Getting more distance or range for your remote control car can be tricky. Taking your RC car out for a spin only to realize it only has a range of 50 feet (15.24 m) or so is an incredibly frustrating yet common experience for many hobbyists. What can you do to increase the range of your RC car?
Here are a few methods you can use to increase the range of your remote control car:
- Replace or repair the antenna on the car.
- Replace the car’s receiver and transmitter.
- Drive the car in an open space.
- Purchase a car with better range.
Keep reading to learn more about the options you have to increase your RC car’s range.
What Are the Main Ways To Improve an RC Car’s Range?
There isn’t much you can do for many RC cars to substantially increase the range you get out of them. Even if you’ve used all of the best methods, you’re not going to end up doubling or tripling your range by any means; you’ll likely get an extra 10 to 50 (3.04 to 15.24 m) or so feet if you’re lucky.
Still, this small amount of extra distance is significant enough to make these methods worth your time if you want to maximize your car’s range to the fullest.
RC cars are manufactured to get a set amount of distance, primarily depending on the quality of their antennae, transmitter and receiver kit, the batteries used, and the environment the vehicle is operated in. Thankfully, though, you can upgrade or alter most of these factors to a small degree.
It would help if you first understood what your car is made up of and how you can improve each part to help you get more distance out of your runs. All RC vehicles are made up of five main components that you can work with to improve the car’s range:
- The transmitter: Your RC car’s transmitter is essentially the remote control. It’s named such because it transmits a signal to your car over a particular frequency that tells it to move based on your controller inputs. Thankfully, you can pretty easily buy a new transmitter kit or work on your existing one to boost your transmitter range.
- The receiver: The receiver is a mechanism inside your RC car that picks up and interprets signals sent to it by the transmitter in the remote control. Your car’s receiver can also be easily improved or replaced altogether.
- A source of power: Your RC car needs something to power it, and the vast majority of vehicles use batteries. You have some room for improvement here, too, as you can always use higher-quality batteries to power your RC car, improving its range ever so slightly.
- A motor: There are two main types of RC car motors: brushed and brushless. They function similarly, but brushed motors are cheaper, require a bit more maintenance, and are more accessible, while brushless motors are newer, more expensive, and need very little maintenance. Taking proper care of your motor will help your car function properly and run more smoothly.
- Antennae: You’ll have one antenna on your remote controller and one on the car itself. This component can also easily be upgraded in various ways or replaced entirely to ensure the signals are sent and received quickly and correctly, thus improving your car’s range.
Additionally, the environment you operate your car in could be considered a sixth component, although it’s external. Where you drive your RC car will significantly affect the strength of its signal.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the parts of your RC car that you can improve upon, I’ll break down each one and their methods for improvement in detail so you can get the most range out of your RC car possible moving forward.
How do you Increase the Range of RC Car?
I’ll break down each option in-depth to help you get more distance and fun out of your vehicle.
1. Replace or Repair the Antenna on the Car
One of the most common methods RC enthusiasts use to get more range out of their vehicles is replacing or repairing the antenna attached to the vehicle or the remote controller. If either antenna becomes worn or damaged over time through the daily wear and tear of driving and operating your RC car, the range you’ll get out of the vehicle will gradually decrease.
Keep in mind the exact steps you take to replace your antenna will vary significantly depending on your vehicle type and brand, so you should consult the vehicle’s manual or the manufacturer for more specific details or if you run into any issues.
For most cars, buying a new antenna from a seller on Amazon.com for your specific RC car will be the easiest option. For example, if you own a Traxxas brand vehicle, you can purchase a brand-new Traxxas Telescoping Transmitter Antenna, which is a quality replacement, and replace your existing one.
When you want to upgrade your antenna, particularly the one on the car itself, is to lengthen it and protect it with an antenna tube. Antenna tubes are exactly what it says on the tin: they’re small, hollowed-out tubes made of plastic or other durable, inexpensive materials to help make your antenna longer and more rigid.
As an added bonus, they also work wonders to protect your antenna from the elements and usual wear and tear sustained by prolonged use of an RC car, especially if you’re using yours for offroading or other rough environments where your vehicle might roll or tumble.
These falls and rolls will damage the antenna over time, in turn affecting how well it can receive signals from your car’s transmitter in its controller. If your car doesn’t already have a protective tube on its antenna, you should invest in one such as the iFlight Plastic Protection Antenna Tubes t. They are durable and flexible, help make your antenna taller, enabling it to receive signals from your remote’s transmitter more efficiently.
Additionally, an antenna tube will help protect your antenna from damage sustained from the regular operation of your RC car. By putting your car’s antenna in a protective tube, you won’t only boost the range of your vehicle in the short term, but you’ll also prevent any additional signal loss over time by keeping it sheltered from falls, rolls, and other physical damage commonly experienced by RC cars.
Creating Your Own Makeshift Antenna
If you’re particularly daring and knowledgeable, you might opt to make your own antenna using easily accessible household items.
The main items you’ll need to create an antenna are the following:
- Phone cord wires
- Bamboo skewers (other sticks will also work fine)
- Wire strippers or a knife with a small, thin, yet sharp blade
NOTE: Best option would be to purchase a new antenna from a reputable seller for the type of RC car you own, but in a pinch, creating your own with household items can also increase your vehicle’s range.
2. Replace the Car’s Receiver and Transmitter
Another option you have to increase your RC car’s range is to purchase a new receiver and transmitter kit and replace your existing one. You can easily find various kits for specific vehicle brands and makes at online retailers such as RC Superstore, Hobbies Direct, and even Amazon.
Your RC car’s remote controller contains a transmitter that sends signals to the vehicle over a specific frequency based on your inputs on the remote. In turn, the vehicle has a receiver inside, which interprets those signals and turns them into their corresponding actions.
If either your receiver or transmitter has developed issues over time, you can lose quite a bit of range as the signals will either not be sent far enough or read properly by the receiver. You could easily end up losing 50 to 100 feet (15.24 to 30.48 m) or more of range if your receiver or transmitter is faulty.
As mentioned in the previous section, the steps you’ll take to replace certain parts such as the receiver and transmitter will depend on the brand and type of vehicle you own, so always consult with the vehicle’s manual or manufacturer if you have specific questions about how to proceed.
For many cars, you’ll have the option to purchase an aftermarket receiver with more power than your existing receiver. Although they can be somewhat pricey and tricky to work with, installing a stronger receiver into your car is a surefire way to boost its range significantly.
You’ll be working with delicate wires and mechanisms that’ll require a fair amount of precision and knowledge of the vehicle’s parts. Be thorough and double-check any connections or wires for issues or damage as you replace the transmitter and receiver.
3. Drive the Car in an Open Space
If all else fails, you could always try driving the RC car in more open spaces with no clutter or objects that could potentially block the signal from your remote to the vehicle. The extra range you’ll get from this option is usually minimal, but every bit of distance counts when getting the most out of your driving sessions with your RC vehicle.
Avoid indoor spaces that put a lot of objects or walls in between you and the car, as they can block the transmitter’s signal and decrease your vehicle’s range. Using your RC car in tight and crowded urban areas can also create issues with the maximum range you’ll be able to get out of the car.
The best places for driving your RC car are open areas like parks, your driveway, or even your backyard. Always try to operate the car where you won’t be hindered by obstacles, other people, conflicting signals from other devices, or walls in your way.
Finally, try operating the controller for your RC car from a slightly higher elevation where you can easily see the vehicle from a distance. If you’re in your backyard or at the park, try standing on a hill while you use the remote, as this will help prevent the outgoing signal from being blocked or affected by anything in its way.
4. Purchase a Car With Better Range
This solution may seem obvious to some more experienced RC car enthusiasts, but it’s still worth mentioning. If you own an older RC car with a poor quality receiver or transmitter, there’s only so much you can do to improve the range after years of use and regular wear and tear.
Nowadays, there are many excellent RC vehicles with ranges up to 200 feet (60.96 m) or more. Traxxas, in particular, is a brand well-known for its high-quality RC cars for a variety of different terrains, speeds, budgets, and designs or aesthetic preferences.
If you don’t mind splurging a bit on your dream vehicle, I would strongly recommend this Rustler 4×4 VXL Off Road Electric RC Car , as it’s designed for off-roading and long-distance play. It’s powerful, durable, fast, and can easily be upgraded with different wheels, shocks, and more.
You’ll get an exceptional amount of range out of an RC car of this caliber, so if you’re still running into issues with your current vehicle despite making changes to its transmitter, receiver, and antenna, it might be time for an upgrade.
However, if you’re looking for something more suited to a more modest budget that’ll still give you a great range, there are also cheaper varieties such as this DEERC 4wd 9310 High Speed RC Truck from Amazon.com that’s also designed for intense, off-road, long-distance use.
5. Always Use Fresh, High-Quality Batteries
While some RC cars use gas or other types of power, the vast majority of those on the market utilize some type of battery as their power source. The quality of the batteries you use will significantly affect your transmitter’s signal strength, so never skimp on batteries.
Never use expired batteries in your RC car’s controller, and be sure you go for the highest quality option available to your particular budget. Low voltage batteries or batteries that have been used in other devices can seriously hinder the signal range of your transmitter. As a result, your car’s receiver won’t be able to pick up the signals as effectively, either.
You should also always be sure the antenna is pointed straight up and isn’t bent, cut, or otherwise damaged as you use it. The antenna tube will help greatly with this, and it’ll also help your car’s receiver pick up signals better.
Does the Aluminum improve RC car signal?
There’s a lot of debate in the RC enthusiast community about whether or not this method really works in any significant capacity to improve your car’s signal. Still, many users swear by it, so I had to include it.
Bear in mind this method will only give your car a few extra feet of range at most, but if combined with some of the other options on this list, you might get some actual results.
Many hobbyists opt to lengthen their transmitter and receiver antenna by wrapping them with aluminum foil to improve signal strength and reception. Personally, I think you’d be much better off trying some of the other more reliable methods listed above, but it’s still worth a try.
Is It Time To Buy a Newer Car With Longer Range?
At the end of the day, if you keep running into issues with your vehicle’s range no matter what you do, you may need to evaluate how long you’ve owned that particular RC car and if it’s time to replace it with a newer model.
The technology used in RC car transmitters and receivers is constantly improving, so the newer the car, the better the range. This doesn’t necessarily mean the more expensive the car, the better; it just means that you should consider buying a new vehicle if the range is so important to you that you’re seeking out any methods you can find to improve it.
The top brands on the market for long-range, high-quality RC cars are Traxxas, Axial, and Losi. They have a variety of different vehicles for all types of hobbyists with varying budgets. You might want to look into RC vehicles intended for offroading if signal reception distance is the most important quality to you, as they tend to be better suited for long-range runs.