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I have a setup to read two sets of signals from a radio control receiver using an Arduino NANO: the throttle channel and the rudder channel. With some programming knowledge (which I have) this isn't too difficult, but I need help on the electrical side of things. This is the current setup I have (it works, though I'm told there is the possibility that my computer is acting as a ground for the PWM signal wires from the receiver):

Arduino, remote control receiver, and ESC circuit

OK, great. I'm able to control the motor programmatically, mix values from the receiver, etc. See this video for what I'm doing. However, this setup leaves some gaps:

Question 1 I actually need two motors for dual thrust. Each motor is to be controlled individually by the program (for asymmetric thrust). Since there are only two grounds on the Arduino, can I plug both ESC grounds to the same pin? Currently, the receiver is getting power from the Arduino, and grounds back. The speed controller grounds to the second ground pin. Diagram below:

two ESCs on same ground pin

Question 2 All that is great, but the NANO is still powered by USB: obviously I'm not putting my laptop in the RC boat just to supply a few volts! Incidentally, both electronic speed controllers (ESCs) have battery eliminator circuits (BECs), usually used to power the receiver. Would I be able to connect one of them to the VIN pin of the Arduino?

I tried something like that, but the Arduino got very hot near the pin, and it smelled. Unfortunately, I don't have my circuit at the time. The Arduino's Amazon page states support for 5V to 12V external power supply. Each ESC can supply 5V at 3A. Maybe there's a way to plug them to make 10V?

Question 3 My idea also calls for three sets of LEDs, which will be lit also based on inputs from the receiver. Can these be grounded to the same wire, like I was suggesting above for the ESCs?

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    Ground is ground. Whether it's got 1 pin or 100 pins, they are all the same. You can connect as many thing to ground as you need to. Whether you connect them all to one pin or each to its own, ground is ground. Like the ground under your house is the same ground as the ground under your neighbour's house. – Majenko May 10 '20 at 21:03
  • @Majenko that effectively sums up the answer. It did work, so great! – Denis G. Labrecque May 11 '20 at 11:37
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You can connect all the grounds together and the circuit will be safe. If the BEC outputs 5V, you can feed it directly to the Arduino's 5V pin. Any more volts and you'll need to feed the BEC output to the Arduino's VIN pin.

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  • Can I safely connect both ESC 5V outputs to the same VIN pin? – Denis G. Labrecque May 11 '20 at 11:35
  • While you probably could get away with it, I would not try - 1 BEC supply will be fine. Regardless, all grounds need to be connected. – P_B May 12 '20 at 0:45
  • However, I'm not only supplying current to the receiver, but also to some 6 or 7 other LEDs. – Denis G. Labrecque May 12 '20 at 22:27

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