The best starter box is one which has a high torque 775 motor or dual 550 motors. Good quality thick gauge wiring and robust build quality. There are more choices for starter box’s than there needs to be. They come in all price ranges some are very expensive some are cheap. So it’s easy to be confused, applying logic like you get what you pay for does not always ring true.
What is a starter box.
In simple terms a device which you place your nitro car on that starts your engine. Most RTR (ready to run) rc cars come with pull starts. There are some which have electric start built in or hand starters. When your looking into racing nitro cars the engines don’t have any starting aid built in.
You have no option other than to purchase a starter box. Starter boxes have adjusters which you can setup for your car. These are very helpful so you can put your car on the box, and you know it will be in the correct position every time. Starter boxes have a belt attached from an electric motor to a rubber wheel. When you press your car down on the box it turns the motor on. This rubber wheel makes contact with the fly wheel on your engine and starts your car. That’s why there is the little slot in your nitro car chassis. You won’t often find this slot on many RTR models. Its mostly just on professional grade car kits.
What you want from a starter box.
Build quality is a very important part this includes everything from the overall structure to the wiring and motors. You want a starter box which is very durable and will start several different types of nitro cars. Oh yes if your not fully into this hobby yet you will soon find out one car is not enough.
On a serious note the main fail points I have found tend to be in 3 areas.
- The motor(s) are just not up to par with turning your engine over. Some starter boxes come with a single 550 motor that is just simply not going to last. You need a single 775 motor or dual 550 motors. These have the torque needed to start anything you throw at it.
- Cheap rubber wheels if the main part is made cheaply, it wont mean much for the rest of the starter box. There is times when your engine maybe very difficult to start. Times like when you first start the engine. If the wheel is made of poor quality it will just wear down too fast. Replacement parts on cheaper models is also a nightmare so you made end up needing to purchase another starter box.
- Wiring & Switches this is expected from cheaper models but I have had wires burn out on mid range boxes too. You can have a good quality motor and strong build quality overall. However the wires inside the starter box need to handle a surge of current every time you use it. If they are too thin they will just melt and burnout. You could always solder on some higher quality wire yourself. If you don’t mind that sort of thing. You shouldn’t have to when you pay good money for a product pre made. Switches have also been a common issue, like the wires just can’t handle the current and they burn out.
Are the batteries included?
I won’t blame you if your thinking all you need is the starter box and you are good to go. Sadly none of the manufacturers that make starter boxes include batteries and a charger. It would be fantastic if they did bit of a gap in the market there. The good part to this is most starter boxes have a huge space inside which means you can go with a choice of batteries.
Common options to go for are:
- 12v 7ah lead acid battery – cheapest option available however it is on the heavy side though.
- Twin 7.2v nimh batteries in series slightly more expensive something around 5000 mah will be enough.
- A single 4s lipo battery 4000 mah and above will be fine. You will need a special lipo battery charger for this.
- Twin 2s lipo batteries in series just like with 4s battery above you will need a lipo charger.
If you choose to go down the lipo battery route. Please bear in mind to keep an eye on the voltage of your batteries. Lipo batteries become damaged when they are discharged below 3v per cell.
- Don’t run a 4s lipo battery lower than 12 volts.
- Don’t run twin 2s lipo batteries lover than 6 volts each.
You will have more instant torque available but no BMS (battery management system) in place. A starter box is just simply a motor connected to a battery with a switch. Some starter boxes have nice little extras. I am yet to come across one with a BMS built in.
When you have your choice of battery have a look at the type of connector that comes with your battery. Starter boxes often come with a Tamiya connector or a deans connector. These are not the only options available you may be lucky and have an adapter come with your starter box. If not it is something else you will need.
At the end of the day your starter box’s sole purpose is to start your nitro engine. However there are some extras which come with some models. The first one isn’t really an extra feature but it sure is nice to have. That is a spare rubber wheel this is often quite rare but nice to have. If you make sure your wheel is lined up correctly. You should expect most wheels to last you a race season.
The next one is a handy feature. Power supply or built in glow plug igniter. The amount of times I have gone over to the pit lane only to realize I have left my glow plug igniter. Run back quickly grab it and try and get started while most racers are starting to go out on track.
Lastly some starter boxes come with cooling systems built in. The motor is under huge demand when it starts up your engine. The chances of you needing a cooling system are minimal. However it’s a little extra peace of mind if your worried about overheating the starter box motor.
When you first purchase a nitro engine and your going through the break-in procedure. If you have not done this before have a look in your instruction manual that came with your engine. On the first gallon of fuel the compression will be very high. This is when you can burn out your motor or wires on the starter box.
It’s important to check the basics first if you follow the checklist below you shouldn’t have a problem.
To prolong the life of your starter box. Make sure you have good contact from the rubber wheel on the box to the flywheel on your engine. Sometimes the rubber wheel can catch on the chassis of your car. Quickly burning out the starter box motor or rubber wheel.