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Arrow points to the electronic speed controller on an electric Stampede.

Arrow points to the electronic speed controller on an electric Stampede. © M. James

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Definition: Used only on some electric RCs, the ESC is a device that regulates the amount of power that goes to the electric motor. The device may be separate from (but plugged into) or a part of the receiver. ESC stands for electronic speed controller.

The ESC interprets signals from the receiver and works to provide variation in motor speed and direction and may act as a braking mechanism. There are electronic speed controls for brushed and brushless motors.

If your RC is not equipped with an electronic speed controller and you want to add one, the general considerations are:

  • Brushed or Brushless depending on your motor.
  • Current rating that is higher than what your motor can pull (to avoid overheating).
  • Voltage rating that is at least equal to or higher than the voltage of your battery.
  • Low Voltage Cutoff is a feature on some electronic speed controllers that prevents damage to your battery pack by shutting down the ESC if the battery voltage drops too low.

In the photo of the ESC on this page, the arrow points to the small black box which is the electronic speed controller on an electric Traxxas Stampede monster truck. The blue box attached to the ESC is a heat sink. It pulls heat off the electronic components inside the ESC. The small bundle of red, black, and white wires goes to the receiver. The thin blue and white wires go to the on/off switch for the RC. One set of the large red and black wires go to the battery pack. The other set of red and black wires go to the electric motor.

Also Known As: electronic speed controller
RC Terms Related to ESC

Tina Samuels
About.com Radio Controlled Vehicles

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