LRP A.I. Runner reversing speed control
LRP recently revamped its successful lineup of budget-minded A.I. (short for Artificial Intelligence) reversing speed controls and made a few significant changes. The most obvious difference is that the new A.I. speedo is now similar in size to LRP’s full-blown Quantum racing model. You might think that the new, smaller size (about 1 inch square) wouldn’t have all the features, but LRP retained the previous lineup’s automatic setup, fail-safe, reverse-operation and multi-protection systems and made them completely waterproof to boot! A.I. speed controls now come in three models, each capable of handling 4 to 6 cells: Micro (rated for any micro motor), Runner (18 turns and up) and Runner Plus (motors over 15 turns). I got my hands on the middle-of-the-line Runner for a closer inspection; let’s see how it stacks up.
There are no buttons to push and no special setup sequences to run. Simply turn on your radio, plug the controller into your battery and you’re ready to roll-talk about easy!
Running in the wet with a speed control used to be a no-no, but now all of LRP’s A.I. controllers are 100 percent waterproof. This means that the speed control can be operated normally underwater with full power. But you must, of course, protect the rest of your electronics if you run in rain or snow. According to LRP, the waterproofing process also makes speed controls more resistant to failure from the shake, rattle and roll abuse that RC cars dish out.
A fail-safe is great protection against lost or stray signals. No more worries about damaged models due to interference; instead, the car will just coast to a stop if the signal is lost. And if you plug in the battery before you turn on the radio (a common mistake), your car won’t jump across the workbench. It’s good to know that LRP has your back, just in case.
PROPORTIONAL BRAKE AND REVERSE
LRP programmed the A.I. with a fully proportional brake and reverse with delay. Reverse kicks in only after you’ve applied the brake for 3 seconds. This protects the drivetrain from extreme shock by giving you enough time to stop the car before reverse kicks in, but it also gives better control by letting you have full braking power without reverse spinout in mid-turn. You can also run backwards and at top speed for as long as you like, so try some of that reverse-figure-eight racing shown on late-night Speed TV. One minor bummer is that the Runner has no reverse lockout, so it might not be allowed for that occasional race day at the track.
As the old saying goes, “Stuff happens.” LRP goes the extra mile and protects the A.I. Runner against excessive current draw, overheating and motor shorting. But the Runner is not protected against battery shorts or reverse polarity, so if you plan to change the included Tamiya-style battery connector (which, by the way, will void the limited lifetime warranty), make sure that you observe proper plug polarity.
The new A.I. Runner has lots to offer. Super-smooth and plenty tough, it held up to my harsh testing, and when I got really crazy, the Runner’s safety features came to the rescue to keep me from destroying it-so it earned extra points there. It’s amazingly small, and the A.I. automatic setup works perfectly and further adds to its user-friendly appeal. Waterproof construction is an added bonus, but the lack of reverse lockout cost it half a point in my book. Overall, the A.I. Runner is an excellent sport speedo and a great value. -Peter Vieira
LRP; distributed by Team Associated
(714) 850-5342; teamassociated.com.
Copyright Air Age Publishing May 2006
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