All I meant to
do was check if there were any important emails before turning in for the evening to watch a bit of tee-vee. Then I noticed an Arrma
Forum post regarding the best servo for an Arrma Kraton 6S and mention of a label engineered servo and a real manufacturer who uses titanium gears. So before I goof off tonight, let me share an observation
about servo gears and servo makers. Here goes . . .
- DS845BLHV versus DS930BLHV - Series II vs. Series I standard-size servos head to head
Part 1 - is titanium the best for gears?
only high pressure application I'm aware of where titanium gearing is
used are hobby-grade servos. Once you move to professional-grade servos
(like what ProModeler specialize in, meaning servos expressly designed
for defense and industry), we only use steel gears. Yes, hobbyists buy
them as well but 8% of our business doesn't move the needle (meaning
hobbyist-sales are not our focus).
point? If you look at the wider world, specifically amongst the most
demanding applications, the gear trains? Steel. Every. Single. Time.
Look, I don't know how to reach those already persuaded to the view titanium gears are good. Not without coming off as . . .
- insulting, or
not? Is it because I think they're too stupid? Oh heck no, of course
not! If anything, it's more like I feel sorry for them. Why? It's
because they never stood a chance. Let me try to explain - and - try to persuade without ruffling feathers or otherwise causing offense (e.g.
invoking a defensive reaction).
Part 2 - psychology
in poker nobody wants the card shark around, right? Some companies
employ them, professionally. Psychologists. They know people, and their
It's my opinion so many guys buying into titanium gears never
stood a chance because they loosed the sharks amongst us
(psychologists), e.g. the marketing department. These guys know just
uttering the words carbon fiber or titanium makes rubes reflexively
reach for their wallets because of all we've been taught!
example, raise your hand if you don't know the lore of the SR-71
Blackbird in which titanium allowed it to go +2200mph. Is it deceptive
for marketing to leave non-engineers believing titanium makes sense as
Seriously, how is a material perfect for the skin of something at 900°F
because of air friction (Mach 3) make any sense in a servo that won't see
that kind of temperature - not even whilst going poof because some fool let
50V loose amongst his 8.4V control electronics? Nope, not in a million
But titanium helps
sell servos despite being so soft it wears too quickly compared to
steel. Honestly, for gears? Titanium sucks! It breaks relatively easily
and it's expensive. But marketing doesn't care because their job is to
sell servos. So if they befuddle you - all's fair in love and war -
right? After all, it was from the Asians themselves there arose the
concept of business being war!
it's my opinion those who initially made the determination servos with
titanium gears were a good thing didn't do it because they're dumb, but
because they were tricked. Me? I am put in mind of the old saw about
fool me once so, when the best marketing companies hire psychologists
expressly to manipulate people, (and it's their job, so you can't get
mad but it's literally Harvard-class trained psych-ops versus regular
guys) and I say tricked because it was never a fair contest.
marketing's job is selling snow cones to Eskimos! So my objective with
this briefing? To ensure you're not suffering the shame of being fooled
Part 3 - material science
very soft compared to steel, and brittle, really only survives in hobby
grade-use as gears because they're typically sold to novices. Folk, who
whilst often new to the sport are snookered early with buzzword
marketing. That, and because rookies are not really stressing their
equipment like seasoned drivers.
So what about actual pro-level drivers?
Like those featured in magazine advertisements? Don't forget the a, b,
c's of marketing; meaning what goes on behind the scenes, which you
don't get to see like; a) they're paid to say what they say, b) they're
provided servos for free, and c) said servos are frequently exchanged
for brand new to maintain their performance.
giving you new servos for free? Point being, if you're sponsored by
Mastercard, here's a tip, buy servos with steel gears for your rigs.
- And note, this is not just my opinion because I have a dog in
the hunt representing ProModeler, it's physics - math.
- Note as well, my pet
theory is marketing is who wants titanium, not engineering. Why do I say
this? Because just like hairdressers gossip, engineers talk amongst
ourselves, the exact same way. It's a big world but quite tiny,
professionally, so I know for a fact they have really good engineers
because we talk, we meet at trade shows, and we even knock back a few
beers together. Maybe not friends, but friendly competitors.
- But 'Decisions' with a capital-D get made by the C-suite using marketing. Not by engineers, except at ProModeler because we don't have a marketing department.
We have no programs, no advertising, no spiffs, no distributors, no
teams, no hobby shops, no field rep programs . . . none of the
inventions of marketing!
we iterate our approach until there's nothing left to make better. You
know who else does this? Porsche. Eyeball a 911 from 30 years ago and
one made yesterday. Both look very much alike; recognizably the same car
for their respective eras - but - they are totally different because of
an unrelenting focus on making it better. We do this, too.
believe me? You actually don't need to be an engineer, you just need a
set of eyes and you can prove it for yourself.
Take machinery like
construction equipment? Caterpillar comes to mind. Steel gears. Formula 1
cars built with cubic money and making thousands of horsepower? Steel
gears. Sticking with the automotive world, NASCAR, their cars 100% use
steel gears. Drag racing, the most highly abusive of all equipment?
Steel gears. Visit Moab, where guys are crawling in 1:1 scale and guess
what? Steel gears - again.
Want more proof? My personal Arrma
Infraction? Stupid fast. It's equipped with the best aftermarket gears money
can buy? Yup, made of steel. So as a wise wag once observed . . .
Part 4 - label engineering
market for RC cars and trucks is hot. Enough so to attract a different
class of servos. These are the Asian imports with maybe something like
45Kg lasered on the side. They're sold straight out of the orient by
Amazon and eBay and delivered to America by the US Mail and aimed at the
unknowing, the inexperienced, plus the bottom feeders building rigs for
These same manufacturers, if you offer to buy 100 of their
servos will put your name on it instead of theirs. This is termed label
remember, they're largely engineered to be cheap. And they're cheaply
made. Look inside if you doubt me. You'll see.
Major point being, don't
mistake brands for actual manufacturers. Not like us, or our top quality
competitors like a Futaba, Hitec, Savox, and MKS. The label engineered
guys don't make jack. Smart guys? Oh yes, 'not' saying different - but -
no engineers on staff, no clue regarding design tools, and certainly no
to label engineering brands, I'm kind of put in mind what they say in
Texas about guys that are all hat, know what I mean?
Of course there's nothing
wrong with earning money selling something you don't make, just watch out for the
quick buck artists, capisce? Meaning ones who approach a giant Asian
manufacturer, doll up a pretty label, and list them on Amazon and eBay
for the purpose of turning a fast buck. Thing is, they don't have skin
in the game. Not in the same way. Heads up, eh?
Part 5 - so if steel is better, and the best all have steel, how do you make the very best?
part is actually easy. For us at least. To begin, we first made the
gears bigger because all else being equal, bigger is better! Stronger. More durable.
For competitive reasons we licensed the design to others
(because we couldn't afford to defend in international patent courts).
We're just too small to take on multinational corporations, so a few
bucks in the hand in the way of royalties beats a big fat nothing (and
loads of aggravation). Wasn't a hard decision.
So we offer standard
servos with bigger gears, our Series II servos. Others do also because
we gave in to the inevitable. Not proud of it but hey, you do what you
have to to survive because you can't eat pride! Better to live to fight
another day. Maybe read up on the Wright brothers and their incredible - but
doomed to failure - defense of their innovative wing warping for roll control. Curtis came along with the aileron and to the mat they went in court. Curtis won.
Back to our servos, there's more; first, eyeball the relative size of the gear trains of
our Series II DS845 versus the very well regarded Savox SB2290SG in the photo below. This, to get
an idea of what we mean when we say our Series II offer larger gears. Just look at the size of
those monsters. Now do you understand how they much better they'll hold up to being abused? Bu that's not the end of it.
The high quality Savox SB2290SG has steel gears, but our Series II, like DS845,
Another ProModeler innovation beyond larger gears, includes moving to a larger, and
far more robust output shaft splines. We're now using the same ø8-15T
splines as for our large scale servos. Note the difference in the
splines in the above photo as the Savox sports ø6-25T splines versus the
massive ø8-15T of the DS845 gear set.
larger splines? Simple, it's because we produce standard size servo
that are so fast and powerful they can, being made of steel, simply rip
the splines made of aluminum from within the 25T output shaft-pocket of a
servo horn. Wipe them smooth. Clean off - like they were drilled with a
1/4" drill bit. Not kidding, these servos are bad ass.
is the spline used in all our Series II servos, DS635BLHBV, DS845BLHV,
and DS1155BLHV. The DS845 in the photo below is representative of the
group. And how is this perspective photo grab you of the DS845BLHV on
the left and the DS930BLHV, no slouch in its own right, on the right.
The ø6-25T splines on the right are what's on all label engineered
servos and all our competitors - except - the very well made MKS HBL399 which also uses an 8mm
- Massive Series II splines on the left versus Series I, and ALL of our competitors on the right
for these beefier servos (our Series II) we dug into the parts bin and
adapted our much larger 1/5th spline to our next generation standard size servos. Basically
our goal was to make their juncture with the servo horn bulletproof.
massive and exactly like what we use on servos producing 2180oz-in.
Bigger? Yes. How much bigger? Their diameter is 33% larger (nominal 8mm
diameter instead of 6mm). And equipped with genuinely gnarly teeth (15T
instead of 25T) their much larger profile precludes ripping out the
inside of the horn. Yes, they're still standard size servos, but with
larger gears - and - with a larger spline. Basically, 'very best' is down to making
the biggest baddest gear trains in the industry. Unmatched by anybody . .
. at any price!
What am I
saying with 'I feel we're unmatched with the DS930 except by our own Series II'? It's that we clean their clocks with Series I, and Series II beats Series I so all of our servos, but especially our Series II are bad boys - and - not to be confused with any
competitor, none (but least of all by something that's the product
of label engineering).
And yet there's more so next let's take a peek inside.
Part 6 - all standard servo designs are not equal
do we mean by this? Take a gander at the gear train of a DS930 below.
All steel. A beautiful product . . . by any standard!
- Some might say a
work of art.
The softly gleaming gear train is strong and part of a
purposeful servo. One, which in our opinion is better than any made - except - within our own lineup.
- Finely machined all steel gears within our DS930BLHV servo gleam softly and purposefully
after you finish gawking at the gear train, focus on the inside. Do you see
the bronze inserts within the case? They make the pockets into which the
steel gear shafts for the transmission section fit.
- Basically, they beef
up the aluminum case.
No, bronze isn't as hard as steel - but - it's a LOT harder than
aluminum - and - it has desirable lubricating properties. These
bits of bronze are known as hard points. Their purpose is keeping the
bores for the gear shafts (round), e.g. from going egg-shape (not-round) due
to the abuse dished out by bashers and their incessant and abusive
Hard inserts are part of how we keep our gear train together 'and '
meeting spec for the gear mesh. Once the bores get beaten so they're not
round, gear mesh goes to heck, backlash ensues and before long they
Seriously, do you think el cheapo servos have these? Are you kidding me? Heck, even
amongst servos selling for more than ours, many don't have this, either.
However, from amongst the better servos? Like by Futaba, and MKS as
examples? Oh yes, amongst our first tier competitors yes, absolutely.
Look inside is my best advice regarding what separates the men from the
boys look for yourself!
if you're going to drop a bundle on the best servo for your rig, then
riddle me this, what features do you expect will better protect your
investment? Will it be the servo with steel shafts sitting directly
within aluminum bores, or the more finely made high quality servos made
with bronze reinforcements? It's your money. You earned it the hard way,
so my advice is don't get beaten out of it by tricksters and
you're not an engineer, but even if you're new and inexperienced in the
sport, then after reading this now you better know what to look for. As
for the incognito keyboard experts on the internet hiding behind cute
handles, and dispensing advice with who knows what for an agenda? Honestly? I
dunno, I have no opinion.
Our advice? Watch out for your own best
interests and use your eyes because nobody else is gonna do it for you! And don't just look at the gear train, pop the bottom cover off and look there, also!
- There's a reason ProModeler servos meet three MIL-STDs whilst the other guys? Dunno!
Part of what makes the ProModeler DS845BLHV and all ProModeler servos better than competitors is that unlike hobby-grade
servos, they're built to meet military standards (and subjected to these tests).
- Shock - Test Method 516.6
- Vibration - Test Method 514.6
- Rain - Test Method 514.5
In part, this is due to the requirements of our primary customer.
However, because we're modelers and have knocked a servo off a
workbench, experienced crashes, and know a thing or two about engine
vibration (plus how fun it is to conquer a small stream), it means these tests
are important for civilian users as well.
So if you're looking at
another servo, one which maybe offers similar performance and pricing, but
hasn't been tested to military standards, then which would you rather have?
In closing, if you have any further questions, reach out to me via email:
- or if it's urgent, call;
. . . because I love bullshitting about models more than