FPVCrate - March
Due to an extremely busy schedule on New Huntsville, Capt. Crater has had to suspend his monthly logs. To fill the void he has asked one of his top techs to assist some of the less experienced pilots by providing some educational guidance. We will be focusing on the Premier item from each Crate, some explanation of its function and specs, and how to install and use the product.
This month’s Crate includes another exclusive FPVCrate product, the Crater 46A 4-in-1 ESC. Here is a full list of The March FPVCrate content:
- FPVCrate Crater 46A 4-in-1 ESC
- HQ Prop 5X4.3X3 Freestyle Props (3 Sets)
- Limited Edition TBS/FPVCrate T-Shirt
- FPVCrate Magnetic Parts Tray
- FPVCrate March Sticker Sheet
- Discount Coupon Card
Let’s take a little deeper look at this month’s premium item, the Crater 46A 4-in-1 ESC:
- Model - Crater 46
- Constant Current Rating - 46 Amps
- Burst Current Rating - 55 Amps (20 seconds)
- Battery Eliminator Circuitry (BEC) - No
- LiPo Cell Rating - 3s-6s
- Weight - 16 Grams
- Size - 45mmX41.5mmX7.5mm
- Mounting - 30.5mmX30.5mm, M3 Screw
- Configurator - BLHeliSuite32
- Firmware - CRATER_ESC
- ESC Application - 170mm - 450mm Multirotor
If you are new to multirotors and FPV then most of these specs don’t make much sense. So we are going to break down what exactly an ESC is, what it does, and how to use the Crater 46.
What is an Electronic Speed Control (ESC)
An electronic speed control (ESC) is an electronic circuit that controls and regulates the speed of an electric motor. Basically, your stick commands (raising and lowering the throttle) are converted into signals that vary the voltage going to the motor. The Crater 46 is a 4-in-1 ESC, meaning that all 4 ESCs are on a single board, saving weight and space needed (individual ESCs are usually mounted on the arms of the multirotor, near its motor) on the drone.
Constant Current Rating
ESCs are rated by the amount of current that they can support. The Crater 46 has a constant current rating of 46 amps. This means that this ESC can withstand and deliver 46 amps without overheating.
Burst Current Rating
The burst current rating of an ESC is the absolute maximum amount of current your ESC can withstand, and only for an extremely limited amount of time. Extreme punchouts and throttle spikes after dives are perfect examples. The Crater 46 is rated for 55 amps for a maximum of 20 seconds. Any amount of current higher, or for a longer duration, will damage the. ESC.
Battery Elimination Circuitry (BEC)
Waaaaay back in the day RC enthusiasts used to power their radio receivers on their vehicles with a separate battery - usually a battery pack with 2-4 AAs! Needless to say, this was a LOT of unneeded weight when you already have a big’ole battery on board. So in the early days of ESCs Battery Elimination Circuitry (BEC) was created. This allowed the radio receiver to get its power from the main battery through a connection on the ESC. Early flight controllers (FCs) took advantage of this and often got their power (5V) from the BEC on the ESC. With the new generations of flight controllers that monitor the voltage of the battery, they are able to connect directly to the full voltage of the battery. The Crater 46 does not have BEC, it supplies full battery voltage to the flight controller.
This is the maximum number of cells that an ESC can support. The Crater 46 is rated for batteries from 3 cells (3s, 12 volts), to 6 cells (6s, 24 volts), meeting most multirotor applications.
Different sized multirotors have a different sized mounting pattern, from 16mm to 30.5mm. This is the distance from each mounting hole on the circuit board to the next. The Crater 46’s mounting pattern is 30.5mmX30.5mm, which is standard for multirotors with prop sizes from 3” and up (5” or more). The hole size on the board is M3, which means that a 3mm bolt or screw will fit through the hole.
The Crater 46 is running BLHeli_32 firmware. This firmware has been written specifically for ESCs with 32-bit processors. Older ESCs ran slower processors, so they relied on 8-bit firmware, like BLHeli and BLHeli_S. The faster processors also give the ability to run fast throttle response protocols with lower latency (delay).
Wiring Up Your ESC
The Crater 46 is very easy to wire up and get flying. Being a 4-in-1 ESC the Crater 46 will get mounted as part of your flight control/video transmitter/ESC stack. I prefer the through-bolt method - I use 4 long M3 screws, pushed up through the bottom of the frame, and mount all the main components (ESC, FC, and VTX) for the build. Always check your stack height and make sure everything will fit within the height of the frame from the bottom plate to the top place. Be sure and space your components for air-flow for cooling and to assure you do not crush any components. Using small o-rings that fit over your M3 screws is a great way to space your components.
Start your stack with your ESC. Be sure to solder your motors to the ESC before you add any additional components. The Crater 46 is a 4-in-1 ESC (4 ESCs on one board) so all four motors will be soldered to this single board. There are 4 locations for soldering the motors - one for each motor. Solder your motor wires to your ESC for each motor. Each motor has three wires, each ESC on the board has three solder pads for the motor wires. Solder the three wires for each motor to the 4-in-1 ESC at the pads according to the supplied diagram in the user manual. The motors will either spin clockwise or counterclockwise depending on the order of the wires on the pads. Do not worry, this can be changed later in the ESC firmware.
The Crater 46 has two different wiring harnesses - a standard 10-pin cable that will work with most FCs and a 10-pin cable wired specifically for the Crater FC. Be sure to always check the pinout diagrams for both your ESCs and your FC. Re-wire the cable if needed.
Continue to build your multirotor, and remember to use a “Smoke Stopper” when you first plug in your battery to make sure your connections are all good and there are no shorts.
Setting Up Your ESC
Once you have completed your build it is now time to make sure your ESC is set up properly. Plug your FC into your computer and open Betaflight Configurator. Go to the “Motors” tab, plug in your battery, and WITH YOUR PROPS OFF, test your motor directions. Make sure they are spinning the right directions according to your setup. Check each motor individually with the sliders. Make note of which motors are spinning the wrong direction.
Next, download and install BLHeliSuite32. Open the program, connect your FC to your PC, hit the “Connect” button in BLHeliSuite32. Once you are connected, plug your battery into your multirotor. Now hit the button marked “Read Setup”. You will now see your 4 motors' information displayed in the configurator. Look for the setting marked “Motor Direction” for each motor. Reverse the direction of any of your motors that are not spinning in the right direction. Then hit “Save” and exit the program.
Go back into Betaflight and test your motors again. If they are spinning the right directions you are ready for props and a maiden flight!
Always remember to double-check all connections and USE A SMOKE STOPPER. These precautions can be the difference between re-soldering and replacing...