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Batteries & Chargers Discuss Li-P, Li-Ion, NiMh, Nicad battery technology and the chargers that juice 'em up!

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Old 03-12-2012, 09:52 PM   #1
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Default Kyleservicetechs 80 Amp Supply Updated

A previous thread shows my Auto alternator setup powered by a 3.5 Hp Briggs engine. The output of that alternator was limited by the engine. Anything over 40 amps, and the Briggs engine stalled out.

Last weekend, Harbor Freight had their 212 cc gas engine on sale for $99.00. Picked one up, along with a $19.99 extended two year warranty. Warranty indicates if anything goes wrong with this engine, they give you a brand new out of box engine.

After a few days of work, the attached photos show the results. The unit gained 13 pounds of weight over the Briggs engine due to the heavier Harbor Freight engine. Total weight is 56 pounds, still less than one 120 ampere hour deep cycle battery.

The little box has Anderson Power Pole connectors wired all in parallel for connection to the battery, alternator, and one or two chargers. The box also contains a microcontroller that delays powering up the alternator for 30 seconds while starting the engine. The microcontroller also keeps count of the number of charge cycles, and kills the engine after 20 minutes.

Now, we need to wait for a good day at the field to try it out!

03-13-2012 Update Field Trials!
Take a look at the new photos at the field. The control box was moved to a much lower vibration location. This setup puts out 52 Amps with absolutely no problems. The Cellpro Powerlab 8 charger is programmed for 28 Amps charge rate to the 6S4P A123 battery pack. Recharge time is about 16 minutes or so.
The extra black box on top of the black case is my home built high current A123 balancing system for the "other"parallel battery pack. This balancer also displays the individual cell voltage on all six series cells.


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Old 03-18-2012, 10:27 PM   #2
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Looks nice, The only thing missing is a belt guard, to save the finngers. Think Safety!
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Old 03-19-2012, 02:09 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by DSW View Post
Looks nice, The only thing missing is a belt guard, to save the finngers. Think Safety!
Yup, got the sheet metal, just need to bend it up to make a belt guard.

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Old 10-03-2012, 05:54 AM   #4
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Whats that cap for under the handle......Oh thats where the GAS goes!!!!!!!!
I guess if we take it out of the plane it still has to go somewhere. Anyone hookup a Solar Charger or Inverter System that will charge the bigger batteries.
Harbor freight also has some small cheap gensets if you don't want to build your own. I've seen these ready to go on sale for $100.

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Some people hang pictures in their homes, I hang guitars in mine. I guess I can hang a few planes in the garage too!
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Old 10-03-2012, 09:24 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by bluzjamer View Post
Whats that cap for under the handle......Oh thats where the GAS goes!!!!!!!!
I guess if we take it out of the plane it still has to go somewhere. Anyone hookup a Solar Charger or Inverter System that will charge the bigger batteries.
Harbor freight also has some small cheap gensets if you don't want to build your own. I've seen these ready to go on sale for $100.
Yeah, I've gone the route of two 120 Ampere Hour deep cycle batteries in parallel for charging them 24 A123 cells in my Big Stick. Problem is the Cellpro Powerlab 8 charger is pulling 54 Amps out of the 12 Volt battery setup. That's way beyond what those deep cycle batteries are rated for, and I've found that it really kills those lead acid batteries. I got less than a year service out of two in parallel before they were crap.

As for the gensets, you can't use their 12 volt DC output, its not pure DC. So that requires a 120 VAC to 12 VDC power supply that for me, puts out 60 Amps. One of those will cost over $300, plus the $100 for the genset.

A real concern is these gensets often use an inverter inside them to provide the 120 VAC. Don't know if those inverters can handle the very high peak currents pulled by these AC/DC power supplies during their normal operation.

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Old 07-29-2013, 04:44 AM   #6
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Default Harbor Freight Alternator Update

Status update:
This setup's counter shows that it just went through 335 charge cycles on July 27, 2013.

Only problem has been the "V" belts. They've only been good for about 75 charge cycles. Lately the engine was operated at full speed, that seems to help the belt life. Perhaps the heavy alternator rotor was acting like a flywheel through the belt drive to the engine, at half throttle?

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Old 07-29-2013, 01:07 PM   #7
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Neat system Denny, I love tinkering with things like that.

Something on your short belt life. I don't see any support for the rear of the alternator. Those alternators put out some serious torque when charging, it could be the alternator is twisting slightly, causing the pulley to ride on one side of the belt. The belts are designed to run in a straight line, running em with a bit of an angle can cause em to wear a lot faster.


I know a little about GM alternators. The belt has to be super tight on them, the in house test when replacing a V belt was install the belt, run it, and readjust the belt. The belt will stretch initially, and if not readjusted, it slips.
And at least how we checked em afterwards, was to take a screwdriver and place it between one of the fins and shaft, and push hard. If the pulley turned on the belt it wasn't tight enough.

When I die, I want to go like my Grandfather did, in his sleep...... Not screaming like the passengers in his plane.
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Old 07-29-2013, 05:39 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Glacier Girl View Post
Neat system Denny, I love tinkering with things like that.

Something on your short belt life. I don't see any support for the rear of the alternator. Those alternators put out some serious torque when charging, it could be the alternator is twisting slightly, causing the pulley to ride on one side of the belt. The belts are designed to run in a straight line, running em with a bit of an angle can cause em to wear a lot faster.


I know a little about GM alternators. The belt has to be super tight on them, the in house test when replacing a V belt was install the belt, run it, and readjust the belt. The belt will stretch initially, and if not readjusted, it slips.
And at least how we checked em afterwards, was to take a screwdriver and place it between one of the fins and shaft, and push hard. If the pulley turned on the belt it wasn't tight enough.
Yup
The photos don't show a clear shot of it, but the backside of that alternator is also supported with an aluminum bracket bolted directly to the engine.

I've added an idler pulley since those photos were taken that helped a lot. And, awhile back, really made the belt extra tight. That belt was probably way to tight, it shredded in less than an hour.

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Old 07-29-2013, 06:59 PM   #9
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Okay, glad to hear you got that handled. I know you know, but any chance you may have a burr or something on one of the pulleys that may be damaging the belt?

Seems strange it's eating belts like that. They last for years on cars.

When I die, I want to go like my Grandfather did, in his sleep...... Not screaming like the passengers in his plane.
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Old 07-29-2013, 07:18 PM   #10
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Nice generator... But at the risk of being controvercial (not like me)..

The procedure seems to be:
  • Put gas in generator
  • Gas drives generator
  • Generator charges deep cycle lead acid
  • Lead acid powers Cellpro charger
  • Cellpro charges flight battery
  • Put battery in plane
  • Fly plane

Would it not save a fortune, be more efficient, save tons of time, avoid lugging heavy stuff about, and be a lot less hassle all round just to do it this way:
  • Put gas in plane (gas powered)
  • Fly plane

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Old 07-30-2013, 12:52 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Glacier Girl View Post
Okay, glad to hear you got that handled. I know you know, but any chance you may have a burr or something on one of the pulleys that may be damaging the belt?

Seems strange it's eating belts like that. They last for years on cars.
Yeah, I know they last for years in cars. I've looked at the pulleys, no nicks, perfect belt alignment, nothing obvious.

Methinks the problem is caused by that engine, firing every other revolution. And each time the engine fires, the belt slips a little bit.

So, running the engine at full RPM while pulling 60 Amps out of the alternator really seems to help.

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Old 07-30-2013, 12:56 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by JetPlaneFlyer View Post
Nice generator... But at the risk of being controvercial (not like me)..

The procedure seems to be:
  • Put gas in generator
  • Gas drives generator
  • Generator charges deep cycle lead acid
  • Lead acid powers Cellpro charger
  • Cellpro charges flight battery
  • Put battery in plane
  • Fly plane

Would it not save a fortune, be more efficient, save tons of time, avoid lugging heavy stuff about, and be a lot less hassle all round just to do it this way:
  • Put gas in plane (gas powered)
  • Fly plane

Yup
My club members ask me about that all the time. While they are trying to get their glow and gasser engines to run, or have them quit while flying.

And my Harbor Freight engine just keeps put putting around.

One big difference, those giant electric models have virtually zero vibration, to shake the radio and model apart. I've measured over 25g's vibration on a club members giant scale model with a balanced 120 cc twin gasser up front.

Do enough flights on those gassers, and the odds start to mount up for a failure.

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Old 07-30-2013, 06:00 AM   #13
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I have to admit that I've never run a gas engine in a model. I've used plenty of glow (nitro) engines though, and other than the mess they were never much trouble. Funny because I expected a gas engine (which is basically the same engine as in a 2-stroke generator anyway) to be less fussy than glow?

For me the huge advantage of electric is quietness and the convenience, but I just tend to buy several batteries and pre-charge them at home. Buying several batteries is fine for small to medium models but not really cost effective at large size.
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Old 07-30-2013, 06:14 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by JetPlaneFlyer View Post
I have to admit that I've never run a gas engine in a model. I've used plenty of glow (nitro) engines though, and other than the mess they were never much trouble. Funny because I expected a gas engine (which is basically the same engine as in a 2-stroke generator anyway) to be less fussy than glow?

For me the huge advantage of electric is quietness and the convenience, but I just tend to buy several batteries and pre-charge them at home. Buying several batteries is fine for small to medium models but not really cost effective at large size.
Yeah
Same here, I've never run a gasser, but have run many glow engines, ending in the mid 1970's.

As for giant scale models, a 10S1P 5000 Mah LiPo battery is going to be a few $$$$. And, they have a limited life span. At least as compared to my A123 batteries, that appear to last as long as the model itself. In fact I build them into the airplane. Some of my A123's are now 6 years old, with many hundreds of flights. They've got the the same performance as when brand new.

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Old 07-30-2013, 07:11 AM   #15
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One answer to the LiPo cost is to buy batteries that can be multi-purposed.

Extreme example:
It can create a bit of a "spaghetti farm" in the plane... but there is nothing wrong with building a harness that will take a bunch of 3S 2000 mah packs and parallel-series them into 12S 6000 mah.
This would require care in connecting (to prevent shorts) and verifying each pack was full when you hook it up... But the older high capacity packs were really the same as this... 12S3P 6000 in one big "shrink wrap" or in smaller packages you can unplug from each other... its all the same really.

I don't buy any packs that are more than 4S any more. 3 X 4S 5000 or 4 X 3S 5000 to make 12S 5000 for the EDF in my Avatar pic. The same packs can be used individually or in other combinations for other aircraft I have.
I found that 6S packs under high demand will have the center cells fail earlier than the outer cells. The inner cells just can't cool.

I also found that tightly packing the lower count packs that are being put in series (no airflow between packs) isn't much of an issue. IR temp pulling the pack from the plane tends to be even and they all read HIGHER 2 min later. (center of the packs is hotter) By being able to separate the packs instead of them being locked together they get rid of the heat faster.
The more I check this... the more I think of going to just buying 2S and 3S packs.
The 3X 4S have lasted more than twice as many cycles as the 2X 6S ever did... and I'm pushing them harder.
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Old 07-30-2013, 12:20 PM   #16
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Im pretty certain that if I was ever to go back to large models (which would mean flying from official club fields) then I'd go gas power.

For me the big advantages of e-power are the ability to fly on local sports fields without upsetting anyone (noise), the convenience of not having to lug heavy and bulky field equipment around with me and the ability to get lots of air time with minimum turn around time between flights.

Seems to me that once you get into the bigger stuff then the balance swings firmly in favour of gas most counts.

Yes gas engines require a bit of setting etc. up but that's part of the fun and challenge. Sounds like running a generator isnt without it's challenges anyway, it's a gas engine too.

Of course we all have our own way of looking at things, so what seems best for my circumstances may make no sense for anyone else.
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Old 07-31-2013, 03:52 AM   #17
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denny, what speed does the motor turn? most car alternators do not reach peak power until the engine is spun in the 3k+ range. as rpms fall, load and amperage greatly increases. running your gen full speed or going to a smaller alt pulley would probably greatly increase your belt life.
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Old 07-31-2013, 05:07 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by hayofstacks View Post
denny, what speed does the motor turn? most car alternators do not reach peak power until the engine is spun in the 3k+ range. as rpms fall, load and amperage greatly increases. running your gen full speed or going to a smaller alt pulley would probably greatly increase your belt life.
The belt ratio is 2/1. So when the engine is turning over at 3600 RPM, the alternator is turning over about 7000 RPM.

Methinks the belt starts getting into trouble when the engine is turning perhaps 2000 RPM, and I'm pulling 55-60 Amps out of the alternator.

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Old 08-01-2013, 03:57 AM   #19
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that would make sense. most alts max out at about 6k rpm, which would only be 3k on your motor. a smaller pulley might make it so that you could run it at 2k rpms and get the same power from the alt, as long as it didn't pull too hard on your motor.
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Old 08-01-2013, 06:08 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by hayofstacks View Post
that would make sense. most alts max out at about 6k rpm, which would only be 3k on your motor. a smaller pulley might make it so that you could run it at 2k rpms and get the same power from the alt, as long as it didn't pull too hard on your motor.
Yeah
I think when the engine turns over at 2000 RPM while pulling near 60 Amps out of the alternator, each time that engine fires, it sends a jolt to the alternator through the "V" belt. And, after a few dozen hours on that V belt, it starts shredding. (Those V belts used are the expensive type used on automobiles, not the cheaper hardware store stuff.)

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Old 08-06-2013, 03:24 PM   #21
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Interesting thread- time to clean the carbs on the generator .
Just my personal note- I always had lousy luck with my glo engines ) especially after
a thumbstick input error-lol, not to mention
the grime all over the aircraft- still love the smell though...
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Old 08-06-2013, 06:26 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by 1geo1 View Post
Interesting thread- time to clean the carbs on the generator .
Just my personal note- I always had lousy luck with my glo engines ) especially after
a thumbstick input error-lol, not to mention
the grime all over the aircraft- still love the smell though...
Yeah
Back in the 1960's when I was running glow engines, my engines always had a fuel filter right in front of the carb. All the other club members indicated it was not needed.

Funny, my Enya 60 engine was just about the only one that ran perfectly in that club.

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Old 05-05-2014, 01:44 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by kyleservicetech View Post
Yeah, I know they last for years in cars. I've looked at the pulleys, no nicks, perfect belt alignment, nothing obvious.

Methinks the problem is caused by that engine, firing every other revolution. And each time the engine fires, the belt slips a little bit.

So, running the engine at full RPM while pulling 60 Amps out of the alternator really seems to help.
So would a heavy flywheel on the engine shaft. I have a leaf vacuum that has a massive cutting disk attached directly to the engine shaft. To save the battery. I pull the engine through a time or two, then while it's still spinning a bit hit the electric starter. Does wonders for reducing the initial current draw.
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Old 05-05-2014, 02:05 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Chuck75 View Post
So would a heavy flywheel on the engine shaft. I have a leaf vacuum that has a massive cutting disk attached directly to the engine shaft. To save the battery. I pull the engine through a time or two, then while it's still spinning a bit hit the electric starter. Does wonders for reducing the initial current draw.
H'mmm Interesting.

Only problem is, that thing is already kind of heavy! Oh well, I've got a stock of spare belts.

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Old 07-09-2014, 05:13 AM   #25
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Default Status Update 07-08-14

After running the Harbor Freight engine at full 3600 RPM when charging while pulling 55 Amps out of the alternator, the belt seems to be holding pretty well.

The charge cycle counter on the alternator shows 463 charge cycles, which represents about 150 hours on that HF engine. So far, so good.

Still can't believe that HF engine sells for $99 when on sale.

DennyV
Retired and the days are just too short, busier than ever!
kyleservicetech is online now  
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