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What Battery Charger to Purchase??

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Old 07-12-2005, 05:42 PM
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jthella
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Default What Battery Charger to Purchase??

I would like suggestions as to which battery charger set up is best-should I invest the $150 on the Hobbico AC/DC Peak Charger that I saw on Tower Hobbies website, or is it better to get something more budget minded? I plan on having at least six battery packs, of varying cell numbers (6-8 cells per pack). Has anyone had success/failures with certain products? Looking forward to feedback.
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Old 07-15-2005, 10:31 AM
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Default RE: What Battery Charger to Purchase??

Battery charger choice is largely a personal preference one. It's going to depend on what you want to charge, what you think you might want to charge in the future, and how much you want to spend.

Is the Hobbico AccuCycle Elite the one you're looking at? The main advantage to this charger is the fact that it comes with an AC power supply, and I suppose that a charger with similar functionality and a AC power supply would run you about the same.

Be aware that this charger has a fairly limited capacity. It will be fine for small park fliers, but you may find the wait times for larger planes (hours) to be unacceptable.
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Old 07-15-2005, 02:24 PM
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jthella
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Default RE: What Battery Charger to Purchase??

I would like to charge six to eight cell packs, I dont know enough about the lithium ion packs to venture there yet, but might like to have the capability in the future. I am looking to purchase Nimh batteries for my Graupner Sunwheel as that is what the manufacturer suggests, but I just don't know what will work. I guess the answer is flexibility to move to larger models in the future, with AC/DC capability, peak charge indication, discharge and "conditioning" capabilities. I also looked on Hobby-Lobby.com and they had a Graupner charger for around $120 U.S.. When you say "personal choice" does that represent features to the individual buyer and brand loyalty? Have you had expereince with one manufacturer that gives you a favorable bias towards their product is I guess the answer I am looking for? You also answered for my other post about my outfitting the Sunwheel, and I mis stated the website. It is www.graupner.de. Thanks for your help.
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Old 07-15-2005, 03:40 PM
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Default RE: What Battery Charger to Purchase??

If Hobby Lobby has a charger you may be interested in, I would call them and ask for their recommendations. I have found them willing and able to help. Looking to the future, you may want a chrger that will charge lipos also; you would save some money in the long run. Graupner makes quality stuff and they have been around for a long time. Hitec is another good brand, and their prices may be a little lower than Graupner. Your choice should probably put out at least 1.5 Amps...Jim
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Old 07-18-2005, 07:44 PM
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Default RE: What Battery Charger to Purchase??

I found the user interface to be important. I have a SuperNova that is a good charger, but I hate it because of the menus you have to wade through to set it. I decided against the Triton and Graupners because of this. I love my Astro 109 because all I have to do is connect the battery pack and dial the charge current -- quick and very easy.

I like having seperate nicad/nimh and lipoly chargers. I can charge packs of each at the same time, and never have to worry about whether it is set to the correct type cells when my son or friends are putting packs on the charger.


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Old 07-19-2005, 01:25 AM
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Default RE: What Battery Charger to Purchase??

As Matt suggests, as long as you are looking at good chargers, it really is a matter of personal choice.

Here’s my opinion, for what it’s worth.

Your charger options go up if you are willing to purchase a 12V power supply or convert a computer power supply.

I am not sure that we need to cycle electric flight packs. They are effectively cycled when we fly them and then recharge them.

LiPo technology is changing rapidly. The big ‘problem’ I see with most LiPo chargers is that they do not balance each cell which, apparently, is important to the overall life of the cell and safety. I would bet that the next generation of ‘expensive’ chargers like the Triton will have this capability built into the charger. If you don’t need a LiPo charger now, then you might be better off waiting. If you want to get one now, simple LiPo chargers (12V supply needed) can be had for $25.

If you spend all your money on one charger, you’ll have one charger. The more batteries you want to take to the field, the less happy you’ll be with one charger. Ideally, for maximum flight times, you want to have them peaked just before you go to the field as NiMH’s start to self discharge as soon as you take them off the charger. I would estimate I easily add an extra 10% of the batteries capacity if my NiMH packs have been sitting for 24 hours after being fully charged when I repeak them.

I also understand that it is better to slow charge your batteries than fast charge them all the time. If you have a couple of chargers, this doesn’t become such an ordeal.

What I don’t like about my Triton, for as fancy as it is, it will not (someone correct me if I’m wrong) charge at small rates, like 15mA. If you have small packs, these small rates are good as I’ve heard that once peaked, these gentle trickles help balance all the cells in a pack.

All that said, for the last year and a half, I’ve been happy with my Great Planes AC Park Flyer Peak Charger which just plugs into the wall. It is designed for AA and AAA packs although I’ve been charging 2/3A packs no problem. It has a blinking LED which lets you now how long it took the battery to reach peak, will charge at 200 – 800 mA, will charge 1 – 8 Nicad or NiMH cells and will automatically trickle at 10 to 15 mA once the batteries are peaked.

The Triton is nice too, but at the moment, much more featured than I actually need.

Good luck with your decision!
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Old 08-09-2005, 03:06 PM
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Default RE: What Battery Charger to Purchase??

looking for good charger for NiHM. I have 2 3000mAh 6.v 5x Sub-C cells And 1 2700mAh 4.8v 4x Sub-c cells
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Old 08-22-2005, 09:26 PM
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Default RE: What Battery Charger to Purchase??

If you have a $150 budget for a charger, then get two instead.

Triton is an excellent charger for up to 24 cells or 4 lithium cells - $120
It will cycle, condition and do all the stuff you want it to do.

Then take the other $30 and get an inexpensive second charger so you can charger two packs at once at the field.

One of the HobbyZone chargers for $19 will do 4-7 cell packs, for example. There are others for under $30, but you get the idea. One really good one and one that is OK, so you can pump two packs at once. Perhaps keep the cheap one in teh car so you can always be ready, just in case you forget the fancy one.

I have 3!
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Old 08-29-2005, 02:57 AM
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Default RE: What Battery Charger to Purchase??

I'm looking for a good charger myself. For $150 what the triton costs, I could buy 8 more battery packs bringing my total to 12 NI-MH packs.

I went to my LHS and was all set to buy the DuraTrax Piranha and guy said that he had around 5 he sold and all returned before they went bad so he stopped selling them. So looking for something not DuraTrax brand.

Need to charge my 1100 mah 8 cell packs in 15min. Ya some say this not good for battery life though i'm not patience to wait around for charging at the field.
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Old 08-29-2005, 04:59 AM
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Default RE: What Battery Charger to Purchase??

ORIGINAL: stockdaddy

Need to charge my 1100 mah 8 cell packs in 15min. Ya some say this not good for battery life though i'm not patience to wait around for charging at the field.
Charging at that rate, it won't matter. You wil be replacing packs quite often. Get any charger you like that will will charge NIMH at 4 amps. Doesn't matter what else it does. Even if you buy high priced competitions packs, your packs will likely be fried pretty quickly.

I would also recommend you get some kind of metal box as the chance of fire or pack explosing willl be fairly high.

Enjoy!
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Old 08-29-2005, 06:58 AM
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Default RE: What Battery Charger to Purchase??

Then buy more packs.
Like our moderator says, try and charge any type of 1100Ma/H pack in 15 minutes is inviting disaster.
If you purchase additional packs then you can keep flying while the flat ones charge at the safe and proper rate.
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Old 08-29-2005, 08:09 AM
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Default RE: What Battery Charger to Purchase??

The way to have your packs ready for flight is not to abuse them and to invite disaster, but to charge them properly. If you are like me, and want to stay in the air all the time, then have more packs and/or more chargers.

For example, for my Aerobird I have 5 900 mah packs and 2 chargers ( 3 if I bring my Triton from home) I stay in the air all day putting in 3-4 flights an hour.

Let's look at batteries and chargers. I am not going to go into battery
chemistry. Let's just say that you need to use the right charger for the
right battery. Don't mix and match or you could create a dangerous situation.
Used properly they are all safe to use. If you want to know more about NIMH,
NICD and Lithium batteries, these links contain useful information.

Battery Basics:
http://www.modelaircraft.org/mag/FTGU/Part8/index.html
Notes on Lithium Batteries
http://www.*********.org/lithium_bat...eakthrough.htm
safety warning on Lithium Batteries
http://www.modelaircraft.org/safetycom.asp


Transmitter and Receiver Batteries

Just a few words on transmitter and receiver packs. These are typically made
from NICD or NIMH cells that are designed for lighter loads than motor
batteries. As such, they need also to be charged at slower rates. The
general rule is 1/10 C charge rate where C is the rated capacity of the
battery. So, on a 600 mah transmitter or receiver pack would be charged at 60
mah. At this rate you would charge an empty pack for 10 hours to bring it
fully up to charge. This is handled nicely by the charger that comes with the
radio system. This is an example of such a charger. The key is to read the
instructions that came with your radio and follow them.
http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...&I=LXNK66&P=ML

Quick charging these packs is not recommended as a standard practice. However
some people will quick charge them if they run down at the field. Just be
aware that this can lead to a shorter life and can cause pack failure. If you
do quick charge, try to keep it below the 1/2 C level and don't do it too
often. They just don't like it.

If you quick charge them, they will likely get hot. Don't quick charge them
in the plane or the radio as the heat build up could damage some of the
surrounding electronics or might deform plastic or epoxy based components near
them. Fast charging at 1C will generate a lot of heat and can lead to early
pack failure which could happen during a flight.

There are after market chargers that are focused on transmitter and receiver
packs. Here is an example from AccuCycle
http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...&I=LXL357&P=ML

Charge 'em slow and treat them right and they should last for years. If you
tend to fly for long periods, pick up an extra transmitter and/or receiver
pack and charge them slowly, at home. Then, you can just swap packs at the
field. That is what I do. Most radio makers offer extra packs and there are
a
number of third parties that make them. Here are a couple of examples.
http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...ry&FVPROFIL=++
http://www.amondotech.com/index.asp?...S&Category=228

Nuff on transmitter and receiver packs


Motor Packs

The motor on the typical parkflyer needs to pull power at a much higher rate
than a receiver pack can provide. So the batteries that power the motors are
typically of a different design/grade so that they can supply electricity
at these rates. As a result when we charge them we can charge them much
faster too.

The general rule here is that NICD motor packs can be charged in the 1.5 - 3C range with 2C typical. NIMH packs are best charged at 1- 2C with 1.5C typical. Higher performance packs can take the higher rates. See what the maker recommends. This way you can get in your flight, then put the battery on a charger and be ready to fly that pack again in 20 minutes to an hour, depending on how far you run it down. Have 3-5 packs and 2 field chargers and you may never have to stay on the ground for more than a few minutes. That's the way I do it.

Lithium motor batteries are becoming popular. However their chemistry is very
different from NICD and NIMH cells. As a result they need a different type of
charging process. If you are using Lithium packs, you MUST use a charger that
is specifically designed to charge lithium or you could end up with an
explosion and/or a fire. Also these typically have to be charged at 1C.

This is not joke. Don't ever put a lithium pack on a charger that is not designed for lithium cells. Follow the charge rate recommendation of the battery maker carefully!
Video of a lithium battery being overcharged.
http://rc.andersh.com/video/lithiumbattery.wmv

S and P terms

When we talk about battery packs, a designation of XSYP is sometimes used.
This indicates how may cells are in serial and how many groups of these cells
are connected in parallel. While the terms are most common in the Lithium
world, they can just as easily be applied to NIMH or NICD packs.

So a 3S2P pack is made up of 6 cells. There are two groups of 3 cells. The
three cells are connected in series. This is the 3S designation. When
connected in series their voltages add. So 3.7V Lithium cells in a 3S
configuration would have a voltage of 11.1V and be designated as a 3S1P pack.
If these cells were rated at 2000 mah each then this would be a 3S1P 11.1V
2000 mah pack.

Now if we took two of these 3S1P packs and connected them in parallel, the
capacity adds, not the voltage. So this would now be a 3S2P pack rated at
11.1V and having a capacity of 4000 mah. Like connecting two gas tanks
together. The motor in you truck would not be stronger but you could drive
further because you are carrying more fuel.

You could do the same with NICD or NIMH packs. An 8 Cell NIMH pack of 1.2V
cells is rated at 9.6V and could be designated as a 8S1P pack. You are not
likely to see this, but it would still be accurate to designate it this way.
It is like Sr. and Jr. on my name. My Dad was not a Sr. until I became a Jr.
There were not 8S1P designations for NICD or NIMH until the lithium's came
along. You are still not likely to see it for the NIXX packs.


Battery Chargers

There are timed chargers and peak chargers. Timed chargers, often bundled
with RTF airplanes, work well if you always run your pack all the way down.
Otherwise they can have a tendency to over charge the packs. If you have one,
run your battery down and go ahead and use it, but I don't recommend you go
out and buy one. Peak chargers, are the way to go. They read the pack and
know when it is fully charged.

An AC powered charger is convenient to use at home, but won't help you
recharge at the field. A DC peak charger that can run off your car battery or
a flight box battery will allow you to charge at the field. There are AC/DC
chargers as well. All of mine are DC peak chargers except for my radio
chargers. I have a car booster pack that runs my DC equipment in my shop.
And, by the way, I have used it to jump start cars. Works great! This is
similar to the one I have.
http://www.sears.com/sr/javasr/produ...id=02871472000

While many peak chargers are focused on charging motor packs, most also have
low charge rate settings that can be used to charge receiver packs so you can
use them at home, or in the field to refresh you radio or receiver pack at the
field during a break.

Here are a few examples of peak chargers for your consideration. I have the
first three shown here.

HobbyZone Peak Charger - $19
Simple and inexpensive - I have 2 of these from my Aerobirds I added
different types of connectors so I can use them for all kinds of battery
packs. They work just fine. 4-7 cells NIMH and NICD
http://www.horizonhobby.com/Shop/ByC...ProdID=HBZ1026

Hitec CG-340 - $39
Does not come with charge leads - You need to make or buy leads
Easy to use for NIMH and NICD - up to 16 cells - More flexible than the
HobbyZone charger and it handles larger packs. I feel it gives a better peak
charge. It can also charge at higher currents, especially for NICD batteries.
http://www.horizonhobby.com/Shop/ByC...rodID=HRC43340

Triton Charger - $130 - This one showed up under the Christmas Tree - :-)
Better than the CG-340. It handles up to 24 cells NICD/NIMH cells or 4 cell
Lithium cell packs as well as Lead/acid field box batteries.
It will also cycle battery packs which my others will not do. So far I am
very happy with it.
http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...&I=LXCJG7&P=ML
Reviews
http://www.rcbatteryclinic.com/triton.htm
http://forums.radiocontrolzone.com/p...d.php?t=135705
http://www.rcuniverse.com/product_gu...product_id=19\


I don't have these but have heard good things about them.

GWS MC 2002 Peak Charger - $49
Seems to be a good value for a first charger for NIMH and NICD packs of 4-12
cells. It has charge meter, but not the digital display or memories of the
Triton or others. Includes a variety of connectors. It can not slow charge
receiver/transmitter packs due to 90 minute charge time cutoff.
http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...?&I=LXHHV3&P=7
http://www.horizonhobby.com/Shop/ByC...ProdID=GWS3000
http://www.gws.com.tw/english/produc...it/charger.htm


Great Planes PolyCharge4 DC Only 4 Output LiPo Charger - $100
http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...?&I=LXKAU0&P=7
If you are seriously into LiPoly ( not Li-ION) This may be the charger of your
dreams. Charges 4 Lipoly packs at one time. Each charge port is limited to
30 watts, so it can charge 1S or 2S packs at up to a 3 amp rate. 3S packs can
be charged at up to about 2.5 amps and 4S packs can be charged at about 2 amp
rate. Therefore, this charger seems a very good choice for 1S or 2S packs up
to 3000 mah capacity, 3S packs up to about 2500 mah and 4S packs of up to
about 2000 mah. You can charge packs of higher capacity but it will take more
than 1 hour to charge based on the typical 1C charge rate for LiPoly packs.

If you have packs with a 2, 3 or 4P designation, this charger might also be
good for you. 3S4P packs up to about 10,000 mah would work well if each 3S
component can be charged separately. 4S4P packs up to about 8000 mah would
also work, if you can charge them as four 4S1P packs of 2000 mah each.
Discussion thread on this charger
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showt...4&page=3&pp=15

A review of a group of Lithium battery chargers
http://www.rcgroups.com/links/index.php?id=4676


Cheapest way I have seen to run your 12 V charger indoors is to get one of
these Field box batteries
http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...&I=LXL370&P=ML $18
And one of these chargers - $10
http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...?&I=LXL353&P=V

There are many other good chargers out there. The first three are the ones I
use every day. I have accumulated these over time as my fleet and my budget
has allowed. Each has given me good service within its capabilities.
Sometimes I have 3 chargers running at the field at one time charging motor
batteries for my parkflyers or receiver batteries for my sailplanes. I hate
being grounded. So they are put to good use.

I invite others to provide insights on the subject or to recommend chargers
that have served you well.
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Old 08-29-2005, 10:11 AM
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Default RE: What Battery Charger to Purchase??

Here is an agressive battery/charger flight rotation to stay in the air with your electric plane. Your mileage will vary!

The way to have your packs ready for flight is not to abuse them by charging at too high a rate, but to charge them properly. If you are like me, and want to stay in the air all the time, then have more packs and/or more chargers.

For example, for my Aerobird I have 5 900 mah packs and 2 chargers ( 3 if I bring my Triton from home) I stay in the air all day putting in 3-4 flights an hour.

Here is an example using 10 minutes as an average flight time, for convenience. You arrive at the field with 5 fully charged packs, and two chargers.

First flight

Fly 10, take 5 minutes to change over. This will consume 4 flights an hour and the change over is the time to pick up the plane, bring it back to the car. Pull the pack, check the plane for damage, adjustments, etc. Have a brief conversation with your buddy, perhaps watch him fly for a bit. That gives the first pack some cool down time so you can put it on a charger before you go back up. Then put in the new pack.

1 Pack charging = about 40 minutes (about 1.5C charge rate) for typical use as you typically don't run them dry. The LVC will cut the motor to be sure you have enough flight control to land, assuming you fly till the motor cuts out.

Status after first flight

1 fresh in the plane, thee on deck and one on the charger.

2nd flight = 10 minutes - 5 minutes to change over. Second pack goes on the charger.

Status after two flights

1 is 15 minutes into its charge, second pack is starting to charge, 1 fresh in the plane and two on deck.

3rd flight - 10 minutes + 5 minutes to change over -

Status after three flights

Pack one is 30 minutes into its charge, pack 2 is 15 minutes in and pack 3 is cooling. One fresh in the plane and one on deck.

4th flight - 10 minutes + 5 to change over -

Pack one is charged, pack 2 is 30 minutes into its charge, Pack 3 goes on the charger, Pack 5 is in the plane. Pack 4 is cooling, pack 5 is in the plane and pack one is on deck.


And so it goes all day. If you take a 15 minute break here and there and 30 minutes for lunch. You can be flying all day with fresh packs ready or near ready whenever you like. Maintain this routine and you can stay in the air most of the time and have 3-4 flights per hour all day long. This is the right way to do it, no abuse to your packs.

So, for the total effect, I recommend one "better charger", like a triton that has all the bells and whistles, charges any kind of pack and does a great job. But it doesn't have be as sophisticated as the Triton. That can come later.

Then you have a second inexpensive charger for field flying use to keep those packs charged and ready to go. These can be focused specifically on the kind of packs you use most.

I didn't go out and buy all that stuff at once. I bought the plane with two packs and the original charger. 3 months later I added another pack and the second charger ( the Hitec ) so now I had 3 packs and 2 chargers. Added two more packs about 6 months later. Added the Triton a year later.

Those Aerobird packs have been used in a variety of planes. None have worn out yet. The first packs probably have 150 flights on them each. The others less.

That's the way you do it!

If you are flying all Lithium, you can typically use a 15-20 minute flight time and 2-3 longer flights per hour. Lithiums typically take longer to charge than NIMH so keep that in mind, but the cycle process is about the same.

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Old 08-29-2005, 10:28 AM
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Default RE: What Battery Charger to Purchase??

A quick heads-up on the GWS 2002. I had one and it was easy to use, but would most often false peak. I have read that many others have also had this problem with it.
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Old 08-29-2005, 11:35 AM
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Default RE: What Battery Charger to Purchase??

Thanks for the tip on the GWS charger. I have seen many false peak when people try to charge too fast. I have seen it on my own chargers.

Try backing it down to about .50 C for a few cycles and see how you do. Then work it up to 1C and see, then, for NIMH, work toward 1.5C. sometimes the pack just need to be "broken it"

I break in most of my motor packs this way. They seem to do better.

Also, if the pack gets run way down, some of the cheaper chargers can not properly charge them back to life.

My friend uses an Aerobird 900 mah 6 cell NIMH pack in his Easy Star. Plane was lost, so it was powered on for about 5 days. My Aerobird charger could not charge it. My Hitec charger could not charge it. No matter how low I set the charge rate, neither would go into charge mode.

The Triton seems to be bringing it back to life. I put it on 200 mah and it went into charge cycle. However I decided to back it down to 100 mah to bring it back to life slowly. If it works properly, that will take about 9 hours. We will see if it is permanantly damaged. If it takes close to 900 mah, I will have the Triton cycle it a couple of times. May be good as new when done.

This is why, eventually, you want one of these "better" chargers. If not for the Triton, this one would go in the trash. Now we may be able to save it.
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Old 08-29-2005, 12:19 PM
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Default RE: What Battery Charger to Purchase??

Wow, what a tremendous response! I will print this thread and use it in my buying decision for a charger and all battery selections. Right now business is calling, and I have had little time to devote to my passion for E-flight, but thanks for all of the tremendous information. This is a fantastic forum!
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Old 08-29-2005, 12:23 PM
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Default RE: What Battery Charger to Purchase??

No, it wasn't the charge rate -- I tend to be very conservative. I've also used a cheap Hitec with no problems, and a Supernova with no problems.
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Old 10-19-2006, 11:24 PM
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Default RE: What Battery Charger to Purchase??

I hope I don't get flamed for bringing up an old thread, but I must say that I strongly believe that this should be stickied! aeajr provided a TON of info on chargers that helped me TREMENDOUSLY! I would LOVE to see this just below or just above the "Good First Planes" sticky. Chargers are an extremely important part of e-flight for obvious reasons, and the guidelines for charge rates and various information on chargers is awesome in this thread. Anyone else agree?

What a thread!

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Old 10-20-2006, 04:36 AM
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Default RE: What Battery Charger to Purchase??


ORIGINAL: aeajr

My friend uses an Aerobird 900 mah 6 cell NIMH pack in his Easy Star. Plane was lost, so it was powered on for about 5 days. My Aerobird charger could not charge it. My Hitec charger could not charge it. No matter how low I set the charge rate, neither would go into charge mode.

The Triton seems to be bringing it back to life. I put it on 200 mah and it went into charge cycle. However I decided to back it down to 100 mah to bring it back to life slowly. If it works properly, that will take about 9 hours. We will see if it is permanantly damaged. If it takes close to 900 mah, I will have the Triton cycle it a couple of times. May be good as new when done.

This is why, eventually, you want one of these "better" chargers. If not for the Triton, this one would go in the trash. Now we may be able to save it.
BTW, I was successful in restoring that pack to service. I have revivied several packs this way.
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Old 10-24-2006, 08:29 PM
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Great job A! Sticky this sucker.
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