The Paths to Speed (Series 2)
TAKING A “DUMP” ON YOUR RUNS
By Guest Contributor: rhouse21
I think it's pretty safe to say that Castle Creations Inc. makes the most successful speed running / drag racing ESCs on the market right now. However, just like any other piece of high performance machinery, you need a certain amount of skill to get the most of them without destroying stuff. In this post, I'll talk about one of the most common "rookie mistakes" that I see out there and give a few tips to help you avoid cooking your very expensive hardware.
So, you've just completed your dream build. The car is lined up and ready to have two sticks of LiPo dynamite propel your Castle XLX ESC and GINORMOUS custom-built motor to a new personal best. Your heart is beating at 180 beats per minute and you pause to wipe a bead of sweat from your brow. Your mouth is a little dry and it feel like time is nearly standing still. This is it. Time to squeeze the trigger and "Get dat speedah!" You count backwards in your head. "3..........2...................1............................Go!"
Your finger instinctive clenches and over 13 electrical horsepower are unleashed into the world in one glorious rush..... and all heck breaks loose in your car. You smell the acrid stench of char and you break into a sprint in an attempt to save your precious work.
"What just happened??!!!!!"
Unfortunately, this scene has played itself out countless times in the speed running / drag racing communities. It's usually followed by an angry post about a "bad" ESC, and a rant about how much money was spent/lost. But then the veterans step in and ask the question that quiets the storm. "Can we see your logs?"
So what went wrong?
As I said in the beginning of this piece, high-end RCs are extremely high performance pieces of machinery, which requires a LOT of technique to get the most out of. When using high-quality LiPos (like those from my buddies at Venom Power), our systems are capable of unleashing a MONSTROUS amount of power. To put it in perspective, an average American or Canadian home consumes ~1.2 kW of power, so a 10kW Mamba XLX puts out enough juice to power ~8 homes....for a few seconds. 😮
Now imagine suddenly unleashing enough energy to power 8 homes in a few microseconds.... inside of a device smaller than a soda can. What would that look like? A bolt of lightning in a bottle, maybe? That's the problem.
The solution is simple: CALM DOWN!!!
If you think back to the original speed run videos on YouTube that got a lot of us into the hobby, guys were always bragging about only using 1/3 or 1/2 throttle on their 100 mph runs. Why? Because they all figured out that VERY bad things happen if you apply too much throttle too quickly.
Put bluntly, no one in their right mind should be lining up and just dumping the throttle on a speed or drag run. That's just an easy way to destroy a lot of good hardware. The veterans are actually very skilled at knowing exactly how much throttle they can safely lay down in a run without spinning out or breaking things. Some guys have "full throttle" cars, but others can only use 2/3, 1/2, or even 1/3 safely depending on their setup... but they probably won't tell you that. And why would they? You're the competition.
My advice? Take some "quality time" with just your radio and "visualize" your run. A typical speed run last ~10 seconds, but a drag run is just 2 seconds (or less). Close your eyes and practice doing a series of smooth full trigger pulls that last about the length of your run. Then do it again, but hitting a level less than 100%. Start with ~75% then do ~50% and ~25%. Do this over and over until it feels like second nature. Then, go out for a practice session on REDUCED POWER and practice hitting your mark with your car. This is how you build your technique so you are truly ready to handle your car.
Once you can reliably hit your throttle marks, THEN start practicing with full power, but gradually increasing your max trigger pull with every run (and checking your data logs to see how you REALLY did). This is how you learn your car and what it can actually handle. It also lets you find and fix problems in your system before "race day". This is where you learn how much power your tires can take before spinning out or if your gearing matches your speed goals. You may find that you need a bigger (or smaller) pinion, you have a traction problem with your tires, or you have a weak driveshaft that can only handle 2/3 throttle. All of this helps to ensure that both you and your car are ready when it counts.
I know.... this sounds like a lot of work. It is! But this is what the really fast guys do.... that they almost never tell you about. They just sit back and watch the newbies blow up their gear on "Race Day" and smile to themselves.
I hope this was helpful!
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