Motors and Motor Controllers Comparison

Hi, I am the lead programmer for Team 6884. We are getting ready to order some new motors and motor controllers. We’ve used Sparks and CIMs in the past, and are looking to buy something with better performance and features. We obviously don’t have experience with any other motors or controllers, so how do other motors and motor controllers compare and perform?


-Talon SRX
-Victor SPX
-Spark Max

Feel free to add any that I’m forgetting; I’m the programming lead so I don’t have the most experience with this. Thanks!

You’re gonna want to be more specific with those controllers. I’m assuming you mean Talon SRX and Victor SPX.

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Yes, sorry. I’ll edit the post right now

If you’re not using any of the advanced features of the talon, I’d get victors. They’re much smaller than sparks and are CAN controlled which leads to neater wiring.

If you’re looking to implement PID control or encoders and such, talons or sparks are very good for that because you can hook up the encoder straight to the talon and run the control loop on the talon.

Just remember if you want NEOs, you must have a spark max.

For motors, 775s are really good for individual mechanisms like grippers.

For the rest, they’re rlly good at drivebase or climber stuff. I’d recommend upgrading to either a Falcon or NEO because they are better than the CIM (less space and more powerful).

By the way, are the falcons tested at all? They look great in theory. Also, do Spark Maxes support onboard PID loops?

Max does but as it stands currently, only with the NEO. They should have external encoder support coming soon though.

EDIT: idk if falcon has been tested by beta teams. It just got released a few weeks aho

Even if you aren’t using the advanced features, I’m a firm believer in having a little headroom so your people can develop things.

To be clear, the Pandamaniacs favor established, understood products over chasing the latest and greatest. That sometimes means we’re down on power or sophistication, but we also avoid any early-production teething issues or out-of-stock situations that new products sometimes get. In addition, our software development skills have been way behind the curve the last few years for various reasons (chiefly, the lack of an experienced mentor who can take that and run).

Both Cross The Road Electronics and REV have their own software ecosystems, and 365 days ago REV’s was way too green for us to feel comfortable. (Again, we’re us.) Then the logical question was “how are VEX and/or CTRE going to respond?”, knowing that both camps will take this very seriously. Had CTRE’s answer this fall been a standalone controller like the SPARK MAX or Talon SRX, we might’ve migrated that way to maintain the bit of momentum we had. But they didn’t, and the Falcon 500 hardware ecosystem is still very new.

Because of that and our preferences, we’re sitting out the brushless game and sticking with the established Talon SRX and Victor SPX for 2020. We’ll re-evaluate next summer.

I’m still high on RedLine or 775pro motors, as they pack a lot of power into a small package, and by now there’s a good understanding of what they can and can’t handle. We prefer to use 6 Mini CIMs on drive, but I don’t think anyone in the land would turn down a well-operated 4-CIM drivetrain.


Agree with the headroom thing. Talon is also in FIRST choice so could pick up one from there.

So would you recommend 775s or just plain CIMs for the drivetrain? Also, in terms of performance and features, are neos + spark maxes that much better than brushed motors + talons?

For a team in your position? 4 CIMs or 6 Mini CIMs. Some people have done 775 drivetrains, but they’re falling out of fashion now that brushless options are here.

Brushless is absolutely the way of the future, as they’re much more efficient at turning electricity into torque. But I believe it’s premature to say brushed motors are dead. There still will be many 775, 550, BAG, CIM, and Mini CIM motors on robots hoisting blue banners next year. If the cost of conversion is too high or something else in your team isn’t ready for brushless, I see no shame in brushed motors utilized well.

I’m just about over the 550/775 ecosystem with their electric ‘tangs’ for connection. I’ve just seen too many broken off to put up with that any longer. I know VEX has their integrated Anderson end cap but that just adds more cost. No more soldering on motors for me.

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Fair criticism of them. 1293 has had great success with RedLines with 1 1/4" PVC elbows stuck on the backs for cable protection, though there isn’t a similarly clean solution for 550 motors so you’re hosed there.

So it sounds like CIM/miniCIM drivetrain with talons is sufficient and reliable. Would it be a wise investment to buy a set of neos and spark maxes as well to do testing either this season or in the future?

Ozzyboards has an Anderson cap for significantly less than Vex, and we’ve been able to reuse them a few times as we swap out burnt 775s.

Falcons may be our primary workhorse motor next year, but we still have some Talons and 775 hardware in stock for cases where using a Falcon would be difficult or very overkill.

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And notably, it costs $4.99, if you’re concerned about the BOM cost and not the real cost.

But VEX installs it for you so if you don’t have good soldering equipment or aren’t confident in your skills, then vex is better. Also more ways to position the Andersons on vex

The Spark Max does have onboard PID currently either with the NEO’s built in encoder or when running in brushed mode (CIM/775/redline/etc) with an external encoder, just like the TalonSRX. The hopefully soon to be released feature is using an external encoder in brushless mode in addition to the encoder that is on the NEOs.

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Ah I see. Thanks thanks

I’m a firm believer that teams should always have something in development to keep getting sharper. Maybe hardware, maybe software, but always something. (That does not mean you rip up all the things at once. Just what you have the bandwidth for.)

The Falcon 500 (or is it the Talon FX?) omitting this feature might be the thing that settles this. Eliminating backlash in arm control can get awful important.

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I believe the Falcon 500 code base will be able to use CANcoder as an external encoder source.

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