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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 04-27-2012, 04:51 AM   #1
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Default Recommended Lipo chargers

There's seems to be a wide dispersion of opinions for Lipo chargers. What I would like to purchase is a charger with the ability for expansion to larger batteries and parallel charging. Initially simply parallel charging 3 2200mah 11.1v 30C's to the versatility to power it from a car battery and wall outlet.

Which would you recommend purchasing vs. clearly staying away from? I've been told to look at Thunder Power, Icharger's, MRC superbrain but no specific models. I just don't want to have to upgrade constantly each year. Willing to pay a little more for future needs.

Any input is welcome.
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Old 04-27-2012, 05:51 AM   #2
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Well not wanting to have to upgrade is a wise move.

Most any charger you can find that has a built in power supply (can plug into the wall)
is pretty low output.
These are definitely not very future proof.
The next type would be 12V - 18V DC powered chargers.
You need to get a separate power supply to power it.
Then you have the 12V to 30V DC powered chargers.
These are usually the higher output chargers that are definitely future proof.

You should look at a budget for what you want to spend.

But a ball park cost for a good charger - $120 - $280.
A DC power supply - $10 - $500. (2 are required for 24V)
Charging cables and parallel charging board - $30 - $70.

I put together 1000 WATT charging equipment for my electrics for about $250.
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Old 04-27-2012, 02:14 PM   #3
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I bought a FMA Direct Powerlab 6 and parallel charging board from EPBuddy last year.

http://epbuddy.com/index.php?main_pa...roducts_id=286

While not cheap, it works great. I also bought an EC5 Charge Lead cable so I could easily plug it into either battery clamps or my A/C powered D/C power supply.

The power supply I have is from HobbyPartz and works well for what it is.
http://www.hobbypartz.com/77p-g350-powersupply.html

The battery clamps are from an FMA Direct CellPro4 that I already had.

I do not charge at super high current levels. The most I have done is about 11 amps into 5 3S 2200 batteries at one time. Parallel charging rocks!

Steve

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Old 04-27-2012, 07:19 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Stevephoon View Post
I bought a FMA Direct Powerlab 6 and parallel charging board from EPBuddy last year.

http://epbuddy.com/index.php?main_pa...roducts_id=286

While not cheap, it works great. I also bought an EC5 Charge Lead cable so I could easily plug it into either battery clamps or my A/C powered D/C power supply.

The power supply I have is from HobbyPartz and works well for what it is.
http://www.hobbypartz.com/77p-g350-powersupply.html

The battery clamps are from an FMA Direct CellPro4 that I already had.

I do not charge at super high current levels. The most I have done is about 11 amps into 5 3S 2200 batteries at one time. Parallel charging rocks!

Steve
So how long does that take to charge 5 2200's without balancing? I could charge 4 or 5 batteries at the same time at 2 amps or more, while balancing them with my eflight chargers while I'm on the feild. I'be been thinking about getting two more so I can charge 7 batteries at up to 4 amps each at a time. I would be into it about $60 at that point. I try not to charge above one c though, so it would take about an hour a battery, but they would be getting done in 10 minute intervals assuming you had 5 or 6 of them.
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Old 04-27-2012, 07:51 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by hayofstacks View Post
..so it would take about an hour a battery, but they would be getting done in 10 minute intervals assuming you had 5 or 6 of them.
You would have to charge them all together if you used a Cellpro (or any single output charger) and parallel adapter board because all the batteries need to be at the same state of charge when you connect then to the board. This means at 1c charge you would have to wait an hour and get all your batteries at once.

The only way to have batteries all charging at different stages is to have multiple chargers or one of those chargers that has two or more separate charger units built into one case.

As for how long it takes to charge multiple 2200 batteries with a parallel board.. I've just charged four 4s, 2200mAh in 14 min 10 seconds with my icharger set on standard charge (not fast charge). I could have done it in a few minutes less if I'd series connected them because I'm hitting the 30A charger limit when charging in parallel.

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Old 04-27-2012, 08:19 PM   #6
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Bassmckee,

On the original question of 'what's the best charger'.. Well that's a hard one. If your budget will stretch then go and get the best and most feature packed charger money can buy, that way you will be covered on all fronts and be able to do just about anything.

If on the other hand you don't have unlimited budget then it's a matter of deciding where your priorities are. How many series cells are you likely to need to charge in the future?.. 3s, 4s, 5s, 6s, 8s, 10s?.. this depends on the size and power of the planes you might aspire to. So you need to pick a charger that will cope with the cell count of the batteries you might eventually use. Then you need to look at how fast you might want to charge. Charge c rates are going up all the time so unless you like waiting then you want a charger that will deliver lots of Amps.

Of course if you decide you need a charger that will cope with high cell counts AND high amp charge rate then it gets expensive.

You also have to multiple charger types which are basically two or more chargers built into one unit. These are good if you want to simultaneously charge batteries of different types. But the downside is each charger in these units tends to be quite low power so not much use if you want to charge one large battery quickly.

I guess what I'm saying is you need to set a budget then decide on your specific requirements. FWIW I've had good luck with my Icharger 3010b so far, that will do up to 10 series cells and 30amps charge rate... but you need a suitable PSU to drive it.

steve
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Old 04-27-2012, 11:02 PM   #7
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For my portable 3s setup, I use a Powerlab8 with a Dell 550W (model AA23300). With this setup, I can parallel charge six 3s 2200 packs at 3c each or about 18 minutes. The Dell supplies can be found on ebay for $10 to $15.

When I go to the large field I replace the power supply with a dual 12v server setup from http://feathermerchantrc.com/ With this setup, I can parallel charge four 6s 3300 at 3c each for my 600 electric.

On occasion I've powered my Powerlab8 from a 3s LiPo to charge the single cell batteries for my mCPX and a couple UMX planes. You can get about 20-25 charges from a single 2200 LiPo.

This season, I'm adding a 700 to my fleet. To compliment the new power hungry heli, I added a second Powerlab8 which can be run in expansion mode, where one Powerlab controls the other.

I'm also one who likes to review data, tune the charge settings and test packs . For those that are interested, the Powerlab includes free software that allows you to go well beyond the basics of charging. It gives you the most flexibility of any charger I've seen and the ability to log and review charging data is extremely easy.

Since buying my Powerlab8, the Powerlab6 has been released which supports up to 6s, has smaller footprint and costs less. Output is very close to the Powerlab8, but discharge capabilities go from 100 watts to 50 watts. If I had to do it all over, I might go that route.
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Old 04-27-2012, 11:18 PM   #8
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Gregor,

Wow I just tossed two Dell computers to upgrade, never thought of salvaging the power suppliers... my bad!

I'll check out the Powerlab, I like the idea of grabbing the Dell PS and driving it....nice, compact and economical.

I'm sure I'll migrate past the C-182 as a starting point fairly quick and definately want the expansion capability. Thanks for the info!
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Old 04-27-2012, 11:40 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by bassmckee View Post
Wow I just tossed two Dell computers to upgrade, never thought of salvaging the power suppliers... my bad!
Your not bad.. Standard PC power supplies aren't much use. The type you need are server power supplies. I use two HP DPS-600PB wired in series to give be a 1128W, 24V PSU

The Powerlab chargers are great if you can afford it.

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Old 04-27-2012, 11:58 PM   #10
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Found a pair of Dell AA23300's for $16 locally. Sounds like a good deal might need a map to wire them up though..

The powerlab 6 is a little more than I intened on shelling out...Just stating out and feeling a little nickel and dime'd already, but there's always a barrier of entry with anything. Which is why I want to invest a little more to get greater longevity....rather than always coming up a little short.

Any second favorite to the Powerlab that might be a little cheaper...
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Old 04-28-2012, 12:05 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by bassmckee View Post
The powerlab 6 is a little more than I intened on shelling out...Just stating out and feeling a little nickel and dime'd already, but there's always a barrier of entry with anything. Which is why I want to invest a little more to get greater longevity....rather than always coming up a little short.

Any second favorite to the Powerlab that might be a little cheaper...
Having been through a number of chargers before settling on the Powerlab, I can tell you in the long run its money well spent. Like a good transmitter, a quality charger will outlast many of your models. Plus it gives you an expansion path by adding additional Powerlabs using the expansion mode.

IMO the second favorites would be the iCharger line. But the Powerlab6 is only $15 more than the iCharger 306b and is so much more of a charger. There are the smaller iChargers like the 206b, etc, but they are not that much cheaper and in the end you would probably need to upgrade as your model's needs evolve.
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Old 04-28-2012, 03:33 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by bassmckee View Post
There's seems to be a wide dispersion of opinions for Lipo chargers. What I would like to purchase is a charger with the ability for expansion to larger batteries and parallel charging. Initially simply parallel charging 3 2200mah 11.1v 30C's to the versatility to power it from a car battery and wall outlet.

Which would you recommend purchasing vs. clearly staying away from? I've been told to look at Thunder Power, Icharger's, MRC superbrain but no specific models. I just don't want to have to upgrade constantly each year. Willing to pay a little more for future needs.

Any input is welcome.
I started off by building my own high power chargers for my A123 cells. Some of the parts came from obsolete circuit boards from work.

Then I picked up the Cellpro Powerlab 8 charger, that is an order of magnitude better than anything I did. Nice thing about the Cellpro chargers, and similar type units is that their operating software can be updated from the Internet. So if a new battery chemistry hits the market, the Cellpro chargers can easily have their software upgraded to run the new type batteries.

I'm using my '8 charger to charge various A123 packs, up to a 12S2 P pack charged as a 6S4P pack. Charging rate to the 6S4P pack is 28 Amperes. That brings up another issue. At those high charge rates, the Cellpro charger is pulling over 50 Amps out of the deep cycle battery.

When going to these higher powered models, IMHO, those deep cycle 120 Ampere hour batteries just don't hold up. I was only getting three or four flights out of a brand new 120 Amp Hr battery on an afternoons flying. And that abuse was killing those batteries in less than a year.

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Old 04-28-2012, 05:13 AM   #13
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OK...I think I'm just going to dig a little deeper and go with the Powerlab 6 or 8. I like the idea of updating the S/W and time goes on.

I also like the idea of using the PS from Dell or HP servers in series. For the price the output is pretty outrageous. Even if their lifespan is average replacement is still a bargain.

Now I'm going to need a little help here on the cabling. Does anyone have the details on their configuration. I've had my head in the digital age for too long and not wired up much analog in quite some time.

I did run across these designs/site which was quite interesting:
http://www.tjinguytech.com/my-projects/server-ps

Overall though this thread has been a wealth of knowledge. Thanks to ALL!!!!!!
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Old 04-28-2012, 05:39 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by bassmckee View Post
Now I'm going to need a little help here on the cabling. Does anyone have the details on their configuration. I've had my head in the digital age for too long and not wired up much analog in quite some time.

I did run across these designs/site which was quite interesting:
http://www.tjinguytech.com/my-projects/server-ps
That's excellent site. Not just for that page, but also as a good reference for many things involved in chargers and batteries. Another power supply to add the short list is the HP DSP-600PB. Its also discussed on the same site here

http://www.tjinguytech.com/my-projects/diy-24v-47a


You can buy them preconfigured if you like, but its more expensive than doing it yourself. http://feathermerchantrc.com/ Basically there are three parts to it:

1) Connect the pins so the power supply turns outside of the server case.
2) Internally disconnect the DC ground from one of the supplies (easier than it sounds.
3) Wire the two supplies in series (positive of one supply goes to the negative of the supply with ground disconnected). The you draw power from the negative of one supply and the positive of the other supply.

More details on site above.
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Old 04-28-2012, 05:47 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Stevephoon View Post
ch

The power supply I have is from HobbyPartz and works well for what it is.
http://www.hobbypartz.com/77p-g350-powersupply.html
i also use this power supply with the SkyCharger 6200 from Hobbypartz

find a charging board and charge (4) 3s lipos at once in parrallel.....(6) at once is pushing the limits a little....still a solid combo !!
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Old 04-28-2012, 06:45 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by bassmckee View Post
OK...I think I'm just going to dig a little deeper and go with the Powerlab 6 or 8. I like the idea of updating the S/W and time goes on.

I also like the idea of using the PS from Dell or HP servers in series. For the price the output is pretty outrageous. Even if their lifespan is average replacement is still a bargain.

Now I'm going to need a little help here on the cabling. Does anyone have the details on their configuration. I've had my head in the digital age for too long and not wired up much analog in quite some time.

I did run across these designs/site which was quite interesting:
http://www.tjinguytech.com/my-projects/server-ps

Overall though this thread has been a wealth of knowledge. Thanks to ALL!!!!!!
There are a LOT of 120 VAC to 12 VDC power supplies available. Most popular appear to be those computer server power supplies that can be found in Ebay. Also, a number of threads in wattflyer also refer to these power supplies.

If you want brand new units, they are going to be a few $$$$. I've purchased some of these units both at work before retiring, and at home for home use. Simple to hook up, just connect the AC input black, white and green wires to the AC input, and connect your stuff to the DC output. All use common screw connections.

I bought a 24 Volt 25 Amp unit last year from www.mpja.com for $115, but that one is no longer available.

Take a look at one of these. (They come in a wide variety of voltage ranges from 3 VDC, 12, 15, 24, 28, 48 VDC and so on)
http://www.jameco.com/webapp/wcs/sto...gDrillDownView

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Old 04-28-2012, 08:38 AM   #17
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FWIW; the Ichargers are software updatable too.

I've never done a back to back comparison of Powerlab to Icharger specifications. It would be interested to know what the differences are?

IMHO they are both good chargers. Bear in mind if you went with the Powerlab6 or Icharger 306b chargers you would be limited to six cells. That's not an issue unless you have an ambition one day to fly large electric models that will often use 8 cells or more. Also having a capability for high cell count allows charging smaller batteries in series. For instance with my 3010b I can charge two 4 or 5 cell batteries in series which due to amp limits can give quicker charge time than parallel charging. Even the Powerlab8 could not do two to 5s in series as it's limited to 8s.

As I said before, decide what you want to do and pick the one that best fits your needs. What may be a perfect charger for someone else may not meet your requirements or equally may be way over the top for anything you want to do.

Steve
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Old 04-28-2012, 06:03 PM   #18
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I'm definitely going to build the power supply with the HP DSP-600PB's so that part is easy. I'm still on the fence regarding a Powerlab 6 or iCharger 3010B

For those of you that have expanded your needs I have some choices on para boards to purchase. Any input here would be helpful.

Which group would you recommend?
(1) XH and EC3 Connectors
(2)XH and XT60 Connectors
(3)TP and T plugs
(4)HP and T plugs
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Old 04-28-2012, 07:03 PM   #19
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The board type depends on your choice of battery brand and what connectors they come with, or what you change them to.

Personally I hate Deans 'T' connectors so I use XT60's I've therefore gone for the XT60 / XH board.
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Old 04-28-2012, 07:07 PM   #20
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Just looking for a little consensus on what's more popular which I thought might give me a feel on flexibility. Thanks that helps!
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Old 04-28-2012, 08:12 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by bassmckee View Post
Just looking for a little consensus on what's more popular which I thought might give me a feel on flexibility. Thanks that helps!
If you're after the power connectors for your batteries, check out those Power Pole connectors. They've seemed to "Cheapened" them up in the past year or so, take a look at the originals:
http://www.wattflyer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=64539

And, if you buy the Power Pole crimper, you can make a connector in seconds per terminal.

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Old 04-29-2012, 06:48 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by bassmckee View Post
I'm still on the fence regarding a Powerlab 6 or iCharger 3010B
On a pair of HP DPS-600PBs, the Powerlab6 will be significantly faster than the iCharger.

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showp...&postcount=251

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Old 04-29-2012, 07:52 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by bassmckee View Post
There's seems to be a wide dispersion of opinions for Lipo chargers. What I would like to purchase is a charger with the ability for expansion to larger batteries and parallel charging. Initially simply parallel charging 3 2200mah 11.1v 30C's to the versatility to power it from a car battery and wall outlet.

Which would you recommend purchasing vs. clearly staying away from? I've been told to look at Thunder Power, Icharger's, MRC superbrain but no specific models. I just don't want to have to upgrade constantly each year. Willing to pay a little more for future needs.

Any input is welcome.
I personally like the Icharger and I still use my old but very reliable Triton.
With my tiny single cell planes I use the charger that they come with and an octopus for multiple batts.
I've a plethora of tiny batts for them... they are so inexpensive at less than two bucks yet the fly for ten minutes or more.
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:58 AM   #24
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Have you standardized on a connector? One of myregrets in the RC World was standardizing on EC3. Deans is better IMO and XT60 are better yet if you go the HK route on everything. The one thing I don't like about the EC3 is what a pain it is to disconnect. You really need a separating pliers.
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Old 04-30-2012, 03:01 AM   #25
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Which single cell planes do you currently have. Nice to have the long flight time!
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