Short range on a RC vehicle
February 11, 2011 7:22 PM   Subscribe

RC toy car (a remote-controlled Tyco Stunt Psycho) has very short range. Is there any way to troubleshoot the problem?

The range on this toy is supposed to be 65 feet -- but after a short time (perhaps related to taking a tumble down the stairs?), its range appears to be more like 6 feet. It works fine within that range, doesn't respond at all if the remote control is outside that range.

Any idea where the problem might be? Putting fresh batteries into the vehicle and the remote control doesn't fix the problem.
posted by russilwvong to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total)
Check that the antenna hasn't been disconnected. It will take a lot of stress during a tumble down the stairs, and solder does not adhere well to springsteel - the wire that connects the antenna to the circuit board may be broken, or may have hair-line lifted off the metal of the antenna.

From the picture, I don't see an antenna, so it might be concealed within the body, which makes it less likely to have been damaged by the fall, but it's still the first place I would check.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:31 PM on February 11, 2011

(Check the antenna's connection in the remote as well)
posted by -harlequin- at 7:32 PM on February 11, 2011

Are you using regular batteries or the rechargeable battery pack? I think the long-range estimates are only applicable if you're using the battery pack.
posted by amyms at 7:32 PM on February 11, 2011

This is almost definitely an antenna problem.
posted by garlic at 7:48 PM on February 11, 2011

Thanks for the pointers. One question: if it's an antenna problem, wouldn't it stop working completely?

(Using AA batteries, the vehicle antenna is internal. I'll disassemble it.)
posted by russilwvong at 10:22 PM on February 11, 2011

A disconnected antenna problem will drastically shorten the range, not stop it working completely. It's a bit like removing the parabolic mirror from a flashlight - the bulb is still emitting light but the flashlight becomes much dimmer because all the light it is not being focused into a tight beam any more. You can still see things with the flashlight, but you have to be much closer.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:11 PM on February 12, 2011

Thanks, -harlequin-. That's a great explanation.

I don't have the right kind of screwdriver to be able to open up the vehicle, so I'll need to get that.

Unexpectedly, after my son put the vehicle through a few somersaults (now that it's got fresh batteries in it), the antenna appears to be reconnected again! Of course it could easily become disconnected. I'll see if I can open it up and fix the problem.
posted by russilwvong at 11:30 PM on February 12, 2011

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