Electronic Speed Controllers – Understanding Quad ESC’s | Drone Racing Report | Vol 20

Wonder what an ESC is on a drone, or how to choose which size and model is right for your quad? Today we take a look… ESC’s, or Electronic Speed Controllers, connect the flight controller on your quad to the motors

In simplest terms, they control the speed of the motors by regulating the amount of power sent to each one There are two basic setups… individual ESC’s, and 4-in-1 combo units The advantage of separate ESC’s is that if one is faulty, it can easily be replaced with a new one However, they are also more easily damaged since they are mounted outside the body on the motor arms Since they are exposed, it is recommended that you protect them using ESC covers

A 4-in-1 unit on the other hand is typically mounted inside the body, usually on the main stack under the flight controller This is a great setup for smaller and cleaner builds Many 4-in-1 ESC’s also now incorporate a power distribution board (PDB) and voltage regulators Though there is less chance of damage in a crash, the entire unit must be replaced if faulty and they are typically a little tougher to get to and replace The primary rating on an ESC is the amperage (or current) that it can handle

This number refers to the sustained current it is designed for, though they can usually handle short bursts of higher amperage, such as during a punch-out or full throttle maneuver It is the largest, most conspicuous rating printed on an ESC You want to choose an ESC that has a higher amp rating than the motors you are using The voltage of an ESC is also a consideration Most ESC’s will be marked with the battery sizes they are rated for, such as 3s or 4s

Propeller choice is also important to think about Larger, higher-pitch propellers can create more lift but also make the motors work harder, drawing more amps When in doubt, it is best to use an ESC that is rated higher than what your demands are In most cases, a 30A ESC will be enough for most 4s LiPo battery applications An oversized ESC won’t hurt performance, though it does add cost and weight to your quad

The final thing to think about is the protocol and firmware that your ESC uses to communicate Traditionally, ESC’s operated using something called PWM More recent ESC’s use analog protocols such as One-Shot and Multi-shot, and the newer D-Shot protocols use a digital signal providing faster performance and more flexibility ESC’s will also operate using the firmware that is installed This will most often be KISS or BL Heli, with the newest versions using a 32-bit architecture to provide more features and processing power

The specific firmware that the ESC uses will usually be clearly marked on the ESC While you can’t change the installed firmware, it should be updated to the latest version Most new ESC’s will support a variety of the protocols we mentioned before There are many great ESC’s on the market, and the choice you make will depend on the quad setup, battery, and motor size you intend to use Make sure to check out online reviews to help you decide which is best for your application

Have any thoughts or questions? Please let us know in the comments, and tell us which ESC’s you prefer and why Subscribe or follow us to learn more about FPV, drone racing, and freestyle quads Make sure to check out our Top-5 FPV Videos of the week where we showcase some great flying and epic freestyle locations Go to shopdronucopia

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