Radio Control Hobby Abbreviations/Glossary
It can be easy to get a bit confused being a beginner trying to get into the exciting hobby of radio control which basically has its own language. Let me try and help to clear a few things up with this list of abbreviations. Please note, there are a lot more abbreviations out there and this is just a list of the most common ones. If you feel like I’ve missed some important ones please comment below with your suggestions.
- RC - Radio Control, you may see ‘remote control’ but ‘radio control’ is technically correct.
- RTR - Ready To Run, a term used in RC vehicles meaning that it’s pre-assembled and “Ready To Run”, although most of the time you’ll need to buy a battery and charger.
- ARR – Almost Ready to Run, a term used in RC vehicles meaning that it’s pre-assembled and “Almost Ready to Run”, normally this means that the model does not include a battery, motor and radio gear (transmitter and receiver).
- Kit - A term used in RC vehicles meaning that it’s a ‘build yourself’ kit and also generally it doesn’t come with electronics.
- BND – Bind N Drive - a term used in RC vehicles meaning that only a transmitter is needed to use the vehicle.
- SCT – Short Course Truck, the real sized equivalent vehicles are generally referred as “stadium trucks” and “trophy trucks”.
- ST – Stadium Truck, not to be confused with the shape of a full-scale stadium truck. These are often 2WD and fit somewhere between a truggy and a truck.
- MT – Monster Truck, generally a truck has long suspension travel, large wheels, and high ground clearance just like their full-scale counterpart.
- Truggy – These vehicles generally have a very wide track width (which is the distance between the centre of the left and right wheels), large wide wheels and a low ground clearance making them very stable and easy to drive. The name truggy comes from having a combination of design features from both trucks and buggies.
- Rock Crawler – This is a type of vehicle that specialises in overcoming harsh and difficult terrain. Remote control rock crawlers generally allow for a large amount of articulation (the rear wheels could be horizontal when the front wheels are at a 45-degree angle) and are normally limited in speed, in favour of massive amounts of torque which makes them perfectly suited to rock crawling. Some rock crawlers even have the option to allow all 4 wheels to steer.
- Scale – eg. 1/5, 1/8, 1/10, 1/16 etc. 1/5 scale is larger than 1/10. 1/10 scale indicates the model is 1/10th the size of its life size equivalent. For example, if you lay ten 1/10th scale RC on-road cars end to end they will equal the length of a real car, the same applies for width and height.
Radio – Transmitters and Receivers
- 2.4GHz - A specific frequency band. Radio systems that use 2.4GHz have very little interference and have very little chance of glitches and generally, have small antennas compared to the older MHz radio systems.
- CH – Channel, refers to how many “controls” or “signals” the device is capable of eg. Throttle uses 1 channel, steering uses 1 channel; therefore the most basic car requires a 2CH radio system.
- Trim – A small constant offset applied to a control/channel eg. If your car is constantly turning slightly left without any input, you can adjust the steering trim (setting in your transmitter) in the opposite direction in order to straighten the wheels so your car goes straight.
- D/R – Dual Rate is typically adjusted by a dial on your transmitter but sometimes on a switch that can control the amount (more or less) of total movement/travel of your servo on that channel.
- EPA – End Point Adjustments or sometimes referred to as “travel". Similar to D/R, EPA adjusts the total movement/travel of your servo on that channel but, EPA can adjust both directions indentedly. For example, you could adjust your steering servo EPA to the left independently to the right.
- Bind – Binding is a process of “pairing” a transmitter to a receiver. Once the binding process is performed, that receiver will only communicate with the transmitter used unless the binding process is performed again with a different transmitter. Binding does not apply to older technologies like 27MHz where crystals are used.
- ST – Steering
- TH – Throttle
- REV – Reverse, Usually refers to the direction of a channel. This is the opposite of NOR (Normal).
- NOR – Normal, Usually refers to the direction of a channel. This is the opposite of REV (Reverse).
- TX – Transmitter
- RX – Receiver
- PWR – Power
- BND – Bind (Refer to Bind)
- ESC - Electronic Speed Control is the unit that delivers the appropriate amount of power to your motor, depending on the signal from your receiver/transmitter. Most ESC’s also have a BEC (battery eliminator circuit) which converts the input voltage (battery voltage) and outputs it through the receiver as ~5-6 volts which from there gets distributed to your servo/s as well.
- Brushless – Design/technology of an electric motor where brushes are not used – very common in high powered radio control models and in other high powered products like power tools.
- Brushed – Design/technology of electric motor where brushes are used to deliver power to the commutator. Very common in toys and beginner radio control models as they are cheap to make and require simple electronics.
- LiPo - Lithium Polymer or more correctly Lithium Ion Polymer, a type of battery chemistry – very common in high powered RC vehicles, mobile phones, and portable electronic devices. LiPo batteries offer higher energy density than NiMH and NiCd batteries - read more about LiPo and NiMH batteries.
- NiMH - Nickel Metal Hydride, a type of battery chemistry – Commonly included with Ready To Run vehicles as they’re more affordable.
- NiCd - Nickel Cadmium, a type of battery chemistry – similar to NiMH batteries but suffer from the “memory effect”. Not very common in the hobby of radio control anymore.
- V – Voltage is often referred to as electrical potential. This is one of many things that control how fast your RC car can go. In general, the higher the voltage, the faster the motor will go but also, the hotter the motor will get.
- A – Ampere often shortened to ‘amp’. A measurement of electrical current used in conjunction with volts to calculate power (watts). This is not to be confused with Ampere-hours (Ah). In context with RC’s, chargers that have higher amp output will take less time to fully charge a battery.
- mA – Milliampere – a milliampere (mA) is 1000th of an ampere (A). Refer to ampere for further detail.
- Ah – Ampere-hour often shortened to ‘amp-hour’. This is a measurement of amperage over 1 hour. To put in the context of a battery, this is how much capacity your battery can hold. Simply put, the higher the number, the longer your car will run for on a single charge but if charged at the same rate will take longer to charge. A higher ampere-hour battery generally results in a larger or heavier battery when compared to a lower ampere-hour battery of the same type.
- mAh – Milliampere-hour – A milliampere-hour (mAh) is 1000th of an ampere-hour ( Ah ). This is the most common unit for measuring an RC battery. Refer to Ampere hour for further detail.
- C – Capacity, when displayed on a battery, the C rating indicates how quickly a battery can be charged or discharged without causing permanent damage to the battery. Some companies will only display a discharge C rating, in these cases, charging is expected to be performed at the industry standard – currently 1C for LiPo, NiMH and NiCd batteries. Higher quality batteries generally allow for higher C ratings.
- S - Series, this letter when displayed on a battery (which is always preceded by a number) indicates how many cells are wired in a series configuration. When batteries are wired in series the total battery voltage is equal to the number of cells wired in this configuration times the cell voltage. For example, Lithium Polymer batteries have a cell voltage of 3.7v and when wired in a 2S configuration you get a total battery voltage of 2(2S) x 3.7v (cell voltage) = 7.4v (total battery voltage). People commonly use these abbreviations as it is a lot easier to say “six s” than it is to say “twenty-two point two volts” which in this scenario refers to the voltages of Lithium Polymer batteries.
- BEC – Battery Eliminator Circuit, generally used in ESC’s to allow higher voltages from the battery to power the receiver and servo/s.
- Servo – This is an electronic device that converts an electronic signal into physical motion. All remote control cars implement servo/s to provide steering control.
- KV – a term used to indicate how many thousand revolutions per minute (K) an electric motor will complete per volt (V) without a load in a perfect world (the real world figures will always be lower than the rated KV due to many real world factors). KV has sometimes used analogously with turns.
- Turns – How many times the wire is wrapped around the armature inside an electrical motor. Generally speaking, more turns = higher torque & lower top RPM and fewer turns = lower torque & higher top RPM.