No matter what you fly or drive, all avenues of RC have one item in common - batteries. Electric powered aircraft and vehicles rely on a battery pack for all their power. Glow and gas engine powered aircraft and vehicles require batteries to power the electronics. And, of course, we ALL have a battery in our transmitter, no matter the type or brand. In short, our RC hobby depends on batteries!
When you have a rechargeable battery, you're going to need a way to recharge it - this can be as simple as a 'wall wart' or basic charger. Beyond that, the sky (and your wallet) are the limit! Now, I have a pair of chargers that have taken care of my charging needs pretty well. They're simple to operate and reliable. But, I was surprised to see all of the other things a charger can do, once you get past a basic charger!
I'd like to introduce the new Polaron EX combo. Yes, it charges batteries, but it goes beyond that in capabilities. The EX combo pairs Graupner's 12 Volt power supply with the Polaron charger, and the end result is so much more than 'just a battery charger'.
Let's open the box, and see what we've got!
User Friendly 3.0" Full Color LCD Touch Screen
Vertical Space Saving Design
Two USB Charging Ports
Charge Two Batteries Simultaneously
Charge, Discharge, Balance From One Unit
Built in Servo Tester
12 Volt Power Supply Included
220 Watts Charging
Up to 7S Lixx Charging
Five Color Options
Cord Free Connection Between Power Supply and Charger
Cooling Fan: 40 x 40 x 10mm / 1.57 x 1.57 x 0.39in Size: 55 x 194.6 x 199.4 mm / 0.79 x 7.66 x 7.85 in Display:Black & White Backlit SEG LCD Display PC communication: Data Logging Languages: Optional ( Basically English) Cooling system: 50x50x10mm(1.97x1.97x0.39 in) x 2ea Dynamic Cooling Fan Ext. Module socket: Futaba 3P socket Motor Test socket: ZHR Servo Test socket: Futaba 3P socket Memory: 40 memories (20ea x 2CH = 40 memories) SMPS Docking Terminal: Yes Dimension: 88.2 x 203.4 x 196.3mm / 3.47 x 8.00 x 7.73 inch Weight: 1368g / 48.25 oz
The Polaron EX arrived in a very nice, full colored box. Inside, I found the charger surrounded by soft foam padding. I'll be saving this box to pack the charger in when I travel!
I pulled the contents from the package, and found an array of cords, instructions, and a pair of balancing leads, in addition to the charger. The sturdy adjustable base is the key to the vertical stature of this charger - it can be set to hold the charger and 12 Volt power supply, or just charger if the need arises. The face of the charger is nicely laid out. At the top is a three inch touch screen that will take care of most tasks on the Polaron. The charger has two channels, meaning that two batteries can be charged at the same time.
On the side of the charger there is a panel with several ports. They consist of a USB charging port, a servo test port, a motor test port, and an extension module port. The motor test port will require the purchase of additional equipment to operate. The Polaron stays cool with the help of several cooling vents on the sides and a pair of 50mm fans at the rear. Also on the rear of the charger is a 12 Volt input jack to use the charger without the power supply.
The included AC plug is connected to the lower back of the power supply, right below the power switch. Turning the power switch on brings the power supply and charger to life!
The included manuals (one for each the charger and power supply) are well written, and the illustrations are laid out nicely. There is also a one-sheet addendum instructing the user how to properly attach the balance leads to the charger.
When is a Charger More Than a Charger?
Ok, so you've figured out by now that this is a battery charger - and a really nice one at that! Besides charging two batteries at the same time, the screen will display useful information, such as battery Voltage, Amperage, milliAmps into the battery, and the battery temp (if the included temp sensor is connected). A large graph will display the charging status as well!
In addition to charging batteries of all types (Lead, Nixx, Lixx) you can test servos too! The servo is connected to the panel on the side of the Polaron, and it can be checked for endpoints and centered. The servo can also be run through its entire movement range with the touch of a button! There are several other operations that the Polaron can do, but additional equipment is required.
Check out the video below to see an informative walk through of the basic functions of the Polaron EX combo!
After reading the manual, the Polaron EX was very simple to set up and operate. To charge a battery, I had to start by programming a profile for the battery. Using the touch screen made this a simple task. I set the battery type, Voltage, capacity, and gave the battery a name.
With the profile set, I connected the battery to the charger with the balance lead and charge lead. The charger then detected that the battery connected matched the profile and began to charge. When the charge was complete, the selected alarm went off to notify me the charge had completed. The charger was quite simple to operate!
In addition to charging, the Polaron can be used to discharge batteries. This was made simple, because it is selectable, like the charging option.
The last item I tried out was the servo tester. This worked very well, and was a nice feature for centering servos prior to installation in a model.
The video below will give a basic guided tour of the charger and how it works!
Polaron EX Charger Combo
The new Polaron EX combo from Graupner and openhobby.com is a very nice charger. In addition to charging batteries, it will perform a host of other duties. The charger was easy to operate, and takes up less space on the bench, thanks to its vertical design. Though the price may seem a bit steep at $429.00, it really isn't when you consider all the different functions that this charger can perform. Add to that fact, you can charge two batteries simultaneously, and it's more like two chargers in one!
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The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.