Hobby Outlook Volume 3 Issue 3
Your hook-up to the hobby world. A quarterly publication by HobbyTown USA.
HOBBY OUTLOOK YOUR HOOK-UP TO THE HOBBY WORLD | SEP 2012 NEW: ARES FOR THE FIRST 370 TIME... GAMMA REVIEWED TESTING ARES' NEWEST R/C AIR ADDITION: Is this plane soaring high, or grounded on the runway? Read our review to find out. BASHING ON THE GO PLUS... Maintenance Tips for BASHERS Modeling Tips & Techniques for the Beginner Short Course Showdown at HobbyPLEX E-Flite速's Carbon Cub Review The Ares™ [air-eez] Gamma 370 offers stability and durability perfect for first-time pilots while also delivering smooth and capable fligh is not only lightweight, durable and easy to repair, it also arrives factory-assembled, and nearly ready-to-fly right out of the box so you 370 is available in RTF (Ready-To-Fly) and RFR (Ready-For-Receiver) versions that include a factory-installed 370-motor equipped pow receiver compatible with your favorite transmitter while the RTF version includes everything needed to fly right out of the box. From AA 7.4V LiPo battery, DC balancing charger and AC adapter there’s nothing extra to buy! So whether you’re a first-time pilot looking for a g and no better value than the Gamma 370! ht performance experienced sport flyers will enjoy. The advanced EPO foam airframe design u can be flying at a local park, schoolyard or flying field in almost no time at all. The Gamma wer system, ESC and 9-gram sub-micro servos. The RFR version is ready for you to install a batteries for the 6-channel 2.4GHz transmitter and a 6-channel receiver to the 1000mAh 2S great trainer or an experienced pilot looking for a fantastic sport flyer, thereâ€™s no better choice outlook Editor-in-Chief Bryce Wergin firstname.lastname@example.org Design Frank Wandersee Writers Cody Carlson Bryce Wergin Dave Nolte Craig Trachten Ken Versaw Gary Phillips Bill Stevens Brian Smolik Special Thanks Big Squid RC LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Hello Hobbyists, It’s September, which means our time for outdoor hobbies is drawing to a close. Rather than feeling down about the fact that winter is coming, why not squeeze every possible bit of fun out of your remaining temperate days? This quarter’s issue of Hobby Outlook features products perfect for wrapping up this year’s outdoor hobbying, as well as options for inside fun once the mercury drops. We’ve also got some tips from our buddies over at Big Squid R/C on how to construct a sweet PVC racing track that will keep you and your friends speeding and bashing until the first freeze. And don’t worry; when the weather doesn’t permit you to loop around the sky or bash all day, there’s plenty to do inside. Why just sit and look out the window when you could be putting together your submission for this fall’s National Model Contest? Check out our feature where experienced model-builder Cody Carlson gives you some of his best tips to bring your models to life, then follow the instructions on how to make your submission through your local HobbyTown USA® store. I would also like to thank all of the Outlook readers we have out there– your comments and continued interest are the reasons we put this e-mag together. I hope this issue inspires you to keep your devotion to your hobby going strong, whether it’s just something you do to spend time with a family member or the thing you care about most. Hobby on, my friends. Bryce Wergin Editor-in-Chief 4 outlook Index outlook Summer 2012 18 E-Flite CRAIG'S PICK IN THIS ISSUE COVER STORY 8 Ares Gamma 370 The Latest in R/C Air from Ares EXCLUSIVES 10 Modeling Tips and Techniques For the Beginner 14 Bashing on the Go DIY Portable Race Track 20 Short Course Showdown The Passion For R/C 26 Bachmann Li'l Big Haulers The Latest in Train Greatness REGULARS 6 Hobby Talk Fall 2012 National Model Contest 7 Hobbies in the News 2012 iHobby Expo 18 Craig’s Pick E-Flite® Carbon Cub 28 HTUniversity Snap Circuits Green 30 Gaming Corner 7 Wonders ® Carbon Cub GAMING CORNER 30 7 Wonders 14 DIY Portable Race Track BASHING ON THE GO Subscribe Free Hobby News! outlook 5 HobbyTalk HOBBY TALK It’s time once again to clean the dried residue off your glue applicator, pick the least-frizzled brush out of your pile and locate that pair of tweezers you can never seem to find. That’s right, the Fall 2012 National Model Contest is just around the corner! Think you’ve got what it takes to be America’s next top modeler? Head into your local HobbyTown USA® store for details on how to make a submission. Dates for when the local contests will occur vary from store to store, but each participating store will select winners in a variety of categories including passenger vehicles, aircraft, military, miscellaneous, diorama and more. There will be both adult and junior divisions (ages 15 and under). Local winners will move on to the national contest, competing against winners from all other HobbyTown USA® stores. National winners will receive media recognition, cash and prizes! If there isn’t a participating HobbyTown USA® near you, worry not. You can still shoot for the National People’s Choice Award, which is facilitated through our main Facebook page. All you have to do is upload a photo through the HobbyTown USA® corporate page, where it will be voted on by other HTU fans. The winner will receive a $250 HobbyTown gift card and a plaque with their name on it! The People’s Choice online contest will begin on October 1st, and modelers will be able to upload photos until October 15th. Voting will take place until October 31st, and a winner will be revealed shortly after. GET CONNECTED TODAY To get in on all the “Hobby Talk” and stay connected, check out our Facebook page. We answer and post questions daily. We’ll also keep you up-to-date on the latest hobby news! 6 outlook Hobbies in the News HOBBIES IN THE NEWS 2012 iHOBBY EXPO Cleveland's colossal convention creeps considerably closer. Cleveland iHobby Expo Dates The countdown to the 2012 iHobby Expo in Cleveland SATURDAY, OCTOBER 13 has begun! This year’s event will be open to the public on 10AM-5PM October 13th and 14th at the I-X Center. SUNDAY, OCTOBER 14 “The Cleveland area has always been a hotbed of 10AM-5PM modeling and hobby activity. The opportunity to display Admission and demonstrate our products to consumers and retailers ADULTS-$12 in a new region of the country is very exciting.” This is a CHILDREN UNDER 10 FREE quote from Bill Jeric of the Losi division of Horizon Hobby WITH PAYING ADULT that sheds some light on why the Cleveland area is to hobby enthusiasts what Vegas is to poker players. This year’s expo will feature events for the whole family, including but not limited to a dirt track for R/C cars sponsored by Horizon Hobby, the High Voltage R/C Monster Truck Championships hosted by Bari Musawwir, Mecha-Mayhem 2012 for the robot builders, and even a Thomas the Tank Engine train ride and play area sponsored by Bachmann for the kids. outlook 7 Review REVIEW: ARES GAMMA 370 8 By Jamee Everson Ares has recently released their newest aircraft, the Gamma 370, which is available exclusively at your local HobbyTown USA® and www.HobbyTown.com. This plane is a threechannel, high-wing trainer that comes Ready-ToFly (RTF) and Ready-For-Receiver (RFR). The pro version will be released soon as well. When I received the RTF Gamma 370 the first thing I noticed was that Ares had packaged the plane well, using the industry standard of wedging the planes parts and accessories in the precisely cut foam spots. When doing a quick inventory of all the parts and pieces, I noticed I was missing the AC charger adapter and AA batteries for the transmitter, only to find them hidden on the bottom side of the box’s foam insert. I started out by charging the included twocell lithium polymer (LiPo) battery on the balance charger, which is included as well, before the construction of the plane. While the battery was charging, I thumbed through the manual to get a good understanding of the Gamma’s assembly instructions and flying procedures. This is an important step, not only for your safety, but also to the people that may be around you when you fly. Building was a snap, taking less than 15 minutes to attach the tail section, the two wing halves and the landing gear using four screws and four rubber bands. Don’t forget to double-check the alignment of the rudder and elevator. Our Gamma took a twist or two of the clevis on the threaded push rods to get everything ready for its first flight. The Gamma 370 comes in an RTR and RFR configuration Perfect for novice and experienced pilots alike. outlook Review Flying the Gamma 370 was a lot of fun and is perfect for the novice pilot. There was a slight breeze the morning I test flew the plane but it went unnoticed during my flight after It's simple a click or two on the and great for the 2.4 GHz six channel radio first timer or the that comes in the box. The veteran pilot with gear-driven brushed many flights under 370 motor powered by their belt. the two-cell LiPo gave the plane plenty of power. The Gamma 370 flew docile but was aerobatic at the same time. I was able to fly slow as well as take on loops and rolls! The foam tires mounted on the piano-wire landing gear made take-off and landing simple. I was able to get in between 8 and 10 minutes of flight time putting it on par with other planes in the Gamma 370â€™s class. A couple key features that put the Gamma 370 above par in its class is that it offers a motor arming button, which keeps the motor from spinning when plugging in the battery and all the electronics. Building and flying this Gamma 370 was enjoyable. It's simple and great for the first timer or the veteran pilot with many flights under their belt. But I have kept the best for last! Unlike any other brand on the market, this plane can either evolve with the novice flyer or be made Being so user friendly, the Gamma makes a great addition to the fleet. into a sport flyer right away with replacements of a few key parts and the addition of one micro servo. Ares has made available a sport wing with ailerons, a brushless 370 outrunner motor, 18 amp speed control, and a 9 gram servo, all of which will be included in the pro version that is soon to be released. Unlike other planes that rival the Gamma 370, there is no modification needed to make this wonderful 3 channel trainer into a powerful aerobatic sport flyer. These features make the Gamma 370 a terrific park flyer to have in the fleet for both the novice and seasoned pilot! outlook 9 By Cody Carlson Use the correct tools for the job: This step is often overlooked by first-time modelers who want to get home and tear into their brand-new model kit, but it is very important to have the right tools for the job. For a modeler there are a few must-have tools that help get the most out of the kit: Sprue Cutters: This tool looks a lot like a pair of wire cutters and functions very similarly. 1 Use these to cut the parts of your model kit off the Sprue that holds them together. Sprue cutters allow for a very close cut to the part, eliminating the extra plastic nubs you will get 10 outlook if you just twist it off or use a knife. This allows for a much better fit when the parts are glued together. Needle File: Another often overlooked tool for the modeler is a needle file. This is just what its name sounds likeâ€”a small file that we use for shaving down extra plastic left over after cutting a part off the Sprue or filing down the lines of extra plastic that sometimes form in the molding process. A set of files can go a long way in helping you get the finish you are looking for in your kit without ugly mold lines or extra plastic. Tweezers: Never underestimate the importance of a good pair of tweezers. These Tips & Techniques are used for all of your small parts in the model kit and work wonders when trying to place waterslide decals on your kit when you are painting and finishing the model up. Glue Applicator: By far the most important part of your model-building toolkit is the glue you use. For a beginner modeler, a basic tube of plastic model glue will be all you need in order to build your new kit. However, one frequently overlooked thing in this situation is glue tips or other glue applicators. These items allow for a much finer level of control over where your glue goes and in what amounts. A common mistake among new modelers is using too much glue, which leads to extra cement seeping out of the joints in the parts. This can be greatly reduced by a good set of glue tips or a glue applicator, and it leaves you with a much better finish on your model. What this does is allow you to check the fit and make sure everything lines up A common correctly before you mistake among are holding the glued new modelers is part in place, possibly in using too much the wrong position. glue, which leads Often a slight to extra cement imperfection in the mold seeping out of the can trip you up and you joints in the parts. may need to use some of the tools from tip #1 to fix any problems that crop up with your parts; the most common of these being the extra plastic along the edges of a part that is easily fixed with a file. 3 When painting, always prime your model first. This is a part of the process where first-time modelers can get very frustrated. You 2 Test-fit your parts before gluing. Another good habit for beginners is test fitting your parts before you apply any glue. have finally completed the model and want to get to painting, but the paint you apply just doesnâ€™t stick to the plastic correctly. This is because you still need to prime your model to give the paint a good surface to adhere to. By its nature, outlook 11 Tips & Techniques the plastic used in model building is extremely smooth and doesnâ€™t allow for a good surface to paint on, but applying a spray or brush-on primer gives you a surface that your paint will stick to as well as providing a background color for your paints to contrast. 4 Think ahead and paint some parts before assembly. A good example of a situation where you would want to exercise this tip is the cockpit of a plane. If you have parts that and gloss finish (leaves a shiny look, most often used on car models). Regardless of what finish you use, your model will be protected from chipping and fading paint, and will allow you to enjoy your kit for years to come. ADDITIONAL TIPS: Always be prepared before you begin modeling. can be seen but are not possible to reach once your model has been fully assembled (like the cockpit) donâ€™t be afraid of painting those parts before you complete your kit. The interior of a car model would also be a good place to pause in your assembly and paint up the hard-to-reach parts before completing the kit. This allows it to have a completely finished look to it without any unpainted hard-to-reach sections. 5 Use a Sealant to protect your model when you are finished. Another commonly overlooked step in the modeling process is finishing and sealing the completed kit. A sealer acts as an additional layer on top of your completed paint job to help protect it from wear and tear as well as dust, dirt and anything else environmental that can damage your finished model. Sealers come in many different types and finishes, but for the most part you have the choice of a dull finish (so your model has a flat finish, mostly used for military models), 12 outlook When mixing paint, test the color on a paper towel to ensure you have the exact color you want for your model. When painting your model, use small strokes in the same direction. Try to follow the contours of your model. October is our Fall National Model Contest month, and we’re giving you the opportunity to win prizes and internet glory by showing us your model-building skills. Just upload a photo through the HobbyTown USA® Headquarters Facebook page and it will be voted on by other HobbyTown fans just like you. The People’s Choice online contest begins October 1st, and modelers will be able to upload photos until October 15th. Voting will continue through October 31st, and a winner will be revealed shortly after. Are you ready for your close-up? Guest Columnist BASHING on the DIY GO! DIY PORTABLE RACE TRACK The experts at Big Squid show how to build a portable race track. By Bill Stevens (aka Wrench) and Brian Smolik at Big Squid RC With a special thanks to HobbyTown USA® Orland Park for the use of their lot and PVC parts. While most bashers are not ‘racers’, we do like to throw down with some competition now and then. Using PVC pipe from your local big box hardware store is a cheap, quick, and easy way to have a portable race track just about anywhere you want! We take ours to parking lots, schools, and culde-sacs. A few years ago we ‘parking lot raced’ outside work for an hour at lunch 5 days a week for the entire summer. It was a blast. Because PVC piping is pretty flexible, the chance of damaging your vehicle by running into the sides is minimal. While we recommend 1-3/4” to 2” diameter PVC, you can use smaller if you don’t mind it being too easy to drive over and out of your track. Some people actually prefer the smaller sizes because if they do get out of control, most times the vehicle will just drive over the PVC and it’s easy to get back on track. When you get 14 outlook to the PVC aisle of your store, there are going to be a TON of pieces and sizes to choose from. Pay attention, and make sure you grab the same size pieces, or else you’ll be standing in the returns line A few years to exchange them for ones that fit. ago we 'parking The number of pieces you will lot raced' outside need depends on the size of the work for an hour track you want to make. Our at lunch 5 days a recommendation is to start small. week for an entire It’s really easy to run back to the summer. It was a store at a later date and pick up more blast. pieces, especially once you have built a track or two, and have an idea of what you want to build. Here is a list of the type of parts you are going to want to pick up: If you don’t have a hacksaw, pick up a cheap one. They only cost about $5 and will easily slice through the PVC. Guest Columnist Two drivers fighting hard to keep the lead. Better for straight-aways and saves on connectors. Tee connectors allow for unique course layouts. 2” PVC Pipe – These come normally in 10 foot sections. Pick up at least 10-15 of these to start. They will cost about $3 each. Connectors: 2” PVC, 45 degree elbows and Tee connectors. If you want to save on some money, skip the straight connectors and get the 90 degree elbows. Buy more Tee connectors. Tees let you add turns easily, but if you want to connect a bunch of straight pieces, make sure you turn the Tees towards the inside so your vehicles are not hitting them. I’d recommend about 15 Tee’s and maybe 4 to 6 45 degree elbows. The 45 degree pieces are there to make more interesting turns, but aren’t really a necessity. Most connectors cost about $2 each. If you plan on cutting the 10’ PVC pipe into smaller, more manageable sizes (not everyone can fit something 10 feet long in their car.. but 6’ is usually doable), try not to cut it down till you have tried to lay out your first track. While you can outlook 15 Guest Columnist Adding ramps to your course is a great way to add to the mayhem. 16 Easy to set up, your track can be taken anywhere. Is your layout too easy or too hard? Switch it up. always connect smaller pieces together, longer sections make it easier for straight-aways and save on connecting pieces. Warning: Do not glue the pieces together. The guy at the hardware store may tell you you’ll need glue to hold it all, but he does not know what your plans are. You don’t need glue, the pipes will hold together just fine. So now that you have all your PVC pipe and connectors, it’s time to lay out a track. At first keep it simple! You will want to keep your lanes at least 5 feet wide. The narrower your lanes, the slower you will probably be going, especially in the turns. Since you are probably not a ‘racer,’ the wider lanes make it easier to pass. We have included a few pictures of sample tracks for you to try, but go ahead and build your own! You can use curbs, parking blocks, or anything else to make your track more interesting. We also often include jumps in ours, either with one of our portable ramp designs, or those cheap black skateboard ramps you can buy make great (and easy to carry) jumps. After you and your friends start running laps, you may want to try and actually race. It can be fun and add some bragging rights to your outlook Guest Columnist Just because we're bashers, doesn't mean we can't trade some paint on the track too. bashing day. An easy way that we use is to count off the laps. For example, we will decide to race to 10 laps. We line up at a start/finish line (chalk or anything else will work). On GO, EACH person will count out loud what lap they are on when they pass the line. First one to count off 10 wins! This keeps things interesting, you have an idea of where you stand in the pack, and it’s not really easy to cheat because you’ll hear your friend skip a number, and know he didn’t pass you 3 times on your last lap. We do this type of parking lot racing all the time. It’s cheap, portable, and is always good for a little trash-talking with your friends. Have fun, keep bashing! outlook 17 Review B U CTE N O I L B F R E A M C RO F E TH By Craig Trachten HobbyTown USA® New Milford, CT Once a quarter, I am asked to make a “Craig’s Pick” for Hobby Outlook. At times it is tough, as many new aircraft are regularly introduced into the market place. It took me about 3 seconds to come up with this issue’s pick, E-Flite®’s Carbon Cub. I feel like a broken record, bouncing back to “Where can E-Flite® go from here” every time they release a new aircraft, but they always find a way to WOW us and they certainly did it for me with the Carbon Cub. Not being into full-scale aviation, I had to Wikipedia CubCrafters to find out why this Cub is called the Carbon Cub—carbon fiber was used instead of aluminum in many places to save weight. The Carbon Cub comes in 250 pounds lighter than Piper’s Super Cub. As with all E-Flite®’s micros, the first thing you will notice when popping the lid off the box is how it is packed. I have yet to open one and find transportation damage on any E-Flite® or Park Zone® micros. After removing the masking tape, the foam hold-down pieces slide in and out, making it the perfect way to transport the aircraft to the field. They even include space to store extra batteries. Once out of the box, you start to appreciate what the Carbon Cub is about. First, it is a great looking aircraft with incredible attention to detail. While the supplied battery was charging, I bound 18 outlook the Cub to my DX7s with a battery I had from another aircraft; I couldn’t wait to check out all the features. The running lights came on immediately on power-up. Next, I flipped the switch to drop the flaps (way cool—flaps on a micro!). These flaps are set up on the “Gear” switch of your transmitter, which confused me a bit until I realized that the DX5 does not have a “Flap” switch. What really impressed me was the AS3X® system. Upon picking up the Cub, you will hear what you might think is servo chatter. What you are hearing is the AS3X® As with all operating the ® servos trying E-Flite 's micros, to keep the aircraft straight the first thing you and level. will notice when The AS3X® is an Artificial popping the lid Stability 3 aXis off the box is how system and it doesn’t know well it is packed. that it’s in your hand rather than the sky. What I did next was a little unorthodox; I cracked open the fuse to look at the guts of this bird, which one will do to get a clearer picture of how the craft works. It’s amazing how much “stuff” can be jammed into a micro. FYI, if you have to open yours for any reason, not only will you have to slit the decals and slide the struts out of their slots, SPECIFICATIONS MODEL: Carbon Cub MANUFACTURER: E-Flite® DISTRIBUTOR: Horizon Hobby Distributors WING SPAN: 24" WING AREA: 83.5 sq. in. LENGTH: 15.7" WEIGHT: 3.17 oz. MOTOR: 180-2300Kv Brushless Outrunner BATTERY: 180mAh, 2S Lipo you have to remove the piece of hook/loop material that holds the battery in place. It crosses between the fuse and the bottom of the wing. Looks and features are fine and dandy, but I wanted to know how she fared in the sky. My maiden flight was off a newly blacktopped parking lot—it doesn’t get any better than that for a micro. Typical of Cubs and most tail-draggers, if you’re not careful, you will ground- loop. It took me a few attempts to get my rhythm down for a perfect, scale take-off. I would suggest that your first flight start with a hand-launch. She will fly out of your Inside the belly of the beast. hand and will give you the opportunity to trim out the aircraft. I also found that taking off with flaps deployed eliminated the ground-loop. Of course, I was airborne in less than 2 feet. Landing the Cub is almost like landing with auto-pilot turned on. Without flaps, the Cub seems to glide forever. I chopped the throttle and let her settle into a descent. Just before touch-down, I gave a blip of throttle and flared. It was pictureperfect, but I had to taxi back as she glided a bit more than anticipated. Now it was time to try out the flaps. I really expected the Cub to balloon up as there wasn’t any flap elevator mixing, but to my surprise, not only did she not balloon much, the Cub went nose down into a perfect angle of attack for landing. I never shut down throttle but kept it just above off to maintain forward motion. I flared just before touch-down and the landing was light as a feather. There is more to flying than take-off and landing. Here again, the Carbon Cub surprised me. The 180-2300Kv brushless motor provides more than enough power to do whatever you want. Loops were perfect, leaving just where it entered after a bit of rudder trimming. Rolls were faster than I thought they would be. Stalls were almost impossible to induce; with the AS3X® system, all the Cub wants to do is fly straight and level. The AS3X® system made the Cub fly like there was no wind even though it picked up and would have grounded most micros. She flew inverted, holding just a touch of down elevator. Remember to raise your flaps before you go inverted (guess what I forgot to do?). Preflighting the Cub before my next flight, I decided that I did not like the flaps on the “Gear” switch. Remember that the flaps are on the “Gear” channel when you go into servo setup to move the flaps to the flap switch. Now I had 2-stage flaps, ½ and full using the 3-position flap switch. As long as I was playing with the set-up, I mixed elevator to the flaps. This will add a specified percentage of down elevator to the flaps. Although the Carbon Cub did not balloon much, and is way acceptable without the mix, I added it as described in the documentation. Recap–Great looking aircraft and perfect size to keep in your vehicle, it has more power than is necessary (although I think one can never have too much power), and it will almost fly itself (I would not hesitate to hand the controls to a beginner). Oh, and I almost forgot: a float kit is available. The pluses are many, and the negatives are non-existent. I would love to see a 36"-42" version. Have fun–fly safe! outlook 19 By Bryce Wergin Early Sunday morning, we arrived in Omaha for the Short Course Showdown. The sun was still climbing in the sky when we pulled up to the HobbyTown USA® HobbyPlex, the largest indoor dirt R/C track in the world. Though I had grown up a short 60 miles from the track, this was my first time seeing it from the inside. The smell of hay was in the air, as bales lined the walls for seating, and the buzz of R/C engines hung constantly over everything; the only audible sound over the highpitch electric hum was the enthusiastic shouting of the kids who had arrived early to get some warmup laps in before their races. The prep room, which is so large I feel odd calling it a room, was packed full of work-benches and R/C contestants priming up their vehicles 20 outlook for the races to come. There was no dominant demographic among those who showed up for the Short Course Showdown; people of all ages and walks of life were brought together by their love of racing. This was what resonated with me—it wasn’t how fast the cars were going or how high they could jump or how hopped-up with mods they were, it was the feeling of community present in every one of the participants and spectators. This shared passion seemed to be contagious, and was thick in the air as the first races approached. I wasn’t at the Showdown for more than 15 minutes before being pointed to the event’s organizer. Every person I chatted with had the same advice. You’ve gotta talk to Scotty. After a few racers and sponsors showed Short Course Showdown outlook 21 Short Course Showdown me their vehicles and what they would be running, I was greeted by the infectious smile and hearty handshake of Scotty Ernst, producer of the Short Course Showdown events and the Since short ‘ring leader’ of sorts, attracting course has gotten these like-minded people to come big, everybody's together under the same roof. This been getting into tour is the second year of this series, it. The realism of but Ernst has been organizing the trucks and and producing races for over a the advances in decade. “I have a passion for this,” electronics are he says. “I love R/C. I love racing, amazing. my daughter’s into it, I’m just always doing it. To me this is as thrilling as any NASCAR or Formula One race. I put my passion into what I do.” Scotty Ernst enjoying a post-race conversation with a driver. Ernst is one of the fortunate few who gets to take his enthusiasm and dedication for his hobby and make a career out of it. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Ernst opened a hobby shop in 1993 and has been heavily 22 outlook Short Course Showdown involved in racing ever since. It’s even taken him overseas—Scotty said he had just returned from trips to Amsterdam and Austria for the world and European championships. “I’m very lucky; I get to travel the world doing what I love.” Spencer, Iowa native Dale Nichols, who took part in both racing and spectating at the Short Course Showdown, says these types of events have saved the hobby. “Short course trucks are what got me back into it,” he says. “I used to do R/C racing with my brother when I was younger, but these races weren’t something you saw very often. Since short course has gotten big, everybody’s been getting into it. The realism of the trucks and the advances in electronics are amazing. They’re easy to drive and they’re durable.” The growth of the hobby should certainly be credited to some of the advances in technology and design, but there is also something to be said for the sponsors who make events like these possible. Ernst is a big believer in the importance of sponsors. “The format we use is different from any weekly club race. I wanted to give a chance to the sponsors to really showcase their product to all these people,” he says. “And I wanted a way to give something to the spectators, so we have raffles for free kits every time. We hope the enticement of a free kit gets more people in and interested in the hobby.” The first raffle of the day saw one lucky spectator walk away with a brand new Team Associated RTR SC10RS, and later on a Losi RTR Ten-SCTE and a Traxxas RTR Kyle Busch Slash were also given to raffle winners. Nichols says he thinks the events are encouraging for those who may not be as into the hobby to try it out. “Just look at who’s here. We’ve got people 6 years old to 60, and all kinds of people hovering around willing to fix problems. All they ask in return is a ‘thank you.’ 90% of the people here are willing to help others out.” The Short Course Showdown is the perfect opportunity to check out the hobby if you’re unfamiliar or have been away from it for an extended period of time, and also a great way to meet a ton of people with similar interests. There are racers of all experience and skill levels, so there’s no need to be shy if you’re not an R/C veteran. You don’t even need to have your own suped-up R/C to compete—there are outof-the-box races, where competitors must race their trucks as they come, without any mods or upgrades. outlook 23 Find the HobbyTown USA速 location nearest to you. With over 150 franchises nationwide, you can find us just about anywhere. s 24 outlook Store Locator CT outlook 25 EDITOR’S PICK BACHMANN LI'L BIG HAULERS By Gary Phillips HobbyTown USA® Knoxville, TN It takes a lot to make a train guy say “wow,” but this new Bachmann Li'l Big Haulers G scale set did just that. It was love at first sight. Not for me per se, but for all the little "train guys" out there. I think this is perfect way to introduce large scale electric trains to children 8 and above who are ready to move up from the wooden trains of their pre-school days. The first thing I noticed on this particular set was the large, colorful and informative box. There was no second-guessing on what was inside, as the box opened up to show all the contents. The next thing I noticed was the sheer size of the actual train set. It's big and impressive. Now is a good time to mention that Bachmann provides a lifetime limited warranty on all its products—not bad in today's throw-away society. This colorful train set consists of a locomotive with lighted headlight, a box car with sliding doors, an open top hopper and a nice caboose. It's important to note that all pieces are made from a high-quality plastic, meaning lots of durability. There are 12 pieces of curved track that make a 4' 3" circle, the power pack and a controller. There is an illustrated instruction manual that will guide you along when assembling your set. The assembly is mostly intuitive, but the manual was useful several times, even for me. The instruction manual is written in plain text so it's easy to follow along regardless of your skill sets. The 12 pieces of curved steel alloy indoor track assemble very easily. Make certain you check when complete to ensure that there are no kinks or uneven track at the joints where the tracks come together, as this could affect the operation of the train later. Also, make it a point to use the included track connectors as use over time can work the joints apart. 26 outlook Next, add the power to the set. It's easy and requires no wire-cutting. Just attach the power terminal to the track, plug in the terminal wire and insert the other end into the controller. Next, plug the wire in from the power pack to the controller, plug the power pack into any wall electrical outlet and you are ready to run. Please note that even with the electrical connection, this set is safe for children to operate. The controller has forward and reverse switches along with a rotary speed control. Perfect for engineers of all ages! Now the fun part—place each component of the train on the track. They attach with the hook and loop style coupler, and now you are ready to run a railroad. I ran the train for quite a while to break it in, and it proved to be flawless. I was able to run the train at slow speed as well as high, and the best thing I noticed was that even at top speed, the train didn't come off the track. That's important when, with many children, there are but two speeds...stopped and FAST! Kids can have fun loading items into the boxcar and hopper for transport. I do recommend adding straight pieces of track (BAC94511) if space permits. This is a great starter set that can be run on the floor, a table or even around the walls of a child's room on a shelf. Bachmann will have a total of three different sets in the Li'l Big Haulers line including the North Pole Express set that will look awesome going around the family Christmas tree. They will also have extra locomotives and additional freight and passenger cars. All in all, I really enjoyed running this set and I know in my heart that many children will feel the same way. Who knows, it may just lead to a lifetime of pleasure for your child just like it did for me when my parents gave me my very first train set. FEATURES + + + + + + + HTUniversity SNAPCIRCUITSGREEN Ken Versaw studies the power of renewable energy with the help of other qualified HTUniversity scientists in this issue’s HTUniveristy. By Ken Versaw The geek fathers at HTUniversity are already huge fans of Snap Circuits, so we were excited to see Elenco Electronics bring a “Green” version of the popular introductory engineering kit to market. For those who are unfamiliar with Snap Circuits, I cannot recommend them strongly enough. They are the type of kits that your future Nikola Teslas will recall fondly when they are filing their first patents. Snap Circuits are kits that come in various sizes and have many types of electrical circuits and components. There is a base grid and the individual components can be snapped together, similar to lego blocks. 28 outlook Each kit contains upwards of 50 projects that introduce the concepts of electricity and electric engineering in small steps. Although the kit deals with electricity, all the components are very safe. Each component is large and chunky. There are magnets in the DC motor, but the whole component is housed in a strong, thick plastic casing. It may sound strange but I realized the true learning potential of Snap Circuits while helping my son dry his hands under a hot air dryer in a HobbyTown restroom. When he was done I asked him “If you were going to build a hand dryer with your Snap Circuits, how would HTUniversity you do it?” He skewered his face before replying “Well the big silver button is a Press Switch, and you would need a large DC motor”. Much later in the day he said to me “You would also need a clock, for the timer…. In the hand dryer”. It took me a few seconds to realize that he had been contemplating building that air dryer off and on all day. If the purpose of a science kit is to help your child understand the world around them then Snap Circuits fulfills that purpose ten-fold. The Think Green Snap Circuit kit does a nice job of introducing children to the potential of renewable energy, and It took me the potential these a few seconds that technologies have to to realize that change our world. he had been Included in the kit is contemplating a manual talks building that air that about the types dryer off and on different of energy generation all day. technologies, and the benefits and downfalls of each. It also includes new components that allow you to take advantage of the different “Green” technologies that are in use. There is a solar cell, a wind fan, and a water wheel. These components can be used with existing Snap Circuit sets. If you have a child who is interested in electronics, or would like to spur your child to investigate different ways renewable sources can be used to power our modern world, then Snap Circuits Green is a great investment for you and your child. Snap circuits is a great cooperative experience for your kids. Snap Circuits combines critical thinking with simple, easy accessability. Bring learning into the household. outlook 29 7 WONDERS card game By: Dave Nolte It’s a game unlike any other. It’s a card game, but it plays like a board game. It’s historical, but it doesn’t require any knowledge of history to play. It’s difficult to master, yet non-gamers can learn to play and win very quickly. When you begin a game of 7 Wonders, you and 2 to 6 other players select an ancient city that was home to one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Choose from the famous Giza and its pyramids, Babylon and the Hanging Gardens, the Colossus at Rhodes, the Pharos (lighthouse) of Alexandria, Halicarnassus and its Mausoleum, Ephesus with its Temple of Artemis, or Olympia and its great statue of Zeus. Each 30 outlook player has a play-board depicting their city and Wonder, an icon representing what the city can produce at the start of the game, and also what is awarded if and when phases of the Wonders are constructed. Each player is given 3 Gold and dealt 7 cards from the first of 3 separate decks, then the First Age of building begins. The goal is to construct a city with the most victory points at the end of the Third Age. Cards represent structures that can be built, and add to the prosperity or glory of your city. Players look at their hands, choose one card they have the resources to build, then everyone builds (plays to the table next to their city board) their selected cards simultaneously. The remaining cards are passed to the next player, and the process repeats with one fewer card to choose from. After 6 builds, the last card remaining in each hand is discarded. The 1st Age has predominantly Production cards, which supply resources used to build other structures. There are also Commercial, Science, Military and Civilian cards, all of which provide different ways to score GAME breakdown Game Time: Once you know how to play, a game can be completed in about 30 minutes. Perfect For: Hardened gamers and newcomers alike. It may not be particularly suited to younger players. If You Liked 7 Wonders, Also Try: Dominion, Citadels, and Dixit. victory points at the end of the game (or at the end of each Age in the case of Military cards). In the 2nd Age there are fewer Production cards and more of the other types of cards which require the Production resources to It's a game build. You can use resources unlike any other. supplied by your own structures, It's a card game, or those supplied by adjacent but it plays like a cities, which you may need to pay board game. your neighbors some Gold to use. Some structures can be built for free if you have built a specific prerequisite construction. The 3rd age has no Resource cards, but Guilds are added, which award victory points in a variety of ways, mostly depending on the structures built by your neighbors. Throughout each of the ages, you place a card by your city to build it, or discard the card to gain 3 Gold, or, you can play the card facedown to build a phase of your city’s Wonder. Wonders are normally built in 3 “phases”. Each phase requires several resources to build, but Review then provides either resources, victory points, or other benefits like an extra build or Gold when completed. Building your Wonder can really help you succeed in completing the grandest city (and generally adds to the fun!), but you do not have to build it at all to win. After the 3rd Age, players add up all of their points supplied by all card types and Wonders to determine who has constructed the most diverse and fabulous city, and thus wins the game. The mechanic of choosing a card from your starting hand and then passing the rest to your neighbors assures that you cannot plan on a specific strategy in advance, and must make decisions to best deal with what you’re given each round. You can play cards that just suit your growing city, or keep a card to prevent your neighbor from receiving it (and maybe discarding it for Gold, or using it to build your Wonder). You may have to deal with poor Production card selection, or get several Military cards to choose from, or the Science or Civilian cards could be your path to a high score. 7 Wonders can be enjoyed by hardened gamers and relative gaming newcomers alike. It may not be particularly suited to younger players (under 12 or so) who could play the game, but might have quite a challenge determining which choices to make to score points effectively. Once you know how to play, a game can be completed in about 30 minutes, and there is usually a “let’s play again!” once you’ve finished. There are two expansions, Leaders and Cities, which add new types of cards, new methods of scoring, and new ways to harass your opponents! 7 Wonders has won 2010 and 2011 Game of the Year awards in France, Germany, Finland and Italy. It is sure to provide a very enjoyable and always varied way to pass a night of interactive and challenging yet quick and uncomplicated gaming. outlook 31 32 outlook