Now I have the idea for a magnetic dowel system to position the terrain the base modules need to have holes drilled in them. This array of holes is used to pin the terrain into the plywood with the dowels.
I intend on using 6mm diameter magnets and wood dowels for the job as a starting point. It is prudent to start with small holes and make them bigger if stronger magnets are required. I am also starting with a 50mm array of holes and the module will fit a 23 rows and 11 columns with this array size making a total of 253 holes.
Rather than mark out the array on the module using a pencil and a straight edge I have decided a little more accuracy is required, so back into the CAD system and a quick layout was generated for half the hole array that can be printed to a B1 sized layout. If you want to follow along at home a PDF of the hole pattern layout will be available on the printables page. You can get this printed anywhere that does roll size plan plots. I had mine done at Officeworks here in Australia but there are many place around the world that do it such as ‘Fed-Ex Office ‘ (Kinkos).
In my next post I will take you through the simple steps to using the hole pattern template.
When I first started planning my modular track for micro RC cars I was going to affix terrain to each module directly so each module was set. I really wanted to have the terrain as modular but I hadn’t come up with a way of doing that other than wood dowels which I didn’t think was robust.
In presenting the first video of the completed modules on a forum one user had a suggestion…rare earth magnets. That was the inspiration I needed. I was concerned that rare earth magnets still wouldn’t quite work through the module’s plywood unless the were very strong and a few small test magnets proved that. My ‘Design For Six Sigma’ ideation kicked in and I Pughed in my brain (in joke for my work colleagues). Hybridising dowels and magnets was the way to go.
Here is a quick sketch of the intent of the system.
The base modules that are to carry terrain will be drilled with an array of holes while the terrain will have steel inserts. The rare earth magnets can then be used as repositionable dowels attached to the terrain pieces, whatever they may be.
It’s time to approach making some terrain for my micro RC track. I have been thinking about how I want to go about this and the types of terrain modelling techniques and media that could be used. The ideas I have are:
Paper Mache – When I was young I made my own play sets with terrain for my Micro Machines. I made paper mache using wallpaper paster to do this. There are other techniques for making paper mache glue as well such as flour and water. Paper mache will also paint quite well with water based paint but enamels will also work.
Plaster – Using Plaster of Paris terrain could be molded, cast or sculpted. It is fairly robust once it is finished and can be painted easily with cheap water based paints.
Epoxy Putty – Two-part, kneadable putty is common in hobby model making with brands such as Milliput and Tamiya readily available (I think I have some of both lying around the house unused). It is also available from the hardware store in various brands. It is paintable but I am assuming you need oil based paints.
Builders Putty – This type of putty, unlike the two-part epoxy, is an oil based air curing putty used in joinery and glazing to fill gaps. I am not sure just how well it will work but it is quite cheap so it is worth trying. I think this will also require oil based paints.
Packaging Foam – A cheap and easy foam to source is packaging foam or expanded poly styrene foam. I always seem have some lying around the house and it is easily sculpted but I will have to look in to techniques for strengthening and finishing it. It can also be used as filler for other modelling techniques.
Modelling Foam – The other foam option is modelling foam or ‘blue foam’ which is extruded polystyrene foam (and not always blue). The extruded foam is more durable than expanded foam and used by many types of model makers. It is also considerably more expensive.
Builders Polyurethane – Here is Australia this is most commonly known as ‘liquid nails’ and typically comes in a caulking gun pack from the hardware store. They also sell a sausage pack at the hardware store. Using this will be somewhat experimental and I am thinking of forming it into rough shapes and carving it to the final shape when cured.
Cast Polyurethane – This is a quite intensive technique as a mold would need to be made to cast from. I would only use this if I create a piece of terrain from another method that I want to replicate many times.
Wood – Some of my brainstorming included making jumps and a quarter pipe. Wood is a logical choice for some of these larger terrain features. Plywood techniques such as egg crating and countour building could be combined with other modelling techniques to make interesting terrain. Wood dowels on their side could also be used to make little logs to drive over.
Cardboard – Making terrain from cardboard will not be robust in the long term but for trying out concepts before making them with wood. Cardboard can also be used to make egg crate and countour models.
There are so many other potential methods too. Let me know if you have any ideas for making terrain in the comments section below.
As I move from building base modules into making terrain for my micro RC car track I have been developing ideas for terrain on each module. There are some obvious ones such as using paper mache or building jumps out of cardboard or wood but I found an interesting product at the Australian Toy Fair that piqued my interest. It was called ‘Kinetic Sand’.
The idea of using ‘sand’ with micro RC cars that are in the form of buggies, desert trucks and rally cars seems only logical to me.
This video shows what you can do with Kinetic Sand.
So naturally what I wanted to know is can I make this myself. I researching the possibility I found that Kinetic Sand is not something that can be made easily at home, but what can be made is what is refered to as ‘Moon Sand’. There are many recipes out on the web for moon sand and they are typically a mixture of play sand, corn flour/starch and water in around a 4:2:1 ratio (there are many sites with recipes but the pictures I have seen for this one appears to be a good consistency).
There are pros and cons to using home-made moon sand vs the newer, polymer based kinetic sands.
Home Made Moon Sand
Pros – Can make at home, cheap to make, safe Cons – Will dry out (although can be reconstituted), water based so may not be compatible with RC car electronics, can be crumbly so may get into RC car running gear, clean up may be difficult
Commercial Kinetic Sand
Pros – Won’t dry out (polymeric ingredient), safe Cons – Not sure if polymer ingredient (Polydimethylsiloxane) will be compatible with all parts of the RC cars, expensive, sand may get into RC car running gear
With either type of moldable sand I am really not sure of the compatibility with micro RC cars and what effect it could have on them. I think I will still make a small batch of Moon Sand to see what it is like. If I don’t like the home made Moon Sand then, after a little more reasearch on the polymer ingredient, I may fork over some dollars on the Kinetic Sand. Even if I don’t use it for the Micro RC Track it still is fun to play with!
As the build progresses of my modular micro RC race track continues I have been thinking of the layouts I can have with the number of base modules I am making. My intent is to have a total of 8 modules but you can make a fun and modular track with as few as 5 modules as my proof of concept video shows.
Here are a few ideas for micro RC track layouts using 5 modules.
So now that the size and material selection has been made for the Micro RC Track modules, being 1200 x 600mm plywood, a support structure will be required. This structure will keep the modules stiff and strong as well as ensuring the board don’t warp with any future features added to them. The drawing attached to this post shows the details for the structure which uses 70 x 35mm pine lengths to act as support beams around the perimeter of the module. The pine will be attached using 7G x 25mm counter sunk screws.
Dowel holes will also be drilled to depth that will support the lane barriers. The lane barriers that I will be making are using 42 x 19mm pine (dressed all round or ‘DAR’). More details on the barriers will be covered in a later post, but the intent is to is to have a through slot or oversize holes to suit 6mm dowels. As a result the centre of the dowels will be positioned 9.5mm in from the edge of the boards. The pattern for the dowels holes is shown in the attached drawing but the depth is not specified. The depth for the dowel holes is dependant on the dowels used, whether pre-made ones are used or they are cut from a longer length of dowel.
Not shown in the drawing is the location of the screws that attach the plywood to the support beams. The exact location is not really important but they need to be spread apart from each other and kept away from the dowel locations, so the best idea is to mark out the dowel locations before attaching the beam with the screws. The screws will need to be about 15-20mm in from the edge of the plywood. Each beam will have 3 screws, so one towards each end and the third should be near the middle without fouling any dowel locations.
Here is the drawing for this base module design as either a PDF or a JPG:
In developing the modular track concept the main problem I have faced so far is determining what size each module should be. For my mind the module size needs to consider:
The minimum recommended lane width for Micro RC cars. This should consider cars such as my Losi Micro Desert Truck as well as vehicles such as the newer 1:24 Losi Micro vehicles and Kyosho MiniZ buggies.
The available space of typical locations the track will be set-up. I am targeting my open plan living/dining room but other spaces people may utilise could be a garage or a basement.
Transportability of the track. I would like to be able to put all of my modules in my trailer, a 6′ x 4′ fully enclosed box trailer, to take to other locations. I would also like to be able to put a few of my modules in the back of my wagon or small SUV if I wanted to take them to a friend’s house who also has the same module sizes so we can make a bigger track.
Typical materials available. I would like to be able to utilise standard sized, cheap plywood sheets (or similar) from my local hardware store if possible. If not possible a minimal amount of cutting and wastage of purchased material would be desirable.
Set-up, storage and pack-up of the track. Let’s face it, I am doing this so I can have my own track but it will be in the way if I leave it out. I also want to be able to set it up quickly when I want to race.
Welcome to livingroomraceway.com. This site will be mainly about my build of an RC race track system for micro radio controlled cars. The reason I call it a ‘system’ is because the design intent is for the track to be modular and the design itself will be ‘open source’. This will allow people to modify my concept to suit their own requirements which may vary based on how they want to use the track, the space they have and the type of vehicle they use.
For my purposes I am intending to design my track based on using Losi Micro off road vehicles because, in my opinion, they offer the best bang for your buck. I currently have a Micro Desert Truck and I hope to try out some of the other Losi vehicles along the way. Kyosho mini-Z buggies are also considered in designing my track system.
I will blog here as my track build progresses so drop by from time to time and see how my track build going. If you build your own track, whether it is based on my concept or something different, also drop me a line through the contact page. I love to see other people’s ideas for micro RC race tracks.