Over the last week or two, a few questions have emerged about the rules we’re running under at Launceston R/C, and our race formats. The questions relate to marshalling arrangements, motor rules for Short Course class, driver behaviour, and class/heat arrangements.
If you’re interested in the answers to these questions….click through for some lengthy answers.
Launceston R/C follows the pattern established by just about all organised R/C clubs worldwide. Each driver is expected to marshall the race following their own, or to arrange an approved (by race control) substitute.
Marshalls are responsible for righting crashed cars in a manner that is safe to themselves, and safe to both the crashed cars, and oncoming traffic. We’ll spell this out in a bit more detail at driver’s briefings in the coming weeks, but for now here’s the basics:
- Marshall role is to monitor the corners in the immediate vicinity of the marshalling position. Watching the race, talking to other marshalls is not helpful – please give attention to your marshalling zone in the same way you hope marshalls will monitor the track while you are driving.
- If a car crashes, marshall must first look for oncoming traffic, and only enter the track if it is safe to do so. Marshall safety is first priority – drivers should slow down in the vicinity of a marshall who is on-track.
- Marshall should attempt to right cars in the order in which they crash.
- Marshall not to pick up car which has throttle applied. Stand by the car, arms in the air until wheels cease turning. If throttle is applied while the marshall is holding the car, do not put it down on the track until brake is applied. Marshall safety is highest priority.
- Cars should be placed (not “thrown” or “kicked”) onto the track facing in the normal direction of travel only if there is no oncoming traffic. It’s important not to put a car back on track if there is oncoming traffic.
- Return to the designated marshalling position (more on this in a second).
- Marshalls are not to repair broken or damaged cars. Damaged cars should be passed around the outside of the track area from marshall to marshall until returned to the pit area or driver in question.
We’ll be making designated marshalling positions in the next couple of weeks, marked by numbered witches hats. Drivers are to marshall at the position corresponding with the number of their car (ie if you are car #4, you marshall at point #4. If there are more marshalls than designated points, marshalls can either assist race control (eg call numbers) or spread out to cover other areas of the track.
There are also some obligations upon drivers to assist marshalling.
- When you see a marshall on track, slow down until clear. Martial safety is highest priority. This particularly applies in jump zones (such as the current “shockpopper” jump combo).
- Abuse of marshalls is absolutely unacceptable. If you are heard abusing marshalls by race control, you will be asked to leave the meeting.
- If you can see that a marshall has not seen your car for whatever reason you can call “Marshall, Turn 1” or “Marshall main straight” etc. Do not call “as” you crash, wait for the marshalls to have an opportunity to react.
- Remember….marshalls have to make judgement calls about safety – and it is their judgement that matters, not yours.
- Remember….you are being marshalled because you crashed, not the marshall.
- Marshall to the best of your ability….in the same way you would want to be marshalled.
Short Course Motor Rules
At Launceston R/C we have opted to apply a particular set of motor rules to our short course class in order to keep competition both affordable and relatively level in terms of horsepower. For Launceston R/C that means we’re mandating the standard ready-to-run brushed motors supplied with Traxxas Slash, Team Associated SC10, Losi Strike or Kyosho Ultima SC, or any ROAR Approved 13.5 turn brushless motor. What follows is a somewhat lengthy statement on some of the background information – including how sensored and sensorless motors fit into the ROAR approved picture.
ROAR is the governing body for R/C cars in northern america. ROAR has a stringent rule set which is shared by most governing bodies world-wide (including the Australian governing body AARCMCC) which define how a spec brushless motor can be constructed. ROAR go one further, inspecting motors which manufacturers believe comply with the rules and keeping a list of approved motors. Therefore a ROAR Approved 13.5 turn Brushless Motor has to first meet the construction specs (shared between ROAR and others including AARCMCC) and then have been inspected by ROAR officials to confirm its legality. The reason many R/C clubs and associations worldwide use the ROAR list is that most do not have the resources to complete the inspections and maintain “approved lists” on their own behalf. It is far simpler to use ROAR’s approval process and published lists than to repeat the process locally.
ROAR’s rules allow for both sensored and sensorless motors, provided they fit the other rules pertaining to construction and provided they are submitted for inspection. These two requirements rule out many sensorless motors. Firstly, there are many different ways to build a brushless motor. Rotor size, material and air gap, wiring type, thickness and material, stator size etc are all variable and have an enourmous impact on performance. ROAR (and AARCMCC) rules stipulate exact requirements for all of these components. Furthermore, if a motor is sensored, the rules stipulate how the sensor works, and what information is sent down which wire in a sensor cable – and even describes the required plugs on the sensor lead. All this means that every approved sensored motor can be used with any sensor-capable ESC. Once again, ROAR does not require sensored motors, sensorless can be approved if they meet the other construction specs and are submitted to ROAR. Most of the commonly available sensorless motors (whether 13.5 turn or not) fail to meet one or more of the construction requirements – and that’s why they aren’t ROAR approved (not because they are sensorless). Secondly, some manufacturers opt not to submit their motors for ROAR approval, as they are targetting the “hobby” market, not the “racing” market, and therefore, ROAR approval is not important to their marketing strategy….so even if a motor may meet ROAR guidelines for construction, if the manufacturer does not submit it for testing and approval, it won’t be legal. We at Launceston R/C have neither the technical expertise, the resources or the time to assess every different 13.5 turn brushless motor to see if it meets the construction guidelines, so we (like many clubs) opt to rely on the ROAR approved list. The list of approved motors can be found here (look at the 13.5 motors only).
At this point I have to introduce a new element to the discussion. In brushless motor systems, the ESC can also make a massive difference to motor performance. Over the last 18 months or so, most major ESC manufacturers have introduced new features to their ESC’s that allow for what is known as “dynamic timing” (or “turbo” or “CHEAT” modes). In a dynamic timing equipped ESC, the timing applied to the motor changes according to a user-programmed set of characteristics. As revs rise, more motor timing is applied and motor performance increases massively. The result is that a dynamic timing ESC can generate astonishing performance from a spec brushless motor. Our 13.5 turn motors used in SC classes can be made to run almost like a low turn modified brushless motor.
For reasons to do with keeping speeds reasonable, competition close, managing the complexity, and reducing expenses, most clubs and R/C associations worldwide are currently trying to figure out how to update their rules to deal with this new breed of ESC. Some are allowing the new ESC but moving to slower motors, while others are mandating what are known as “zero timing” ESC’s. This is a conversation we have to have at Launceston R/C if we want to keep power levels relatively close across the SC class. Ideally we would outlaw the use of the dynamic timing modes of ESC’s capable of these features (note, not outlawing the ESC’s themselves, just the use of the dynamic timing modes). Examples of ESC’s capable of this performance include Novak Kinetic & Havoc SC Pro, Tekin RS series, Castle Mamba Max Pro, LRP SXX Stockspec, Speedpassion & Hobbywing ESC’s with updatable firmware…and more.
Related to this discussion for SC class, is a question about whether we should apply motor limits to our other 10th scale classes – Tourers and Tenth buggy. Again, a conversation we have to have.
There have been some concerns raised about driver behaviour, including use of language, abuse of marshalls, drivers and officials.
It is the goal of Launceston R/C to provide a place to race that is friendly, welcoming and open to all – including families. Abuse, bad language and bad behaviour put that at risk.
Drivers seen or heard to behaving in a manner that puts at risk the reputation of the club, or which results in another driver, marshall, offical or spectator feeling threatened, abused or bullied will be given one warning by race officials. Further poor behaviour may result in exclusion from club events for a specified period, or permanently. We will not put at risk the environment we are trying to generate, or the safety of participants.
If you have concerns about the way race control is operating, the behaviour of drivers on track, the approach of marshalls etc, you are invited to bring the matter to race control in a calm and rational manner. You are not welcome to abuse, shout at, or use offensive language to anyone at Launceston R/C.
We’re all learning together what it means to be a great R/C club. Please help us by conducting yourself in a way that helps us make Launceston R/C a friendly and welcoming place to go racing.
We’re all competitive, we all want to do well, we all get upset by an accident, poor marshalling, or mistakes by race control……but let’s keep in perspective that we’re trying to have fun together racing our toy cars.
Any questions…come and see race control.
Class and Heat Makeup
There have been a few questions raised about how and why drivers are put into an “A” or “B” heat of a given class.
Just to be clear, we only have four regular classes at Launceston R/C. These are Short Course, Tenth Offroad, 8th Offroad (Big Bangers) and Tourers. When there are sufficient drivers, we’ll also run a ‘novice’ class. When driver numbers within a class exceed the maximum number of cars we can cater for in a single race (10 for SC, 10th and Tourers, 8 for Big Bangers) we’ll open up a second race, a third etc.
Drivers, whether they are in the “A” or the “B” heat within a class, are all in the same class, and all racing each other. The “A” and “B” (and “C”) labels for heats in qualifying only serve to denote the different heats, not to denote different classes as such. The top half of the field at the end of qualifying will make it into the “A” final, irrespective of which qualfying heat they have been in.
Until now, we have been using an approach called “grading”, to “roughly” seed drivers into heats according to their normal speed. So those who are normally the ‘faster’ drivers we have put into one group, those who are less experienced have been in another. This approach often produces cleaner racing for everybody because drivers are in a race with others close to their own speed – so there is less need to deal with cars that are being lapped, or are lapping you. There have been several drivers who have qualifying into the A final from the “B” qualifying group, and the grading of heats is something that we’re constantly working to improve. But as with so much of what we do at Launceston R/C, we’re all learning as we go (including race control).
There is an alternate approach to the rough “grading” system we’ve been using. Instead we can randomly sort the heats so that each has a mixture of driver standards. The same system will apply in terms of the fastest qualifers then competing in the A final, the next in the B, then C and so on.
For the next couple of events we’ll trial this approach in classes where there are more than one heat-full of drivers. We’ll seek feedback from drivers in those classes to determine whether random sorting, or driver grading is preferred. In a randomly sorted system, the onus is on drivers to be very careful when lapping (or being lapped) in order not to interfere with each other.
Note that no matter which qualifying heat you are in, the fastest drivers will qualify into the A final.
If you have questions about any of the topics covered in this (very lengthy) post, please feel free to post questions in the comments sections, or to see race control at club nights.