10 Ideas For Making Micro RC Race Track Terrain

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.

Video: Dirt Hills Micro Raceway

Progress on my track has been slow the last couple of weeks and my Losi Micro Desert Truck has also been out of action due to a broken steering tie rod. So while you’re waiting for the next update on my track, here is one of the benchmark tracks I have looked to for some inspiration in developing my own indoor micro RC race track.

The track includes a 6 foot triple and is overall a lot bigger than anything I can fit in my living room. The car running is a Losi Micro DT like mine but it has some modification including running a Li-Po battery which will make it faster than my standard Micro DT.

Whilst I do not intend on doing any modifications that increase the speed of my vehicle the YouTube user who made the video, DonRCjunky, also indicated that he has upgraded the shock absorbers and gearbox which might be good modifications to consider.

First Test Of Completed Track Modules

I have completed seven of the eight base modules for the micro RC race track and have finally gotten around to making a video of it, so let’s get straight into that…

It worked better than expected although the car wasn’t sliding on the plywood as it did in the earlier ‘Proof Of Concept’ test. I am not sure if that is because I have changed the trim settings on the transmitter, if the batteries are not getting a full charge or if having built up the track on the support it grips better for some crazy reason. The latter seems unlikely I would suggest.

My intent was to show a number of different layout options in that video but as you can see I broke a steering tie rod on the first layout so that was the end of filming. Reading around the forums I see it is possible to make tie rods for the Losi Micro Desert Truck and Micro-T using cable ties. I will give that a go as soon as possible and hopefully show you some more layouts before I start adding terrain to the modules.

Terrain Idea: Moon Sand Or Kinetic Sand

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!

 

Micro RC Race Track Build Progress – Lane Markers Complete

Well, not quite, but the hard bit is complete at least. The lane markers have been slotted and mitred with the only remaining step being a coat of paint. I will show some details of the slots and mitres in a separate post.

Here are a couple of pictures that show a 600mm and a 1200mm lane marker coming together at a corner.

Micro_RC_Lane_marker_mitre_01 Micro_RC_Lane_marker_mitre_02

I plan on doing a little test run on the flat track with different layouts. After that it will be on to terrain and textures.

Modular Micro RC Track Layouts With 5 Modules

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.

5_Board_Layouts_web_1 5_Board_Layouts_web_6 5_Board_Layouts_web_5 5_Board_Layouts_web_4 5_Board_Layouts_web_3 5_Board_Layouts_web_2

Micro RC Race Track Build Progress

It’s been a little while since I posted here but rest assured, the Micro RC race track build is progressing. I have finished building seven of the eight base boards. The only reason I didn’t finish the eigth is one of the pieces of wood for the support structure was not straight. The base boards now just need the holes drilled for the lane marker dowels which I have done on one board as a test.

Here’s a few little pics of the lane markers on the base board as a work in progress.

The next steps are to finish the slots on the last few lane markers, mitre the lanes marker ends and add the dowel holes to the base boards.

Micro_RC_Lane_Marker_End Micro_RC_Lane_Marker_on_board Micro_RC_track_lane_marker

Base Module Design For The Micro RC Race Track

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:

PDF – LivingRoomRaceway.com-micro-RC-1200×600-base-module-design

JPG (click image for larger version)

LivingRoomRaceway.com-micro-RC-1200x600-base-module-design

Micro RC Race Track Proof Of Concept

So with the module size being determined it was off to the hardware store to start buying some materials and test the idea. I have picked up 8 of the 1200 x 600mm plywood boards in 7mm thickness.

At the time of buying the boards I still was not 100% convinced in my head the size was right, so when I got the boards home I decided to do a little test. I layed out 5 boards, the minimum I think you need to make a track, and tested my Losi Micro Desert Truck on the layout. Given the track system is also modular I tried a couple of other 5 board layouts. Here is a brief video showing the results with three different layouts:

I think it shows that a 1200 x 600 module will be OK for the Micro Desert Truck. It would be interesting to see how the bigger 1:24 Losis (Micro SCT, Micro Rally or Micro Truggy) or a Kyosho MiniZ Buggy would handle it.