How Remote Control Toys Work

Technology dominates the world today. From multiple technology-based companies, such as Google, Samsung, and Apple, the world has been introduced to revolutionary advancements, such as artificial intelligence, mobile printing, and many more.

As technology advanced, so did the toys people play. From simple and makeshift items of leisure, toys have become complex and high-maintenance akin to a machine. One great example of how toys evolved to become gadgets and small machines is radio-controlled or remote-controlled toys, typically called RC toys.


These are self-powered toys that can be controlled from a certain distance through a remote control device to send signals of instructions through radio waves. Some RC toys have become hybrids of professional devices, such as a drone.

How do remote control toys work?

Different toys use different mechanics of operating their instructions, but the basic principle behind remote-controlled toys is the same. They have four main parts:

Transmitter. The transmitter is the thing you are holding that sends radio waves to the receiver of the toy. The transmitter has its own power source, allowing it to send radio signals to the receiver.

Receiver. This is the antenna and circuit board within the toy that receives signals from the transmitter. Upon receiving the signal, a command activates inside the toy to create a certain movement.

Motor(s). This part of the toy enables them to make movements, such as turn, change direction, speed up or down, etc.


Circuit Board. To deliver the specific command to the designated part of the toy, the circuit board serves as a network where the command travels to particular areas of the toy to generate any desired action.

Power source. Remote-control toys need a power source to function in the first place.

Now that you know the basic parts of a remote-controlled toy let’s explore how the entire process of controlling the toy using a remote.

As you hold the controller in your hands and push certain buttons to make a command, the transmitter relays a specific number of electrical pulses that correspond to the action you want your toy to make. These electrical pulses travel through the air.

As soon as the toy’s receiver captures the radio waves, the motors ignite to life, and the power source sends power to the entire machine of the toy.

Then, the radio waves containing the command are sent to the circuit board, translating the number of electrical pulses (signals) into a particular action or movement.

Typically, full-function controllers have six controls corresponding to six basic commands:

  • 16 pulses for forward
  • 40 pulses for reverse
  • 28 pulses for forward left
  • 34 pulses for forward right
  • 52 pulses for reverse left
  • 46 pulses for reverse right

Note that this is not always followed, but the standard among the majority of RC toys. In addition, most RC toys create movement not by the command itself but through another source of movement. For instance, an RC toy airplane creates movement by manipulating the flaps to glide in the air, or an RC sailboat toy controls the rudder to create movement and control direction with the wind.

Here are some common concerns you might encounter when working with an RC toy.

Increasing RC transmitter range

It gets more exciting playing with RC toys knowing you can control it even from a substantial amount of distance. Increasing your transmitter range can be done by changing your antenna to more efficient or bigger ones or using directional antennas to boost your transmitter’s signals. You can also achieve this by utilizing transistors, but this method can get costly and tricky.

Transmitter-Receiver compatibility

Any transmitter works with any type of receiver. However, you must note that if your frequencies and transmitter power are mismatched, it easily damages your receiver permanently. So, it is important to ensure that your transmitter and receiver both operate on the same frequencies.

Stopping a remote control interference

Crosstalk or interference happens when two devices use the same frequency. To avoid this, check your device if it has any options to change frequencies. Do so until the interference is gone. Most long-range RC devices work on either 27 MHz or 49 MHz, so take time to read your RC toy manual to know its frequency and prevent future problems with interference.

RC toy manufacturers have widened their scope of variety in producing a diverse set of RC toys for the market. If you want to pick up this hobby, looking for some RC toys to gift someone, or want to start your own collection of RC toys, then here are some RC toy models that you might want to explore

  • Cars
  • Trucks
  • Fantasy vehicles
  • Airplanes
  • Helicopters
  • Blimps
  • Sailboats
  • Motorboats
  • Submarines
  • Robots
  • Animals

Yes, RC toys are toys, per se, but they are more complex due to their technology. It is always better to know the basics of RC toys and remote controlling to avoid future issues with the devices and to be more knowledgeable in troubleshooting these concerns. Meanwhile, find out here how a model train can help with a child’s motor skills.