VESC Setup Guide – How to Setup VESC!

While VESC has very good documentation for its open source software, if it’s your first time setting up VESC, you may be overwhelmed with endless of options/parameters.

This tutorial with teach you the simplest method to setup your VESC and also outline some of the more important settings you will want to pay attention to.

For those of you using dual VESC such as Flipsky Dual 4.20 or 6.60 or using two VESC with CAN connector, make sure to connect your USB cable to the second “slave” VESC.

VESC is programmed using a USB cable from your computer to the VESC USB port.  Depending on your VESC, it may use micro-USB or mini-USB.

Our preferred method is to use the VESC Android/iOS app.  You can do this by getting a Flipsky bluetooth module($10), which will allow you to do everything on your smartphone.  This also helps you log your GPS/speed/parameters while you ride your board.  Also, you can change the parameters on the go, that way you can try out different settings WHILE you ride.  We do HIGHLY RECOMMEND the bluetooth module.  Also, this can save you pains of opening up your VESC/battery enclosure to access the USB port, which can be a pain.

Step 1. Flash Firmware/Update Firmware

The very FIRST thing you will want to do before doing anything with your VESC software is to update the firmware.  If you have just got a brand, new VESC module, there’s a good chance it is on older firmware.  Also, updating firmware pretty much resets your VESC so it works flawless with the VESC Tool.

Also, many times VESC can go haywire when you change out motors or battery setup(e.g. change from 10S to 12S).   If you noticed anything weird going on after changing out motors such as one of the motors not spinning or behaving erratically, remember you can flash the firmware over to start over again and find out if its the VESC or your motors causing problems.

Flashing firmware will take around 5 minutes for most VESC modules.

Extra Tip: If you are still having trouble with erratic behavior of your VESC module, you can try flashing the “no_hardware_limits” version of your firmware then reflash the original “default.bin” firmware.

Step 2. Setup Motors FOC Wizard

The easiest way to setup your motor(s) is to use the Setup Motors FOC wizard feature of the VESC Tool.  VESC can run in different modes including BLDC or FOC, but we highly recommend using FOC as your acceleration will be much smoother and your motors will run whisper-quiet.  If using hall sensors, running the FOC Wizard will automatically set all the hall sensor parameters for you.

If using 2 motors, FOC Wizard will setup both motors for you.  If using two VESC modules with CAN bus, make sure to connect your USB cable/bluetooth to the second “slave” VESC module.  You do not have to flash both VESC modules to setup motors if you do it this way.  VESC documentation does not make this exactly clear but in our experience, the FOC Wizard works well for dual motors fine.

If FOC Wizard runs successfully, you should see your motors/wheels turning, making sharp noises(for hall sensor detection), and wheels running faster.  Make sure your motors/wheels are away from any other objects while the FOC Wizard runs.

After FOC Wizard is done, you should see motor maximum current and other various information.  You can see the motor maximum current may be different from your motor specs, they may be a bit less, no need to worry.

If FOC Wizard ran successfully, you can go ahead to the next step.  If FOC Wizard gives you an error and stops during the wizard, there’s probably something wrong with your current setup.  Double check your motors, motor wire connections, and if that doesn’t work, try re-flashing firmware and start over.

See video of Step 1 & 2 here:

Step 3. Setup Current, Voltage,  RPM

While FOC Wizard sets up most of the motor parameters for you, you still have to double-check and also set current, voltage, and RPM.  If you do not do this, your electric skateboard may have problems and even cause your board to cause accidents.

Go to Motor Settings->General->Current to find your new current settings set by the FOC Wizard.  You can usually leave the “Motor Current Max” to the settings set by FOC Wizard.  This is the maximum current the VESC sends to “each” of the motors.  E.g. If using 2 motors and you set this to 50A, you are effectively sending 50 amps to each of the 2 motors, for total of 100A or 100 amps.

“Motor Current Max Brake” can be set to 50% of less of your “Motor Current Max”.  While the VESC Tool defaults to the negative opposite value of “Motor Current Max”, you can set this a lot lower as you will have plenty of brakes.  However if braking power isn’t sufficient while riding, you can raise this value to match your needs.

“Absolute Maximum Current” should be set to your VESC specs, there should be a maximum current that your VESC module can handle for up to a few seconds.  Sometimes there can be current spikes while riding, and this will prevent your VESC module from shutting down.  You can also usually leave this alone by the value set by FOC Wizard.

“Battery Current Max” is probably the most important setting in your VESC as this is the limits set by your VESC to limit the maximum current flowing out of your battery.  If you do not set this correctly and your battery pack BMS does not use BMS bypass, you can potentially fly off your electric skateboard when your battery BMS maximum current limits are reached, upon which the BMS will shut off all power to your VESC.   This can be very hazardous and dangerous situation especially when using with belt-driven motors as it will shut off all power and potentially make the rider faceplant into the concrete/ground.  Dr. E’s first big accident(where he broke one of his ribs by face planting) came from setting “Battery Current Max” too high.

How to Find “Battery Current Max”?

This is a settings that is listed on the battery cell specs, sometimes not even listed on the battery pack itself.  You will want to find the “maximum current discharge” of the battery cell you are using.

Below is a list of some of the popular battery cells w/ their Maximum Current Discharge:

  • Samsung 30Q – 15A
  • Samsung 30T /40T- 35A, 45A under 80 degrees Celcius

Why “Maximum Current Discharge” important feature of battery pack?

This is the maximum current that can be drawn from the battery cell, the higher this value, more power can be outputted from the battery cells.  Having a higher maximum current discharge value equals to more power output, less voltage sag, and batteries running safer, at lower temperatures.  Especially for DIY electric skateboards, you will want to use high quality battery cells as your safety depends on it.

Most battery packs will be in series and parallel such as 10S2P, 10S4p, 12S2p, 12S3P, etc…etc…  The number before “S” is the number of batteries in series and the number before “P” is the number of batteries in parallel.

Since you gain double the current every time your battery pack increases in P number.