Most R/C rock crawlers spend countless hours tuning their rigs for optimum performance. One small modification can drastically change how your rig acts in the rocks, for better or worse. In order to tune your rig, and test it, consistently you need to have an area with an assortment of obstacles, steep climbs, descents, off camber sections, holes, etc. This can be time consuming and expensive if you have to drive to your local crawl spot just to test your latest modification. But, if you have a small rock pit set-up in your back yard you can test and tune your rig with ease. Here are a few basic tips on setting up your own test area.
1. Find an area that’s usable with some elevation changes on your property. If your yard is relatively flat, dig out some fairly large holes in a couple spots. Then use the dirt to make the elevation changes more drastic.
2. Lay your rocks out so that they are accessible and be prepared for a little trial and error when setting up your course. If you just start tossing rocks down randomly, then the course will probably change as you drive over it. You’ll want to arrange/assemble the rocks like a puzzle, making sure they don’t move when you drive or walk on them.
3. Start by laying flat rocks in the holes you dug earlier. If you use big round rocks in the holes, then the changes in elevation will be less apparent. It’s also a good idea to periodically drive the course in different directions as you set it up to make sure the lines are challenging but drivable. Don’t be afraid to set a few lines that aren’t makeable at the time either, this will give you room for improvements with your rig’s set-up in the future.
4. Now start stacking rocks on top of the dirt piles you’ve spread out over the designated crawl spot. This will give your bigger obstacles some separation, so they aren’t all in one specific area. If you have friends in the area that crawl too, invite them over for a barbeque and put them to work. We enlisted the help of 1:1 WEROCK competitor Cody Waggoner. It’s also good to have input from fellow crawlers when setting everything up as well.
5. Again, test drive the course as you go to ensure it’s going to be a challenge. Then start filling in the transitions between obstacles with smaller rocks, making sure everything fits together tightly.
6. Be creative when setting obstacles up too. We decided to build a small wooden bridge over one of our holes to add a different twist to the course. This also gives us more options when setting up our practice comp courses as far as lines go.
7. Once the finishing touches are in place, charge some batteries and start crawling. Now testing your newest set-up will be a breeze. And if for some reason your latest modifications don’t work out as planned, every tool you own is easily accessible to make the necessary changes. It’s tough to beat crawling in the great outdoors on natural terrain. But, for tuning purposes having a rock course in your back yard can be priceless.