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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

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

Column #18 - 808 Tests & Stress

Column #19 - Excited for the Worlds?

Column #20 - Statistics, Expenses Sheets, Production Analysis, Calculations…

Column #21 + Column #22 - Euros + Euros + Worlds

Column #23 - The Busiest Season Ever

Column #24 - In Between the Worlds

Column #25 + Column #26 - Well Developed or Overdeveloped?

Column #27 - Back to The Future

Column #28 - 2009 Kick-off

Column #29 - Crazy what?

Column #30 - Last indoor race of the season

Column #31 - Getting into summer season

Column #32 - Heading for the Euros

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Summer… the busiest time of our year… is here. And this is one of our busiest summers, because all the European Championships just happen to be scheduled within the same month! So, for the better part of July we will be away from our headquarters and be living at the tracks around Europe. The first Euros is the 1/8 Off-road (taking place in Austria)… the week after that we drive to Italy for the 1/10 Nitro touring Euros… and then we end the summer season at the 1/10 Electric Touring Euros in Luxemburg at the end of July. Then to take a “break” from the Euros we will have the “relaxing” Asian XRAY Nitro Touring Challenge in Hong Kong where we will finally be able to get some free days and spend them with some “relaxing” racing, and performing some tech lectures and sessions with our XRAY customers from Asia. But until then we have to put up with the thrill, stress, and racing madness at the most competitive races of this season – the European Championships.

As with every other team, we have worked very hard before this particular battle. Work has been done both off and on the track; the huge amount of work would not be feasible for a single person but rather required the combined teamwork of the racing and R&D teams. After the Off-road warm-up in Austria back in May, we were ready to participate at the official Nitro Touring Euros warm-up in Italy. However, due to some very important work and projects in the factory we had no free time and as such we had to skip the official warm-up and find an alternative date for private testing.

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The very nice and super-fast track is located in Gubbio – approximately 11 hours from Trencin – so we left early in the morning and by that afternoon we were already testing at the track. The track seemed to be very easy but at the same time it was very demanding to improve the lap times. After a long session with the NT1, we hit upon a good set-up with turned out to be the same set-up we used at the last World championship in Portugal where Martin achieved a very nice 3rd place finish.

The “World’s” set-up seemed to work very well from the beginning but as I mentioned before we were definitely challenged to improve our lap times. First the traction was not very high so any small changes we made to the set-up did not bring any improvements. Also for the very first time we had to use the INS-Box filter which decreases noise but also partially decreases performance. As such we started with major parts such as engine set-up, clutch settings and tires… and then afterwards we started working on car set-up.

Finally it was time to test and evaluate the new parts as well. Despite the very hard work the lap times were decreasing only very slowly. We realized that this very fast track is absolutely dependent on engine performance. After Fabio arrived he supplied us with fresh, brand-new but already broke-in engines with plenty of different exhaust systems for testing. After swapping engines the lap times finally started to drop more significantly. We had another two days of testing and working on chassis balance and modifications which again helped us to fine tune and adapt the car to this particular track.

After almost four days of very difficult testing we were finally happy with the lap times and also with Martin’s consistency of lap times. Fortunately the weather was friendly during the entire week and after spending every day in the beating sun it was the evening time to cool down and relax downtown in the historic center of ancient Gubbio. This historic city reminded me a lot of our hometown Trencin, maybe because of the parallelism that Trencin was also established by ancient Roma’s division back in 179BC.

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After spending some great time in Italy we returned back home with plenty of work awaiting us during our days. Evenings and weekends were now reserved for testing and preparation for the 1/10 Electric Touring Car Euros. Our factory outdoor track has an open and very fast layout like the track in Luxembourg, but unfortunately bad weather prevented us from racing outside so we ended up using our indoor track. For this testing I designed a completely new track layout to make it very challenging and difficult, with different parts of the track designed to test all aspects of the car – cornering speed, balance in difficult chicanes, steering into difficult corners, etc.

For a long time now I have had some great new innovative ideas for the T2 that would raise its construction and design to the next level. The simple fact these days is that all current electric touring cars look very similar which is a direct result of the maturity of the platform. The nature of development is to take the best and improve on areas which are lacking.

Back with the T2’007, I first introduced the long top deck design which was mounted behind the motor to give completely different handling characteristics, but mainly it made the car easier to drive and increased cornering speed; shortly thereafter this design concept appeared in most other cars. Such is the nature of competitive development that pushes designers further and brings about product innovation. Final results, however, only come to fruition with lengthy time spent on design analysis and testing… and these are two of my favorite activities. To improve the balance of the car I moved on to the T2’008 platform where the motor is aligned precisely with the centerline of the chassis… and again this was a major improvement.

Now I had the vision of further chassis layout developments with a different motor-mount system. Martin spent some significant time behind the computer to turn all the ideas and designs into pixels and bits. Seeing the parts in computer simulation, other ideas flourished in our minds and we turned some of them into other new alternative ideas to test. All the production files were uploaded to the machines via our intranet and within a short time we plucked the prototype parts out of production. We spent some time building several cars to make side-by-side comparisons. With the air-conditioned track we have a huge advantage: a stable environment that can be used at any time to test things under identical conditions. This helps to ensure that every small change in handling and performance is immediately noticeable both by senses and results on the timing scoreboard.

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During the few last weeks we have spent days in the office and production + evenings on the track testing all different variants and ideas to compare the pros and cons of every part. The results of the new concept were extremely positive and we were initially very happy, but further tests brought a bit of controversy and a real dilemma onto our shoulders. The performance and handling of the car improved a lot, but I experienced several spur gear breakages while Martin did not break any spur gears. This was really very strange and we tried to analyze and break down the problem to find why I broke several spur gears while Martin did not break any with a seemingly identical car.

Yes I know that I crash many more times than Martin so the only logical conclusion at this stage is that the crashes resulted in broken spur gears. This one negative result jaded all the initial positives and the great performance improvement and brought some mixed feelings to my initial elation. But while performance is certainly important, I cannot forget at any time that there are no compromises when it comes to reliability. As such, Martin returned to the computer and tried to redesign the concept using all the positives we discovered while testing while changing areas we were convinced were the weak point of the design.

After a few days we came up with a new design which looked promising. The production of the parts is much faster than our work behind the computer so we hit the track shortly thereafter with the new parts. Running the 2nd evolution of the design idea confirmed our suspicions and we did not suffer any more spur gear breakage. But… and you knew there was going to be a “but”… the characteristics of the car were now different from the initial concept and we lost the main advantage which had been a distinct performance advantage. So back to the computer we went with plenty of new data and experiences, and after tweaking the design and concept we came up with the 3rd evolution of the new concept.

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We had the official Euros warm-up already on schedule for the upcoming weekend and as such we hurried the whole process a bit to have the parts ready to fly with us to Luxembourg so we could experience some testing results at that different track, in this case the Euros track. Unfortunately, the weather forecast was dismal and at the last minute we decided to cancel the flight. Being very nervous to test the parts we unpacked all of our stuff, took out the new prototypes, wrenched on the cars, and went back to our factory indoor track.

After few runs all the nerves were gone and a smile returned to my face. The handling had returned to that of the very first initial concept design, while the reliability was confirmed as well after a few very choice crashes. Now I could finally relax a bit as I knew we had done some great work and we could go ahead with trial production batches of the new parts for the team to test in different track conditions. This would afford us valuable feedback if the concept idea we choose for the next development is the right one or if we would have to go back to the (computer) drawing board. We will see shortly, so in the meantime I can enjoy some brief satisfaction.

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With a clear and happy mind (and heart) I could enjoy the wedding of my son Mario to his young bride Ema at Trencin’s beautiful castle, which took place at the end of June. It was a wonderful wedding with a lot of fun, happiness, singing and dancing… and I want to wish Mario and Ema all the happiness that life can give.


See you around the tracks. Enjoy the ride and ‘til next time.

Dipl. Eng. Juraj Hudy
XRAY Chief Designer