Like everything in technology, things get better over time and have more features, all in a smaller package. While most current brushless electronic speed controls on the market are pretty large, this one lacks an external capacitor, which results in less space for the combo. Now you may be thinking that the absence of this key piece of external hardware has to have sacrificed something, but this doesn't seem to be the case. Orion already has great motors and batteries and with this entry it looks like they could make a big impact on the ESC market as well.

Issue 162 (May 2009) - Words: James Revilla

Testing
Installation was delayed slightly when I realized that this unit needed some wires. That's right; they're not included, but fortunately once you track down some standard wire installation is fairly easy and quick. Just keep track of your wires. Do yourself a favor and color code them, cause we all know that a crossed up set of wires means disaster. Fortunately, without a heatsink or fan, clearance was easy since I was using this unit in my offroad buggy.
After everything was soldered in (luckily the solder tabs are the non-hole type, making this process even easier), it was time to set the software. Programming it to your radio is fairly straightforward, as the set button is located on the on/off switch. There are five different profile memories that store five different factory setups. There's nothing overly complicated here, and I prefer it that way most of the time. Just count the blinking lights; they correspond with the setting selected. There isn't an abundance of fine tuning available, but at the track simplicity is often welcome. Just keep the included manual near by for easy reference. If you do want to go beyond the default settings, it is possible with the optional ICS adapter and software (sold separately).
The ESC features a unique patented drive current frequency control that Orion claims varies the drive current frequency depending on the throttle inputs. This feature is tuneable to racing and track conditions.
On the track, the ESC felt smooth and had plenty of power. I was running a 10.5T motor at the time, but according to the manual, the ESC could handle the amp draw of a motor down to a 4.5T or 2.5T if I decided to install the cooling system (fan and heatsink). Since I was running offroad, good throttle control was important and this controller did a great job. Orion even included an "off-road" setting as one of the five default profiles and it seemed good for my motor. For stock motors I would probably run the "powerful" profile. After a few minutes I did notice that the drag brake felt a little stronger than I would have liked, but since the settings are factory set, I pretty much had to live with it unless I wanted to purchase the ICS adapter and software. I may be nitpicking, but at this price I was kind of expecting a little bit more.

Conclusion
As racing continues to push the limits of technology, it's great to see manufacturers getting in on the game to drive competition in manufacturing. Brushless is here to stay and Orion is right there with a solid controller to compliment their already proven motors and batteries. Even if you buy this controller for backyard bashing, it has ease of use and quality too. I was a little disappointed with the lack of wires, fan, and other software details missing at this price, but overall I thought it did what it was claimed to, and isn't that the most important thing?

   

Hits
Small footprint
Smooth and predictable
Great power

Misses
Expensive
No wires, fan or heatsink included
Can't run brushed motors

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