D R O M I D A 4.18BL
BY NATHAN MAAT | PRODUCT TEST
Dromida was the subject of conversation earlier this month on RCTech’s homepage. The topic surrounded itself around the idea that everyone started somewhere in r/c, and in many cases when the person is quite young. Moving from toy-grade to a hobby-grade r/c vehicle can be a difficult choice, given the range of products and prices in the marketplace. Finding one that is durable and has the ability to grow with the new driver’s skill’s, at an affordable price, is usually the objective.
Dromida set it’s sights on being a quality, durable, entry-level hobby-grade r/c company, and I’ve learned they are definitely high on the list for this purpose. However, they’ve also managed to position the brand as a fun, inexpensive racing alternative. Club-level racer’s have started gravitating to this brand and 1/18th scale, creating new Dromida race series.
I find it interesting that Dromida consider’s their vehicle’s a beginner’s option, while appealing to the club-racer’s who in-turn have created a new series. I look forward to exploring that more in the coming weeks.
The product lineup is simple to understand with 5 choices of 4wd vehicles in both Brushed and Brushless options:
- Desert Buggy (DB4.18)
- Desert Truck (DT4.18)
- Buggy (BX4.18)
- Monster Truck (MT4.18)
- Short Course Truck (SC4.18)
T H E T R U C K
There are differences between these two vehicle’s, but they pretty much share the chassis and suspension. It’s the body, lights and spare wheel and bumper’s on the DB4.18BL that separate it from its the Short Course counterpart.
The lights on top of the DB are sufficiently integrated into the body and include 4 LED’s. They are incredibly bright and pretty cool for indoor use. They don’t provide much driving light outside, so as the DB gets further away from you orientation can be a bit tricky if it’s dark.
The ESC setup and programming is extremely simple, and the instructions are precisely confined to one page. The ESC has everything you’d expect at this level. For LiPo’s it offers low voltage cutoff, and it can be shut off for NiMH.
Programming includes: Running Mode with and without reverse, Drag brake force from 0-40%, LVC for 2.6v-3.4v LiPo’s, Punch Mode and Max Brake Force from soft to very aggressive.
To program the ESC, hold the set button and let it blink 1-5 times depending on what you want to adjust. Press the set button again and wait again for the LED blinks. Shut the ESC off to complete programming. The one-sheet programming guide makes this VERY simple.
Included with the Brushless Dromida Speed series vehicle is a 1300mAh NiMH 6-cell battery, AC charger and charge monitor.
The charge monitor has 2 lights; one is an always on green indicator and one is an on/off red charging light. The manual suggests 4.5-6.5 hours for the charging process, yet I found it took about 1 hour between charges. At some point during the testing however, one charger stopped correctly indicating a complete charge.
I swapped batteries on the charger in question throughout testing, and each time one monitor would indicate a complete charge while the other didn’t. The subsequent run times would be about equal, regardless of the vehicle or battery, so the batteries are fine. The charger in question still charges the batteries fine, but would need to be replaced for the best results.
The Brushless Speed Series is also 2S LiPo compatible, which I do believe will help push these up and perhaps beyond that 30mph range.
D100 2-Channel 2.4GHz Pistol Radio
Also under the cover is the on/off switch and steering and servo reversing switches, along with dual-rates for both. Steering and throttle trim are on the front next to the wheel. The antenna is a short, static, hard plastic shell. And the steering wheel is modeled after a real vehicle wheel with foam.
The D100 is light, if not a bit bulky, but comfortable to hold and balanced well. The trigger is not adjustable, but is positioned well and has a light spring, which I like. Finally, it comes with the four “AA” batteries required, which is a nice touch on a “RTR” vehicle.
It can be difficult to find a 1/18 RTR with a good, hardy steering servo. Dromida understand’s that while this is a beginner vehicle, it’s also capable of racing. An independent steering servo with a robust servo saver is a feature that makes racing these a real option.
The steering servo does nice job holding strong when going straight and returns to center nicely. I didn’t feel as though I had to help it get back to neutral all that often, terrain depending. It struggles a bit on grassy surfaces, but did quite well on the track.
Chassis and Drivetrain
The chassis is a solid plastic, and all the components making up the drivetrain are plastic as well. This is one way Dromida’s stays at its price point and able to be a beginner’s option. This doesn’t equate to cheap. On the contrary, these vehicles are intentionally constructed well, and ready for all the upgrade options available.
Included are fully adjustable oil filled, big-bore shocks that provide nice damping to hit the bigger jumps. The differentials, pinion and spur gears are all plastic and the power is sent to the wheels with a plastic drive-shaft as well. A full set of ball-bearings keep things moving smoothly and efficiently. And the motor mount is adjustable to accept different pinion gears for different surfaces.
All these things combined keep the price very competitive, without sacrificing much. And for the long haul, aluminum upgrade kits or parts are made available so you can enjoy these vehicles for years to come.
T E S T D R I V E
I keep saying this is a beginner’s vehicle, and I just so happen to have a young man in my life willing to drive them to his limits and probably theirs. He’s 8, he’s my son, and while he’s pretty handy with a transmitter in his hand’s he also has a lot to learn at the track. I figured it was appropriate to feature his driving in the video, so apart from racing together, he is your test driver for this review.
He and I spent several hours driving the Dromida’s both on and off the track. At our local track, the Dromida’s were a conversation piece, sparking several questions; Once the driver’s saw the potential behind the brushless setup, the idea of creating a series behind these vehicles was hatched. Maybe that happens and maybe it doesn’t, but it’s the fact these vehicles have racing potential for very little money that makes it an intriguing idea– I’d like to explore that more.
The outside track is where we started our testing. Essentially these vehicles are the same, yet there are enough differences to make them look different but also drive differently. The DB feels lighter and more agile than the SC; cornering is precise on both vehicles thanks to the responsiveness of the steering servo, but they handle jumps differently.
The brake drag is set to 0% on both vehicles, and I don’t imagine a situation where a driver would want to dial in more. Coming into a jump at speed with the DB will force you to keep the throttle engaged as the nose tends to dive more than I would have expected given the rear tire placement. I can’t think of one occasion where it was appropriate to stab the brake through a jump as the DB seems to always like throttle through the jumps.
The SC on the other hand felt better balanced through the jumps, and more controllable. When the timing is right, bringing the throttle back to neutral during high speed jumps kept the truck happy. Neither vehicle get huge air, so reaction time needs to be quick in getting a stab of the throttle or brake, but it’s more available on the SC than the DB.
I am fortunate that Battle Front RC has both an outdoor and indoor race track along with an indoor dirt oval. It makes for some really good overall testing for vehicles like these. The dirt oval was available, so we spent a little time there first. As you might expect, the tire’s aren’t exactly ideal for a dirt oval, but it was still fun. Easing into full throttle out of the corner’s into the straight was attainable, and no brakes were needed even with 0% brake drag. It doesn’t appear one vehicle has an advantage over the other here.
Next, the indoor track. We took turns driving both the SC and DB through a few battery packs, and everything we learned outside was consistently true inside as well– the SC is our preferred weapon around a track between these two vehicles.
Bashing these are equally as fun as bringing them to the track. Obviously grass is your enemy, but you’ll see in the video it’s not completely out of the question. The 4wd does fantastic in sand and over pretty rough terrain. They’re also quite handy on the pavement, I could easily envision parking lot races.
F I N A L L A P
There’s a lot more to like about the Dromida Brushless Speed Series vehicles than there is to not like. Coming in at $149.99, these are a bargain. I believe they are race-able out of the box, but Dromida also has a full list of upgrades including: aluminum shocks and towers, drive shaft, dogbones, axles, pinions and spur gear. For a little extra money you can really dial in a Dromida and wring out all the performance possible.
I had a small issue with the DB, and it’s based on how the front bumper is connected to the differential housing. The DB took several hits to the bumper at the track, and it caused the connecting screws to come loose.
The problem is these screws also secure part of the differential housing, as it’s all connected. That opened the door to a lot of dirt and sand to enter and ended our day of racing.
I took the whole thing apart, cleaned it and was was able to secure it back in place. I’m hopeful it’s going to continue holding through more troubled landings, but my confidence isn’t high. Alternatively, the SC took equally as punishing hits and tumbles and we had no issues.
It’s an unfortunate blemish on otherwise stellar experience while testing both these vehicles. The Dromida Speed Series draws a lot of attention, they are impressively fast, agile and easy to drive. They are novice-friendly and highly upgradable. And they are absolutely a racing option.