Yep you’re seeing that picture right. That isn’t Photoshopped. Castle has finally released a sensored motor line. “Why now” you might ask, “why wait so long?” All good questions but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. This story starts a few weeks prior to this article hitting the web when Castle team driver Chris de Graaf of HemiStorm RC contacted me about putting together a small gathering while he was in town visiting the Castle Creations facility. While things in that department didn’t go to plan we ended up scrambling to find a venue to host this little meet up. When nothing seemed to pan out Castle Creations themselves offered up their own facility to host a few visitors and turn this little meet up into the first ever Castle Creations tech day.
Given a little pre-warning about the subject of this tech day I offered to bring my own artificial crawling course (known as the Crawl Thing) which was constructed just for events like this where no indigenous crawling terrain would be available. As a hardcore rock crawler type and my appreciation for the significance of Castle finally putting out a motor that is sure to be widely used by the scaler/crawler community, I thought it important to be able to test in the element that we will all be using them…on a steep incline.
While we had several enthusiasts stop by from other segments of the hobby, the event was mostly composed of KCRC (My local crawling club) members so I’m afraid we may have bombarded Castles engineers with questions they may have not been ready for. I’m not sure that even they know how important this release will be to the scaler community at large. For the better part of a decade I and other scalers have ambushed Castle reps with questions about when the long awaited sensored motor was coming. The answers have been varied over the years but finally being face to face with some of the people who make those decisions I can tell you without a doubt that the reason is this: Castle still feels that sensorless is the best way to operate a brushless motor. While I may not whole heartedly agree with that based on application, their reasons are valid.
For go fast operation the sensorless motor has more power, runs cooler and will go further on a charge.
There is no disputing those claims because Castle has carved themselves a very nice place into the market on those principles, not to mention the multiple top speed records Castle power has set over the years. However also evident is that sensored ESCs and motors have taken over for ground based RC application. Castle themselves entered the sensored ESC market with the Mamba Max Pro several years ago and the performance and bang for the buck have been huge hits in all segments of RC. The crawler community quickly adopted the “MMP” as it’s known but had to resort to other brands to get sensored motor precision. You see in the world of rock crawling whether it be scaling or comping, buttery smooth throttle response and extreme precision in power application are everything. Stopping and starting the motor smoothly and reliably is of paramount importance. One little jitter or jump from the throttle can knock you off of your line and cost you valuable points or even cause you to roll.
Luckily all of the waiting is over. Castle plans to launch all of their current Kv models in sensored versions with additional Kv options coming in the near future. So why did it take them so long to get here? They had an answer for that question as well. Given their philosophy explained above on sensorless motors they wanted to address the sensored market on their terms. They did a lot of R&D on their motor design to make sure that what they were offering was an actual innovation and not just a rehash of what is already out there. Their design really is no compromise in that they will retain the large bearing size yet still fit a sensor in the end bell so the motors remain rugged and have a long service life. The rotor has been completely redesigned as well. As you can see below it incorporates a shield and additional magnet array that they call “QuietSense“. QuietSense consists of two major components. The Flux Shield which helps avoid transmitting magnetic noise to the hall effect sensor and the axial magnets which create a much more precise and easier to read position of the rotor. The end result is more precision and efficiency.
“SmartSense” is another benefit you gain when you run these new motors with a Castle sensored electronic speed control. SmartSense will allow you to switch between sensored and sensorless operation automatically when the motor meets a high enough RPM to have enough data to know the rotor position without the need of a sensor. With this technology you get the best of both worlds because you have the precise control of a sensored setup at low RPM and the added power and efficiency of a sensorless setup at higher RPM. That kids is called having your cake and eating it too.
Later in the evening when they plopped some test rigs out on the ground to demo I eagerly swiped up the controller to give it a shot. How often do you get to be the first person outside of Castles inner circle to try out a new product? My initial impressions after driving the motor are really good. The motor I was using was a 4600Kv which is pretty high for crawling, but there was not even a hint of cogging. I could finesse the rig at a snails pace trying and retrying to scale the face of the obstacle without issue. The motor never gave me anything other than smooth predicable power delivery. I expect these motors to be extremely popular.
So until I get a test unit in hand to be able to do a full review to see just how well these are going to work for us scalers, check out the pictures below from the event. I would like to thank the Castle staff for hosting us and showing off their wares, Hemistorm RC for putting all of this together and the KCRC guys for helping make it a success.
I’ll catch you guys next time!
To check out more about Hemistorm RC check out Chris’s website here.
To find out more about Castle Creations you can hit their website here.