What's VESC? How to use it ? What's difference between VESC and ESC?


VESC is very hot in electric skateboard world. Actually it's an amazing product that can be used in many application field. Let's explore more information about it. The topic includes:

  • What is VESC?
    • What’s vesc
    • Vesc version
  • Compare VESC with normal ESC
  • How to use VESC

What is VESC?

VESC is an open source ESC (electric speed controller), it’s named by its creator , Benjamin Vedder, Vedder’s ESC. It’s published in 2016. Vedder tested it in his electric skateboard, due to its strong compatibility and programming feature. It’s quickly become popular among the electric skateboard community.

The Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) is the brain of your electric skateboard. It tells your motor how hard to push or how strong to brake. It’s the CPU of the board.  You can do an instruction, like increasing the speed and the VESC will relay the instructions to the motors. One of the most significant benefits is that you will be able to set parameters that ensure that the motor operates safely. For example, you can set the maximum power that the engine can use, which will prevent the engine from burning out too early. By controlling these functions, you will be able to protect all the electrical components of your skateboard from getting overworked, ensuring that your electric skateboards will last for longer. There are a few critical factors that you need to understand when setting the safe parameters.

To make sure that you set the controls correctly, you need to understand the difference between voltage and amps.  The voltage describes how powerful each component is, while the amp describes how much electricity it is receiving. For example, if you are going up a hill, you will need to increase the number of amps sent to the wheels. The VESC will be able to help you set how high these limits can go, ensuring that a steep incline doesn’t cause you to send too many amps to the wheels, overloading the electrical circuits. Now that we know a little more about this fantastic technology, let’s look at how it was initially discovered.

Versions of VESC

Vesc 4 and VESC6

Over time there have been multiple versions of VESC, each one incorporating suggestions from the online community. For example, between version 4.0 and version 4.5, various changes occurred, including re-designing the product and adding a temperature sensor to protect the engine from overheating. And the version of VESC developed keeps updated. The most significant improvement was changing how the Analog to Digital Converter (ADC) worked with the Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI), allowing users to gather more relevant data, giving them more control of their electric skateboards. Finally, version 4.12, new tracers and capacitors were added. It’s commercially widely produced in market.

VESC 6 is up-grated version based on VESC4.

The difference between VESC4 and VESC6 is mainly as:

VESC4 :

  1. Do not suggest to use FOC function, can only use under low voltage (3-4S).
  2. 2 Shunts design (Means ESC only measure the 2 cable’s working current of the motor, and calculate the third one in theory)
  3. handle lower current : can only handle continuous less than 30A safely. The Max current spec is : 50A as marked in Vedder’s original design.

VESC6: 

  1. Has great FOC function, quite, low consumption.
  2. Three shunts design (means the ESC can measure each motor cable’s working current, ESC can work more precisely and has better working performance)
  3. Can handle higher continuous current than VESC4. The max current is 60A as marked by Vedder.

Comparing VESC with other ESC

VESC is a more advanced ESC that is used with Electric Skateboards but is also being used for ebikes, drones/quads, etc.

It's one of the latest BLDC ESCs which give you full control over how your ESC operates. Much better than typical RC ESCs. It's got amazing features.

 All-electric vehicles must have an ESC(electric speed controller), it is the brain of your electric vehicles, It tells your motor how to move or brake in correct way. However, there are many different Electric Skateboard Controllers (ESC) available on the market, it’s difficult for user to choose the right one. Often, we’re looking at the pros and cons of each ESC.

  • Cheap ESC:
The price range is around 5-20USD. these types of controllers are best suited for RC Because RCcars have smaller engines than skateboard engines, they aren’t equipped to handle the power of the skateboard. This problem is compounded when people stand on the skateboard, adding even more pressure to the engine.

For this reason, these cheap ESCs usually don’t last for a long time. Also, they typically don’t have any built-in safety features, meaning that they can place the rider’s safety at risk. Also, because they don’t have any protection for the electronic components in the skateboard, they might damage your electric skateboards. For these reasons, it’s recommended that you don’t use these types of ESCs.

  • Normal ESC used in electric scooter / street skateboard:

these ESC is also range in 15-30USD. All BLDC mode, not the trending FOC mode. And its output current is usually less than 30A. not programmable,  no firmware protection for the electric parts in board.

There is a advantage for cheap and normal ESC: set up easily, just hook it up with motors and battery, use it directly. Very simple. No complex firmware programming process.

 Bothe ESC and VESC can be either ‘single’ – which controls a single motor, or ‘dual,’ meaning one ESC controlling both motors.  It depends on your actual need

Now let’s see the pros and cons of a VESC

(1) VESC pros1

One of the biggest reasons why people like VESC is because  it allows tons of customization, It allows you to control the torque of the board by adjusting the current output to the motor and current input from the battery. It allows you to customize the acceleration and braking curve so that the board behaves exactly as you want it to while braking and accelerating.. If choosing another type of ESC, though, you will be limited in how much you can control. eg, it will limit the use of the battery spec and the motor spec.

Eg.  Please refer to this setting page, you can choose different types of motor.

VESC can be compatible for different types of motors

You can set the cells q’ty of your battery on hand.

set battery cells in vesc tool

While the VESC will allow you to add as many cells as you want, other ESCs will limit the number of cells that they can support. Look for the amount of amps it can supply, which will determine how long you can travel and will determine the type of skateboard you purchase. Usually, this number is provided in ampere-hours (Ah). For example, if you get a 10Ah skateboard, you need a ten-amp battery to travel for an hour. The distance you can travel varies depending on the number of amps you use. You might also want to consider the amount of noise produced. It can be irritating to skate with a loud ESC. While many VESCs are silent, some other types of ESC will produce an annoying sound. Now that we know the factors to consider when using a store-bought ESC let’s look at some of the benefits of using a VESC.

(2) VESC Pros 2 

Another significant benefit is the protection it provides, ensuring you don’t damage your electric components. For example, it has temperature control built-in, preventing it from getting too hot. The VESC is known for these high-tech features. For example, many models feature regenerative braking and the ability to program acceleration curves.  Finally, the braking systems are highly effective. They will stop the skateboard quickly, without a sudden jerking motion that can send some riders off the board. However, there are some disadvantages to using this system.

Set the output working current, so you don’t need to worry the max peak current may hurt the parts in board.

How to set the output current in VESC

(3) VESC Cons1 :

due to its design needs to use many expensive chipsets and components, that the vesc price is multi times of the normal ESC.

(4) VESC Cons2

VESC is very widely compatibility , it has many functions that users still need to explore. Although now the vesc programming set up is quite easier than its older versions.

However still many new beginners may feel confused on how to use it correctly.

So how to use a VESC?

Firstly, you need to download a VESC programming tool , it supports Linux , windows, and android.

  1. You can download the VESC Tool from VESC Project website. Recommended to download from the main website for the latest version
  2.  The source code can be found here.
  3. VESC-Tool is licensed under the GPL V3 License.

Secondly, if it’s your first time to use the VESC tool in your PC, you need to download a driver. Get it here:  https://bit.ly/3cxpzlk

Thirdly, Connect the ESC with PC, then do parameter settings in PC. For new beginners, we suggest to follow the wizard step by step to do motor auto-detection.

New Beginner using VESC Tool

And here is detail tutorial videos in Vedder’s youtube channel. You can learn more. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFKGRyOmhWY


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