Brushless Speed Controllers Comparison Table
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January 2004 Award

 

With few compatibility issues with ESC - Motor combinations, a table should help decide which ESC BEC can work with which motor, as well as what do they actually offer..
The ESC tested bellow were selected as generally used by the R/C Electric community. These companies offer proven good services as well as serious hardware.

Further tests, coming later, will include motor efficiency and throttle linearity.

 

 

Speed Controllers List

Phoenix 45, Old version
$113.95

Phoenix 45, New version
$113.95
Kontronik Smile 40-6-12
Old software
$127
Hacker Master 40-3P
$107
Jeti JES 40-3P
$94
Jeti Advanced 70-3P
($97 for 40-3P)

 

 

 

Motor List

AXI 2814/12

AXI 2820/10

Jeti 30/3

Jeti 15/4

Kontronik 400-23

Mega 16/15/3

Aveox 27/26/1.5

 

 

Motor/Speed controllers compatibilities

One of the critical moment for any flying machine, is when motor OFF, the behavior of the Speed controller to turn back the motor ON. How smooth, how fast, any vibration, does it even work ?

This is what the table below is about as there is nothing worse than coming for landing, motor OFF, and then needing to turn ON the motor at the last point, and having this step not working as it should. 

  • The RED areas are simply not working so unless you really want this configuration for specific reasons, it is highly not recommended to use it. 

  • The Brown areas have some issues, but it could be considered not blocking ones. Still, this is not a normal behavior

  • The Greed areas are for complete normal operations

 
  Castle Creations Phoenix 45 
Latest Phoenix 45
Kontronik Smile 40-6-12
Version 9C6
JETI Controler
HACKER
MASTER 40-3P
JETI Advanced
70-3P
Old model Jeti JES 40-3P
AXI 2814/12 Works fine Works fine Works fine Works fine Works fine
AXI 2820/10 Works fine Works fine Works fine Works fine Works fine
Jeti 30/3 Works fine Works fine Works fine Works fine Works fine
Jeti 15/4 Works fine Works fine Works fine Works fine Works fine
Kontronik FUN 400-23 Works fine Works fine Works fine Works fine Works fine. Just lower throttle setting is not very perfectly linear
Mega 16/15/3 Works fine Works fine Works fine Works fine Works fine
Aveox 27/26/1.5 Works fine Works fine Works fine Works fine Works fine

IMPORTANT Note: Some older versions of some of the ESC BEC above did not work well, at all. When you purchase a new Speed controller, make sure it is the latest version.

 

Capabilities

 

USER MANUALS: Before getting into details, here are the manuals for each of the ESC BEC tested. 

Castle Creations 
User Manual

Kontronik 
User Manual

HACKER/JETI 
User Manual

 

 

Getting Help from the Internet Community

This is important to be able to share questions, and get answers extremely fast from either fellow hobbyist, or directly from a representative from the company. Where stated YES below, there is actually someone from the company, moderating the forum, so you can get very valuable feedbacks and interactions.

  Castle Creation Kontronik Jeti
Ezone Representation

Yes
Link

Yes
Link

No

 

 

ESC Feature Summary Table

 

Kontronik 

Features

Missing features

  • Sensorless, no sensor signals from the motor are required

  • Mode programming

  • Auto-Programming-Mode APM

  • Glider-Mode

  • Motor-Plane- / Boot-Mode

  • Helicopter-Mode

  • Competition-Mode

  • Car-Mode

  • Reverse Motor Rotation

  •  part load capability

  •  active RPM control possible

  •  adjusting control by LED or audible signal

  •  start up protection at power up

  •  blocked motor protection, over temperature protection

  •  arming switch possible

  •  EMF-brake with variable brake rate, can be disabled

  •  automatic under voltage cut off at 0.8 V/cell

  •  over current cut off

  •  RPM limiting

  •  100% surface mount technology

  •  very sensitive control characteristic

  •  digital microprocessor control, therefore no thermal drift

  •  highly flexible, heat-resistant cables

  •   24 months warranty, fast repair service

  • Only ESC BEC certified able to control 2 Kontronik brushless motors. Ex. TwinDrive Setup

  • Can't modify  the Timing Mode
  • Can't modify the Frequency Mode
  • No On/Off Switch
  • Limited programming modes
  • Old software (C5) does not control well the motors when the prop is too large. Problems at the start. The new software fixes this (C6)

 

Castle Creations Phoenix 45

Features

Missing features

  • Most versatile ESC BEC, in terms of programming options
  • Extremely Low Resistance (.0018 ohms)
  • High rate adjustable switching (PWM)
  • Up to 45 amps continuous current with proper air flow, 60 amps surge
  • Five to ten cells with four micro servos
  • Up to twelve cells with three micro servos
  • Sixteen cells MAX (with BEC disabled)
  • Dynamic braking ensures folding props fold promptly
  • BEC (3A) provides power to receiver and servos -
    eliminates separate receiver battery
  • User Programmable Features:
    • Low-voltage cutoff
    • Over-current Protection
    • Many different Brake Type
    • Throttle Range – fixed/self-adjusting/governor
    • Timing Advance
    • Cutoff Type
    • Soft Start ramp up
    • Switching Frequency
  • Runs motor in forward OR reverse
  • Auto Motor Cutoff with Reset
  • Safe “power on” arming program ensures motor will not
    accidentally turn on
  • Low torque “soft start” prevents damage to fragile
    gearboxes
  • Auto shut down when signal is lost or radio interference
    becomes severe
  • No On/Off Switch
  • Old hardware/software does not handle well AXI motors. New version is fine.
  • Sometimes, very rarely, on startup, would not start the motor. Needs to unplug battery, replug it, and it works then fine
  • With some JR and Royal EVO radios, Does not work with standard max throttle. Response from Castle Creations on this
    " it has a feature that detects anything higher than about a 2.25-2.3ms pulse as invalid, and will shut down as a safety feature. We've only seen it come into play on radios capable of 130%+ ATV/EPA - (JR computer, and now Royal Evo). we may bump that up slightly at some point, but it is easily fixed on the Tx as you've found out. Glad you're seeing one working like they are really supposed to!"

 

JETI Jes/Advanced/Hacker Master

 

Features

Missing features

All ESC BEC

  • On/Off Switch
  • Rock solid in working with any motor tested, from old versions to new version of the ESC
  • Very reliable start of the motor, never had a glitch
  • Some programming options

Advanced Version

  • Automatic cut off with auto detection of number and type of cells
  • Suitable for all types of accus NiCd, NiMh, Li-polymer
  • Safety cut off with Li-polymer accus (2,56V per cell)
  • High frequency brake with non linear course and limited braking action
  • Auto calibrating type with variable end point
  • Cut off type - slow down system with safety rest of accu capacity
  • 8 kHz switching rate
  • Possibility to set 2 modes
    • MODE 1 - normal motors (2, 4, 6 pole) maximum efficiency timing about 0 degres
    • MODE 2 - outrunning high pole motors (10, 14 pole) higher optimum timing for this type of motors and special software for best rotation

Hacker Master Version

  • 4 Timing Modes
    • Timing mode 1 – (2-5 degrees) optimum timing for Hacker, Lehner, and other 2-pole motors
    • Timing mode 2 – (10 degrees) optimum for Aveox, Astro, and for maximum RPM on 2-pole motors.
    • Timing mode 3 – (18 degrees) optimum timing for Phasor, Mega, Plettenberg, and other 6-pole motors
    and for maximum RPM on Aveox, Astro, and other 4-pole motors.
    • Timing mode 4 – (30 degrees) optimum timing for AXI, Kohler, Actro and other Out runner motors.

  • Brake Mode On/Off

  • 3 Frequency Mode: 
    • 8 kHz for all types of iron motors
    • 16 kHz for motors with extreme low resistance
    • 32 kHz for Tango or Samba motors

  • Cut-off types

  • Motor Rotation

  • Programming mode does not allow the switch between planes to Heli or boats. Needs to purchase special ESC each time

 

 

Prices

These ESC BEC can certainly be found at many other Hobby shops. Checking prices at other shops could bring better deals but these 3 shops above have proven to be reliable.

 

 

Conclusion

This review started with ESC BEC, which did not deliver what each company flag ship ESC BEC could and therefore, few issues were risen. Then, trying the latest from each company, all the problems went away, so it was not on who had less problems than the other, but really who offers more than the others.

Note that when a Speed Controller does not work, before thinking it is the Speed Controller's fault:

  • Read the User Manual again

  • Make sure to check the wires, soldering, connections, general setup, motor, 

  • Is the battery fully loaded, working ?

  • Verify also how you programmed the ESC BEC. Eventually, just to make sure, reprogram it.

Ask on the Ezone then, as chances are someone will be able to help you identify the problem.

So who is the best ? 

Difficult to choose as most presented in this list deliver extremely well. Still, few details can help to differentiate:

 

Not Recommended ESC BEC

None. All the latest ESC BEC, with their latest Hardware/Software updates worked fine with ALL Motors.

 

Recommended ESC BEC

So here is the final ranking. Note that these ESC BEC work with any ESC - Motor combination test done, and they work well. Other brands may be cheaper, or not, but experience showed that you never know if what works with your motor setup today, will work with a different one so I would recommend these 3 companies, as a serious choice. Not only you will be safe as they will deliver, but they are at the top of the league for many aspects.

 

1st Place 

Castle Creation 
Phoenix 45

 

Castle Creations Latest Phoenix 45, is smaller than the older version, offers fantastic levels of programming and performed well in all the tests done. It does have a problem with some JR radios and Multiplex Royal EVO (see comment in the Phoenix test section), on the throttle management, but it is easily fixable. It does not have a On/Off switch which is sometimes very useful. Still, this Speed controller earns 1st place with flying colors. Note that Castle Creations Customer Services is outstanding as well.

 

2nd Place

Hacker Master 
40-3P


JETI Hacker Master is a jewel. Extremely smooth on the motors, lot's of smart and powerful programming options. It could have been better than the Castle Creations, but what I think makes it second is the fact that Castle Creations has more programming options. Also, the fact that you need to purchase a different ESC BEC for a heli, if you had one for a plane, is an additional expense. Still, this is a extremely high standard ESC BEC and if you intend to use it only on planes, and the programming options are enough for you, then this is an excellent choice. As Castle Creations, JETI Customer Services is excellent. Not as easy as Castle Creations since there is no Ezone Representation, but still excellent.

 

 

3rd Place 

Kontronik 
SMILE 40-6-12
C6 software version


Kontronik (with new software) is very reliable but does not have much flexibility in programming modes. Still, it performed extremely well on all tests, and proposes Heli , Planes, car, boat modes with for some mode, sub-modes, by programming. Customer Services is good, with an Ezone representation.

 

And then:

  1. JETI Advanced. Also very reliable, worked on all motors smoothly, but same comment as the Hacker Master, it has less programming options as the Castle Creations models, which makes it not as versatile.

  2. JETI old version. Old but still very good at all motor tests. In general, it is important to note that JETI products are extremely reliable, for all their lines of products.

 

 

Links

Latest Update: Monday, 19 September 2005