RC Car tips and guide to remote control cars and radio controlled trucks.

RC Crew Chief Software Review

5 January 2013 - This is my review of the RC Crew Chief Software of Mr. Bob Wright. To quote:

"RC Crew Chief (RC3) is chassis setup software for your ON ROAD or OFF ROAD car, truck or buggy. It uses vehicle engineering combined with graphics to simulate how setup changes will affect car handling and performance."

Tamiya 417x Analysis by RC Crew Chief Software

Photo: Above is a graphical view of the handing characteristic of the Tamiya 417x of 2012 IFMAR World Champion Jilles Groskamp.

My review will be focused more on r/c touring cars. But before that, a backgrounder.

I have been racing r/c touring cars since 2008. To be honest, it is a very technical class. I could not understand what happens when I change the shock position, springs, camber, roll centers, etc. To learn, I talked to the fastest touring car drivers in my country. Even had the opportunity to meet master r/c chassis mechanic, Mr. Masaaki Hirosaka (father of Masami). He once took a look at my Tamiya TA05 while it was running around the track, took it aside, made some quick adjustments. And to my happiness, my car was so improved that I won my class.

Quickly realised that, to be successful in r/c touring car racing, chassis setup is very important. Driving skill alone will only get you so far in this class. With that, I constantly try to improve my knowledge by talking to professionals. 2012 World Champion Jilles Groskamp once took a look at my daughter's Tamiya 416 in a big race, then quickly advised to add more droop to allow the suspension to work properly.

RC Touring Car Chassis Setup Tips

Above: Professional Tamiya driver Jilles Grokamp making chassis setup changes to Porsha's Tamiya 416 r/c touring car during the 2012 TITC race.

The professional drivers such as Paul Lemieux and Jilles Groskamp are often helpful on forums such as RCTech.net. I have some of their tips in an excel spreadsheet. And what I intend to do, is to apply their advice using the RC Crew Chief software, and to see if the expected results tally.

Note: There are a lot of factors that go into chassis setup and results. Track condition, overall wholistic car setup (e.g. type of body, tires, traction compound, driving style, chassis design), makes chassis tuning not an exact science.

Before the review, I recommend reading the following in advance:

RC Crew Chief - The official website has information and videos to explain what this software does and what chassis and motors are currently modeled. Then read the forum to get a backgrounder on the software and some real world test results from Mr. Bob Wright himself.

Review

My first use of the software was to download the 2012 IFMAR Touring Car Championship winning setup of Mr. Jilles Groskamp and use the RC Crew Chief to analyze the handling characteristic. I wanted to understand how his car behaved during corner entry, mid corner and corner exit. And based on the results, the software seems to give a logical analysis. Slightly loose on corner entry, neutral mid corner, then a slight understeer on exit. Seems like the ideal setup to corner quickly.

Next I used the software to compare a 21.5T brushless motor with a 540 Silvercan motor. I wanted to do this as I was an F1 RC Car Race director and wanted to evaluate whether or not to allow brushless motors in my races. Click on photo below to enlarge.

21.5T Brushless versus 540 Silvercan Acceleration

I modeled a Tamiya F104 chassis as the software currently does not have direct drive pan car in its design. But for motor acceleration comparison purpose, I think my modeling assumptions would work. Gearing is fixed at 3.7FDR.

Results:

RC Crew Chief - By the 1 second mark, both 21.5T brushless and 540 Silvercan would have accelerated the Tamiya F1 rc car to a distance of 8 meters. But then the 540 silvercan would pull away. After 3 seconds, the silvercan would have gone 35 meters while the 21.5T brushless only 30 meters.

Actual Track Test Results - The 21.5T brushless accelerated faster as expected given it has more torque than a 540 silvercan. But then on the long straight it loses out to the higher revving 540 silvercan.

Interesting, on the RC Crew Chief, top speed of a 540 silvercan F1 rc car on 3.7 gearing is 52kph. On my rc car chassis dyno, our real world tests also show a top speed of 52kph. This accuracy gives me a lot of confidence in the accuracy of the software.

Brushless Motors vs 540 Silvercan Speed Comparison

With RC Crewchief, to have parity between a 21.5T, 17.5T and 540 Silvercan, we can adjust the gearing as seen in the chart above.

Based on this, the RC Crew Chief is a good tool to predict acceleration results based on motor choice, gearing, etc. Thumbs up!

Final Test

For my final test, I would take some setup advice of the professionals and see if the RC Crew Chief gives the same predicted theoretical results.

The test car would be a basic Tamiya 417x.

More Corner Entry Steering

  • Lay down front shock - Software shows car becomes more loose on corner entry. Seems to agree with suggested tip.

More Rotation, More On-Power Steering

  • Lay down rear shock - Here I need to study more. To get more corner speed or rotation, professional advice I get is to lay down the rear shocks more. Gives a lot more side grip that aides cornering but at expenses of forward traction. The software showed that the rear became softer, rear roll stiffness lessened, resulting in a more understeering car.

With RC Crew Chief, you can change camber link positions, spring tension, roll bar stiffness, ride height, tire size, camber, shocks (oil, bladder, pistons) and see the corresponding effect on front and rear ride stiffness, roll centers, and total roll stiffness (factoring in ARB).

Summary

I give this software a two thumbs up. Good as a tutorial to understand how changes in settings (springs, camber, roll centers, etc) will characterize your car's theoretical behaviour on corner entry, mid corner and exit. Whether loose, neutral or push.

Room for improvement could be in two areas:

Usability - While the graphics and main screen layouts seem simple enough, I found usability can still be improved. Hard to pinpoint what I mean by this. Sometimes I found myself clicking on buttons repeatedly just to ensure with my peace of mind that settings are saved or being used in the current analysis.

Bugs - To the credit of Mr. Bob Wright, the software is usually updated to include bug fix and enhancements. Though sometimes I still get some error messages, such a when I tried to input 0 in the camber settings of one of my tests.

But overall, a useful tool if you are technically inclined to learn more about chassis setup.

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