How Radio-Controlled Toys Work?

You have always watched RC Cars zoom away at high speed or jump off elevated obstacles. You have watched them go high and low, over bricks, puddles and dirt tracks. You have watched RC helicopters hover in the air and witnessed RC boats float in the lake. You have always witnessed the action on the outside but this article will take you inside a radio-controlled toy and show you what goes on backstage while you make your radio-controlled toys flip, float and fly!

Usual Components of an RC Toy: Receiver, transmitter, battery, motor for running, ESC (Electronic Speed Controller) and servos

The specifications and combinations of these components is different depending on the RC Toy you have. For example, the voltage of the battery is different in different toys. Some toys have two motors etc. It is important to know everything about your toy in order to get the most out of it. You can read up all information about the components and the specifications for your RC Toy in respective RC toys review.

How it works and what each of these components does?

  1. The Transmitter

The transmitter tells all other parts what to do and is the control center of the toy. It translates movements of one of the controls into the movement of a servo or the amount of throttle that goes into the motor. The higher the throttle, the faster will be the speed of the motor. The control controlling the servo moves it in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction that translates into the direction of movement of the toy. The transmitter is powered by a battery. It provides power for controls as well for the transmission of radio signals to the receiver. Both are digitally bound to each other in a 2.4 GHz system. Both the transmitter and the receiver need different sources of power.

  1. The Receiver

The receiver receives the signals transmitted by the transmitter through channels, and forwards them to the part corresponding to the channel. Each control corresponds to one channel on the receiver. The receiver has various channels, which is how the transmitter tells the receiver to do different things. The power can be supplied to any of the channels on the receiver. For example: If a servo is plugged in to channel 1, the control transmitting signals to channel 1 will tell the servo to move, without having an impact on other components of the toy. If a component is plugged to another channel, then a different control that corresponds to that channel will control the connected component. Any component can be plugged into any channel (that will correspond to either of the controls, it can be a joystick, a knob, or a switch).

  1. The Battery

Battery gets plugged into the ESC i.e. the Electronic Speed Controller.

  1. ESC

The Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) is connected to the motor and the receiver. The receiver in turn is connected to the servos. The receiver sends signals to the ESC and tells it how fast or slow the motor has to go. The battery power goes to the ESC, which it uses to control the motor. A separate circuit inside the ESC sends 5 volts to power the receiver and the servos. This circuit is called the battery eliminator circuit and most small ESCs have them.

  1. The Motor

The motor is connected to the wheels using a few simple gears. The motor propels the toy forward using the wheels. A radio-controlled toy usually has 2 electric motors. One motor is for turning the front wheels right or left, and the other motor commands whether to move forward or backward.

  1. Servos

Servos move back and forth and are typically used for steering

Emily has plenty of experience with both RC Cars and RC Airplanes. She has written about some RC cars reviews and engaged in construction of RC toys as a hobby for a considerable amount of time. She shares her technical knowledge about radio-controlled toys with us through reviews and informational articles about the same.


Shah, one of the founders of this site is a blogger, writer and SEO expert interested to write about tech, design, health, finance, SEO and current affairs.