Table of Contents
What is a ESC for on a RC Car
By Joe Rich
ESCs (Electronic Speed Controller) are an integral part of any RC car. They are what tell the motor how fast to spin. Without them, your RC car will just be a toy sitting on the shelf collecting dust. But with ESCs, you can cruise around at high speeds and get some serious air time off jumps and ramps!
What is an ESC for on a RC car. When I was building a RC car recently i was getting ready to set up the electronics and a question popped into my head. What is an ESC or electronic speed controller and how does it work? Are they easy to set up? What is the difference between a brushed and brushless ESC? Can brushless work with a brushed motor? Or vice versa?
Before electronic speed controllers
A few years ago speed controllers were manual this required the controller to be connected to a servo.
When the throttle was moved forward or backwards the servo would move a arm along a metal contact this would make the car accelerate or reverse.
Electronic speed controllers did away with all this no need for the servo and all the wiring and set up that it required.
The biggest problem with the manual speed controller was that they were prone to getting jammed especially when the battery was running down.
I have crashed many times this way.
Manual controllers are still popular with some old school RC car people.
So it was a great advance when electronic speed controllers were introduced.
What is a electronic speed controller?
An electronic speed controller is a device that allows the user to control the speed and power to an electric motor.
This principal is the same for brushed and brushless ESC.
Most modern brushed and brushless ESC’s incorporate a circuit to regulate a stable voltage to run the receiver this removes the requirement to have to carry an extra battery pack in the model.
- 4 pole 12 slot high-torque motor design, Suit for 1/10 scale RC car.
- CNC machined 6061 T6 billet aluminum heatsink can.
- High purity copper windings maximizes efficiency,Precision engineered for maximum energy conversion.
- Precision balanced rotor, smoothness for best reliability and maximum RPM.
- More economical to make a combination sell of motor and ESC, customers no need to choose them separately.
- 【Rc Motor Mode】 :GOUPRC S3650 4300KV Brushless Motor 3.175mm Shaft with Upgrade 60A ESC Electric Speed Controller Combo Set .The higher the KV value of the motor the faster the speed.
- 【Note】Works with T-plug and XT60 plug lithium batteries,Works with 2S Lipo to 3S Lipo lithium batteries.4300KV：For Bigfoot, Short Trucks, Flat Tracks, Drift Cars with all 1/10 high speed cars.
- 【4 pole】4 pole 12 slot high-torque motor design, suitable for 1/10 scale RC car.
- 【High performance】High purity copper windings maximizes efficiency.Easily programmed and compatible with pocket-sized program card.
- 【High Torque】Precision engineered for maximum energy conversion. Precision balanced rotor, smoothness for best reliability and maximum RPM.
- Suitable for 1/16, 1/18, 1/24 remote control climbing car military truck semi-big truck modification, remote control boat
- The light weight is also suitable for mini-Z mosquito car modification
- Function: forward, reverse, brake
What does ESC do on RC car?
The primary functions of an ESC in an RC car are:
- Speed regulation: By adjusting the voltage sent to the motor, the ESC controls the speed of the RC car in response to the user’s inputs on the transmitter. This allows for smooth acceleration and deceleration, providing a more enjoyable and realistic driving experience.
- Motor protection: The ESC monitors the temperature and current draw of the motor to prevent overheating or damage from excessive power consumption. If the motor is pushed too hard or if there’s a risk of overheating, the ESC will automatically reduce the power output to protect the motor.
- Battery protection: ESCs often come with built-in protection features for the battery, such as low-voltage cutoffs and over-current protection. These safeguards help prevent damage to the battery by cutting power when the voltage drops below a specific level or if the current draw becomes too high.
- Braking: ESCs provide dynamic braking capabilities, allowing the RC car to decelerate more efficiently. When the user applies the brakes via the transmitter, the ESC reverses the motor’s polarity, causing it to slow down rapidly. Some ESCs also offer advanced braking features, such as adjustable braking strength and drag brake, which helps maintain better control during downhill driving or cornering.
In summary, an ESC plays a vital role in an RC car’s performance, safety, and overall driving experience, ensuring that the motor, battery, and other components function optimally and harmoniously.
Do you need ESC in a RC car?
Yes, an Electronic Speed Control (ESC) is a necessary component for an electric RC car. It serves as the intermediary between the transmitter (remote control) and the motor, allowing you to manage the speed, acceleration, and braking of your RC vehicle. Without an ESC, you would not be able to control the power delivery to the motor, leading to erratic performance and potential damage to the motor, battery, or other electronic components.
Will any ESC work with any motor?
While it’s possible for many ESCs to work with a variety of motors, it’s essential to ensure compatibility between the ESC and motor to avoid performance issues or damage to your RC car components. When selecting an ESC for a specific motor, you should consider the following factors:
- Motor type: There are two main types of electric motors used in RC cars: brushed and brushless. ESCs are designed specifically for either brushed or brushless motors, and they are not interchangeable. Make sure to choose an ESC that matches your motor type.
- Current rating: The ESC must be able to handle the maximum current draw of the motor. Check the motor’s specifications for its continuous and peak current ratings, and select an ESC with a current rating equal to or greater than those values. Using an ESC with a lower current rating than the motor can result in overheating and damage to both the ESC and motor.
- Voltage rating: The ESC should be compatible with the voltage of your RC car’s battery. Most ESCs will specify a range of acceptable input voltages, so ensure that your battery falls within that range. Using an ESC with a voltage rating incompatible with your battery can lead to poor performance or damage to the ESC and other electronics.
- Sensored vs. sensorless: Some brushless motors are sensored, meaning they have built-in sensors that provide feedback on the motor’s position to the ESC. This allows for smoother startup and more precise control at low speeds. If you have a sensored motor, you’ll need a compatible sensored ESC. Conversely, if you have a sensorless motor, you can use either a sensorless or sensored ESC.
- Programming and additional features: Some ESCs offer advanced programming options and features, such as adjustable throttle curves, braking strength, and motor timing. While these features are not strictly necessary, they can enhance the performance and drivability of your RC car. Make sure the ESC you choose supports the features compatible with your motor and desired driving experience.
In conclusion, while many ESCs can work with various motors, it’s crucial to ensure compatibility in terms of motor type, current and voltage ratings, and any additional features to avoid potential issues and achieve optimal performance.
How Does a ESC work?
What an ESC does and how it works is really quite simple.
The ESC receives a input signal form the receiver which is set by the throttle position on the transmitter.
This signal is PPM Pulse Position Modulation.
What it does is take this signal and transforms it into a current to be drawn from the battery to power the motor.
So it is in effect a power manager.
This current is then fed to the motor and away you go.
They are also capable of providing a suitable supply of energy to power the steering servo.
An ESC works by receiving input signals from the transmitter, processing them, and controlling the motor’s power output accordingly.
How do I choose the right ESC for my RC car?
A well-matched ESC can greatly enhance your RC car’s performance, control, and overall driving experience.
The first factor to consider when selecting an ESC is the maximum voltage input it can handle. This is crucial because it must be compatible with your RC car’s battery voltage. Most ESCs will specify a range of acceptable input voltages, usually denoted in terms of the number of cells (e.g., 2S-6S LiPo). Make sure the ESC you choose supports the voltage of your battery to avoid poor performance or damage to the ESC and other electronics.
The ESC must be able to handle the maximum current draw of your motor. Check your motor’s specifications for its continuous and peak current ratings, and select an ESC with a current rating equal to or greater than those values. Using an ESC with a lower current rating than the motor can result in overheating and damage to both the ESC and motor.
There are two main types of electric motors used in RC cars: brushed and brushless. ESCs are designed specifically for either brushed or brushless motors, and they are not interchangeable. Make sure to choose an ESC that matches your motor type.
Some ESCs offer advanced programming options and features, such as adjustable throttle curves, braking strength, and motor timing. While these features are not strictly necessary, they can enhance the performance and drivability of your RC car. Make sure the ESC you choose supports the features compatible with your motor and desired driving experience.
If you have a sensored motor, you’ll need a compatible sensored ESC.
Can you run a brushed motor without an ESC?
Technically, you can run a brushed motor without an ESC by connecting it directly to a battery. However, doing so is not recommended for several reasons:
Without an ESC, you will have no control over the motor’s speed or direction, as there would be no way to regulate the power supplied to the motor. The motor will run at full speed as soon as it’s connected to the battery, making it challenging to manage and potentially dangerous.
An ESC provides dynamic braking capabilities, allowing the RC car to decelerate more efficiently. Without an ESC, you won’t have any braking control, which could lead to crashes and damage to your RC vehicle or its surroundings.
ESCs are designed to protect the motor and battery from overheating, overcurrent, and low-voltage situations. Running a brushed motor without an ESC increases the risk of damaging the motor or battery due to unregulated power delivery.
On the whole its a bad idea so don’t do it.
Does the amp matter in an RC ESC?
Yes, the amp rating matters in an RC ESC (Electronic Speed Controller), as it determines the maximum continuous current the ESC can handle without overheating or damaging its components. The amp rating is a crucial factor to consider when selecting an ESC for your RC vehicle, as it directly affects the performance, efficiency, and safety of the motor and ESC.
What are the different types of RC ESC?
There are 5 types of ESC for your RC car they are
We will start with the brushed ESC.
Brushed ESC are DC brushless re AC.
As we said earlier the ESC manages the power sent to the motor.
When the motor begins to spin the armature inside the motor there are little brushes in the stationary portion of the motor these make contact and provide voltage to the commutator which energizes the terminal for each pole or electromagnet of the motor. As the motor turns the voltage supplied to each pole changes.
To control how fast the motor spins a brushed ESC simply turns the voltage on and off very rapidly several times a second.
To increase the speed, the ESC simply increases the amount of time that the voltage is turned on while decreasing the amount of time that the voltage is turned off.
When you want to slow the motor down, this process is reversed.
ESC’s for brushless motors are very different to ESC’s for brushed motors neither are compatible with each other.
You must use a brushless ESC with a brushless motor and a brushed ESC with a brushed motor.
To identify which is which as a brushed ESC has 2 motor wires and a brushless ESC has 3 motor wires.
- 🏆【Compatible with】Suit for 1/10 Electric RC Truck Car Off Road Slash 2WD 4×4 / Stampede 4×4 / Bandit / Rustler / F-150 Raptor / Replaces 550 12 Turn Motor (Part # 3785), Arrma Senton 4×4 550 / Granite 4×4 550 / Typhon 4×4 550, Redcat Axial HPI Wltoys Etc.
- 🏆【Multiple protections】Low voltage cut-off protection for lithium or nickel battery / Over-heat protection / Throttle signal loss protection. Note: The ESC signal cable has reverse connection protection, The power cord has no reverse connection protection.
- 🏆【Waterproof】 The high-quality components. Applicable to All Weather Conditions, The waterproof and dust-proof design allows the Globact 550 motor 80A esc Brushed to be used in all weather conditions without any issue of damage causedto the ESC from water or dust.
- 🏆【Dual Running Mode】ESC supports BEC high voltage & low voltage switching (5A 7.4V/6.4V), Crawlers & High Speed Dual Mode switching, Input voltage: 7.4V(2S Lipo, Note: Not compatible with 3S Lipo battery), 6V-8.4V (5-7cells NiMH). Note: It is recommended to use crawlers mode for crawlers vehicles and high-speed mode for trucks.
- 🏆【High quality】This Set is an enhanced package. The conventional 550 motor set ESCs on the market are all 60A. We use 80A ESC, which can better solve the fire problem caused by the overcurrent and overload of the ESC, so that you can use it without worry.
Brushless ESC are AC brushed are DC.
Brushless ESC are vastly more advanced than brushed they can be programmed with different firmware for many types of applications.
On a brushless ESC there are 3 wires as opposed to a brushed ESC having 2.
This is because there are 3 pick up magnets every 120 degrees on a brushless motor.
This is basically a 3 phase motor.
When the motor spins each magnet is energized with a pulse of current by the ESC to move on to the next magnet.
The biggest difference you will see with a brushless ESC and brushless motor is a major increase in power.
- Comes Pre-soldered with XT60 Connector and 3.5mm bullet plugs
- 5v/3A UBEC (Very Efficient) – ESC can power receiver and servos
- LiPo 2 – 4s (Cells), NiCd/NiMH: 5 – 12 Cells, 6.4V – 16.8V
- Low Battery Protection, Overheat Protection, Startup Throttle Protection, Signal Loss Protection, and Abnormal Voltage Protection
- Programmable – Programming Card or using Transmitter
Sensored ESCs are primarily used with sensored brushless motors, which contain built-in sensors that provide feedback on the motor’s position to the ESC. This allows for smoother startup and more precise control at low speeds. Sensored ESCs are typically used in applications where precise control and smooth operation are essential, such as racing or crawling
- ( QUICRUN 10BL120 SD ESC) 1/10th Touring Car/Buggy/F1/Drift Car, and etc.
- Motor Limit: For 4-6 cells NiMH / 2S LiPo ≥3.5T (1/10 On-road), ≥4.5T (1/10 Off-road), For 8-9 cells NiMH / 3S LiPo≥8.5T (1/10 On-road), ≥10.5T (1/10 Off-road)
- Battery; 4-9 cells NiMH, 2-3S LiPo
- BEC: 6V@3A, Linear Mode, Cooling fan powered by the battery
- Dim/Weight: 43 x 36 x 33mm (w/ Fan) / 105g (w/ Wires & Fan)
Sensorless ESCs can work with sensorless brushless motors and do not rely on built-in sensors for motor position feedback. Instead, they estimate the motor’s position based on the back EMF (electromotive force) generated by the motor. Sensorless ESCs are often simpler and more affordable than sensored ESCs but may exhibit less precise control at low speeds or during startup
No products found.
Waterproof ESCs are designed to withstand exposure to water and other harsh conditions, making them suitable for off-road, marine, or all-weather RC applications. These ESCs have special sealing and protective measures to prevent water damage, ensuring reliable performance in wet environments.
- 4 pole 12 slot high-torque motor design
- Precision engineered for maximum energy conversion
- Precision balanced rotor,smoothness for best reliability and maximum RPM
- Mutiple protection features: Low voltage cut-off protection, over-heat protection, throttle signal loss protection
- Suit for 1/10 scale RC car
Why do brushless motors need ESC?
Brushless motors require an Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) for several important reasons:
Unlike brushed motors, which simply require a variable voltage to control their speed, brushless motors need a more complex method of control. Brushless motors have multiple phases (typically three) that require a specific switching sequence to generate a rotating magnetic field that drives the motor. The ESC manages this switching sequence and controls the motor’s speed by adjusting the timing and duration of the electrical pulses sent to each phase.
By precisely controlling the power output to the brushless motor, the ESC ensures smooth acceleration, deceleration, and overall speed regulation, providing a more enjoyable and realistic driving experience.
Brushless motors require an ESC to manage their complex control needs, regulate speed, provide motor and battery protection, enable braking, and offer additional features for improved performance and driving experience. Without an ESC, it would be impossible to control a brushless motor effectively or safely in an RC vehicle.
Can you run a brushed motor with a brushless ESC?
No, you cannot run a brushed motor with a brushless ESC. Brushed and brushless motors have different operating principles and require distinct types of ESCs designed specifically for their respective motor types.
We have a article about brushed and brushless motors click here to read.
Does an ESC supply power to receiver?
Yes, in most cases, an Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) supplies power to the receiver in an RC vehicle. The ESC typically includes a built-in Battery Eliminator Circuit (BEC) that steps down the voltage from the main battery to a suitable level (usually around 5-6 volts) required by the receiver and other onboard electronics, such as servos.
When you connect the ESC to the receiver through the throttle channel, it not only sends control signals for the motor but also provides power to the receiver. This eliminates the need for a separate battery to power the receiver and other electronics, simplifying the overall setup and reducing weight in the RC vehicle.
However, it’s essential to ensure that the ESC’s built-in BEC can handle the current draw of the receiver and any connected servos or accessories. In cases where the BEC is insufficient, an external BEC can be used to supply power to the receiver and other electronics separately from the ESC.
We have a article the best battery chargers you can buy today click here to read.
Can you run 2 motors off 1 ESC?
In some cases, it is possible to run two motors off a single ESC, but there are several factors and potential drawbacks to consider before attempting this setup:
Motor compatibility: Both motors should be of the same type (brushed or brushless) and have similar specifications, such as Kv rating, power requirements, and size. Mismatched motors might lead to uneven performance and put undue stress on the ESC.
ESC current rating: The ESC must be capable of handling the combined current draw of both motors. If the total current draw exceeds the ESC’s maximum amperage rating, it can cause overheating and damage to the ESC and motors.
Power distribution: Running two motors from a single ESC may result in uneven power distribution, leading to suboptimal performance, especially if the motors have different power requirements or if one motor experiences more load than the other.
Throttle control: With two motors connected to a single ESC, both motors will receive the same throttle input simultaneously. This means you will not be able to control each motor independently, which may limit the manoeuvrability and overall control of your RC vehicle.
Increased complexity: Wiring two motors to a single ESC can be more complex and challenging than using separate ESCs for each motor. Additionally, if one component fails, it may affect the whole system, making troubleshooting and repairs more difficult.
- Cont./Peak Current:80A/400A
- Motor Type Supported:Brushed Motor (540, 550, 775 Size Motor)
- LiPo / NiMH Cells: 2-4S LiPo or 5-12S NiMH.,BEC Output: 6V@4A (Switch-Mode)
- Connectors:Input End: No Connectors; Output End:45.9*34.7*26.5mm/ 75g 4.0mm Female Bullet Connectors. Size/ Weight: 45.9*34.7*26.5mm/ 75g
While it is possible to run two motors off a single ESC under certain conditions, it is generally not recommended due to the potential drawbacks and limitations. Instead, it’s advisable to use separate ESCs for each motor, providing better control, performance, and ease of maintenance. In some specific applications like RC boats or multi-rotor aircraft, specialized dual-motor ESCs or multi-rotor ESCs are available, designed explicitly for controlling multiple motors simultaneously.
Why do RC car ESCs burn out?
RC car ESCs (Electronic Speed Controllers) can burn out due to various reasons, some of which include:
Overheating: If the ESC is not adequately cooled or is subjected to excessive loads, it can overheat. Overheating can damage the ESC’s internal components, leading to a failure or burnout. It’s essential to ensure proper cooling for your ESC, such as using heatsinks or cooling fans, and avoid blocking any airflow around the ESC.
Over-current: If the motor draws more current than the ESC is designed to handle, the ESC can become damaged. This can happen if the motor is too large or powerful for the ESC’s rating or if the vehicle is subjected to excessive loads, such as heavy towing or steep inclines. Always ensure that your ESC has a sufficient current rating for your motor and avoid pushing the vehicle beyond its intended limits.
Voltage issues: Using a battery with a voltage higher than the ESC’s maximum voltage rating can cause damage to the ESC. Similarly, voltage spikes from a faulty or poor-quality battery can also stress the ESC’s components and potentially cause burnout. Use a battery with a voltage compatible with your ESC’s specifications to avoid these issues.
Short circuits: Short circuits can occur due to damaged wiring, loose connections, or debris causing a connection between exposed wires or components. A short circuit can cause a sudden, high current flow through the ESC, leading to burnout. Regularly inspect your wiring and connections for signs of wear or damage, and keep your RC car clean and free of debris to minimize the risk of short circuits.
Poor manufacturing quality or defects: In some cases, an ESC may burn out due to manufacturing defects or low-quality components. While this is less common with reputable brands, it’s essential to choose a high-quality ESC from a trusted manufacturer to minimize the risk of failure.
To prevent ESC burnout, ensure proper cooling, use compatible batteries and motors, regularly inspect your RC car’s wiring and connections, and choose high-quality components from reputable manufacturers. Taking these precautions will help prolong the life of your ESC and provide a reliable and enjoyable RC experience.
Can a bad battery ruin an ESC?
Yes, a bad battery can potentially ruin an ESC in several ways:
Over-voltage: If a battery is faulty and supplies a higher voltage than the ESC is rated for, it can damage the ESC’s internal components, leading to a failure or even burning out the ESC.
Voltage spikes: A damaged or poor-quality battery can cause voltage spikes that may exceed the ESC’s maximum voltage rating. These sudden voltage surges can stress the ESC’s components and potentially cause damage or failure.
Over-current: A bad battery might not be able to supply stable current levels, causing the ESC to draw more current than it’s designed to handle. This excessive current draw can lead to overheating and damage to the ESC.
Low-voltage cut off problems: ESCs often have a built-in low-voltage cut off feature to protect the battery from over-discharge. However, if the battery’s voltage drops too quickly due to a fault or damage, the ESC might not react fast enough, leading to over-discharge of the battery, which can also stress the ESC and other electronic components.
We have a article why my RC car batteries will not charge click here to read.
To prevent potential damage to your ESC and other electronics, it’s crucial to use high-quality batteries that are in good condition and compatible with your RC vehicle’s requirements. Regularly inspect your batteries for signs of damage or wear, and replace them when necessary to ensure a safe and enjoyable RC experience.
We have a article all about RC car batteries click here to read.
Maintenance tips for your ESC
To prolong the life of your RC car and its components, follow these useful tips for maintenance and troubleshooting:
- Keep your ESC clean and dust-free. Use a soft brush or compressed air to remove any dirt or debris that may accumulate over time.
- Inspect the wiring and connections regularly for any signs of wear or damage. Replace any damaged wires or connectors immediately to prevent short circuits or other issues.
- Ensure proper cooling for your ESC. Some ESCs come with built-in cooling fans, while others rely on passive cooling through heatsinks. Make sure the cooling system is functioning correctly and not obstructed by dirt or debris.
- Calibrate your ESC according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This ensures optimal performance and compatibility with your transmitter and motor.
- If you experience sudden loss of power or control, check the ESC for any signs of overheating or damage. You may need to replace the ESC or adjust the settings to prevent further issues.
How to test a ESC
If you think you have a problem with your ESC here are a few tips to check to see if repair or replace is required.
One thing to bear in mind it could be the motor that is at fault.
The first thing that I would do is check all the wiring check that no wires are broken all soldered wires are in good shape.
Does the ESC make any noises when powered up?
Check the physical condition of the ESC.
Smell the ESC is there a burnt smell? if there is then probably it is toast (no pun intended).
How to waterproof a ESC
Back when i started in RC cars you had to either avoid water altogether or try some homemade methods to waterproof your electronics.
This would involve some really messy work.
What you would do is remove the casing and paint the boards with liquid electrical tape.
This method works really well one thing to note that if you try this do not get any of the liquid tape on the heat sink or fan if fitted.
It is possible to waterproof your ESC with a balloon it is a bit of a fiddle to get the ESC in or you could use a plastic bag and elastic band.
Balloons are better because they are a good tight fit.
This is a very cheap and reliable way to waterproofing but be careful not to split the balloon when fitting.
But these days most manufactures make their ESC already waterproofed.
Using your RC car in the wet is a lot easier and quicker so the fun does not have to stop.
Can you repair a ESC
Faults are annoying when you just want to get out racing there is a guide to finding the most common faults on a RC car click here to find out more.
Well that depends on a few factors.
On an environmental stand point it would be great, better to repair and recycle than rip out and throw in the refuse.
But you may think the cost to effort is not worth it.
Do you have the skill set to pull apart and repair very delicate intricate wiring and soldering.
Are there spare parts available for the make and model you want to fix.
The ESC is one of the most important of all your RC car components it takes a lot of punishment with dirt, dust, water, vibrations and temperature variations.
So it is important to keep the dirt and dust build up to a minimum.
This will ensure a long and reliable life.