RC FAQs: Waterproofing and Running in Winter by Squirrel

How to Waterproof and prepare your RC for Fall/ Winter driving

Right around this time of the year kids return to school, the days are not as long, and the temperature starts to drop. Fall is almost here! Most of us just do not want to give up our toys for five months though. We want to run them through the fall and winter. In order to do this we have to prepare them for the rainy and snowy season. This article will show you how to do just that for the following areas:

Battery
Receiver
Servo
ESC
Motor
Engine

You will need some special supplies for this. The nice part about them is that they are not at the local hobby store and you will be able to save some cash with the exception of one item. By a simple trip to a retail store and a hardware store you will want the following:

-Silicone Sealant (commonly found in the caulking aisle)
-Plastic Dip (commonly found in the paint aisle)
-Balloons (found in the novelty card aisle)
-Electrical tape (found in the electrical aisle)
-Liquid tape aka scotchguard (found in the electrical aisle)
-Zip ties (found in the electrical aisle)
-An old sock
-Associated’s Green Slime (Found at the local hobby store)

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***Be advised that any opening of anything RC (be it receiver, esc, servo, etc), or any alterations to any components (like changing connectors) could void any warranty that you have on your electronic device. Seek your owners manual first to be aware of what will void a warranty and be satisfied that you are willing to take the risk of modification!!***

Batteries

The trick to batteries is care for the exposed terminals. You will want to cover them up. The easiest way is to use electrical tape to cover the areas that are exposed (be it the connector or the pack itself) and wrap them. With the area wrapped then apply a thin layer of liquid tape to the top. This will help seal the electrical tape and form a rubber coating around it. Once the thin layer is sealed then apply a thicker layer. Be sure to use the liquid tape in any areas that are exposed.

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Receiver

You can weatherize the receiver in three different ways. You can use a balloon, plastic dip, or even liquid tape. My personal preference is the balloon method as it is the cleanest way to do it, best insurance that it will work, and you are not coating the receiver for future use of the channels and knobs. But, there are options and I will cover all of them.

The balloon method is by far the easiest to do. Simply stretch the business end of a balloon open with your fingers and drop the receiver in. With the receiver in the balloon you will then want to zip tie the balloon shut around the wires.

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Plastic dip is another easy method but care should be taken as well. For this you will want to plug all of the connectors up with the servo wires. If you have any spare slots open, you have a synthesized receiver dial knobs, then you will want to cover those areas up. For the spare channel slots they do sell blanks that will fill the holes.

Once the holes and areas that you do not want covered with the plastic dip are covered then it is time to proceed. Simply open the can of plastic dip and dunk the receiver. Let it dry for about 30 to 60 minutes and then dunk it again. The receiver will be coated with a rubberized seal that will prevent water from entering the electronics.

Lastly, there is the liquid tape method. This is similar to the plastic dip method where you will want to cover anything up that you do not want to cover with the liquid tape. When this is done then all you have to do is brush on the liquid tape to the main board of the receiver. This is messy and not the easiest method. I would caution anyone wanting to do this method.

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Servo

The servo offers two choices for cover. They are the plastic dip method and the silicone adhesive methods. Both work great and I have used both with great success. Both are easy to do and the mess is minimal. The key to weatherizing the servo is to patch the seam that encloses the two parts of the servo case and also the main gear.

The plastic dip method is very straightforward. Pop the can of the dip and dunk. Wait 30 to 60 minutes for the plastic dip to dry and then dunk again until you are satisfied with the coating process.

The main gear is pretty water proofed as it is. You will want to take a hobby knife and cut around the plastic dip around the main gear so that it can pivot properly. If you want to enhance that area then you can put green slime around the inside of the hold by opening the case and applying it. This is described in the next method in detail.

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Silicone adhesive is easy to apply. To do this you will have to unscrew the retaining screws of the case. Select the top part of the case and hold it in your hand. Apply some of the silicone adhesive and green slime to a piece of disposable plastic and pick some up with a tooth pick. Apply a thin layer of the silicone to the top case of the servo all the way around. Then, apply some of the green slime on the inside of the main bearing hole. This is similar to sealing the HSN and the LSN of an engine (reference my sealing video and threads).

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ESC

This is a tricky one! The esc needs to cool. Wrapping it up in a balloon will not allow air to pass over the heat sink fins and allow them to cool the unit down. The added heat could put the ESC into a thermal melt down!

The two methods available for the ESC are the silicone sealant and the liquid tape.

Silicone sealant is the same as the servo. For this you will want to pop open the ESC can apply a thin layer around the ESC casing. You can also spread this around where the wires fit as well.

The downside to the silicone method is that all ESCs are different. If you do have a heat sink then water can slip in there as with the front panels. This may work on some but not all.

The liquid tape method will work on all but there is a draw back as well. It is messy, hard to work with, and tedious. To do this, you will want to pop open the case and paint the entire board of the ESC with the liquid tape. DO NOT paint the heat sink or the heat sink slot. You want full metal to metal contact to ensure proper cooling!

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Motor

The motor is the easiest of all! Especially since there is no need to seal one. On brushed motors, people will drop the motor into a glass of water to conform the brush to the comm. for and even wear of the brush, keep temperatures down, and to take the debris away. If you do have electronics on the motor then you can cover them up as with the connections. But the motor itself is fine.

Engines

Engines are non-electrical and do not need to be sealed. However, there are special considerations for our nitro friends out there.

Heat! You have to have it to get the engine going and to sustain it! When it is 30 degrees out the weather tends to make life a little hard. The first tip is to select the proper glow plug. For average temperatures you will want to follow this rule of thumb:

10 to 20% nitro- Hot glow plug
20 to 30% nitro- Medium glow plug
30+% nitro- Cold glow plug.

As temperatures change then so does the tuning of the engine and also the glow plugs needed. For example, on a hot day with 25% nitro you could run medium plugs but cold plugs will help maintain a cooler temperature. The same goes with winter driving. You will want to consider going to a hot plug on the same 25% fuel.

Also, you will want to richen the HSN a little as well.

Another consideration is the cooling head will loose the heat that you need. By placing an old sock (the elastic part) over the cooling head (or a taped piece of cloth, tin foil, or foam) you will help retain the heat necessary to sustain the engine idle.

And lastly, the purpose of breaking an engine is to take two malleable pieces of metal to form a custom fit through heat. As the engine heats up, the metal loosens, and cooling the engine will help mold the metal to how you want it. It is why break in is crucial. On the other hand, when running in a snow or cold-water environment, and water or snow splashed onto the engine will make that area instantly cool. This could cause engine damage. So while having fun in the snow you will want to be careful as well.

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And with that, I hope that you enjoy your fall and winter seasons!

Videos:
Pt 1 Tools, Battery, RX, Servos pt 1

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=792xio8mpZ8&w=480&h=360]

Pt 2 Servos Pt 2, ESC, Motors, Nitro Engines

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFTFPS92u9k&w=480&h=360]

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