Product Test: Novak GTB2 X-Drive 17.5 Ballistic brushless system
Thursday, Jul 5, 2012 02:40pm
By Mike Garrison
We are all racers and we all have those hidden little secrets of ours that make us faster. The secrets that you won't even share with your dog on the slim chance he learns to talk and blabs to everyone. We have one of those secrets, and for the simple fact that the boss says we HAVE to share it I suppose I will.
There is arguably no closer racing in R/C than spec classes, especially the 17.5 spec classes. Novak recently released their GTB2 with X-Drive ESC and Ballistic 17.5 brushless motor system, and we were lucky enough to get our hands on it.
Right out of the box we immediately noticed the low-profile design of the GTB2. Expecting a far more "chunky" ESC, this was a pleasant surprise and relief to us as it is getting harder and harder to fit ESC's in 2wd buggies these days. The Ballistic 17.5 brushless motor caught our eye with its stealthy black styling and multiple cooling fins. We also prefer the "L tabs" to solder onto which are built into the Ballistic series, as opposed to the "U tabs" which make choosing different wire sizes difficult.
The Build & Setup
Like most brushless racing systems the GTB2 and Ballistic motors require soldering. Novak provided all of the necessary wires and easy to read instructions, so all we needed was a hot soldering iron and solder to finish the job. The GTB2 ESC doesn't require any fancy boards, computer programs, or plug-ins to get setup. It is as simple as pushing a few buttons and reading the light sequences. The lights, unlike some ESC's, are very bright and provide a very easy read. The included instruction manual provides a very easy to follow setup guide. Unfortunately for some of us, lights flashing over and over begin to get a little confusing, and it took a few extra minutes of checking and double checking to get things set to our liking.
|Design and Build - Rating 4/5|
Bob Novak and the entire Novak crew pride themselves on craftsmanship, and it shows. The GTB2 is precision designed with a unique low profile feature to fit under the most fitting car bodies. While still low profile, it features a unique heat sink that is designed to keep everything cool. The overall footprint and size of the GTB2 low profile is by far one of the smallest released from Novak, however, remains slightly larger than other ESC's on the market. In most spec class racing, with the combination of shorty LiPo pack, ESC size and weight isn't usually an issue however. The Ballistic brushless motor is a fin designed can which is designed to also keep things cool with signature black and orange Novak appearance.
|Setup - Rating 4/5|
Setting up the Novak GTB2 ESC uses a light system. While this system is pretty straight forward and has been used in the industry for some time, it can be a little confusing. To program the ESC to your radio gear is extremely simple with a one touch button, making it great for entry level drivers. While the ESC does offer fine tuning adjustments for advanced drivers, the light system is slightly more confusing and frustrating to follow than using programmer cards/computer plug ins.
- This system is sensored which provides consistant and instant response.
- Easily setup and tuned using the light system with 9 adjustable parameters.
- Novak X-Drive provides enhanced throttle response, smooth power, and cooler temps.
- NovaBrakes to provide instaneous braking under any condition.
- ROAR Approved for spec class racing
On the Track
Immediately after taking a lap around the track we were at a loss for words. The GTB2 with X-Drive and 17.5 Ballistic motor made us feel as though we were cheating in some way. Had we read the motor wrong?! Why were we going so fast?!
|Acceleration - Rating 5/5|
The Novak system provides an unreal amount of acceleration and torque for a 17.5 motor. Some "cheater" cars in the stock class using ESC timing were able to make a tricky rythm section with precise moves, however, our Ballistic 17.5 with NO ESC TIMING came out of the corner smooth, laid down the power, and cleared it no problem. On the high traction straightaway the car would actually pull a small wheelie (a rare sight in the 17.5 stock class).
|Top Speed - Rating 5/5|
Our test track has one straightaway that can prove to be the winning or losing factor in the stock classes. The GTB2 and Ballistic 17.5 ran just as fast and often faster than various other brands on the track. The powerband is very powerful, yet still smooth, getting up to top speed.
|Braking - Rating 5/5|
This particular category is a very touchy subject, as many ESC's we have ran in the past offer very inconsistant braking and are difficult to setup with our driving style. We like brakes. We like brakes whenever, wherever. Novak has equipped the new GTB2 with their NovaBrakes system. They claim it has "instaneous braking under any condition." Their claim is 110% correct and we couldn't be more happy to say that. We were able to charge hard into the corners brake hard at the last minute and gain time like never before. We will confess that the first lap out we actually stopped 20ft before the corner as we expected to have the usual delay in braking we were used to.
The new Novak GTB2 with X-Drive and 17.5 Ballistic brushless motor is something that we wish could have been kept our little secret, as it is definitely amongst the best spec class systems we have ran so far. The entire system is light-weight, compact, very fast, and did we mention very very fast. For entry level racers setup and programming is simple and easy, and for advanced racers setup and programming is simple and easy but also provides the necessary fine tuning adjustments desired. The secret is out, and we expect that we won't be the only one jumping the tricky rythm sections anymore!
On the LiveRC Beacon Rating we give the Novak GTB2 and 17.5 Brushless system a 4 out of 5. While the light system is very simple and basic, our brain gets confused with changing colors and counting lights, therefore with such an advanced system we would like to see an optional programmer of some sort to make things a bit easier. The GTB2 low profile includes a heatsink built in and is one of the most compact Novak ESC's to date, it's overall footprint and weight is slightly more than others on the market today. Aside from lights and size, this is nothing short of a spec class killer!
Product Test Information
Product: Novak GTB2 with X-Drive ESC and Ballistic 17.5 Brushless Motor
Price: GTB2 with X-Drive $115.00, Ballistic 17.5 Brushless Motor $90.00
Availability: Available Now