Tower Hobbies Turbo Vee 3 Upgrades - RC Groups
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Jun 16, 2008, 09:22 PM
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Tower Hobbies Turbo Vee 3 Upgrades

Hi everyone!

I am brand new into R/C, and R/C boating in particular. A few weeks ago, I bought a Tower Hobbies Turbo Vee 3 and some 7.2v 1500mah nicd batteries. This gets me reasonable speed for about 3 minutes of runtime, and gets slower over the next few minutes of runtime. I get about 7-9 minutes runtime total per battery. While this stock configuration is quite fun, I am looking to get a little more out of the boat. With that in mind, I purchased a couple of Duratrax DTX4200 nimh batteries. This is a six-cell, 7.2v 4200mah battery, so I thought it would be pretty much identical speed (still 7.2v) for longer runtime (4200 vs 1500 mah).

What I've found out, though, is that the boat seems a bit faster, and does run for a longer period. However, I haven't been able to find out exactly how long yet, because the ESC seems to burn out when I run the boat on those batteries. I've burned out two ESCs that way, so I'm now running on my third. Not having a large background in electronics, I turn to you guys: can you think of why this might be happening? My guess (as a pure layperson) is that either the speed controller gets overheated with the longer run times, or that the batteries are somehow different enough that the ESC can't handle them properly. Any suggestions as to how I can keep the ESC from burning out? If not, any ideas on how I can still utilize these batteries in that boat, so that I haven't wasted my money?

One other thing I want to ask about is temperatures. After a run, the batteries can be quite hot to the touch. And it isn't unusual for the motor to be extremely hot. Are there any thoughts you guys have about making things a bit more cool? I will note that the TV3 does have water cooling around the motor, and while running, there is a steady stream of water flowing through that cooling system.

I'm also interested in any other upgrades that can be made to this boat, within reasonable costs. I know going brushless would be a good start...but that'd require a new motor and ESC to control it. Where are some good places to look at these? Any suggested models I should take into special consideration? I'm not ready to make the jump to lipo batteries just yet, having sunk so much money into the boat and batteries I already have, but if I replace the stock ESC with something else, I want to be able to make that upgrade. Do ESCs that support both nimh and lipo chemistries exist? How about prop replacements?

Anything else I haven't thought about that would help upgrade this boat, with the goal in mind of maintaining or only slightly increasing current running speed but maximizing run time?

Thanks for all your help and suggestions!
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Jun 17, 2008, 12:30 AM
"day ain't over yet-"
der kapitan's Avatar
Hi Unilateral,

I don't play much with these RTR's but it sounds like your original purchase has a really cheap speed control that can't handle the extra amps that the NiMh packs can pump out.

The electro-wizards on this forum may be able to refine the problem a bit better, if they pick up on this thread, which I hope they will---.

It'd be good to see what they have to put into the mix---.
Jun 17, 2008, 01:00 AM
Registered User
That's interesting... Tower's review of this boat links back to RCGroups...
Jun 17, 2008, 03:25 AM
Registered User
considering where the esc is mounted(inside the radio box) you're prolly overheating it with the long run times. Nimh cells do provide a bit more voltage than the Ni-Cd cells(note the charger listed in the review can only charge Ni-Cd cells).
Hot motor;
here too the longer run times come into play(water cooling only delays the heat build up), though if this boat is like most 'rtr' boats it would most likely benefit from lubing/relubing the prop shaft.
offshore electrics has a nice selection of motors(and esc's)
Jun 17, 2008, 04:12 AM
Registered User
though if you were really really set on going brushless I would suggest a feigao 540 8L with an offshore electrics(ose) water jacket. for an esc a hydra120 with the castle link. I would also upgrade the radio to an fm unit(at a minimum).
Jun 17, 2008, 10:57 AM
Registered User
This boat was exactly what I was looking for when I bought it: an easy and relatively cheap way to get my feet wet. Now that my feet are wet, I'm looking to get a bit deeper into the works.

I'll relube the prop shaft, Rex R, and report back tomorrow or Thursday regarding any performance changes that this causes. As to your other points, I do have a NiMH-capable charger - I decided I wanted a charger capable of peak detection, rather than the mechanical timer model that came with the kit. So I purchased a Triton Jr, which has been working really well for me. Regarding temperatures, I was really asking if there were any suggestions about changing the existing aluminum cooling coil to a different setup to help keep things cooler for longer periods. I had already planned to upgrade the radio to a 2.4GHz setup, but that will be at least a couple of months into the future due to the high costs involved with such a system. Looking at the OSE equipment, I realize now that upgrading won't be as cheap as I was hoping for - $200 for the Hydra 120 is around $100 more than I was expecting...looks like I'll be end up doing some rebudgeting.

Originally Posted by Rex R
considering where the esc is mounted(inside the radio box) you're prolly overheating it with the long run times.
It gets even better: the ESC is a circuit board fixed in place between two metal plates with what looks like a heatshrink material wrapping around the entire package. The package has a good amount of rubberized filler between the circuit board and the metal plates, and is filled up to the opening in the heatshrink material. While an effective water protectant, I doubt the engineer that designed it had the thermal insulative properties of that material in mind. I've never actually felt the ESC after a run, though, so I don't know how hot it gets. I'll have to check that out on the next opportunity.

Originally Posted by Rex R
though if you were really really set on going brushless
This makes it sound as if you wouldn't recommend it - would you suggest an alternative upgrade path? Why?

Thanks again for all of your thoughts, suggestions, and comments!
Last edited by unlateral; Jun 17, 2008 at 11:03 AM.
Jun 17, 2008, 11:46 AM
3 Blades to the Wind
Shaun Hendricks's Avatar
He's recommending against going brushless because the hull really isn't worth it unless you had the goods to do it just laying around and collecting dust.

A 4200 NiMh cell can be heavier than a 1500NiCd. It won't be much but possible. The voltage difference should be negligable, 6 cells is really just 6 cells. It certainly should not be enough to bother the ESC.

I'm with the heat option. I think the longer run times are overheating the ESC and the only solution you'd have is to water cool the ESC. That's going to add weight and difficulty to the boat.

Personally, I'd replace the ESC if it's a separate unit from the reciever. Put a higher grade ESC in the boat and you should be happier with it. If you use a 12v ESC, you can put higher cell count batteries (up to 10 cells) into the boat and get a speed boost as well.

An inexpensive one from E-Bay would do or you can get a higher end Mtroniks or Proboat ESC.
Jun 17, 2008, 03:04 PM
Registered User
I've seen quite a number of posts where; folks have/in the process of/want to go brushless...more than a few apparently wanted to make their boat something it wasn't designed to be(super fast usually) and discover that it is a lot more work (and more expensive) than they 1st thought and decide to give up on boats entirely. I'm not a big fan of putting bl motors in everything that floats with the hope of high speed, mainly because many of the rtr boats are not suited for upgrading(lack of room for an example). however the motor I listed should give a modest boost in speed w/o having to replace the entire drive train from the motor back.
OSE does stock some silicon water jackets that should work w/ the stock motor.
it is normal for batts to get warm/hot when discharged...particularly if you run them till they 'dump'.
if you went with a different esc (say the blue pro-boat) a speed 600 might work as an upgrade(the pro-boat esc can be water cooled )
Jun 18, 2008, 09:05 PM
Registered User
Having relubed the prop shaft, I can't say that I've noticed any difference in the performance of the boat - runtime, speed, or otherwise. I'm guessing this was one of the few RTRs that was properly lubricated to start with.

My main angle here is to increase the runtime of the boat. The current speed is something I'm okay with, though I wouldn't want it decreasing as a result of any changes I make. So, as I stated before, if I can maximize runtime without making any changes to the speed, I'll have succeeded in what I want to accomplish. If the speed increases slightly as a result of any changes, I'm okay with that as well, but I'm not going to go out of my way to make any speed-related changes to the vessel.

That said, the two immediate thoughts I had was first and foremost upgrading from NiCd to a more energy-dense battery chemistry: in my case, NiMH. The second thought was to change to a brushless setup, since my reading indicates that there is a much higher degree of efficiency in this kind of motor configuration.

So, what I'm hearing from you guys is that I should probably switch to a different, probably water-cooled, ESC. Making this change means that the ESC shouldn't burn out and I could then make use of the full battery capacity.

I'll look around to see if I can find something decent that fits into my price range. Thanks a bunch for your time and suggestions!
Last edited by unlateral; Jun 18, 2008 at 09:06 PM. Reason: Minor grammar fix
Jun 19, 2008, 04:30 AM
Registered User
my suggestions: 50 amp pro boat esc(downside, if you want to water cool it you will have to make a cooling plate, upside they are water proof!), motor cooling; gundart silicon water jacket. fairly sure OSE has the water jackets in stock...not sure about the esc. hth

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