Will the rise of the brushless motor car kill the nitro car?

July 31 2009 No Commented

During the 80′s and 90′s electric RC cars were king. Rarely did you see a nitro RC car buzzing around bashing, and you almost never saw them race. Sure they were out there, but the popularity of the electric RC car far out weighed that of the nitro RC car. During the late 90′s nitro cars started showing up more and more. New model designs and the advent of the EZ-Start engine gave nitro a foot hold in the RC market place. Now a days it seems as if there are more nitro than electrics running around the track, but that could all change. With the recent adoption of the lithium based battery and brushless motor, more and more people are seeing the benefits of electric power. They are faster, lighter weight, and getting cheaper all the time. Not only that, they come in a variety of sizes, ranging from 1/16 to 1/8 scale.

Not everyone knows the difference between brushed and brushless motors so here’s a short explanation.

brushed rc motorBrushed
The brushed electric motor is generally the only kind of motor found in toy-grade and beginner hobby-grade RCs. Kits and other hobby-grade RCs still commonly use brushed motors although brushless is becoming more readily available. Small contact brushes inside the motor cause the motor to spin. Brushed motors come in fixed and nonfixed versions. Electric motors with fixed brushes are nonadjustable and can’t be modified or tuned. Nonfixed brushed motors have replaceable brushes and the motor can be modified and tuned to a certain degree as well as being cleaned of dust and debris that accumulates during frequent use.

rc car brushless motorBrushless
Brushless is becoming increasingly more popular, but are still slightly high-priced compared to brushed motors. They are only just now becoming legal in some professional RC racing circuits. The appeal of brushless motors is the sheer power they can give to your electric RC. Brushless motors, as the name implies, do not have contact brushes, don’t require frequent cleaning, and because there are no brushes there is less friction and less heat — the number one killer in motor performance.

Brushless motors can also handle a lot higher voltage than brushed motors. With a high voltage supply brushless motors can help a beginner RC race at blistering speeds. RCs equipped with brushless motors currently hold the fastest speed records for RC — yes, faster than nitro.

The brushless motor is not the only thing that is causing a stir in the RC world. In fact, brushless motors have been around for quite a while. The real reason is the combination of the burshless motor with the lithium-based battery, or Lipo. Lipo batteries pack a powerful punch. Combine that punch with the brushless motor, and RC cars can hit speeds never before dreamed of out of the box.

rc car lipo batteryUnderstanding LiPos
Lipo batteries are very different from previous generation batteries and understanding how they work, and especially how to charge them, is the key to getting the best performance.

Unlike Ni-Cd and Ni-MH cells that self-discharge when wired in parallel, LiPo cells can be hooked up, charged and discharged in parallel with no detrimental effect. Wiring two LiPo cells in parallel doubles the capacity (more run time), plus an important advantage of wiring in parallel is that each cell only sees half the total current.

C Rating
LiPo cells are also commonly given a C or current rating. This is the equivalent the the capacity of the battery pack in amps. This is also the maximum average recommended discharge current for the cell. For example, the Thunder Power 1900mAh packs have a 6C rating. To determine the maximum recommended discharge rate multiply the capacity times the C rating. 1900mAh x 6C = 11,400. So the maximum recommended discharge rate would be 11,400mA or 11.4 amps. Why do we care about this? Because the higher the C-rating the more punch the battery pack can give, which equals more speed.

So what does this all mean? Will the popularity of the bushless motor and Lipo battery be the death of the nitro based car. Probably not, like everything in life there are fans on both sides of the spectrum. Nitro folks love nitro for there reasons and electric people like electrics for there reasons, which is a good thing. Be that as it may there is no denying that as the coming years brushless motors will become more and more popular as prices get lower.


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