I found the Turnigy trailblazer from hobbyking a fairly cheap, but still performant and fast base vehicle to start testing my APM1280 + imu and ardurover 2.20 firmware on it.


After some days of hairpulling, because a magnet from my camera lens was dangling too close to the magnetometer, I got it running pretty good.

With some finetuning and maybe some modifications I should be able to give the turnigy trailblazer some more speed.  And ofcourse record fpv video :-)


I hope we can pick up the development of ardurover, cause this is really a fun project !  

Ideas for improvements are welcome !

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Hi u4eake,

can you still recomment the trailblazer ?

i need another vehicle soon and it seems that it could fit.



My trailblazer is still running strong!  I did put a $5 cooler on the motor and some diff oil in the differentails.  Also reglued the tires with CA (just put some CA along the rim.

It's a very fun car with awesome performance for fundriving.  I wouldn't recommend it for racing as it is not agile enough, but for a  apm rover you get a lot of bang for buck.  Spare parts are also very cheap at hobbyking, but are also available from redcat (it's the same car as the redcat earthquake 8E)

Only 1 thing will make me advise against it : it seems it has dissapeared from the hobbyking international site and is only available in Germany, USA and AUS now.  So I'm a bit afraid that hobbyking may stop selling it, which could leave you searching for spare parts (not that you need any, so far I have only replaced 1 screw that fell out and got lost)

Oh, and it's damn fun to give the $500 traxxas owners a run for their money.

Hi u4eake,

sounds like trailblazer and me could become friends :)

thanks for your answer!



Trailblazer is nice for medium speed fundriving, but has lots of problems for serious bashing and at high speed.
1. Eventually you will have to rebuild the whole steering since it has lots of play right from the beginning and it gets worse:

  a) servo saver is soft plastic and spring is also too soft, which means you can't normally center those heavy wheels, especially at speed, so it is crazy unstable - saver has to be replaced with alu with either heavy spring or an additional heavy saver on top of the servo, so that that alu saver will not be really a saver, but a simple cam
  b) steering link is made of relatively soft alu and gets bent on collision - replace with custom made from steel + bearings
  c) once you get stronger servo saver you will loose the servo itself, since 9kg is not enough and thus it gets stripped fairly easily (it is also slow btw); also servo is fastened with weak plastic and don't stay well in place - replace with fast 20+kg servo + steel fastening

2. disassemble all diffs and put washers inside, otherwise gears play too much and gets stripped easily (my stripped in 1 month), put oil inside (I haven't yet, but plan 5k/5k/2k sct for front/center/rear)

3. Tyres are too soft and balloon a lot already at medium speed, thus making it all very unstable at higher speed. Going to buy some harder ones someday.

4. Body is crazy fragile, especially at winter. Mine was torn into peaces on the very first run within 5 minutes after very first turn over. Either build some alu support system underneath or better buy some good lexan 0.6 body for similar but brand MT... and still build some support system underneath :)

5. Original basic remote doesn't give enough control options (e.g. steering curve and endpoint) and have to be replaced.

6. Shock ball links are made of plastic and get torn relatively easily upon jump and turnover.

Overall I've already spent on this car enough money and time, that I would better buy some more expensive one from the beginning.

@Rover Users,

I have to agree with Anton. For medium size rovers like my Traxxas Slash the Sparkfun AVC course and my own AVC test course can be brutal. The autonomous rover code testing has run my rover into the test area curbs and even flipped it over and it is still very functional without any major part replacements.

I have attached a big foam bumper to the front of the Slash plastic bumper and it works better than the stock bumper.

If anyone decides to use the Slash as a rover and plan to use the brushless motor, I recommend that you switch the stock Traxxas transmission case with a RPM metal motor mount transmission case. The metal motor mount really reduced how hot the brushless motor got during multiple runs.



I notice there are a few places where the car loses traction - is the APM actively handling that or is it just sort of muddling through - if you plan a course with too fast an entry into a corner, will it just over/understeer off course? 

The trailblazer comes standard with an aluminium motor mount...

Meanwhile I did burn my motor though, but I did it by pulling my 1.8 year old son (12kg) through the grass on his toy car.  It went fine multiple times, but my son liked it so much that I didn't give the motor enough time to cool between runs.

Now I have a lower kv motor with a 9 teeth pinion (instead of 12 teeth before) and that doesn't overheat anymore.  On asphalt I even pull 2 cars with both my son and daughter (twins) on them

Ow and I finally succeeded in getting the steering link ("known weak point") bent : after an hour of bashing and jumping with a 1:5 fuel car on ramps made for the 1:5 fuel car.  The link was easily bent back with a pair of pliers.

1) Steering had some play indeed, but nothing that keeps mine from going at 70km/ over an asphalt road.  Maybe I have a "good" one?

a)  Didn't replace servo saver => play in steering doesn't bother me too much.

b) Steering link indeed bends on abuse (collision, hard jumping).  Bend back with pliers after the abuse.  

c) Didn't replace servo saver => original servo stil working fine and still fixed in original plastic.

2) shimming diffs and putting real diff oil inside is advisable.  Didn't have to put extra shims in mine.  

3) Put some fibre tape on the inside of the tires, reglue them with CA (stock glue is not so good) and put a thick oil in the center diff.  => almost no more ballooning.

4) Lost some chips of the body here and there and it has some cracks.  Original body still very much usable though (just a bit "weathered ;-) )

5) Original basic remote replace with normal rc transmitter (I mainly fly planes and multicopters)

6) Never had any problem with the ball links, not on many many many jumps and multiple turnovers

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