Important Update: SPARK Flex Motor Controller Recall and Replacement

Important Update: SPARK Flex Motor Controller Recall and Replacement

Published by Greg Needel, David Yanoshak on Jan 24th 2024

REV Robotics is committed to ensuring the highest standards of quality in our products. It's with this commitment in mind that we're announcing a recall and replacement program for all SPARK Flex Motor Controllers shipped on or before Wednesday, January 24, 2024.

Description of Issue:

During a quality control check of our latest batch of SPARK Flex Motor Controllers, we identified a potential issue that merits immediate attention. The soldering of the phase connections on the power PCB was found to be too tall in many units. If certain conditions align based on other component tolerances, the solder joints can break through the thermal pad and short to the SPARK Flex Case. The symptoms of a phase short on the case are difficult to see and heavily depend on the structure the controller is mounted to. However, in the worst cases, this issue can lead to the robot's frame being energized when a motor is running.

Scope of the Recall:

  • The majority of the units that have been shipped have solder height that is out of specification. On its own, being out of specification is not enough to cause a short circuit. However, due to the potential for a worst case stackup and the associated risks, we have decided to err on the side of caution, and recall all SPARK Flex Motor Controllers that have shipped through Wednesday, January 24, 2024.
  • Disassembly and inspection of the solder joints by teams is not a desired or viable procedure, and it may still not identify with 100% certainty that a short circuit won't occur.
  • As of this date, we have shipped out several thousand SPARK Flex Motor Controllers and have received two reports where we believe a phase short has occurred.
  • It is possible that more instances exist but they could be presenting themselves as phantom issues which can be a downstream result of this failure mode.
  • Despite the small number of reported incidents, we believe that conducting a mandatory full recall and replacement is the most responsible course of action.
  • With the low number of reports; if you have not experienced issues with your controllers, you may continue to use them until the replacements arrive.

Replacement Process:

At REV’s expense, we will be shipping replacement SPARK Flex Motor Controller unit(s) to all customers with express shipping service, at no additional cost to our customers. Replacement shipments will include a complimentary return shipping label in the box to return recalled units to us. In order to process this exchange promptly, we have created a form which one main contact from each team should fill out per each order placed, no later than Friday, February 2, 2024. We encourage you to fill this form out as soon as possible. Delayed submissions may result in extended processing times for the shipment of replacement units.

This form will confirm your replacement shipping address, as well as give teams an opportunity to report any other issues that may still be persisting with the SPARK Flex and NEO Vortex family of products. REV Staff will review and resolve all remaining issues your team(s) may be experiencing.

SPARK Flex Motor Controller Recall Response Form

This recall and replacement program is valid for all orders containing SPARK Flex Motor Controller(s) shipped through Wednesday, January 24th, 2024. All SPARK Flex Motor Controllers shipped after this date have already been evaluated and are not affected by this issue. We have a sufficient amount of motor controllers already on-hand to replace all units that have been shipped out already. Once your shipping address(es) are confirmed, replacement units will be sent out within 1 business day. 

If you ordered from REV Robotics Canada, you will be receiving your replacements from our Canada warehouse. If you ordered through a distributor, please reach out to that distributor, as we will be shipping the replacement units to them. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Can my team self-inspect our SPARK Flex Motor Controller(s)?
    • We do NOT recommend teams self-disassembling and inspecting the solder joints of their unit(s). This is not a desired or viable procedure, and it may still not identify with 100% certainty that a short circuit won't occur. Every SPARK Flex we open to inspect needs to go back through our factory testers to ensure that nothing was damaged during the handling. We also need to replace the thermal pad for just the inspection process.
  • I have already began the RMA process. Should I still submit the Response Form?
  • How can I distinguish a new unit from a recalled unit?
    • Each checked unit will have a painted white dot above the logo on the controller.
  • When will open orders become available?
    • On Tuesday, January 30th, the NEO Vortex Brushless Motor, SPARK Flex Motor Controller, and Vortex Shafts will be available for open ordering. Please note, these orders will be shipped under our normal shipping policies.
  • Will this recall affect the availability of SPARK Flex Motor Controllers going forward this season?
    • Pre-ordered units only represented around 30% of our production of these products for the season. Since we are going to be replacing those units, we still have 40% of our production which will be available this season. We do not anticipate needing to put a limit on sales based on the amount of stock on hand, but please stay tuned to this blog for potential updates.
  • What is the plan for the recalled controllers? Will they be re-checked and re-sold?
    • We do not currently have an exact plan for returned SPARK Flex Motor Controllers. Each unit will need to go through a full production inspection and testing, and since we don’t know the condition of each recalled unit, it is hard to make concrete plans. At the moment, our plan is to isolate and review these recalled units after the season concludes.

The reliability of our products is our highest priority. We apologize for any inconvenience this recall may cause and thank you for your understanding and cooperation. We are dedicated to rectifying this issue promptly and our aim is to minimize the impact on your build season, ensuring a seamless and efficient exchange process. If you have additional questions or comments beyond the exchange process outlined in this blog, please reach out to