You’re staring down a deep dark rabbit hole my friend!..
Before you begin your learning journey, ask yourself two questions, then choose a path.
- Do I really need a deep knowledge of embedded systems, motor control physics, etc
- OR, Do I just need to know how to build great electric vehicles, using existing systems?
If your answer is #1
You can do formal education in various fields to learn about the topics. Remember, VESC is just a brand name for a product, so there won’t be any course material dedicated to VESC.
You would need to start by learning about core principles, maths, physics, electrical engineering, programming etc. After that, you may have a better understanding of motor control theory, and hopefully, start to make sense of the hundreds (probably thousands) of variables that must mesh together to make a useful motor control algorithm.
That’s all theory/physics stuff, Now you need to embed the algorithms into hardware in the form of firmware, Made up of thousands of lines of code that’s must work within the constraints of the hardware. (This is why VESC is so great, it works well across a wide range of hardware)
Finally, the user interface software called VESC tool to allow it all to be programmable on your phone or computer all whilst trying to make the extremely complex functionality all seem somewhat “user friendly”
Truth be told, 98% of the people on this forum have no idea how any of it actually “works” - Most people will never use the VESC tool and the hundreds of user-programmable parameters it has on offer.
The reality is, you don’t really need to know anything about the complexity & engineering to use it & get good results.
That’s really the job of the engineers, Make complex things simple for the masses, Agree?
If you want to read more about the engineer, Ben Vedder, who created VESC you can read how it all happened at his blog:
This leads us to question / answer #2
How to build really good electric vehicles?
A good electric vehicle can be described in many ways, everyone has different requirements etc, I don’t have time to go down that rabbit hole in this post.
You often hear people talk about form & function, I think these are two good things to think about before your next build.
In order to wind my already lengthy reply up, I’m going to ask questions about function only!
- Do you want your board to go up a hill? [Mechanical Torque, Battery & Motor Current]
- Do you want the battery to last for 20, 30, 40 miles etc? [Battery Design, Cell Selection]
- Do you want ball tearing acceleration & top speed? [Battery Voltage & Current, Mech/ Drive Train & Gearing]
- Do you want a lightweight board you can carry around in a shop? [Design constraints; Single vs Dual Motor, Motor Size, Battery Size, Wheel Size]
I personally believe learning how to build your board, confined by the constraints of the hardware you select, to achieve the FUNCTIONS that are important to you is way more important than spending time learning all the complex theories behind how the VESC actually works. Most of that knowledge is not actually useful. However, you might be into that so don’t let me persuade you from learning, go nuts.
In the VESC tool the most important things to learn are;
- How to connect the motor & do motor detection. Specifically, does the motor have shall sensors, if so, what pins are what.
- How to setup battery current limits. “Max Battery Current” MUST be matched to the batteries capabilities, set this too high & you will harm the battery.
- How to setup Max Motor Current limits. Small motors will burn up with too much current.
- How to setup the remote controller & brake so it is safe for your weight, riding skills etc.
Fortunately, there is a motor setup wizard in the VEC tool, it basically does 1-3 for you. However, it’s not perfect, so you really should learn about that stuff. Trial & error is a great learning tool, you can tweak these settings by a few points each time and do real-world tests to better understand the impact on performance.
WARNING When “testing” Never exceed the safe limits of the battery, esc & motor. If you don’t know the limits ask the manufacturer.
All the other stuff in the VESC tool can basically be ignored, it isn’t going to make your esk8 perform better. Because once you get the setup dialed in, with safe parameters, you won’t be using the VESC tool much at all. When I say “Dialed In” I literally mean the correct settings that are determined by the specifications of your hardware. There are no secrets VESC settings that can alter laws of physics.
On a side note; I think the VESC tool desperately needs to be reworked by UX engineer, or simply a button to hide all the menus that aren’t commonly used. The tool is extremely confusing for beginners primarily due to the sheer amount of parameters, total information overload, that hits you in the face when it first opens up.
TLDR: Don’t think to yourself that learning about all that extra vesc “stuff” is going to make you better at building esk8, it probably won’t
Anyway, feel free to keep asking specific questions, about anything, bit by bit you will start to understand the VESC Project and why it has been an important innovation Esk8’s