Monday, July 1, 2013

Pizzmeister's Special Project: Project Used Monster Truck 2.0

Well, this is going to be a post in the Pizzmeister's own words.

As a reward for some awesome behavior and to teach him that second hand items are just as cool as brand new stuff, we bought a used Traxxas Stampede XL-5 and spent the last week or so fixing it up and installing new parts.

He seems quite smitten with it.

Here's what he has to say about it:

LOOK!!!  It's a Monster!!! Oh no!

Don't Worry! 

It's not a real monster.  It's mine monster truck.

I love mine new truck!

It's way way fast and way strong, but his body is old and sore.

I like hims beat up body.  That's who he is, mine monster truck.

He jumps really high and does wheelies!

"Hey buddy, did you have to fix him up?" I ask

"Yes." Pizzmeister's reply.

"What did you fix?" I ask

"Monster truck was angry because he wanted monster truck tires!"

"Did you do anything else to him besides new tires?" I ask.

"Yes!  We gives him new bounce and new wheelies and new bashers and new bumps! Mine new monster truck is all better and not angry.  He's happy! He's a real monster truck not a toy monster truck. He likes to jump and go way fast!"

Ok there it is.  The Pizzmeister's take on his new truck.

Oh, to translate for you on the pieces we added and replaced bouncers are shocks, wheelies is a wheelie bar, bashers are skid plates, and bumps is a new bumper.  We added a few other things to it, but there's no need to put it all down since I don't rightly know what everything is called.  

I know.  Lame!

I was going to replace the body that came with it, but the Pizzmeister is adamant that he likes the one it has and won't hear of changing it.

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Bunch of Updates!

Oh geez!  A lot of happenings around here since the last update. 

Let's see...

We transformed the Redcat Sumo into an open wheeled raleigh racer.

It didn't really take much to do it, and it was worth the effort to see the Pizzmeister's face light up when it was finished and the under glow lit up.

Other than the under glow we installed a bigger motor, lowered the ride height, installed metal out shafts from the differentials, replaced the stock axles with metal ones, replaced all the bushings with bearings, and, of course, we had to adjust the body mounts to fit the new body and installed led's with a separate power source for the under glow, a nine volt battery.  
The boy is happy with it, so I am too.

The Mad Gear hasn't been toyed with too  much lately.

We recently had to replace the steering servo, the receiver, and the electronic speed control.  Sounds expensive, it probably is, but more problematic is finding the parts for it.

Luckily for us, the people over at Nitrorcx really helped us out on this one!  

Those three parts all came in a single unit, which made it so hard to find, and, of course, Mad Gear doesn't have replacement parts on the market for that toy yet.  So, I emailed Nitrorcx, asking them if they had replacement parts or could order them for me at least, and they could and did.  Plus, they replaced the unit for free under the 90 day warranty even though I didn't buy the truck from them!  This saved me tons of money since I was prepared to replace all the electronics with readily available parts.  Phew!


Now, I know where to get parts in the future.

Let's see...What else is new?

Oh yeah, project Love Bug is moving at a snails pace.  Still looks pretty much exactly as it did except for the fact that now the body isn't just dirty like in this photo it is also cracked!


Oh well, I will do something with it to fix it up a bit and then paint it at some point.  

Other than that, Herbie has had his shocks over hauled with new oil and heavier springs, and his motor has been replaced with a 20 turn brushed motor that is really close to stock, but for some reason doesn't get as hot as the original motor and is noticeably quicker.

Project monster truck is officially canned.

We did fix it with all new electronics, and the Pizzmeister still adores it, but, as of right now, we can't think of anything else we can do to it with so many other projects in the works.

So, unfortunately, Project Monster truck is no longer on going, but  he is still being played with, and is an awesome example of what a $30 dollar rc can become with a little imagination.

Stay Tuned for more updates, and the Pizzmeister's unveiling a new special Project!

Here's a hint as to what the new project is.  He's holding it in a photo on Just a Dizzy Dad's facebook page!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Mad Gear 1/16 Mini Electric Short Course RC Truck 2.4ghz Ready to Run Review

We bought this for my son, and he loves it! 

I, on the other hand, am uncertain how I feel about it yet as it is different than our other RCs and will take some getting used to. 

How is it different? 

Well, the three in one servo, receiver, and esc mainly. I am not sure if I like that concept, but what I do like about the truck is the aluminum drive shaft, the non beefy chassis has a lot of flex to it, making it thrilling to drive because you constantly think you're going to break it, but always surprised at how much punishment it takes, and the little motor has plenty of power in it. 

Now for the pro's and cons.


-nice little motor (gets wicked hot though)
-comes with a battery and transmitter
-some really nice sturdy parts in it (i.e. aluminum drive shaft, a pretty sturdy tub with flex to it, bearings etc...)
-The body feels nice and strong
-wheels are pretty decent
-tires are nice and pliable
-nice torque for acceleration
-adequate top speed for some real fun on a smooth surface
-adjustable suspension to an extent
-fairly inexpensive at around $80 


-pinion gear started showing signs of wear after ten minutes of run time (probably due to bad mesh so maybe not a fault of the car)
-plastic gears
-stock battery lasts about 10 minutes (I have been looking for another battery and having a hard time finding one that fits the dimensions)
-no manual comes with the truck only a parts diagram with part numbers (no names)
-shocks don't perform as expected (do not decompress fully after compressed but truck still fun regardless of this)
-haven't found replacement parts or upgrades designed for it yet 
-body extends past bumpers and therefore unprotected
-servo makes a lot of noise and doesn't seem to be proportional or consistent 
-not water proofed (but to keep things in perspective a lot of RC vehicles aren't)

overall impression:

I think this is a pretty solid little truck. Sure there are somethings I would change, but there are also a lot of things I like about it, and it is fun and my kids love it the way it is. Some quick advice for you. When the truck arrives start charging the battery right away as it will take around 4 hours to fully charge, and the only way to know when it is charged is by feeling for warmth. I assume that when the wall plug is hot or the battery starts getting warm the battery is fully charged since there is no manual to explain it better, and while the battery is charging thoroughly go over the truck to make sure everything is tight enough and not too tight, and check to make sure all the parts are seated properly and ready to go.

Update after driving the truck a few times: 

Well, after having gone through a few battery packs in this, I have determined that it isn't as good as I originally thought. 

We've had to replace a pinion gear that blew apart after a half hour of run time. We replaced it with a traxxas steel pinion, but shortly after replacing the pinion the servo has taken a nose dive on us. I can't find a replacement anywhere. I tried getting parts from a Mad Gear internet seller, but it seems like nobody keeps parts for this car in stock. 

Sure, they can order the parts for you, but the shipping is a little steep. If I was to order the pinion from them the shipping cost more than the gear, which is no good. 

We also had to replace the battery leads because the spur gear is exposed and ripped through the battery leads. I admit that it is part user error on this, but I still think that the design is crappy. Open gears just aren't any good outside, even when only running on pavement. Not only do the gears catch the battery leads, but the pan chassis just catches everything and directs it right to the pinion and spur gear and jams them up.  Not a lot of fun.

Anyway, I have spent hours searching for a replacement servo or even the entire 3-1 unit. So far no luck, and I am fairly unimpressed. The truck was a fun little toy when it was running, but I am not a fan of it due to the fact that even finding parts online is difficult and the truck is not well constructed or designed. I wouldn't buy another one or suggest it if you aren't prepared to do some modifications to keep it up and running.

As of now, I am drawing up designs to fit all new electronics in it and a gear shield.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Redcat Racing Sumo in the Mud!

Well, we decided to splash around in the mud a little and decided it was the perfect occasion to get the little Sumo all dirty!  

Oh, and we took a video of it too!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Redcat Sumo with bearings.

Ok.  Sorry for not updating more recently, but we've been busy around here testing out a few products and just playing with our cars!  

A quick Update on the sumo. We burned out a motor, destroyed a pinion gear, and melted a plastic bushing or two. This was sad, but expected when you drive any rc through mud and sand and ponds especially an itty bitty like the sumo.  

No worries though, we've rebuilt it, and now it is better than ever!

Here's what we did:

We replaced the motor, we put all new gears in it, including differentials, and we tossed out the plastic bushings and put in bearings.  I had a video, or thought I had one, of us doing the work to the truck, but, unfortunately, it didn't turn out well at all.  

Anyway, after the work was done the truck is better than new.  From a standing stop it will lift the front off the ground now, which is awesome.  The wheel wobble is also totally gone.  It is almost like playing with an entirely different toy now.  

Oh yeah, in case you were wondering, we are using an 8t pinion and the same stock spur gears and differentials. All the gears are new, but same as stock.  You know what I mean.  

Here's a short video that the Pizzmeister directed to show it off.  Before there were no wheelies from a standing start.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Introducing the Mad Gear 1/16 Short Course Truck!

I bet you are wondering about what we have been messing about with for the last couple of weeks...well, probably not really, but I am going to tell you about it anyway.

We gave the Pizzmeister a new truck to play with, a Mad Gear 1/16 SCT.

He loves it!

I think it was too expensive, but still a lot of fun.  We've already had to put some work into it.

The very first thing I noticed was that the Servo, ESC, and Radio receiver were all in the same box on the car, which I thought was weird.

Then I noticed a fatal flaw in the design.  The pinion gear is not protected at all, and it stripped  by theout  within a half hour or by the end of the third battery run through it.  What happened is a stone got caught up next to the pinion and ground the gear down to nothing quick. When you couple the unprotected pinion and spur gears with the chassis tendency to pick up stones and debris like crazy you have one of those irritating toys that spend more time getting cleaned out and fixed than played with unless, of course, you are lucky enough to have an indoor space to play with it.

So, by the end of week one we replaced the plastic pinion gear with a metal one made by traxxas.  That helped a ton, but still there was the problem of the car catching stones and other crap.  To remedy that, we're experimenting with various shields/splash guards.  All that means is that we are sticking plastic pieces on the sides in an effort to protect the gears.

So far, it isn't great, but it is better.  When we come up with a better solution we will show it to you.

The other work we did was to tear apart the 3 in 1 box that houses all the electronics so we could "waterproof" it.  it was pretty easy to do.

First, we unscrewed the box from the chassis, then we disconnected the servo horn, and, finally we took the box apart water proofed the servo like you would with any servo, and we covered the circuit boards with liquid electrical tape.  

After that, we just let it dry and put it all back together.  Easy peasy!

Here's a quick video of it's second run.  This is after we waterproofed it.  

It's a fun little truck, but for the money I would probably skip over it and get a Redcat racing Tremor instead next time.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Project Herbie: The Duratrax Baja Love Bug

Well, a week or so ago the Pizzmeister and I received an e-mail asking us about the Herbie project that we promised to reveal a while ago and put off because our house was plagued illness, but now that we are doing better we will go on with our various rc projects starting with the introduction of Project Herbie!

For those of you who don't know, "Herbie the Love Bug" was a series of movies involving a late 1960's model Volkswagen Beetle that could think and move on its own. I guess you could say it was kind of like the original "Kit" from "Knight Rider" but couldn't talk.

Anyway, growing up I remember that every Christmas time my elementary school would show one of the "Love Bug" movies before Christmas break, and to this day I can't think of a vw beetle with out feeling a little nostalgic.

So, this year when my wife asked me what she and the boys could get me for my birthday, I finally decided that it was time that I got a vw bug of my very own, if only a small one.

So, I can now proudly proclaim to be the owner of a 1/10 scale Duratrax Baja Bug!

Let me tell you, this thing is awesome!  It's so neat to see this splashing through puddles or tossing mud and sand around at the park in the back yard or flying through the air after launching off a jump the Pizzmeister and I have constructed.

Now, that the weather is nicer, I have some plans for it.  Nothing big.  Just a new paint job and some stickers to transform it into a more Herbie-esque bug.

We'll keep you posted on our progress.

Here's a really brief video of our first test run with it.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

From Monster To Epic

Well, the Pizzmeister has been kind of sad the last few days.  We had to call a halt to project Monster Truck for economical reasons, but we at least had one good last run with it before it decided it was time to retire, and we didn't even take any photos or videos because neither the Pizzmeister nor I had any clue what it had planned.

Here's what happened:

A week or so ago we took it out mud bogging and pond jumping, and it was working really well.  We were having a blast, but after we got it home and dried out we couldn't wake the Monster up again.  So, we performed emergency circuit board surgery since we had two boards that we could use to replace the defunct one.

The first board went in in a snap.  Pizzly was happy, I was happy, and Monster Truck was happy and full of pep...for a  moment.  Soon after he was up and running again, we noticed that there was some evil blue smoke coming from under his lid.  

You guessed it...the new circuit board fried.  The electronic speed control failed and caught fire.


So, on to the second and last circuit board.  Same thing happened.

Poor little Pizzmeister was so sad when his little Monster Truck project was put on hold until garage sale season when we are sure to be able to pick up parts cheap.  In fact, he was so sad he wouldn't let me take photos of the failed surgeries and carnage.  I think he said something about it not being dignified.

But, he quickly forgot all about being sad because we have a few more projects cooking up to help take his mind off of the wait to get his spirit "soaring."

If that wasn't enough of a hint here are some photos:

Yep, that's right.  The Pizzmeister and I are going to help fix up, shine up, and fly some ancient planes that Uncle Ra Ra found laying around.  How cool is this going to be?!

We are both super excited to start working on them, but it is going to be awhile for a project update.  We first need to map out the repairs.

But wait! That's not the only project we have cooking up for this spring.  There's another one that is way cool, but we'll keep you hanging and guessing.

Oh, here's a hint because I feel bad...almost:  "Herbie" 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Jumps and flips

Here is a brief video of the Pizzmeisters new truck doing scary cool things, and believe it or not, he did all the driving!!!  I am so proud of my little stunt man!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Another Project for the Monster Truck

Well, having a little plow for his truck wasn't enough.  Now, the Pizzmeister wants me to make a trailer specifically to tow his newest truck around.


Now how are we going to pull this one off?

Well, we are going to buy a cheapo napkin holder, throw some wood in it to make a bed for the trailer, and then slap wheels on it, and voila!  

The Pizzmeister has a new trailer.

Now, all we have to do is cut the feet off the napkin holder, paint the sides and stuff, and add a tail gate.

I guess that wasn't so hard, and it only cost us about 5 bucks to make so far.  

More Photos when it is completed...maybe.

Here's what the Pizzmeister has to say about it:

I like mine new trailer. It's on mine truck.  It has wheels. 

It was on my truck, but it is naughty.  It has wheels on it.  It rolled away. I had to hooked it up.

Mine monster truck loves mine trailer.  It's gotta go fast.

Daddy helped build trailer. I'm boss. I'm told daddy to build the trailer.

Those old dogs don't like mine trailer. Mine truck is scary.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Unveiling Something New!!!

The  following is in the words of a 3 year old

Yesterday, I did get something new in the mail. 

I know what it was in the box. Daddy did not know.

Hey, what's behind that towel?

1/24 scale Redcat Racing Sumo

truck's behind that towel!

It is an awfully cool truck, but it's not big.

It is a Redcat Racing Sumo!!!

Him's very fast. I like it.  Him does flips.

Him is very small.

My big monster truck is way bigger, but slower.

My monster truck can drive over my new truck.  He doesn't drive over the little truck.  They are best friends.

Monster truck is tall.  He likes to climb and play in the snow.

He likes it outside playing.

Him is too big to play inside.  Daddy likes him to play outside.

Little truck likes to play everywhere!

Him has a cool remote. It does have a lot of buttons!

Him doesn't like the water.  Daddy must to waterproof him.

Daddy's two cents:

Like the Pizzmeister said, we bought a 1/24 scale Sumo by Redcat Racing, and, let me tell  you, we have been having a blast with this little monster.

We have been driving it non-stop since the Pizzmeister opened up the box.  He's crashed it, flipped it, jumped it over himself, smacked it into walls, and so far the thing is still running like a champ.

Yeah, it has only been a day and a half, but I still find it impressive that an itty bitty the size of my hand can handle all that even for an hour or two since it seemed like his monster truck failed within the first few hours of play itself.  

And, one of the better things about this little truck is that Redcat Racing offers a full line of replacement parts for when you do break something outside of the 90 day warranty, which is a load off of my mind since I am tired of scrambling to find parts for the boy's cars.

I just hope we don't end up having to replace anything anytime soon.  It would be nice to spend more time playing and less time fixing for a change.

A word of advice:  If you are like the Pizzmeister and plan on modifying your cars, make sure to check before you do anything as you may be voiding the warranty.

RC Snow Plow

Well, the Pizzmeister had some big plans evolving around his monster truck ever since Santa brought it to him for Christmas.  To the boy it is just logical that if you have a truck, and there is snow on the ground, then you obviously need a plow on your truck.

This is what we came up with for our prototype.  A little plow we took off of a John Deere tractor we had laying around, but we had a few problems with it.

Firstly, we realized that it was too small straight off.  The snow would fly over the plow and build up under the truck body, eventually lifting it off the ground.

That's no good!

The second problem was that the wiring, once encased in snow, became cold enough to fray and break.

Again, no good.

So, it was back to the drawing board for us.  

While we were repairing the broken wires, I asked the Pizzmeister if he was sure he wanted a plow.  His answer was an emphatic yes.

"Oh, what the hell," I thought.  "We already have the thing ripped apart, so we may as well see what we can come up with."

Well, soon enough, the boy and I came to a conclusion.

We'd cut a large tin coffee can into quarters after removing the lip and bottom of the can.  Then we'd simply stick two quarters together to reach the length we wanted, which was about 10 inches,   and then cover the edges so they wouldn't be sharp.  

Easy Peasy.

Then all there was left to do was affix it to the frame of the truck somehow.  

Turns out that wasn't too hard either.  

We just needed some springs, a couple of wood screws, a dozen Popsicle sticks, and electrical tape.  

Yeah, I know.  It's not pretty but it works, and the Pizzmeister thinks it is wicked awesome.  That's all that matters. 

Anyway, the first thing to do was cut the popsicle sticks into the shape we needed and then glue them all together.  They were going to be the mount and spacer for the plow.

Then we drilled through the truck's bumper and made corresponding holes in the popsicle stick mount.

Next was simply screw the wood screws into the bumper, put the springs over the screws, and the screw the spring covered screws into the holes in the popsicle sticks.

Easy peasy.

The mount is complete and has a bit of flexibility because of the springs.  

Next, we just covered the popsicle stick mount with electrical tape to fight of water logging, and then we hot glued the plow into place.


The boy is happy.  I am happy, and the best part of the entire project was we didn't have to go out and buy anything.

Oh yeah, and it works pretty well too.  We just don't have any videos of it in use yet, but soon there will be videos up and running.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Maisto RC Rock Crawler

I didn't take this photo.  I found it on the net somewhere
This is it.  This is the vehicle that inspired the boys and I to start up Pizzly's own little version of an RC blog.

The Pizzmeister received this toy from Santa last Christmas and immediately fell in love with it. 

It has everything a little guy who loves trucks could ask for.  It's four wheel drive, it has awesome suspension, it has great big knobby looking tires, and the batteries last for a long time.

This Maisto Rock Crawler was perfect for the boy.  

Then, we stumbled on a youtube channel called Rc Adventures, which started giving the boy ideas after the rock crawler started malfunctioning.

The first thing to go was the steering.  Then the rear motor went. 

So, after a transmitter and receiver change and a motor upgrade we were ready to rock again. (We did both repairs using spare parts from other vehicles we either had or Grammy and Grampy had, so  we just switched out the original crawler's receiver and put in one from another broken car, and we replaced the motors with ones that were a little bigger but still fit in the housings.  I think they are 180s)

But, after that was done, the Pizzmeister wasn't quite satisfied.  There was just something missing, and then he figured it out.  The body of the truck was all wrong.

So, we replaced it with this one.

But, this old dodge body didn't have enough flare for the little man.

That's when he got the idea to paint it.

We used water soluble paint so he could change it back
whenever he wanted
Now, it has flare.

Maybe, it has too much flare.  You can't be driving around with that much pizzazz everyday.  Sometimes, you have to tone it down a little bit, but Pizzly didn't want to go back to the original body.

That was too toned down.

So, he decided to that this one would do nicely for his calm trucking days.

It's still flashy, but not as flashy as his yellow and pink monster.

Hmm...what to do with it now?

I guess we will have to wait and see what the Pizzmeister comes up with.

What got us Started

What got us started down the RC path?

Well, that is a good question and simple to answer. 

This little air hog helicopter started it all.  

We bought it when the Pizzmeister was around two, and he loved it.  I thought it was neat too, so before we knew it we got hooked by the RC World.

Our Five Favorites
It didn't take long for us to add to his collection, and now Pizzly has a number of RC Helicopters.

He also has a number of other RC vehicles, which you will see later on in future posts as we do reviews and projects with them.

So far we have two ongoing projects that we are working on and soon a third.  We'll keep you posted on what's going on as we get to it.  

Project Monster Truck

This is mainly from a three year old's perspective and in his words.  I am just writing it down for him.

Note from Dad: Well, the Pizzmeister told me this Morning that he had to work on his blog while I napped today, which got me thinking.  

Why not add a page to my existing blog all about the boy?

I know. Most all of Just a Dizzy Dad is all about the boy and our newbie, Two-zy, but this is a bit different.  This page will be more about what Pizzles wants to say and do, and it will be more like an online journal format, which means we have some back filling to do because he wants to write about his monster truck that Santa brought him.

Well, let's get  to it!

(Most of this will be in the Pizzmeister's words.  I will try not to edit it too much because the point is to let him have as much control over the content as he can.)

December 2012 in Project Monster truck: The Beginning

Santa brought this truck to me, and I love it very hard. I know all about trucks.  

This truck is way cool!

This truck is a ghost monster.  It likes to crawl on pillows and brother.

I like it chase me, and I catch it then I jump and make daddy drives it.

It's way fast!

I do love mine monster truck.

January in Project Monster Truck:  Fix it Up!

Monster Truck broke and me am sad. It really did work, but then it died.

It really did die in the house.

I helped daddy fix it all up.

It drives in snow.  Monster truck makes me happy.

I water proof it in mine house.  

Monster Truck likes snow.  I can hug it and kiss it in snow.

February in Project Monster truck:  Make it Better

Monster Truck Died one more time.  This make me sad, but we did fix it all up.

Pizzmeister browsing online for parts
Needed new Parts.

We fixed it.  I helped.

I liked orange monster truck best.  It was my idea to make it orange.

Daddy did it.

I maked it yellow too.

I painted it, and daddy helped paint it.

I don't like painting mine monster truck.

I do have a red monster truck, but I like to get a flashlight one.  

I like my head light truck. 

Daddy must light mine truck.