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Saturday, March 17, 2012

I've been playing around with my new Leopard 60A 3300KV brushless system from HobbyHot.com for a couple days now. Looks like I was the early adopter on this one, so I figured I'd write a little review. 

Setup of this system is essentially plug-and-play; the ESC automatically sets up neutral and endpoint settings when you turn it on. Listen for a series of videogame beeps, then a pause, then a different set of beeps, and it's good to go. You do have to be a little creative in finding a spot for the ESC, because the wires for the motor and battery aren't very long. It's also a good idea to wrap electrical tape around the motor connectors after you plug them in, so they don't come unplugged while you're running. (This happened to me twice during my initial test run.)

This is my first brushless system, and I had no idea what to expect in terms of power. I'm quite pleased. It's about on a par with a hot modified brushed motor, but the power curve is different; it runs more like a nitro engine, actually. Instead of running out of steam at higher speeds like a brushed motor does, it keeps pulling strong until the RPMs top out. I did notice a little stutter at low speeds (what I assume is the phenomenon known as "cogging") but only for a second or two; once it got rolling, the throttle response was very smooth and responsive. Right now I have the startup power in the "standard" setting, which starts it out nice and easy and then ramps up after a second or so. This is good for saving gears, I suppose, but the lag is a little annoying. I think I'll try switching it to "high," just to see if it's more responsive. I also need to bump up the reverse power, because right now, it barely moves in reverse.

This ESC uses the "double-click" setup for reverse, like the Tamiya ESCs: First push backwards is all brake until you let off, and then the second push is reverse. I really like this setup better than a delay or a 50:50 setup. You can also turn reverse off. The brakes are weaker than I had hoped, but they do stop the car in a reasonable distance. There are settings for drag brake too, but I haven't played with them yet.

Programming is easy: plug the ESC into the card, turn it on, select the setings you want (via red LEDs), push "Enter," and it beeps. Turn it off, plug it back into the receiver, and you're all set. It includes voltage cutoff settings for NiCd, NiMH, and 2 and 3 cell LiPo and LiFe packs. I'm running it with a cheapo 1500 mAh NiCd pack becasue that's all I have right now, and still getting 10-12 minutes on a pack. You can tell right away when the voltage cutoff kicks in, because the ESC applies full brake. If the car screeches to a halt when you hit the throttle, your battery is done.

The cooling fan on the ESC is a little noisy, but it is effective. The ESC stayed nice and cool during back-to-back runs (25 minutes run time total), and the motor was just warm, but not hot. The batteries, however, were too hot to hold comfortably; you can get away with cheap NiCds, but it puts quite a strain on them. I need to get a better battery pack or two, at least 3000 mAh NiMH. Also, don't try to run with an adapter from the ESC's Deans-style plug to a Tamiya plug; the Tamiya plugs can't handle the juice and you'll trigger the voltage cutoff early. Use a pack with a Deans plug on it.

Right now, I have the system installed in my Lunchbox. I tried a Stadium Thunder, but the old worn-out diff gears weren't up to the task and the splines stripped out. It's overkill for the Lunchbox, but at least I know the gearbox can handle the power. When I have some more money, I want to find a used RC10 or something that can really handle high speeds and try it in that.Leopard Brushless Motor

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