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Several RC magazines around the world have asked us to write a monthly column. With the kind permission we will re-publish the column at our web site too so all of the XRAY fans can read the latest news and behind the scenes information. Enjoy.

Archive:
Column #1 - Behind the Scene Stories

Column #2 - Worlds Flashback

Column #3 - T2'007 Debut

Column #4 - Designing the T2'007

Column #5 - Worldcup Review and NT1 Testing

Column #6 - Developing and Designing the NT1

Column #7 - Developing and Designing the NT1 - Part 2




For the last few years, March used to be a fairly easy-going month. Until THIS year, that is. Looking into our task list and schedule, I knew that this was going to be an extremely busy month.

Production was super busy, and with the upcoming release dates of the new XB8EC and the NT1 we had to switch to three production shifts just to keep up and meet our deadlines. By the time a new project gets to the final production stage, there is a lot of tension since every minor mistake has the chance to ruin the whole project. Everybody became super attentive and we were hoping that none of the equipment would get into conflict, as projects were already delayed due to necessary last-minute development changes of the parts themselves. Considering the hundreds of different components that are packaged into one kit, I am (as always) delighted that we were able to get through all of the hassles and produce and package all of the hundreds of different parts that at the end allow a customer to build a car. This was the same case with the XB8EC, which after several months of long production of producing every single part in-house we were finally able to package the kits… and the marketing department rallied to create the updated manual and new packaging.

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XRAY Indoor Challenge: View on the indoor off-road track
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The last weeks before a deadline get frantically busy in the packaging department, who has to package an unbelievably large amount of parts into the building packages, as well as package a huge amount of spare parts. So those days when you walk into the warehouse it is like a giant-sized ant-hill… everyone is pulling parcels here and there, people are sorting parts from production, other people are working on the packing line, while still other people right away take away the packaged bags and move them to another part of the warehouse for the next procedure. All of this somehow works like a live organism, but I know that there is a lot of effort in the background with on-time logistics, preparation, planning, and perfect organization which is needed to keep that organism alive and illness-free. At the end of the whole process when the kits are finally packaged and shipped, we always get the same feeling like this was our most demanding project and that we are very proud when our new “baby” leaves the nest, but at the same time I feel a bit fear about how our new “baby” will be accepted and survive in the outside world.

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XRAY Indoor Challenge: A nice washboard
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When shipping the XB8EC, I was fairly happy that this time we did not have any serious problems, and was indeed very happy that our new and improved quality control and inspection systems worked very well. I was satisfied that the new quality control process caught all the problems and errors during the production process, and I was fairly confident that no erroneous parts would get into the hands of a customer. Since almost all parts are manufactured in-house, I was confident that our parts would all be defect-free. However this idyllic vision disappeared only a few days after the kits were shipped – we found out, too late, that a cooperating company that colors the springs had mis-colored the shock springs; the manufacturer used a light-blue color (normally reserved for medium spring) on the kit’s stiff springs… meaning that the springs were coloured as a “medium” spring when in fact the springs are stiff. As you can imagine, I was very upset and disappointed since we had spent so much energy on producing such a huge volume of all products and parts, eliminating mistakes and failures on our side, only to have failure come from an external cooperating company.

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XRAY Indoor Challenge: The start of the final
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Putting aside our personal feelings, we faced this issue as best as we could using XRAY’s open policy that has always worked best – we immediately informed the public and issued a notice about this springs. Anybody who does not have other XB8 springs from previous kits will get a free set of correct springs. Taking the positive approach, we always have to learn from any experience (positive or negative), and this negative experience has shown us that we need to adjust quality control and inspection of products coming from cooperating companies and to actively look for such problems that would normally not be expected. Of course, after the springs’ arrival they went through quality inspection and the springs had no quality failure... they just had the wrong specs which went undiscovered. The risk of failure from the suppliers‘ side is also one of the main reasons why our philosophy and strategy is to be as independent as possible and to produce all parts in-house, but there will always be some small or very specific parts like hardware, springs, or some heat-treatment procedures that we need to work with external companies... which may in some cases leave us vulnerable to failures beyond our control.

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XRAY Indoor Challenge: A nice air action
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For the last weeks the packaging department has been again very busy but this time packaging and finalizing the NT1 kits. As described in my last columns, there were a few unavoidable delays caused by required design changes of several parts (of which I was not happy either with performance or quality) and since the season has already started we had to work this time in the packaging. We are back in the same cycle and everybody is putting forth their maximum effort to finish and package the kits and to get our new “baby“ to the customers who will hopefully be happy and satisfied with this exciting new car. In the end we have put all of our dedication and pride into this project and I am again very proud of this “next level” of achievement we have taken. I will leave it to the customers to give their opinion of how did we did on this one.

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XRAY Indoor Challenge: The start of the final
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With all of the stress in the factory, I always look forward to the races where I can take a break and relax. As usual, there were many scheduled races in the last month, and again it was a very successful month for Team XRAY. The first big victories came from the USA where the annual US Carpet National Championship took the place, with Barry Baker winning the Modified category, Paul Lemieux winning the 19T category, and Travis Schreven winning the Stock category… all-in-all we claimed 3x US National Champion titles for the XRAY T2’007. For any XRAY customers running the T2’007 we have provided the winning set-up sheets on our Virtual Online Set-up Sheet Database, where all the factory team drivers’ set-ups are regularly updated. I was very happy and proud that the T2’007 has once again proved to be the best-performing electric touring car on carpet with foam tires, continuing the domination at US races taking the 14th US National Champion title for Team XRAY. Of course, all these results would not be possible without the great work by Team XRAY USA organised by XRAYUSA/ RCAmerica and all the individual team drivers, so a big “Thanks” goes out to everybody.

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XRAY Nordic Challenge: The drivers stand
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In the middle of the March we participated at a large annual XRAY Indoor Off-road Challenge organized in Czech Republic in a very large and new hall in an exhibition center during the Model Hobby Expo. This always draws the attention of a wide range of public, which of course is great exposure for our hobby. The organizer had done an excellent job building a completely new track with huge jumps, and the race was great fun and very exciting. With almost 100 drivers from Europe the race was quite spectacular and thrilling and I really enjoyed it. The organizer had prepared a special XRAY Truggy night show after the qualifying day, where the top 16 drivers from the qualifiers were divided into eight groups of 2 drivers, and those two drivers would compete for two laps against each other. The winner of each group moved to the next race until the last driver was left standing. This was a lot of fun and everybody really enjoyed it. The next day the buggy finals were on schedule and at the end it was Czech top driver Martin Bayer who won ahead of his XRAY team mate Oliver Simon from Germany. All-in-all the Indoor Off-Road Challenge has become one of my most favourite races due the very friendly and relaxed atmosphere and the great amount of fun we have. The organization and the whole area are very professionally and perfectly made. I have been looking forward to next years’ race already.

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XRAY Nordic Challenge: The Jakarta's 5-jumps action
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This summer we have three European Championships to attend: the electric touring car championship in France, the off-road 1/8 championship in France, and the nitro touring car championship in Spain. Needless to say, the summer is going to be very busy for the racing team and we still have a lot of work and preparation to do. To be well prepared for any EC we decided to participate at the warm-up races and the first nitro touring car warm-up race was two weeks ago in Spain. The European team consisted of Jilles, Teemu, Martin Christensen, Manuel Huber and Carlos Peracho and several other drivers and local teams were at the events supported by myself and Martin. Despite the race being organized in Madrid, the weather was very terrible… rainy and very cold… so all the effort and energy we spent will most likely be a waste as it is expected that for the European Championships that the weather will be 40°C and the track will have a lot of grip.. in other words, completely different conditions that our warm-up race. Anyhow, we tried to get as much track time as possible to test all different things, work on some basic set-ups, and learn how the NT1 handles low grip and rainy conditions. At the end due to the rain we had to change from foam tires to rubber tires, thus changing our set-ups completely. Not only was the rain and changing conditions mixing up the results, but also electronics failures and engine issues were prevalent which was why Jilles and Teemu qualified only in the lowest heats. I had very good runs and qualified directly into the semi-final. Jilles and Teemu once again proved why they belong among the very top drivers and they worked their way from the lowest finals up to the semi-final.

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European Championship: View on the dry track
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At the end we had myself, Jilles, and Martin Lissau in semi-final B and Teemu, Manuel and Carlos in the semi-final A. In the semi-final B run I was super fast and in the lead when Jilles caught up, so I let him pass and we were cruising safely in the first positions. Unfortunately, engine troubles came again with mine and also Jilles’ engines stopping several times, so our chances to bump up to the finals disappeared. So no XRAY drivers from the semi-final B bumped up to the final. All our chances were in the semi-final A where all three XRAY drivers easily placed their cars in the lead and bumped to the main final where they joined Niklas Hakanson from Team XRAY Sweden. So at the end we qualified four NT1 cars into the final, the most of any of the brands…

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European Championship: The rain race
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VERY pleasing. In the finals it started to rain again and Manuel and Carlos had to retire due to electronics malfunctions and Teemu’s engine stopped several times. But Teemu did not give up and worked very hard to catch up on lost time and at the end he was able to finish at an admirable 2nd place, taking the NT1 to the podium at the European Championship warm-up. Teemu’s heroic achievement was admirable due to the fact that he worked his way up from the lowest finals up to the podium. At one point I was fairly disappointed because of bad weather prevented proper testing, but at the end of the event I was very happy with the results of the whole team. I am really looking forward to the Euros… it will surely be a thrilling event.

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European Championship: Team XRAY Finalists
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Coming back from the nitro touring car race I again faced a huge pile of paperwork, issues, and problems at the table to quickly solve both in production and in R&D, and at the same time I started to prepare for the off-road race again – the XRAY Nordic Challenge – but this time an outdoor race. With the great promotion of the race there were more than 125 drivers from 10 different countries signed up, with plenty of top drivers assuring that this would be a tough race. Arriving in Denmark for the race, I was pleasantly surprised by the brand new track – one of the best quality off-road outdoor tracks I have seen. The organizer built this track completely new with 480 tons of clay. The super-long 350m track was quite unforgiving and the best lap times were around 35 seconds. The track design featured the feared 5 jumps from Jakarta’s Worlds track, washboard, lots of 180° and 360° turns with fast European-style parts as well as some typical US-style parts that made it really difficult to not make mistakes.

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XRAY Nordic Challenge: View on the nicely built track
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In the qualifiers it was Jon Hazelwood from the UK who was the fastest and set TQ. I myself was doing very well in practice where I had the 15th best result, but all my qualifiers were a nightmare – I was not able to finish a single qualifier without engine problems despite my trying all different engine settings… so I qualified in the lower final. For the finals I swapped out the engine and suddenly I was finally able to finish entire run and I was able to win the two lower finals and move up a few finals. In the main final there were 5 XRAY cars and both Jon and Robert did an excellent showcasing of battling the entire 45 minutes for the victory. Jon took the lead but made some small mistakes that allowed Robert to pass him and at the end take the victory with Jon ending up second. The XRAY Nordic Challenge was an excellent race, very well organized and again we had a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am sure next year it will be even better.

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XRAY Nordic Challenge: Team XRAY finalists
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Getting back from the off-road race we now prepare again for an electric touring car race – the upcoming LRP Masters which is one of the most competitive rubber carpet races. After the LRP Masters we have the Euros warm-up for off-road and also electric touring, so the next few weeks are going to be pretty tough again and I will be back on the road to travel to all the races together with the team. Hopefully we’ll see everybody out there.


Enjoy the ride and ‘til next time…

Dipl. Eng. Juraj Hudy
Chief Designer XRAY

 
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