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Castle Creations BEC Pro Review

You don't have to just wish for a BEC with extreme flexibility, there's one available now! For this reviewer, it was an opportunity to make the switch from NiMH to LiPo for onboard fuel plane power.

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Introduction


Length:1.69” (43mm)
Width:1.3” (24mm)
Weight:1 oz. (29g)
Max Amps:20 amps peak
Max Volts Cars:Cars:6S (25V)
Max Volts Airplanes:Airplanes 10S (40V)
Max Volts Helicopters:Helicopters (with brake disabled) 12S (50V)
Price:$44.95
Manufacturer:Castle Creations
Available From:Your Local Hobby Shop

Lately, I have been building a lot of either gasoline or nitromethane planes. The bigger they are, the more servos are typically required. I tend to push 6.0 volts even though I know there are arguments between 4.8 volt and 6.0 volt setups. I want the torque and speed, but I have to also consider the weight and the option of running digital servos, which tend to consume power more readily. For you helicopter pilots, add the gyro, and you are really hitting the amps.

There is always a thin line to walk when one plugs in a newly charged 6.0 volt battery. While the receiver can handle the extra voltage, the servos (and gyros) are typically rated at 6.0 volts and can jitter and buzz as the voltage is drawn off, and it may put some unusual wear and tear on the servos when packs are charged to nearly 7.4 volts. Some newer versions of servos are now rated for 7.4 volts like the new Hitec HS-7940TH. I tend to offset the drain on 6.0 volt batteries with larger, higher capacity batteries. In the .60 and higher class of planes, 3000 mAh is normal for me.

I have always wanted to use 2S 7.4 volt LiPos for my power source, a battery to power my receiver and servos while most use a BEC to eliminate the need for an extra battery when flying electrics, but I never found a voltage regulator that I was comfortable with until I started reading about the Castle BEC Pro. For larger planes using more and larger servos you can easily exceed the 10 amps limit of the Castle BEC as you increase the voltage requirements of the electronics. Add a gyro and you certainly will get beyond prescribed amps.

But those creative folks in Kansas have thought of a lot of things including dual receiver plugs. I quote, “CC BEC Pro has two output leads. Plug both into different ports on your receiver or into two Y harnesses to carry the most current. Servo connectors are not intended to carry more than 5 amps continuously. If your application draws more than 10 amps continuously, please replace these connectors with a connector rated for your amperage.” This may require some receiver port planning and consideration should be taken for the placement, but the leads are long and let you get the BEC away from the receiver to eliminate and possible interference.

The BEC and BEC Pro

Castle's BEC Pro does the same as the 10 amp BEC, but has so much more to offer. Both are programmable and easily connect to Castle Link. The Castle BEC Pro lets you set voltage levels all the way up to 50.4 volts at 20 amps. The Castle BEC is limited to 24 volts input and 5 amps, but with the Castle BEC Pro, you get 12S (50.4 volt) maximum output and 20 amps output across a wide range of voltages from 4.8 to 50.4 volts. In other words, the BEC Pro can handle extreme conditions and bleed off generated heat efficiently enough to be useful for cars, airplanes and helicopters.

 Castle BEC
Castle BEC
Price $24.95
Length: 1.2” (30mm)
Height: 0.4” (10mm)
Weight: 0.4 oz (11g)
Max Amps: 10 amps peak7 amps@12 volts 5 amps@24 volts
Max Volts: 5v to 25v or 2S to 6S LiPo

Castle BEC Pro

Let’s walk through the process of using the Castle BEC Pro and Castle Link to make the voltage adjustment necessary to meet your demands.

I want to power a large plane with six large servos with something other than a 6.0 volt NiMH battery to save the weight, but I also want a battery I can rely on to provide plenty of power for a longer period with a more consistent voltage supply. I am using a PowerEdge 2100 mAh 20C LiPo which should easily provide me many quality flights within a day’s flying. I need to first get my Castle BEC Pro set up.

To get started you must have a Castle Link to connect the BEC to your computer. You can install Castle Link either with the included CD or download the most current version.

Additionally, you’ll need a battery that has at least 5.0 volts to power the BEC for programming. Plug in the BEC to the Castle Link using the jumper, and plug in the USB through the firewire adapter to the computer. There will be a light in the lower corner of the opening screen showing that the USB is connected, but NOT the BEC yet.

Next, power the BEC.

A quick walk through of the command line functions is in order.

There are three tabs in the Connected window: About, Basic and Software. The screen you are seeing is the "About" tab and shows the connection status and setting controls that include the “Update” command for sending new settings to the BEC and the “Defaults” setting for returning your BEC to the factory settings.

In the basic window I have only one option for the BEC Pro and that is the voltage setting.

I am using a 6.0 volt setting.

There’s only one option to set: the voltage. The firmware can be updated at any time.

RF Interference

While Castle has done everything possible to reduce any radio frequency interference, due diligence should be performed through ground range checks and an overall attention to the proximity of the BEC to the receiver. In the picture below the BEC seems closer than it really is. The BEC is a level below and opposite the antennae for the Airtronics 2.4 GHz receiver. I continue to use my best judgment and have noticed no interference in this configuration. With the use of the 7.4 volt LiPo and the BEC Pro I no longer have servos buzzing which makes it harder, in my opinion, to pinpoint interference.

Photos

Conclusion

Folks, it does not get much easier than this. The Castle BEC Pro is easy to program and performs just as advertised. The large heat sink dissipates heat and ensures the peak 20 amps you need for your application. I highly recommend you take the leap forward to using a Castle BEC Pro with a 2S LiPo battery to power your next fuel airplane. I also know you will agree that the applications for cars with large high output motors and helicopters with digital servos and gyros will also recognize the benefits of the new Castle BEC Pro.

Good:

  • Easy to program
  • Small enough to place
  • Efficient

Not-So-Good

  • Nothing noted!
Last edited by Angela H; Oct 20, 2009 at 03:52 PM..

Discussion

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Old Oct 20, 2009, 04:44 PM
Registered User
Ireland
Joined Apr 2001
4,024 Posts
could you post a graph of how well it maintains voltage under diferent loads for examle with a eagletree data loger (then you can also measure the current going in and going out)
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Old Oct 23, 2009, 03:38 PM
Registered User
UK
Joined Oct 2001
110 Posts
I assume but both BECs are actually what is generally called Ultra BECs E.G. Switch mode voltage transformers; E.G. to supply 6V at 4A (=24W) would only draw 2A from a 12V battery (also =24W)
I can see no other way a 50V input could be sensibly used, but if this is the case why the heat sink ? or are there more inefficiencies than I think.
Can you make this clear ?
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Old Oct 24, 2009, 04:32 AM
Stranger in a land
Haole's Avatar
Hawaii
Joined Dec 2007
571 Posts
Nice review, 78dave and looks like another fine product from Castle. Thanks for taking the time to detail your experiences with it.

Here's a little typo that you may want to fix in your review:

Quote:
to eliminate and possible interference.
I believe you meant to say, "any".

Carl
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Old Oct 24, 2009, 06:33 AM
Joined Jan 2004
2,469 Posts
Nice review Dave! I have 2 on order, 1 to replace the 10 amp Castle BEC in my Showtime 90 conversion.
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Old Oct 24, 2009, 08:07 AM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
1,316 Posts
The "why the heat sink" makes me wonder where else the heat would go? Stepping down that much voltage and doing so by switching requires that heat sink.
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Old Oct 25, 2009, 10:28 AM
Registered User
Joined Jul 2004
20 Posts
Great review Dave. Since I fly large electrics, my power source for the Pro will be the 10s lipo main battery eliminating the 2s lipo completely.
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Last edited by higharc; Oct 25, 2009 at 12:55 PM.
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Old Oct 27, 2009, 12:16 AM
Registered User
San Diego, Ca
Joined Oct 2007
489 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmulder
could you post a graph of how well it maintains voltage under diferent loads for examle with a eagletree data loger (then you can also measure the current going in and going out)
The eagle tree would not be much use, the time resolution is WAY too low. The momentary drops in V when servos start to move or change direction are deep but very short. Scoping the power right on the bus on an RX would though. It would be nice to see that with massive and erratic stick movement on all channels at once.

I've scoped my own setups, and so far the best test seems to be synching the movement of all servos and moving them rapidly back and forth full travel. Stalling them doesn't seem to make it significantly worse. The static start to motion and direction reversal seem to be by far the biggest current hit. ANd making them all hit at the same time is the hardest test for the system.
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Old Oct 27, 2009, 12:26 AM
Stranger in a land
Haole's Avatar
Hawaii
Joined Dec 2007
571 Posts
^What he said. I've used my Watt's Up meter inline on my larger gliders (six servo setups) to see what my amp draw was and the biggest hits were swinging all control surfaces erratically as LAadams suggests.

Carl
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Old Oct 27, 2009, 10:39 AM
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Sunnyvale, CA, USA
Joined Apr 2000
1,724 Posts
Without some form of volts versus load versus temperature curve this review is just Castle advertizing.

A person who I trust who has actualy load tested the "10 amp peak" device have found its real steady state capability to be below 3 Amps.
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Old Oct 31, 2009, 11:11 AM
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Compared to what though . Why the need for load test ?
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Old Oct 31, 2009, 11:15 AM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
1,316 Posts
My thought on the load is where are the consistency items. We all use longer servo leads, different servos, batteries and their age, charge... There are so many variables here what good would the number be.
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Old Oct 31, 2009, 02:04 PM
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Sunnyvale, CA, USA
Joined Apr 2000
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"Compared to what though . Why the need for load test ?"

To verify the spec. The sole purpose of the device is to supply a load - without validation of the advertizing claim how do you choose?
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Old Feb 01, 2010, 08:37 AM
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United States, KY, Louisville
Joined Sep 2007
2,856 Posts
The specs say the weight is 1oz w/o wires. So what is the weight with wires?!?!?!?
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Old Apr 01, 2010, 04:32 AM
Oopss. Oh well.
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In the tropics
Joined Jan 2006
3,614 Posts
Does no one have anything good to say about this product?
I'm thinking of getting a second unit (first unit works okay, but I hardly stress it) - would be good to know if anyone actually did do a full loading test?
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