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RC Toy Modifications

Make improvements to toy-grade RCs

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A lot of people buy RC toys to play with -- for children or for themselves. But for some of us playing means tinkering with and making modifications on even the most basic toy. Whether we're making changes so the toy is easier to use or because we just want to see how much improvement a toy can take, you can bet we're having fun doing it.

Sometimes an RC doesn't really need improvements but some of us (OK, me) have a bad habit of not leaving well enough alone and adding all kinds of new performance enhancements. Some work. Some don't. But I won't stop trying.

Modifications You Can Do To An RC Toy

Both remote controlled and radio controlled toys can benefit from some simple and more complex improvements. Watching how children play with their RC toys and asking them what could be done can also give you ideas for things to enhance.
  • Give it a fresh coat of paint. Probably the easiest change you can make to a toy RC is re-painting it or adding stickers. Let the kids repaint their own toys if they want. Won't make it run any better but it's a way to let them (or you) express your creativity on the cheap.

  • Light it up. Sometimes toy-grade RCs run just fine but can be pretty drab if all they have is a neat paint job. Adding simple LED lights to the bottom for ground effects can really make a toy-grade RC stand out from all the rest. While you’re at it why not add some working headlights and tail lights too. Sure, some toy RCs come with lights but not all of them. Add your own. This may require opening up the RC to get at the electronics and doing a little soldering and for some RCs, just getting to the guts can be daunting.

  • Add a longer cord to a cheap wired RC. Keep safety in mind -- longer cords can pose greater hazards but a longer cord lets it go a little further.

  • Lengthen the antenna to maybe get more range. Not guaranteed to work but you can try it. Or, add a hobby-grade radio system to an RC boat or sub so you can go deeper in the pool or further out in the lake. That's a big job involving more expensive parts and a good knowledge of electronics. Plus, depending on how it's made, it can be troublesome just finding a way to cram those better electronic parts inside a toy RC. Toy RCs are usually a lot more difficult to open up (because they aren't designed for modifications) so doing work to the electronics can be a hit or miss proposition.

  • Add a rechargeable battery pack. Modifying a toy RC that uses a bunch of alkaline AA or AAA batteries so that it can use a plug-in rechargeable battery pack is a useful modification. While it can be tricky to get to the wires needed for making this modification, it's a fairly simple mod if you have some small amount of electronics know-how.

These are just a few ideas. You could get really radical and take the RC completely apart and rebuild it from the ground up with different parts -- maybe even mix and match parts from a variety of toys to make a whole new creation. No matter what route you decide to take it is definitely a great way to exercise those tinkering and creative parts of the mind. 

The new life or modifications you give to your toy-grade RC can be very rewarding (and educational) if you take the time and plan things out. Don’t do a rush job. Keep safety in mind -- especially when doing modifications involving the electronics. Also keep in mind that you are essentially pouring time, money, and effort into a cheap toy. Only spend what you can afford and don't expect miracles.

Everything About Radio Controlled (RC) Vehicles
FAQs:Frequently Asked Questions About RC Vehicles, Answered
Basics:Types, Key Parts, and Operating RC Vehicles
Buying an RC:How to Choose the Right Radio Controlled Vehicle
Repairs & Upgrades:Maintaining, Fixing, and Modifying RC Vehicles
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