new Hobbico Accu-Cycle Elite programmable charger is
one versatile little piece of equipment. It was designed
to charge, discharge and cycle NiCd, NiMH and Lithium
based battery packs. It is great for both home or field
charging thanks to its clever use of special alligator
clips and an included power supply. This charger is
progammable and has a memory feature to save your most
often used cell configurations (up to 10). You can also
set the charge manually and not use a preset if you
like. For this article I ran it through its paces
with all types of packs and found it easy to use and
it got the job done on all the packs I tested.
notable special features on the Accu-Cycle elite include
the "Auto Smart Set" features which calculates
and sets charging current, trickle charge current, fast
charge safety timer, and discharge cutoff voltage based
on the type of battery, its voltage and the capacity
entered by the user.
optional temperature sensor device is available which
will stop charging when the battery reaches a set temperature.
is a peak detection delay timer which disables peak
detection for the first 3 minutes of charge. This helps
prevent early false peaks.
touchpad eliminates the need for switches or dials and
helps keep dirt or liquids off the electronics.
are special safety features which include cool off time
delay between cycles, fast charge safety timer, maximum
charge voltage per cell, internal heat protection, current
overload and the all important reverse polarity protection.
big feature of this charger is that it can simultaneously
charge TWO separate packs at once. The packs
can be the same or different. The accu-cycle can handle
it no problem.
with the charger are some easy to follow flowchart sheets
showing all the screens, how to get to them and an explanation
of the functions. This is very helpful to find the screens
that you may have forgot how to get to. The instruction
manual is well written and clearly explains how to use
the unit. It also explains how the charging process
for the various types of batteries works for those interested.
read the entire manual in PDF format click
AC Power has a max of 15 watts. It can allow the cycler
to deliver a full 2 amps of charge to any single output.
Max charge however is limited for each output though
when BOTH outputs are charging at high current. The
chart below depicts the limits. I tested several of
these and found them to be accurate.
Power Supply: Maximum current PER OUTPUT
when BOTH outputs are used
|# Li-Po/Ion Cells
Using DC input with at least 5 amps of current while
maintaining 12VDC you can deliver the rated 2amps to
both outputs at the same time for charging. You can
use the banana plugs which are already attached to the
chargers cord and plug it into your flight box or use
the special alligator clips (did I mention I love these!)
and clip onto a 12V battery.
the included AC adapter is easy when at home as it has
2 female banana jacks that the unit plugs right into.
Again the limits of what the charger can do when using
this power source are noted in the chart above.
max power dissipation on the charger is 10 watts regardless
of input power. The chart above shows the discharge
rates available when both outputs are being used with
the various battery combos.
LOOK AT THE SCREENS
get a good feel for how the unit works I took several
pictures of the various screens below with an explanation
below the image set for what it shows. Click any image
for the full size which shows the screen display clearly.
the screens show what you see as you scroll through
the battery types and the memory screen. Navigating
through options and menus is simple. The up and down
buttons let you adjust values or view data screens while
the enter and change buttons let you page through the
options and enter them.
a charge cycle is easy. Simply press the green charge
button then press it again and hold it to start the
process. The same process is used for the discharge
button (red button) and the cycle button (yellow). The
cycle button is NOT available for lipo/ion batteries
reading the instructions I had no problem navigating
my way through the options. Who reads instructions?
Well once I got done with the initial charging I did
go through them carefully to make sure I did not miss
anything. Everyone really should read them especially
for the precautions.
first image on the left shows the memory slot (#0) and
the middle image shows the type type of cell and cell
number. You can adjust this from 1-10 cells on Nicd/Mh
and 1-3 cells for Lipo/ion pakcs. You can use this unit
to fast charge your glo-starter cells along with all
your flight packs. The image on the right shows the
rated capacity. You can adjust the type of battery,
cell count and capacity by clicking the change button
(right pointing yellow arrow) then using the up and
down buttons to adjust the values. Very simple.
above sequence shows a memory slot with the Lipo/ion
cell at 7.4 setting (2 cell) and 1050mah capacity. The
image on the right shows the peak charge screen where
you can adjust the peak charge rate. The range is 50mah
up to 2 amps (see chart for limits on output).
to the left you can see the trickle screen. I love the
fact that the range for this is 0-200mah. So many chargers
these days have a minimum trickle of 50mah or 100mah
which, for some packs, is too high. The center image
above shows the peak sensitivity setting. This is adjustable
and the recommended range for Nicads is 5-15mv and for
Nimh it is 2-10mv. The peak sensitivity does NOT apply
to the lipo/ion batteries. The image to the right shows
the discharge screen. This is adjustable from 50mah
to 2amps (see chart for limits). The factory preset
is .30amp on this unit.
image above on the left shows the discharge cutoff voltage
which is based on the battery type and voltage values
entered. You can adjust this from .8-1.2v per cell for
Nicd/mh. The cutoff voltage for Lipo/ion is NOT adjustable
and is factory set to 3v per cell. Note top right the
green light indicates output one on the left is the
one charging. To change outputs when setting the programmer
you simply hit the "Output Select" button.
The center image shows the number of cycles (more on
this later). On the right it shows the charge in process
just having begun. The display will toggle between this
screen and the one below to the left.
image on the left again shows the charging process in
action. In this shot I am charging a 4.8V Nimh
pack 1650mah capacity. The charge rate and voltage are
shown here. The image above in the center shows two
(2) packs being charged simultaneously. One is the Nimh
pack and the other a 2 cell lipo pack. Now that is versatile!
On the right you can see the lipo pack was detected
to have a full charge in it.
you first start the charge process the charger checks
the battery connections. This is shown in the picture
above to the left. In the center it shows the charge
rate and voltage on the Duralite Plus 7.4V Li-Ion pack.
The image on the right above shows the type of battery,
voltage and capacity I entered into memory slot
#8 for the Duralite Plus pack. You can see the green
LED's show both outputs are charging in the center shot
can see the Duralite Plus pack is fully charged in the
image above to the left. The center screen shows the
total capacity put into the pack and voltage. In this
case it was zero as I used a fully charged pack to see
what the charger would do. It detected it as being fully
charged and stopped charging as it should. The picture
on the right shows the battery temp sensor screen. This
unit can take two sensors to detect temperature (one
for each output).
charging is complete the info screens will tell you
the peak voltage and how much capacity was pumped into
the pack. It will also show you how long the charge
took. You can change the number of cycles using the
up and down buttons. This option is not applicable to
the lipo/ion batteries. You can recall cycle data for
5 full cycles on the display.
you can see some of the ending screens at the completion
of the charge cycle on the 4.8V Nimh pack. The "Ave"
will show a value as the average voltage during a discharge
cycle. When coming off a charge cycle it shows the peak
voltage reached as seen above to the right.
Hobbico Accu-Cycle Elite Pro Series charger is a versatile
charger that can serve you well at the field and at
home. With the included AC power supply you can tend
to your charging needs at home anytime. While at the
field you simply plug in the banana jacks or use the
clever alligator clips which house banana plug connectors
and your ready to charge anywhere.
dual outputs of this unit are fantastic. All my other
chargers I own have been limited to a single output
or on the ones with two outputs I was limited to
cells and type of battery. With the Accu-Cycle Elite
I can configure Nicd, Nimh or Lipo/ion packs on
either output and charge 2 packs at once. For me this
is a bug plus.
should be noted that the Elite is designed primarily
for R/C radio transmitter and receiver batteries. For
that reason, it was not designed to handle more than
2 amps of current or 10 cells (3 with lipo/ion). Transmitter
and receiver packs do not need more power than this
charger can handle. The Lipo capability is useful for
modelers who are now using them to power their radio
you can charge some electric flight batteries with this
unit, some of the larger packs with 4+ lipo or 11+ Nicd/Mh
are beyond the capability of this charger (again not
an issue for radio system battery packs which is the
primary application for this charger). If you need to
charge more than 3 cells for lipo packs or more than
10 cells for Nicd/Mh or if you require higher charge
rates then 2.0 amps you should look at something like
the all purpose Triton
charger. Also if for some reason you require a higher
discharge rate than this unit can handle you may want
to look at the Triton or other units. Refer to the chart
for the charge and discharge rates when using two outputs.
For charging just about any transmitter, receiver pack,
glow plug battery and some e-flight packs the Accu-Cycle
Elite fits the bill!
the combination of features, safety, versatility and
ease of use I give the Accu-Cycle Elite a thumbs up.