Brushless Upgrade 144001 vs LC Racing EMB-MT: Cost and performance comparisoN + 11.11 singles day sales
I love the WL Toys 144001 1/14 scale RC Buggy and have written a lot of articles on tuning and upgrading it here. It is inexpensive and runs well stock or is easily upgraded to brushless power which offers better speed and acceleration as well as battery life. But how does it compare against the car on which is was based, the LC racing EMB series on which the 144001 was (let's face it) copied from?
So surely you know by now that the 144001 is a budget copy of the LC racing EMB-1 but with a bigger brushless 550 motor and integrated ESC/receiver and no slipper clutch. This means that WL Toys have been able to grab a big slice of the popular RC car market at a price point of $70-80 for the 144001 vs $200ish for the LC racing equivalent. But this is clearly not a fair comparison so what if you take the brushless upgraded 144001 with a raft of replacement parts, tally up the cost and then compare? Would you still buy the 144001 to upgrade or would you just got straight for the LC racing? I'll break this down by price and performance in order to give you the clearest information to make this decision for yourself and my opinion I what I would (and did) do.
Please note this article is a preview with my thoughts on the newly announced WL Toys 124019 and WLTOYS 124018. I do not yet have one in my hands (one is ordered for delivery November 2020) so my thoughts are based on the specs and images online plus my in-depth knowledge of the WLTOYS 144001.
The 1/14 scale 144001 has been a hugely successful model for WL Toys and has taken very strong "inspiration" from the excellent LC Racing EMB-1. Off the back of this success WL Toys have announced the release of the 124019 and 124018 which is an extended wheelbase version of the 144001 and claiming it as a 1/12 scale. Again strong "inspiration" from LC racing who released the LC12B1 which is an extended wheelbase version of the 1/14 scale EMB-1. In this article I will cover off the obvious differences, the less obvious differences and the benefits and disadvantages over the 144001. I'll then finish off by talking about suitability for upgrades and a little more specifically about the 124019 desert buggy
The WL Toys 144001 is a small 1/14 scale 4wd buggy with a massively oversized brushed motor that can reach well over 30mph. When this massive brushed motor is replaced with a massive brushless motor the top speed can become over triple that with the right setup. The below guide goes into detail the build components I used for such a build, the build process and setup to optimise handling.
By now you've probably seen some wild speed run builds based on the WL toys 144001 of up to and over 100mph. At the top end of the scale these are highly customised with expensive race-oriented gear and outboard twin-battery power supply. The objective of my build was stealth: to retain the stock look, making everything fit (somewhat tightly) under the stock bodyshell and be bolt-on without the need for machining or fabrication i.e. as simple to replicate as possible. For this reason I have specifically chosen to run my car with stock gearing on 2-3s only. To that end here are the parts I chose and why,
Parts used for build:
I've separated this into power system for the key components...
For those that upgrade to a much larger ESC in the WL Toys 144001 these is often an issue where the fan and or heatsink of a larger ESC fouls against the shell in the stock position. If you don't want to change the shell and don't want to jack it up I have a solution for you.
Although I recommend the 2838 brushless motor/30a ESC upgrade in this article for the 144001 for general bashing, speed runs require much larger ESC that typically have fans installed. In this particular build I used an 80A Flycolour lightning ESC that, although compact, fouls against the ceiling of the 144001 shell. Because this build is for road only I didn't mind a cutout in the shell but wanted it to be tidy and discreet. The easiest way I found to do this is as follows. Remember, click on an image below to embiggen and see all of the pixels
The Flysky FS-GT5 is a surface transmitter (and receiver) from Flysky suited for use in RC car and boats. It uses 2.4gHz digital transmission on the very reliable AFDHS2a protocol. What sets this aparts is the premium features for the price - 20 model memory, full gyro control via remote and a very easy to navigate GUI.
The development of digital signal over 2.4gHz has been a massive improvement for RC cars, especially for those of us old enough to remember that bad old days of frequency crystals and constant glitches. Unfortunately going to digital has mean the proliferation of protocols meaning that certain receivers only work with certain transmitters meaning you can often end up with a transmitter for each different car. One way around this is to buy on GOOD transmitter and a number of compatible receivers whether you are bashing around or racing. Obviously racers will be able to justify the more expensive equipment like that made by Futaba and Sanwa but it is hard to justify when you are a basher. Luckily the FS-GT5 offers us the key features from the more expensive radios at a better price point and receivers that are as little as $5 each to kit out your fleet.
I've now built up quite a library of articles for the WL Toys 144001 and thought I would use this page to share them. I've separated here into beginner, moderate and advanced ability but hopefully I have enough information in these guides to make them straightforward enough for anyone to try.
Parts I would buy
Now that I've had experience with quite a few upgrades and replacements, here are the parts I can actually recommend:
Thanks for reading, if you found this article useful please feel free to like or share, the facebook links below directly link/like this article. Links are affiliated and help me buy the bits I need to produce this type of content. If you are looking for RC cars, quads or parts check out my coupons and discounts page which I keep updated with only the RC cars, parts and quads I like at a proper discount
Extending the wheelbase on RC cars is nothing new but I've yet to see anyone document this for the WL Toys 144001 Thus, I've written this article to show you how to do it step by step. There are a number of benefits, not least of which is straight line stability. The good news is that this requires no extra parts and it only takes about 10 minutes
Basic theory for extending wheelbase
Changing wheelbases has long been something you could do with race-spec RC cars in order to adjust for track conditions. Generally speaking short wheelbases allow for faster turning (sharp corners in particular) and longer wheel bases allow for better straight line stability. The 144001 is overpowered for such a small car (especially if you upgrade to brushless) that any increase in wheelbase is welcomed ESPECIALLY if you are looking at speed runs where straight line stability is crucial.
Extending the wheelbase on a WL Toys 144001
The good news is this is very simple on the 144001 and it's free - no new parts are needed and so far as I can tell there are no compromises to the car. In fact there are slightly more benefits than I first thought:
I've now completed a number of articles that have improved the handling, power and efficiency of the WL Toys 144001 which can be found here: All my WL Toys 144001 upgrade articles. The next item I am addressing is the tyres. The stock wheels and tyres (like the rest of the car) are modelled closely on the LR Racing EMB-1h micro pins which are design for carpet and hard packed dirt racing. Outside of these grip isn't great, and when you take into account the the rubber is firmer on the 144001 tyres then you are left with a tyre that is not really suited well for bashing off-road. In this article I'll explore some better bashing alternatives that shouldn't compromise the rest of the car
Stock wheels and tyres
Stock tyres have an outside diameter of 72mm which is the same front and rear (it needs to be on a 4wd). Widths are staggered meaning they are slightly wider at the rear - 30mm compared to the front - 26mm. Again typical for a buggy because on acceleration weight transfers to the rear and the extra width provides more grip. Drive on the wheels is provided by a 12mm hex drive which is something of an industry standard on cars around this size
The problem is that a combination of the design and compound of the tyre mean that they don't grip well on the majority of surfaces we run (off road bashing and tarmac). Since the 12mm hex drive is common there are a lot of wheels that physically fit but not a lot that work well because of the uncommon diameter. On to the theory:
Lithium Polymer (Lipo) battery technology has been perhaps the best leap of technology in the RC world. The relatively high energy density and absurdly high continuous current capability has meant that quadcopters have become a viable hobby and electric RC cars can now outperform their Nitro cousins without most of the fuss.
Voltage as measured in volts (v)
A single lipo cells has a maximum charge voltage of 4.2v which is usually reported as 3.7v for real-world purposes. Voltage can be increased by connecting these cells in series (s for series) and is reported as 1s (1 cell in series), 2s (2 cells in series) 3s (3 cells in series and so on). Voltage is additive when cells are placed in series i.e. 1s = 3.7v, 2s = 7.4v, 3s = 11.1v and so on.
Capacity as measured in milli Amp hours (mAh)
Lipo cells can vary in capacity, these are measured in mah and signify the amount of 'fuel' the lipo battery can output before it is depleted. All else being equal the larger the capacity they larger the physical size and mass (weight).
C - Rating
Where voltage and capacity are simple physical parameters, C-rating is slightly more complex. It is closely tied to capacity and has no relationship to voltage. In short the C rating signifies the maximum continuous output that the battery can maintain. Strictly speaking the C value multiplied by the capacity is the maximum continuous current output which we measure in Amps. The best way to describe this is to give examples:
We've now had the SG 1602 brushless RC Truck (same as SG 1601, HBX 16889) for 6 months and it has been abused several times per weekend by my 5 year old (and myself!) in that time. I'm delighted to say that it is still running, still fast and I haven't needed to buy any spare parts. So far the list of casualties are:
So, as you may be able to see, this fast and light truck has taken an incredible amount of abuse and has very little damage to show for it, even then the damage is purely cosmetic. So what are my thoughts on the good and the bad of this now and my more recommendation based on the additional experience? Read on: