Review of Plantraco ZenWheels Micro Car
Review of the Plantraco ZenWheels Micro Car.
On behalf of Plantraco, I have been given the privilege to conduct a review of the IOS controlled Zenwheels Microcar.
My review is based on my experience, and the findings therein, are per my experience and YOUR results may vary.[/B]
Direct Manufacturer Link: http://zenwheels.com/
• Length= 2.14”
• Width= 1 ¼”
• Channel= 2
• RTD Weight= 20.65
• Skill= Novice+
• ZenWheels Micro Car
• USB Charging Cable
• 10 Traffic Pylons
• One Timing Gate
• Compact Carrying Case with Magnetic Latch
• Polycarbonate Jewel Case
• Simple Quick Star Manual
Equipment I Used:
My Iphone 3GS & IPad2
Weights (Grams) :
17.42 - car without body
Car body – 3.23
There is no assembly, required, only charging and pairing the vehicle to an IOS device.
The included Quick Start Guide illustrates this process as follows.
1. Press the red power button on bottom of the Micro Car
2. The Micro Car will play the start up sound and the green and white LEDs will glow indicating you are in Bluetooth Pairing Mode.
3. Visit Settings – General – Bluetooth and tap to pair your Micro Car. (this has since changed due to new IOS software). On the new IOS software it goes as follows. Visit Settings – Bluetooth – Turn on – Click car to pair
4. You’ll be automatically directed to install the free ZenWheels RC Commander App.
5. Launch the app and enjoy.
User Controlled Interface – RC Commander App:
Within the RC Commander App, the Zenwheels has 4 interfaces for which to drive the car. Each method can also be tweaked using the settings function.
The first Interface is called “Standard Cockpit Controls” This consists of a screen left throttle level that is applied up or down, and a screen right steering wheel for right and left maneuvering. It also includes buttons for right and left blinkers lights, four ways/hazard lights, horn, head lights, and various lights and sound settings. This is the control interface I am most comfortable using.
(see pic below)
The 2nd Interface is “Tilt Steering Controls” This is the exact same as the first, expect that steering is done by tilting the IOS devise left and right. (See pic below)
The 3rd Interface is called “Twin Joystick Controls”; this includes a screen left and screen right ‘Play Station like’ joysticks for throttle and steering. It also includes buttons for left and right signal lights, and headlights. This is the interface which I use second most if all i’m interested in is racing around.
(See pic below)
The 4th and final interface is called “Full Tilt Controls”. Like the name states, this controls the ZenWheels on tilt controls only. Fore and aft movements of the IOS devise are for throttle, while left and right tilting are for steering. This interface includes all the buttons included with the “Standard Cockpit Controls” but also, incorporates a “Panic” button which stops the car, and initiates a 5 second countdown, allowing the driver to reorient themselves. On screen, center bottom, there is a X and Y axis grid which displays a ball to indicate when the IOS devise is flat and centered, and thus the car will not move. Once, the ball leaves the center of the grid, the car reacts. For obvious reasons, I find this interface the most difficult to use, but, that being said, it is also the most challenging and uses the IOS device to its gyroscopic potential.
(See pic below)
All of these interfaces include a “Home Button” that brings you back to the main screen, a “Device Battery Indicator” and a “Trim” button. Trim settings are saved for each time the car is used.
Settings Menu for all 4 Interfaces
In the settings function you can adjust the following for each interface on both throttle and steering channels.
1. Reverse Channel Output
2. Apply Trim Settings (will save settings)
3. End Points
4. Servo Expo
In the settings menu you can also restore factory defaults, and adjust the sound for:
1. Volume of Horn – controls horn volume coming from IOS device
2. Other Sound effects – sirens
3. Car Sound Effects.
Basic Movement/Handling Characteristics:
Compared to other smaller micro sized rc cars, in terms of handling the ZenWheels is the bees knees so to speak. The proportional steering and throttle is very precise and truly unlike any other vehicle its size. Many rc cars this size, or bigger, have only 3 position steering, and maybe 2-3 speed settings if your lucky. This makes precision based maneuvers extremely difficult and cumbersome. The fact that this vehicle can be parallel parked speaks volumes for its slow moving capabilities. The real rack and pinion steering enables the ZenWheels to be truly unique in the micro rc car market.
The ZenWheels is rear wheel drive, and I think primarily driven by the rear passenger side wheel. This vehicle has two micro coreless motors, one for drive train and one for the rack and pinion steering. All four tires are slicks and have no tread. The tires can also be removed from the rims. On a smooth surface, the ZenWheels can slide around a bit when at full throttle. I found that on laminate or hardwood flooring, the car slides around worse than carpet for example. I can see modder’s swapping out the slicks for different tire threads to compensate for this. However, this is generally only a concern if the car were to speed across a smooth surface in a straight line. Generally, I find my car needs about 5 clicks of left trim. This may be because of the passenger side rear driven tire.Debris stuck on or around the tires can cause issues as well. Be sure to keep the ZenWheels drive train clean.
Due to the fully proportional steering and throttle, I find myself wanting to set up obstacle courses and incorporating hot wheels/dinky car items in which to use the micro car with. For example, I have a hot wheels car mat, that has streets ect that I can drive the ZenWheels on. This is a fun challenge and allows to user to utilize the signal lights, hazards’ and mimic real car like driving. I am working on building a course that will incorporate inclines/declines with buildings ect. Having more than one ZenWheels in this situation would be a blast. While the scale size, wouldn’t be exactly correct, diving the ZenWheels on a model train set environment would be fun as well and make for good videos. I have been seeking out such a venture and hope that a model train builder will allow me to do so. I can see modelers using these cars to build such environments. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it
I haven’t extensively tested the durability of the ZenWheels, but, it has fallen off a table a few times with no damage. Its compact design and light weight are important here.
The longest driving session I had was about 20 minutes; this is all dependent on what kind of driving you are doing, and whether or not the lights are on or off. The more you use lights, the faster the battery drains.
Using the included USB cable, the average charge time via my computer was 45 minutes. The included lipo, is hardwired and has the following specs.
Be sure to check axels for hair. Hair from pets can easily become wound around the axle and cause unwanted handling characteristics.
Just a word of warning, you may want to keep this away from dogs and or cats. Our dog however, loves it, but some might decide to eat it which would be bad for both the car and the animal. Ingesting a lithium polymer battery would not far well in a car or dog.
As you can see in some of my pics, hair from animals and dust bunnies can become wound around the drive train. This can cause unwanted handling characteristics. From time to time, these unwanted items should be removed. Depending on your comfort level, the removal of this may be completed different ways. Myself, I remove the body to get more access to the rear axels. This isn’t an overly difficult process, but the user will want to exercise common sense and be caution if attempting to do so.
To remove the body, you will have to remove one screw from the front of car. You’ll also notice that there is a white tab, on bottom side of car, rear passenger side. This holds the rear of body onto the frame. Be careful when removing the body that this clip and the USB plug is not damaged. Once the body is removed, choose your weapon of choice for removing the hair. Personally, I used a pair of fine tweezers, and a sharp hobby knife to cut away the hair from steel axel. Once again, exercise caution in this step to not damage any of the ZenWheels components. When done, you simply reinstall the body, making sure that the rear clip and USB plug are not damaged in the process.
Some people might consider the price a con, but, for the price the consumer is getting some very cool tech in a micro sized car. You get rack and pinion proportional steering, proportional throttle, and multi functional lights and sounds. These unique features are just not something you see in this size. So for me, price isn’t a con, but, this an opinion of the end user of course. The body could be considered a con as well, but I understand Plantraco may have some different bodies up their sleeves. Also, this car is currently only controllable by IOS devices, BUT, as I understand it, Plantraco is working on making it android capable.
Recommendations for Plantraco/Possible Mods:
I would like see switchable bodies for this car, and possibly different tires with treads for different terrain. Perhaps with all the sirens and lights, there could be switchable Emergency vehicles like Ambulances and Police cars.
I suppose a person could also hard wire in a larger or smaller battery if needed, provided that it would fit the body.
Personally, I would also love to see Plantraco build a crawler. Picture a rock crawling course on your desk? How awesome would that be.
I have some idea’s of my own, and will post my results if undertaken.
See below for pics
The ZenWheels Micro Car is a fantastic addition to micro rc. Its proportional steering and throttle make it truly unique for its size. The RC Commander App and its 4 diversified user interfaces and intuitive settings menu can make it unique to anyone’s driving tastes. In a world where micro rc is dramtically increasing, due to the advent of new micro technologies, the Plantraco ZenWheels micro car sets the new standard. I for one am excited about what the future holds in the industry, and what other offers Plantraco has up its sleeves. In conclusion, this rc car is awesome, a welcome addition to the IOS controlled devices, and would make a great gift for the holiday season. Enjoy!
ImagesView all Images in thread
just a basic video of the ZenWheels on a hot wheels landscape pad
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