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Help..all these chargers confuse me

#1
Hello after 30 year break I'm getting back into flying R/C planes. So much has changed. I've managed to wrap my head around the new 2.4 radios, Foam planes, and even electric motors. I really like the flight test planes and will be mostly flying those for the near future so most of my batteries will be 3s. I am one of those "buy it once not twice" guys , so I would like o get a battery charger that won't limit me. I have looked at a bunch of them Imax B6, Turnigy Reaktor 250 w/Reaktor 240PS, and bangood has the ISDQT Q6 pro w/300w PS. I am pretty confused by all these chargers, and a bit hesitant, as I don't want to burn my house down. Ideally I would like a good charger that I can charge 3-4 batteries , will not require electrical engineering to assemble, and costs between $30-$75. I'd appreciate any help and explanations.
 

Merv

Well-known member
#3
I’ve been very happy with my IMAX B6’s. They are cheap enough that I have 8 of them. Now I don’t have to spend all day changing. I hav e 30 amp power supply which easily powers all of them. I one charger fails, just replace it.

I tried parallel charging. If one balance pin fails to connect, that cell will not balance.That cell will either under or over change. I can see no way to tell if all the balance pins from each battery are connected.
 

makattack

Winter is coming
Moderator
Mentor
#4
Those are all good chargers, and I think you really can't go wrong with any of them. I think it will help to know a bit more about how/where you plan to charge your batteries, and in terms of safety, all of them can be safe if you follow some basic rules. The easy thing to eliminate from your purchase decision is the safe charging guidelines.

First of all, ask yourself the following questions:

1) How many batteries will you be charging before heading to the flying field?
2) Do you plan to charge at the flying field?
3) What kind of user interface works best for you / do you have visual needs that might dictate the best screen for you

Here's how your answers might affect your choices:

1) Number of batteries you'd bring with you: If you think you might be charging a number of (e.g more than one) identical batteries (same capacity, cell count, and from the same storage voltage), you can't go wrong with any of the above. You may want to invest a small amount more in a parallel charging board to go with your charger to speed up the charging process for multiple, identical packs. If you are going to be charging more than one pack of different sizes/capacities, you may want to think about a "dual" (or more) type charger with independent charging circuits. Those will cost more.

2) If you plan to charge at the field, you'll need a DC charger with a AC power module for charging at home or when near AC outlets. If you only plan to charge while near an AC power source, any of the AC chargers are fine and saves you from having the additional complexity and bulk of having a AC/DC power supply. As you have found, both the Turnigy and IDST models you listed requires a DC power supply.

3) I'd say the IMax and Reaktor chargers are mostly similar to each other in the UI and display sense. If you like the large letters and relatively limited "segmented LED" type display vs the more modern/flexible rendered graphical LCD display of the ISDT charger with smaller fonts, that might play a factor into your decision. The ISDT chargers are a bit more flexible and that means also a bit more complex, simply because there are more options to configure.

As for safe charging practices, you would need to use those with any of the above chargers:

1) Never charge batteries unattended. Always monitor them/check on them while they are charging. Check for temperature changes, shape, voltage levels, etc.
2) Charge in a safe environment. This means not in an environment where there are flammable materials or things that might damage the charger or batteries. Using lipo safe bags, having a bucket of sand nearby, etc are all part of this safe environment. As an example, I charge my batteries in my fireplace with a lipo safe bag over them, and a bucket of sand nearby.
3) Treat batteries as a consumable. If a battery is suspect (due to physical condition, performance, etc) then retire it. Try not to store them at full charge for too long, and never let them go under ~3.2 volts per cell.

Those are my guidelines, so there are probably more that I missed.
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#5
I'd suggest taking a look at the HiTec chargers. They have AC/DC connections, meaning that you can plug them into the wall, or hook them up to a car battery or other DC system. This is a bonus for several flying fields like my field; we have a charging station that utilizes a solar panel and a couple of car batteries hooked up to it, which is a DC system. All I have to do is connect up my alligator clip connector and plug it into the back where the DC connection is, and it recognizes and turns on - no switches or anything.

With the HiTecs, I can charge Li-Po, LiHV, NiCad, NiMh, Pb, LiFe...Pretty much any type of battery needed for the hobby. I can also charge from 1S up to 6S batteries. Anything more than that, and, well, perhaps you should be doing it with a certain level of electrical engineering understanding, because at that point, you're getting into what I consider dangerous current territories.

As for cost, well, THAT depends on model, which breaks down to which features you really want/need.

I bought the RDX1 - this thing is AWESOME. I think I paid $60 for it when I bought it, and I can charge everything mentioned. It's also got a USB charger on it, which is great; I can charge my cell phone while at the field if I need to, just plug it in and go. Also, the charger's SMALL. I can fit it into an Ammo box, put it on my desk and have it take up very little real estate; I have my portable home phone base station charger that is actually bigger than this thing.

For those who feel they need to buy something made in America, they're manufactured in Poway, CA - that's another reason I really like them. They're only about 1/2 an hour away from where I live, and they have a lifetime warranty on their chargers. Something happens to it, they'll replace it.

The only downsides to this particular charger that I've found are that it'll only do 1 battery at a time (balance charging, which is how I prefer to charge all but my 1S batteries, since you can't balance charge those), and that, when I bought the RDX1, it didn't come with connectors for DC connections - I had to wire my own. THAT issue, however, was remedied in the RDX1 Pro, where they give you connectors for DC in the box, a connector for XT60 batteries, and one for Deans T-style connector.

So, which one am I recommending for you? HiTec RDX1 Pro. $70 through AMain or Tower Hobbies, or Amazon.com. It's $10 more than the RDX1, but it's got more power to charge faster, an already built DC power cable, and you get a Deans and an XT60 connector in addition to the AC power cord, AND the instruction manual and onscreen menus are pretty easy to understand. :) This was my first charger in probably 25+ years, and having then only done a quick charge here or there of old Tamiya batteries for cars, this was a HUGE step up - and pretty self-explanatory.

Others will probably recommend their favorites; I'm kinda curious to see what else is recommended! But, this is mine, for the aforementioned reasons. :)
 

tamuct01

Active member
#6
@makattack has offered very good advice. I started with a 50 watt AC/DC input charger and found that it was fine to charge small 1S/2S packs even in parallel. As I grew to larger planes/helis (started with indoor helis) I found that I could not charge larger packs (like 3S 2200mAh) in parallel with anything close to a 1C charge rate. You can use the formula Watts = Volts * Amps to figure out how big of a charger you need. For instance, I want to charge 6 2200mAh 3S packs in parallel. 3S is little north of 12Volts when charged and at 1C charge that's 13.2 amps. 13.2A * 12V = 158.4Watts -- far too much for a 50W charger.

It was at this time I opted to go with the Turnigy Reaktor 300 Watt DC charger. It accepts a wide range of input voltage (24V+) and will handle any size in my current lineup as well as several in parallel. I've just recently ordered the Dual Reaktor 600 Watt (it's literally 2 300W chargers in 1 package. I would stay away from the Quad version.)

I also scavenged some old Dell server power supplies to make 12V and 24V AC/DC supplies. All of this fits with cables, etc. in a Harbor Freight padded case that I modified.

I know that this can all be a bit daunting, but the 250 Watt AC/DC charger that can do up to 6S batteries Lipo/LiFe/LipoHV should be all that you need to start and keep you going for a good while. Most of the AD/DC chargers have DC input lines that you can use to connect to a car battery for charging at locations without mains power.
 

Arcfyre

Well-known member
#7
I use an IMAX B6 and a parallel charge board. This setup cost me less than $60, and I can charge 4 batteries at once. Best bang for the buck in my opinion.
 
#8
@makattack has offered very good advice. I started with a 50 watt AC/DC input charger and found that it was fine to charge small 1S/2S packs even in parallel. As I grew to larger planes/helis (started with indoor helis) I found that I could not charge larger packs (like 3S 2200mAh) in parallel with anything close to a 1C charge rate. You can use the formula Watts = Volts * Amps to figure out how big of a charger you need. For instance, I want to charge 6 2200mAh 3S packs in parallel. 3S is little north of 12Volts when charged and at 1C charge that's 13.2 amps. 13.2A * 12V = 158.4Watts -- far too much for a 50W charger.

It was at this time I opted to go with the Turnigy Reaktor 300 Watt DC charger. It accepts a wide range of input voltage (24V+) and will handle any size in my current lineup as well as several in parallel. I've just recently ordered the Dual Reaktor 600 Watt (it's literally 2 300W chargers in 1 package. I would stay away from the Quad version.)

I also scavenged some old Dell server power supplies to make 12V and 24V AC/DC supplies. All of this fits with cables, etc. in a Harbor Freight padded case that I modified.

I know that this can all be a bit daunting, but the 250 Watt AC/DC charger that can do up to 6S batteries Lipo/LiFe/LipoHV should be all that you need to start and keep you going for a good while. Most of the AD/DC chargers have DC input lines that you can use to connect to a car battery for charging at locations without mains power.
So with your setup, what wattage should the power supply be. Greater or less than 300W?
 
#9
Thanks for all the advice folks. It's making a bit more sense. Makattack thanks for the "charging rules" run down. I had planned for all those, but a fire proof location like the fire place. That makes more sense than my plywood work bench.
 

Merv

Well-known member
#10
a fire proof location like the fire place.
You can always make a Fire Proof LiPo Battery Box I have made several, any metal box will work, it's the dry wall that keeps any fire contained. I used drywall mud instead of glue to secure mine. A plastic bag with sand, is an added safety feature. Place the sandbag in the box, if there is a fire the plastic will melt, releasing the sand to smother the fire.
 

tamuct01

Active member
#11
So with your setup, what wattage should the power supply be. Greater or less than 300W?
I can comfortably charge 6 of my 3S 2200mAh Lipos with the 300W Reaktor charger at 1C charge rate. I also can do 3 batteries of 4S 4000mAh. Both of these is sub-200W theoretical needs, and I've not had an issue with the charger. The Reaktor model also has additional modes for motor drive and foam cut which essentially turns it into a voltage and current limited digital power supply. Handy for when you need 5V at 3A for a side project.

I just got my Dual 300W Reaktor charger today. I'll have to give it a try this weekend! The reason for more discrete units is to charge multiple batteries of different capacities and cell counts. If you only charge one type of battery or one battery at a time, then a single charger is great.
 
#12
Well guys I think I am convinced to step up to the larger charger. For a few bucks more I get a lot more longevity. I'm choosing betwen the ISDQT Q6 pro or the Reaktor 300. Problem is the Reaktor is not showing up on Hobby king, and I still have to find power supplies for either. Bangood has the LANTIAN 24V 16.6A 400W Power Supply Adapter for ISDT Q6 Pro Charger or hobby king has the Turnigy Reaktor Pro 350W 23A Power Supply for thr reaktor. The ISDQT is cheaper. Anybody see anything wrong with either, or should I just go with the best deal I can find?
 

Headbang

Well-known member
#13
I use 2 hitec x2 700 dc-dc chargers. If I am just doing 3s, I power with a single 100ah agm 12v. I have 2 100ah 12v agm batteries in my trailer wired in series for 24v. For normal days at the field, this allows me to charge 4 6s 5000mah batterys at 2c 10amp at the same time. I keep looking for a better solution, have yet to find any other charger with a 30v input voltage that can handle the amps I put through them. I plan to upgrade my trailer batteries to 4 6v 220ah trojan agm batteries this spring. Should allow 20 charges on the 6s 5000mah batteries. Or 1 to days of flying and camping.
 

Headbang

Well-known member
#14
If you can't charge a battery from your car in triplicate you got robbed. I'm sorry you feel like you got robbed
I have a hitec 4x ac charger in my basement. It is under powered and useless for large 6s batteries. But will do small 3s packs at 1 or 2c no problems.

I do not feel I got robbed in any way. I went through $1200 in chargers before I landed on the ones I use. I never charge off my vehicle battery, I have had to boost club members too many times from running down their trucks too far while charging batteries. I tend to fly at off times when I am alone and prefer not to have a call tow truck just to get home.
 

Headbang

Well-known member
#16
Simple math. Average truck battery is about 50ah to 70ah. Say you charge 3s batteries, 3ah each. 20 charges will drain to the point you need a boost. Using 4s batteries you get less. I use 6s 5ah in half of my planes. Each charge uses 10amps. So I get 5 to 7 charges before needing a boost. Most club members who fly electrics have a deep cycle battery dedicated for charging. I happen to use a trailer to store and transport my planes, so I have lots of room.

The post was for the purpose of pointing out what is possible. Not everyone is going to be flying 68" plus 3d planes. But if you want to buy things once, it is good to know the possibilities and pitfalls.
 

jross

Well-known member
#18
I have a hitec 4x ac charger in my basement. It is under powered and useless for large 6s batteries. But will do small 3s packs at 1 or 2c no problems.
I have been considering one of the Hitec 4x chargers but now I'm not so sure. I love the idea of charging multiple batteries without owning multiple chargers but if it doesn't work well, it's not really an option for me.
 

jross

Well-known member
#19
Because I travel to fun flies in a $120k 5th wheel, pulled by a $80k truck, carrying $20k in planes. $1200 in chargers is nothing in this hobby.
You know how to party. I'll be the guy beside you in the old Tacoma I inherited and sleeping in a pup tent!
 

jross

Well-known member
#20
This is a setup I inherited. Has a 12 volt car battery, 400 Watt power inverter, trickle charger and all associated charging cords, power bars etc in a wheeled tool bag. Pretty slick. Broke off the solder joints from the trickle charger so have my larger charger hooked to it temporarily. Nice to take to the field or use in my shop. I charge straight from it instead of an AC adapter. Like a big capacitor, basically.

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