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Sand Viper Tamiya Review

22/12/2009 Specialist Radio Controlled Gamer Review
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Sand Viper Tamiya

Sand Viper



Further reading:
Tamiya 1/10 Off-Road 2WD Electric Buggy

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The Sand Viper is a modern version of 80's R/C cars like the Grasshopper. While leaving behind the questionable build quality and fragility of those old Tamiya cars, it keeps hold of the easy build and quick to fun approach ideal for beginners. A great place to start a Radio Controlled car hobby.

What type of R/C car is this?

The Sand Viper is one of the newer Tamiya 1/10 Off-Road 2WD Electric Buggy car. It is based on the DT-02 chassis and as such benefits from some design innovations as well as their usual build quality. A lightweight polycarbonate body joins the now standard oil dampers and full ball bearings to ensure the spiked rear tired stay in contact with any surface. A standard Tamiya 540 motor and TEU-101BK forwards and reverse Electronic Speed Control complete the kit.

These components have been intelligently put together to ensure a low centre of gravity - centre mounted R/C unit and NiMH battery in the lightweight bathtub frame features. Full ball racing complement grooved front tyres and high performance off-road rear tyres for enhanced cornering and grip.

Options and expansion

Because the Sand Viper is based on the Tamiya DT-02 chassis you can take advantage of a wide range of Tamiya hop-ups (enhancements). These range from upgraded shock absorbers, tyres to suite your driving conditions, replacement metal parts to the more substantial upgraded motor like the RC RS540 Sport Tuned Motor Tamiya recommend.

While the bearings, shocks, wheels and tyres are compatible with other models most of the plastic moulded parts are unique to the DT-02 Sand Viper and Desert Gator.

The TEU-101BK forwards and reverse Electronic Speed Control should be suitable for those who want to move to a brushless motor set-up, something that will squeeze a bit more power from the car as well as reduce maintenance.

Time and difficulty to build

Those that are familiar with building hobby-grade radio controlled cars should get to the point of a running car in four to five hours, and another hour or two to finish off and paint. If this is the first car that you have built expect to spend a little longer. The Tamiya instructions were thorough and easy to follow, and the pieces are well labelled and fitted together perfectly - they continue to prove they are the IKEA of the R/C world.

Building the Sand Viper consisted of assembling the rear wishbones and differential, assembling the front wishbones, building and filling the four shocks, connecting all of these to the bathtub chassis and connecting the electrics. The car is rounded off by cutting out and painting the polycarbonate body.

This involved a variety of skills from simple assembly, instruction reading, patience, screwing, cutting and dealing with viscous fluids. The electrics then introduce the need for logic and identification of circuits. The trickiest aspect for me was when I discovered the provided tamiya Speed Control Unit wouldn't plug into my Acoms receiver. I had to trim a blocking nub of plastic on the Tamiya plug to make it fit - certainly a little off the beaten track.

Build Quality

Once built the Tamiya Sand Viper felt solid and strong. The bucket chassis construction combined with the oil filled shocks and off-road style give the car a robust go anywhere sort of feel. The front bumper is a little on the small side and means the wheels and axles often take the brunt of impacts. But these too are solid enough to cope with all but the most extreme collisions.


The combination of bucket chassis and polycarbonate moulded body means that most mud and dirt stays out of the car. The brushed motor handing out the rear does collect quite a bit of muck and the open wishbone suspension collect anything that hits them - as is unavoidable on Off Road Buggy type cars.

A five minute brush and wipe down is all that is needed on most occasions with a little more attention paid to the motor and internals to ensure clean-running.

Written by Rupert Stelling

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Rupert Stelling writes the Radio Controlled Gamer column.

"Having grown up racing Tamiya radio and remote controlled cars and trucks I was keen to get my kids started on the same hobby. Here, I share my R/C reviews and guides to getting started in this electric and petrol powered world."

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