Brushless Motor Cogging

Cogging in a brushless RC (Radio Controlled) motor refers to the jerky or stuttering movement that occurs typically at low speeds or during startup. This phenomenon can happen due to several reasons:

  1. Incorrect Timing: Motor timing settings in the ESC (Electronic Speed Controller) can cause cogging if they are not matched correctly to the brushless motor's specifications.
  2. Low Voltage: Insufficient power supply can lead to inadequate torque, causing the motor to cog, especially when attempting to move a heavy load.
  3. Poor Electrical Connections: Loose or poor-quality connections between the motor and the ESC can result in intermittent power delivery, leading to cogging.
  4. Sensor Issues: For sensored brushless motors, faulty or misaligned sensors can disrupt the motor’s ability to commutate properly, causing cogging. Make sure that the sensor cable is properly connected and that the sensor itself is in good condition.
  5. Magnetic Anomalies or Impurities: These can disrupt the magnetic field inside the motor, making it difficult for the motor to turn smoothly.
  6. Mechanical Factors: Binding or misalignment in the RC vehicle's drivetrain can also manifest as motor cogging. Make sure there are no obstructions and that all gears are well-aligned.
  7. Inadequate ESC Calibration: Sometimes, the ESC may require recalibration to work optimally with a specific motor. Refer to your ESC’s manual for calibration procedures.
  8. Poor Motor Construction: Lower quality motors may not have well-balanced rotors or well-wound stators, leading to less smooth operation and cogging.
  9. PWM Frequency: The frequency at which the ESC sends pulses to the motor can also impact cogging. Some ESCs allow you to adjust this parameter.
  10. Load and Torque: Cogging is more noticeable under high load conditions or steep inclines where the motor struggles to produce enough torque.
  11. Temperature: Very high or low operating temperatures can affect the magnetic properties of the motor and the efficiency of the electrical components, contributing to cogging.

To resolve cogging, you may need to adjust ESC settings, check all connections, recalibrate the ESC, or even replace faulty components. Sometimes, a combination of these solutions may be required to eliminate the problem.

Cogging in greater detail,

Cogging in a brushless motor can be understood through a combination of electrical, magnetic, and mechanical principles. Let's delve into the science behind some of the key factors contributing to cogging:

Magnetic Attraction and Detent Torque

Brushless motors consist of a rotor with permanent magnets and a stator with coils of wire. When the coils are energized, they produce magnetic fields that interact with the fields of the permanent magnets on the rotor. This interaction creates torque that rotates the motor shaft. However, the magnetic attraction between the rotor magnets and the iron core of the stator can produce a "detent" or "cogging" torque even when the coils are not energized. This is sometimes referred to as "static cogging" and is most noticeable when the motor is turned by hand with the power off. If the magnetic attraction is not uniform across the rotation, it can result in a jerky motion.


In brushless motors, electronic commutation is used to keep the motor spinning. This involves sequentially energizing the stator coils in a pattern that pulls the rotor magnets around. If the timing of this commutation is off, either due to sensor misalignment or timing errors in the ESC, it can result in imperfect magnetic alignment and torque generation, causing the motor to stutter or "cog."

Electrical Factors

  1. Voltage: A lower voltage can result in inadequate torque, especially under load or at startup. The motor may not have enough power to overcome the static friction and inertia, leading to cogging.
  2. PWM Frequency: The frequency of the Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) signals used by the ESC to control motor speed can affect cogging. Lower frequencies can sometimes produce a more noticeable cogging effect.

Mechanical Factors

  1. Drive Train: Any mechanical resistance or binding in the drive train can exacerbate cogging, especially at low speeds where the motor's torque may be less capable of overcoming such resistances.
  2. Motor Construction: Imperfections in the motor's construction, like imbalances in the rotor or inaccurately wound stator coils, can also contribute to irregular torque production and thus cogging.


Temperature affects the magnetic properties of the materials and the resistance of the electrical circuits. Both high and low temperatures can make the motor more susceptible to cogging due to these changes in properties.

ESC and Control Algorithms

The algorithms controlling motor speed and torque in the ESC can also contribute to cogging if they are not finely tuned. For example, starting algorithms that don't provide enough initial torque can result in cogging during startup.

Understanding the interplay of these factors can help in diagnosing and fixing issues related to motor cogging.

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