How to maximize range of RC vehicle

Practical Tips to Extend The Range of RC Car

In the spirit of boldly going where no RC has gone before, you may have the insatiable to push your RC to its limits. One limiting factor is the radio range. Whether you wish to maximize your RC range for FPV purposes or not (really no point in having an onboard camera if you could see where your vehicle is going), here are some practical tips to go the distance with your RC.

Keep Your Antenna Pointed Straight Up

The first thing that I learned from my telecommunications lecturer is to keep the antenna of my mobile phone pointed up to get better reception. That was the year 2000 and yes, telecommunication technology has changed since then but yet it is still relying on the same principle to transmit and receive signals over the same medium – space.

Therefore, it is still a piece of wise advice to keep the antenna of your RC vehicle pointed straight toward the heavens to get better reception.

Use a Longer (Higher) Antenna

If you could, install a higher antenna pointed up on your RC car. The same engineering principle applies here as it applies in the previous point.

Use the Same Polarized Antenna – Linear, Left-Hand and Right-Hand Circular Polarized

Picking the type of antenna for RC cars is pretty straight forward. A linear antenna is basically a straight pole while a circular polarized antenna is the one that you often see that looks like a mushroom. These mushrooms come in two variations – left-hand circular polarized (LHCP) and right-hand circular polarized (RHCP).

Circular antenna
A right-hand circular polarized (RHCP) antenna. Source: Amazon

You want to make sure that if your antenna at your vehicle is linear, you also should use a linear antenna at your radio transmitter or video receiver. Do the same for circular antenna but you should choose the same polarization, meaning if one end is using left-hand polarized, the other end should also be left-handed, and vice versa.

You can tell if a circular antenna is left-handed or right-handed just by eyeballing it. For example, the antenna below is right-hand polarized because the shape of the leaf is curving upward in counterclockwise direction just like your right-hand fingers when making a fist.

How to tell if antenna is left hand or right hand polarized

Sometimes it’s hard to tell underneath the mushroom cover if a circular antenna is left-handed or right-handed. But usually, it is right-handed. It’s best to check the specs or take a peek yourself if you own one.

Get to Higher Ground

I mean you, the one that’s holding the radio transmitter, not your RC vehicle. Because radio signal propagates downward not upward, so you want to be at a higher level to ensure your radio transmission can be picked up by your RC car at a distance.

How radio signal propagates
How radio signal propagates

Avoid Obstacles Blocking Your Line of Sight

Think of electromagnetic (EM) radio signals as waves similar to light waves. Therefore, if something is blocking the light source, the light signal will not be able to penetrate to reach the receiving end.

By understanding this common-sense principle, you should try to avoid having objects between you and your RC.

Use a Long-Distance RC Transmitter and Receiver

Long-range radio transmitters and receivers are becoming more affordable so try to invest in one. DumboRC X6 is a good choice with multiple positive reviews and I own one too. It could go as far as 600 meters and comes with six channels, plus it costs under $40. Another option is Radiolink RC6GS but they cost slightly more while being able to offer the same range as the DumboRC model.