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

The Terminator II - super charge your A123 packs!

Old 08-08-2008, 07:18 PM
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Larry3215
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Thumbs up The Terminator II - super charge your A123 packs!

Terminator II

No - its not that classic movie by the governor of California.

Im talking about the best little gizmo you could want if you are using 2S to 8S A123 packs in any of your planes. Its especially great for 3S packs or multiples of 3S - 6S, 9S etc.

Its the Terminator II by Dan Baldwin. Its a charge terminator - NOT a charger - for A123 cells. Let me explain.... but first here is his web site and ordering info:

http://www.baldwincontrols.com/t_2.html


I just got into A123 cells in a serious way earlier this year. I was reluctant at first, but Im now a convert - on my larger planes at least.

A123 cells are great for several reasons.

1)They are cheeper than equivilant lipos
2)They are safer than any lipos
3)They are extremely rugged and can sustain huge amp draws, can be over discharged, over charged, stored fully charged, stored empty, and fast charged at insane rates - how about 6 minutes!! - all with virtually no damage.
4)They last many hundreds of cycles even with all the above 'bad' treatment.
5) they tend to stay in balance better than most lipos.

The only down side is the weight. Thats not really an issue in most cases with larger birds that have a properly sized power system that takes advantage of the cells plus points.


One of my favorite things about the cells is their ability to be fast charged. Actually I mean super fast charged in like 6 minutes! This is where the Terminator and Terminator II come into play.

6 MInute charges means you can get by with a single pack for any plane and fly all day long practically non-stop - or at least every 6 minutes. The way I fly and as busy as our club field is, a single pack could service several of my planes because I normally take at least a 15-20 miinute break between flights anyway.

The problem is - Super fast charges means super hi currents and that normally means you have to have a very $$ expensive $$ charger.

The Terminater and Terminator II take advantage of the extreme tollerance of the A123 cells to get around that problem.

How about a super fast DIY 'charger' for about $15 in parts? Thats the DIY Terminator you can build from Dan Baldwins plans. You do need a basic understanding of circuits and some moderately good soldering
skills, but its pretty easy if you meet those requirements.

If your 'electronically challenged' and cant tell the differentce between a PNP transistor and a PNP plane, then the Terminator II is for you.

Dan has a ready built version that you only have to add your charge conectors to for $40.00.

More in the next few posts....

Last edited by Larry3215; 08-10-2008 at 02:33 AM.
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Old 08-08-2008, 07:18 PM
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Ok, before I go any further, here are several threads to check out for more info on the DIY version, the simi kit version, as well as some history and background on ZIP charging A123 cells.

Charles, AKA everydayflyer, was the first one I know of to try Zip charging A123 cells using just a length of lamp cord and a Wattmeter as the “charger”. He goes into the details here:

http://www.wattflyer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=25492

and on RCG, all the details you could possibly want

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showp...16&postcount=1

the DIY cutoff circuit discussion

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showp...&postcount=194

and Dan’s circuit details, parts list etc here

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showt...22#post8844692

Those threads – mostly thanks to Charles hard work and detailed documentation efforts, will give you all the info you need. They are worth reading.

M<ost people however, are not electronically savy enough to build a DIY circuit – even with help, so that’s where the T-II comes in.

In the next post I’ll describe what the Terminator II is and what it ISNT which is also very important!!
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Old 08-08-2008, 07:19 PM
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Please read through the links above for a detailed description of ZIP charging, what it is and how it works. Charles has covered all the details very thoroughly.

Its important that you understand what’s involved and what YOU as the operator need to know to be safe doing this.

The T-II is NOT a smart charger that will hold your hand and save you from a case of the battery stupids.

ZIP charging works by taking advantage of the A123’s cells tolerance for being over charged and abused in order to charge the packs far faster than you would normally think is possible or safe.

Basically, you are charging the cells at very hi amp rates and allowing them to over charge to a voltage well above their “normal” fully charged voltage. I have gone as hi as 10C or 20 amps charge rate, but Im now down to about 5C average or around 12 amps average rate.

With regular lipos that would be suicidal. A123’s don’t seem to care.

Now – the important part.

The Terminator is NOT a normal charger. It is a charge terminator. There is a BIG difference.

It does NOT regulate the current and it does NOT step up or step down the voltage and it does NOT balance the packs.

The ONLY thing it does is stop the charge when the pack voltage reaches the set end point. There is NO CC or CV to this at all. It just stops the charge.


Its up to YOU to adjust the charge current by adjusting the length of the lamp cord going to the source battery – normally your car or truck 12 volt battery.

Now, that brings us to the next important thing. You can ONLY charge 3S packs from a 12 volt car battery. You cannot do 2S or 4S or 5S etc. ONLY 3S packs. Im not going to go into why now – Charles covers it in the threads above.

The Termnator II will auto detect the cell count of the pack you connect and adjust the ending voltage accordingly for 2S up to 8S packs. However – as long as your using a 12 volt car battery as the supply, you can only charge 3S packs.

If you want to charge 4S packs, you will need a supply that puts out 16 volts at what ever current you need. 5S packs will need a 20 volt supply and 8S packs will need a 32 volt supply. You need 4 volts per cell on the supply side. That’s because the Terminator is NOT a charger and it cannot step up the supply voltage the way a normal charger does.

So – for most of us who charge from our cars – that means we can only use the Terminators to charge 3S packs. Period! However, you can charge at up to 40 amps, so you could charge a LOT of 3S packs at the same time, in parallel, if you want. More on that later.

The simplest version of ZIP charging is just a length of lamp cord, a watt meter and YOU as the terminator. The lamp cord regulates the amount of current, the Watt meter tells YOU how many amps are flowing and the pack voltage which tells YOU when to stop the charge.

With the T-II you still need the lamp cord. The lamp cord length determines the charge rate – the amps. Longer cords have higher resistance and make for lower amp rates and longer charge times.

Shorter cords make for more amps and faster charge rates and shorter times.

Im currently using a 3 foot section of lamp cord which gives me an initial charge rate of about 30-35 amps which quickly drops to an average of about 20-25 amps.

I charge two ea 3S packs in parallel at the same time, so each pack is seeing of that. My charge times for the 2ea 3S packs are about 11 minutes total for empty packs. If I was charging a single 3S pack, I would use a cord twice as long in order to get the same charge rate for that single pack.


So – try a long cord (Id go 8 feet to 10 feet) to start with and shorten it as needed to get the charge rate YOU are comfortable with. I always use my Power Analyzer in line to monitor the charge. It’s a good idea. The T-II can easily handle up to 40 amps but you don’t want to melt it. That would be bad.

See the pictures below for how its set up. Its actually very simple.

Plug the T-II into the WattMeter, plug the pack or packs into the other end of the Wattmeter. Connect the T-II to your truck battery.

Then press the little button on the back of the T-II and the charge starts. Check the LED to be sure its flashing the correct cell count. 3 flashes = a 3S pack, 4 = 4S pack etc. That tells you the T-II has detected the correct cell count and will stop the charge at the correct voltage.

If the Wattmeter looks like all is well, you can wait and the T-II will stop the charge when the pack gets to about 3.8 volts per cell or 11.4 volts for a 3S pack. Normal full charge voltage for A123’s is about 3.6 volts per cell. Your pack will quickly drop back to about that voltage once the charge stops.

You can start or stop the charge at any point by pressing the little button on the back again.

If the pack is already charged and you press the button, the T-II will allow the pack to charge for aprox 30 seconds before stopping. Be carefull as the pack can go well over the 11.4 volt level if you keep pressing that button!!

I like using this feature to slightly over over charge the pack or to top off a pack that was charged a few days ago and has been sitting.


Ok, that’s the basics.

Its cool, it lets you ZIP charge your A123 packs in record times, I LOVE it –


BUT…….


YOU need to understand how it works or YOU could get yourself into trouble.

This is NOT a smart charger!! It will NOT hold your hand and protect you from the neighborhood bullies or your own ignorance or carelessness.

If you're not clear on all this – ask questions or go buy a CellPro or some other smart charger and take your time.

Im not trying to be funny here or to insult anyone, but charging batteries can be very dangerous and expensive if you get it wrong - especially at these hi charge rates. Even with A123 cells.

Last edited by Larry3215; 08-09-2008 at 08:22 PM.
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Old 08-08-2008, 07:23 PM
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Ok, here are more pics of my setup.

That pack below is a 6S1P A123 pack I made up myself. But its not a normal 6S pack.

Its actually two completely separate 3S packs that just happen to be shrink wrapped together into a single 6S package. This makes it easier to mount in my big foamy Yak - BUFY.

When Im flying, the packs are connected in series as a 6S pack. When I land and go to charge it, they are charged as 2 separate 3S packs connected with the Y harness as a 3S2P pack. At times I have also added a third 3S pack to use in my F86 as a 9S1P pack which is charged as a 3S3P pack.

The lamp cord is from a cheep extension cord I bought at HomeDepot. I got the 'Heavy Duty' $1.99 version. Im guessing its around 16 to 18 gauge. You can see that I have aligator clips on one end and APP's on the other end. I actually have two cords that I can switch out easily.

As I said before, Im currently using about a 3 foot length which gives me an initial charge current of about 30-35 amps and an average current around 20-25 amps. Im happy with that charge rate. The other cord I have made up is about 5 feet long for fast charging single 3S1P packs.

You may want or need a longer or shorter cord depending on how many packs your charging in parallel at once and what rate you want to charge at.
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Last edited by Larry3215; 08-09-2008 at 07:24 AM.
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Old 08-08-2008, 07:26 PM
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Sounds like something I need?
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Old 08-08-2008, 07:31 PM
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Sure, ya tease.

Can't wait to hear more.
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Old 08-08-2008, 10:44 PM
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I started this all on RC Groups and then started a thred here also

http://www.wattflyer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=25492

FYI The 3S A123 2300 battery which lives in my Mini Ulta Stick and has only been non Zip charged aprrox. 25 times now has 488 flights on it and is still delivering 2,000 mAh. That's over 460 charges at approx. 20A average with still approx. 85% capacity remaining.

The MUS has a Hacker A30-16M / 1060Kv ,an APC 12X8E and some would say is slightly over powered.


Charles

Last edited by everydayflyer; 08-08-2008 at 11:03 PM.
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Old 08-09-2008, 01:34 AM
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Hi Charles,

I was/am going to give you full credit and post links to your threads as well as Dans - look for that in post #2 above when I get finished writing it up

Charles deserves a huge huge chunk of the credit in this.

He pretty much invented zip charging way back when and IIRC, is pretty much responsible for getting Dan to design the original DIY circuit for T1 and then build the T-II units. I believe he did the beta testing on both.

He is also to blame for getting me to finally get started using A123's in my planes.

Thanks Charles!

I hope you will feel free to point out any needed corrections, omissions or errors on my part.
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Old 08-09-2008, 04:48 AM
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This thread was great timing, I just got my first set of A 123 cells this week.
Now I have to read everything about charging them.

Paul
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Old 08-09-2008, 05:39 AM
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I just up-dated post #2 with additional info.

More soon....
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Old 08-09-2008, 07:37 AM
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Just added more details and pictures to posts 3 and 4.

Thats it. Feel free to ask questions or point out any errors, omissions etc.

Im waiting to hear back from Dan on the best way to contact him to place orders, current pricing, lead times, etc. Im hoping he will chime in when he gets my message.
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Old 08-09-2008, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by pd1 View Post
This thread was great timing, I just got my first set of A 123 cells this week.
Now I have to read everything about charging them.

Paul
That brings up a point I didnt go over much above.

The T-II isnt a regular charger and will not balance your packs. A123 cells seem to stay balanced better than most lipos, but they still need periodic balancing.

I use the T-II when Im at the field. I may fly the same pack 6 or more times in a single trip to the field and I dont bother checking or doing any balancing.

When Im at home, I use my ThunderPower charger and do a "slow" 1C charge and balance the packs at the same time. I try to do that about once a week or so. Just because
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Old 08-09-2008, 01:10 PM
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Larry, thanks to you Charles and Dan for the information.
I tend not to rush into things.
I will probably end up with a zip charger at some time in the future.

I have two planes that are large enough to carry the extra weight of the A 123 cells now.
The problem is they are currently running on 4 cell lipo packs. I'll still need a good charger for a 4 or 5 cell A123 pack.
I do see that A123 cells could be very beneficial to me, and I can design a plane to take a motor with a 3 cell setup. Then the Zip setup will be at the top of my list.
Thanks for the information. Again your timing was spot on.
Now I have a lot of reading to do so I can ask semi intelligent questions.

Paul

Last edited by pd1; 08-09-2008 at 05:54 PM.
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Old 08-09-2008, 08:30 PM
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Great Job Larry and I believe you covered ths basics very well. As you ponted out Zip charging is not for everyone but is sure is enexpensive and fast. The 3S A123 2300 battery in my Mini Ultra Stick ,HackerA30-16M powered lives in the plane. I get 8 min. flights and 6 min. charges. I use 4 1/2 ' of 16 ga. lamp cord. Initial charge with pack down to arond 9volts. is approx. 30A which taperes and is around 8A at EOC ,11.55 volts. Some may be surprised to read that this pack now has 488 flights on it and still delivers just over 2000 mAh. There is no noticeable difference in performance at all. Pack has not been balanced in over 450 flights and is always within .030 when checked.

I did use a normal charger and balancer for the first 15 cycles. MY SOP with A123 packs is first charge at 3A,second at 6A and rest at 10A as long as the cells are staying fairly close balance wise. I have had a few which had to be charged at .3A(300 mA) rate or less due to severe inbalance. It is much faster to check the cells before building a pack and charge any low voltage cells to match the rest before pack assembly. I have a CP10 now and with its' 1A balancing power it really makes little difference as it will balance most anything fairl quickly.

Notice Please do not try Zip (high rate) charging with non A123 (LiFePo ) cells.
I have tested / flown several different manufactures LiFe PoO cells and they are not nearly as tuff or forgiving as true A123 cells. They get warm charged at 3c , go out of balance much worse,are much harder to get balanced and lose capacity much faster. On top of all of this they are not really that much less expensive IMO.


Higher cell counts:

There are those who use two 12V deep cycles in series (24V) to Zip charge 6S and even three in series (36V) to zip charge 10S.

There are also some that use Laptop Computer power supplies to Zip charge 4S packs. It is all about the voltage difference between the source and the load.

Have fun everyone but please be careful. A 16 gage lamp cord with 30 or more amps. flowing through it is not to be taken lightly ,neither is shorting out a 12V Deep cycle battery. I recomend a fuse in the Zip line very close to the 12V battery just incase.
Also if you are using the original Terminator the output is hot anytime it is connected to the deep cycle ,watch the output or it will short out and blow. Terminator II is only hot after the start button is pressed and while charging.

Charles
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Old 08-09-2008, 08:35 PM
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3S, 6S or 9S packs are easy to Zip charge as I said above.

2S, 4, 5, 7 or 8S etc means you will need a power source that can give you 4 volts per cell. You could possibly use an old NIMH charger or a variable voltage power supply of some type and let the T-II stop the charge.

You would need to be sure the power supply can tolerate an abrupt disconnection of the battery while its running. There are a few chargers out there that don't do well when that happens.
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Old 08-09-2008, 08:48 PM
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I've been reading, and reading, and reading...Boy is there a lot of information out there.
I think A 123s are going to me my main battery types for the foreseeable future.
Now to find a good charger.

I think I'll get dual car battery setup with the zip charge cord and a Terminator II to use at the field.

Thanks to all you pioneers, you've really helped me a lot.

Paul
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Old 08-09-2008, 09:21 PM
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Thanks Charles!

Paul, Id recommend one of the FMA Cellpro chargers. The 4 or 10 depending on the cell count you think you will end up with. They are very user friendly and seem to work well.

Here are some shots of how I do the 3S to 6S connections on the ESC end of things on my Yak.

If you're using Anderson Power Poles, its pretty simple to do. No need to change the connectors around on the pack and no need for a series wiring harness and the extra connections that involves.

Just separate the positive and negative connectors on the esc and then add a short jumper between them and you have an instant series connection set up for two packs going into one esc.

When its time to charge the two packs, just use a Y harness to connect them in parallel and charge away.
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Old 08-09-2008, 11:22 PM
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Now someone needs to build a device that you can connect to 2 (or more) 12V deep-cycle batteries to allow you to select the input voltage to the T-II. (hint, hint)
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Old 08-10-2008, 01:02 AM
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The device is call APP connectors. I run two 125Ah each deep cycle batteries. They are in parallel most of the time and get a low rate charge from my Blazer's charging system whenever the running lights are on ,controlled by a relay. When I need them in series I merely disconnect the parallel connection and install the series connection. It takes all of 2 min. That way I can Zip charge 6S A123s and I can also use the 24 volts to power my Hyperion DUO so I get the full 180 watts per channel output and it also improves effeciency when charging 4 and 5s packs.


Charles
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Old 08-10-2008, 02:24 AM
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I should have looked at Dans web site more closely. There is ordering and contact info at the bottom of the page here. You can also read the owners manual.

http://www.baldwincontrols.com/t_2.html

I'll post this above as well.
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Old 08-10-2008, 02:32 AM
  #21  
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I just noticed something in the owners manual that I had forgotten to ask Dan about.

The terminator is in standby mode when it is first connected to the battery. In standby mode, the battery is disconnected from the charge source, and the LED is off. To start the charge, hook the battery to be charged to the terminator first, press the button on the terminator to start normal charge mode, then hook the terminator to the current controlled charge source.
Its the sequence of events and especially that last sentence. I have not been doing it that way. I always connect the T-II to my truck battery first and leave it connected all day while flying. Then I plug in the packs to be charged and press the button to start.

I havent had any issues and Im wondering how important that exact sequence is - or not.

I suspect he wrote it that way because some chargers will not start unless the battery load is present on the output. Using a 12 volt pb battery seems to work fine the way Im doing it.

Any thoughts Charles?
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Old 08-10-2008, 03:03 AM
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Same here I connect the Terminator ( I or II ) to the source Deep Cycle battery for the most part and leave it connected. With Terminator II just connect pack and push the start switch. With the original terminator I use a 35MM film canister as a shield to prevent Deans male connector from shorting when not charging.

Photo in this post

http://www.wattflyer.com/forums/show...9&postcount=26

When using Terminator II with chargers such as a Triton or AF109 you must connect pack ,push start swith and then start charger or you will get a Battery Not Detected error. Many such chargers wil also error out when Terminator ends the charge so if you want / need the charge data you need to use a watt meter. I use an Inspector Wattmeter as I have found it to be the most accurate and give the most data short of using a logger.


Charles
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Old 08-10-2008, 03:45 AM
  #23  
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Just got a note from Dan.

You can give people my email address, which is [email protected]. Yes, the terminators are still $35.00 and $5.00 shipping for one or two within the US. I already have some orders from your Wattflyers thread. Thanks. I'm really busy right now with my day job stuff, so I may have trouble keeping up with the terminators. I'll try.
Dan is one of the good guys, but if you order one, keep in mind he is just another modeler like us and he's doing these on his off time and not as a business.
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Old 08-17-2008, 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Larry3215 View Post

That pack below is a 6S1P A123 pack I made up myself. But its not a normal 6S pack.
A related question if you please. With A123 packs how do you deal with the LVC of your ESC? It seems to me that most ESC's are set to cut off LiPo's at 3v which is way to high for A123 cells.
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Old 08-18-2008, 01:02 AM
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Your correct - you need to re-program the esc for a lower cutoff voltage. You cant rely on an auto lipo cut off. It will be to hi.

You can try to switch it to NIMH mode and that may work. Best is if you can set an exact cutoff voltage.

I use 10 volts as the cut off voltage for that 6S pack.
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