Beginner’s Guide to RC – Change Connectors on Your Battery and ESC
One of the ways manufacturers help keep costs down is to supply their batteries and ESCs with inexpensive connectors. On the plus side, these connectors can cost fractions of what the good, high end connectors cost, allowing them to pass that savings down to you. Because these connectors are so inexpensive, it also makes them massively abundant when it comes time to buy additional batteries or upgrade to a new ESC. In addition, most chargers come with at least one type of these connectors.
These connectors can have a pretty substantial downside, however. When powering your RC car or truck, the juice from a battery flowing through the wires to the ESC can generate heat. This heat can cause two problems: 1) The heat is basically wasted power and can be a reason your vehicle seems slow. 2) This heat can melt the connectors, fusing them together and potentially causing a serious situation (ie, fire!).
Changing to a good, quality set of connectors is a cheap way to both reduce heat (providing more power) and help prevent a meltdown that could destroy more than just your vehicle.
In this How To, we explain how to change the connectors on your ESC. The same steps apply when changing the connector on your battery, however you’ll want to take these additional precautions:
1) When removing the connector from your battery, DO NOT cut both wires a the same time. Doing so could create a bridge that WILL create a pretty spectacular spark. Cut one wire, bend it out of the way and cut the second wire.
2) Make sure you attach the wires to match the connnector on the ESC. If you attach them backwards and plug it into the ESC, you’ll be in for a big, smokey surprise when you turn your vehicle on.
For a explanation on the most common connectors in RC, check out this page: Battery Connectors and Balance Plugs Explained
That’s about it, let’s get on with the How To.
1. Tools Required
To change the connectors, you’ll need your ESC (or battery) with the not-so-great connector. You’ll also need a new set of connectors, shrinkwrap (color-coded is suggested), a soldering iron, solder and something to clip the wires with (scissors, side-cutters, hobby knife, etc).
2. A Set of Helping Hands
I would suggest, if you think you might be soldering quite a bit, to pick up one of these Pro’sKit Helping Hands Soldering Aid. This thing works great for holding wires and connectors while soldering.
3. Snip the Tip
The connector pictured is extremely common and referred to as a Tamiya connector, one of the most widely used connectors in RC. Snip that connector off and toss it in the trash. Take your scissors (or hobby knife, or whatever) and trim a small amount of the shielding off of both wires as shown. If you are working on a battery, trim the shielding off of one wire and fold it out of the way before working on the second wire. DO NOT LET THE EXPOSED WIRES TOUCH! If you’re still concerned, wrap a piece of tape over the wire and proceed to the second wire.
4. Prep Your Wires
Tin both wires with a little bit of rosin-core solder as shown. Make sure to coat the wires completely.
5. Check the Connector
All high-end connectors have the positive and negative terminals designated on the connector itself. You want to inspect the connector carefully to make sure you’re solding to the correct terminals. This Deans-style connector has the + and – near the tabs themselves; I’ve highlighted them in black so you can see them better.
6. Tin the Tabs
Apply a small amount of solder to the tabs on the connector.
7. Final Soldering
Slide a piece of shrink tubing onto each wire (I use Reedy’s pre-cut #650 Shrink Tubing). Carefully solder each wire to the new connector, again making sure you attach the red wire (or positive wire) to the + terminal (positive terminal) and the black wire (negative wire) to the – terminal (negative terminal). You can see so far how handy the Pro’sKit Helping Hands Soldering Aid is!
8. Seal the Solder
Slide the tubing down and over the connector terminal and use a heat source to shrink it to size. You can use your soldering iron, lighter or even a hair dryer. Just be careful not to burn yourself.
So there you have it, eight easy steps to change your connectors out. Your electronic system will waste less energy, your car will have more power and your connectors will make you look like a Pro. Great job!