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What is a startbox


example of a startbox
A startbox is actually a box to refuel and start your nitro car, heli, plane, boat, ...
Mostly it contains these items :
  • Pb (lead) battery as power supply
  • Powel panel (with connection for glowplug, fuelpump, ...)
  • Fuelpump (preferably an electric one)
  • Fueltank
  • Storage space (for tools, starters, ...)
It's purpose is to make it easy to start your nitro car, heli, plane, boat, ... refuel it, and if necesary even recharge your batteries (if you connect or built in a charger). This way, you will only have to recharge the battery of your startbox, (and your RC toy) in stead of multiple batteries (starttool, glowplug, fuelpmp, ...)

PROS and CONS of pre-built startboxes

Most RC shops sell pre-built startboxes of various brands. In general, these boxes are relatively expensive. Standard, they don't come with a fueltank, fuelpump or powerpanel. They can be relatively small, leaving no space for a descent fueltank.. The fueltank is mostly attached to the outside, which offers no protection to your tank (sunlight, sand/dirt, rain, ...) Sometimes the quality of the startbox can be poor. Finding a fitting fueltank and lead battery can be a pain.
The good thing about pre-built startboxes is that they are compact, light and usually don't require aditional drilling and/or sawing. But then again: isn't this hobby what it's all about ? I'd say : More than enough reason to build your own startbxox.

A good, practical, easy to build and afforable startbox

One good way to build a startbox and keep it ligth and afforable is to do it the classic way : use a toolcase, which you should find in every do-it-yourself store. Add a small battery, a powerpanel for your fuelpump and glowplug, and a fueltank. It still leaves space for your tools and starters. This way, your startbox is very afforable, doesn't take much time to build, remains light to carry, and should be sufficient to help you through a 1 day trip.

Thanks to Ferrarist

Thanks to Lowflyer

Requirements for my startbox

Since I like to go out for an entire weekend on cross-country, I needed a slightly bigger startbox. I also drive 1/18th scale Monster Trucks which are electrical, so I must be able to charge batteries. Having multiple nitro engines (different cars/helis) I also need a quite big fueltank. My opnion (and experience) on tools is that you never have enough tools. So I made this 'little-out-of-spec startbox' and built in :
  • Pb battery: 12V/240A - 35Ah capacity
  • Fueltank: 5L
  • Fuelpump (electrical)
  • Powerpanel (for glowplug and fuelpump operation)
  • Custom powerpanel (for starters and chargers)
Because everything would be extremely heavy (big battery and fueltank) I needed a startbox on wheels (and a handle) so I wouldn't have to carry it all the way.

This page should contain enough information on how to copy my startbox.

Inside placement and specifications

People that are familiar with physics should know that the heaviest objects should be placed closest to the wheelaxis. In this case that would be my battery and fueltank (given the size). From there I had to to decide where to place all the rest. Main fuses are best placed as close as possible to the battery! This increases the safety regarding short-circuits due to broken wires/cables (You wouldn't want to see a Pb battery exploding, trust me !!!). The custom powerpanel would be placed in the middle. The fuel pump I wanted as close as possible to the fuel tank to keep the gaslines short (less change of ripping it loose). All the rest would point out itself.

  1. Toolbox' compartment for wheelaxis
    Click here for details
  2. Main fuse 1 (20 A)
    Above wheelaxis, next to the battery
    Click here for details
  3. Main fuse 2 (10 A)
    Next to the battery
    Click here for details
  4. Battery
    Next the the wheelaxis
    Click here for details
  5. Fueltank
    Next to the battery (close to wheelaxis)
    Click here for details
  6. Fuelpump
    Above (and close to) the fueltank
    Click here for details
  7. Custom powerpanel
    Center of the box (space for wiring)
    Click here for details
  8. Jamara powerpanel
    Right of the box (free space)
    Click here for details
  9. Dividerbox
    Next to battery, close to fuses
    Click here for details
  10. Volt meter
    Next to dividerbox (free space)
    Click here for details

Toolbox (1)

The best thing to build a startbox with is a toolbox. Having a look at several do-it-yourself stores, I finally found what I was looking for. This box had everything I dreamed off : it was long enough, wide enough, high enough, it had wheels, a retractable handle and a small compartment on top to store my tools. The material was soft, flexible but extremely strong. It was easy to saw and drill holes, and the plastic didn't crack.
Toolbox specifications
  • Brand :
  • Type :
  • Dimensions : __ x __ x __
  • Wheelaxis compartment : __ x __ x __

Main fuse 1 (2)

'Main fuse 1' is a double pole 20A trip fuse. It is placed as close as possible to the battery to improve protection of the battery against short-circuits caused by broken cables. From there the cabling goes to the dividerbox It's purpose is to fuse the connectors for starting devices like nitro engine starters. Trip fuses are fast enough for short circuits (but melting fuses are faster) and they don't trip too fast on a short overcurrent (melting fuses do), which in this case is useful because starting devices can draw high current starting peaks.
  • Brand :
  • Specs : Double pole, 20A, C-curve
  • Dimensions :

Main fuse 2 (3)

'Main fuse 2' is a melting fuse of 10A. I preffered a double pole trip fuse too. There are a few reason why I did not do this. The first reason was that I did not have any space left close enough to the battery for a double pole trip fuse. Another reason is that melting fuses break faster in case of overcurrent than trip fuses, which in this case was a better idea given the application. This fuse would interrupt the + pole of the battery, and from there it went to the main switch on the custom power panel.

Battery (4)

Any car battery could do the job here. The only requirement is : it must fit in the startbox. To keep the battery in place I made a batteryholder which I firmly mounted to the start box. A battery contains H2SO4 (ACID) and so it is important to make sure NO short-circuits can occur. First of all, my wires to the fuses are kept as short as possible and second I placed some plastic caps on both poles. In case a screwdriver may fall in the box, it can not accidently drop on the poles creating a short circuit. Electrical isolating tape could do the job as well.

Fueltank (5)

The fuel tank can be anything that is resistent to fuel and nitro! Don't use just any plastic tank because some plastic may not be resistant to fuel or nitro. In the cap you should drill a hole and install a nozzle to connect the fuellines to. Make sure that the fuelline from cap to tank goes all the way to the bottom and has a proper filter connected. This way you can prevent dirt from coming into your fuelpump. From the top of the cap to the fuelpump, make sure to use a short fuelline. This gives less resistance and decreases the change on a broken fuelline, or ripping it loose. Optionally you can drill a second hole in the cap to habe a good air flow, or you can just loosen the cap a little when refueling.

Fuelpump (6)


Custom powerpanel (7)

Custom powerpanel
Custom powerpanel
The custom powerpanel can be divided in 2 areas.
  1. Bottom connectors
  2. All the rest (3 connectors + fuses + switch)
1) The bottom connectors are fused by main fuse 1 and are meant to power heavy start devices (nitro engine starters).

2) The power switch swithes the rest of the panel on and off. It is behind main fuse 2. Each fuse to the left of a pair of connectors is a 2A fuse and fuses that connection. The fuse left of the switch is a 5A fuse and protects the Jamara powerpanel. The connection for this one is built inside the box

Jamara powerpanel (8)

The Jamara powerpanel is plugged in a socket, secured by the 5A fuse of the custom powerpanel. This way, the panel can be easily replaced by another powerpanel (in case of failure) and short-circuits would result in blowing the fuse, rather than blowing the panel or the main fuse. Through this panel, the fuelpump is operated. Rather then plugging the fuelpump in the connectors on the front of the Jamara powerpanel it was soldered at the backside of the panel's pump connectors (inside the startbox). The Jamara powerpanel also holds a connection for a glowplug and will automaticly set the current and voltage.

Dividerbox (9)


The dividerbox is nothing special actually. I got it from the electrical store. It is a small box that can be mounted on a DIN rail, and has 4 rails inside with several holes and screws to attach cables. Normally you would connect L1, L2, L3 and N to these rails. I used the bottom 2 rails for 12V/10A and the top 2 rails for 12V/20A. This way it is easy to connect several devices to one point, or to add/remove devices.

The top 2 rails (20A) is connected to the main fuse 1 for both polarities (+ and -). From there, connections go to the starter connectors on the custom powerpanel and the voltmeter.

The bottom 2 rails (10A) is connected to the power switch of the custom powerpanel for the both polarities (+ and -). From there, connections go to the rest of the connectors on the custom powerpanel

Volt meter(10)

Since a good, fully charged Pb battery's voltage is normally above 12V (normally 13.8V) it is wise NOT to use a standard 0..12VDC scale voltmeter. In stead it is better to use the next scale which normally is 0..15VDC. This gives a good view on the battery's power. If the voltage drops under 11.8V , consider to recharge.

Electrical circuit


Click to enlarge

The electrical circuit can be divided in 2 parts:
  1. 20A section : starter part
  2. 10A section : operation part
20A section : starter part
Both polarities of the battery are connected to the main fuse 1, which will also serve as the main power switch for this part. From there the wiring goes to the dividerbox box. This part will supply the power for the starters (bottom part of the custom powerpanel).

10A section : operation part
The + of the battery is interrupted by the main fuse 2. From there the wiring goes to the main power switch on the custom powerpanel, and the - of the battery goes directly to this switch. The wiring continues to the dividerbox box. From this point, all wiring will go to the custom power panel and the voltmeter.


Wires to the fuses, dividerbox and main switches are 4mm˛.
All other wire are 2.5mm˛

Extra pictures

Click the thumbnail to enlarge

Thanks to Ferreto


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