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Unbelievable RC

Solar Eagle - SRC-6000

Summary

  • Model #: 56101
  • Gallery: View
  • Released: 1992
  • Prebuilt: No
  • Category: Cars
  • Chassis: (unique)
  • Scale: 1/10
  • Use: Onroad
  • Style: (unique)
  • Config: MR
  • Driveline: Direct drive
  • Body: Polycarbonate
  • Finished body: No
  • Susp. front: none
  • Susp. rear: none

JANG's Impressions

Used in this build:

  • All stock components!

This is one of the oddest, rarest, and arguably most amazing vehicles Tamiya has ever created. It's such an oddity, in fact, that when I went to test it at the local track, a Tamiya USA driver was there and he didn't know the company had ever made it. Covered with solar panels, yes, the Solar Eagle truly runs off the power of the sun. As a full-function radio control model in roughly 1/8th scale (it's just shy of 20" long), it's certainly one of the greatest educational toys ever made for introducing youngsters to the wonders of alternative energy!

Power comes from three 2.5V banks of solar panels, each of which holds ten individual polycrystaline silicon photovoltaic cells. The banks are run in series to churn out approx. 5.5V in full noontime sunlight at up to 0.8 amps. It's not a lot of juice to push an RC, but then again, there's not a lot to the Solar Eagle. There is no chassis, per se; all components are mounted to the prepainted, one-piece polycarbonate body which has numerous longitudinal ridges molded into it for rigidity. The most chassis-like element to the car is a simple, lightweight subframe that holds the front, steerable wheels, which are in turn directly linked to a servo saver horn on the included 5-wire servo. A lightweight combination receiver/speed control unit is bundled with the kit and gets stuck to the underside of the body with double-sided tape.

In a tublike depression on the upper side of the body (but under the solar panels), a bank of three capacitors is mounted to save up any excess energy for a cloudy day, or more realistically, a cloudy few seconds. An actual window at the back of the canopy gives you a clear view of an analog voltmeter that indicates the level of charge of these capacitors. Don't confuse the capacitors with batteries -- they literally only last a handful of seconds and are just for getting through shadows or over brief inclines. Speaking of batteries, Tamiya was nice enough to give you a 4-AA battery holder that can be strapped to the car with a rubber band. This allows you to test & tune the car, set the steering alignment, etc., at any time, or to show how fast the car could go if it was powered by... batteries. There's no charging circuit onboard, though, so you have to decide which power source you want to use and physically plug it in as appropriate before you run.

Towards the rear of the car is where all of the solar & electronic magic meets its purpose in life, with a 280-sized general-purpose motor with a plastic pinion driving a spur on the single rear wheel. It seems flimsy and insufficient, but again, this car is no speed demon, and even less of a dragster, so the traction of a single foam tire will more than suffice. Interestingly, Tamiya includes not one or two, but eight different pinions to help you tune the Solar Eagle to extract every last bit of potential out of exactly the running conditions you expect to tackle.

After all is said & done, a polycarbonate underbody is attached with velcro strips to seal up the underside of the car with a sleek, aerodynammic covering that also helps prevent the smallest breezes from carrying the 1.25 lb. wonder away. The manual suggests that you can leave the underbody clear (to save precious weight, I bet!), but I went with their optional recommended gunmetal color for a cleaner, more realistic, less science project-looking finish.

Videos

Building tips

  • Exercise patience when cutting the body parts. There's a lot to cut, but there are no do-overs if you cut too deep, so be sure to get it right the first time!
  • Check the lengths of your steering linkages on the live model before committing to popping on both ends of the ball cups. The linkages are thin and easier to bend than on most RCs, and the ball cups are soft, but tight-fitting. The manual-recommended lengths may not be perfect, so pop on the steering knuckle ends, then fit the inner ends loosely over the ball studs on the servo horn to check your alignment and toe angle before going all the way.
  • For the unusually long side decals, cut them out of the sheet with the backing intact. Peel the backing away from just one end, align the sticker so that it looks perfect, then affix the exposed end carefully to the body. Now that you have the position and angle perfect, continue peeling the backing away while keeping the opposite end pulled taught in one hand. This allows you to maintain your straight alignment and slowly smooth on the decal from just one end, rather than wrestling with it all the way down its length. To be even safer, lightly coat the sticker with dilute soapy water as you pull the backing away, so if you do go off-target, you can peel it back easily until the water dries out.

Photo gallery samples

See them all in the full Tamiya Solar Eagle gallery >