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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.

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

Column #33 - Testing - Always last minute, always new ideas

Column #34 - European Champion - title celebration

Column #35 - Time to move on

Column #36 - National Heroes

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It seems like only yesterday that I was summarizing the year 2008 and revealing our plans and goals for 2009. Sitting here writing this column, it is hard to believe that another year has passed by so quickly. Again. Despite it being “only” November on the calendar, for the model hobby industry it is essentially our year end. The winter season has been running for a few weeks already and the Xmas season is now approaching, so you might think that there is not much to do… but you would be wrong. As with other fashionable products such as clothes & shoes, full-size cars, skis, or bicycles, besides their racing factor RC cars are also fashion items and as such require constant attention and development. During the summertime at the peak of the outdoor racing season, we already were having visions of the year 2010; we had to have clear ideas about what would be new, changed, or improved.

After extensive R&D work, thousands of hours behind the computer and uncountable laps turned on racetracks, the production of the T3 was timed perfectly for the winter season. Despite having made some last-minute changes while production was running, we were able to chase our Production Department to get the first cars ready for the team for the first large indoor touring car race, the ETS in Germany. The first small batch of cars was pushed through with top priority throughout the entire production process, being delivered to team drivers around Europe just two weeks prior the race. Initial feedback from team drivers confirmed our experience and my expectation were fulfilled. Everybody right from the beginning was very satisfied with the T3’s handling and performance, and most the drivers were surprised by how much we were able once again to raise the bar. The first reports about improving track records – not just by hundredths of a second but rather by tenths of a second – were an incredible experience not only for the individual drivers but for me as well.

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Our hard work paid off. The T3 platform has been a project for which I have always been supremely confident that the qualities and improvements would be immediately recognized by the customer. At the same time I knew that the T3 would bring about the usual controversy from Internet pundits who did not drive the car yet would judge it just based on pictures alone… and try to burn it down just because it closely resembles the T2 platform. I know that visually the T3 looks very close to the previous T2 platform, but in reality almost everything was new on the car. I realize that those new things are not visible at first glance, but this is a typical evolutionary cycle when a high-competition product comes into its maturity stage of development. Most importantly, the handling and performance of the car were raised to a completely new level and as such I was so confident that when the cars hit the racetrack at the hands of regular customers, the positive satisfaction would spread of its own volition.

The first major international race – the ETS – has confirmed the performance of the T3. In the Modified class, out of top 10 cars the T3 represented 4x. In the ProStock class the XRAY team gained 5 places. A few weeks after the race in Germany we flew to Finland for the European Indoor Championship warm-up and here again the T3 worked flawlessly with 3 cars in the main final. Those were great results for the debut of the car.

Production has been successfully finished and the kits have started to ship from the factory by the middle of October. So now the first customers should be getting their T3 in their hands and I have been anxiously expecting and waiting for reports and feedback from our customers. I am more than certain that we have again pushed the car to the highest performance level again, and as such I am absolutely sure that we will have a great season in 2010.

Conclusion for the new electric touring car: “2010 Ready.”

The buggy category has been enjoying increasing popularity and the 808 platform has been very successful over the last two years, so our plan is to continue with ongoing development and improvement of the buggy. The 2009 version has already brought the most important improvements over the first version. During the entire season I kept a close eye on all the reports and comments, not only from team drivers but also particularly from regular drivers (who gave GREAT feedback).

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The off-road buggy category did not experience any huge rule changes like the electric touring category did – new type of motors, batteries, etc. – which would have required some dramatic changes in the platform. Since the 808 platform has been working very well it was a very difficult task to put together a list of changes for 2010. We could of course go back and forth changing all the parts, but to us it really doesn’t make sense to spend time and resources on things that do not give improvements on reliability, handling, or performance. As such we found ourselves in a very difficult position as the list of 2010 improvements was a really short list as majority of the parts have been working without any problems. In the end, we made improved and stronger diff bulkheads, larger diff bearings and larger diff outdrive bearings for longer lifespan, and a new dust cover system on the diff bulkheads to protect the bearings from dust. Performance-wise there were plenty of different prototypes tested during the year but most of the different parts received mixed reviews: some positive, some negative. At the end what most of the team (as well as myself testing in the last few races) found as an improvement was a longer chassis which moved the engine and weight of the car more forward, which improves the balance and makes the car easier to drive, gives improved balance on jumps, and overall makes the car easier to control.

To my great surprise and elation, demand for the 808 has been increasing and as such the scheduled batch of the 2009 version has sold out completely several months ahead of schedule. As such I decided to move up the 2010 version to be produced right away to get it ready for 2010 season ahead of time. I hope that XRAY customers will enjoy a nice big present under their Xmas tree, and will have some nice building time during the winter season so they are ready to hit the tracks with their new 808 soon after the snow melts. With the new improvements I am confident that reliability and performance will once again move up a notch higher.

Conclusion for the new 808 off-road buggy: “2010 Ready.”

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The truggy is another vehicle which drives me a little bit crazy. I love truggies and consider it as a great category for fun racing for beginners or senior fellows like myself; the cars are very easy to drive, very stable, and SO much fun. Like the 808, the XT8 has been upgraded in 2009 and during the entire season this car has been working well with mostly positive feedback. So again the difficult task - what to do next? Most comments and requests revolved around putting 808-style suspension on the XT8 but at this time it is still a risky move. The XT8 has been working well and the truggy has a different layout, concept, weight balance and everything else from the buggy. I am not completely convinced that 808-type suspension would be an improvement for the XT8. This will have to be borne out of extensive testing on different track conditions… and to do proper testing we need real parts from moulds, not milled prototypes. And to make such a complicated and large mould is time consuming and fairly expensive. So again, at this time I am still in a very difficult position to decide what to do. However, considering that the XT8 has been working very well I will probably keep the truggy as-is 2010.

Conclusion on the XT8 Truggy: “2010 Ready”

Without doubt this car is the best of the best and this has been confirmed and proven by its domination of the entire 2009 season and its winning of the European and USA championship titles. The list of the national championship titles has been increasing by leaps and bounds, and since my last column (where I listed the NT1’s recent achievements) the list has grown with the addition of the Spanish National title and Austrian Junior title… and we are still expecting more to come! With great success and total satisfaction with the NT1 it too has been VERY difficult to improve anything.

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The recently-released limited edition of the NT1 European Champion version was such a huge success that it has made it even more difficult to come up with new improvements. At this time there is nothing drastically outstanding in our minds that will dramatically improve performance or reliability so I have decided to keep the NT1 as-is for the moment and allow people to enjoy the successfulness of the current version. After we finish other current projects on our schedule, I may get back to the NT1, review everything again, read through all the feedback and reports received from the team drivers and customers… and then we will see what will be on the drawing boards for 2010.

So what would be my conclusion on the nitro touring car? Considering that we will not change anything major for 2010 I can simply say at this moment: “2010 Ready.”

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XII and X10
The 1/12 racing keeps increasing in popularity, and the 1/10 is in several regions also very popular. So after the T3 and 808 projects were finished, it was time for the R&D team to get back to the pancars and update the platforms for new LiPO battery standards. With the R&D and Production Departments being busy recently with the T3 and 808, we will unfortunately miss the start of the indoor season with a new XII and X10. After a few days of extensive work in the last week, we have updated the pancar platform to allow the use of LiPo batteries. Now our internal team who is responsible for the moulds has jumped on the train and is working on new moulds which the design change necessitated. Thanks to all the in-house production, I expect that we should be able to make all the changes fairly quickly so even though we may miss the beginning of the season I hope to get the cars to waiting customers as soon as possible.

Conclusion for the pancars: “Soon to be 2010 ready”

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Micro Cars
The micro cars enjoy continuous satisfaction from customers and considering that this category is more “fun” racing than “serious” racing I feel there is no need for any major changes at this time. All the micro cars in the portfolio can fit LiPo batteries and there is no major development expected in electronics for the micro cars. So at this time I consider the current design of the cars as updated and ready for the already-running winter season.

Conclusion for the micro cars: “2010 ready”

So what’s next?
Going through the list of projects and tasks we have on schedule, you get a small glimpse of the difficult positions we are usually put in along with the daily tasks that we have on schedule. With a large product portfolio which is ever increasing, there is continuous development and improvements of our products. But this is what I love and that is why this hobby is my passion. Hopefully these small insights give you a bit of an update on what we have been doing over here at XRAY and what you can expect from us again next year. Thank you for your support during the entire 2009 season. I look forward to next year!

Hopefully you will find some nice XRAY presents under the Xmas tree and if not, remember you can make your own Xmas anytime during the year, just check with your hobby shop about some XRAY cars and products that fire your imagination and desire.

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

Dipl. Eng. Juraj Hudy
XRAY Chief Designer