WLtoys Vortex-A949 blue - RC Groups
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Feb 25, 2016, 03:10 AM
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drracer's Avatar
Mini-Review

WLtoys Vortex-A949 blue


It's been some time since we acquired our last RC "cruise missile", aka the WLtoys Vortex model A979 . After a few upgrades it made it successfully off-road for more than 10 minutes (actually 2.5 hours was good enough ).

Today, we got a very similar RC toy from GearBest - the WLtoys Vortex model A949 rally cross car. It is almost the same platform as the A979 , so I'll skip some of the usual description and will concentrate only on the differences. You can always look at my A979 unboxing review here .

The bodywork is made of durable Lexan and it shall represent a rally (or rally cross) car. These cars are produced in two variants as shown on the package box. Both variants differ only in the bodywork:
  • A949 version A - this blue car of mine. Even though it looks quite realistic, I'm not sure, which of the real rally cars was this one made after. A Citron?
  • A949 version B - red one, certainly looking like a Ford Fiesta R5.
Interestingly, the GearBest e-shop has both variants shown as Ford Fiesta R5. I don't know, where did they get their blue variant photos from.




Interestingly, the vendor states, it is a scale of 1:18 as all other vehicles from the WLtoys Vortex A9x9 series. The model is 14cm wide and considering the fact, that a real rally car can be ca. 180-190cm wide, the real scale would be 1:13 or 1:14 in this case. That looks very interesting for a specific intent I had in mind for a while .

The body needs to be taken off to get to the battery, chassis and other components. The body is held by four clips, which were very rigid at least on my A949 . So before shooting the unboxing video, I "opened" them just a little to make it look better on the final video. Normally, when you get your A949 , please be careful when taking off these clips as noted at the A979 .



Again, you do not need to take off the body at every opportunity. With just a little bit of skill you can get to the master switch, as well as to the charging connector of the battery without removing the body at all.

Warning: as I've confirmed at the A979 - the electric motor can get very hot when driving (namely driving flat-out ). Even though there is an aluminum heat sink, the driver must be careful about motor's temperature and stop after 15-30 minutes of driving (that's normally the endurance of the stock battery).



The chassis has independent wheels suspension with coil springs. The A949 chassis only has different axle arms, wheels and front and rear area under the bumpers. Front springs were too soft at least on my A949 . The car sometimes didn't even want to lift itself into idle position. I had to disassemble the front suspension and stretch the coil springs a bit. Now it's perfect (considering the fact, that there is also enough space to mount holders for a heavy NiMH 5Ah battery pack again ).

The car is equipped with hydraulic oil dampers. There is really oil inside and it is visibly leaking on my A949 when the suspension hits its upper limit. The A979 specimen was better in this regard, there was just a thin oil film on two of the dampers (or may be there was no more oil in them ).

There is an interesting difference - at the A979 I was complaining about flexing and bending during springing action. The A949 has much better axle geometry - the arms seem to be much better stabilized when springing. We'll see how that influences driving experience, the A979 has been very "nervous" underway. I hope the A949 would behave much more consistently.

The connecting shaft between the axles is plastic and there is no center differential. All half-axles are made of metal shafts as well as the joints in the wheels. There is a visible amount of looseness in wheels' bearings - surprisingly not axial, but horizontal! Both axles have an open differential.

Front axle. Under the front bumper there is a massive block of spongy foam which is to absorb potential frontal crash forces.




The rear axle's design is quite unusual. In fact, it is a steering axle stabilized with two rods. It looks like the vendor took maximum of existing parts and only made the axle non-steering.



The tyres are made of very soft rubber with a simple "gravel" pattern. I hope the tyres won't stick that much to the ground, I'd like to do some attractive drifting.

The car has a relatively large turning radius - which is good for fast driving, but bad for tight rally-like corners. Interestingly, the left turning radius is a bit shorter than the right one. The servo behaves well and smoothly. Steering suffers from the same manufacturing inaccuracies as at the A979 . There is a considerable amount of looseness both in steering (virtually all of the joints) and in suspension, all can be clearly seen in the video. Moreover, there are significant eccentricities of rotating parts e.g. joint axle drive shafts.



Waterproof?

An interesting question is "waterproof-ness". On the GearBest's web site (and also on the package box), I saw a note that the car IS waterproof. Even though I mounted skirts around the A979's chassis to prevent water getting into the electronics, it might actually be true - all the electronics is covered with some king of semitransparent resin, so actually water should do no harm. The same applies to the A979 .

Battery

The battery is a 7.4V Li-Po with a capacity of 1.1Ah. It is equipped with a BEC connector - the same as at the A979 . So now I have two stock batteries and even compatible 3D prints for mounting my big NiMH battery.

What kind of terrain is the vehicle intended for?

The manual says that the car manages to drive well on hard surfaces, sand and grass land. This is even more important than at the A979 . The A949 is a rally car, do not expect any rock crawling possibilities.

Anyway, I moved all four suspension components to the inner position. That was an easy operation and gave me a few more millimeters of ground clearance.

And finally, here is the unboxing video. It is pretty much the same as at the A979 .

However, I strongly recommend watching it till the very end. Then you'll surely understand, why I was carefully checking the car's total width before obtaining. And there is much more to come regarding this idea . Stay tuned!

WLtoys Vortex-A949 RC model unboxing (3 min 42 sec)
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Feb 25, 2016, 10:57 AM
Registered User
I am still convinced you are related to Edward!

Nice video from a car I did not know existed!

And I do like those tires

but you need to upgrade to ballbearings in the wheel axles!

Feb 25, 2016, 10:10 PM
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Joexer's Avatar
Sure does look nice. How fast is this?
Feb 25, 2016, 10:55 PM
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Very nice review! I really like these cars that are based around that chassis. I have desert buggy which is quite similar. Fast little cars and also really tough. I've driven mine around in freezing weather and crashed and rolled and they hold up great.
Feb 26, 2016, 03:39 AM
Registered User
Look really well made. Only if i get my hands on one can i state about the durability of the parts etc... But for that price i wouldn't expect much out of that thing.
Feb 26, 2016, 05:41 AM
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drracer's Avatar
Thank you for all your comments, I'm glad you like my review .
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mininitrohans
I am still convinced you are related to Edward!
Did you notice? Different scissors. Edward himself has helped me this time .
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mininitrohans
Nice video from a car I did not know existed!
I want to keep the car as unmodified, as possible. I'm yet to make first on-road and off-road tests.
The only thing I've just 3D printed are my battery pack holders (same as at A979), so this thing is going for a loooong ride at the first occasion possible. I hope to make it run again for 2.5 hours almost continuously (of course, making long stops after every 15 minutes to cool down the motor).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mininitrohans
but you need to upgrade to ballbearings in the wheel axles!
Yeah, the bearings. It's kind of sad to show a brand new car like this. It was just pulled out of the box, drove just a few meters during video recording. And the amounts of looseness and excentricities are surprising. The steering has more looseness than my Tatra 130 after 9 years of driving in rough terrain in a wide range of environment temperatures! And my A979 specimen was even worse when first pulled out of the box.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mininitrohans
And I do like those tires
And which tyres do you mean? The A949's, or the prototype 3D printed tyre mounted on the left front wheel of my Tatra 130 truck ?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joexer
Sure does look nice. How fast is this?
Good question, the vendor states, that the car is capable of 50km/h speed. Well, the same is written on the package box of the A979, which has much bigger wheels. So I assume the A949 can do cca. 30-40km/h, but it is too early to say for sure yet. I'm going to find out for sure.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JUSS10B
Very nice review! I really like these cars that are based around that chassis. I have desert buggy which is quite similar. Fast little cars and also really tough. I've driven mine around in freezing weather and crashed and rolled and they hold up great.
The same here with my A979. Second off-road tests were done in -15C on frozen snow. No problem, no damage, see my HG P402 thread on this forum.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdzrc10
Look really well made. Only if i get my hands on one can i state about the durability of the parts etc... But for that price i wouldn't expect much out of that thing.
I'd say the mechanical properties are adequate to the price . The plastic parts seem to be durable and spongy to withstand quite hard punches. We'll see after first driving tests.
Mar 03, 2016, 06:09 AM
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drracer's Avatar
As already noted, I've 3D printed my NiMH battery pack holders and mounted them on my WLtoys Vortex model A949 . Suprisingly, there is exactly the same amount of space above the front axle as on the A979 , so I really didn't need to change the 3D model for the holders.



I hardened the front and rear springs (dismounted and stretched by hand ) and mounted the lower shocks's joints into their spare positions closer to car's center.



That has helped me to gain some extra millimeters of road clearance (because I'll be driving primarily off-road) and also keep the car above the ground with the heavy battery. I can change car's setup to on-road configuration again moving the joint to their original positions.



After a few short test runs the car is much more stable when driving. Of course, that's the effect of huge mass added to the chassis. Also, it is much less agile when cornering (more sliding!), so the drive looks more realistic. Stay tuned for first outdoor rally cross tests and video !
Mar 03, 2016, 06:38 PM
Registered User
Very inyeresting. Can u share the 3d model for the battery holder?
Dec 18, 2016, 06:15 AM
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drracer's Avatar
I had this RC toy lying on my table for several months, I was using it just as an unusual cargo for my Tatra 130 and for doing some slow and safe driving on our RC shows .

For a real off-road trip the car was waiting to have some dirt protection added to the chassis. At first, I thought I'd 3D print some fenders, but this turned out to be unnecessarily complex and possibly brittle. A friend of mine pointed out a simple solution - use a suitable polyethylene bottle . So I did and the dirt protection was ready within an hour and finally, we could have taken this car for an off-road trip. Since there is winter knocking on the door, the ground is already frozen and "Father Frost" has conjured up beautifully white ice spikes overnight - so enjoy the frozen scenery in this short video .

RC car WLtoys A949 off-road (2 min 49 sec)


During filming we took a few photos. The first ones were shot at the start (Vortex A949 still very clean )





Cooling of the electric motor was not necessary this time, the ambient temperature was below 0C, the motor was cold all the time (and so were my fingers ). In the middle of the trail we took this photo, just before jumping into almost frozen mud bath!



Returned safely home...



Having experience with the A979 , I was expecting, that filming this "cruise missile" will be more pain than pleasure again. Unfortunately yes, the car is almost uncotrollable even at moderate speeds. Moreover, with the standard light battery my car behaved mostly unpredictably, any piece of rock could have thrown it off ballance.

As you've seen in my previous post, I've 3D printed holders for a huge NiMH 6cell battery. I'm aware, that such a great added mass really eliminates some of the crazy stunts you guys are doing with this tiny chassis, but I was primarily concerned about long endurance for video shooting.

With the huge added mass, the car is much more consistent at higher speeds - once you speed up, gained higher momentum helps the car to somewhat "ignore" the looseness of imprecisely manufactured steering and suspension. Interestingly, making a hard turn on dry tarmac can even cause the car to flip over.

Sadly, even on flat tarmac, the A949 behaves much worse than the A979 . Even lifting off the throttle makes the car turn! At walk speed, the driver still must perform steering corrections all the time. The huge looseness of imprecisely manufactured steering and suspension are the cause...

The steering has a big gap in the center (before the servo moves and pushes the joints into their holes) and also the ESC seems to have a lag responding to drivers commands. I'll try to solve the joints' looseness somehow to see if it helps.

Still, the small Vortex A949 toy has gained a bit of my respect. Even though the car has even lower ground clearance than the A979 , it managed to make its way throughout the frozen course I prepared and also bravely performed all the stunts in the video. Most of them were shot more than five times before the right drive-through was achieved.

So one one side, my battery upgrade kit helped the car to sit better on the ground (i.e. be less nervous). As expected, the car's endurance was improved greatly and enabled us to records some interesting video sequences off-road. But again, when the ambient temperatures are higher, the driver must be careful and check electric motor's temperature regularly and make longer stops to cool it down.

Moreover, my flexible fenders around the wheels prevented some of the dirt and water getting directly onto the electronics, motor and gears, but some more protection will be required at the sides of the chassis. The A979's solution was better.




The fenders brought one more interesting improvement I didn't expect - they prevent the lexan bodywork from moving too much on the chassis. The bodywork then looks then more like an integral part of the car (i.e. more realistic).

Warning : since the NiMH battery is much heavier than the original one, the driver has to be careful with long jumps. The chassis isn't really designed for such weight and some of the long jumps with hard landings seen on other youtube videos could be the last ones for this heavier configuration. So far so good, the car made it home safely, we have driven carefully.
Dec 18, 2016, 06:36 AM
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drracer's Avatar
Please see the post with pictures at my website. The pictures seem not to work here anymore, sorry about that:
http://www.drracer.eu/rc4x4/20161218...ing/index.html