Friday , 19 April 2024

Review: HOTRC DS-4A One-Handed Radio System | CompetitionX

If you’re into videoing your RC cars, you’ll want to check out the HOTRC DS-4A One-Handed Radio System. This setup allows you to drive your car, boat or motorcycle with one hand, freeing up the other to hold your favorite video device (or even a nice, cold drink!).

On another note, we think this is an amazing radio setup for those with a disability preventing them from driving an RC car – maybe the loss of some fingers, a hand or arm. This system allows you to simply install the receiver, fire up your rig and get out and play – all with one hand!

So let’s dive into the box, get everything out, tour the unit, install the receiver and take the DS-4A out for a ride. We’ll then share our thoughts on this interesting one-handed setup.

HOTRC DS-4A One-Handed Radio System | CompetitionX

Product: HOTRC DS-4A One-Handed Radio System
Part #: DS-4A
Scale: n/a
Price: $16.00
Build Type: n/a
Recommended For: Drivers wanting a free hand for filming

Unboxing/Action Video

What’s Included
While quite basic, the DS-4A does come with everything you need to get up and running. There’s the DS-4A radio, a small, 4-channel receiver, wrist strap and instruction manuals for both the radio and receiver.

What’s Needed
• 4 AA Batteries
• Double-Sided Tape

Main Features
1.First off, the DS-4A checks all the boxes for normal ground RC use – 2.4GHz, 4-channel, FHSS Spectrum mode, 20MS response speed and a weight that rings in at about 115g. This makes it a great system for almost any application as well as incredibly light to reduce fatigue.

HOTRC DS-4A One-Handed RC Radio System Unboxing | CompetitionX2.The next thing that stands out, of course, is the lack of an actual steering wheel. The DS-4A is shaped like a flight control stick with a trigger on the front (like a normal transmitter) and a thumbstick on the face to control left-and-right movements. Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice the thumbstick is offset slightly to the left, making it more ergonomic for right-handed use. However, since the majority of RC drivers use their LEFT hand for throttle, this puts the stick offset the wrong direction for left-handed use. After driving with it for a short time, we found it wasn’t all that uncomfortable, however a ‘left-handed’ version would certainly be welcome.

HOTRC DS-4A One-Handed RC Radio System Unboxing | CompetitionX3.You’ll also notice the lack of any sort of screen. Instead, there are multiple adjustment knobs on the face – a D-Pad for steering and throttle trims, a Reverse-lockout button, Power button, Steering and Throttle Dual Rates and individual buttons for Channels 3 and 4. There’s also a very big red button as well – this is the super cool button otherwise known as Cruise Control! Yup, you read that right – simply throttle up to the desired speed and tap the CC button – your ride will continue along at that set speed! You can increase or decrease the speed using the throttle – tap the button again to turn it off. Pretty slick!

4.Other features included with the radio: dual motor mixing, failsafe and an auto-shutoff feature that will power down the radio after 15 minutes of no use.

HOTRC DS-4A One-Handed Radio System | CompetitionX

Test Drive
Before heading out and doing our test, we needed to install the radio system into our test vehicle. For this, we chose our Tamiya CC-02 for 2 reasons: 1) it’s more trail truck than rock crawler so we could test things like Cruise Control and 2) it’s using all 4 channels in the existing receiver.

HOTRC DS-4A One-Handed Radio System | CompetitionXAfter installing, we did a few bench tests to check it all out (see the video). Our radio unit was not bound to the receiver, but the process was incredibly easy and took just a few seconds to do. Our steering and throttle end points seemed about spot on as well, but we would suggest re-setting yours for the best performance.

We’re not going to lie – for the first 2-3 minutes of driving we kept reaching for the steering wheel to maneuver the CC-02, but soon found that using the thumbstick was very easy. You’ll also realize that, with only one hand, you don’t need to hold it like a typical transmitter – again, after a few minutes, we had our hands swinging to our side like we were taking a casual Sunday walk.

The one feature we couldn’t wait to try was the Cruise Control! Get your rig up to the desired speed, press the big red button and wah-lah – all we needed to manage was steering. This is going to be a stellar feature for long hikes or crossing large expanses during a crawl day. Super cool feature.

Additional Notes
• We tried out the Reverse-lockout which worked great, but then had a hard time getting reverse back INTO the radio. With no instruction manual with us (we left it at home), we had to go the rest of the hike without reverse. That sucked. Once home, though, we got the sequence down to re-activate Reverse – the world was once again a happy place.

• All the trims worked as described, with audible beeps when using the D-Pad. Channels 3 and 4 didn’t really do anything (since we only had lights in ours), but you could install a winch or something similar that could be controlled with those buttons.

• There’s no Model Memory inside the DS-4A, so if you’ve got more than 1 car you want to use with it, you’ll need to be constantly moving the receiver around (or just buy more).

HOTRC DS-4A One-Handed Radio System | CompetitionX

The Breakdown

Design - 9.5
Visual Appeal - 9.5
Feature List - 6
Performance - 8


Final Thoughts
If you love taking video of your rides, the HOTRC DS-4A is a great solution for making that happen. No need to bring anyone along or setting up your camera for that ‘perfect’ shot – you’ll always have the camera in your spare hand.

As far as features, it’s certainly not over the top but does include everything you need for a basic setup – AND Cruise Control. It’s lightweight as well and, other than the slight awkwardness of the offset thumbstick (which we’re sure we’ll get used to), the DS-4A was very easy to install and use.

About Tony Phalen

Tony Phalen - As an avid RC enthusiast, Tony has been building, bashing and racing RC Cars for over 30 years. He has participated in every kind of surface racing events - 1/18 scale trucks, 1/10 scale TC, Rock Racers, Rally - if it had wheels, he's raced it! He's also worked on both sides of the industry fence; collaborating with many major manufacturers (as well as being a sponsored driver) to working for a high-profile industry magazine. During this time he has learned many tricks, tips and techniques and is sharing that knowledge on CompetitionX - the most informative RC website on the internet!

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