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Charsoon Antimatter 10A 250W LiPo charger

jhitesma

Some guy in the desert
Mentor
#1
So a bit over a month ago I got a message on here from someone at Banggood asking if I'd be interested in reviewing a battery charger. I gave him my usual warning that I can't promise a positive review and there are any issues with what they send me or it turns out to be junk I'm going to say so. He said no problem, he's confident in this product and doubted I'd have any issues with it, then sent me a link to check it out: http://bit.lc/4lUl

Ok, sounds kind of interesting. I've already got my trust accucell 6 and was hoping to get a newer nicer charger soon since the old girl was starting to show her age for sure. I wanted something nicer than another 4 button but...the extra features on this one intrigued me...foam cut, motor driver, and...oh...Internal Resistance Measurement. Got my interest now. And what's that USB port on the side...hmm...alright, ya got my interest let's review this bad boy!

The last few review items I've been sent were sent out express and showed up in just a few days. This was the first thing banggood sent me and they did send it nicer shipping than the standard free...but through some quirk of international shipping it still took longer to get to me than other things I ordered about the same time with free shipping. Oh well, I'm not paying for it and I'm in no big rush so no complaints.

When it did arrive it came in what I've come to think of as standard banggood shipping, meaning a nice padded pouch and not much more. The pouch showed signs of a rough trip, but no rattles and inside the box looked good:

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Inside was a manual. Yes. An actual printed manual. In English. English. NOT Chinglish! I was shocked. It's not perfect English but it's better than some things I've seen written by native speakers :D No mention of the USB port that intrigued me anywhere in the manual...but it does go through all of the menus and explain things quite well. By far the best manual I've seen from a made in China product, huge huge thumbs up for that extra bit of effort!

Also inside was...surprise surprise...a charger!

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And right there you can see the one and only complaint I have about this thing. The input leads. They're not removable. Currently all of my charging is 2200 3s packs and smaller, I seldom do parallel charging on anything but 1s packs so my power requirements aren't all that impressive. I use a 4.5a 12v power cube that came with a 10-15 year old Energizer NiMh charger to power my charger most of the time. It's nothing fancy but I had it on hand and it's enough for my meager needs. Which means I don't need those nice heavy 14awg input leads. They just get in my way. I wish I could remove them when I don't need them.

They are however nice to have. One of the interesting tricks this charger can do is discharge at higher rates than normal by pushing current back into a source battery. That way you don't have to worry about the resistors inside burning off all the power as heat. And if you accidentally discharge your car battery too much but still have some cells charged...you can push the charge back into the car without swapping cables around. Nice trick! I'd still like to be able to remove those cables when I don't need them though, but that's probably just me.

Another nice touch in the box are the leads it comes with:

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From the top that's a JST/JR Servo combo - nice for my smaller packs and TX batteries.

Good old XT60 male for most of my packs.

Deans, for collecting all the dust. I know I know...they're more efficient. But I've never been a fan.

And at the bottom two big battery clamps that had me wondering if they fell off or were a mistake...until I took a closer look:

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Ah....They've got female bullet connectors that match the banana plugs on the input leads. Not the prettiest soldering job but should be plenty adequate. Neat touch I haven't seen before that gives some good versatility - in fact I've already (ab)used them in some interesting ways ;)

The Deans connector is not a real deans. It does fit the deans plugs I have on hand to test with (a few of which I suspect are legit) but the plastic feels cheep and is slippery making an already difficult to disconnect plug even harder to disconnect. I'm biased against deans but frankly I'd have rather had just about anything else instead. Better than nothing if you've got a bunch of deans stuff though:
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The charge cords are all 16awg, not the beefiest, but for the power abilities of this charger should be plenty adequate.
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Right side of the charger is basically identical to my old Accucell with a grid of the standard JST-XH balance connectors and female banana sockets for the main output. One nice touch on the firmware in this guy compared to my accucell is that it auto detects which balance port your pack is plugged into and sets the battery type accordingly, so you don't have to set 1s/2s/3s... manually. Little detail but nice.
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The other side is a bit fancier than my old Accucel. Same DC in jack on the left, but with a warning that it's only good for 6A. It's protected by a self-resetting fuse so should be no permanent damage if you go over, but I'm not going to test it ;) Next to that is the standard 3 pin temp sensor connector, one of these days I'll have to wire up a temp sensor just to test that but it's a feature I've never really used. Then the main input leads rated for 10-18v, so sorry to you guys who use a 24v power supply :( And finally that USB connector....I wonder....
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The front is basically your standard 4 button charger...and just like my old accucell they have some protective film on the LCD...which can't really be removed without opening the case. Yeah, you could try to get it off without opening the case...but chances are you'll scratch the screen doing so.
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Well, the case is just 8 screws total, and to get the film of nice you only have to undo the top 4 and lift the top off.

I'm no EEVBlog but....let's go ahead and open this up. I want to see if their claim of genuine Rubycon caps is even remotely true :D

But I'll save that for the next post. I will say this, I've been playing with this charger for almost a month and I like it more and more. I don't have a lot of high end test gear, but some guys with better gear than me on RCGroups have already put it to the test and found that it's a very nice charger that so far samples have been dead on out of the box for calibration. You can get into the menus and adjust the calibration, but unless you've got a really accurate voltage source or voltage meter chances are you'll just make it worse (unlike my accucell which was far enough off even a cheap harbor freight volt meter would help calibrate it better.)

So I have no reservations about sharing that link again and saying I would gladly recommend this charger to someone just starting out or looking for a nice compact field charger. The price is currently around $50 with free shipping which is not bad at all compared to a lot of the other chargers out there. Especially since this has those extra features we'll be looking at soon!

Ok - next post...let's look inside. Then...we can start playing with it :D
 

jhitesma

Some guy in the desert
Mentor
#2
Ok, time to channel my inner David Jones and "Don't plug it in...take it apart!" (Side note: My first exposure to EEVBlog was when he did a teardown of an Accucell6 about 4 years ago...just a few months after I got mine, I've been hooked on his channel ever since and much like this charger I highly recommend it for those of you interested in electronics :D

So, remove the top two screws on each side and the top will lift right off, be careful of the wires for the fan, it's on a small connector and can easily be removed but if you just gorilla the cover off you'll probably break the wires instead of disconnect the connector:

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Not bad...looks pretty good overall. No glaring issues jumping out at me. Those caps are the right color...but I don't see any maker on them....are they really rubycon as banggood claims? Hmm...well, let's take one for the team and put a cap at risk to see what we can see:

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Alright then, either they're good counterfeits or they are as claimed Rubycon's. Nice. Given the quality of assembly on the board I'm willing to believe they really are real - though at the price this charger sells for I'm somewhat surprised.

Let's take a closer look at some of the guts:

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Soldering on those output jacks isn't the greatest...but isn't terrible. The board itself is very well assembled with good soldering, far cleaner than the job on my old accucell! All those rows of resistors you see there are how the magic happens when you do a discharge or balance charge. That's why the fan is right over them. When the charger needs to drop the voltage on a cell it does so by sending the current through those resistors burning it off as heat. That's also why the discharge rate on these small chargers is so limited - any higher and you'll melt the board down :eek: Thankfully this charger allows you to use the input feeds to dump current into an external resistor or lead acid battery to achieve higher discharge rates - nice bonus!

Let's try and get a look at the bottom of the board. Four more screws remove the side plates, and then 4 screws hold the board to the back...ok, all loose...but...hmmm. Doesn't want to come up :( Give it a little more encouragement and...ahh...there it goes.

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Ahhh, no wonder. Kids, don't do what I just did. It won't kill the charger..but the reason it was so hard to remove the board is those little silicon pads to insulate the big transistors/fets on the back from the case. You don't want to damage/loose those or things could get ugly. They're silicone so insulating and that would indicate the case isn't acting as a heat sink and there's no compound on them. But you still don't want to risk letting them short out against the case.

Ok, let's look at the back of the board:

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Again, nice clean construction. Looks like a well laid out board assembled with care. You couldn't really see it from the front but from here you can see the cutouts between the rows of discharge resistors to help get more airflow around them. Some nice heavy power traces, clean routing. I like. I didn't bother trying to get the sticker off the main processor, this board may be looking somewhat familiar if you've looked at other chargers so there isn't really much need to go digging. This isn't a unique design....

Oh look, guess I didn't have to risk damaging that cap on the top, down here it's much easier to see what we've got:

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Good stuff there!

Well, the internals look good. With that annoying film off the screen let's button it back up and make sure it still works.

Oh hey...what's this when it boots up?

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V1.34 106B+

See, that's why the board looks familiar and the features are familiar, it also answers the question of what we can do with that mysterious USB port.

Friends, this is basically an iCharger 106B+ in a different case. From what I've been able to dig up it sounds like the boards probably come off the same assembly line. Except iCharger's usually sell for about twice what this guy does. This actually runs iCharger firmware so if a new release comes out you should be able to upgrade this the same. (though based on how long it's been since an upgrade I doubt there are any more coming and this already has the latest on it from the factory.)

Now granted, this costs about twice what I paid for my Accucell 6 about 4 years ago. But the accucell has gone up in price since then AND you still have to pay for shipping on it while this ships free. So in the end the price difference is pretty minor. And the extra features and usability on this one...well worth the few extra bucks IMHO.

Honestly, other than those fixed input leads I don't have any actual complaints about this charger. For the price it packs a lot of features and performance. I'm glad to share that link again for anyone who wants to pick one up: http://bit.lc/4lUl

It's about bedtime for me tonight...but I've got more in store. I've tested the extra features and played with the USB port - so there are still another 4 or 5 posts I've got in mind to flesh this out with. Stick around and come back in a day or two for more I should also have some video to go with it soon. In the meantime feel free to use that link and pick one of these up so you can play along too :D
 

cranialrectosis

Faster than a speeding faceplant!
Mentor
#3
Once you have it apart, it seems to me the issue of fixed input leads could be pretty easily remedied.

Great review so far, jhitesma.
 

jhitesma

Some guy in the desert
Mentor
#4
Video review up:

But far from my best video work. The description and intro to the video help explain why....