Talon SRX vs Spark MAX

What are the main differences between the SPARK MAX controllers and the Talon SRX controllers? My understanding is that the Spark can control the same motors as the Talon. (+ the neo) We would be using these to power a lift. Normal spark controllers are out of stock.

I heard about how talons have integrated PID support, but that may not be so helpful with a lift. Is there any reason to pay the extra 15 or so for the talon?

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Our team have never used Spark Max before so I wouldn’t be able to help you out with the full on comparison. However, we do use Talon SRX on our robot every year. It is pretty convenient to have the PID math done automatically by the motor controllers. You would just need to attach rotation type sensors, such as potentiometer or encoder, and you can run the motor controller as “position control mode” and it will adjust it accordingly to the input.

I’d hold off on both for now, unless you know what you’re getting into with the Sparks. Next year, once people know all about the various oddities and know how to use them, certainly go for them, since they have nearly every feature the Talons have, plus brushless motor control.

Would you please elaborate on “they have nearly every feature the Talons have”?

We ordered NEOs already so we will need to figure out how to use these either way.

check out the documentation on the REV web site. Not familiar with the SPARK MAX in any detail, but these are some of the features of the talon SRX:

It can run in traditional PWM [pulse width modulated, aka SERVO signal] mode, though in this mode all you can control is the duty cycle because this is all PWM supports.
It can also be operated through the CAN (Controller Area Network, a protocol apparently created so that automobile sensors and actuators and the central computer could all talk to each other) in a wide variety of modes. Here are some of the most commonly used ones:

  • Duty Cycle: equivalently to PWM but with the control over a different protocol
  • Voltage Compensated: Duty cycle which runs longer when the battery voltage is low
  • Current Limited: the controller has an internal current meter and limits the duty cycle so that the controller does not draw more than a specified current from the battery
  • Positional/distance feedback: requires an encoder or potentiometer, and allows the RIO to tell the controller to drive a certain distance or put an arm or elevator in a specific position
  • Velocity feedback: requires an encoder or potentiometer, and allows the RIO to tell the controller to move the robot or manipulator at a certain speed and direction
  • Motion Magic: Enables “motion profiling”, which requires an encoder or potentiometer and combines several of the above; the RIO can (for example) tell the robot to drive forward 35 feet at no more than 6 ft/s and no more than 5 ft/s/s acceleration.
  • Follower: enables a Talon SRX or Victor SPX (and, I believe a MAX) to mimic the duty cycle of another CAN motor controller. That other controller may be using one of the more complex modes, meaning that that one sensor feedback may effectively control two or more motors.
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