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Entry Level Lipo Charger

Old 06-03-2008, 01:54 AM
  #1  
C140
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Default Entry Level Lipo Charger

I'm looking for a good entry level charger that will charge 2-3 cell batteries, that doesn't cost a lot, but is still reliable.
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Old 06-03-2008, 03:19 AM
  #2  
idealhobbies
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I started out with this one:
http://www.hobbycity.com/hobbycity/s...Charge_Capable

$28.34 and it works great.
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Old 06-03-2008, 03:25 AM
  #3  
gfdengine204
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C&B,

Any special price range? Balancing or no? JUST Lipos, or do you want to charge NiXX as well?
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Old 06-03-2008, 04:01 AM
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ministeve2003
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Cheapest Option I've found... and the reviews are good...
http://www.hobbycity.com/hobbycity/s...alance/Charger

I've also Used the hxt one and it works decent...
http://www.hobbycity.com/hobbycity/s...Charge_Capable

This Is the One I'm Currenty Using... I Love it... If your gonna need a lipo and Nimh charger, I'd go with this option... It'll make everything much nicer...
http://www.hobbycity.com/hobbycity/s..._Charger_6cell

SK
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Old 06-03-2008, 04:12 AM
  #5  
Frank Voikel
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I have the HXT charger, it works great. It'll take you up to 4cell lipo packs, which cost more than the charger.
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Old 06-03-2008, 11:49 AM
  #6  
Moxus
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What about the Imax B6?
It costs 65$ I think at hobbycity.
Its a but overkill for your intended use at the moment.
However, it's not that expensive, and it will probably serve you well in the future as you probably go with hotter models and hotter batteries?
It charges LiFePO4 cells also, wich might become handy in the future
I bought a 4 cell Graupner charger (really simple one, not even balancing) at a hobbyshop here in norway. It costed approximately 50$, in todays low dollar. If I had knew about hobbycity back then, I wouldn't hesitated a second to put in 15$ extra, and get a balance charger for 6 cells and much more battery types.
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Old 06-03-2008, 01:44 PM
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constantCrash
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Don't skimp on your charger. A good charger is probably the 2nd most important piece of equipment your going to own. It will last longer than any of your batteries, or your planes. It's second only to your transmitter.

Get a Cellpro 4s $75.00 you'll thank me later.
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Old 06-03-2008, 03:54 PM
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The first option that ministeve listed has been rebranded numerous times. It may actually NOT do balancing at all though it claims to. I'd avoid it.

The 2nd one is popular-I have one. There are issues with it and I've posted this info several times on it's performance:
****
Setting Actual (Used with a 7A Power Supply)
0.5A 0.2A
1.0A 0.68A
1.5A 1.1A
2.0A 1.32A

That's why it takes so long to charge.
It also does not charge 100%, more like 93%. This does NOT hurt the battery, probably better for it in the long run but it does ding performance a tad.

Do NOT believe the specs of almost anything on cheap Chinese electronics. They are often fanciful at best and down right erroneous at worst. Verify!

If you add international shipping you are like $35. FMA Cellpro is a WAY better charger for $70 and actually does what it claims, does it superbly, and gives you feedback about what it is doing. The enthusiastic fliers don't know how poorly the Hextronic works since there is no information and new fliers don't have the tools to check.
*******

My buddy has had balancing wires break on his Loong Maxes. The Cellpro catches this. The Hextronic DOES NOT. It happily charges away. The next flight one cell is WAY down, continues to get used and is ruined. Puff goes the lipo-kind of makes it a bit more expensive. So it's a balancing charger but kind of 'stupid'. He still uses it but all batteries are checked with the Cellpro first.

The Imax B6 is known to have numerous problems with poor electronics, DOA, and does not balance right. Of course if you don't have good diagnostic tools you can't tell so you blithely believe the lies it's telling you. Happy users unfortunately in the dark.

No experience with the iCharger. Frankly since it's Chinese I'd lump it in the same category as the Imax until proven otherwise. I do think ANY of their electronics need to be verified. The rest is marketing. We know about Chinese marketing.

Agree with ConstantCrash. A charger is critical to proper battery care. It's like a roof over your head. Buy right or buy twice (or more). For 'basic' charging up to 4S the Cellpro is hard to beat.
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Old 06-03-2008, 04:15 PM
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Ohio AV8TOR
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Originally Posted by constantCrash View Post
Don't skimp on your charger. A good charger is probably the 2nd most important piece of equipment your going to own. It will last longer than any of your batteries, or your planes. It's second only to your transmitter.

Get a Cellpro 4s $75.00 you'll thank me later.
I have been flying RC for 30 years but only 3 for electric. I started off with a Graupner Lipo 4 charger for $29 at Hobby-Lobby. I was happy with it but 6 chargers later I use the CellPro 4S for my lipos and love it. As mentioned above do not skimp on a charger. With the balance control internal to the charger this is so easy and offers faster charging without the fear of damage to your packs.
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Old 06-03-2008, 04:24 PM
  #10  
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DOA problems with the imax I wouldnt know anything about, mine works fine.
But as for poor balancing, I can't say i recognize that at all as a problem.
It balances up to 0.1 of a volt, and duble-checking it with multimeter confirms it to be right. Now, I only had it for 2 days so as for poor electronics or lifetime, I can only say that time will show.
I havent measured charging current, but what the charger claims does add up with the charging time of a known maH battery, so yes, i happily believe its "lies" :P Voltages checked before and after charge does also confirm a fully charged battery.
There might be a lot of poor equipment from china, but that doesn't mean everything is bad. 2 other members of my flying club also has the b6, and it works fine for them too. And speaking of bad equippment, i seen a lot of that kind come from reputable brands also, of course at a much higher price.
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Old 06-03-2008, 04:44 PM
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flydiver
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Originally Posted by Moxus View Post
But as for poor balancing, I can't say i recognize that at all as a problem.
You might (or might not) want to do some reading here:
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=746574

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=777717

We all like a bargain and are happy to find one. Have to admit I've gone from the camp of thinking a lot of this stuff was GREAT (I was new an ignorant-couldn't tell any difference) to acknowledging a mess of it is mediocre to miserable when it fails in short order or unexpectedly-AND takes something expensive with it. The area of quality lipos and chargers is VERY confusing. This is made even more complicated by the vast variety of users (and unwitting abusers), user knowledge (or lack thereof) and the constantly moving target of quality of the products.

If I had a nickel for every time the question 'what is the best lipo/lipo charger available' I wouldn't have to pay for anything ever again.

fly

Last edited by flydiver; 06-03-2008 at 05:25 PM.
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Old 06-03-2008, 05:21 PM
  #12  
Moxus
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Well, it just so happends that i also got 3 years in school from electronics, and a certificate proving me as authoriced service electronican, so this is something i would know something about.
Maybe the amateur perfectionist don't think 1% accuracy is good enough, and I let that be each individuals opinion.
The fact is that 1% margin resistors are not cheap or inaccurate resistors at all. Not having checked the circuit myself of the b6, i don't know how many % inaccuracy this means in charging voltage, but lets assume that its 1 % innaccuracy in reverence voltage resistors also means 1 % in voltage? With a 3.7 volt lipo cell, that means an error margin of 0.037 volts. Good enough for me. Compared to the non-balanced charger wich was the alternative suggested above, thats still way better.
And even better: if you dont like the balancing of the b6, guess what? you can just charge with no balancing ring, and have exactly the same effect as an unbalanced charger. But capacity for 2 cells more, and a range of different battery types wich the originally suggested charger doesn't suppert.
I'm not claiming that b6 is the best charger in the world. Keep in mind that the question is a ENTRY LEVEL charger.

edit: just checked my 3s hyperion LVX pack, storage charged yesterday.
cell 1 is 3.997 volts, cell 2 is 4.01, cell 3 is also 4.01. differences in between the cells is samller than the error margin of the multimeter.
I'd say, way better than an unbalanced charger. And good enough for a balanced charger too, for most people.

Last edited by Moxus; 06-03-2008 at 05:39 PM.
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Old 06-03-2008, 06:42 PM
  #13  
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B6 and IC6 Seem to be the same, Just Newer model, now also comes with many connectors... I like it... It charges great, and shuts off when its done... It tells you how much mah is put into the pack, how long..etc, Mine stops at 4.2volts and tests acurate with a multimeter... I've owned it for about 3 months...

as far as the Hxt charger not telling you when you have a broken cell wire, It does tell you... only need to use some common sense... If you plug in a know discharged battery, then all (cell) lights should be red.... if light one, two or three is green (on a 3cell pack) right when you plug it in... then you have a cut/broken wire...simple...
SK
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Old 06-03-2008, 07:40 PM
  #14  
Moxus
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Yes, im with you on that one ministeve.
The charger does its job well enough for the battery to work its intended way by far, and thats exactly what a charger should to. To keep the cells balanced within a thousands of a volt is just pennypinching. It has no practical value. You can start worry about a 'little' bit later than entry level.
I see flydivers point that a lot of the chinese stuff isn't what it rated for, and i agree with him on that as a general rule of thumb. But that doesn't mean that ALL chinese made is crap, and for the b6 i think its a ok charger with exeptional value for money.
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Old 06-04-2008, 12:11 AM
  #15  
C140
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I'm looking for something about $75 dollars or less, it has to charge smallish batteries (350 mAh), and I'd like something that isn't imported if I can help it. I really just need to charge lipos, so one with a nimh, nicad option is not required.
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Old 06-04-2008, 12:28 AM
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flydiver
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It'll likely be a tad more with shipping and balance taps but I think your best value is the Cellpro 4S. If you can wait a bit go sign up on their web site and they do 10% off deals all the time. Don't forget that with increased shipping there is now a 15-20% hit on Hobby City prices, let alone the gawdawful wait if it's OOS.

As you've seen the other chargers started a bit of controversy. Pretty much everyone agrees the 4S is an outstanding charger. If you can find ANYTHING that >80% of the internet agrees on you likely have pretty good device.

You'll need a 5A power supply too but that's true for the majority of them.
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Old 06-04-2008, 01:59 AM
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Originally Posted by flydiver View Post
No experience with the iCharger. Frankly since it's Chinese I'd lump it in the same category as the Imax until proven otherwise. I do think ANY of their electronics need to be verified. The rest is marketing. We know about Chinese marketing.
Buying from UnitedHobbies and buying something sold in the USA that is made in China are two different critters.
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Old 06-05-2008, 01:55 AM
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CELLPRO 4S!!!! Don't waste your 30 bucks on a cheapy
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Old 06-05-2008, 01:56 AM
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C140
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The Cellpro looks nice. Who sells it?
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Old 06-05-2008, 02:28 AM
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FMA sells it. I agree with Jedi completely. You either buy cheap (and later regret it), or buy a decent charger.
Follow my link a bit above for a review.

fly
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Old 06-05-2008, 03:00 AM
  #21  
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Well, I don't have it, but people more experienced (and with deeper pockets) than me are recommending it.
Go with it, if you're willing to spend the $75.
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Old 06-05-2008, 09:03 AM
  #22  
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Just a point to think about: A newbie, or any pilot not familiar with electronics, tend to purchase simple - "entry level" charger.

I disagree... A professional EE can use the most simple Lipo charger of the world (lab power supply?) because he knows how to use it and what to do and where the attention is necesary.

A novice, heading for "entry level", should buy the most advanced charger on market, a charger that will do everything right without needing a knowledgeable person to set parameters, charger that will take care about damaged or overdischarged packs and also broken wires...
Such charger is Cellpro 4s... You dont need to know or set anything, it will do it automaticaly , and safe.
I have to add that 12V power supply and the appropriate balance wire adapter is the necessary accessory.

btw, I consider myself knowledgeable enough, but I am happy that my charger is not blind and will take care of any problem if it should occur. I simply dont feel comfortable, charging lipos using lab power supply, even if I can.
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Old 06-05-2008, 11:28 AM
  #23  
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This is just escalating into an argument of wich charger is best, based purely on personal opinions. And as far as personal opinion is going, one is as good as the other. Anyway, all we manage to do is to confuse our fellow pilot asking for a descent charger by everyone shouting "no, his charger is crap, mine is better", but nobody has any fact to come up with.
The accusation has flied about b6 being poor in the balancing department. I consider that discredited as i measured my balance charged pack from a b6 to be accurate up to the hundreds of a volt.
The rest of this is just "My Mercedes is better than your Toyota" argument, and usually I don't bother laying in any words in such arguments.
But this time I'm going to ask you to just please shut up or bring up some facts, because all this serves to is to confuse the threadstarter.
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Old 06-05-2008, 02:23 PM
  #24  
constantCrash
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There are a lot of decent balancing chargers on the market today:
the B6 line etc are from what i understand, decent chargers. But all of those chargers require the operator to select the correct charging amp rate. This could cause a failure if the charge rate is selected improperly.

There is only 1 (two actually) charger that can automatically figure out the 1C, 2C, 3C rate of a battery and charge appropriately and that is the CellPro line of chargers.

Say you have 2 batteries 1 a 2 cell 800mah and the other a 4 cell 4000mah
on the "others"
the process is:
1) set charger to 4A
2) plug in 4000mah battery
3) let it charge
4) unplug the battery
5) set charger to .8A
6) let it charge.
7) unplug the battery.

Cellpro
1) plug in 4000mah battery
2) let it charge
3) unplug the battery
4) plug in 800mah battery
5) let it charger
6) unplug the battery.

Notice the lack of changing any settings on the charger? Yes other cheaper static rate chargers can do the same, but the Cellpro is different, it figures out that the first battery can be charged at 4A, and when you plug in the second, it figures out that it can be charged at .8A automatically. When your not paying attention this can really CYA.

This, in my opinion puts the Cellpro line heads above ANY other charger. Regardless of the other features of the charger.
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Old 06-07-2008, 03:54 AM
  #25  
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http://www.commonsenserc.com/product...roducts_id=185 This what I Use at the field and have had good luck with it! Bought it at local LHS for 75$
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