One of the most quintessential full-size off-road accessories is the winch. They’re on the expensive side, but nothing says “serious off-roader” like a winch. Well, maybe Dana 60 axles, coil-overs, big blocks and 40+ sized tires all say hardcore too, but the bottom line is a winch says I go places that may get a little sticky. On the RC side, as soon as scalers hit the scene, people were making winches. The go-to method was to hack a servo. Next, came actual scale winches that looked like spot-on replicas of the real deal. With companies offering these for as low as 25 bucks, just about everyone with a scaler had a mini Warn winch. These inexpensive accessories looked incredibly scale, they would not hold up to real use. If you were competing in a scale comp, you quickly found out that you get what you pay for. Manufacturers offered winches that were a little more hardcore, most often a little less scale, and just about always a whole lot more expensive. As more people were looking to do hardcore scale competitions such as G6 events, things went full circle. In order to get something that had real pulling power and would last, builders were once again tearing apart servos to make winches. The problem is that many people aren’t comfortable with potentially ruining an expensive servo. This is where electronics guru HeyOk comes in. HeyOk offers a number of electronics devices and one happens to be a pre-built servo winch that is plug-and-play and plenty strong.
- Price: $50
- Model: Tower Pro MG996R
- Torque: 152.8 oz.-in.
- Speed: 0.14 sec./60 degrees
The HeyOk servo winch features a built-in No Drift Winch Controller (the No Drift unit is a popular item that HeyOk sells separately to cure the problem of winches slowing spooling or unspooling). The servo used is a Tower Pro MG996R that is a re-badged name brand standard-size servo sold by Tower Hobbies. The servo is rated at 152.8 oz.-in. of torque. The speed is 0.14 sec./60 degrees. Obviously torque is important, but if you’re using the servo is competition, speed is also important. This servo will make a complete rotation (360 degrees in 0.84 seconds). This means the servo is a fairly good compromise between power and speed. The servo also features metal gears.
The spool is a bobbin used for a sewing machine. HeyOk does not include winch line or a hook. Because of the design of the bobbin–it has lots of holes–attaching line is easy. That said, I used an arbor knot to directly attach the line to the center of the spool. Because of the relatively small size of the bobbin, I used a braided fishing line. The braided line is unlikely to break and is thin, so I could get a large amount of line on the bobbin.
HeyOk also offers an optional braided covering for the servo leads.
PERFORMANCE & FINAL ASSESSMENT
The hardest part of the install of the HeyOk servo winch was deciding which rig to install it on. I decided on my Axial SCX10 Dingo kit that we recently reviewed. The winch itself is essentially ready to go as delivered. I spooled up the bobbin, and using my CAD (Cardboard Aided Design) skills, I fabricated a simple mount out of some carbon fiber sheet. The three plastic standoffs I used to raise the winch servo for clearance and the servo mounts are all from the Axial SCX10 kit. While more inexperienced hobbyists may have a bit of work on their hands when it comes to creating a mount for the HeyOk servo winch, a company called Jevne Racing makes a mount that is worth checking out. Lastly, I quickly programmed my Spektrum DX3R Pro. Every radio is different, but the DX3R Pro is to setup for auxiliary functions such as dig, rear steer or, in this case, a winch. I simply set the Auxiliary or third channel to function as a 3-position switch and I was done.
The first test for the HeyOk servo winch was the “Does it Work?” test. I’m pleased to report that it works just fine. No messing around with the radio (trims, sub trims, end points, etc) was required. Test two was a straight pull up a hill. My SCX10 Dingo weighs approximately 4 lb., so I expected the HeyOk servo winch to have no trouble pulling the truck and it didn’t. After these easily managed tests, I attached the hook to my workbench and pulled the Dingo straight off the ground. This is a pretty legitimate torture test and the winch passed. I pulled the truck and lowered it five times without a break. The servo didn’t get warm, so it’s safe to say the winch is up to the task of some real use.
The last part of the official testing was simply using the servo winch in the field–a lot. Like a full-size winch, a scale winch is really only for emergencies. Winches don’t typically get used that often, but in the interest of testing the HeyOk servo winch, I used the winch numerous times. I pulled and pulled and pulled. I got stuck on purpose and winched out. I rescued other trucks. I winched just for the heck of it. Over the course of a few days, I tried to put the HeyOk through what would equate to a few months or more of use. There seemed to be adequate power (the servo has never stalled) and the speed is decent. For longer scale comps like a G6, the speed is fine, but it may feel a bit too slow for shorter scale runs where time is of the essence and every second counts.
The best way to sum up the HeyOK servo winch is that this little gadget is inexpensive and, overall, makes adding a winch pretty easy. As a noteworthy bonus, the servo winch is strong and durable. The quick and dirty wrap up is the HeyOk servo winch is money well spent.