Castle Creations MAMBA MICRO X 1:18 scale Waterproof ESC/0808 Motor combo
I’d been contemplating a Losi Mini-T rebuild for a while now, I just wasn’t sure which power system to go with. Though it originally had a Novak brushed ESC and a “Graupner speed 300” brushed motor, I knew I wanted to go with a brushless system. Needless to say, I was excited when the opportunity arose to review the Castle Creations Mamba Micro 1:18 scale brushless system.
Size: 1.61”in x 0.75”in x 1.10” inches (4.1 x 1.9 x 2.8 cm)
- Weight (w/o battery connector soldered to ESC): 1.20 oz (34.01 g)
- Input Voltage Range: MIN: 2S LiPo; MAX: 3S LiPo,
- 12.6V BEC Specifications: Adjustable: 5.5V or 7.5V (2A Peak), default 5.5V
- Waterproof* design allows for use in nearly any environment. (See Product Use Statements)
- Brake: Proportional
- Reversible: Yes – with lockout
- On/Off Switch: Yes, waterproof
- ESC Cooling Fan: No
- Items Needed for Operation: Battery Connector required
- Application Guidelines: 1:18th scale RC hobby vehicles weighing up to 2.25lbs.
When the brushless system arrived, I immediately noticed the stunning packaging. Not only do the boxes look great, they provide loads of protection for both motor and ESC.
There are multiple instruction sheets included, covering everything from quick setup to gearing recommendations.
As you can see from the photo, the motor is very small. The polished raised ribs look great and help to keep the motor cool during high speed runs. The Mini-T pinion gear was a perfect fit for the motor shaft.
The ESC is a small self contained unit, so there are no capacitors hanging off the side. Castle Creations included a sensor wire port, which is protected by a dust cover, just in case you decide to connect a sensored motor. Three bullet connectors are used for connecting the motor, while the ends of the power input wires are left bare. I chose to solder on a deans connector to match my battery packs.
A rubber boot protects the On/Off switch from dust and water, while still maintaining ease of operation. Two mounting holes allow the user to mount the switch securely, though I haven’t found a good spot on my small Mini-T.
The Mamba Micro X ESC has a cool feature, noticeable by the extra receiver plug. There is a single white wire that plugs into the receiver auxiliary channel, along side the typical CH 2 plug. This single white wire is used to toggle one ESC setting on the fly, like drag brake or max throttle.
Using the PC Link software (see below) you can set a single action to be toggled On/Off via the transmitter. This is an excellent idea.
The ESC parameters can be adjusted using three different methods. Your radio, tuning card (sold separately), or USB PC link (offered separately).
Using the Radio:
When using your radio transmitter to change the menu items, there are a total of 5 parameters that can be changed.
- Brake/Reverse Type
• With reverse*
• W/O reverse
• Crawler reverse
- Voltage Cutoff
- Brake Amount
- Drag Brake
• Crawler Full On
- Motor Type
• Brushed Reversing
• Brushed High Power
As the ESC cycles through each menu item, use the throttle trigger on the radio transmitter to accept or deny each option. It’s a bit tedious going through every menu item, but it works. It’s definitely more comfortable using the throttle trigger, rather than a tiny button on the ESC.
USB PC Link:
There are many more options to be adjusted using the PC link (offered separately). But WAIT! If you buy within the next 3 seconds, you’ll get a PC Link for FREE! Ok, so maybe you don’t need to act so fast, but they did include a coupon for a free PC link with the ESC. That’s pretty cool.
The PC Link comes with a 6ft mini USB cable, link adapter, instruction card, and decal sheet. Following a few simple steps quickly gets the ESC menu on the screen of your PC, and with a few clicks of the mouse, you can have the ESC set up exactly how you like it. You’ll need to go onto the Castle Creations website to download the Castle Link software, but it only takes a few minutes.
To connect the PC Link, just remove both regular and auxiliary ESC plugs from the receiver and plug the regular (three wire) plug from the ESC into the adapter. Plug the mini USB side of the included 6ft cable into the adapter and plug the USB cable into the computer.
A small LED on the adapter will light up and you are ready to launch the Castle Link software. The home screen welcomes you with the Mamba Micro X logo, and you can click each tab along the top of the screen for the many options. Below are some screen shots of the PC Link program and the options available for tuning, including motor timing.
Once all options are as you would like them, just click the update button on the bottom right of the screen to save the settings to your ESC. This is definitely my method of choice for tuning the Mamba Micro X ESC.
- LOSI Mini-T Pro kit
- Foam onroad tires (small diameter)
- Losi Mini-T offroad tires (spike rear, ribbed front)
- ElectriFly Power Series XPD-8 11.1V 1000mAh 25C 3s LIPO battery pack
- Deans connectors
- Hitec radio system
Installation of the Mamba Micro X is pretty straight forward, install the motor, plug in some wires, and solder on a battery connector. I chose Deans connectors. Using a hot iron and silver solder, the process went fairly quickly.
The instructions called for the smallest pinion gear possible and largest spur gear possible, so I started off with a 12 tooth pinion, since that was the smallest I had. I should mention, the first round of testing was done on foam racing tires which had been turned on a lathe. They are quite a bit smaller in diameter than the actual off road kit tires, which lowers gearing even more.
Driving the Mini-T up and down the street, I noticed there was more than enough low end power, in fact, it was like I was on ice every time I stabbed the throttle. I did notice however, top speed was a bit lacking. After 5-10 minutes, I brought the buggy inside to change the pinion gear. The motor was warm, but not at all hot.
After installing the 16 tooth pinion gear, we went back outside to test the Mamba Micro X, still using foam tires. Top speed was noticeably higher, but I still didn’t feel as though the full potential of this motor/ESC was being unleashed, so I went back inside to swap out the foam tires for off road ones. These off road kit tires are noticeably larger in diameter, which should give me higher top speeds. The soft rubber compound should help with the wheel spin I was experiencing with the foam tires.
I started off in the grass with the off road tires installed and I’ve got to say, WOW! I was finally seeing what this motor/ESC combo is capable of. The truck threw the front tires into the air as soon as I hit the throttle. Easing into the throttle, I was able to drive this small truck through the front lawn, though I was having trouble keeping the front tires on the ground when I hit the throttle. Half throttle was very manageable, but full throttle got a bit crazy.
On pavement, wheelies were still almost unavoidable with the kit tires on. Stabbing the throttle while cruising at 25% resulted in an instant wheelie. This thing is insane. A definite step up from the Graupner Speed 300 brushed motor I had previously run.
The motor/ESC combo did great. Even though it’s a sensorless motor, it has smooth throttle transitions and of course, tons of power.
This motor is designed to go fast! With a 3S battery pack, it is difficult to keep the front tires on the ground. As you can see in the video, the included sensorless motor didn’t cog at low speeds, though the motor’s low speed wasn’t incredibly slow. Once at full throttle, there was almost a second burst of energy at top speed. As soon as you think you’ve reached top speed, it goes even faster.
This is the perfect motor combo for bashing my Mini-T. I don’t really plan on racing the Mini-T, as there are no 1:18 scale race classes locally, but if I were, I’d probably swap out the motor for the low speed precision of a sensored one. The instructions say the Mamba Micro X ESC is “sensor” ready. Just remove the sensor port dust cover, buy a sensor wire and motor, and plug it in. However, I don’t foresee that ever happening in my Mini-T.
The RC hobby has come a long way since the brushless motor and LIPO battery, and if you’re in the market for an 1:18 scale brushless motor system, the Castle Creations Mamba Micro X is an excellent option. I forgot how much fun the mini-t was until reviving this one.
540 North Rogers Road, Olathe, Kansas 66062
phone: (913) 390-6939
fax: (913) 390-6164