Oh! its 2018 already? Actually i still have bunch of stuff to write about especially about left over FPV stuff from 2017 but anyway right now i just wanted to show you my just recently completed and proud DIY project that i made late 2017 few weeks before we've jumped into 2018. It's a table size rock crawler track made out of box foam used to pack my big EDF jets. Completed build in just about a month last year between November and December was designed to accommodate 1:35 ~ 1:45 scale micro rock crawler truck particularly to cater my existing models which the ORLANDOO series and YOKOMO NANOQLO crawler models.
What inspired me to build this track because of me being extremely lazy to to go outdoors
with my 1:10 scaler which out there is hot, humid, dirty and awkwardly dumb to see old guy like sitting around on the rocky side with a slow toy truck climbing while public watching about from
afar beside the road thinking 'that guy' needs a life and grow up. Which is why despite seeing lots of my crawler especially K949 (aka Twin Hammer), Axial clones and bunch of HG's SCX-10 alike in my gallery didn't get much action, Tweets and YouTube...btw my house is just a few clicks from cool canyon like hills but i'll pass because living modern in air-conditioning room feels good, with fridge and toilet nearby,lol. Another contributing factor was our local R/C crawling community dwindling down slowly over the years due to economic slums in Asia, their wifey, family and stuff so commitment among R/C scaler start to fade away....as you've expected R/C sales in my area are dwindling too and my poor local buddy who own hobby shop started to sell more drones and DJI that R/C cars/trucks.
So not able to spend time with big models then the micro scale crawling saved my day, i can just roll over stuff and obstacles; pen, pencils, books, over some utensils, office drawers, keyboards and etc while let our imagination run wilds overlaying what we see them over the table as some ruts, rock trails and forest inside the comfort of our room with roof over our heads. However it won't be as good and as realistically photogenic being outdoors with real rocks, trees and cool background where 1:10 scaler enjoyed the most. I was quickly bored rolling around some mundane stuff and on that day decided to make an 'almost' realistic rock crawling track that will be extremely challenging, fun and blow people away with my awesomeness without spending to much money or anything cost more than a bucket of family sized KFC chicken combos....i would rather buy my hobby parts than some chikins. I watched some YouTube videos for some inspiration but i don't see much people building a serious high axle twisting track for micros other than almost flat and mild hill and valleys...for them its just drive along and scale it 80's Camel Trophy style. At first i thought of ideas picking up some rocks, pebbles of various sizes, broken red bricks and arrange it inside a big box or big plastic basin the same method i used to do 8 years ago with my YOKOMO NANOQLO crawler (I still have the picture in the galleries) but that will be cumbersome to arrange, would scratch the scale bodies on ORLANDOO, too much for the axle to twist around the obstacles and way heavy to lift the track around plus not so photogenic when i comes to backdrop scenery. Then i tried the paper cardboard method by molding it into hills, cavern and stuff the same method they used to build for Losi Trekker track but that needs lots of glue, wet works and messy stuff. Finally the cheapest, clean and effective method for me to build a track was a guide taken by scale Diorama train and figurine builders where they make scenery from their models from a block of foams carve with pen knife and crumbled it by hands and each parts of foam easily glue together using foam safe glue or hot glue for a quick fix. There a lots of YouTube out there teaches you how to make this Diorama stuff out of cheap thrown away foam box to make a cool looking track, so my quest for building ultimate micro crawler track begun.
The biggest mistake in my hobby life or you can say my dumbest face palm moments was to throw away all my R/C plane's foamy packaging straight into the bin else i could have keep it and made a huge layout of crawling track which can took out four huge living space when combined based on total amount of plane kit i have however it would be impossible to keep all the box as it would occupied the whole house. By the time i had the idea building the track the only foam box i have left was a big size unassembled LX-Jet (LanXiang) brand F22 RAPTOR Twin EDF 70mm jet plane, that was the last and the biggest foam box i have at that time so i dig out the kit assembled the plane and the remaining empty foam box i used it to start my project. The size of the box foam was equivalent to the size of my biggest coffee table enough layout space for a small micro 1:35 scale crawler to move about with all necessary space to create multiple obstacle in what you expect to encounter in 4x4 rock crawling world. The foam box itself have lots of 'beefy' foam to take out, tear a part, crumbled it and stacked each other to form an elevated terrains and other structure to mimic stones and rubbles without outsourcing extra foam outside the box. I only used existing hot glue tools which i used to cure and fix foamy planes to glue the tear/crumbled foams together to form a structures and layout such as artificial rocky terrains, bridges, arches, cavern and etc. Some part of the walled foam inside the box remain intact as natural base support for other glued structure especially the middle part of the box.
To determine if i got the correct or proper terrains layout for my 1:35 scale i let the Orlandoo Jeep roll over the obstacles to see if it could pass over it. If it couldn't roll over its tires or twist its axle over the obstacles i would shave or tear few crumbs of the foam with my finger until it could drive pass easily yet maintain extra difficulty as a rock crawler trails should. Extra pots holes are made by scrapping using my finger nail and there's lots of manual finger digging all over the foam box surfaces. So that how i build a drivable tracks; for every stacks of foam created along the track repeatedly try to roll and crawl around with the truck models to see if its drivable before continue adding extra foam for the next path.
The next step is painting it with various colors and this one for me is a bit harder and time consuming unless you have proper tools to do it. Normally polystyrene foam are very choosy when it comes to using paint. You cannot use alcohol/ethanol/spirit based chemically added paint that usually can be found inside a spray can or something to make them more soluble else the foam will melt. I'm using water soluble ACRYLIC brushed paint usually used for art drawing or school project which is widely available in stationary store because it foam safe, cheap and they comes in a big tube or container for only about $5 per-tube. Foam surface are very slippery to paint and they do not stick very well causing every painted surface especially when using brush to have its paint color a spotty looks and accumulated together like water on lily pads. When try to apply color using a brush you just need to stroke once and leave it to try before apply another stroke of acrylic paint, so you will need to repeat the same process until you get the right solid color you wanted. Once it dried out its pretty much water proof. My track color consist of two which is Dark Grey color for main color to create Aztec style rocky rubbles and Black for adding shadowy tint around the rock's nooks, crannies, gaps, potholes, under the arches, caves and other shadowy surfaces to bring out the contrast and embossed the terrain texture just like the same technique i used on my 3d models for computer texturing works. So there you go only two acrylic colors used to make the track. Since the track is huge to paint it took me about 1 week to complete the paint works where a day spent about 2 hours for it since it involve lots of proper brushed strokes and delayed drying.
Next step is to add some green vegetation around the track to simulate those typical along the track bushes, wall fungus and the vegetation stuff you might expect to grow around rocks and walls. I used a green kitchen sponges that i used to clean those after meal plates, spoons and other kitchen utensils and then crumble it bits by hand and also using rough grade sand paper to mush around so i can produce small and whirly looking sponge bits. You can use some machined shredder or blender but careful not to munched it to tiny bits as its else it will be too small to stick around. The bits of green sponges then glued to every nooks and crannies around the track using foam safe glue or you can use POR UHU (not normal the UHU glue which can melt the foam) which also can be found in any stationary stores. Once the glue dried damped the sponges with wet brushed and then brushed it again with black acrylic paint around the bushed to create shadowy outline and gradient looks. Pre soaked the sponges with water will help to absorb the acrylic paint nicely so don't paint totally dried sponges else the paint on sponges will be bubbly and beaded.
When all done the track will looks more lively with proper terrain shadows and texture gradient with combination of only two mentioned Acrylic colors and bit of cluttering shadowy sponges. So the last thing i added are some hand made ornaments of track objects such as track guard nets which made from tooth picks as pillars and fabrics of mosquito nets for the track nettings. This track nets not only for the looks but also helps to prevent my micro models from over tilt during crawling or cornering which avoid it model from crashing from heights and tumbling down which you seen a lot on my videos. Lastly to make the track more interesting for night convoy and after dark a simple LED light strips are added below the track arches, caves and hidden places to make it more lively and increase visibility when driving in the dark which i already shown video on my YouTube channel. All the hidden LED strips are powered by a single (11.1V) 3s 1500mah Li-po battery that can last whole day of crawling and don't worry the heat from LED because it won't melt the foam aka foam safe lightings.
So by the time it was completed in mid of December 2017 i have enjoyed lots of indoor micro rock crawling activity all though 2018 with cool videos made for both during daylight and night time. Because of the appearance of the tracks looks very crumble like walled structure, slabs of rubbles stacked each other as if there once was building structure during war torn era now engulf by mother nature thus i called it the "WASTELAND RUBBLE". Below are videos and galleries links if you wanted to see how it looks like:
Here are sample of video of i posted on my Youtube channel contain the track driving using Orlandoo OH35A01 Jeep.
- Track gallery (shared with 1/35 Orlandoo): RUBBLE WASTELAND + OH35A01 4WD Crawler
So how much did i spent to build this track? Here the list of raw material used including their price tag:
- Unused foam packaging/box: $0
- Acrylic paint Grey & Black: 2 x $5 = $10
- Hot glue sticks: $1
- Kitchen washing sponges (Green): $0.50
- Tooth picks + 1m x 1m mosquito netting: $0.30 + $4 = $4.30
- TOTAL PRICE in USD currency = $15.80
So there you go, ultra cheap DIY that can make huge difference enjoying your micro crawling activities.
No doubt after having a proper track for micro crawling i have tonnes of fun and purely enjoy true miniature R/C adventures in the comfort of my home. Honestly speaking its far more fun being indoor with this cool track than being outdoor because here i have all the coolest obstacles and death defying vertigos driving around the track ready to test the capability of every micro rock crawler models out there pushing its axle flexing under the fender to its limits and tire grinding moments around the curbs and apex. Not only the track offer extreme axle twisting and tire munching challenges but also provides some steep driving around tight path along the ridges, extreme drop angle and some impossible rocky climbs to test driver's driving skills....unfortunately i smacked the Jeep's side mirror a lot from a fall landed on its side but did glue it back ended with crooked looks. The track has more than more than 12x ways to complete a loop which allows driver to roam about almost infinite number of times with different driving scenario and facing different challenges even the driver returns back on same driving location. I did try to roam the whole track from top to bottom, completed a loop, drop, turns, climbs and etc it took me about average 30~45 minutes to complete the whole track because some obstacles are too difficult to pass through due to tire slippage, stuck and sometime trying to figure out how to get out of difficult situation just like how 4x4 crawler goes about but one thing for sure there always 101 ways to get out from difficult situation and that's what makes crawling around the this track more interesting and entertaining. What make this DIY track different than any other track seen online is that this one is well lit with numerous LED strips lights all around the track which is well hidden inside inside the cave, under rocks formation, arches and other hidden nooks and crannies all powered from a single pack of 3S (11.1v) Li-po battery. The scenery itself are very photogenic making every moment of rock crawling in videos and photo shooting looks worthy and sharable in R/C community, social media and the track backdrops looks almost amazing in the dark.
Other attributes of my DIY track is that its very portable, super lightweight (about 670grams) and small in size almost coffee table size which you can easily transport, move around the room or transport outside home. The track can accommodate up to max 4x unit of 1:35 scale rock crawler models or about 5x unit of 1:43 scaler parked under the cave. Ideally you can bring friend and family to have a groups of multiple rock crawling models to roam around a track in convoy style or 4x4 jamboree.
Its extremely fun and exciting moments when you have collection of your R/C car/trucks models running in your own R/C track. You'll get so adventurous, imaginative, actively sharing your activity with others through videos and photographs, as platform to invite friends and family over to play R/C together, most importantly having the models and a track itself together completes the basic of R/C hobbies where each components are dependent on one another....thus said no track no R/C life so off the car/trucks goes to the cupboard being shelf queen instead . If you have lots of micro size R/C either an on-road R/C car or 4x4 rock crawler and don't have a track to roam about then its about time you should change your R/C life style start building DIY tracks to make your hobby worthy, trust me you'll be very proud to see your build results and spent quality times driving around it. Its easy to build based on previous hands on and to be truthful i have no such skills building a Diorama track so this was my first time building a track by watching steps and guide from some Youtube DIY channels where people making diorama for train models, anime figurine and Gundams. So get your lazy ass, dig out those trash to find some thrown away foamy boxes and start building, trust me you won't regret it....actually you're helping the environment by recycling used foam box too and increase your R/C empire. Go green!, lol.