RCU Review: AquaCraft Mini Rio

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    Contributed by: Matt Gunn | Published: June 2008 | Views: 66764 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    Proboat Blackjack Brushless

    Review by: Matt Gunn (webdr)

    Mini Rio
    Distributed exclusively by:
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 902
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021

    Website: www.aquacraftmodels.com

    See the Mini Rio in action!

    Click Here


    Easy for beginners

    Includes charger and battery

    No setup required

    Entry level price

    Quick, but not fast

    Rudder stand-off bracket is fragile

    Now 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.

    For 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.

    Name:Mini 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 combo

    • Marine grease
    • 8 AA batteries for transmitter

    Other Helpful Items

    • CorrosionX anti-corrosion spray

    Transom hardware
    Surface drive prop
    Rudder turn assembly
    Water pickup

    The 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.

    The 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.

    To 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.

    The 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.

    Top removed
    Watertight hatches removed
    380 motor

    Supplying 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.

    Switch and steering servo
    AM 2 channel radio
    Included charger
    The 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.

    There's 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.


    There 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.

    The 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.

    Run 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.

    See the Mini Rio in action!

    Click Here

    The 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???


    Aquacraft Models/ Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 902
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    Web Site: www.aquacraftmodels.com


    Thanks to Jessica Halsak for helping me test the Mini Rio.

    Comments on RCU Review: AquaCraft Mini Rio

    Posted by: Kmot on 06/16/2008
    Xlnt review. Those are some great action photo shots! And, the slo-mo video is kewl. :) There is a huge thread here on RCU about modding the Mini Rio.
    Posted by: jaspin2007 on 06/20/2008
    nice review. nice mini rio. nice photos. how fast does this boat go in km/p. can it go in saltwater.
    Posted by: Dreamin Hemi on 06/23/2008
    Very enjoyable review...geez, thanks for making ME want one now!
    Posted by: doby on 07/10/2008
    Thats some of the best video taken to date. Well done !
    Posted by: bonsaiboy123 on 12/07/2008
    HAHA, its just bouncing along in the video, good review.
    Posted by: karoona on 01/27/2010
    HI, loved your review, bought the boat but just cannot get the speed, back to the retailer and wait, wait, wait.
    Page: 1
    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.

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