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Abstract

A short article which introduces the radio-control hobby and explains some of its merits in light of more popular forms of entertainment such as television and video games.

R/C Controller or TV Remote?

Dirt encrusted my fingernails, hands, and eyebrows. My nose burned with the smell of nitromethane fuel and my ears rang with the high-pitched roaring of dozens of model engines. In one hand I clutched a radio controller, and in the other I slung the revving, mud-splattered object of my passion – a radio-controlled model monster truck. Indeed, a day of racing at the track has its unseemly side effects, but that does not prevent individuals from engaging in one of the fastest-growing hobbies in the United States. R/C dirt racing far surpasses the electronic entertainment on which many people depend because it provides superlative enjoyment that actually benefits the hobbyist.

Though television requires little personal action, the R/C hobby gives one an opportunity to apply the principles of mechanics to a real object. Surprisingly, the average R/C vehicle has over several thousand parts, many of which interlock and comprise systems resembling those of a real car. Consequently, R/C vehicle kits include instruction manuals that teach the science behind a vehicle’s motion and help hobbyists apply that knowledge to their R/C models. With perseverance, a novice can learn the principles of engine combustion, circuitry, levers, and inertia. As a result, many hobbyists “drive” away boring afternoons and gain valuable mechanical experience – something a TV screen cannot offer.

Driving R/C vehicles improves hand-eye coordination better than video games. These vehicles can zoom at speeds up to 70 miles per hour, requiring a masterful driver and the coordination necessary to avoid crashes. R/C drivers not only have to control the speed and direction of a vehicle, but also stabilize the vehicle in the air during jumps and compensate for variable driving conditions – all of which a video gamer leaves to his or her computer. Whereas crashing a vehicle in a video game has no tangible repercussions, crashing an expensive R/C model burns a hole in one’s wallet and ends playtime. In contrast to video games, hobbies such as R/C racing offer a fun time while also honing hand-eye coordination.

TV and video games limit personal interaction, but R/C racing gives the hobbyist a fabulous opportunity to meet others. Dirt races attract large crowds of enthusiasts, ranging from onlookers to new hobbyists to seasoned racers. Even the beginner can find a wealth of knowledge in technical tips and advice from master drivers. For me, a day at the dirt track means not only zooming around with my monster truck, but also goofing around with current friends and befriending new people. Unlike many sports or competitive pastimes, R/C places the emphasis on the people who make it possible, and the racer who finishes last has just as much importance as the one who places first. This aspect of R/C racing creates a friendly atmosphere that welcomes any racing enthusiast.

Above all, the R/C hobby provides extreme fun for all involved. Whether in the grandstands or the racers’ box, the excitement builds like a NASCAR race. As the vehicles launch from the starting line, battling for first place, dust clouds pursue them as if disturbed by these scaled-down mechanical menaces. With prizes and trophies for the winners, the racing atmosphere tingles with tensed nerves as fans cheer their favorite driver. Lap after lap counts down to the victory until the checkered flag hails the fastest vehicle and the crowds erupt in pandemonium. No matter what the location, R/C offers unparalleled outdoors fun for anyone.

When compared to electronic entertainment, the R/C hobby clearly takes the checkered flag. Conducting repairs and driving an R/C vehicle requires the development of mechanical knowledge and superb hand-eye coordination. Likewise, watching television or playing video games decreases person-to-person interaction, whereas R/C racing increases person-to-person interaction. I particularly enjoy the R/C hobby above electronic sources of entertainment because it places me outdoors – actively seeing, hearing, and participating in a worthwhile activity. As the R/C hobby continues to garner interest, perhaps more people will consider jumping off their clean couches and into a worthwhile, albeit dirty, occupation – holding not a TV remote, but an R/C controller in their hands.

Entertainment Hobbies


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