How Did We Get Here?

Jan 25, 2011 14 Comments by

This blog post is not meant to put the blame on anyone or accuse anyone. I am merely trying to raise “awareness” to what everyone already knows but may be too frustrated to say anything….

For years and years I have listened to racers and ROAR blaming the yearly problems with racing and our industry on motors and batteries. These were the two evil commodities which according to some “ruined racing and help to diminish the numbers in our industry”
Is the golden goose dead :-) . I don’t believe he is, but I do think one or two of his legs may be broken and we need to act fast in my opinion to save the hobby we all love!

For this particular blog I am going to talk about spec racing and the issue of current speed controllers.

Timing speed controls have changed everything. For a while it was the “speed control of the month,” and we lost many racers over this. Honestly once the speed control manufacturers figured out how to advance timing on a motor through the speed control’s software, the motors really had no meaning! A shame especially since this really only affected “the spec” racers (limited turns on motors) which is where our average and beginner racers come from! 

 The first time I witnessed this was last year’s Snowbird event. Someone imported a speed controller that could advance the timing 10-15 degrees on a spec motor (this makes a huge difference). Immediately everyone else copied that speed control and applied it to their own speed controls.

After six months this seemed to level out since most people once again had the same thing (now that they were all forced to buy need speed controllers). I guess this is one of the other “brushless advantages” we did not foresee :-) . Now most companies just change their software and load it into existing speed controls. 

This “black, orange or red-box” technology is allowed to basically run wild. There are no approval fees or tech inspections through an approval lab (like there are for motors and batteries) since ROAR or the other organizations do not understand enough about how to tech them! I guess when the speed control companies were “explaining the benefits for brushless motors to the organizations and the need to legalize them so quickly” this topic strangely did not come up!

The current ROAR solution is the “no timing blinking speed controls which show their mode with the light display” are allowed. I guess this was a good star; it was something.

Problems:

1) One speed control company was already caught with cheater software at a race and no ROAR sanctions were applied to this company!

2. There are rumors that “hackers” have already turned the lights on/off in any mode on some speed controls, so there is no proof.

3. One racer was “supposedly caught uploading another profile with a handheld tuner after tech inspection.

Another Problem…How do we tech timing in a speed control?

The best idea being applied at present is that a “known” motor and “kV” meter are hooked up in tech inspection. The speed control is rigged to run the “known test motor”, and it must be in a specific range supplied by ROAR which hopefully the speed control manufacturer’s do not supply!

Light system was supposed to work if nobody cheats, but all racers and manufacturers will if given the chance to push the rules and use the system. We have all done this! ROAR has to be proactive here with a current approved list which is constantly “tested” and updated.

There will “never” will be a working honor system and we are naive to try to push for one of these. Why have rules if we cannot enforce them?

When things get too technical, people tend to stop doing them. If you were a hobby shop facing this economy, lost margins to mail-order companies, etc, and now you have to put on a race which you dedicate your entire weekend to, would you want to tech this mess even if you understood how? I think not!

Possible Solutions:

An immediate platform to have NO LEGAL SPEED CONTROLS in the next 60 days!

Impose a “HIGH” approval fee for all speed controllers (forces companies to rethink constantly overloading the market with the same products) and LIMIT the time and amount of speed controllers that can be submitted. In an economy like this, racers should not be forced to buy two or three speed controls that could cost upwards of $500 in a season to be able to compete.

ROAR needs to have a technical lab that can test and constantly check speed controllers for the specs ROAR feels is necessary for racing to prosper. They have to hire someone who can monitor this technology that they felt was necessary to institute!

ROAR sanctions “WITH TEETH” need to be applied to all to keep the playing field level

Give me your comments here or you can email me (eprovetti@gmail.com) if you think my statement is fair or not, or would just like to open up the dialog.

All the Best and Thanks for listening,

Ernie

Ernest Provetti, Featured News

About the author

Ernest N. Provetti is the founder and CEO of Team Epic Inc. Ernie has been in the RC hobby industry for over three decades. Ernie started in RC with the famous Trinity brand, but renamed the company Team Epic when it was relocated to Florida from New Jersey. Ernie is a family man and a passionate fan of the Orlando Magic and the New York Jets.

14 Responses to “How Did We Get Here?”

  1. YoMan says:

    Well said Ernie, well said. I’m personally done with stock racing forever because running mod is much cheaper and you turn the same lap times!

  2. Manny says:

    How many “stock” racers enter these races ? Why not make the racers use spec esc and motors available during the event. Or have a claiming rule, If I think a racer is cheating let me buy there esc or motor or both.

  3. cmain says:

    The main advantage of the new esc’s is that you do not keep buying new ones you just update the software. even if you have to buy a new esc (and you do not) it is still far cheaper than running brushed motors was. The spec blinking light system work pretty well at or local track. There will always be a few bad eggs that cheat and if caught they should have a punishment especially at larger events.

    batteries are a different story those have become a c rating of the month:(

  4. Troy says:

    I just prefer running in an open class, so that there is no discrepancies as to who’s running what; I’m never singled out because, “that batteries not legal.” I run the Zippy batteries from China, and though I don’t like supporting a chinese company, I don’t care anymore because the big name battery manufacturers just relable chinese lipos and jack the price up x4. I also get performance that matches the name brands. In my opinion some stock classes have just been a ploy to get you to buy more things to run in that class, such as the slash class, where the motors wore out in no time, (although I loved the concept of this class). I can see running a low traction long lasting tire for a spec class, this way running the fastest system won’t be an advantage, yet the tires will still keep things cheap enough.

  5. Mr Short Course says:

    Ernie, I think this is such a crock of BS.

    If someone wants to initiate some sort of rules, simple have a rule that what is available by Jan 1st by any manufactures, are the only ESC’s that are allowed in ROAR events etc.
    Then tech the motors and be done with it.

    I never heard of all this BS when people were buying brush cutters, different modified brushes, different compounds, different springs, and twisting armatures, etc etc.

    While on the Topic of motors, how many fast guys had dynos, and a cheaper laptop to use at the track also?

    Let us not forget how many batteries a person had to have to be fast. While were at it, all the required battery maintenance equipement to keep them matched.

    Now someone wants to complain about ESC rules. I honestly have to laugh in their face. I can buy a top of the line ESC for what 2 matched battery packs would’ve cost. I can also save money and buy 1 Programable esc for off road and onroad, instead of buy 2 seperate ESC’s.

    So tell me where it is more expensive!!

    I now have several ESCs that I can tune to match my driving style.

    ROAR not once tried to limit the cost in batteries, Dynos, etc. Now they are sticking their head into it. This makes me lose all respect for the organization as a whole.

    If you want to take the ESC equation out, have a tire rule or have the entry fee cover the ESC and motor combo.

    If you don’t like the newer age, go cry elsewhere and stop giving people a reason to complain. The faster the ESC’s are accepted, the sooner its a mute issue and racing will get back to normal.

    Another option, If you want a box stock class, run just Slashes. $230 – $260 and your racing. The issue is muted again.

    I’m allowed to vent my opinion and I did. Period.

    • Stephen Bess says:

      Mr. SC: I don’t understand why ROAR’s steps to limit racing costs now is such a bad thing that would make you lose all respect for them? Isn’t ROAR acknowledging that they’ve moved forward and want to do the right thing now by having their hands in limiting the “ESC Of The Week” thing that’s happening?

      I agree that racing has always been expensive, but this isn’t a reason to continue the trend. Yes, people have always had dynos, battery matching equipment, comm lathes, etc, and all of that cost money. All of that also killed off many of the once-popular racing classes. Why allow it to happen again? And why not attempt to reduce racing costs so that we can bring more people into the hobby?

      Ernie’s suggestions are solid IMO. Wouldn’t we rather have RC racing be more about driving skill than about the size of a racer’s credit limit? I would.

      • reality check says:

        Stephen,
        you are overlooking one critical aspect to the debate. When racers were needing to buy tons of brushes, lathes, brush cutting tools, dynos and of course the multiple brushed motors, who was selling that to them? Trinity was!
        Now that the matched packs, battery management tools and the above motor parts are no longer an issue, Trinity(now team epic) no longer has the cash cow they once did. Magically it is now time to reign in the spending of the average racer?
        That is a little transparent as to the motivations.

  6. Anonymous says:

    this may not be the best analogy, but here goes. In drag racing there are classes that support the use of electronics to slow the car down ( as a car cannot run quicker than the index set). these electronics (throttle stops and or delay boxes) are very expensive and constantly being obsoleted by newer versions, all in an effort to slow down a race car for consistency. At large national events i will hear a car with over a thousand horsepower do an amazing burnout, then leave the line and it falls on it’s face so it can run a pre-determined pathetic slow number. I compare these classes to the rc spec classes, as they both are intended for beginners or to level a playing field. the result in both cases has gone far away from the logical intention of the class.
    Winning is NOT everything. I would rather lose a race knowing i did my best or at least tried, or admit i was not the best that day. I also run modified, no questions asked, less complicated

  7. MattW says:

    A primary reason 1/8 off-road was so popular was that everyone had more power than they could use so driver and mechanic skill were the primary ways people could win races.

    Any time you have a stock class where you try to limit power you have to deal with cheaters. The thing is if someone bought a Tekin RS ESC the software updates have kept it cutting edge for free. I could see where someone might have bought a Novak GTB when they were first released and then found a year later that they needed the Tekin to be competitive, but that is two ESCs they would have bought and the motor they started with was probably still runnable. How much money would someone have spent on brushes, comm cutting, new motors, etc over the same period?

    Even if you go back to a sealed can motor like the Slash a guy could buy several to get a good one. There is a local guy here who does that and he is nearly unbeatable in stock slash. Frankly the idea of a racing class where luck in buying a motor determines where you finish is ridiculous to me.

    Ultimately I don’t think there is a motor or battery problem in electric racing. People just need to get used to the idea that a spec class will always be abused in some way. Spec class drivers seem to break down into two groups: The first are newer drivers who cannot put down a lot of power without crashing. The second group is experienced racers who cannot handle full mod speed and know enough tricks to have significantly more power than most other spec drivers. I think that sucks.

    If ROAR wants to really limit costs they have to control the tire issue. From what I have seen that is the primary driver in costs and the death of classes. It killed touring car, it is killing 1/8 off-road, and it is starting to hurt SC racing. Too soft of compounds is not even the biggest problem in off-road (although we are quickly reaching that point). It is the need to carry multiple tread designs and tire compounds to each track that makes it expensive. Maybe ROAR should approve off-road tires early in the year and lock those in for the year. Maybe that is where the manufacturers should pay an approval fee to keep them from having 10 tread designs and 7 compounds for a given class.

  8. SuperDave says:

    Im not going to spout off a bunch about how ROAR should run their events. I have been out of the racing game for a few years, and have reciently jumped back into it. I can agree with both sides of the argument. I started over, with nothing more than a radio to start. With lipo batteries, and brushless motors, It seems getting back into the hobby is going to be cheaper in the long run. It costs about the same to get into racing, however not having to buy tools to match batteries, dyno motors, turn coms, zap cans etc is going to drop the cost of racing by a large amount. Battery life is far more advanced than before, and at a local level of racing you dont have to have the best batteries out there to be competitive.
    I agree tires may be a big issue, as long as there is competition, you will have racers doing everything they can to have that cutting edge advantage. I believe there should be some sort of rule to limit the amount of funding it takes to be fast, however I think if you want to run a “spec” class. Approve certain esc for spec racing, and tech the motors. If you limit the different esc that are legal in racing, people will be forced to run a certain kind. Doesnt have to be the best on the market by any means, anything to regulate racing is whats key. There will always be cheaters. Rules were made to be broken, But that doesnt mean we should let a class die like in the past.
    Im still learing about the new way of racing, when i last raced, lipo batteries were no where to been seen, and brushless motors were in prototype stages. I do believe lipo brushless is the best thing to happen to RC since esc came out. ok boys argue on…

  9. rccartips says:

    ESCs and batteries are now cheap, so cost is not an issue.

    Above blog probably relates mostly to 1/10 TC on-road?

    Quick solution probably is to design a track with no long straights, where driving skill comes to play more than equipment.

    Also maybe spec tires that are hard, lasts forever. This will make powerful electronics irrelevant, slower the speed. Closer and cheaper racing for the beginners.

    And maybe just a beginner class… for well, beginners. No ringers or trophy mongers allowed ;)

  10. Patrick del Castillo says:

    Well, I proposed a set of rules about five years ago to ROAR. This rule set would have limited power in stock, and given absolutely no possibility of cheating.

    I’ll make the suggestion again here.

    The only way to prevent cheating is to limit the physical size of the motor. Using a 36mm x 53mm motor size as the ROAR “stock” motor makes no sense. There are too many ways to squeeze hundreds of watts of power out of a motor that size because of the surface area for cooling.

    THE ONLY WAY to limit to motor power is to limit the physical size of the motor itself.

    Motors have power limits because of the maximum running temperature of the motor. Modern magnets need to stay cool to keep high performance. If the magnets get too hot, they lose performance quickly.

    This actually equates to a “size” to “power” ratio — almost exactly. There is some small differences that motor construction can make (eg. sacrificing RPM for Torque) but the maximum OUTPUT power of the motor will remain fairly constant between different designs.

    Racers who “push” their motors too hard, will suffer from motor failures during racing. Those who push just hard enough will finish the races.

    So, I originally proposed:

    Maximum rotor and can dimensions (I suggested a 14mm rotor, 28mm can diameter, 40mm can length MAXIMUM)
    NO cooling additions or fans (either electrical or mechanical (like finned motors))
    Fully closed cans ONLY (no openings for cooling air)
    Aluminum cans ONLY
    Maximum motor cost retail – $89.00 (prevents use of exotic materials)

    This would limit maximum power to around 80 watts (1/10th horsepower) and would severely limit output power, limiting any possibility of “tricks” and “cheats” giving one motor an advantage over another.

    Thank you,

    Patrick del Castillo
    President
    Castle Creations

  11. Crazy jr says:

    I agree with Patrick, also a winding that is less sensitive to timing would eliminate the effect of “cheating” the new esc’s have on the hobby. Personally i prefer to run mod, less cost faster and less worry about the so called “esc or motor of the month”

  12. Edumakated says:

    ESC boosting… meh, who cares?

    Roar needs to just keep it simple. One of the problems with 1/10 electric is there are too many freaking classes. With the technology of lipos, brushless motors, and ESC just make it all Mod and let the clock sort it out like they do with 1/8 nitro.

    The mere fact that “stock” is almost as fast as mod shows that stock is just another name for sandbagging. 1/8 seems to do just fine without all these asinine motor classes and rules. Stock has nothing to do with beginners anymore like it did back in the day.

    All these rules governing bodies, paint colors, voltage, etc just seem to over complicate matters. We are racing toy cars, not the Indy 500. Half the rules are throw backs to brushed motors and NICD battery days. ROAR needs to finally get into 2011 and realize it ain’t 1988 anymore.

    Don’t say it is about keeping cost low as none of this stuff is overly expensive.

    If someone wants to run Stock or Spec, let them get a Slash. Otherwise, run mod with whatever you want and be done with it. 90% of winning is the driving skills anyway. If it were about how much money was spent, I’d probably be World Champion by now.

Copyright © 2014 Air Age Media. All rights reserved.