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RC Radios, Transmitters, Receivers, Servos, gyros Discussion all about rc radios, transmitters, receivers, servos, etc.

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Old 05-05-2014, 01:11 AM   #1
kyleservicetech
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Default Check your Transmitter Batteries!!!

I've got a Spektrum DX8 transmitter that normally would run over 7 hours on its internal battery. A few weeks ago, that DX8 undervoltage battery alarm went off after only three 6 minute flights.

A quick test on my Western Mountain CBAII battery analyzer showed the battery only had 70% of original capacity. Worse, that battery dropped to 1.05 Volts per cell at the load value of the transmitter. A new battery fixed things.

But, much worse, today a fellow club member lost his giant scale 50 cc gasser one minute after take off. The resulting crash wrecked the 50 cc engine, most of the receiver and servos. The transmitter LCD display was flashing on and off, and absolutely no control of the model was present.

That was the members first flight of the year on that JR radio. The radio was also about a year and a half old.

Another quick check on the battery pack in that JR transmitter showed what happened. The battery voltage measured 10.8 volts at no load. But with a load test of 400 milliamperes, that voltage dropped below 8 Volts DC in less than 5 seconds. Every cell in that pack was That battery died so fast, the transmitter low voltage alarm didn't have enough time to warn the pilot. Very strange.

So, what to do
Nice thing about transmitters, they present a constant current load to its internal battery. So, after a transmitter has sat idle for a long period of time, charge it up.

Then turn it on, and do something else for four or five hours. If your transmitter quits in 4 or 5 hours, time for a new transmitter battery.

IMHO, that's a good thing to do once or twice a year. If you have a 72 Mhz transmitter, be sure to do this test with the antenna fully extended.

If this thread saves one model from disaster, its been worth while.

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Old 05-05-2014, 01:29 AM   #2
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Where those the batteries supplied by spektrum?
I remember when I was still flying spektrum I would toss the spektrum batteries aside and use something better.
I found they would do exactly as you experienced. They would seem fine for a couple of months and then suddenly loose capacity. I don't know who makes their packs but they are not top grade and almost seem like an after thought.

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Old 05-05-2014, 02:08 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Wrongway-Feldman View Post
Where those the batteries supplied by spektrum?
I remember when I was still flying spektrum I would toss the spektrum batteries aside and use something better.
I found they would do exactly as you experienced. They would seem fine for a couple of months and then suddenly loose capacity. I don't know who makes their packs but they are not top grade and almost seem like an after thought.

Yeah
Mine was a Spektrum battery, my club members battery is a JR unit, mfg in Japan. For a multi-hundred dollar transmitter, you'd think they would put in quality battery packs.

To bad he lost a $1000 model airplane because of a $40 battery. On my recommendation, he found an Eneloop direct drop in battery from batteriesamerica.com (I think)

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Old 05-05-2014, 03:18 AM   #4
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There was always something fishy with those supplied batteries.
Back then I was using the AA sized cells. Like most people I'd top them off regularly.
They were nmih cells and you could do that unlike the nicads.
First time it happened I thought it was the supplied charger. So the next set I charged on an external charger. Same thing happened.
I switched to Panasonic batteries and it never happened again.
Luckily I never lost a plane like your friend.
Then again I've never spent $1000 on a plane either. Ouch.
I'm Dutch, we invented cheapness.

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Old 05-05-2014, 05:34 AM   #5
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Denny, we're those tx batteries stock or the lipo? A guy at our club had a big money turbine nose in due to one cell in the new lipo for his jr tx go bad. Total loss. Not even a single servo survived.
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Old 05-05-2014, 05:53 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by xmech2k View Post
Denny, we're those tx batteries stock or the lipo? A guy at our club had a big money turbine nose in due to one cell in the new lipo for his jr tx go bad. Total loss. Not even a single servo survived.
Stock nih battery pack. FYI I'm not a fan of lipos in transmitters.

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Old 05-05-2014, 06:31 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by kyleservicetech View Post
.............ut, much worse, today a fellow club member lost his giant scale 50 cc gasser one minute after take off. The resulting crash wrecked the 50 cc engine, most of the receiver and servos. The transmitter LCD display was flashing on and off, and absolutely no control of the model was present.

That was the members first flight of the year on that JR radio. The radio was also about a year and a half old.

Another quick check on the battery pack in that JR transmitter showed what happened. The battery voltage measured 10.8 volts at no load. But with a load test of 400 milliamperes, that voltage dropped below 8 Volts DC in less than 5 seconds. Every cell in that pack was That battery died so fast, the transmitter low voltage alarm didn't have enough time to warn the pilot. Very strange.

So, what to do
Didn't he have Tx on during start, taxi etc. - surely a pack that bad would have been obvious before take-off ?

Nice thing about transmitters, they present a constant current load to its internal battery. So, after a transmitter has sat idle for a long period of time, charge it up.

Then turn it on, and do something else for four or five hours. If your transmitter quits in 4 or 5 hours, time for a new transmitter battery.

IMHO, that's a good thing to do once or twice a year. If you have a 72 Mhz transmitter, be sure to do this test with the antenna fully extended.

If this thread saves one model from disaster, its been worth while.
Just what I do every few months - just to make sure ... my 8 cells give me over 9hrs before LVA sounds .. still with a reasonable amount left for safety.

As regards antenna ....... that applies to ALL FM and AM sets .. the RF needs to be radiated and not fry the crap out of the boards !! That's how it was put to me by JR service engineer in UK. Range test for a few mins is ok - but longer .. not good.

I remember you posting about this a while back ... thought you were fixed up.
It's funny that people worry so much about flight packs - but humble Tx gets second thoughts ...

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Old 05-05-2014, 06:40 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by solentlife View Post
Didn't he have Tx on during start, taxi etc. - surely a pack that bad would have been obvious before take-off ?

Nigel
Hi Nigel
I wondered about that also. My guess is those transmitters don't sample the internal battery voltage to often.

The sad part of this, is if he had turned on his transmitter at home for a few hours as a quick test, he'd still have a very expensive model airplane.

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Old 05-05-2014, 06:47 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by kyleservicetech View Post
Hi Nigel
I wondered about that also. My guess is those transmitters don't sample the internal battery voltage to often.

The sad part of this, is if he had turned on his transmitter at home for a few hours as a quick test, he'd still have a very expensive model airplane.
JR meters for years before Screen displays showed RF output .. NOT Battery voltage.
Futaba used to show Battery voltage.

I preferred RF .. as that showed radiated power.

But you know all this anyway ...

I would be surprised if 'sampling' was used .. surely it's just a simple continuous data display ? I know my 9x and 9xr - you can see the last decimal figure flicking about literally continuously.

And I always switch on at home to check before leaving for flights........... Why ? Not unknown for me to have left a Tx on after a bench test ... Silly billy !!

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Old 05-05-2014, 06:50 AM   #10
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I use LiPo and LiFe batteries in my transmitters... I keep track of their condition when I charge them
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Old 05-05-2014, 07:00 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by MadMonkey View Post
I use LiPo and LiFe batteries in my transmitters... I keep track of their condition when I charge them
Battery is a Battery .... if it aint charged - it's useless ... If it's old and on it's way out - it's useless ...

Life .. LiPo .. Nixx makes no odds .. they all go same way in the end and Kyles post only highlights the disregard some have for checking their Tx batteries.

Personally I don't see point of fitting a battery that you need to remove to charge .. except of course I believe Spekie now has provision for charging LiPo in it's later radios ?
So much nicer to just put Tx on bench .. plug in charger .. and KNOW your Tx will be full charged ready for next outing... without needing to actually check how much charge is left .. remove pack ... plug in balance and power leads to charger etc.

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Old 05-05-2014, 07:36 AM   #12
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I guess one of the theoretical disadvantages of the huge capacity LiPos fitted to some Tx's these days is that you get out of the habit of charging. I honestly cant recall the last time I charged my Tx

In practice it's not really a problem. When I see the battery indicator down below half I stick it on charge, but even if I forget acouple of times running it's no big deal because there in many hours of run time available even when the big LiPo is showing quite low voltage.

But obviously no matter how big the capacity with any battery there does come a time when it's flat and needs to be charged.
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Old 05-05-2014, 07:55 AM   #13
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Hi JPF .. I agree .. habits form and that's it.

But what I don't get is this comment from many about LiPo being better .. for me .. capacity is capacity ... my 2300mAh NiMH provide actually more than a similar LiPo as I can take NiMH down lower than a LiPo without damage. They are cheap across counter and LSD .. and I can charge direct via Tx socket ..... Only a few Tx can do that with LiPo / LiFe.

My habit is to put Tx on shelf .. plug in my old Futaba M charger at 50mA and forget about it ... knowing that next session - all is good to go. If I do forget to plug in .. or when I return home from a trip (I usually unplug charger when not there) - I know they are still good to go .. and that's NiMH in all but the 9xr's - which have provision for LiPo.

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Old 05-05-2014, 08:21 AM   #14
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The areas a LiPo scores over many other battery technologies is that LiPo has almost no 'self discherge' so the capacity is all there even weeks or months after charging. Plus the biggest advantage of all; with a LiPo you can get more capacity into the same battery size and weight compared to a NiMh (same reason we dont power our motors with NiMh anymore). As an example the stock battery in the Dx8 is 2000mAh and the replacement LiPo that fits into the same compartment is 4000mAh.

These advantages are why you no longer see NiMh tech used in other mobile devices like laptops, phones, cameras etc.. they have all gone over to Lithium Ion / Lithium Polymer technology.
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Old 05-05-2014, 08:46 AM   #15
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I don't disagree when there is an advantage such as the size / weight / capacity ... but many people are touting swaps that have no advantage.

And you yourself commented about complacency and not charging .. My LSD NiMH will hold enough charge that even after a 3 month trip away - I have no trouble using my Tx .. which has been sitting without charger. But of course I use Tx's that carry 8 cells .. if it was 4 or 5 cells - then that might be a different story.

The 9xr like many other radios has battery box big enough to carry decent capacity NiMH pack or LiPo ..

The 4000 size - of course is not 3S .. otherwise the Tx would be HEAVY !! Correct me if wrong ..

I like a heavy Tx - but not that heavy !!

Anyway 9hrs Tx run-time .. is more than enough for most. Standard Tx of about 250mA ... how much do you really need in pack size ?

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Old 05-05-2014, 10:50 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by solentlife View Post
The 4000 size - of course is not 3S .. otherwise the Tx would be HEAVY !! Correct me if wrong ..
You are right, it's a 2s LiPo. The stock NiMHh on the Dx8 is only 5s (5.5-6.0v), so even a 2s LiPo represents an increase in voltage.
The LiPo is very compact, probably because it doesnt need the higher discharge rating of the LiPos used to power motors. The LiPo is in fact physically a bit bigger than the NiMh it replaces. To get the LiPo in you have to remove/replace some of the foam padding that fits in the battery box, but the new smaller foam pads come with the Tx when it's supplied new.
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Old 05-05-2014, 11:11 AM   #17
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The 9xr also has foam in the box .. to use if you have the designed 2200 1.5C 3S pack ... or not if you use a larger higher C rate pack / NiMH / Life.

I have a 2400 3S 25C in one (same size as a 2100 Turnigy) and that is without foam packing. Other has the 9xr designed LiPo and needs that packing to stop it sliding around.

The 9x of course has the battery holder for NiMH or Dry-cells .. with plug. You can unplug - but then you have to find suitable plug to fit to any other cell type ...
Personally not worth the hassle given that my Grundigs will last months without charge ...

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Old 05-05-2014, 11:54 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by JetPlaneFlyer View Post
I guess one of the theoretical disadvantages of the huge capacity LiPos fitted to some Tx's these days is that you get out of the habit of charging. I honestly cant recall the last time I charged my Tx
The main reason I use lithium batteries in my transmitters is that I no longer have to worry about remembering to charge them before going flying, mainly because I never know when I'm going to get the chance to fly. And if I get to the field and the battery DOES need a charge, it doesn't take it long to fully charge.

As for having to remove it, removing the battery from the TX and placing it on the charger that is already sitting there charging LiPos is just as simple as having to pull out a dedicated TX/RX charger.
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Old 05-05-2014, 12:27 PM   #19
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Mad .. I don't pull out any charger .. I don't even have to find the lead ... I have a shelf that my Tx's sit on .. the chargers are there always connected to mains .. leads at hand ..

So it's Tx put in it's usual place .. lift plug .. insert. Check that red LED is on ..

That applies to ALL 5 Tx's .. then the ones with LiPO's ... I have 2 with LiPo at moment .. with another to set-up.

I have to open battery compartment, disconnect balance lead, lift out pack as the balance lead is too short to mate with charger. I then connect balance lead ... connect main battery power lead ... and then set charger to charge it.
In fact I've got so p'd of with it - I dug out my old RTF chargers that only use balance lead and are set at 1A max. That way I keep my LiPo chargers for doing the real job of charging flight packs. The RTF charger doesn't need setting .. and I don't need main battery power lead - BUT it still needs a power supply from mains .. Of course I have to charge away from normal Tx shelf as I don't have sufficient mains power sockets there .. and of course they are LiPo's ...

Anyone for a beer ?

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Old 05-05-2014, 01:12 PM   #20
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Nigel,

I appreciate where you are coming from regading the charging 'hassle'. However if you rally sit back and think about it, and put it into context, this process of removal of battery, hook up to charger, charge, remove from charger, re-connect, that is causing such frustration is something that you, and indeed all of us, do with our main flight battery packs every single flight, without giving it a second thought or a single complaint.

It really doesnt seem to be that big a deal in the overall scheme of things to have to do the same with your Tx battery, especially when you only need to do it once a month or thereabouts?

I'm not disgreeing with you that being able to charge in situ is better, but the alternative doesnt really seem so bad.
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Old 05-05-2014, 01:59 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by JetPlaneFlyer View Post
Nigel,

I appreciate where you are coming from regading the charging 'hassle'. However if you rally sit back and think about it, and put it into context, this process of removal of battery, hook up to charger, charge, remove from charger, re-connect, that is causing such frustration is something that you, and indeed all of us, do with our main flight battery packs every single flight, without giving it a second thought or a single complaint.

It really doesnt seem to be that big a deal in the overall scheme of things to have to do the same with your Tx battery, especially when you only need to do it once a month or thereabouts?

I'm not disgreeing with you that being able to charge in situ is better, but the alternative doesnt really seem so bad.
a) I'm a lazy SoB !!

b) I was actually more directing that in reply to this :

"As for having to remove it, removing the battery from the TX and placing it on the charger that is already sitting there charging LiPos is just as simple as having to pull out a dedicated TX/RX charger"

by Madmonkey.

...............

I agree that it is no real chore .. but I'm not too happy that I have to keep pulling out the balance lead to charge .. that socket in the 9xr is quite stiff and against the top wall of the cavity. So pulling the plug pulls a bit on leads mount. I can charge via the JST on the 9xr pack, deans on the other - but then no balancing.

I am thinking of how to jump in a balance solution so that I can leave battery alone ... needs a male to male jumper from RTF charger to a female socket on Tx ..

Nigel

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Old 05-05-2014, 03:53 PM   #22
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On all my transmitters that use AA batteries, I use the Eneloops. They are nearly as good as a LiPo (very low self discharge) yet allow charging while installed in the transmitter with nearly all types of chargers suitable for Nixx type batteries. In over two years, using Eneloops in my cameras and transmitters, I have never had a battery fail or under perform.
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Old 05-05-2014, 05:15 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Rodneh View Post
On all my transmitters that use AA batteries, I use the Eneloops. They are nearly as good as a LiPo (very low self discharge) yet allow charging while installed in the transmitter with nearly all types of chargers suitable for Nixx type batteries. In over two years, using Eneloops in my cameras and transmitters, I have never had a battery fail or under perform.
Agreed:
I've had two sets of 4 cell Eneloop batteries for my digital camera for three or four years. They are as good as the day they were new.

So, one set of four was soldered up for use in my DX8 transmitter. Then they were given a full discharge test on my battery analyzer. Those Eneloop batteries work very well. Now, 8 brand new Eneloops are in my camera bag.

As for LiPo batteries, for me, they will never be installed in any of my transmitters. Got to many LiPo battery test records conducted for my club members that show quality Nih batteries work just as well with none of the balancing problems and so on. I'm going to write an article for my clubs newsletter on old age tests on Nih, Life, A123 and LiPo batteries as used for receiver power. Might just post it in this web site this week end.

However, for receiver batteries, that is a whole different story. I had a conversation with a fellow club member yesterday that is flying a giant scale gasser with 10 high power digital servos. His receiver battery is a pair of 2300 Mah A123's as primary/backup units. He found each flight uses about 350 Mah out of the A123's, so he indicated no more than three flights before topping his A123's off. Plenty of safety margin.

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Old 05-05-2014, 05:20 PM   #24
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When I started out with RC back in 2005, I got a used JR XP8103 radio and it came with the stock NiCad. I didn't have that radio very long before I sold it and got a used XP9303 in its place. That one also came with a stock NiCad, and I quickly replaced it with the HobbyKing Rhino 3S 2650mAh 3C TX lipo pack.

I ran that pack for a year, but twice I had left the TX on after doing testing in the house and ran the lipo flat. My CellPro 4S was able to bring the lipo back both times, but the middle cell wound up getting damaged. I decided not to push my luck with that lipo anymore and went to Costco and got an 8-pack of Eneloops, got an 8-cell AA battery holder from Radio Shack, soldered on the JR battery lead, and never looked back.

The Eneloops will fully charge to just over 11 volts, but quickly come to rest at about 10.7v. I can let them sit in the TX for months, using them every couple weekends, without having to recharge. Once I get to 9.9v I take them out and charge them back up.

Another bad thing about the lipo, once it started to go flat, it went flat quickly! But the Eneloops won't sag at the end of their charge like the lipo did.

I love my Eneloops!

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Old 05-05-2014, 06:38 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Rodneh View Post
On all my transmitters that use AA batteries, I use the Eneloops. They are nearly as good as a LiPo (very low self discharge) yet allow charging while installed in the transmitter with nearly all types of chargers suitable for Nixx type batteries. In over two years, using Eneloops in my cameras and transmitters, I have never had a battery fail or under perform.
According to my pal - a Batt techn... most NiMH are LSD nowadays and even if not - it's so easy to just plug in as I do when you get home .. if you have a trickle 50mA charger like the old Radios had .. then you can plug in and leave it ..

Enerloops are not only LSD ones out there .. my 8 for about $10 Grundigs are LSD .. 2300mAh .. and currently I have 3 radios over 3 years .. another 2 radios about 2 years ... plus the spares I use in cameras, flashlights ... etc. I have them to run my 61 powered Biplanes Rx .. they run ignition on my 15cc Gasoline job ... pretty well anything that is not LiPo.

Easy peasy .. my Rx packs charge via the switch harness .. my spares charge via battery holders to the Radio chargers ..

When someone actually comes up with a more convenient - over local shop counter - cheap as this - as safe as this way - I'll convert.

Nigel

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