RCU Review: Duralite Powerbox SC-12


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    Contributed by: David Johnson | Published: November 2004 | Views: 30226 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
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    OVERVIEW

    The Duralite Power Box SC-12 is a complete power distribution and regulation system for giant scale aircraft. It features servo matching control for up to 4 servos on 3 different channels. It allows for redundancy of batteries and provides isolation of the power system and the receiver. The question lies in whether the product offers value to the builder in the form of ease of installation, performance, safety and cost. Let's take a closer look at this promising new product from Duralite.

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    Tackling a giant scale project can be a daunting task, especially when you get above 33%. So many setup decisions, radio and linkage selection, safety and redundancy concerns must be made. As the project scale gets larger, the more complicated the setup. Everything from power regulation to distribution, servo matching and reversal, wiring, switches, and so much more. On the larger projects you'll be looking at multiple servos per surface up to 4 servos for rudder, perhaps 3 per aileron and 2 per elevator half. These servos are usually high torque digital servos each with a hungry appetite for power. Length of servo extensions becomes and issue as they need to span from the tip of a 120+" wing to the receiver. Then you start running into Y harnesses, switches, regulators, multiple batteries, chokes, servo matchers. Some even begin using multiple receivers to distribute the power requirements and allow for more physical locations to plug leads into. Not only does it get complicated and tedious, but it can get quite expensive too... in fact very expensive... especially when you consider that all these seperate items are links in a chain... and the more links you have, the more chance of one of them becoming weak and failing.

    That's where Duralite comes in. They have released a product called the Power Box SC-12 and without a doubt it is the most technological advance in giant scale aircraft to come along in a long time. It is a small, lightweight device about 3" x 4.5" that can be centrally located in your aircraft. What does it do? Well... to be honest... about everything you can think of. Let's take a look at a complete system and just see what is does and the myriad of equipment it replaces:


    Let's start with dual batteries. We'll put 2 of Duralite's 4000 mah packs on the seperate battery ports. This shares the load of the system equally between the two packs and offers built in redundancy in the rare even that one pack fails completely. Rare? Yes, because the packs themselves feature redundancy by dropping to 2 good cells in the event that one cell fails. Let's not forget that the Duralite lions have a seperate charging lead that is connected to "Charge Safe Circuitry" that prevents dangerous overcharging. Contrary to some reports, this circuitry is only on the charging lead and is not in the power supply line so there is no danger of losing power from the pack due to the circuitry.
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    Each battery has an LED readout to specifiy the charge condition. In addition, external LED's are ran to the outside of the airframe for at-a-glance assurance. Of course each battery port is regulated to 5.9 volts. Instead of requiring dual switches for the batteries, the Power Box features a unique solid state switching system. One switch, that if it fails, will not interupt power to the plane. It also helps prevent accicental powering on of the system as it has 3 recessed buttons. You press and hold in the arming button, then press the two remaining buttons to power on both batteries (only one is powered on in the picture as the switch shows the second battery is not yet powered up). It really is a slick system. Thus far we have eliminated 2 regulators and 2 switches and the accompanying extensions and mounting hassles. A savings of over $150 or more. An additional feature is that the Power Box isolates any RF noise that may be picked up from the wiring, servos, power system etc. resulting in the cleanest power for the receiver.
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    But wait... there's more! The Power Box features 24 ports for servo attachment... that's right 24!!! And each and every port is amplified so that every individual servo receives a strong, definitive signal. 12 of these ports are extremely powerful as they offer complete servo matching control... you can adjust the center, endpoints and direction of each individual servo for the most precise setup imaginable. Dial in each servo group like 3 or 4 servos on the rudder to eliminate any fighting between them, enhancing battery life and servo longevity. In order to program the matching, a seperately available programmer is required. This plugs into the Power Box and gives you controls to make the adjustments. Nice thing is, you need only buy one to use on multiple Power Boxes. Or even borrow your buddies.. .;)

    Let's see... we have now eliminated several chokes and Y harnesses, 3 servo matching units, the need for a second receiver and eliminated a horrendous amount of hassle and time. We've saved about $200 for the equipment & accessories and about $100 for the receiver. Combines with the savings from the switches & regulators of over $150, the total savings is over $450!




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    The Power Box alone is an amazing product, but when coupled with the complete family of power products offered by Duralite, you've got a one-stop shop approach to giant scale setup. Lithium Ion battery packs with charge-safe circuitry for both receiver and ignition power, 4 port charging systems supplied with both AC and DC power options, digital voltmeters with 0, 1/2 and 1 amp loads to check battery condition. The Power Box and the accompanying products from Duralite allow you to take the guesswork out of giant scale power requirements and gives you the opportunity to purchase everything you need from one source. It doesn't get any easier than this, and you know you are getting literally the best your money can buy. And when it comes to a giant scale project, would you want anything else but top notch, matched equipment? I know I wouldn't.


    CONCLUSION

    The Power Box sells for $425... at first seemingly an expensive item, but when we take a close look at all the things it eliminates in 35%+ project it's easy to see that the Power Box SC-12 is LESS expensive and MUCH easier to install and use. Couple that with the safety and redundancy features and the consolidation of a myriad of items that can cause failure into a reliable, solid state unit and it becomes a no brainer. If you have a big project coming up, do yourself a BIG favor and get one of these awesome new Power Box SC-12's and save yourself money, hassle and gain a level of confidence you've never felt before.

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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.

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