RCU Review: AquaCraft Rio EP RTR Offshore Superboat

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    Contributed by: Matthew LeMay | Published: February 2010 | Views: 66784 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    AquaCraft RIO

    Review by: Matt LeMay
    Action shots: Starla LeMay

    RIO EP
    Distributed by:
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    Telephone: 217-398-3630
    Toll free: 800-637-7660

    Website: www.greatplanesdistributers.com

    See the RIO EP in action!

    Dialup 15mb

    Broadband 29.9mb


    Amazing handling

    Stable craft

    Double break away pivot safety rudders

    Great hardware package is compatible with "GrimRacerr" hop up parts

    2.4GHz radio system

    Looks great on water

    Decals had a couple air bubbles

    The RIO EP RTR offshore speed boat by Aquacraft Models shows to be a very promising water craft. There are many features that result in outstanding handling characteristics. In this review we will look deep into the RIO EP and see why it's an outstanding boat.

    Name: Rio EP RTR Offshore Superboat
    Price: $269.99 selling price
    Hull Length: 22.5"
    Overall length: 28.3"
    Beam: 6.4"

    Motor: Water-cooled Brushed 550 motor
    25 Amp ESC
    Battery used: 7.2V 4200MAH NI-MH 6 cell stick pack (not included)
    Transmitter batteries used: 4 AA batteries (not included)
    Radio equipment: (Included) Tactic 2.4GHz Spread Spectrum radio system

    • 4 AA batteries for transmitter
    • 6 or 7 cell NiCD/NiMH battery pack
    • Suitable battery charger
    • Marine grease

    Left angle
    Right angle
    Top left angle
    Top front
    Top right angle
    Left rear
    Right rear
    Left rear
    Right rear
    Running gear
    Break-away bolts
    Prop shaft
    Motor coupler
    Adjustable trim tab
    Extra decals

    The RIO arrived to my door step safely and I was eager to unveil Aquacraft's new creation.

    The first thing that stood out to me was the use of bright colors in the boat's color scheme. The RIO looks great and will be easy to see in the water.

    The main decals are applied and an extra decal sheet is also packaged with the kit. The main decals had a couple of bubble spots that were easily smoothed out using the top of my finger nail.

    I always enjoy applying decals so the extra decal sheet was a treat for me. I used the box as a reference and was deep in concentration as I lined up the sponsor decals. The boat looks even better. Now it looks like a racing boat! I applied a couple decals on the transmitter as well to make it easier to match up with the boat.

    The instruction manual explains maintenance techniques with plenty of illustrations. Inside the manual you will also find much detail on starting a racing circuit. Some of the information includes terminology, course layout, and racing rules. There is also a section to find local boating organizations.

    ABS plastic is molded into this long and shallow hull. As you can see in the above pictures, the design is sporty and should handle great. Both hull and hatch have styrofoam glued to the inside of them. The styrofoam will make the difference whether the boat sinks or floats while capsized.

    The rear of the hull has a drain plug that will come in handy to easily rid your boat of water that may have accumulated during running. A small blemish is spotted at the rear of the hull next to the drain plug, possibly a drop of epoxy.

    The running gear is aluminum with plastic hinge points. The rudders, support brackets, trim tabs, and fins are aluminum for long lasting rust free performance. I especially like the rudder design of this boat. The dual rudders will supply excellent steering and are fastened with break away bolts. The top mounting bolt is stainless and the bottom bolt is nylon plastic. When excessive force is applied to the rudders from the front, the nylon bolt will break and the rudders pivot upward. This will save the entire rear end from damage if you run over something in the water like a log or rock.

    The prop is attached to a metal flex shaft that needs to be greased often. Recommended shaft maintenance is after each day of use. This not only greases the shaft to spin freely but it also protects it against water damage. Use marine grade grease only. Aquacraft models recommends GrimRacer Speed Grease for this task.

    The motor coupler connects the prop shaft to the motor shaft with set screws.

    Hatch latch
    Open hull
    Hatch fastening pin
    Styrofoam inside the hull
    Drain plug

    The plastic hatch is held on by inserting the two pins at the rear of the hatch into the holes in the hull. You then fasten the front of the hatch down using the pivot latch mounted to the deck. This is a very simple but effective design.

    Beneath the hatch you will find the motor and a sealed radio tray. The electronics are protected from water by a clear lid that is sealed using clear water proofing radio box tape. The wires exit the radio box through a sealed hole that is reinforced by epoxied wood. This method looks water tight and should keep the electronics dry as intended.

    Inside the radio tray you can see the Hobbico steering servo and the 2.4GHz receiver. The receiver and servo are mounted to the plywood mounting shelf with double sided servo tape. The servo also uses a metal strap screwed into two wood blocks for added strength. Beneath the plywood mounting bracket lies the 25 amp electronic speed controller encased in rubber shrink wrap. The cool water passing under the plastic hull helps to keep the temperature of the ESC with in an acceptable operating range.

    In front of the radio box is the battery tray. A 6-7 cell battery pack is held down with hook and loop style fastening straps. A standard white battery connecter is crimped to the end of the ESC wires.

    The motor is mounted to the hull with an aluminum bracket screwed into a plastic riser. The 550 brushed motor is wrapped in a coil of small diameter pipe used for cooling. Water is sucked through the inlet tube at the rear of the boat which then circulates around the motor and is disposed of through the rubber outlet tube in the side of the boat.

    Radio equipment

    One of the most exciting features about the RIO EP is the radio system. A Tactic 2.4GHz radio system is installed on the boat. The 2.4GHz frequency technology offers a much clearer radio signal which means less interference and sharper control response.

    The 2 channel radio includes features like servo reversing, steering and throttle trim, and dual rate steering. The wheel on the controller is plastic and might get a little uncomfortable after a long day of racing.

    The included receiver is the Tactic TR-324 3-channel 2.4GHz receiver. This particular receiver has no antenna to mess with and that makes it easier to remove and install the hatch.

    The Hobbico steering servo supplies plenty of steering power and quick response.

    Inside radio box
    Sealed radio box
    Hobbico servo
    Water cooled motor
    Water pickup tube
    Electronic speed controller
    Battery tray
    Water outlet
    Radio box wire outlet
    2.4GHz radio

    Before taking the RIO to the lake I wanted to grease the shaft and check the radio controls.

    I removed the prop shaft by loosening the two set screws in the motor coupler and the shaft slid right out the rear of the boat. I used a towel to wipe the prop shaft and applied plenty of marine grade grease. I reinstalled the shaft, leaving a 1/16" gap between the front of the drive dog (cone shaped piece the propeller meshes with) and the stuffing tube. The gap will allow the shaft to contract during runs.

    I installed a charged 6cell NiMH battery pack into the boat and four AA batteries into the controller. I turned the radio on first then plugged in the battery pack. While checking the controls I had to reverse the steering channel by flipping the switch on the controller. I adjusted the trims the best I could while on dry land.

    Once I knew the radio system was working properly I taped up the radio box. I used the supplied roll of radio box tape and within a few minutes I was ready to hit the water.

    I arrived to the pond and was eager to see if the RIO's performance met my expectations. I turned everything on and dropped the Aquacraft model into the water.

    The reverse feature made it simple to back away from the shore to ensure the rudders didn't scrape bottom. I slowly applied forward throttle and trimmed the steering using the trim knob on the controller.

    The RIO quickly planed off and was up to full speed. A big rooster tail was left simmering behind this off shore speed boat.

    Handling is incredible! I actually tried to capsize the boat and could not. At full speed, the RIO would do a complete U-turn and take off in the opposite direction. Steering was incredibly responsive. A 90 degree turn is a simple task for the RIO EP.

    I tried getting the RIO to porpoise some by cutting across my own wake and the boat cut right through the waves. I am very impressed with the handling.

    The boat's top speed is more than respectable for a brushed motor system. I'm sure if I use a 7-cell battery the speed will increase even more! The RIO EP RTR is exciting to drive and you also have the confidence of knowing you are piloting a very stable water craft.

    The stock setup performed flawlessly. Adjusting the trim tabs were not necessary.

    My 9yr old son wanted to drive the boat and I felt comfortable allowing him to do so. He had no problem maneuvering the RIO around the pond. The only thing he had trouble with was keeping the corners of his smile from tickling his ears, he was a happy boy.

    The Tactic 2.4GHz radio system performed great. The controls were very responsive with no glitches.

    When I was done running the boat I brought her to shore. I removed the drain plug and emptied about 1 1/2 teaspoons of water from the hull. All the electronics were dry and in perfect working order. The Aquacraft RIO EP was truly a pleasure to drive.

    Watch the RIO EP RTR Maker in action!

    Download and Watch in Windows Media Player here!

    The Aquacraft RIO EP ready to run offshore speed boat is definitely a load of fun. Quick excitement and excellent handling make it a winner for those wanting to cruise the lake or getting into racing.

    As far as brushed motor boats go, the RIO is a winner. Fast speeds, great handling, and a 2.4GHz radio system, Aquacraft models has put together a great RTR package. Four RIOs and some buoys would make for a great weekend!

    Aquacraft models

    AquaCraft Product Support
    3002 N. Apollo Drive, Suite #1
    Champaign IL 61822

    Telephone: 1-217-398-8970
    FAX: 1-217-398-7721
    Email: boatsupport@hobbico.com
    Web Site: www.aquacraftmodels.com

    Comments on RCU Review: AquaCraft Rio EP RTR Offshore Superboat

    Posted by: jigawatt on 03/03/2010
    I was heavily debating on getting the Rio and converting to brushless and lipo... ended up going with the SV27. Has anyone convert it to brushless? I am curious to see a video!
    Posted by: rmillerawacs on 07/19/2010
    Looks Slow!
    Posted by: Veteran65 on 12/28/2010
    It got potentials
    Posted by: yalamm on 11/28/2011
    looks to be slower than Kyosho AirStreak 500 EP yet priced similarly..plus motor is in direct contact with abs hull-not good- this will eventually cause motor to melt into hull and loosen...also, ESC looks very weak and a bit dodgy really-no heat to speak of...while battery is easily and symmetrically mounted in center of hull, this is done latitudinally- much better to do this longitudinally from handling perspective does come with 2.4 Ghz radio and steering servo is securely mounted with bracket as opposed to double sided tape
    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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