Posts in Tech Support
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??!!!!!"

 Castle Creations Data Log File Example (Stay tuned for more on these in a future post!)

Castle Creations Data Log File Example (Stay tuned for more on these in a future post!)

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.

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.

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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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Castle Creations Inc. The authors, blog and/or Company are not to be held responsible for misuse, reuse, recycled and cited and/or uncited copies of content within this blog by others.

Castle Crawler & Scaler Series – Get the Lowdown on Rock Race/Crawler Mode!
Mamba-X-Crawler-Combo-2.jpg

With the recent introduction of the 1406 series brushless sensored motors in a “SLATE” color, Castle is taking  low RPMs very seriously. Months of hard work went into this release. We focused on several aspects to cater to the wishes of everyone who loves to run scale. Delivering monstrous torque and ultimate control, combined with the high end speeds that we are known for.

We have diverted from our traditional green color with slate colored cans making the motors less noticeable in your scale trucks. Simultaneously we wanted to mark a new product line for Castle Creations which emphasizes that we concentrate on low RPM control. Combined with any of our X series speed controllers these motors will enable you to fine tune and set the controllability of your ride to the maximum, or even use the aux wire to toggle between drag brake settings for example.

A brand new running mode is now available available on firmware version V2.02 (Click for complete summary of new features, improvements and changes)  and newer for the Mamba Micro X, Mamba X, Mamba Monster X and Mamba XL X ESCs. This is a mode which is designed to allow users to get the most out of their ESC when used in Rock Race or Crawler vehicles. While it can be rather confusing initially, when it is set up correctly it can be very beneficial.

This feature is accessed through the use of the programmable  Auxiliary Wire that is available on the Mamba Micro X, Mamba X, Mamba Monster X and Mamba XL X ESCs. The AUX wire function is disabled by default but is programmable via Castle Link. Once you have programmed the functionality of the AUX wire, that particular setting can then be adjusted on-the-go from a compatible transmitter. The ‘Rock Race Mode’ and ‘Crawler Mode’ allows the user to switch between two different modes on the fly: ‘Race Mode’ is optimized for either Racing/Bashing and ‘Crawler Mode’ is optimized for crawling.

Rock Race/Crawler Mode Overview

This auxiliary wire mode is designed to allow users to get the most out of their ESC when used in rock racing or rock crawling vehicles. This mode allows the user to switch between two different ‘Reverse Type’ modes on the fly: ‘Rock Race Mode’ and ‘Crawler Mode’. ‘Rock Race Mode’ is optimized for either racing/bashing and ‘Crawler Mode’ is optimized for rock crawling. It also allows you to adjust the motor’s Drag Brake based on the AUX wire signal.

Adjusting Drag Brake – While in this mode the motor’s Drag Brake percentage is controlled by AUX wire signal. At 1.1ms the Drag Brake will be disabled at 0% and at 1.9ms the Drag Brake will be set to 100%; it is proportional throughout the AUX wire signal range; IE at 1.5ms the Drag Brake will be at 50%.

Rock Race Mode – The ‘Reverse Type’ in this mode will be set to the Castle Link ‘Reverse Type’ setting on the Basic tab (default is set to “With Reverse”). Refer to “Reverse Type Definitions” at the end of the document for a full description of each ‘Reverse Type’.

Crawler Mode – The “Reverse Type” in this mode will be set to the Castle Link ‘Reverse Type’ setting on the Basic tab (default is set to “With Reverse”). Refer to “Reverse Type Definitions” at the end of the document for a full description of each ‘Reverse Type’.

Please see the examples below for a better understanding of how this works.

Note: If the AUX wire becomes disconnected, the controller will default to ‘Rock Race Mode’.

Example 1: Castle Link Settings: ‘Drag Brake’ – “0%”, ‘Reverse Type’ – “Without Reverse”

  • ‘Rock Race Mode’ is enabled whenever the AUX Wire Drag Brake is at or below 0% (? 1.1ms) and the ‘Reverse Type’ will be set to “Without Reverse”.
  • ‘Crawler Mode’ is enabled whenever the AUX Wire Drag Brake is above 0% (> 1.1ms) and the ‘Reverse Type’ will be set to “Crawler Reverse”.

Click here for a diagram of Example 1.

Example 2: Castle Link Settings: ‘Drag Brake’ – “10%”, ‘Reverse Type’ – “With Reverse”

  • ‘Rock Race Mode’ is enabled whenever the AUX Wire Drag Brake is at or below 10% (? ~1.2ms) and the ‘Reverse Type’ will be set to “With Reverse”.
  • ‘Crawler Mode’ is enabled whenever the AUX Wire Drag Brake is above 10% (> ~1.2ms) and the ‘Reverse Type’ will be set to “Crawler Reverse”.

Click here for a diagram of Example 2.

Example 3: Castle Link Settings: ‘Drag Brake’ – “50%”, ‘Reverse Type’ – “With Reverse”

  • ‘Rock Race Mode’ is enabled whenever the AUX Wire Drag Brake is at or below 50% (? ~1.5ms) and the ‘Reverse Type’ will be set to “With Reverse”.
  • ‘Crawler Mode’ is enabled whenever the AUX Wire Drag Brake is above 50% (> ~1.5ms) and the ‘Reverse Type’ will be set to “Crawler Reverse”.

Click here for a diagram of Example 3.

‘Reverse Type’ Definitions:

  1. “Without Reverse” – Racing Setting. No reverse motor direction. Pressing the reverse trigger on the radio will engage the motor brake.
  2. “With Reverse” – For bashing or racing (may not be allowed in some racing situations). When transitioning from throttle to reverse the ESC will brake the motor. To run in reverse the ESC must see a neutral signal for at least 2 seconds before the reverse will engage when reverse trigger is applied.
  3. “Crawler Reverse” – The ESC will immediately spin the motor in reverse when the reverse trigger is pressed. The ESC will apply a brake to bring the motor RPM to zero before reversing the motor; this helps prevent potential damage to the vehicle’s drive train. This setting is recommended for low speed rock crawling; using this mode at high speed will result in an amazing front-flip, but expensive repairs.

Now that you have the lowdown on the newest features and optimizations, we hope you dig out that Castle Link and hit the trails!

AUX What?!?

Adjective: auxiliary - providing supplementary or additional help and support. Okay, we all get that. But what does it have to do with my speed controller?

When the Castle Phoenix Edge line was introduced for heli and plane applications, we announced the addition of the user programmable auxiliary wire. Our car enthusiasts will now have a taste of the simplicity and convenience if this feature with the Mamba X Series Electronic Speed Controllers (ESC).

In short, the auxiliary wire is an extra white wire, that when connected to an open channel on your radio, allows users to take advantage of on-the-fly adjustments (using your transmitter) that would otherwise be modified or set using the Castle Link Programming Suite. The feature is enabled through the Castle Link Programming system and one mode may be selected at a time.

Let’s take a look at the available options, we are certain you’ll find a favorite or two.

Mamba X Series ESCs (Mamba Micro X and Monster X)

Max Throttle Adjustment The ESC’s maximum power is scaled from 10% to 100% depending on the signal received on the AUX wire. Perfect for passing the controls to children, neighbors or your boss.

Mamba X Series AUX wire
Mamba X Series AUX wire

Max Reverse Adjustment The ESC’s maximum reverse power is scaled from 10% to 100% depending on the signal received on the AUX wire.

Max Brake Adjustment The ESC’s maximum braking power is scaled from 10% to 100% depending on the signal received on the AUX wire.

Drag Brake Adjustment The ESC’s drag brake setting is scaled from 0% to full brake depending on the signal received on the AUX wire.

Reverse Enable/Disable (Only works in modes with reverse) Reversing is disabled when the controller receives an AUX wire signal above 50% (>1.5ms). When the controller receives an AUX wire signal below 50% (<1.5ms) or if the AUX wire is disconnected, reverse capability is enabled.

Torque Control Adjustment The ESC’s torque control setting is scaled from 0.1 to 5.0 depending on the signal received on the AUX wire. Torque control is disabled when the input exceeds 1.9ms. Great for finding the perfect torque control setting for your track and tires. (Motor test must be performed before using this setting.)

Datalog Erase Enable When the vehicle is stopped, toggling the AUX signal for a few seconds will erase the datalog. The motor will emit a long beep to indicate the log was erased. This feature can be added to any of the other AUX wire modes by checking the Idle Datalog Erase box in Castle Link.

Castle Phoenix Edge Series

Gain Input (ESC must be in a governor mode) Connect the AUX line to an open channel on your receiver and use this mode to adjust the governor gain in real time. 0% TX signal equals a gain of 1 (min) – 100% TX signal equals a gain of 50 (max).

Phoenix RX+AUX wire
Phoenix RX+AUX wire

Tech Tip: Once the gain has been tuned via the Tx its value can be displayed on the data logger. Permanently save that value in the Edge via Castle Link programming and use the Aux. wire for another feature!

Audible Beacon Connect the AUX line to an open channel on your receiver and this mode will use the motor to emit an audible locator signal when the AUX line is above 50%. The beacon is only emitted if the motor is not running.

RPM Out Connect the AUX wire to 3 axis gyros that support RPM sensors and the ESC will toggle the AUX line at every electrical commutation. Divide this number by your number of magnetic pole pairs for mechanical RPM.

Arm Lock Key – requires ARM LOCK HARNESS When the ARM LOCK key is in the socket, the controller will be incapable of arming. Once removed, the ESC will arm when it receives the low throttle command on the traditional throttle line. RX Arm Lock The controller won’t arm or run when the auxiliary channel is below 50% throttle.

Tech Tip: Loss of Aux wire signal during use reverts selected mode to default status.

So there you have it, the quick and dirty on Castle AUX wire functionality. Its sheer purpose is to provide at-your-fingertips options and adjustments to give you great flexibility, versatility and most importantly, the competitive edge!

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Tech Tip / Installation Notice for Talon 90 and Talon HV120

If you are the owner of a Castle Talon 90 or Talon HV120 ESC  then this Tech Tip / Installation Notice is for you. We have received reports of a small number ESCs failing in the field. After reviewing the failed units and their setups, we believe that we have found the cause. On certain applications, we have discovered that plugging the motor’s timing wires directly into the ESC can lead to a failure.

This can be caused by two factors:

One, the motor’s timing wires are inflexible and usually less than 3 inches in length. This makes it difficult to plug the motor’s male bullets into the ESCs female connectors. This can lead to damaging/bending the male connector, which in turn results in a loose and poor connection. As a result, this loose connection can potentially disconnect during use which can cause an immediate and catastrophic failure of the ESC.

Talon HV120_wiring1

The second potential issue is due to vibrations. Because the motor’s timing wires are stiff they have no slack or relief. Due to the extreme nature of some setups, the vibrations and the motor’s movement from torque can stress the female bullet connectors installed on the board and lead to a failure.

Castle highly recommends using 2 – 3 inches of appropriately sized silicone wire. The silicone wire (like the battery wires on the ESC) is quite flexible and provides some strain relief to the bullet connectors.

Below are two images from Helifreak user, "rotary guy" and a Talon 90 installed in a Goblin 500 helicopter. Note the extra lengths of wire between the connections and how this provides some post-installation flexibility, reducing the amount of "wire pulling" during flight while still maintaining a neat and tidy installation.

New Castle Link version available: 3.57.12

There is a new firmware update available for ALL brushless aircraft Electronic Speed Controllers (ESCs), including the Phoenix, Phoenix HV, Phoenix ICE, Phoenix ICE HV, Phoenix Edge, Phoenix Edge HV, Talon, Talon HV, Multi-Rotor and Thunderbird. This latest update is V4.22 Castle_LinkThis latest release of Castle Link addressed the following issues:

  • Bug fix for firmware version 4.20. Some users experienced problems reengaging the throttle after the brake was turned on at zero throttle. This issue only occurred when the brake feature was utilized.
  • Adjusted software to improve performance under heavy load.
  • Talon 15, Talon 25 and Multi-Rotor 25 had their current limit setting removed due to inconsistent operation. The software has been adjusted to measure excessive current using other means.

This latest version gives all ESCs access to features that were added to firmware version 4.20.

Firmware version 4.20 for aircraft ESCs has been “broken arrowed”. This means that any ESC that is currently utilizing firmware 4.20 and is connected to the new version of Castle Link (3.57.12), the program will NOT allow you to change ESC settings and you MUST update the firmware to version 4.22.

We also made some edits to the text of the "connection status" boxes to make it easier for users to determine whether their status is connected or disconnected. This was done to help red/green color blind users determine the connection status of the Castle Link and ESC.

For more information, visit the Castle Link page from the Castle Creations website (click on the Downloads tab). And don't forget, our Tech Support page has a number of documents and FAQs to help you with the tuning and setup of your Castle Creations ESCs. story_separator1_1200