that the Rio 51 has made its mark in the gas boating community,
it seems only natural the Aquacraft would go to the other extreme
with a pint-sized version that sports the same great lines as
the big boy. The Mini Rio is an ultra small (14.25"
hull length) electric vee-hull that features twin rudders and
a surface drive, which are usually reserved for bigger hulls.
it's size, it's quite the little wake-buster with precise handling
to boot and the fact that it comes virtually ready-to-run makes
it a must-have for anyone wanting to get their feet wet. So, if
you'd like to see how the Mini Rio fares against a 4" chop,
which is like offshore for a full size boat, check out my review
of Aquacraft's new electric vee; The Mini Rio.
Rio Price: $89.99 retail price Length: 14.25" Beam: 4.75" Motor: Water cooled 380 Batteries used: (Included) 7.2v 1100mah w/ Tamiya-style
connectors Transmitter batteries used: 8 AA batteries Radio equipment: (Included) 1 mini servo, ESC/receiver
AA batteries for transmitter
Mini Rio's ABS hull is a two-part design that is sandwiched together
with a protective rubber bumper attached to the seam. This helps
to protect the hull from any bumps or mild collisions with the
shore. Holding the hull in the palm of your hand, you get a sense
of how tiny the Mini Rio actually is. In fact, the transmitter
is just about the same size and seems to weigh more.
Mini Rio's hardware package consists of a surface drive unit with
a plastic 2-blade prop, and twin wedge rudders. Having two rudders
makes the steering very precise and gives the Mini Rio the ability
to spin a Jet Ski style 180-degree turn in an instant. The rudders
are tied together with a steel rod and a bell crank on the right
rudder connects the servo to both rudders. The rudder standoff
brackets are plastic and a little on the fragile side. I had a
somewhat low speed encounter with the sandy shore of our ponds
and the bracket snapped right off. Luckily, Aquacraft's help desk
sent me a new one free of charge which got me back on the water
in a matter of days.
access the inside of the boat, just turn the arm that holds the
cowl in place and slide it up and forward. You are then looking
at two round hatches which are sealed to prevent water from entering.
Turn them either way to remove them. It's a novel design and does
a good job of keeping water out.
power plant within the Mini Rio is a standard 380-sized motor.
It gives it a descent speed for fun boating but just doesn't light
the water on fire like I hoped it would. The cooling system is
a standard design; a pickup tube mounted to the transom draws
in water as the boat moves forward and passes it over a cooling
plate attached to the motor, then expels it out the starboard
(right) side of the hull. Even though it's not an actual water
jacket, the plate attached to the motor gets the job done. I never
noted any overheating condition during testing. attached to the
motor is an aluminum coupler with two grub screws. It connects
the motor to the flex shaft, which in this case is a thin flex
able wire...perfect for the application.
power to the motor is a 6-cell, 1100mah NiMh flat pack with Tamiya-style
connectors. There is a piece of velcro already stuck to the bottom
of the pack and a piece in the hull. All you need to do is charge
and go! From the battery, power goes through an on/off switch
mounted flat on top of the steering servo, and then to the esc/receiver
combo. The speed control is a basic forward-only unit that has
been sealed at both ends to prevent moisture from killing it.
It had no issues with heat and operated as expected.
and steering servo
2 channel radio
radio system on the Rio works very well. I experienced no glitches
and got pretty decent range. The steering servo is adequate and
actually pretty quick. Included with the Mini rio is a 12v car outlet
charger that can charge the battery in around 20 minutes.
not much to do except install the antenna tube and charge the
battery. Don't forget to add fresh batteries to the transmitter
and do a range check before you throw it in the pond.
was a heavy chop on the pond and it made the Mini Rio catch air
constantly. I had more fun with it that day than I had to date.
It's surprisingly agile on the water, thanks to a good center
of gravity and dual rudders. My only issue was with the cavitation
on start. When you hit the throttle, the Rio will cavitate for
about 4 seconds before the prop grabs the water and off she goes.
speed of the Mini Rio is not outstanding, but is more than adequate
for some serious fun. Once it gets going, the Rio holds a good
attitude and puts up a nice mini rooster tail. Turning can be
smooth or neck breaking; just give the wheel a little input and
it will carve nicely, or crank it to full-lock and watch it spin
out! As with most fast boats, it turns with more authority to
the left due to prop-walk, but the twin rudders make left and
right hand turns very easy.
time was close to 12 minutes and definitely slows down once the
pack begins to dump. You will probably experience an inability
to get on plane as it continuously cavitates and does not hook
up. That's your cue to bring her in.
Mini Rio is the ultimate small fun boat and there aren't many
RTR boats out there that can compete with it's price and performance.
For the new boater looking to get their feet wet, a young child
wanting to experience the hobby, or anyone that needs to relax
with a low maintenance boat, I would recommend the Mini Rio. With
that being said, will we see a brushless version in the future???
Models/ Great Planes Model Distributors P.O.
Champaign, IL 61826-9021
Web Site: www.aquacraftmodels.com
to Jessica Halsak for helping me test the Mini Rio.
The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.