable endpoints and an extended range. It also includes a built-in lost signal fail-safe feature for added protection. The radio system uses a waterproof Spektrum MR4000 receiver.
The Not So Good
This boat is not for the faint-hearted, and it’s not suitable for novice users. The engine must be broken in first. Although that’s not difficult, problems do arise out of impatience and ignorance. Engines—unlike electric power—need maintenance and tweaking to perfection. There are safety issues to consider as well. These things are only negatives for the inexperienced RC boater.
Sometimes, buying a set of RC propellers is as simple as following the maker’s suggestions. But not all props are equal, and the stock products that come with a model may not be the best. There are also those who scratch build or assemble planes from kits. These guys need to do a little homework. They must find out what propellers give their model the look and performance they need.
A Beginner’s Guide to RC Props
You’ll know all the basics on how to choose the ideal props by the end of this short introduction. The 5 points below are the ABCs of aircraft propeller knowhow.
The different types of RC propellers
How to choose the right size prop for your aircraft
Multi-blade propellers Vs. 2 blade
How to balance propellers
Installing your aircraft propellers
#1 RC Propeller Material Choices
Here are the 4 types of RC propeller materials:
There are others, but we’ll focus on the common types to keep things simple. So, the most asked question is, how do I choose? Well, there are three considerations. One is personal preference, and the other two are durability and efficiency. It can be a balancing act between two and three, depending on needs, flying style, and skill level. Novice pilots, though, should always go with durability first.
You can perform a visual test to check the effectiveness of any prop. All you do is watch the blades spin and monitor the flex under load. More flex means less efficiency during flight. OK, let’s now look at how the materials can influence an RC pilot’s decision.
Fiberglass-reinforced nylon propellers
Fiberglass-reinforced nylon props offer more flexibility than those made from other materials. They also have a large blade area, which means they’re not the most efficient, so why bother? Well, these blades are more accident-resistant, and that alone makes them a reliable choice. Fiberglass-reinforced nylon is ideal for beginners, especially those who haven’t mastered soft landings.
Pure nylon propellers
It can be tempting to opt for pure nylon props because they’re the cheapest. But they have so much flexibility that they twist and change pitch. That, in turn, causes them to vibrate. These behaviors mean there’s a lot of wasted energy. Some pilots used to boil nylon props after a crash to straighten them. Today’s nylon props are better than they used to be, but savvy pilots still won’t touch them.
Carbon fiber propellers
Propellers made from—or that contain—carbon fiber are more expensive than plastic alternatives. There are a few advantages to consider with these blades. They’re stiff for one, and that means they don’t vibrate as much as plastics. Carbon fiber props are also light and quiet compared to other types. And although they’re not indestructible, they are durable and resistant to moderate hits.
These blades are typically made from beech, maple, or balsa, and are rigid and light. The lighter weight put less load on the engine, and that results in higher revolutions per minute (RPM). The downside is that wood is the most fragile material of all. I’d only suggest props made from wood to pilots who have perfected their landings. Seriously, these blades don’t take much to break.
#2 How to Choose Propeller Size
We define a prop’s size by two sets of numbers, i.e., diameter and pitch (pitch follows diameter). The diameter is 2x the distance measured from the hub’s dead center to the tip of the prop blade. Pitch is the total distance a propeller moves in one full revolution (turn).
The best way to choose the correct propeller size for your plane is to follow the maker’s suggestions. Ask on RC forums if the instructions are too vague or void of the necessary information. Scratch builders, though, need to determine the correct sized based on a few factors.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the 7 considerations for determining RC prop size:
Engine type and power
Noise abatement issues
The simplistic approach
Choosing the right propeller for any model aircraft deserves an entire page. We won’t get into that here, though. You may want to learn about all the considerations if you’re a builder or an enthusiast. The study areas include things such as:
Propeller types, i.e., fixed pitch, controllable
Material (see above)
Weight and balance
I encourage you to keep things simple by using a two-stepped approach:
Use an online propeller size chart
Confirm your findings with experienced pilots on an RC forum
RC propellers for drones
High-budget, mid-range, and top-end quadcopter props are the easiest of all to buy. That’s unless you’ve scratch built a unique drone. The ideal choices are brand-name propellers. You can find quality third-party products too, but they’re still drone-specific. All you do is check the products to the model to know they’ll fit. Not all non-brand props are equal, so read user reviews before you buy anything.
I include a few RC drone propellers for popular models in the review section below.
Propeller size charts for RC aircraft
Propeller size charts are quick and easy to use. Simply match the engine size to find the ideal prop size and the propeller range. These charts come in various forms, but the results are the same.
Here’s an example of the layout for a straightforward propeller size chart.
Engine Type: Gasoline
Ideal Prop Size
Propeller Size Range
Ideal RPM Range
21 x 10
20 x 12, 21 x 10~12, 22 x 8~10
#3 Multi-Blade Propellers Vs. 2-Blade
Multi-blade propellers look great on certain types of aircraft, but does more mean better? Well, multi-blades are generally less efficient than the two-blade variety. The reasons for this are not difficult to grasp. The purpose of aircraft props is to create lift—like the wings. More blades result in less space between the spinning props. That reduces the “bite,” so 3 and 4-bladed props become less efficient.
So, why do some pilots continue to use multi-blade propellers when two blades are better? The answer is more blades result in a smaller diameter. Some large-scale planes don’t have enough ground clearance for the diameter of 2-blades. Fans of scale models also want their aircraft to look as authentic as possible. If the original is a multi-prop bird, then their replica should be too.
Why beginners prefer 3-bladed props
Three-blade propellers are an excellent choice for learner RC pilots. Less efficiency lets the aircraft fly at slower speeds, which is better for training. Novice pilots can switch to 2-bladed props once they have the confidence to exploit the engine’s full power and performance.
#4 How to Balance RC Plane Propellers
Balancing RC plane propellers is vital because it reduces or eliminates vibration. Too much vibration is potentially harmful to the model. Over time it can damage the engine’s bearings, motor, and even the airframe. The larger the model, the more critical prop balancing becomes. There’s a simple instrument called a prop balancer that every RC pilot should have in his or her toolkit.
These simple devices are invaluable, and they last a long time with proper care. The best way to highlight their features and how they work is with a few examples.
This precision prop balancer by ZJchao is for RC planes and quadcopters. It only costs a few bucks and offers excellent value. The tool has a neat compact design and uses magnetic stability. The build consists of metal and carbon fiber components, so it’s well-made for the money. You must make sure the balancer sits on a stable level surface before you use it. It’s fully assembled and has instructions.
Cons: It’s cheap, and that means it’s not going to be as good as a product at twice the price. Some complain that they must tweak and balance the prop balancer before they can balance the prop.
The Goolsky Tru-Spin Prop Balancer is manufactured using hardened material. The tool can balance many props of varying weights and sizes, including large-scale ones. It’s also a multi-purpose tool that RC’ers can use to balance other things. They include jet fans, flywheels, boat props, and car wheels as well as plane props. The tool needs assembling though it’s a straightforward process.
Cons: There are a few complaints about the 3mm shaft. Reviewers say it’s an overly tight or impossible fit for the centering cones and brass bushings. Some suggest freezing the shaft first as a solution.
My Top Pick choice goes to the US Du-Bro 499 Tru-Spin Prop Balancer. It’s a favorite among RC pilots and sells well. The tool has a quality feel and uses hardened material in its build. This product is a versatile, multi-purpose balancer that accommodates props of all weights and sizes. It’s quick to assemble out of the box and has easy-to-follow propeller balancing instructions.
Cons: Some users say they had to rethread the support rods. Most buyers don’t have issues, but there are enough complaints to make it a ‘potential’ concern. Check the latest user reviews for updates.
#5 Installing Airplane Propellers
You may have to enlarge the propeller’s central hole if the engine shaft is bigger. Make sure the hole is 100% spot on if you need to widen it. It only needs to be slightly off center to cause excessive vibration. The way to ensure 100% accuracy is to use a prop reamer tool.
Below are 10 RC propeller mini-reviews. You may or may not find a prop for your needs here, but that’s not the point. Reading these short descriptions can help you to become more familiar with the type of blades on sale. You get to understand their uses, materials, and typical specs, etc.
Prop compatibility: 8040 (8 x 4) propeller for various fixed-wing aircraft.
This is the Gemfan 8040 propeller. The prop sells as a pair and is for fixed-wing RC planes. It’s a popular choice among pilots. The material is a high impact resistant APC. The propellers prove to be consistently efficient at generating decent thrust. Best of all is the affordable price tag.
Cons: May need balancing, but that’s easy to fix with the right tool (see above).
Prop compatibility: Replacement prop for various RC planes
The SODIAL RC model airplane propeller is a no-thrills extra prop. It’s an affordable replacement product for RC models with a 0.12” (3mm) diameter shaft hole. The blade is 0.39” (10mm) thick and has an 8” rotating diameter.
Cons: It’s a cheap plastic prop that does the job, but it’s not going to be too impact resistant.
Prop compatibility: For RC fixed-wing gas-powered RC plane
This product is a super-strong 24 x 8” carbon fiber propeller for gas-powered aircraft. The ridged, durable material is also corrosion resistant and anti-aging. The prop performs consistently in harsh conditions, including humid environments. These are typical characteristics of carbon fiber blades.
This prop comes in the following sizes: 19×8”, 19×10”, 20×8”, 22×10”, 23×10”, 24×10”, and 27×10”.
Cons: High price tag compared to alternative materials.
These glass fiber propellers are the Gemfan 9060 (9×6) by RAYCorp. The pack includes 8 CCW pieces and small rings that allow them to be used with different motor shafts. It’s a popular product in its class. The reinforced nylon is highly-durable and offers maximum performance and balance. There are two packs of 4 props, and the package includes a bonus RAYCorp battery strap.
Cons: Glass fiber nylon can be quite brittle in cold weather.
This high-quality prop from Xoar is the PJWWII. It’s a 23” (23×8) product made from top-grade German pollmeier black beech lumber. It’s a purpose blade for giant-scale warbird gas-powered planes (see above). The propeller boasts minimal breakpoint, elongation, and distortion properties. It comes pre-balanced both vertically and horizontally to reduce vibration to a minimum.
Cons: High cost, but then quality is paramount when flying giant-sized warbirds.
Prop compatibility: DJI Mavic 2 Pro/Mavic 2 Zoom camera quadcopter
These are quadcopter props for DJI’s best-selling Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro camera drones. The pack includes four pairs of black propellers with gold tips. These are quick-release ultra-lightweight blades with a foldable design. They’re a perfect fit, easy to mount, well-balanced, and durable. They are also quiet, responsive, and smooth functioning.
Cons: Third-party props, so not quite to the same standard as OEM, but still quality for less money.
The Anbee Spark Propellers (4730F) include two sets of four red and white props for the DJI Spark. They are close to the OEM propellers in every respect aside from price. The savings are considerable considering they’re equally durable, have strong resilience, and are well-balanced. The two-colored effects add a touch of bling to the quad too, and makes a change from the drab black.
Cons: The props are a tad thinner and flimsier than the originals, but not by much.
Prop compatibility: Parrot Anafi camera 4K camera drone
This product is the Helistar propeller pack for the Parrot Anafi 4K camera quadcopter. It’s a 16 piece lightweight plastic set of secure, stable blades. They are super-easy to install (wrench tool included) and fold down when not in use. Fitting them to the Anafi is a single click with a 1/4-inch turn (no screws). The props boast low noise reduction properties and long endurance times.
Cons: These props are slightly louder than the OEM though not by much.
Prop compatibility: Autel Robotics EVO 4K camera quadcopter
These self-tightening props are by Autel Robotics for its popular Evo 4K camera drone. It’s a set of 2 propellers, CW/CCW. They’re a brand product made from durable, high-quality plastic. The black props have a quick release mechanism and secure locking feature.
Commercial drone services are huge nowadays. From drone photography to highly specialized services like drone mapping or precision agriculture, it certainly feels like drones will play bigger and bigger roles across several huge industries. The market for commercial drone-based services is big, not just in the US – it has become a global phenomenon.
Because of this, it’s hardly surprising that people have been asking if it’s possible for foreigners to go into the US and shoot drone photos commercially. After all, the US has some of the best spots for drone photography. Is it possible for a foreigner to get a Part 107 drone license, or do you have to be a US citizen?
Why get a Part 107 license in the first place?
As of 2016, all commercial drone flight in US airspace has to be performed by a duly licensed pilot according to the FAA’s Part 107 rules. Aside from providing the FAA a system of tracking and accountability, the licensing process establishes a baseline level of knowledge and proficiency for all commercial drone pilots. This is done through an initial knowledge test before the license can be granted and a recurrent knowledge test for license renewal.
All this means that flying for profit in US airspace is illegal, for both US citizens and foreigners. If you shoot aerial photos with the drone while on vacation and end up selling them later, you can certainly get into trouble. Violating another country’s laws while you’re visiting as a foreigner would have to be way up on there on the list of things that would suck, so we recommend doing some prep work to make sure that you don’t run into any problems.
What does the FAA say about commercial drone flight for foreigners?
For drone pilots who are not US citizens but want to fly their drones commercially in US airspace, the FAA has a couple of provisions that you’ll need to follow. The process is long and involves a lot of paperwork, but it’s not impossible. In fact, we’ve heard of two or three people who were able to pull it off.
1. Get Economic Authority from the Department of Transportation
A few weeks before you set foot in the US, you will need to send out a few applications to make sure that your drone flight goes smoothly. The most time-consuming of these is the requirement to secure an Economic Authority from the Department of Transportation. The FAA recommends that you do this step at least 15 days before the planned operations, but the approval process can extend up to 30 days. We recommend being prudent in this case.
An Economic Authority is required because commercial drone flight by a foreign entity is considered by the US as charter operations. These are essentially aircraft operations where all the costs involved in shouldered by an individual charterer. The prevailing rules for this type of operation are defined under 14 CFR Part 375.
To apply for an Economic Authority, you need to send a formal letter of application to the DOT detailing the nature of your proposed operations, your country of citizenship, the type of drone you will be using, any drone licenses you have from your country, and your personal details. This letter can be sent by email.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, but they are so selective that they probably won’t apply to more than 90% of the foreigners who fly drones commercially in the US. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), drone use for certain industrial applications by a Canadian or Mexican national falls under the banner of Specialty Air Services (SAS). In these cases, an economic authority will no longer be needed. It does not cover all types of commercial drone flight, though, so it’s best to do your research. For instance, this special provision does no cover professional drone photography.
2. Register your drone
The FAA also requires that you register the drone you are going to use in US airspace, whether you are flying recreationally or commercially. How foreigners can manage this is a bit unclear. Some sources state it’s possible for the FAA to recognize your country’s drone registration (if you have one) as long the US recognizes reciprocity with your home country. If your drone has already been registered under the system of your country, then it might help to state this in your application letter, along with your registration number.
What if your drone isn’t registered in your home country or if the US does not recognize reciprocity? This only means that you’ll need to go through the usual process of drone registration through the FAA’s DroneZone portal.
However, this is something you’ll only be allowed to do once you have arrived in the US. No worries, though. The whole process doesn’t take much longer than five minutes and only costs $5. You’ll also need to comply with the FAA requirements to visibly mark your drone with your registration number. A mark made by a permanent marker or a simple sticker will do.
Get a Part 107 drone license
Registering your drone and getting approval from the DOT isn’t enough. Since you’ll be flying your drone for commercial purposes, you will still need to comply with Part 107 licensing requirements even if you are a foreigner. The good news is that the requirements and the process to get a Part 107 license does not differ much for a US citizen and a non-citizen.
What this means is that you only need to be at least 16 years of age, be physically and mentally fit to fly a drone, and be able to speak, read, and understand English to apply for the Part 107 license. You will also need to take and pass the Part 107 knowledge test, a 60-item multiple-choice test that tests your level of knowledge on various aeronautical and drone-related topics.
You will need to prepare for this knowledge test. We recommend doing this a few weeks before your arrival in the US. There are lots of online resources you can use to prepare, and even paid training courses that you can sign up for even while you’re still in your home country.
A part of the licensing process that looks iffy for foreigners is the TSA background check. While this is an essential step for US citizens, we cannot imagine how the TSA can make an equivalent check for foreigners. We imagine that the vetting process done by DOT already takes care of this matter – but don’t take our word for it.
Alternatives to getting a Part 107 license
If it sounds like it’s going to take a lot of work for a foreigner to fly a drone commercially in the US, that’s because it is. While the Part 107 licensing isn’t any harder than what a US citizen has to go through, getting the foreign aircraft permit from DOT can take some time and a lot of paperwork. If this is already starting to turn you off, then we have two, more convenient alternatives for you:
1. Fly under the supervision of a Part 107-licensed pilot
Under provision Part 107.12, a drone pilot without a Part 107 license can still fly a drone commercially as long as they are under the supervision of a duly licensed drone pilot. This is based on the assumption that the licensed pilot can assume control of the drone anytime. There are literally hundreds of thousands of drone pilots in the US that have received their Part 107 licenses, so finding one who is willing to work with you shouldn’t be so difficult.
2. Hire a US-based professional drone pilot
Instead of flying a drone yourself, why not take the load off your shoulders completely and hire someone to do it for you? This option may cut into your earnings, but at least you won’t end up working so much while you’re on vacation. Again, there are whole online marketplaces out there with professional drone pilots offering their services, and you’re bound to find one who would want to work for you.
What if I’m just flying for fun?
Foreign recreational drone pilots have it much easier. If you’re just flying for fun, all you need to do is to register your drone as per FAA rules. You will still need to follow the rules on marking your drone, as well as all the FAA rules for recreational drone flight. There’s a good chance that you’re still unfamiliar with areas in the US that are restricted to all types of drone flight, so it’s a good idea to have a mobile app such as B4UFLY or Hover on your phone.
One thing to keep in mind: if you intend to fly for fun, make sure that you ONLY fly for fun. This means that the aerial photos you shot cannot be sold or used as a promotional aid for any type of business. This includes using it as the splash page for your website or having it published in a magazine. While you may very well already be outside of the US should such a violation occur, the FAA can easily revoke your drone registration and prevent you from flying a drone in the US ever again.
Remember to fly under FAA rules
Whether you’re flying commercially or recreationally, our best tip for you is always to remember to fly under the FAA rules. These rules might not be so familiar to you as foreigners, but ignorance was never considered a proper excuse for these types of situations. The basic ones you’ll need to keep in mind are that you cannot fly over 400 feet, outside of visual line-of-sight, and over crowds. There is a whole list of FAA flight rules and restrictions that we will no longer cover in this article.
If you’re a foreigner who really wants to get a Part 107 license so you can fly a drone in the US commercially, you can take solace in the fact that several people have done it before. Although we’re making it sound like it’s going to be a headache, it’s still not impossible. Rather, we’d like you to be prepared for what is certain to be a tedious and possibly frustrating process.