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Servo Upgrade Time! - Hobby Letter #3/22

24.2.2022

Hello my Dear Subscriber! This is Heikki from the EuroRC Storage Room with another hot RC related topic!!

Today we take a deeper look in to one of the most important things in RC Cars and they are called servos. Servos make our wheels turn. Servos command our nitro motors. Servos change our gears. Servo utilizes brakes and can transform to a winch when needed! It is amazing what modern age servos are really capable of and how strong they are. Like seriously - matchbox sized box with little motor that can lift easily over forty kilograms and hold it there is pretty marvelous to me.

There are plenty of different RC servos at the market today and terminology used may once again be confusing especially if you are new to this sport. So lets start from the basics!

Master. Master!

Not doing to dive too deep in to the muddy waters of history this time but here is a nice tidbit! Servos get their name from being "servants", and this comes directly from the word slave. You are the master in command and the servo does - per its name - "exactly as commanded". Earliest devices that could be described as a servo were invented right after the first electrical motors.

We are however only interested about RC servos and today they are little but pretty mighty units! Moders servos are all digital and are propotional of type. This basically means that the operation area is stepless and smooth. Early days predecessors were so called escapements that are very very simple type of mechanical electronics. These thingies were operated by a magnet that let the gears move step by step per command. Radio had a one button for operating the magnet.

Usually the escapements were powered by a.. yeah, a rubber band being twisted to hold up some kinetic force! This type of "step-by-step" operation was useful only for rudders used in RC aircrafts and boats. Remember this when once again hoping the return of Good Old Dayz! No need to stop your driving and twist some rubber bands anymore.

Below: Graupner Kinematic Escapement from circa 1965 - source: Wikipedia (used under Creative Commons license)

Let's get Digital, Digital

How do the modern age digital servos work then? It's bit technical but I try to make it short. When you are turning your radio steering wheel, you are actually sending an error signal to the servos potentiometer that is connected directly to the motor. This is a resistor component with a sliding contact surface, and it is commanding the servo motor itself per the signal it is receiving.

There is another potentiometer in your radio transmitter and basically what happens here is that the system tries its best to keep these two paired potentometers in a matching signal area.

Potentiometer in servo wants that servo is always in a stable (zero-signal) state. Error signal makes it unhappy and it commands the motor to do something about this immediately. Motor starts its operation to fulfill potentiometers wish. When the servo motor meets the signal given from the radio system, error (or more like command) signal ends and the potentiometer is more than satisfied!

Ready-to-Rumble

Let's face the ugly truth. If you are running a car with a servo that came with it, it is probably trash. Manufactures constantly balance between price and quality. To keep the price as customer friendly as possible, they often select a weak and plastic geared cheap servo for their RTR cars. See the picture above and do your own research!

RTR-level Servo is just good enough to make the wheels turn even a bit. Among the manufacturers there is one exemption - Team Corally throws significantly better electronics in their kits than many other RTR manufacturers.

Changing your RTR servo to a better one is one of the best and easiest upgrades you can do for your car. Trust me here, your driving experience gets to totally another level with a decent servo. I recommend you to get a servo that has metal gears and is waterproof. Like our own specified and already popular Halko Turner 1.0WP!

No pain no gain!

As you may already know, I am a total no-brained basher these days. I've been punishing my Team Corally Shogun with no mercy for over a year now and finally the servo that came with the car is showing some sloppyness. It is still turning and can keep the wheel steady, but there is something broken inside what is no miracle with my driving skills.

I removed it from the car and did a little autopsy. It appears that while gears and motor are still OK (I never drive in wet conditions and never submerge my vehicles. There is no evidence about this and I will deny everything if my boss asks about it!) What seems to be the issue is the plastic case that has suffered from some impacts that I don't also recall that have ever happened.

Shogun 6S XP is a big car no doubt. Even more weight is added with the Louise monster tires I have on it. This means that there needs to be some real beef in the new servo. I selected our stronger one, Halko Turner 2.0WP that is a literal powerhouse for a servo. It can lift a dynamic load of 40.2 kg and keep it there too.

This may sound a bit much but remember that when big car is going fast it will be a pretty heavy unit to control. This is when the muscle and reliability is respected. It meets also my requirements of being metal geared and waterproof. Having the most common 25 teeth bore at the shaft means that it is a direct bolt-on for my Shogun. When looking for a new servo, make sure that it has the same teeth number that you have in your servo arm or it won't fit!

Replacing the servo was no biggie. Bit of wrenching was needed to remove the servo/transmitter box from the car to make the cables go where they are supposed to. I also did my thing - drilled few water holes at the bottom of the transmitter box. Not that I would really be tempted with wet things..

I very much appreciate the basic layout design in Team Corally 1/8 buggies. Everything can be easily removed and attached back again very fast thanks to decades long racing experience they have. It's just great that when I want to change the front bearings I do not need to remove the rear wing first!

Time for another Members Ride! One of our most important influencer, mountain_trail_rc sent us photo of their Traxxas TRX-4 with Chevrolet Blazer 1968 body kit. This great photo fooled even my experienced eye. Looks like a real car and that is what scale RC is all about. Excellent work here and remember to follow their Instagram! Loads of pure RC Gold there!

While you are there you should check out our magnificent eurorc_warehouse! From there you can often get a glimpse of fresh new arrivals that are just in from the Storage Room Doors before anyone else!

OK, batteries for my Shogun are ready and weather is horrible. Sounds like Heikki is about to do some good old fashioned bashing today! Bash Boom Bang!

Thanks for reading, Heikki / EuroRC

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