Traxxas X-Maxx guide

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Image of the Traxxas X-Maxx

We started to title this . . .
Good, Better, & Best standard-size servos for an X-Maxx . . . but in point of fact, all three are really great ways to go.

And it's actually not a matter of one being better than another, it's more like we offer 3 superb standard size servos for your X-MAXX! As for which is best for you? Well, the answer (as usual) is, it depends!

For example, some folks love the stock rig. And if yours is likely to stay that way, then the DS635BLHV is probably your best budget option. Simple.

Then there are folks who mod their rigs with heavier wheels and tires like Pro-Line Trenchers or Badlands. Opt for those and you're going to be happier with more servo-torque - no question! So if you're going down this path or if this already describes your rig, then you'll likely prefer the added torque of the DS845BLHV, even better.

Then, of course, there are those modders who love accessorizing with aluminum upgrades (think Vitavon, Hot Racing or Integy parts). You know these add weight as well as strength, so it's likely the DS1155BLHV will suit you even better.

These are the 3 standard-size servos we recommend for an X-MAXX;

We also offer you 2 mount-alternatives (for making your life easier when installing one of these servos into your X-MAXX). These are the;

The former is similar to the common as dirt Traxxas #7749 so there's plenty of online info showing how this works but the latter is a ProModeler invention, and it goes together like this.

- Unique for fitting a DS635/845/1155 into an X-MAXX, it's patent pending

Power to the people!

In addition to the servo and special mounts, for those who wish to retain the stock radio, there's an available X-power combo for our standard size servos. This comprises a special wiring harness plus either a dedicated 2S pack, like the B2S2000 - or - a standalone BEC (because like a pack, it's a 20A). Remember, the stock ESC side of the ESC/BEC combination device is fine. And while we recommend the pack solution, the choice is yours.

Note, the very point of the X-power combo is it allows you to retain the stock radio and/or feed the servo independently of a BEC. Honestly, few (if any) affordable BECs have the cojones to power this class of servo. That, and buying a new ESC/BEC is money that could go to tricking out your rig because the stock ESC part of the ESC/BEC is actually pretty decent.

So you can either pay through the nose for an expensive ESC/BEC, or just treat the rig like it's a nitro truck. How? By just powering the servo independent of the 6V radio system. Easy peasy!

This is an elegant solution, too, because there a battery has less shit to go wrong (BECs fail voltage high, voltage low, or something in the middle). So a pack has fewer things to go wrong. Add to it, keeping water out of a pack isn't a big deal.

So we're just saying 'we' prefer the battery pack route. Especially because chemically-derived voltage is flat out better than synthetically-derived voltage the way OJ is better than powdered Tang, orange colored breakfast drink (learn more clicking this link) but for those who insist, we offer a standalone BEC combo with the HV2SV power adapter as well. All you do is once you're on the X-power page, just click the drop down box and select the best alternative for you. Your call.

Note: to get full throw out of an aftermarket servo (ours or anybody else's) you need to buy and use the Traxxas Bluetooth module. Through the module is how you increase the throws for the servo, meaning; attain end point control. And this requires you setup a custom profile using the second servo input (Traxxas receivers have two channel 1 inputs).

In the alternative, we advise you looking at an aftermarket radio system where you get full control fro the very beginning. What unit? Perhaps an inexpensive RF-system like a Futaba 4PM will suit you (and FWIW, we do not sell this, or any RF brand, so buy whatever you like). So the *only* reason we recommend the 4PM is we use it ourselves, and not because we gain anything from sharing our advice.

ProTip: You will also need to turn the VSM dial down to zero because VSM will limit signal input and override signal output for steering and throttle. If you're unaware, VSM is a gyro system designed to help beginners maintain better control, or in Traxxas-speak, maintain vehicle stability. Hence, VSM - Vehicle Stability Management, if not turned down to 0% can result in decreased steering. Please review the Traxxas manuals before calling to complain about inadequate control throw.

The X-MAXX steering sub-system's robustness is only as good as the weakest link in the chain. Upgrading just your servo won't cut it because it needs more current (amps). A lot more current than a stock servo can draw (and thus, far more than the stock-BEC provides).

Fortunately, either a dedicated 2S LiIon (powering the servo like a nitro-rig) or a high quality stand-alone BEC, will do the job (as long as it, like the LiIon pack, can deliver no less than 10A to the servo). Import BECs are less than optimal in our opinion but it's your money.

But let us give you a heads up, as if it wasn't hard enough to figure out what to get, import ESC/BECs make claims that may not prove out to be quite true. Point being, before you pony up for a new ESC/BEC costing $200, or more, take heed of what we're saying. Take their claims with a grain of salt. Consider yourself warned!

So in brief, to get the most out of powerful steering servos (any powerful servo, any brand, not just ProModeler), you 'must' also upgrade the weakest link in the chain (the stock BEC).

A dedicated 2S LiIon pack is cheap and easy to waterproof, and because BEC-output is both temperature-dependent and input-voltage dependent (any BEC, any brand), then the really savvy drivers isolate their BEC from the hot ESC (e.g. use two separate devices). So beware marketing-hype!

If you're the type who devours information, keep reading to learn more . . .

X-MAXX mechanical kit, alloy

- The X-MAXX mechanical kit, alloy - what you get - minus the servo!

X-MAXX mechanical kit, poly

- The X-MAXX mechanical kit, polymer - what you get - minus the servo!

X-power combo w/B2S2000

- X-power combo w/B2S200 pack - what you get - minus servo/arm/receiver


Since the stock servo comes with polymer gears, which break pretty easily, and the upgraded 2085X servo (metal gears) isn't much more powerful, we saw an opening in the market.

This is why we created the mechanical kits to fit one of our great standard size servos into your X-MAXX. These make your life easier because in one package you get both the mounts to install the servo, plus the special control horn. Replace the stock stuff, ensure it gets enough juice to run at max output, and just like that . . . Bob's your uncle!

But having 3 outstanding standard-size servo alternatives for upgrading your X-MAXX steering isn't enough because there's another lurking problem waiting to be resolved. It's to do with powering such a powerful servo.

You see, the stock ESC has a BEC outputting about 3A at 6V. While that's just enough for the stock steering servo, the facts are it lacks the stones for a more powerful servo. Not just a ProModeler servo, anybody's powerful servo (ours or another brand). You must have a 10A source and clean chemical juice is better than dirty synthetic current. Fact.

How the game is played in this industry

Dealers hate us because we call a spade a spade. So the way it works is once you break the stock servo, that's when the hobby dealer tells you about the metal gear upgrade. So you buy that and go home all happy, again. However, before long you tear that one up, so next he says . . .

'You know, maybe what you really need is a better servo.'

So you open your wallet once again, because this is how the game is played, incremental bites. Sure, it gets old but learning all this before it happens is on you because it's their job to sell stuff. Anyway, this is only the first step.

- Visiting the hobby shop is fun - and profitable - for the hobby dealer!

So what he'll offer you is an import, like a Savox SB-2290SG. And we'll admit that's a pretty decent servo, but we think ours is better. Of course, we 'would' say that, but we're from the south where it's not bragging if it's true, so stand by.

So you buy a sweet looking servo like the 2290 Monster, and off you go all happy again. End of story? Nope, not quite!

When they're looking out for their interests instead of yours

Thing is, once you install that powerful 2290 servo, that's what you discover the stock ESC doesn't have the stones to run it. Sure, it'll turn the wheels fine on the workbench, but out in the real world? Nope, not a chance because it doesn't supply sufficient current!

And this makes sense, too, because a more powerful BEC costs more. So why would Traxxas spend more for a BEC than is needed to power their servo. That's right, they wouldn't!

Anyway, so now you discover the stock BEC's not up to scratch. And it's not the servo's fault, it's entirely because of a whimpy BEC. Guess what? Yup, bo back to the hobby dealer you go (or maybe by then you've found a group of well intentioned folks online to advise you). Regardless of which it is, the the next piece of advice regards buying a better ESC/BEC.

Thing is, the ESC/BEC is one device doing two things. The ESC is what controls the throttle for the drive motor - propulsion. The BEC is what provides current to the receiver to operate the servo - control. Two different things.

So because there's more money in selling you a $200 ESC - note, the BEC is along for the ride, e.g. free as part of the ESC and by now you should have come to realize what free shit is really worth, right? Anyway, the spiel often begins with some fairy tale about needing a better ESC (not true, you need more power for the servo, the stock ESC is fine, it's the BEC that sucks).

So the real problem is the BEC circuit (within the stock ESC), which isn't up to scratch. Thing is, there's no money in solving the power side of the equation because BECs and batteries are cheap. Remember, they're there to sell stuff, capice?

Don't confuse what the ESC does with the BEC's job just because they're combined in one component! And honestly, the stock ESC is plenty good enough for the propulsion system (the drive motor). It's just the BEC part of the equation that's not good enough for the control system (the receiver and more powerful servo).

Remember, we're talking about one component that does two different things. The ESC-part controls the power delivery to the motor that drives the rig 'while' the BEC-part sends power to the receiver to power the steering servo. It's a 2-in-1 device and folks often confuse what the real problem is because nobody makes it clear there are two things going on. Separate and distinct!

Note, I believe Traxxas invented this whole deal back in the day when rigs were supplied with a little plastic holder in which you installed dry cells batteries (like AA alkaline). The point was the 60¢ BEC circuit cost less than the $2 for the plastic holder.

But the major point is . . . BECs are about saving money and have NOTHING whatsoever to do with high performance. That and lazy drivers don't want to hassle with charging a separate battery pack after every ten hours of running their rigs (for the control system) so they dismiss the inconvenient fact the current from a battery is like a million times cleaner, but whatever.

Anyway, the upshot is (for a mere $150-200 more), the usual hobby dealer recommendation is to buy some import ESC - one with a better BEC, but it's all about selling you stuff and picking your wallet clean. It's how the upgrade game is played, give you taste and clean out your wallet a little bit at a time!

Thing is, $150-200 is a lot to pay for an improved BEC. Especially when the ESC side of things is actually pretty OK for nearly everybody, but maybe your money grows on tree.

Anyway, if you really insist on a BEC, then we offer an Made in USA BEC. Not better than a battery, with this one at least you can trust the specifications unlike the optimistic blather of the imports. Consider yourself warned, and we this exact part number is available elsewhere so it's not like we're just talking our book, OK?

Opting for this route sees you adding a stand-alone BEC for $45 thus, bypassing the ESC's built-in BEC-function (but you'll still need the HV2SV adapter unless you also want to pony up $300-400 for a new 8.4V radio, also).

So remember, with either the 8.4V BEC-solution or a 2S battery pack, if you're not careful you'll hook it all up to the stock 6V radio receiver and fry it. You 'must' have the $10 HV2SV power adapter, also. You've been warned!

Why will it fry the receiver? Simple, it's because nobody mentions that if you set the BEC to 8.4V (which is what the servo wants), the receiver will go poof because it's a 6V unit. So bear in mind what we've just told you because if in the rush and excitement of finally resolving the steering problem with a better servo and power solution, and you forget, then you're gonna see the receiver go up in smoke. Literally, OK? If you forgot this detail, then oop, do not pass go, pay $200.

Upshot is, feeding the stock receiver (6V) with 8V is a sure fire way for it to emit the magic smoke that makes it work (just kidding). Anyway, because the perfectly fine stock Traxxas receiver won't be happy with 8V, then you have to dial back the more powerful BEC to 6V to keep the receiver alive (note; the real reason for the new ESC with a more powerful BEC is delivering more than 3A of current). But if you dial output back to 6V then you give away a ton of the servo's torque and speed. Duh!

ProTip: don't mix up the difference between voltage and current. One has units of V (voltage) and the other is measured in A (amperes or amps). Not the same, different! read up, Google is your friend, but begin by reading this - click this link - and it opens in a new tab so you don't lose your place.

Voltage is measured across the power leads, the (+) and the (-), while current is measured by inserting the meter in series into the (+) power lead.

Current (A) and voltage (V) are two totally different things!

So what's the point of buying a kick ass servo that wants to be fed 8.4V if you still have to run 6V? We'll share a solution in a moment, but recapping, what's gonna happen next is they're going to recommend a new radio. One that will operate with 8.4V.

This means opening your wallet again - to the tune of another $300, maybe $400, or more! Is any of this beginning to sound familiar? Well you're not the first to be sheared this way (and you won't be the last) because it's how the game is played. Basically, marketing gets you all excited for a hot product, then once you get a taste of the fun the X-MAXX can be, it's only 'then' you discover the limitations of the stock components, where the steering servo is enough to dink around with in the back yard but once you go out with the fellows who know more, your breaks and you're relegated to watching, or you need better tires and wheels, etc., etc., etc.

Note; don't mistake what I'm saying as critical of Traxxas. I think they work an economic 'miracle' for putting that thing in your hands for <$1000. But neither is this to say the compromises they have to make are have to be acceptable to you, eh?

The trick is spending your money wisely and in our opinion, upping your game with the steering servo and a 2S pack leaves a 'lot' more money for for sweet aluminum upgrades plus better tires and wheel, and other driveline components. Don't play the game their way and fork over dough for more expensive radio and ESC, bone up and learn the rules of the game!

Anyway, hang in there because we're almost to the point of telling you who killed Cock Robin. Here's the solution . . .


So we're telling you there's a better way. Best part is it costs a lousy $35, too. And it resolves 100% of the issues. How? Simple, by thinking outside the box. Sure, the rig is electric-powered, but what if you treat the rig's control electronics as if they were mounted within a nitro-powered rig. What?

That's right . . . with a little lateral thinking and by simply using a dedicated pack (plus a special wiring harness) it means you can totally short circuit all the hobby dealer bullshit 'without' also forking over another $500-600 on top of the servo for a new ESC and radio - seriously.

So why doesn't the hobby dealer tell you about this?

The why is simplicity itself if you follow the Benjamins! you know, follow the money! Put another way, the dealer doesn't mention an inexpensive solution because there's no money in for him. No way he can compare what he makes by selling you a $10 wiring harness and a battery pack to how much he makes selling you $500-600worth of new ESC and radio system, right? It's not even close. Not that I blame him because everybody has to eat but good grief, $35 is not even 1/10 the price of a new ESC and HV-radio. Somebody has to stand up for the little guy by letting him know alternatives exist and since we're not a hobby shop, meanig we don't have a dog in the hunt, then we do it.

Remember, they're in business to sell stuff! So word to the wise . . . the dealer's interests and yours are two different things, capice?

Our interest in all this? We want you to be happy with the darned servo! Thing is, we know if you try to power it with an inadequate power source, you won't be! So yes, we also have an interest, just as Traxxas does, and the hobby dealer. The difference is our interests perfectly align with yours in that we both want you to be happy with the servo.

Look, once Traxxas sells you the rig, they're done because they have your money. And the dealer? He's not happy until he cleans out your wallet because his gig is selling you more stuff until there's nothing left. Fact!

What sucks is the hobby dealer plays an incremental game, meaning they don't want to spook you by saying up front what it really costs ($2000) to play with an X-MAXX the way you think you will when you pony up the grand to buy it. If they did that you might change your mind, right? Look, there are rigs that have $2000-3000 invested in them, even more! Most folks wouldn't be OK with it if he'd tried to clip them for that much up front.

So instead of the added $1000 it costs to play their game, if you're savvy you can short circuit the process for $35. Don't believe me? Ask around (either your friends, online, or both) because I'll bet you a milkshake that's how much more everybody else spends to get their rig to the point where they can go out and play - without - it always breaking down. About another $1000, minimum!

So we're sharing the secret of how to win the game. Just get the better servo and a harness/pack combo. Or if you insist, a standalone BEC/harness combo. Then you're into this on the order of just $200, all in versus what the hobby dealer will have you spending.

Major point being, unless your money grows on trees, what we're explaining should be resonating - at least with your wallet - if nothing else!

Knowledge is power

So pick from one of 3 rocking standard size servo solutions for your X-MAXX 'and' get an X-power combo . . . because that's all you really need!

- 2S2000 pack shown but we also have 850, 1500 packs and standalone BEC

Anyway, this little harness for $10 doesn't look like much, but it plus a dedicated 2S battery pack, totally resolves the issue of giving the servo enough juice without also forking over for a new ESC and radio system!

Honestly, this is a no brainer! And by the way, this is what the pack looks like once it's installed. It's such a super sano installation, too.

- 2S2000 LiIon pack (durable steel shells) using 3M's SJ3550 Double-Lock

So what recommends the DS635/845/1155BLHV servo over the otherwise pretty decent Savox SB-2290SG, which most dealers sell for about $140?

Well, in one word, it's down to the size of the 'gears'. Basically, larger gears are better than smaller ones because it means lower working pressure.

So the gears in the DS635/845/1155 will last longer because they're;

  1. bigger,
  2. stronger, and
  3. wear less

You grok no brainer?

- Gears in the DS635 and DS845 are the same size, just different ratio

But there's more because in addition to larger gears, the bearing's larger!

- The larger bearing on the DS635/845/1155 output handles greater loads

Other factors include our using 13 o-rings to seal the servo versus the Savox SB-2290SG Monster using 3 lousy o-rings . . which do you think is better? But another killer difference is the shock handling ability of our coated PCB. Conformal coatings are how electronics are protected in the space program!

Honestly, it's a night and day difference how they use a tiny dab plus a little block of foam while we coat the whole board - use your eyes! And by the way, this stuff is also called potting compound, it's a sticky smelly mess to deal with, which means it adds a lot of expense because of the time factor, also, but not using enough is also a big deal. Why do we use it? because it's part of how our servos meet three MIL-STDS, understand?

- Potting compound protects against shock and vibration - more is better!


So let's tie this all together with a bow. If you've decided one of our standard size servos is right for you, then all that's left is selecting which one of the three you want;

You also need to decide whether you're going to fuss with hoping the BEC has the stones to power the servo, or follow our advice regarding treating your X-MAXX as if it were a nitro rig by using a dedicated battery pack. So get this as well.

On that score, we have 3 different pack recommendations to go with the HV2SV power-adapter. These are B2S850, B2S1500, and B2S2000 and a castlle CC BEC Pro 20.

Our advice is the B2S2000 is the best all-rounderbecause once you charge it, you can run 10 sets of packs (averaging 45min to an hour each) through you X-MAX before it needs charging. That, and as power sources go, a pack is infinitely better than using a BEC - but it's your money plus your attitude toward caring for equipment that dictates which you select. Servo will work with either, it's just that because we make them we know a battery is better - but honestly - as long as you're happy, we don't really care, which.

Finally, to make this easy, once you click the link for the servo, then take note how there are two pull-down boxes to add the mount and power options. Either the poly or alloy mount alternative, plus the X-power adapter combo, with a pack or BEC. Pick your poison and check out!

Last thing, if you decide you want more servo for your rig than a standard class servo like the DS635/845/1155 offer you, then we have one our potential solution. It's our DS1885BDP which we refer to in-house as the pork belly.

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