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SORRY LADS, NOT GOOD ENOUGH...

Old 05-26-2005, 10:16 AM
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Karl the Mechan
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Default SORRY LADS, NOT GOOD ENOUGH...

SORRY LADS, NOT GOOD ENOUGH...


This is the sad story about designing and engineering gone wrong. I could dwell on the causes of this particular mishap which I am about to explain, but that would make this message into a fourty-page exploration of the two evils haunting most good companies today: Production cost and bean-counters. Instead I'll concentrate on the facts. Here goes:

THE HITEC CRX HAS A BUILT-IN CONSTRUCTION ERROR!

No, I'm not talking of any software gremlins or that it should have more functions. It's a mechanical fault. The steering-wheel bump-stop breakes off. This is an integral part of the front-half housing. And there is no cure for it.
Then the transmitter goes practically useless.

So, who am I to make such accusations, you might ask. Oh, I’m just a guy who happen to know a thing or two about electro-mechanics. I’m 39 and currently working in a hobby shop. We sell Tamiya, Kyosho, HPI, Carson, Graupner, GM, M'Tronics. And Hitec. And I use the stuff myself. I've got fifteen cars.


First, let me take you a few years back in time:
In 2003 Hitec launched the CRX as a replacement for the top model Lynx 3D. We didn't sell many of them the first year, but our very first CRX-customer came back with it after a few months. The steering-wheel bump-stop had broken off. Or to be more precise, a piece of the bump-stop had broken.

I adressed our agent with this problem and both the agent and I agreed that excessive force must have been used. This fault was unheard of. The customer denied any abuse. "-Well then" I said to the agent "-Just send us a new empty front half shell and I'll swap the internals and make the customer pay for the shell and throw in the work for free" Afterall, the customer should have his transmitter operative, abuse or not.

Problem was, that part did not exist in Hitec's system. The solution our agent came up with was to offer the customer a new transmitter at a reduced price. The customer opted to glue the broken piece back on.


Fast forward to early 2004. Another chap brings in his newly broken CRX. This guy is no hammerhand, he's rated among the top five drivers in our district. Although he could not guarantee that the mates who had tried his car had been equally lighthanded, he himself had been cautious with the transmitter.

I contacted our agent again. Two broken transmitters, and we've sold like four or something. I smell a rat... Same answer as before. The problem was unheard of elsewhere. And neither the front nor the back half-shell was listed as a spare part. And would we like a new radio at a discount?
"-No! That's not a solution! The Koreans better start listing it as a spare part!" I replied. ”-Tell them!”
A few months later our agent told me they'd got their hands on a defect transmitter, and offered to send it to my shop so I could swap the internals and make at least one sad customer happy. I said YES thank you very much. Only when he went to check if the housing was ok and peeled the steering wheel off, he found that err, the steering-wheel bump-stop was broken off on that one too... ”-Aha! Now you can see with your own eyes what I’m talking about”
Anyway, another defect CRX soon materialized at the agent's, this one with the housing intact. Swapping the internals was a gem if not time consuming. And hey, I didn't know there was a ballbearing on the steering wheel shaft!

One fine day I lent my car to a novice (a man in his fourties but still a novice) and as he entered a sharp turn I could hear a cracking sound. From my transmitter… Yes, you've guessed it, the steering-wheel bump-stop had broken off on my Hitec CRX. Not funny!

BUT NOW I KNEW WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO THE BROKEN CRX's.
Put a CRX in the hands of a fellow who gets a little carried away while racing and you'll hear a snap as the bump-stop breakes... Youp, they apply a little too much force on the steering wheel BUT HELLO??? If Hitec has designed this housing so fragile they should at least have the decency to supply spareparts!!!

Now four things happened:
1- I phoned the agent and asked them to dig up another defective CRX. This was beginning to look silly.
I also happen to be rated among the top five drivers here, and what signal effect would I be sending if I suddenly arrived at the racetrack with a different transmitter ??? I treatened the agent with getting myself an Acoms Hayabusa. That one will not crack if abused a little, I know that for a fact since my ten year old son’s got one.

2- We contacted our CRX customers and informed them of this weakness. And specifically told them NOT TO LEND THEIR TRANSMITTER TO ANYONE ELSE. Same goes for new customers, they are told to be gentle with it ’cause it might break and it hasn’t been officially recognized by Hitec as a fault. Yet.

3- My brother phoned me. On my recommendation he’d bought a CRX too. I had also warned him about this failure and advised him to be careful. Nonetheless, his transmitter had cracked! ”-Got carries away” he said. And would you believe it, his neighbour kid aged fourteen or thereabouts also has a CRX. Which has broken. My fourty-seven year old brother lives 1700 kilometres away from me and he’s bought his transmitter locally.

4- I sat down at the drawing board to create a fix for this problem. Which I successfully managed.


The reason I made such a fuzz of that second episode should be fairly obvious. Just look at the car industry and what happens when a construction error is discovered. All hell breakes loose. Recalls, expensive fixes and bad publicity. Sometimes followed by sloping sales figures. Mercedes A-class, anyone?
Afterall, the CRX is an excellent transmitter. It has all the bells and whistles, it is reasonably priced, and it looks and feels good. I really like it. And Hitec usually doesn’t make blunders like this. Look at the no-frills Hitec AM Agressor. We’ve sold dozens of that model. And this one’s more likely to end up in the hands of a kid who will wrestle the guts out of it. But we haven’t had a warranty claim so far. Now that’s quality!
The funny thing is, I haven’t read about this in any Radio Control magazines nor on any internet forums. Has this only happened here in Scandinavia?


Back to the crack…
All the broken CRX’s had similar cracks. They’d all snapped when the driver was turning left. About half of the bump-stop breakes off. The loose part stays inside the steering wheel, and can be CA-glued back on. But be careful, it’s easy to breake it off again.


In the mean time at the agent’s…
They’d actually done something. They’d informed Hitec in Korea about the cracking CRX’s after our second episode. And this was also an issue on the Frankfurt Spielwaren Messe in february 2005.
So when I phoned them about yet another broken CRX (in may, 2005) they were happy to inform me that new empty front half shells were now available. How many did I need?
They also mentioned that it was probably made of a stronger plastic. After examining the new shells, I came to the conclution that this was most likely not true. Instead there was an obvious change to it: A REINFORCING RIB HAD BEEN MOULDED IN TO THE BUMP-STOP!

Well, only one rib on the right hand side, and not one on each side such as the Hitec Agressor FM has, but still; It’s pleasing to see they’ve gone back to the drawing board and modifyed the moulds for the shells. And that the little gadget I had constructed as a fix would not be needed afterall. JOB WELL DONE, HITEC!







I wish the story could end here but it doesn’t.
With high spirits I took the last guy’s CRX (may, 2005, remember?) to the workbench in order to swap the front shell. But this transmitter puzzled me. It had broken in a different way than the others. All of the bumb-stop was gone. Shattered into several pieces, some missing, and I could clearly see half the ballbearing on the steering wheel shaft. THAT’S WHEN I SAW IT. THIS ONE ALREADY HAD THE NEW TYPE SHELL WITH THE REINFORCING RIB !!!

Oh dear, oh dear, not such a clever fix afterall. Sorry lads, not good enough…

Karl the Mechanic.

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