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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 03-21-2015, 05:39 AM   #1
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Default AST 109 AstroFlight Lithium Charger Question

I just found a new in the box never been used Astroflight 109 charger and it looks like it was purchased in 2004. Is this still a good charger to use? I do not see any balance plugs - just the red and black input from a power supply and the red/black to the battery to be charged. Is there any additional equipment I would need to buy in order to use this safely or should I use it as a paperweight and buy something newer? Thank you for any help out there in Wattflyer land!
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Old 03-21-2015, 05:45 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by CraterMaker View Post
I just found a new in the box never been used Astroflight 109 charger and it looks like it was purchased in 2004. Is this still a good charger to use? I do not see any balance plugs - just the red and black input from a power supply and the red/black to the battery to be charged. Is there any additional equipment I would need to buy in order to use this safely or should I use it as a paperweight and buy something newer? Thank you for any help out there in Wattflyer land!
Yeah, I've got one of those chargers.

Now days, that charger might not be safe to use for charging Lipo battery packs because it doesn't have balancing capabilities.

With LiPo battery packs and the risk of a LiPo battery fire, to me, it's not worth taking a chance with that old charger.

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Old 03-21-2015, 02:27 PM   #3
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Thank you for the reply. I think it's time to buy a new one. I have a great power supply so I guess I'll search some threads and try to find a good one. I don't think I'll ever be charging more than 6s packs. Hope I can find something under $100.
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Old 03-21-2015, 08:34 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by CraterMaker View Post
Thank you for the reply. I think it's time to buy a new one. I have a great power supply so I guess I'll search some threads and try to find a good one. I don't think I'll ever be charging more than 6s packs. Hope I can find something under $100.

This is quite a bit more $$$$, but it is a top of the line charger. If you also buy the USB dongle, you can program it to match your variety of battery packs.

I've got 15 charge routines in my PL8's, and name them by type, and Amps charging rate. This charger can also run battery cycle tests with that USB dongle.

Take a look:
http://www.usastore.revolectrix.com/...-PowerLab-6_29

Cellpro Battery Cycling:
http://www.wattflyer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=70621

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Old 03-21-2015, 09:11 PM   #5
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You can charge without balancing and get away with it for years... or it can burn the pack first time.

But you can also get a cheap balancer which is how we used to do it with the 109. I still have my 109 and Astroflite Blinky balancer.

there was a firmware update that required changing a chip. forgot what year that was. i got the chip but never put it in because I got a better charger.

There is an issue you need to be aware of... it can detect the wrong cell count since its just dividing voltage by cell type's nominal. You might have to charge with it saying you have a 3S when you actually have 4... then when it stops you restart the charge and it detects the correct cell count.

IF IT DETECTS MORE CELLS THAN YOU HAVE THEN DO NOT START THE CHARGE
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Old 03-21-2015, 09:27 PM   #6
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The Cellpro Powerlab chargers determine the proper cell count by simply checking what cells are active on the balance connector. If for some reason the balance connector voltage on each cell don't total up to match the voltage on the battery power leads, the Cellpro charger will halt, with a battery malfunction alarm.

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Old 03-22-2015, 05:52 AM   #7
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I use the 109 charger, you need to use a separate blinky balancer when charging the lipo to balance charge them, the 109 charger will some times jump from charging a 3 cell to a 4 cell lipo, you have to be on top of that charger, and check the lipo cell count when it beeps from stage one to stage 2 and stage 3 charging, i had 2 lipos get overcharged before i found out what the problem was, if you use the 109 charger, be on top of it. If you dont want your 109 charger, you can send it to me LOL


Blinky Balancer used on the lipo balance plug

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Astro-Flight...57576504&rt=nc


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Old 03-22-2015, 06:05 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by CraterMaker View Post
Thank you for the reply. I think it's time to buy a new one. I have a great power supply so I guess I'll search some threads and try to find a good one. I don't think I'll ever be charging more than 6s packs. Hope I can find something under $100.
I had one of those Astroflight Blinky balancers that was set up for my A123 battery packs years ago. It did a LOUSY job of balancing the 6S2P packs, and eventually blew out one pair of A123's due to balancing getting way out of whack. Those two cells were going over 6 Volts DC during the charge cycle, and after a year of that, killed them. Part of the reason is the discharge voltage on the A123 cells is very flat.

Zero problems since going to my Cellpro PL8's and the balancing circuitry. Any quality charger will do the same.

That Cellpro PL6 charger is rated at 1000 Watts on the charging output, which will handle most any 6S or less LiPo battery. For smaller battery packs used in back yard flyers and similar, smaller, less costly 50 Watt chargers will work just fine.

As for my stuff, the models include a number of 6S2P A123 battery packs that are being charged at 20 Amps, which calculates out to 440 Watts. Double that for my two 12S2P packs.

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Old 03-22-2015, 06:06 AM   #9
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Lots of people like this turnigy Balance charger, they are inexpensive and work great, buy 2 of them so you can charge multiple lipos. about $23.00 each, they are on back order, they restock fast, leave your email address with HK, and they will let you know when they come in.

http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...cessories.html

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Old 03-22-2015, 06:10 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by kyleservicetech View Post
I had one of those Astroflight Blinky balancers that was set up for my A123 battery packs years ago. It did a LOUSY job of balancing the 6S2P packs, and eventually blew out one pair of A123's due to balancing getting way out of whack. Those two cells were going over 6 Volts DC during the charge cycle, and after a year of that, killed them. Part of the reason is the discharge voltage on the A123 cells is very flat.

Zero problems since going to my Cellpro PL8's and the balancing circuitry. Any quality charger will do the same.
Blinky has a balancer for the lipos and 123 cells, my lipo blinky has worked great for over 6 years, I Dont know anything about the Blinky 123 battery balancers.

I may be getting Older, But I Refuse to grow Up I am Having to much Fun to Grow Up LOL
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Old 03-22-2015, 06:13 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by CHELLIE View Post
Blinky has a balancer for the lipos and 123 cells, my lipo blinky has worked great for over 6 years, I Dont know anything about the Blinky 123 battery balancers.
Hi Chellie
Yeah, those Blinky A123 chargers don't work on A123's. Personal experience, and damaged battery packs. I left one of my Blinkies on a 6S2P A123 battery pack for some 6 hours. And after that 6 hours, the Blinky indicated it was balanced. I found out during battery discharge testing while monitoring all six cells at the same time, the pack was still way out of balance.

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Old 03-22-2015, 06:17 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by kyleservicetech View Post
Hi Chellie
Yeah, those Blinky A123 chargers don't work on A123's. Personal experience, and damaged battery packs.
Hi Denny, did you ever have any proplems with your 109 charger jumping from charging a 3 cell lipo to a 4 cell lipo between stages of charging a 3 cell lipo.

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Old 03-22-2015, 06:17 AM   #13
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My 109 Chargers and a DIY computer power supply


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Old 03-22-2015, 06:27 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by CHELLIE View Post
Hi Denny, did you ever have any proplems with your 109 charger jumping from charging a 3 cell lipo to a 4 cell lipo between stages of charging a 3 cell lipo.
Hi Chellie

Never used that 109 charger to charge a LiPo battery. Was afraid to without having balancing capabilities. The Cellpro charger monitor the cell count through the balance connector, so it can not get the cell count wrong.
In fact, you don't even need to specify the cell count. The charger automatically checks the balance connector and goes from there.

At any rate, here is my charging setup, used for charging up to 24 A123's as a 6S4P pack, flown as a 12S2P pack. Charging is 40 Amps total on a pair of Cellpro PL8 chargers.

Harbor Freight Gasoline/Alternator Setup
http://www.wattflyer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=66066,

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Old 03-22-2015, 01:40 PM   #15
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Chellie... did you get the upgrade firmware chip? Its not a download. You have to pull out and replace a chip.
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Old 03-22-2015, 06:28 PM   #16
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I have 3 Astro 109 chargers mounted on a board and wired so I can plug in the whole group with 1 power wire.

Yes you do have to use a separate balancer, but they are very easy to get.
I have 4 Astro Blinkys like Chellie showed, I use them on every charge. And I must have 4 other balancers also

I have other more advanced chargers with balancer's built in, but the 109's are my favorite. they are so simple to use, just dial the current you want. No fussing around with push buttons to get it set. No remembering which program for which battery.

That being said, the 109's are easy to screw up by reaching for something and not noticing your sleeve turn the knob up to a higher level. I am very careful about that.

I have all of mine updated with the latest programming chip from Astro, this eliminates a problem they used to have (changing cell count in the middle of a charge)

In short, I love these chargers. I don't care that they aren't the newest thing out, they work for me and the batteries I use. My batteries are up to 4 cell 4000 mah's

When I start using more cells and larger batteries I will probably need a larger charger.

If you don't want to use your 109, send me a PM and a price, I may buy it from you.

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Old 03-23-2015, 03:44 AM   #17
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Hi Wildflyer. I just found this setup on eBay for 90 bucks:
SkyRC T6755 Pro 1-6S LiPo Balance Charger Touchscreen AC/DC Input -US stock
It seems pretty good and has a huge array of various balancing plugs on the board. I'm definitely willing to part with my 109 charger. I have no idea what it's worth- PM me and let
me know if you're interested. And if you know anything about SkyRC please let me know. Thank you very much.
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Old 03-23-2015, 04:10 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by CraterMaker View Post
Hi Wildflyer. I just found this setup on eBay for 90 bucks:
SkyRC T6755 Pro 1-6S LiPo Balance Charger Touchscreen AC/DC Input -US stock
It seems pretty good and has a huge array of various balancing plugs on the board. I'm definitely willing to part with my 109 charger. I have no idea what it's worth- PM me and let
me know if you're interested. And if you know anything about SkyRC please let me know. Thank you very much.
Looks like that SkyRC charger is rated at only 50 Watts, OK for the smaller packs perhaps 3S or smaller.

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Old 03-23-2015, 05:25 AM   #19
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50 watts will do 4S 3300 mah at 1C


That's where my 50 watt per port Hobby King Quatro charges when I set at 5 amps rate for a 4S 5000. (Automatically reduces rate to under the 50 watt limit)
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Old 03-23-2015, 06:29 AM   #20
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Ok so I will want something to charge a 6s 5000mah pack. I guess I'll need to bite the bullet and spend more money. I have a great 12v power supply I use for my ham radio gear so that's not a problem. Do you think I can find one in the $150 range?
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Old 03-23-2015, 01:08 PM   #21
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Instead of buying 6S 5000, buy 2 X 3S 5000> And get the Hobby King Quatro at appx $100. Then you can charge 4 X 3S 5000 at 5 amp each. (might be a better choice in this class of charger now... mine is several years old)

The center cells of 6S tend to die early from inability to cool. Its really easy to put a pair of packs in series.

With 2X3S you can leave a bit of space between packs in the aircraft for in flight cooling and you can spread the packs after removing from the plane. When pushed hard the pack surface temp can still be going up more than 1 minute after you finish the flight.

And... you'll have the 3S packs for big slow flying models that use 3S...
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Old 03-23-2015, 02:59 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by CraterMaker View Post
Ok so I will want something to charge a 6s 5000mah pack. I guess I'll need to bite the bullet and spend more money. I have a great 12v power supply I use for my ham radio gear so that's not a problem. Do you think I can find one in the $150 range?
I'd suggest the Cellpro PL6, a quality charger that will serve you well. (I've got two PL8's)

Also get their USB dongle that allows using the PL6 to do battery cycling, testing and a
Lot more. The dongle allows you to fully customise a whole bunch of charging routines.And at $175 this 1000 Watt charger is just slightly over your $150.

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Old 03-23-2015, 03:45 PM   #23
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OK, I just bit the bullet and bought a Vista Power Quadplay Q-6320 DC 4-Port DC Charger (with 4 XHT type Balance Boards built in) for $150.00. It's capable of charging (4) 6-cell batteries at 50W per output channel at the same time. Each output is a full feature charger/balancer/discharger capable of charging from 1S-6S batteries. I'll keep you posted and do a review when it arrives. Thanks for your help everyone.

Hey Dennis V - I read your post after I bought the unit! Maybe I jumped the gun? I can always return it. I'll definitely keep the post going for the unboxing.
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Old 03-23-2015, 04:34 PM   #24
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Looks like an upgrade vs the HK Quatro by having built-in AC power supply. But otherwise it should be the same. It should work out pretty well.
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