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A popular practice for remote control (RC) vehicle manufacturers in the design phase is to create imitations of real-life vehicles. Of course, you can’t build a remote-controlled car to be the same size and weight as the real deal, so manufacturers use something called scale sizes to indicate the vehicle’s size. Scale sizes can vary widely, with some of the most common scale sizes being 1:6, 1:8, 1:10 and 1:12.
There are also mini-RCs, which are much smaller variations; these are popular sizes for manufacturers creating toy-grade RC vehicles. Such scales might include 1:28 and 1:64, for example. It’s important to remember that indications of an RC model’s scale will not carry the same meaning for every design. A military vehicle such as an RC tank with a scale of 1:12 will be larger and heavier than an RC car with the same scale.
Understanding scale and how it relates to an imitation model is important, given that RC model manufacturers often mimic popular vehicles with their products. When we talk about ‘scale’ in the context of model or RC vehicles, we are referring to the comparative sizes of the model when compared to its real-life counterpart. However, there’s a great deal of variety in scale, as well as a lot of misconceptions about what the term means and how it is measured.
If we were to take a model that is 1:8 in scale, many would assume that this means the model is an eighth of the size of the original vehicle in terms of length, width, height, mass and so on. However, though this is accurate to some extent, there can also be some variation in these figures. So, we’re going to explain this term below, as well as how it’s calculated and the bearing that it has on the vehicle’s size and power.
Understanding Different Measures of Scale
Generally speaking, the scale that most models provide will be the overall comparison of the RC product’s length, width, and height against the real vehicle. However, measuring an RC vehicle’s scale isn’t always as simple as giving a single figure. The model’s scale can be further broken down into four distinct values, including scale weight, scale speed, scale gravity and scale time.
Scale speed is a measurement of the speed that the RC vehicle can achieve when compared to the real, full-size model that it is based on. Often, RC vehicle manufacturers will advertise products alongside their scale speed, but it’s important to understand what you’re getting.
For example, a 1:10 scale RC model listed with a scale speed of 100 mph would likely have an actual speed limit of around 10 mph. By comparison, a 1:24 scale RC model with the same scale speed of 100 mph would have a speed limit of just over 4 mph. Despite having the same scale speed, these two vehicles clearly have a considerable difference in their maximum speed.
Calculating scale weight is more complicated than calculating scale speed, as it is not a simple case of multiplying the RC model’s weight by the upper value in the scale. However, scaling weight is reasonably straightforward and easy to visualize if you imagine that your RC model is made up of individual blocks.
Let’s take a 1:10 scale RC model as an example. If you were to take one of those blocks and build them up 10 x 10 x 10, representing the length, width, and height, then you would have created a 1:1 scale model. Though there’s often a small variation in weight, you’ll usually end up with a reasonably accurate comparison.
Thus, you are not multiplying the RC model vehicle’s weight by 10. Instead, you are cubing the number by multiplying 10 by 10, and then again by 10. If we’re to take a real car as an example, a typical Lamborghini Aventador weighs in at around 1,852 kg. Conversely, an RC version of this vehicle can weigh in at around 1,800g, or 1.8 kg.
Working out the Vehicle’s Engine Power
The reason that it’s important to know a scale model’s weight is because it allows us to work out the model’s engine power against its mass. Let’s look at the 2015 edition Lamborghini Aventador again, which weighed in at around 1,852 kb, with 691 horsepower (HP). This means that the vehicle has around 2.8 kilograms of weight for each horsepower.
By comparison, the model version that we discussed above weighed in at 1,800 grams, with an advertised horsepower rating of around 1 HP. This means that the model version has a weight of around 1.8 kilograms for every horsepower. This makes the model version less powerful than the real thing, though often the RC model version of a real vehicle will be more powerful than the original based on this same calculation; this is more typical of non-sports cars.
Most of the most well-known sports and rally cars can be picked up in RC model form, with various scale sizes available. It really comes down to the size of the model that you would prefer to drive. The key takeaways from the above information are to work out what kind of size and weight you’d like your RC model vehicle to be, as well as how much power you want it to have. It’s entirely possible to find an RC vehicle that is more powerful than its real-life counterpart.