Parkesy

Grasshopper/Fox new back to the hobby again

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Hi everyone, my names Nick, and I'm new back to this hobby after about 20 years. I built an original Fox with my dad back in about 88/89, and just recently got it back from his garage which has re ignited my love for Tamiya RC! I remember as a kid going all across Melbourne with that car to different tracks and meeting others with their Tamiyas, and so many of my friends were building them with their dads. Brings back great memories! 

Now I've got a few questions, and I apologize  in advance if this post is long, covering too basic topics, or going over topics already covered here. 

I have a 5 year old who's loving RC at the moment. He needs a lot of practice obviously and his driving skills are questionable! However, this Christmas I was going to get him some sort of rechargeable car, and realized for about the same price as Kmart Chinese crap, I can get him a grasshopper kit and we can build it. And I figured any thing he breaks is likely to be able to be repaired? Am I right in assuming parts are readily available? And is this one of the easier RC kits to build??

Now as for remotes, I see the trigger style remote with the wheel seems to be the much more popular style over the twin stock remotes? Any pros or cons with them? I've got a twin stick remote so not sure if I should stick with that style or get a wheel style? 

And on to batteries- I've got a few 1700maH NiMh's and a rapid DC charger from the late 80's that charges them up in 25 mins off the car battery. Run times about 6-7 minutes. Now surely nearly 30 years later there's been a huge improvement with battery technology!? From what I gather modern run times are still similar and the chargers take about an hour!? Please tell me we've come along way since then!? 

I've been running the fox a few times over the last couple days and have found some problems and Im not sure where I should start troubleshooting? It seems that when it's close to me it's running fine,  but once it gets about 25m out at full speed the motor will suddenly cut back and the car pulls hard right? Does this sound more like a remote signal issue? I'm thinking I'll take the front end off and re adjust everything as their seems to be a bit of play in the steering. What I have noticed though is wobble and slop in the front wheels. The little wheel nuts are as tight as it can go, but there's some space between them and the wheels so they're sloppy. Is that meant to be like that or have plastic washers or spacers worn out and that's why I get the slop?? 

Any help or push in the right direction appreciated guys!

thanks,

Nick  

 

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Welcome back! The Grasshopper is a fantastic kit for a first time build. Parts are so plentiful, its not even a worry. The biggest decision you will have to make is to buy a regular Grasshopper, or a Grasshopper 2. Both come with an electronic speed control. and 380 sized motor, perfect for getting to know the model. Of course a 540 can be added later for more speed. You may not know but the Fox was re-released as the Novafox, and may be a fun build to match up with your original Fox. As for the radio systems of today, they are usually the steering wheel type, and on 2.4Ghz. I seem to think the wheel type give a more natural feel to driving than the old stick type. No more radio crystal to deal with, and worrying about run away cars, or with your Fox, just stops running. Sounds like your radio range is limited in your Fox, maybe a broken antenna wire, or crystal issues. 2.4Ghz radios are inexpensive and places like hobbyking.com, and Ebay have many to choose from. As for your batteries, well if what you have still works, there is no need to upgrade yet. There are still NiMh's available, and of course the newer Lithium batteries. Lipo batteries require a different type of a charger, and specific charging, and storage measures. There is a learning curve and would require a brief study on how to use them safely ( a whole other topic). Remember this forum. and YouTube can help answer many questions on specific models, or build tips. You cant go wrong with whatever radio, model, or battery type you choose as long as your having fun.

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As Hobbimaster said, there is a learning curve.  I started in 1986 or 1987 with a Grasshopper, like so many people.  I got a used Fox in 2000 when I restarted RC.  Then I got back again this year for the 3rd time, I had to learn about LiPo batteries and 2.4Ghz radios, etc.  At least I got used to the wheel type transmitters in early 2000.  

For your son, consider other RC cars as well.  Somebody on this forum had said, "well that was fun for you, but maybe your son won't find it cool. What if your dad showed you 50's RC car in 1988?"  I thought that made sense.  There have been hundreds of new RC cars since Grasshopper and Fox.  I was rebuilding DF-02 Gravel Hound yesterday, and I was amazed by how simple it was to take out two differentials.  I'd say by the time you put in 20 bolts and nuts in the wheels of the Grasshopper, you'd be half-way done with newer cars. 

Wild Willy 2 is a fun "Stunt Vehicle."  It's a hefty car, but a 5 year old may enjoy a funny looking jeep doing wheelies (I still do).  It has more gears than Grasshopper and the body needs painting, but it's more fun.  There are other variations on Wild Willy 2 chassis, if you prefer a Lexan body.  

For 2 wheel drive buggies, DT-02 and DT-03 chassis have become a new standard.  For 4WD buggies, TT-02B, or DF-02 are entry level chassis.  (Don't worry, these chassis names didn't stick with me until much later)  And then there are numerous re-releases (shortened as "re-re") kits from the 80s like Fox (called Nova Fox, but it's the same thing), Hotshot, Hornet, Bigwig, Avante, Boomerang, etc.   

If you are staying with NiMH, your old charger should work fine.  You can get a 3300mAh NiMH battery, it should last twice as long (also twice as long to charge).  If your 1700 battery had been neglected, it might be down to 1000mAh.  If so, a newer 3300mAh battery should give you 3 times the runtime (3 times as long to charge as well). 

Lithium Polymer (LiPo) batteries the new thing.  They are lighter, and it gives slightly higher voltage (7.4 rather than 7.2) at a steadier pace.  But it needs more care.  Overcharging, overdraining, or physical damage may cause it to burst into flames.  I believe that's why Tamiya never got on the bandwagon of LiPo (they do sell LiFe, which is safer but at 6.6v, it's just not exciting).  With little kids around, I'd stick with NiMH. 

As for charging time, it's not that chargers haven't been improved, it's the amp that has not gone up.  If chargers could charge at 10A, even 5000mAh batteries will get charged in 30 minutes.  Good (I mean really expensive) ones can do 6 A up to 10A.  A household LED lightbulb uses 9W.  A space heater uses 1000-1500 Watt.  That's a lot, right?  But at 120v, 1000 watt is only 8A.  So 10A is massive power to handle.  Wires inside has to be thick, making the chargers big, heavy and also dangerous  (i.e., if you take it apart and mess with it, you might die -- a liability risk charger makers are not willing to take)  That's why you don't often see 10A chargers that could juice up a 1700mAh battery in 10 minutes.  

Newer chargers can charge at about 4-5 amp.  If the LiPo has 5000mAh, charging at 5A would take 1 hour (because 5000mAh is 5A).  If your Grasshopper uses 380 motor and if it has an ESC (Electronic Speed Controller), you can run 5000mAh for an hour.  Most entry-level Tamiya cars come with an ESC.  All you have to do is to plug the ESC wire into the servo slot of the receiver.  Instead of a servo moving a mechanical control, ESC controls the motor speed.  

2.4Ghz radio system doesn't have to be expensive.  I got Flysky FS-GT3B for about $30.  It came with one receiver.  But you can add 9 more receivers.  Each receiver costs $5.  One transmitter can remember 10 models so you don't have to buy new radio sets as you buy new cars.  It comes with trim, reverse, end point adjustment, dual rate, exponential, ABS brake, failsafe, etc.  You can simply use it like the old AM/FM system until you get used to the functions it has.  2.4 GHz system has a smaller range than old FM system, but after 3-4 blocks, you can't see the car anyway, so there is no point wanting half a mile range of older FM system. 

I'd say look for a car first.  Once you choose a car, you'll be motivated to learn about other things.   Good luck and have fun!

 

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Welcome back.  Your story sounds very familiar, I have done the same thing and I expect at least half the people have a similar experience.  The biggest thing I have found since rediscovering RC a year ago is how much cheaper everything is, partly because of the bulk sellers like RCMart and Hobbyking, or ebay, and I guess partly just because everything is cheaper (except food and houses and electricity...).  Sadly the local hobby shop doesn't really exist anymore, I remember going into the local shop and checking out all the kits etc but now the local shop pretty much just stocks traxxes and trains.

I started with the TT02B buggies with my son (was 3 at the time) and we now have a few rereleases, 4 racecars and his latest is a Monster Beetle for Christmas.  I sat down with my son and showed him all the cars I could remember and he chose what he liked, which I think is what a few people have done.  Youtube is full of videos of people playing with RC cars.  My son loves the rere cars compared to the modern stuff and he doesn't even realise that they are from the 80s.  We just look at cars and he always picks out the old ones.  I agree with him that they are so much more interesting.  The kits are also far better in my opinion than ready to run as when you build it you know how to fix it.  The modern kits are more robust than the older ones though, I haven't needed any spares for the TT02B's despite a year of abuse but have just received new F parts for the Novafox...

I would say those old batteries are past their use by as I get about 30 - 40min out of some 3800mAh NiMH batteries on a stock standard TT02B and remember getting about 10 - 12min from a 1400mah "racing pack" BITD in my Boomerang.  I run a mix of NiMH for mucking around and then lipos for racing as the lipos are a lot more hassle than the NiMH and when running in the backyard with my son the speed difference doesn't matter anyway.

I have been through a bunch of sets of rc gear from very cheap to expensive and there are a few things I've learned (all still work btw, cheap doesn't mean they break or stop working).  The basic sets are fine for a basic buggy but have little to no adjustment.  This means on cars where you can set them up differently you are limited by the rc gear.  A key feature to look for in a set for your son is EPA, or end point adjustment.  This allows you to slow the car down for him without having to put in a different motor or gears, and then change it back for you or someone who knows what they're doing.  Its probably worth going into a shop to have a look at them as the physical size matters for kids too.  My son is fine with the Flysky GT2 which is a smaller wheel controller, the Futaba 2HR which is a stick controller.  Both of these are pretty basic and don't have many features.  I have just got him the Futaba 3PV for Christmas which is quite small (especially compared to some) so he'll be able to hold it ok, but it has all the features of a top level set and can also run multiple models from it.  If you think this could be a long term thing then it could be worth "investing" in a good set like the 3PV, but if you are worried his interest won't last then go for the Flysky.  It won't be bad having the Flysky as well as no doubt you'll end up with more cars and some loaner cars are a good idea for his mates anyway.

As mentioned above, the tech has moved on and there are some things that you should spend some money on.  A decent charger is a must a cheap one could ruin a battery (not cheap themselves) and at worse cause a fire.  The setup cost could be quite high if you decide to go for a couple of decent sets of RC gear, charger, a mix of lipos and NiMH etc, but once you have that stuff its not that much to add cars to the fleet.  And I tell my wife that I'm getting better use out of my gear by being able to race indoor onroad and outdoor offroad and can use the same rc gear and batteries...it sort of worked.

 

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Welcome back!

I don't think you can go wrong with a grasshopper for a first car, tough as old boots, no shortage of spares and as said, an upgrade to a 540 motor as and when.

 

Controller wise, I'm a bit bias, i just can't use a wheel, like trying to shoot a gun with my left hand, but I've been stick for over 30yrs 🙄 . Loads to choose from, but transmitter / recievers have come along way too, basic ones are pretty much the same as bitd, but the better ones offer features were you can alter the top speed (End Point Adjustment) or servo movement, traction control, ABS braking etc. My 2yr has driven my brushless / lipo setup on 10% epa without any problems. (I gave my daughter the choice,as I had both, she picked the sticks, but can only turn right 🤣)

 

Batteries, yeah, Nicads were replaced with Nimh and then lipo. Stick with Nimh.... for now. Check out the charging amps of your charger (although you can get good chargers cheap these days,- genuine Imax b6), general rule is to charge at 1C to not over stress the cells,unless stated by the manufacturer,so a 3300mah would be 3.3amps, yes it will take an hour to charge (reality is around 40mins as they are never 100% flat) but my betting is, with a 380 motor, you'll be bored before the battery is flat anyway.

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Thanks very much for the replies and taking your time to explain some of these things! It's very much appreciated, and a lot to digest and study up on! Well I jumped the gun a bit this morning and bought the grasshopper kit. The price was great and he was watching some YouTube videos the other day on them and seemed to really like them! I was planning on waiting for the remote but I got an EP starter pack, as i still needed a servo for the kit, and this came with the servo, a second ESC, a 540 motor, and what seems a half decent controller. Steering wheel type though, but that's what he's used to with his little cheap Kmart cars, so he may as well keep using that style. It's got the dial back on it so I can slow it right down while he learns which is awesome. I can see though how the more fancy remotes are worth it now, being able to run multiple cars. I think I'll have to look into them to replace the old twin stick to run the Fox and possible future cars 😂 Seeing all the kits today got me excited! I'll be off sitting on my backside for a fair part of next year with one confirmed knee surgery in the pipeline and possibly a shoulder, so plenty of time to sit back and re build the fox and probably a couple more. I've always like the Frog, and probably need a 4wd buggy in the mix, maybe even a lunchbox 😂 Ohhhh this is probably gonna get expensive! 😖

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No probably about it, it will get expensive. I went from my old Kyosho touring car in a box in the garage to number 10 hiding in the wardrobe in 12 months. But that also means 5 new sets of rc gear, 6 batteries, a charger, tools, toolboxes, spares, hopups, tuning parts, the list goes on....and on...and on

And membership of 3 rc clubs so i can race and practice.

Oh and my habit is tame by the standards of this forum.

Honestly, your best bet is to cancel your order, sell your fox and forget you ever had an rc car!

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1 hour ago, Parkesy said:

I've always like the Frog, and probably need a 4wd buggy in the mix, maybe even a lunchbox 😂 Ohhhh this is probably gonna get expensive! 😖

I've had my eye on a frog 🙄 , with some modern upgrades, can make them reliable too! 

But, yeah, they breed, I'm at 20+ atm and you'll find you can't just buy one), as the kids will want one too, so you end up with multiple car's (great excuse for the wife, my kids have loads, they are 2 and 10 months! 😂) 

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21 hours ago, Wooders28 said:

I've had my eye on a frog 🙄 , with some modern upgrades, can make them reliable too! 

But, yeah, they breed, I'm at 20+ atm and you'll find you can't just buy one), as the kids will want one too, so you end up with multiple car's (great excuse for the wife, my kids have loads, they are 2 and 10 months! 😂) 

I think the Frog will have to be my next build. I'll get a bit of practice and get my head around it again after we build juniors grasshopper, then time for dads new toy. So that'll mean new remote, decent AC charger and more batteries. 😬 

There'll definitely be some long *** sitting and recovery time for me next year, so good excuse to get back into it!! Idle hands are the devils workshop so they say, and I think my wife will buy that reasoning too. 😊

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Hi Nick, welcome back :)

I too returned to the hobby under similar circumstances (20+ years ago it started with a Madcap and ended with a TA02 Calsonic). I purchased a ready-to-run kit (1:18 ECX Ruckus) for my 5yo's birthday. Fast forward 12 months and he received a Grasshopper kit for his sixth birthday this year and I have over 5 r/c car's in the fleet now!

As others have pointed out, the Grasshopper is an ideal first 'kit' car (but I'm biased because of my retro heritage). It's a simple build and a relatively tough car (...especially the gearbox. I found as the Ruckus aged I had all sorts of trouble with diffs, pinion/spur gears and the cheap stock ball bearings).

We had a great time building the car together. I had to help tap the screws into plastic for the first time and mounting those tyres! Even I had trouble getting them on. He loved picking the colour (he went with TS-22 Light Green) - remember to get the TS paints for the Grasshopper body if you decide not to go with the box art white. 

We upgraded to ball bearings during the build (9x 1150 and 1x 850). 

When you change to the 540 motor you will need to get an 18t pinion gear and it will need to be a "bigger" pitch than the usual 0.6 module Tamiya pinions (learnt that that hard way...) I had to go back to the store and buy a (hardened) 32 pitch pinion and it has been running well so far. 

I noticed the 540 made it pretty touchy to drive in loose gravel as the loose diff spins out very easily. We gummed up the bevel gears with some Anti Wear Grease by Tamiya - see this guy's video below:

 

enjoy :)

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On 01/12/2017 at 5:11 PM, rc_ox said:

Hi Nick, welcome back :)

I too returned to the hobby under similar circumstances (20+ years ago it started with a Madcap and ended with a TA02 Calsonic). I purchased a ready-to-run kit (1:18 ECX Ruckus) for my 5yo's birthday. Fast forward 12 months and he received a Grasshopper kit for his sixth birthday this year and I have over 5 r/c car's in the fleet now!

As others have pointed out, the Grasshopper is an ideal first 'kit' car (but I'm biased because of my retro heritage). It's a simple build and a relatively tough car (...especially the gearbox. I found as the Ruckus aged I had all sorts of trouble with diffs, pinion/spur gears and the cheap stock ball bearings).

We had a great time building the car together. I had to help tap the screws into plastic for the first time and mounting those tyres! Even I had trouble getting them on. He loved picking the colour (he went with TS-22 Light Green) - remember to get the TS paints for the Grasshopper body if you decide not to go with the box art white. 

We upgraded to ball bearings during the build (9x 1150 and 1x 850). 

When you change to the 540 motor you will need to get an 18t pinion gear and it will need to be a "bigger" pitch than the usual 0.6 module Tamiya pinions (learnt that that hard way...) I had to go back to the store and buy a (hardened) 32 pitch pinion and it has been running well so far. 

I noticed the 540 made it pretty touchy to drive in loose gravel as the loose diff spins out very easily. We gummed up the bevel gears with some Anti Wear Grease by Tamiya. (see here: https://youtu.be/Hvpu1WUIFPY) - so far so good.

enjoy :)

I can't get your video to load sorry mate 😕 it says there's an error. What should I type into youtubes search to bring it up?

It sounds like it's really handy to get to know your local hobby store for sourcing parts and their knowledge? Unfortunately there isn't really one nearby for me so it'll be a long trip each time I go or I'll have to order online?

I pulled the front of the fox apart last night cos I couldn't help myself and got the urge to tinker! I managed to readjust the steering arms which helped straighten up the wheels as the remote trim was hard left and it still pulled slightly right. And the wheels are now much more parralel in the neutral position and slightly toe-in. I found some right sized washers in the shed to space the wheels out a touch which took some of the slop out, but the old plastic bearings might be really worn and need replacing with some metal ones. 

The car still has a mind of its own and will regulary cut out and then re accelerate on its own and pull right or sometimes left now as well. I've ordered a new 29mHz crystal set for the remote and I guess another one will plug into the cars receiver somewhere? I can't say I've pulled the chassis apart yet so not sure exactly what goes on inside but I guess there's a receiver with a matching crystal thingy?

i can still get a new body and decals for it (but quite a bit exy!) so tempted to just try and restore it to its former glory and retire it to the shelf with only an occasional run for nostalgic purposes 😆

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Yep there is a crystal on the rx, they usually have a little tab sticking out, maybe a plastic cover over it.

In your position I would restore the Fox for the shelf and buy a rere Novafox to run everyday with your son. The original will no doubt be brittle and stuff will break. The rere is new and will stand up to some decent running. I have found that the rere buggies perform as well as the budget modern ones (DT02, DT03, TT02B, DF02 are the main ones) so are a good substitute.

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I am about 1 month ahead of you.

2 sons, 12y and 6y old, they started playing with old mini Z cars I raced 20+ years ago (very badly I might add but it was as much for the banter and craic as could race all year in the evenings) Then they found my Older Tamiya kits (Boomerang, Thundershot and Midnight Pumpkin. Like you I jumped the gun and bought of Gumtree a modern TT02B, some 3300NIMH of Ebay which I am having problems with ( seem to charge WAY to quick and last way to short, any advice on this one guys - chager is for modern NIMH and I can choose the amps I charge at from 0.5, 1, 2, 3 & 4) Bought and fitted Ballreaces as orignal owner bought RTR as stock. It has a matched ESC and brushless motor and is very fast compared to my older kits.

I have a Bushdevil 2 in the Xmas bag for the eldest (so looking forward to building it with him) and all the kit he needs. I have parts ordered for my older kits to get em all in running order. (its already expensive and still need soooooo much more.......) BUT compared to my other pastimes its peanuts. (Trikes, jetskies and caravans)

 

I am on Ebay all the time trying to find a few older models at decent money BUT I assume its the time of year they all go for bout half to getting on for re-re new money which seems strong to me.

I so have issues!!!!!

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Sorry for the bad link - fixed now! (or search you can for "grasshopper better diff" on YouTube). 

It's great to strike up a good relationship with your local hobby store if you have one handy. I'm pretty lucky having three fairly close by. I try and buy as much as I can from the local stores but sometimes you have to go online for specific parts or a decent price. These forums are fantastic for advice and tips too - I have learnt a lot in the past 12 months from other TamiyaClub members.

Good on you for having a tinker, that's the best way to figure it all out. If you have your trim all the way to the left, the servo and servo saver might need to be re-centered. 

  1. Undo the screw on the servo saver (usually a beige part that holds the steering rods to the steering servo). 
  2. Pop the saver completely off the servo.
  3. Turn on your radio then the receiver in your car.
  4. Centre your steering trim.
  5. Re-attach your servo saver with the servo reset to neutral and the wheels as straight as possible.  

Your steering should now be centred and you will be able to adjust your steering either way. But I'd say you are right about the plastic bearings, they develop slop after decent use. As does the plastic parts in the "steering rack".

The erratic behaviour sounds like interference (old electronics, damaged antenna???). If it's an older car, it's likely to have a mechanical speed controller (MSC) inside as well. I hate those things.... They are manipulated by the second servo and are pretty clunky. I remember my first Madcap had one and as the battery got low in the car there wasn't enough power to re-center the servo so the car would keep driving (usually towards the busiest road thanks to Murphy's law). I still have nightmares.... These days you can get a cheap electronic speed controller (ESC) for around $30 (I paid $200 for a Novak ESC back in 1993!). Or even better, buy a re-release Tamiya kit as they now come with ESC's as standard. 

And Jonathon Gilliam is right, the plastic in these old kits get brittle with age. They won't last too long if you start running them like the good ol' days. Perfect excuse to buy some fresh gear ;)

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