Want the best power delivery box for your R|C heli or aircraft model — think of the recent HobbyWing Platinum PRO V4 series ESCs!!!
Some time ago we have tested and reviewed some excellent HobbyWing products for FPV racing qauds — XRotor series motors and ESCs. We were impressed with how good those products performed. But today we would like to talk about R|C heli field and review the newest series of HobbyWing Platinum PRO V4 ESCs.
Many years since I’ve started flying R|C helis I was considering different brands of ESCs to match the motor and setup requirements for every certain model build. Shifting to larger class helis (550-700) significantly narrowed the available choice to only few best price-to-performance ratio power delivery systems due to the inevitable requirement to have governor function on board. Among those that had — the choice was even more squeezed to ESCs that had a reliable governor mode and would not tear the model apart in case if the initial gain settings were a way off (remember Outrage 50 cone gears problems ?). Finally, I had to stick either to very expensive Kontronik ESCs with the best in the class gorvernor performance or/and to less expensive Castle products with much more complicated governor mode tuning when I was tight on the budget. In both cases the price bites but the result is achieved.
Someone might ask — why not using FBL governor function instead of ESC? My answer is always the same — best ESC logics would take current battery pack C rating into account while trying to hold THR output. It is not vital for those who have a constant access and funds to fly fresh battery packs but certainly a concern for those who doesn’t. My oldest packs were staying in use for 100-200 cycles and their electrical resistance was a way higher compared to the newer pack. Something in the setup should evaluate and compensate this difference. FBL would not. I would concentrate on that a bit later in text. And yes, I undertsand that FBL governor would consider such factors as pitch and cyclic angles and ratios to maintain the same RPM. But it would also impact the batteries dramatically.
My journey with HobbyWing ESC for heli has started 5 years ago when I had KDS Innova 600 model that bundled with HobbyWing 120A HV. Despite the fact that it didn’t have the governor (actually it had but the result was a way from being acceptable) it was a good product that managed more than 1000 flights and is still alive. That time I’ve used mini-V-Bar BlueLine FBL governor function with HobbyWing RPM sensor. Everything was great except the same high load on the different batteries which would result in very rare motor cutt-offs on the oldest packs. Later, I’ve switched to Kontonik Jive 80A HV ESC and enabled its excellent «Mode 4» battery-aware governor. No cut-offs, packs lived longer, no battery overheating… That was and still stays my preference. The drawback was that Kontronik products were traditionally expensive.
A couple of years later I’ve started to notice that newest HobbyWing Platinum series ESC were gaining popularity very fast. Many positive feedback on international and local forums, many good pilots using them, many videos of their performance. At the same time, the same positive and massive feedback was noticed in R|C auto field… I’ve begun to realize that there are some market shifts and a new leader on the horizon in terms of price-to-performance. And only now, when I’ve finally got back to R|C heli hobby after a long break and copter racing — I’ve decided to give it a try starting with the latest Platinum PRO V4 60A ESC + Wi-Fi Express program module for my KDS Chase 360 build.
Platinum RPO V4 series consists of the following ESCs: 60A, 80A, 120A, 130A HV, 130A HV OPTO, 160A HV, 200A HV OPTO
Technical specifications HobbyWing Platinum PRO V4 60A ESC:
- Product Name: Platinum 60A V4
- Type: for Brushless
- Cont./Peak Current: 60A/80A
- Input Voltage: 3-6S LiPo
- BEC Output: Switch Mode: 5-8V, 7A
- Wires & Connectors: Input Wires: Red-14AWG-100mm*1 / Black-14AWG-100mm*1 Output Wires Black-14AWG-75mm*3
- Output Connecotors: 3.5mm Gold Connectors (Female)
- ESC Programing via: LCD Program Box, WiFi Module, Program Port (Throttle Wire)
- Firmware Upgrade Supported
- Size: 48.0 x 30.0 x 15.5mm
- Weight: 49g
- Applications: 450-480 Class Heli (Main Blade: 325-380mm）
- Excellent Motor Governing Speed: High-performance 32-bit processor with a running frequency of 72MHz combined with advanced algorithm optimizes the speed governing. Together with the adjustable governor parameters guarantees every pilot a precise control experience.
- High Voltage Built-in BEC: The built-in switch mode BEC with an adjustable voltage range from 5V to 8V, a continuous current of over 7A and peak current of 18A can supply enough power for your servos to operate efficiently.
- DEO Technology: The DEO (Driving Efficiency Optimization, or so called «Active Freewheeling») technology implemented in the ESC has multiple advantages: Quicker response to the throttle change. Higher driving efficiency, longer flight time. Lower ESC temperature and a more reliable operation.
- Four Brake Modes: This Platinum 60A V4 ESC has “Brake Disabled, Normal Brake, Proportional Brake and Reverse Brake” four brake modes. The brake amount is adjustable in normal brake mode; in proportional brake mode, the brake force will be automatically allocated based on the position of the radio throttle stick; in reverse brake mode, the motor rotation can be changed via a spare transmitter channel.
- Multiple Protections: Multiple protection features include, ESC thermal, capacitor thermal (HOBBYWING-patented technology), ESC overload, throttle signal loss (or Fail Safe), and low voltage cutoff effectively prolongs the service life of the ESC.
- Other Features: A separate programming port for connecting the programmer on this ESC allows user to program ESC, check flight data include minimum voltage, maximum temperature, standardized RPM and speed curve (in Heli Governing Store mode) of the flight data recorded by the ESC, upgrade ESC firmware with a multifunction LCD program box or a Wi-Fi Module & our Apple/Android phone App
Technical specifications Wi-Fi Express program module:
- Product Name: WiFi Express
- Working Voltage: 5V-12.6V
- WiFi Protocol: IEEE802.11 b/g/n
- WiFi Signal Effective Range: 0-10m (Open Field)
- Size: 25.7 x 25.7 x 8.8mm (LxWxH)
- Weight: 11g
- Applications: XERUN series & EZRUN series of car ESCs, PLATINUM series of aircraft ESCs, SEAKING PRO series of boat ESCs.
- Wireless Connection: The ESC can now use a wireless connection via the use of the HW WiFi express module for the following operating systems ; iOS/Android phone (using the HW LINK APP) users can easily and remotely (without leaving the control stand) program the ESC parameters displayed on the smart phone to their own preference.
- Intuitive Interface: The Wifi Module is a complete different concept from the way the HOBBYWING LCD program box works, all the parameters of the wifi module are displayed all in one via the graphical and interactive interface with dropdown menu’s and scroll bars. Now users can program their ESC in a much more user friendly interface without delay.
- Firmware Update: With this WiFi module, the end users can easily and promptly update the firmware of their ESC via their smart phone (with the HW LINK APP), which eliminates the use and carriage of a laptop pc.
- Compact Design: This WiFi module is smaller, smarter, lighter and only 1/6th of HOBBYWING LCD program box in size and weight. It has a hardwired programming cable to connect to the ESC not like the lcd program box which needed an extra programming cable to connect to the ESC.
- One-touch Factory Reset: Users can promptly factory reset their WiFi module via the Reset button at the bottom of the case.
- Wide Applicability: This module is applicable to work on the XERUN series, EZRUN series of car ESCs, and the Platinum series of aircraft ESCs, and SEAKING PRO series of boat ESCs.
APP Manual: HERE
Too many features and information for both of the products. But what really attracted my attention is not the plenty of features stated above but all the market feedback that I’ve encountered on the different forums about the superiority of ESC governor performace and flawless overall operation. Moreover, ESC series are built to meet the requirements of the most demanding setups. As an example, let’s consider my target Chase 360 model: motor Scorpion HK 2520 1880KV with 50A peak and 38A continuous current which is the best you can get for this model, KDS N320S and N320T HV fast digital servos with a high torque but a bit hungry for power and KDS EBAR V2 FBL. Such setup requires at least 60A ESC and HV BEC capable of 4-7A power supply. HobbyWing Platinum PRO V4 60A meets both the requirements and have significantly exceeding power possibilities: 80A peak current for motor and 7A BEC output with 18A peak current output.
In the box:
First of all the box has counterfeit item protection special sticker which is very good to have nowadays when there are many fake items being sold by some popular but not very responsible shops.
ESC is neatly packed inside and comes with a couple of plastic zip-ties, heatsink and English user manual. Motor wires have 3.5mm bullet connectors already soldered and wrapped with a heatsink. Battery wires are prepared to be soldered but have no connector — this is left for a user to decide on its type.
Wi-Fi module comes in a transparent plastic box with the same counterfeit item protection label. It is packed in a soft foam and comes with additional servo Y-cable and English user manual.
So, no worries about both items during the transporation.
Materials, build and design:
Both products look perfect in terms of design and finish.
ESC case is partly made of aluminum to ensure the stiffness and heat disposal and plastics to protect connections and capacitors and bring the weight down. Perfect crafting and molding, very neat sticker attachment and case etching. Chosen wire AWG type for power input and output are a way enough to stand the passing current — 14AWG multistrand wire in modelling application may carry as much as 68A of current. We only have 30-40A at peak times per wire, therefore, there is a plenty of room left to keep power loss and cable heat low. Even the BEC servo cable is visibly thicker than I’ve used to see on standard-sized servos.
Wi-Fi module is full-aluminum CNC block with LED status light at the top and a hole for reset button at the bottom. ESC connection cable (servo-type) and Wi-Fi antenna (which looks exactly like RX antenna) both come from the same case opening.
ESC has the battery wires, motor wires, programming port, BEC wire and signal wire for motor reverse (needed to enable proportional brake function).
Motor wires could be connected to motor in any order because ESC can be programed to change motor rotation direction. Programing port would accept Wi-Fi module and LCD programing box.
Wi-Fi module has only one servo-type cable which in case of Platinum PRO V4 60A ESC should be connected straight to the programing port. In case of using with other ESCs you might need the provided Y-harness cable to connect to ESC properly. In is described in the manual. But the main rule: Wi-Fi module should be powered from the incoming wire and should be connected to the dedicated or other port cabable of programing.
Locating ESC and module on the model:
KDS Chase 360 (360-380 class) is a model designed by Autsralian engineer Glen Kimpton who has done a great job especially concerning power parts location. ESC should sit at the dedicated place at front of the frame, with motor wires go up to the motor and battery wires go down under the frame where flight battery is located. Absolutely no problems here. Platinum PRO V4 fits there perfectly and the length of the wires are enough to reach all other components. Seems like as if this ESC was specially designed for Chase 360.
As you can see on the picture — Wi-Fi module is located on the right side of the frame, held by the double sided adhesive and antenna is passed forward to ensure that it is placed far enough from transmitter RX antennas that are at the back.
The longest (BEC cable) from ESC is passed on the left side of the frame all the way to EBAR V2 FBL.
This part is the most inetersting and shows that HobbyWing company really catches up with the recent technology trends and makes outstanding products.
When ESC, motor and Wi-Fi connected we can power the ESC to start tuning it. I prefer to start with the current ESC FW version check and upgrade if necessary. In order to to that I would use Android OS phone and HWLink application from Google Play store installed.
Step 1: Install HWLink app for Android or iOS and run the program for the first time while connected to the Internet. It would check the latest database (FW upgrades) upon first run (you can force this app to check for the latest database version as described below) and would inform you if there was the new database upgrade and changelog.
Step 2: Power ESC. Wi-Fi module would show constant red LED when it is up and running.
Step 3: Go to Wi-Fi settings on your phone and discover new networks. You should find network with the name «HW-WIFILINK» and connect to it using «12345678» password. You would be able to change network name and password later in the HWLink app on your smartphone.
Step 4: When connected, you can launch HWLink app and press on the ESC icon at the upper right corner to start talking to ESC. This icon would change to ESC indicating waves — it means that it is discovered and connected. Now, you can start using the app.
you can follow the procedure of connecting Wi-Fi module to your smartphone described in the manual of Wi-Fi module.
Step 5: Check whether you have the latest FW in the ESC (go to Screen «5. FW update» beneath.)
Step 6: Calibrate your ESC: as usually, power ESC off, THR stick fully up, power ESC on and after you hear motor signal that ESC entered calibration mode and saved upper THR point — THR stick down and weit for another set of beeps. Calibration done.
Step 7: Reconnect your smartphone to Wi-Fi module.
Using HWLink application:
HWLink is very useful application that would let you do the following:
- Update app database (download latest FW for ESCs and changelogs)
- Tune ESC and import/export/reset settings
- Upgrade ESC FW
- Check some logs after flight|run
- Find, download and read ESC manuals
- Check the latest HobbyWing news
- Change Wi-Fi module network name and password
Let’s go over each screen:
2. Main screen where all the functions are listed.
this screen would let you change:
- App language: English or Chinese
- Choose running mode: DEMO or ESC-connected
- Wi-Fi module settings: SSID name, password
- About: information about app version and database version, pressing on either info would call update function for the corresponding item (you have to be connected to Wi-Fi network with Internet access to complete this task).
- Help: read the description of this app
just a basic inbuilt app browser that directs us to HobbyWing site.
5. Firmware Update:
lets you check what FW version does the connected ESC have (current FW), shows the latest available FW to upload to ESC (Target Version). By pressing Update button you would start to upload the newest FW to your ESC. It takes about 3 mins to upgrade Platinum PRO V4 ESC FW and I would recommend to keep smartphone close to Wi-Fi module and keep the screen awake during the process.
6. Data Record:
the first screen here gives us a selection between cars and aircraft models and leads us to this screen:
where we can see some flight|run data for the last 20 flights|runs at most (newest would replace oldest after 20 tracks are exceeded). And there is a «CLEAR» button at top right to delete all records.
one note as it is stated in the ESC manual: this ESC would show the logged data but won’t keep it in memory. Therefore, in order to see the data a user should connect to ESC after the flight without cutting ESC power.
Data for aircraft profiles:
- MOS Temperature — max MOSFET temperature (°C/°F)
- Cap Temperature — max capacitors temperature (°C/°F)
- Voltage — min flight|run battery voltage (V)
- RPM — governed motor RPM during flight (those revs are electronic. We have to use the following formula to calculate the real RPM = Electronic revs / number of poles / 2 / gear ratio * THR% )
Data for cars:
- Max ESC temperature
- Max Motor temperature
- Min battery voltage
- Max motor speed (electronic revs)
Update: HW just released their HW Link app update (1.2.16) that brings a new cool feature for the Platinum V4 (and HW) ESC users — now, you can monitor performance of your ESC in real-time. In order to see this — you would have to enter Data Record secion, select Aircraft and press Real-time data at the top right corner of the screen. The app would ask you to input Gear Ratio and Motor Poles for the correct calculations and you would see such screen:
As you can see — here we have the real-time data:
- PPM Throttle %
- Current A
- PWM Throttle %
- MOS Temp in Celsium
- Voltage V
- CAP Temp in Celsium
You can also see the graph and can select which parameters would be on the graph’s x-axis.
this screen has 3 choices:
Download and read user manuals: if you would donwload any manual — it would be stored locally and you would not need to redownload it every time you want to read it. Very handy feature.
Manage files: you can see, rename or delete your exported *.txt profiles and settings here
Manage photos: you can see, rename or delete your exported graphical profiles and settings here.
this screen gives us a selection of type of the ESC first and leads us to the profile selection screen:
selecting the existing or new profile would lead us to the ESC settings screen:
Parameters for Platinum V4 PRO ESC:
- Flight mode: Fixed-wing, Helicopter (Linear THR)/Elf Governor/Store Governor. Last two would govern the speed but Elf mode would take the battery C rating into account by evaluating packs at the beginning, setting RPM higher or lower according to pack health. This is the most preferred type of THR governing for me.
- LiPO cells: Auto calculation (default), or set the number of cells manually. This ESC would count the number of cells with beeps upon initialization. So, we would know that it has calculated it right even if the «Auto» is chosen.
- Voltage Cutoff type: Soft or Hard. Depends of the model. Helicopters need soft cutoff.
- Cutoff voltage: 2.8 — 3.8V in steps of 0.1V
- BEC Voltage: 5 — 8V with the steps of 0.1V (depends on the electronic equipment you have on your heli model — servos, FBL, RX and other… I have everything capable of feeding 8V — so, I set 8.0V)
- Start-up time: 4 — 25s (how long would it take ESC and motor to reach the desired RPM)
- Governor P: (part of governor PID setup, proportional gain, 0 — 9, how good ESC keeps the target RPM, strength). I use default
- Governor I: (part of governor PID setup, integral gain, 0 — 9, how fast ESC would get back to target RPM after slight RPM change). I use default
- Auto-restart time: 0 — 90s. Time period in which THR% brought to 25 and less would cutoff RPM and raised above 40% would result in rapid RPM gain to the desired level (rapid means time to reach target RPM set in the next parameter — Restart acceleration time). If THR% brought to 25% and less, cutoff effected and THR moved to 40% and above beyond this time period — it would result in soft start process. Only works for governor modes.
- Restart acceleration time: 1 — 3s, 0,5s steps. Time it would take to reach the target RPM after RPM cutoff.
- Break type: Disabled, Normal, Proportional, Reverse. Not needed in heli, but proportional means that THR% of 20 to 0 on radio would result in brake strength 0 — 100% in ESC. Reverse means that RPM cable from ESC can be turned to reverse signal cable. We should setup a channel on the radio so, that 0-20% means that we have normal motor rotation direction, and 20-100% means that motor would start to spin in the opposite direction.
- Break force: only for normal brake mode. 0-100, 1 intervals.
- Timing: 0-30°, 1° step.
- Motor rotation: motor rotation direction
- Active freewheel: DEO (driving efficiency optimization) HW technology to ensure quicker response to THR change, longer flight time and lower ESC temp. Should be enabled in governor modes and can be on or off for linear THR or fixed-wing modes.
- Startup power: 1-7. 1 point step.
The default parameters are marked with «*» in the app and can be found in the ESC manual.
You can rename the profile and select profile picture at the bottom of this screen.
Moreover, you have 4 additional buttons on the left:
- Connect/Disconnect to/from your ESC
- Import: import settings from the file that you’ve saved previously
- Export: export your profile and settings to *.txt editable file or photo file to share with others
- Default: reset all settings to their default values.
Just to understand how HWLink application looks and works:
ESC protection technologies:
In order to make sure that everything would go butter-smooth in flight, HobbyWing have added several protection layers to Platinum PRO V4 series ESCs:
- Start-up Protection: The ESC will monitor the motor speed during the start-up process. When the speed stops increasing or the speed increase is not stable, the ESC will take it as a start-up failure. At that time, if the throttle amount is less than 15%, the ESC will automatically try to restart up; if it is larger than 15%, you need to move the throttle stick to back the bottom position and then restart up the ESC. (Possible causes of this problem: poor connection/ disconnection between the ESC and motor wires, propellers are blocked, etc.)
- ESC Thermal Protection: The ESC will gradually reduce the output but won’t cut it off completely when the ESC temperature goes above 110°C. Maximum reduction is about 50% of the full power to ensure that the motor can still get some power and won’t cause a crash. The ESC will gradually resume its maximum power after the temperature lowers down. In addition, the ESC temperature cannot exceed 70°C when it’s powered on. Otherwise, it cannot be started up. (Here we are describing the ESC’s reaction in soft cutoff mode, while if in hard cutoff mode; it will immediately cut off the power.)
- Capacitor Thermal Protection: The ESC will activate this protection when the operating temperature of capacitors goes over 130°C. It protects capacitors in the same way as the ESC thermal protection does to the ESC.
- Throttle Signal Loss Protection: When the ESC detects loss of signal for over 0.25 second, it will cut off the output immediately to avoid an even greater loss which may be caused by the continuous high-speed rotation of propellers or rotor blades. The ESC will resume the corresponding output after normal signals are received.
- Overload Protection: The ESC will cut off the power output or automatically restart itself when the load suddenly increases to a very high value (possible cause to sudden load increase is that propellers are blocked.)
Sounds nice and makes me feel comfortable. This is important because I remember the case when one of my 600-class heli motor bruned in flight and caused Kontonik ESC to go into deep protection mode. I’ve managed to land heli on ground with no crash. I was very happy that ESC didn’t burn together with the motor that cought short-circuit in flight. But the drawback was that I had to send my Kontronik to Germany to release it from deep protection mode it stayed in. Anyway, this was quick and cheap. Much cheaper than buying a new one.
Power delivery: smooth. With the current setup (Scorpion HK 2520 1880KV, 13° collective) + ESC settings and running on the Bonka LiPO 6S 1,500mAh 75C batteries my Chase feels great in the air. No power loss, no cutoffs, no visible power drops. I’ve registered as much as 45A peak current once, but it wasn’t noticed in the model behavior from the power delivery equipment.
BEC power supply: no problem here as well. My HV servos are silky smooth in flight and there wasn’t anything bad noticed in their performance. Total current draw from all onboard equipment reaches as much as 6,5A with couple of servos stall but this is an extreme situation only checked to ensure that one stall servo would not lead to BEC voltage drop or BEC reset. The BEC is capable of 7A continous amd 18A peak power which should be enoung to run powerful servos and stand the peak current they produce in a position of stall. I’ve also tried to check whether some back induction voltage that many current servos generate during quick movement cause any BEC problems (back induction voltage might cause BEC voltage increase from, for example, 7V to 14V or so which would result in BEC cutoff or else)… For this, I was moving all servos very fast for a long period of time. I haven’t spotted any misbehavior in this aspect. Some very famous names in this industry like Georges Van Gansen (Scorpion Power Systems) insist on having additional capacitors to act as a buffer… But I would give it a try with no additional capacitors.
Governor at work: very good. I am using 13° collective and checked governor performance in Elf mode during the pitch-pumps with full collective stick deflection to both sides to ensure the max load. At the same time I was measuring head speed change with FrSKY RPM sensor to check if there is any significant inclinations from the RPMs at hover after take off. I’ve found that RPMs would stay consistent throughout all input loads with very minor change in extreme points (~3.5%) but with very quick target RPM gain when released. Which is much better already than using linear throttle with 15% THR change to maintain the same RPM with the extreme pitch angles. Moreover, I think that dialing «I parameter» a little bit more would make the situation perfect. Please, note that there could be some measuring errors due to Pitch stick logging vs RPM logging intervals. But the graphs shows what I mean — RPM stay close to expected under load. At least with fresh and new 75C new battery packs. I believe that RPM inclinations from target would grow larger as battery would deteriorate and gain more per cell resistance but I cannot measure older packs now because I don’t have one. I would update this review later, after 50-70 battery charging cycles.
I would say that HobbyWing Platinum PRO V4 governor in «Elf» mode is performing very similar to Kontronik Jive 80A HV ESC set to «Mode 4» which is really great considering the price difference. Definitely, governor logics in HobbyWing V4 ESC is excellent and can be treated as the golden standard. A huge improvement over older HW 120A HV ESC that I had long time ago. New ESC logics makes current HobbyWing products to lead the market and to satisfy most demanding pilots. As the matter of fact, it is much better than Castle 80A HV ESC governor I’ve used to fly. It either broke my cone gears with some higher PIDs or it wouldn’t hold the target RPM at loaded manuevers at lower gains… HobbyWing does a great job out of the box and despite the default gains.
Flight video would come along a bit later.
Temperature: as HobbyWing reports on their website — current V4 PRO ESC series are colder than its precessors.
I never had V3 series but I can confirm that ESC comes quite cold after each 3 minutes of flight — about 35-41°C at 22°C ambient temp which is much better than I’ve used to when was using Castle ESCs or Kontronik without a dedicated cooling radiator. But the direct comparison is not right in this case… models are different and power draw is also different. The only thing that I am certain about — Platinum V4 stays cooler than expected.
Wi-Fi module signal and RX signal interaction: no problems here. Haven’t noticed any drops in RSSI value of my RX connection to radio. Seems that Wi-Fi module would not interfere with RX radio downlink. It has very limiter range of ~10m which makes it secure to use always powered on.
HobbyWing Platinum PRO V4 60A ESC is an excellent product that has deserved to be called a leading-class ESC. It has many modern technologies implemented, can be programed over the air, has outstanding battery aware governor math, competes perfectly with very expensive products like Kontronik and YGE but also provides more features and finally — it has the best price/quality/performance ratio. Other good brands and a way more expensive…. And some cheaper rivals like YEP and other YGE clones have no such build and electric component quality (many YEP ESCs were burned at flight in my practice) to compete with modern HobbyWing products. I would say that Platinum V4 can be objectively called «the best choice on the market» currently. And the Wi-Fi module is a great supplement to ESC in terms of ease of setup. Now, I understand why there are so many positive feedback about this series of ESCs on the market.
Well done, HobbyWing!!! Platinum PRO V4 series ESC impressed us the same way XRotor motors and ESCs for FPV racers did! Hope that the future products for helis, cars, boats, planes and copters would continue to lead the way!
We want to thank HobbyWing and Direct Distributions (HW rep. company in Ukraine) for landing us those products for test and review.