RC car technology has changed a lot over the years and one of the biggest changes have been batteries. I started with Sanyo SCRC NiCd pack, left the hobby before NiMH came out and came back when LiPo was full swing. Along with brushless power systems, LiPo batteries have revolutionised all RC vehicles - more burst power, higher energy density and multiple cell options. LiPo batteries need a lot of care, more than than a set of nichrome wires that hook your battery pack directly to a car battery anyway. The technology you need to properly charge and care for Lipo (and LiIon batteries) is a balance charger which allows the charger to charge each individual cell at a time rather than all together in series. This is important to not only extend the life and performance of your battery but to minimise the risk of the Lipo pack causing damage to your surroundings.
The right tool for the job
Like everything else to do with RC Cars, LiPo balance chargers are available in any number of models with different features, different interfaces and different quality levels. However unlike, motors, wheels, servos, escs and any other RC car parts they don't wear out and typically the charger you use will be with you for a long time so it is definitely worth having one that does the job properly. With that said you don't need to spend a lot to get a good charger that you can trust with your safety and life of batteries. This is in contrast to charger that come with RTR RC Car kits which at best are inaccurate and at worst are downright dangerous.
The WL Toys 144001 is an excellent low cost hobby grade RC buggy that I ordered from Banggood. I've already taken free and low cost steps to improve performance in part 1 and part 2 of my upgrades guide. This upgrade guide here is dedicated to installing a powerful and efficient 2838 brushless system that is optimised for balance, handling and efficiency. It will also be much faster and reliable that the stock system. This upgrade is fully compatible with the new 124019 and 124018 as well and an excellent option to improve performance and battery life.
As mentioned above the brushless upgrade I am doing here is based on a smaller, lighter more powerful motor than stock so I can get the best handling by reducing weight and improving balance. For this reason I have chosen a brushless 2838 sized motor (28mm diameter, 38mm can length) that runs at 4500kV. This is the same spec powertrain used by the premium LC Racing EMB-1 on which the 144001 is based. The objective is to optimise handling by removing the extremely heavy and power hungry but inefficient brushed 550 motor.
I have not gone with a brushless motor the same size as the brushed 550 (3650, 3652, 3660) as these are really only suited to speed runs - see my speed run build guide if that is the kind of build you are looking for
Benefits from this 2838 brushless setup over stock will include:
Click on any picture in this article to Embiggen or go to product link
Motor size comparison: The stock 550 weighs 271g and the new, more powerful 2838 weighs 95g. Damn!
This is the second part of my free and budget upgrade walkthrough for the WL Toys 144001. The first part can be found here. These are also completely relevant for the 124019 and 124018 as well
The first series of upgrades I made to the WL toys 144001 was to improve longevity and handling by getting the shock absorber fluid level right, the diffs lubed properly and camber and toe in set correctly. This articles expands on that by further improving the handling through minor tweaks the are either free or cost very little. It is really important you get the handling right to make the car more predictable, especially if you plan on power upgrades further down the line. The upgrades I'll detail in this article are:
1. Decreasing the rear toe in
The WL toys 144001 comes set with a LOT of rear toe in (which is the amount the rear wheels point in towards the car when looking from above). Rear toe in does help with cornering stability by decreasing useful steering when powering on in the corner but comes at the cost of straight line speed, especially in high grip situations. In simple terms rear toe in does help make the car feel more stable through corners however I feel the 144001 has much too much and this is easily remedied for free as below: