I am using the Arduino Servo library to control two servo's on a RC-car. One of the servo's (for steering) is without ESC (as it should be), so easy to connect and power.

However, the motor that provides the speed uses a ESC with BEC. Which means that the 3 wires coming out of the ESC (red, black and white, which I need to send pulses to) are providing me with current. This would be fine, I could use BEC to power my Arduino, but I like battery life and I have a totally different plan..

So now my actual question; how do I connect the ESC so that I would not have to use the BEC's power supply. I can not imagine only connecting the ground and signal wires, so I need a little help :-)

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ ESC = Electronic Speed Controller, and BEC = Battery Eliminator Circuit, correct? Not everyone uses the same acronyms. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 23, 2011 at 22:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was under the impression everyone knew in this context, but yes you are correct. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jake
    Commented May 24, 2011 at 8:34

1 Answer 1


You state that you like battery life. The Arduino will take a miniscule amount of power compared to the motor on the car. It will probably take less current then even running the steering servo. There are reasons for not using the BEC power, but those are usually related to noise from that power.

Regardless, if you want to power the Arduino from a separate power source you need to make sure to use close voltage levels. (RC can usually tolerate 4.8-6.0V or what was 4-5 NiCd/NiMh before LiPo became more popular.)

Your servo connection will just be Vcc, Ground, and signal. The signal is the only thing connected to an Arduino pin, so we don't have to worry about how much power pins can provide. The Vcc and ground will provide the actual energy to turn the steering servo, which can be quite high depending on the performance of the servo used.

For connecting with the ESC, you need to tie your Arduino ground to the ESC ground through the BEC circuit. You will leave the power coming from the BEC open. Then you provide the signal to control it. By tying the grounds together, they are now at the same potential. Even though you are using different power sources, you are providing pulses that will be understood by the ESC, because they are both referenced from the same point (ground.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ I will have to check at home if this works, but so far thanks for your answer (will accept it as soon as I know more). \$\endgroup\$
    – Jake
    Commented May 24, 2011 at 14:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sweet, it works like a charm! My unconsciousness probably didn't believe you because I connected everything without lifting up the wheels of the car; it resulted in the car shooting forward :-D \$\endgroup\$
    – Jake
    Commented May 24, 2011 at 16:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ That'll teach you! :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe
    Commented May 24, 2011 at 16:47

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