Bitchar-G – Review


Well, Christmas is upon us once again, and recently it's all been very serious here at Automated Home what with talk of X10 this and KAT5 that. Therefore in a more lighthearted spirit, I present for your enjoyment the Tomica Bitchar-G Miniature Radio Controlled Car! And in case you're still wondering, the home automation content of this article is as close to zero as makes no difference.

Recently, someone posted to the mailing list with a link for this little car, and being lucky enough (and, yes, sad enough) to work for a company that has a RC car club, I was reaching for the old credit card before the page had finished loading. I couldn't persuade any of my colleagues to join in my folly, the consensus being that the Bitchar-G would probably have "toy style" remote control: in other words, it wouldn't have proper steering, but would go straight forwards only, and backwards to one side only. I decided that I had to find out the hard way, and sent of my order, plumping naturally for the Skyline GT-R R34.

Several weeks passed, and I'd all but forgotten about my diminutive purchase. Even the arrival of a beloved Parcel Force "we called but you were out" postcard failed to arouse much excitement, this being the present buying season and all. I was soon chuckling with glee however as I realised that it was a present of an altogether different calibre – a present for myself. And that's the best kind of present there is!


Initial examination of the box proved hopeful – it carries the message "2 channel transmitter" and has a little picture of some 6 way steering action, fuelling my hopes that it had real RC car style steering. Like a real RC car, you can't run two of these beasties on the same frequency at the same time, so Tomica offer 57 MHz, 45 MHz, 35 MHz, and 27 MHz. The 27MHz band is used for real RC cars in the UK, but they manage to squeeze thirteen channels between 26.96 – 27.28 MHz, so the Bitchar-G probably stomps all over them. I haven't tried it, not wanting to damage a reasonably expensive Schumacher Cougar car. Similarly, using a 35 MHz Bitchar-G is likely to adversely affect any radio controlled planes flying overhead, and those things are super expensive, so check first. 45 MHz is unallocated according to my guide, but the nearest frequency is 41MHz – "Harmonised Military Band", so caution is probably the watchword here 😉 Similarly the nearest thing to 57 MHz is something called CBS up at 57.5 MHz, but I've no idea what that is. For maximum racing enjoyment though, each model of car is available in two colours, each of which uses a different frequency.


Model Radio frequency Colour Motor?

Mazda RX7

57 MHz Red B1.0
45 MHz Yellow B1.0
Toyota Celica 35 MHz Black B1.0
27 MHz Silver B1.0
Honda S2000 57 MHz Silver B2.2
45 MHz Yellow B2.2
Nissan Skyline 35 MHz Blue B2.2
27 MHz White B2.2

The Bitchar-G really does replicate the whole RC car experience in miniature – not only are various 'hop up' options available ( for example, I think the B2.2 motor above is an uprated version of the B1.0 motor, and a B2.6 motor is mentioned in the pamphlet) but it also comes part assembled. Anybody who has assembled an RC car from the myriad little cogs and plastic parts that comprise the average shop-bought kit is probably baulking at the prospect of doing this in miniature, but there's good news: there's only a very small amount of work to do. Unfortunately, there's bad news too: all the instructions are in Japanese or some such. So without further ado, I present Ant's guide to assembling a Bitchar-G:


Put the smaller diameter tyres onto the front wheels of the car Put the larger diameter tyres onto the wheels on the separate rear axle Clip the lugs of the engine housing over the steel rod on the chassis, so that it will hinge downwards towards the rear of the car Put the small pinion gear into the hole on the back of the controller, and push the motor shaft into it as far as it will go. When finished, the end of the shaft should protrude slightly from the other side of the gear Place the motor in the chassis, and clip the motor cover shut over it.

Attach the spur gear to the idler shaft in the chassis, so that it engages with the pinion gear on the motor shaft. Attach the rear axle so that the gears engage. Clip on the body work. With some batteries inserted into the controller, it's time to charge the car! The left edge of the controller flips open to reveal a docking port onto which the car clips. It's important that the controller is switched ON before you attach the car – doing it the other way around won't start the charging process. Once the car is attached, the CHARGE LED lights for about a minute. Once it goes out, the car is ready for action. The car will run for 2-3 minutes between charges. The antenna on the controller is an unusual affair – you pull out a length of wire, and can wind it back in using the dial on the back. You get four controls, forwards, backwards, left and right. These aren't proportional controls, it's all or nothing, but then just having two channels on a car this size is amazing enough. The ON AIR LED lights when you're pressing a control.

Driving the Bitchar-G is immensely good fun. Its modified mobile phone vibrator motor doesn't develop much torque, so it struggles on surfaces such as carpet. Similarly, the weedy little tyres don't provide much grip, so it will wheelspin like crazy on a surface which is too smooth. This little car seems most at home on surfaces such as desktops and kitchen lino. I estimate that its top lino speed is about half a meter per second, and it has a forward turning circle of approximately 30 centimeters, 15cm in reverse. There's occasionally some lag on steering release, so that now and again it steers more than you intended. If the Bitchar-G won't go in a straight line, there's a steering trim adjustment on the underside of the car.


I suspect that the Bitchar-G is going to prove utterly utterly invaluable for tedious meetings in work, and that large meeting room table is looking increasingly inviting. Sadly I won't get to try it until the New Year, because Alex (one of the aforementioned steering poo-pooers) is getting one for Christmas from his missus, and I'm sworn to secrecy. If you have the means I fully recommend getting one. UKHA Bitchar-G Championship Race Meet anyone? But sssh, not a word to Alex, now. And here's hoping she bought him one with the puny motor!

(UPDATE – APRIL 2002 – She didn't. I kicked his ass.)

Happy Xmas!

Approximate Price 70.00 US Dollars including international shipping

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