Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Mamba Micro X Speed Controller Review

Small-size outstanding performance

This article was originally published in RC Driver’s December 2015 issue.

Sometime in 2004, when mini vehicles like the Losi Mini T were taking the industry by storm, Castle Creations released their first surface brushless electronic speed control, the Mamba 25. Designed for 1/18 vehicles, this ESC with the selection of green colored brushless motors from Castle revolutionized power systems. Since then they have released the Mamba Micro Pro and Sidewinder Micro as well as a wide selection of systems for 1/10, 1/8 and even 1/5-scale vehicles. Recently Castle went back to the engineering room to release updated versions of many of their popular speed controls and the result is utterly amazing. The Mamba Micro X has everything people loved about the previous micro speed controls, but in true Castle form, there are new, almost revolutionary features that once again raise the bar to almost unreachable levels.

The Mamba Micro X comes delivered in a standard sized rectangular box that Castle has employed for several years. Inside you’ll find the Mamba Micro X ESC, Mamba X Series Driver’s Ed Guide, Mamba Micro X Quick Start Guide, a cool decal sheet and redeemable coupon for a free Castle Link or for $10 off a Field Link Tuning Card. The Mamba Micro X has three motor wires; red (A), white (B) and black (C) exiting one side of the body that have 3.5mm female bullet connectors pre- installed. The opposite side features red and black power wire ready for you to install a connector of your choosing, an X Series Wire harness that includes a receiver plug wire, white aux wire and red/black wired the extend to a waterproof on/off switch. Behind this harness is a well disguised plug that when removed allows for the addition of a sensor wire plug. Yes, you read that right, the Mamba Micro X can operate sensored motors! The top of the ESC features a black heatsink to ensure the unit operates cool and efficiently.

While I have owned countless Castle speed controls over the years the X series speed controls are different in that they feature a white aux wire (white signal wire) that is designed to plug into an auxiliary port (like channel 3 or 4) on a receiver, allowing for on the fly adjustments of a preset parameter. In order to access this feature you’ll need to download the free software from castlecreations.com and have a compatible USB cord and Castle Link. With everything unboxed and a Castle Link in hand I installed the newest version of the software, 3.60.05, from castlecreations.com, plugged in the receiver wire and double clicked the Castle Link icon on my laptop. Immediately the soft- ware opened up and let me know that I could update the software on the Mamba Micro X from V1.70 to V1.71. I proceeded to click update firmware and in a few moments the process was complete.

Navigating through the various settings tabs, Basic allows you to adjust cutoff voltage, reverse type, BEC voltage, enable or disable idle/error beeping, brake amount and drag brake. Under the Power tab there is start power, max forward power, max reverse power and punch control. The Advanced tab is where arming time, live link enables, throttle dead band and auxiliary wire mode can be adjusted. The aux wire mode allows for you to adjust one of the following parameters directly from your transmitter; max throttle, max reverse, max brake, drag brake, reverse enabled/disabled and torque control. The Motor tab is where motor direction, motor type, sensorless motor timing and cheat mode can be set. The next two tabs are Throttle and Brake Curve fol- lowed by Software and Save-Print.

After having a good look at all the factory installed settings I set the drag brake to 10%, max reverse power to 40%, auxilary wire to drag brake, motor type to sensored only (I’ll get to this shortly) and as stated earlier, I updated the software to the newest version.

MANUFACTURER: Castle Creations Mamba Micro X
PRODUCT PART NO.: 010-0147-02
PRICE: $102.99
FOOTPRINT: 1.61 in. x 0.75 in. x 1.10 in. (4.1 x 1.9 x 2.8 cm)
ESC WEIGHT: 1.20 oz. (34.01 g) BEC:
Adjustable: 5.5V or 7.5V (2A Peak)
DIRECTION: Forward, brake and reverse with optional reverse lock-out

• Ample adjustments
• I love the addition of the aux wire so I can make on the fly adjustments
• It’s waterproof
• Exceptionally smooth throttle and brake response

• Tricky removing the sensor port plug

I soldered a male Deans Ultra Plug onto the power wires and installed the Mamba Micro X ESC and 5300Kv motor into one of my favorite vehicles, an ECX 1/18 Torment SCT. This should make for quite a potent combo in the little truck and the smaller wheels of the torment shoiuld pose no cogging issues while running the sensorless motor. I had also set the AUX wire on the ESC to adjust the Drag Brake from my transmitter. On the fly tuning with the flip of a switch is quite a welcome feature, even if it is only for one metric out of the multitude of options.

I headed to my favorite test facility, R/C Madness in Enfield, Connecticut, to shake down the Torment with freshly installed Castle Creations Mamba Micro X. While setting the car down and reaching slowly for the throttle I immediately noticed that how nice everything felt and how it responded with minimal power applied. There was no cogging, or turbo lag as some call it, and the feel was exceptionally porportional. After a few laps on the carpet track between half and three-quarters throttle I opened things up and headed down the straightaway with the throttle pulled all the way back. The little SCT took off like a shot, pulling the front wheels of the carpet for a moment and in a flash the truck was at the end of the straight ready for a 90-degree corner. Here I had to grab for the brake a bit harder than I would have liked to, due in part to having the drag brake set to 10%. I made a quick adjustment on my DX4R Pro radio to up the drag brake and was quickly back at it, cutting through the infield aggressively. Everything from feel and response was spot-on throughout the range of acceleration on the infield and with the minor drag brake adjustment I was able to get through the 90-degree turn at the end of the straight with relative ease. After about eight minutes of fun I headed for the pits to give everything a quick once over. The Mamba Micro X ESC was just a tad warm, letting me know it was operating efficiently while the motor was just slightly hot. Not wanting to put any undue stress on the motor I installed a clip-on heatsink for future runs to help with heat dispensation. I ran the Torment a few more times throughout the day and with each run I was more and more impressed with the performance of the Mamba Micro X. I also had the opportunity to run the Micro X with a few mini sensored motors in a Losi Mini 8ight. Though the sensor port plug is a bit finicky to remove, the benefits of running a sensored motor are well worth the effort. Even with the extra weight of the 1/14 buggy and the larger amp draw from the motor, the ESC still remained plenty cool enough for me not to worry about it thermalling.

Castle was the first major manufacturer to release a micro sized ESC and because of this they have remained ahead of the curve. The Mamba Micro X has features that larger, more expensive speed controls lack making other manufactures run to the engineering room to play catch up once again. Coupled with outstanding reliability and performance the Mamba Micro X stands to be the flagship micro sized for years to come.

Castle Creations castlecreations.com

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