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Project: FTX Mauler Updating Electronics

Project: Upgrading the electronics to a FTX Mauler

FTX Mauler is a Rock Racer type mix of Crawling car and the slightly faster Rock Buggy. The plan is to upgrade the ESC, radio components and the steering servo. As the ESC we chose the Hobbywing 80A Crawling controller, which has proved to be a versatile controller with its many adjustment settings. Mauler is equipped with a standard two-in-one type Receiver/ESC unit, which is why you have to upgrade the radio components when you upgrade the ESC. As the radio component we chose the most basic and reliable Etronix radio, which is enough for basic driving. If you want to add a winch or programmable lights you should choose a multichannel radio, for example Sanwa MT-44. As the steering servo we chose an affordable Highest DT450 servo with a plastic case. The servo offers a 15kg torque and has shown to be strong and reliable in faster cars.

  • We started off by removing the tires and the body . Handling the chassis is much more convenient when you can access all the components and the tires aren’t spreading dirt all over the place.
    - You can use a regular 7mm socket wrench to remove the tires.
  • You need a cross head screwdriver (PH1) and a 5.5 mm socket wrench or a set wrench. We recommend removing the body from the hinge (circled in the picture) so you can remove the whole thing.
  • When you have disassembled the car, you can disassemble the electric parts and installing the new components is easier.
  • First you remove the 2in1 ESC /receiver unit. It’s good to note that the receiver unit has a fixed extension wire for connecting the servo (you need an extension wire when installing a servo) and the driving lights have their own connection.
  • The plan is to install a Hobbywing Quicrun Crawling ESC. The ESC comes with a programming card and its equipped with a sturdy XT60 power connector.
    Note! The power connector is different from that in the stock battery. If you want to use the stock battery you need to change the connector

  • The radios are 2.4 GHz Etronix 1060 basic radio, which is enough for normal use.
  • We installed the ESC and receiver using double-sided tape on the surface on top of the back axle. We ended up installing the receiver at the front, so we could install the servo with a shorter extension wire.
  • We made the extension wire using a wire taken from an old servo, in which we only had to add a female Futaba servo connector.
  • We connected the ESC by soldering the motor wires. First, we cut the motor wires from the base of the connector. After peeling the cables, we soldered together the ESC and motor cables. We used heat-shrink tubing to protect the soldered spots. It’s good to note that we soldered the cables “the wrong way”: yellow to black and red to blue) so that we could get the motor running in the right direction.
    You can install most of the brushed motors in either way, this only changes the running direction of the motor. However, you should check the manual if there are any restrictions.
  • After this, we removed the original servo.
  • - To remove a servo, you need a cross head screwdriver (PH1)

Note! We have also published a post on How To Replace Steering Servo

  • After installing the new Highest DT450 servo we first connected it to the receiver for centering (channel CH1).
  • Next, we turned the power on in the car to check the pairing of the radio equipment (new radios are already paired), we calibrated the ESC and centered the steering servo.
  • First, we calibrated the ESC. Calibrating the Hobbywing Crawling ESC is easy using the programming bottom next to the power button.
  1. switch on the transmitter (make sure the Trim of the throttle is at 0)
  2. Turn on the ESC by pressing the SET-button. The ESC starts making a beeping sound.
  3. Finger off the throttle trigger -> press the SET button -> the ESC beeps once
  4. Pull the throttle trigger -> press the SET button -> the ESC beeps twice
  5. Push Brakes on -> press SET button -> the ESC beeps three times
  6. Turn off the ESC and back on again, then make sure throttle and brake work normally.

The ESC is now calibrated. Servo is automaticly centered when Transmitter and Receiver is connected.

  • After centering the steering servo, we installed a new aluminium servo arm (25T). After installing the steering link, we set the end points with the Dual Rate setting.
  • The light cables we connected to the Batt channel of the receiver (marked with green color in the picture).
  • After this, we tied Motor wires and the servo and light wires to the chassis with own zip ties, so when maintaining the car in the future you don’t have to take apart the whole bundle of wires.

  • Finally, we tied the power cable on the other side of the chassis so that all the wires don’t run along the same side. Neatly tied wires add to the safe usage of the car when the wires don’t get caught in branches when driving outside.

We placed the power switch at the back which makes the power switching easier as you don’t have to remove the body case to do it.

Now the only thing left to do is charge the batteries and the Mauler is ready for a test drive. During the test drive, we adjust the Trim and if necessary, make changes to the ESC brake settings.

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