xrayxrayHome XRAY homeXRAY X-shopXRAY X-forumRCAmerica
supportsearchcontactguestbooksite map
newsproductsaboutusworldwide headlines

 
click to enlarge
(click to enlarge)

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

Column #8 - Back to the Races

Column #9 - XT8 Truggy Development

Column #10 - Touring Car Development

Column #11 - Bling-bling Mentality

Column #12 - Hot Summer Washout

Column #13 - New Electric Touring Car

Column #14 - Off-road Development

Column #15 - My micro love

Column #16 - Back in the Dirt

Column #17 - Worlds Preparations



Recently we set another milestone with the successful release of the 808 project. It is Sunday evening and I am still in office doing a last minute inspection for finishing the 808 project… packaging and shipping the first batch of kits to urgently-awaiting customers. Now, after the project has been finished, I can take a quick look back and rest for a minute because starting tomorrow the next part of the lifecycle of this project will start and I will be back in the never-ending circle of working with this new baby… ongoing testing of new development ideas… designing and producing the optional performance parts which customers will want to better tune their cars… monitoring team performance in different conditions around the world… analyzing feedback, reports and comments not only from the team drivers but especially from customers in order to guide me in the directions needed to further develop the 808. Bringing the all-new car and platform to the world, the work does not really ever finish… it is just beginning of new and different work and challenges. This is what I like the best; to be at the tracks with the team and talking to customers… bringing all the experience, feedback and comments back to the R&D design boards to work on new improvements, products, and projects. We are still essentially at the beginning of the 808 project, and to get to this point we had to go through a very long and demanding yet very exciting road. It would take a book to disclose all the challenges and triumphs we faced with this project, and in some of my previous columns I have described the various design goals and ideas and initial testing of initial prototypes. Now I will describe the other end of the road – the finishing process.

click to enlarge
Testing back at the 2008 Worlds track in Charlotte
(click to enlarge)

Several months ago I disclosed in my columns the initial design ideas and concepts I had as well as showing the very first prototypes which were tested by team drivers in different conditions… including the World Championship warm-up in Charlotte. This was a concept which we had last autumn and of course we went through a very difficult period when I and the team came to the conclusion that we need to move to an all-new platform. What we did internally in production would have to be considered a world record; within a few short months we designed completely new moulds for completely different parts for a new-concept car, producing several pre-production cars. We tested the cars and started production of many parts.

click to enlarge
Testing back at the 2008 Worlds track in Charlotte
(click to enlarge)

Team cars were distributed to the team drivers around the world to have the best feedback from different racing conditions and as such we had several cars running in Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, France and of course USA and Canada. From the records and data collected from all these different regions — from hot to cold environments, flat fast tracks, super-dusty tracks… all the way to muddy tracks and typical UK grass tracks… and really bumpy tracks with huge US-style jumps — I got really good data and feedback and what was most important was that the feedback was very positive. Based on long-term testing experience, we fixed several small issues by redesigning some parts and changing some parts to a different material to ensure higher reliability. And so the production of the first batch could start!

click to enlarge
Juraj Hudy supervising the latest 808 tests and working on his 808
(click to enlarge)

During the evenings I continued to analyze all of the feedback & data, thinking about the theory and comparing it to the experiences of an average off-road driver (like myself). I still thought that we had for improvement with different suspensions. Despite having tested dozens of different composite mixtures and having a lot of data on this, and despite the fact that all of us were convinced that we had picked the best ones for production, I realized that we all had been working around one size for the suspension. I wanted to try to get at least some data and hands-on experience with different sizes of suspension arms, just to satisfy my curiosity about whether or not my theories were correct or completely wrong.

First I thought that we could simply mill prototype arms, but for the 808 suspension arms we used a completely new & unique composite mixture and as such there was no real way to substitute any of the polyamids which are used for milling prototype parts; if I wanted to get real data to compare with, there was no other choice but to make completely new moulds. Despite the production of the moulds being currently running and the moulding department being super-busy following my deadlines, still I wanted to do the tests and comparisons and so I decided to make two extra moulds –completely new suspension arms and suspension holders. With only two weeks before leaving for the Silverstate off-road race, the R&D and moulding departments were not very happy about being asked to design and produce two all-new moulds within two weeks only! I know I have the best R&D and production teams in-house, and after working for 2 weeks non-stop they completed the task on time and prepared the new arms and holders for the team!

click to enlarge
Silverstate track photos
(click to enlarge)

Packing for the Silverstate, in the last minute we prepared a couple of different parts for testing including C-hubs with different angles, aluminum adjustable suspension holders with different roll centers and anti-squat settings, shock springs and of course different anti-roll bars and many other parts. Moreover, our top US driver and 2007 US Touring Car Champion Barry Baker decided at the last minute that he would join our off-road team and will return back to the off-road racing, so I needed accommodate Barry as well… I was really heavily loaded in the vehicles!

Arriving in Las Vegas, I joined up with Jerome Sartel, Josh Wheeler, Jason Branham, Rocco Margiotta, Barry Baker and Brian Kinwald, and handed out all the parts and stuff. Barry had to build the car so he missed the first practices. The all-new final production parts I brought with me significantly changed the pre-production 808 cars, and so it was like having the drivers race with a completely new car.

click to enlarge
Silverstate track photos
(click to enlarge)

After a long time I was again at a typical US track, and with an 808 for the first time myself at the US track. From the first moment that I put the 808 on the track I was fascinated with the acceleration but especially the great handling over jumps and bumps. The last minute changes I made helped greatly to balance the car, and the off- and on-power steering was just incredible. The only area we all agreed on which was still not perfect was traction at this dusty track. We did a lot of testing and comparison of the different suspension parts, but despite having the new parts helping a bit we still needed to gain a bit more traction. We ended up modified the arms by hand to make them softer (which of course gains the traction).

click to enlarge
XRAY pits at the US Silverstate race
(click to enlarge)

The Silverstate race was attended by all of the world’s best drivers. All factory teams had their best drivers at this race so we had a great opportunity for some head-to-head comparisons. As this was our team’s first race with the 808, I expected that we would be learning and working on set-up. However, the initial results were fairly good and actually we failed on the preparation of engine/muffler combinations. The top drivers had their engines and mufflers adjusted and prepared in such a way that in 10-minute qualifiers they did not take any break for refueling. Compare that to us who could not go for an entire 10 minutes without refueling; this of course was a big time loss. Despite all that, Wheeler, Sartel, and Branham qualified 13th, 15th, and 18th... and at the end of the semi-final Wheeler missed a chance at the final when his engine moved. Both Jerome and Jason, despite being super fast in the semi-final super, were victims of heavy traffic. So unfortunately, we did not get any car into the main final. However, I was still very happy with the very good performance of the car and the last minute changes looked very promising. Testing in these dusty conditions was really valuable experience because in Europe we do not have this type of dusty track and moreover during the race there was a heavy sand storm and the race simply continued. So now we have exposed the car to extreme dusty conditions with great results.

click to enlarge
Barry Baker skiing or working on an RC car?
(click to enlarge)

After the race, that same evening we packed up our stuff and Sartel, Wheeler, Branham and we flew during the night to another US track — the 2008 Worlds track in Charlotte — to do some comparison testing between the 808 and the XB8EC. Due to the time shift we landed in the morning and went directly from the airport to the track. We had the track rented for 3 days, over which time we did not take any breaks. From very early morning until the sunset we wrenched and worked really hard to do as much testing and comparison as possible. The first morning we arrived was really cold with a thin coating of ice on the grass, but fortunately the weather was great for the whole 3 days. Despite the track layout having changed from the Worlds layout and the warm-up layout, still 2/3 of the layout was the same so we could make direct comparisons. (I was at this track 6 months ago with the XB8EC and the very early prototype, so all the tests made were direct comparisons. Moreover, Sartel had his XB8EC with him so we could even make side-by-side comparisons and tests.)

click to enlarge
Jerome Sartel made direct comparisons of XB8EC and 808
(click to enlarge)

Despite the style and surface conditions being very different from the Las Vegas track, we started off our 808 with the same set-up we used in Vegas. To my immense satisfaction, it worked very well right away. Doing the side-by-side comparisons I could clearly notice the huge differences and improvements over the bumps and jumps; compared to the XB8EC, in jumps the 808 felt like something completely different. Not being an expert in the jumps, I felt that the 808 was so easy to jump and land without problems. The long time and immense effort we had spent on improving balance of the car really paid off. In the fast parts of the track the difference was not so noticeable, though the cornering speed and handling improved a lot due to the great steering characteristics. Off-power steering was noticeably better which improved the drive into the corners.

click to enlarge
Brian Kinwald first time racing after his break
(click to enlarge)

We continued the tests throughout the three days and for each run we made minor set-up changes, used different parts, and exchanged the cars amongst ourselves to experience the different set-ups that different drivers used to fine-tune the cars to their handling preferences. Of course I was the one who represented the “average Joe off-road driver” and I was pleased that the other drivers found after exchanging and testing my car and set-up that it was really easy to drive while still being very fast. The new prototype suspension I decided to make so quickly before leaving were working really good, so I was really pleased that the efforts and energy we spent on that venture were really worth it. The testing team confirmed that these new parts improve the 808, so I had to arrange for the production of the new parts and fine-tuning the moulds. Unfortunately this would mean a few-week delay of the first production batch, but I did not want to make any compromises and wanted to ensure that the final product would meet our initial requirements on performance, handling and reliability. It was not an easy decision because the season was just starting and every week late meant the potential loss of customers, but in my heart I was strongly convinced that the performance, handling and reliability were of highest priority. Hopefully the will realize this after all of the positive feedback that the 808 owners will spread.

click to enlarge
Jason Branham preparing his XT8 truggy
(click to enlarge)

After arriving back from Charlotte in the middle of March, we incorporated all the latest changes and improvements we had gathered in our testing as well as from other feedback received from team drivers. Over the following 4 weeks we ran production runs in 3 shifts going at 24-hours a day, 7 days a week to produce all the newly-redesigned parts to have the first batch of kits shipped as soon as possible. If we would outsource any parts we would not be be able to finish the kits in such short time.

click to enlarge
Josh Wheeler building his 808 at the race
(click to enlarge)

Despite having designed new moulds for the new suspension arms before I left for testing — the final design which worked during the two weeks of testing — we subsequently needed to redesign the internal parts of the mould as so the original mould could not be used. This meant another delay but with all the invested time, resources, energy and efforts I considered it too to be super important to finish this project up to the smallest and finest details.

Despite the first batch coming out after the season has already started, I am still very proud of the very hard and dedicated work of all my team, including the team drivers. Without all their dedicated work we wouldn’t have been able to realize this project. Now we are packing the first kits and as usual with every new project I am really nervous and full of excitement at the same time to hear back from the customers. Despite my head being filled with small worries here and there, deep in my heart I am absolutely convinced that the 808 will be another great and successful platform and I am already now looking forward to continued work with this… my new baby.


Enjoy the ride and ‘til next time.


Dipl. Eng. Juraj Hudy
Chief designer XRAY

Photos of development of 808 parts where we compare the first prototypes (milled parts) with final moulded parts.

click to enlarge
development of rear arm
(click to enlarge)

click to enlarge
development of front arm
(click to enlarge)

click to enlarge
development of rear arm
(click to enlarge)

click to enlarge
comparison of milled prototype steering arm vs final production one
(click to enlarge)

click to enlarge
comparison of milled servo saver arm vs final production one
(click to enlarge)

click to enlarge
comparison of milled servo saver arm vs final production one
(click to enlarge)

click to enlarge
comparison of milled rear upright vs final production one
(click to enlarge)

click to enlarge
comparison of milled rear upright vs final production one
(click to enlarge)

click to enlarge
comparison of milled caster block vs final production one
(click to enlarge)

click to enlarge
comparison of milled suspension holder vs final production one
(click to enlarge)

click to enlarge
comparison of milled suspension holder vs final production one
(click to enlarge)

click to enlarge
comparison of milled suspension holder vs final production one
(click to enlarge)