Dynamic Timing in RC Cars: A Dive into the Physics

Dynamic Timing in RC Cars: A Dive into the Physics

Introduction to Dynamic Timing ("Boost")

At the heart of the matter is the idea of dynamic timing, also known as "boost". Traditional static timing required users to find a middle ground between low and high RPM performance. Dynamic timing, on the other hand, adjusts the timing based on the RPM, providing a more optimized performance curve. This allows the motor to operate closer to its neutral plane, making it more efficient and cooler.

Understanding the Neutral Plane

In older electronic speed controllers (ESCs), dynamic timing was introduced with a few preset switching points. Modern ESCs, however, offer smoother, more granular control over the timing. This allows the motor's commutation to stay close to the neutral plane throughout its RPM range, optimizing efficiency and power.

Boost vs. Turbo: Breaking Down the Terms

Most modern ESCs provide two methods of dynamic timing: boost and turbo.

  • Boost: This method relates directly to RPM. Users define a starting and ending RPM, and the timing is progressively increased between these points. For example, if boost starts at 5,000 RPM and ends at 25,000 RPM with a 45° timing advance, the timing will incrementally increase from 5° to 50° across this range. Some advanced ESCs allow users to plot custom timing curves.
  • Turbo: Turbo aims to further optimize high RPM performance. It's activated based on certain triggers, like reaching a specific RPM or throttle position. Once triggered, turbo can introduce an additional, abrupt increase in timing to give that extra "kick" of power, especially useful for straight track sections.

The Physics Behind Timing and Efficiency

  1. Efficiency and the Neutral Plane: Motors have a "neutral plane," where commutation and the applied timing are in sync, leading to maximum efficiency. When they're misaligned, inefficiency and heat result. By adjusting the timing based on RPM, dynamic timing attempts to keep the motor running close to this neutral plane, optimizing performance.
  2. Combining Fixed and Dynamic Timing: When using dynamic timing, the ESC and motor timings add up. For instance, if the motor is set at 20°, and the boost and turbo provide 35° and 20° respectively, the total timing at peak performance could be 75°.
  3. Role of Gearing: The gear ratio can influence how quickly the RPM rises, which in turn affects how timing adjustments are perceived. Higher gear ratios (higher rollout, lower Final Drive Ratio) result in slower RPM increases.


Dynamic timing offers a way to adapt motor performance to the specific demands of an RC track. By adjusting the timing based on RPM and other triggers, it's possible to maintain closer alignment with the motor's neutral plane, ensuring optimized power and efficiency. As always, monitoring temperature is vital to prevent overheating, especially when using high timing values.

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