September 21, 2014

Acuvance TAO II Aggressive Drive Effector – The Future of RC Motor-Programming is HERE!!!

           The wait is over, my friends.

Acuvance announced the news a few months back and the dream is finally a reality.  The TAO II is finally here and I am here to share with you what the commotion is all about.

I hope this article will open your eyes about what the TAO II really is and the new door it is opening to the next generation of RC electronics.

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As usual, I like to start from the beginning – let’s talk about what’s in the box:

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The contents included are the TAO II itself, a Bluetooth brain unit, a custom RX cable, the brain unit cable, 3 extended screws, a 4GB SD Card, and a user manual in English.
The TAO II is a lot bigger than its predecessor, but with a much nicer color interface. A simple button in the center of a circular touch-pad lets you navigate across menus and settings.
A multitude of ports can be found all around its body. These includes a current sensor, motor sensor, Rx plug, mini USB, 3.5mm Jack, Battery Balancer port, and a micro SD slot. (More details on this a bit later.) Basically, the look is a lot like an iPod Classic which a lot of people are already dubbing it to.
The brain unit can be connected in two ways: “Seamless” by unscrewing your original Airia casing and snapping the brain unit under it, or “Separated” by using the brain unit cable. My personal favorite way is “Seamless” as it saves space on your chassis.

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Once the brain unit is connected to your Airia, you’re ready to start fiddling with your settings as long as you have already set your Airia to card programming mode “orange and red LED at idle”. (to do so, turn on your ESC on, then once the solid blue and orange LEDs are on, hold the button on the power switch until the blue LED turns off and the red one turns on, you’re now in Card Programming mode)

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Now, what about the interface?

After holding the “enter” button for a few seconds, the TAO II start and greets you with a small animation and prompts you to press “enter” again to get to the “main” menu.
Six icons are available at that point: Bluetooth, File Manipulation, ESC Set Mode, Diagnosis, Data Logger, and Settings.

  • The Bluetooth is solely to link your brain unit with the TAO II; Nothing more. Multiple brain unit can be linked to the TAO II but only one can be set at a time. You will have to re-pair each unit everytime you want to tune one. Note: Acuvance sells individual brain units for around $60 each.
  • The File Manipulation tab lets you rename tune files or delete them. Nothing fancy here, just simple file managing tools.
  • The ESC Set Mode is where the magic happens! There, you will find your usual Setting Mode where all the preset tunes are located. You can adjust them and overwrite current tunes, or save them as custom presets in your SD card. There is no limit to the amount of savable tunes. Your only limitation is your SD card capability (4GB will be plenty). The Data Link mode is where you can load these preset tunes to your Airia ESC. Just pick and sync, and your ESC is loaded with what you chose. The last tab is the Preview tab. This lets you review what settings are currently loaded on your Airia ESC. Just click and it will read the ESC and let you edit every setting available. Once done, you can save it as a tune on the TAO II or overwrite the existing tune on the Airia. I found myself using this feature a lot at the track.
  • The Diagnosis mode is another neat feature the TAO II brings to the plate. It lets you do a quick check for issues with your system if things are acting up. Simply press the button and drive your car around for 10 seconds while the TAO II does its magic. It will give you a basic diagnosis of what seems to be the issue (sensor cable, motor failure, system failure, etc…). Now with that said, don’t expect to find the solution to everything through your TAO II. Some serious issues may require Acuvance to still take a look at your Airia if things are beyond your means of repair.
  • The Data Logger is just that — it logs data. Anything from ESC or Motor temperature, RPM, Throttle input, voltage, car speed, etc… Under the data logger menu you will find the Setting tab which let you set the recording time interval, display time, alerts, and car speed data which includes pinion gear size, spur gear size, internal gear ratio, and tire diameter. Some touring guys will love that feature, but for us drifters, this won’t be of much use unless you’re trying to show off how quick you can chew through tires. You can also review your data off the track with the log viewer and peak viewer. Note also the TAO II vibrates when you reach any of the alarm set point. This is great for cut-off voltage. Only downfall, your battery won’t last as long and you will only get about 4/5hrs out of it in idle.
  • Finally, the TAO II settings. This lets you change your user name, the opening movie, and check your TAO II firmware version.

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O.k., that’s nice and all, but what about the settings?

One notable thing in the TAO II is the amount of settings available for the Turbo and Boost features. The TAO II is going to make the competition sweat due to the following:

  • Boost timing: This is the amount of Boost Timing added when the Boost kicks in.
  • Boost Start Rpm: This is your Boost Rpm starting point.
  • Boost End Rpm: This is your Boost RPM end point.
  • Throttle Boost Control: If enabled, this feature modulates sudden throttle input that could result in sudden Boost inrush. It also ends up smoothing the Boost feel.
  • Turbo Activation: This is what triggers the Turbo. It can be set to “Full Throttle”, “RPM”, or both.
  • Turbo Timing: The amount of timing added by the Turbo feature.
  • Turbo Start Rpm: The Rpm value the turbo is set to start at.
  • Turbo “on” Slope: The turbo on slope acts as a smooth ramping turbo control where you can set the degrees of timing increased per 0.1 second. This features allows you to smoothen the turbo kick.
  • Turbo “off” Slope: Same thing as the on slope, except this works on when the turbo cuts off. It will not stop the turbo abruptly but in a smooth, decreasing manner.
  • Turbo Start Delay Time: This option lets you create a Turbo lag feel. You can adjust the value from 0.1 second to a full second.
  • Turbo Off Delay Time: Same as above, but after you let off the throttle.
  • Rev Limiter: To cap all this power and make your motor scream while shredding it sideways. I know a lot of Airia owners have been waiting for this. The setting starts at 10K Rpm and goes up to 100K Rpm.

You will find everything else as well such as drive frequency, brake and neutral brake frequency, cut off voltage, initial drive/brake, maximum drive/brake, operating mode, etc…, but even these settings got upgraded! You can now adjust all of these anywhere from 1% to 2% increments, allowing you the most precise adjustments possible.

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So if this sounds great, it’s because it is.  

And, it’s not going to be cheap because you will get what you pay for.  The TAO II made its grand appearance this week averaging at $200 each.

Furthermore, what Acuvance has released is a lot more than just an ESC programmer — this is the future!

Official sources tell me the TAO II has been developed to be a long lasting staple instrument.  The goal is to make full use of all of its programming ports with other devices. The exact details on future devices that will complement the TAO II are still in development.  However, I could see the port types on the TAO II being used with Hall Sensor testing, battery balancing, light kits, and more.

After a two-week extensive testing of this hot product, I give it the highest ratings due to its innovative design and capabilities.  To excel in any sport, hard work and practice is always the noblest way to go.  But, if you can invest in the latest technology available in the hobby, the TAO II is going to elevate you into the future.

Final Grade: A+

You can purchase the TAO II and additional brain units on Acuvance-USA’s website.

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