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Old Jan 26, 2010, 04:33 PM
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Tim,

I appreciate the detailed response.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Marks View Post
4) But drivers are a problem and they always will be. We thought that the millions of Prolific-based USB converters commonly available would always have driver support. Turns out that, although the FUIM2 is apparently working inside Vista and Win 7, they are no longer "officially" supporting this chip with updated drivers. Win 8, they may not work at all any more.
Will the FUIM2 work with a generic USB to RS232 adapter?
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Old Jan 26, 2010, 05:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gregor99 View Post
Tim,

I appreciate the detailed response.




Will the FUIM2 work with a generic USB to RS232 adapter?
Hi:

Let me be clear. The FMA/REVO PN: FUIM2 is composed of 2 sub-assemblies, internally referred to as the FSIM2 and a USB-to-serial (RS-232) adapter. I assume your question is then, would you be able to remove the FSIM2 (the opto portion) of the pair and attach it to another USB-to-serial adapter from another source? The answer is, probably yes. There is nothing unique about the USB-to-serial adapter we purchase for resale. We have noticed that these devices can have timing tolerances that can affect reliability when used in conjunction with the opto circuitry. We have worked with the particular vendor we use to reduce fallout. But other than that, it would probably work fine. Is this what you were asking?
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Old Jan 26, 2010, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by everydayflyer View Post

Tim covered the outside the box USB in his post above but I will mention once again that the present approach works well for up to 16 of the Power Lab 8s linked together. That is one as master and 15 as slaves.

Charles
So is each PL8 linked to one another or is each PL8 directly connected via USB to a PC?

If each PL8 is daisy chained (except for the master) what kind of additional cabling is required and what is the maximum allowable distance between devices?
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Old Jan 26, 2010, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Tim Marks View Post
Is this what you were asking?
Yes, thanks. The reason for my question was twofold. If FMA were unable to support the RS232 adapter portion of the FUIM02 with Windows 8, then it might possible to pickup a generic USB to RS232 adapter with Windows 8 drivers. I have a couple other legacy devices (not RC related) that still use RS232. So when the time comes, I will be finding Windows 8 solutions for those devices anyway.

The second reason is that currently don't have a USB to RS232 adapter for these legacy devices. I was planning on using the adapter on my FUIM02 to connect to these devices.
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Old Jan 26, 2010, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteB View Post
So is each PL8 linked to one another or is each PL8 directly connected via USB to a PC?

If each PL8 is daisy chained (except for the master) what kind of additional cabling is required and what is the maximum allowable distance between devices?
Those are good questions, but FMA engineers are not ready to talk about that as yet. The wiring and interlocking for Master/Slave will be explained a bit later. The hardware was tested in house some time ago and reportedly works great, but the beta testers have not seen it as yet. We will just have to wait a bit, and all will be explained. I am ready to hear it myself.

I do know that the slaves are controlled by the master unit. The master unit can be controlled by a single computer or the whole system can be controlled directly from the master unit's buttons and display.
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Old Jan 27, 2010, 03:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Tim Marks View Post
FMA does appreciate your collective feedback. In order to fully communicate and understand customers' wants and needs, we feel that it is important to state our rationale for supporting USB "outside of the box". The following information is not meant to be argumentative. We want to give customers what they want. Make no mistake about that. But it is important that every customer fully understands the ramifications of what he or she might request.
It is great to get such a clear and comprehensive explanation, thank you.

Quote:
Your feedback and constructive criticism will be considered carefully for future products.
Thank you, so here is mine for your consideration.

Clearly there are those that like the external adapter and those that don't. I am in the later group who find it frustrating, annoying and inconvenient to have special adapters and cables for every one of the one-off (or at most 2-off) hobby items (chargers and ESCs in particular) and would far prefer an integrated USB solution compatible with any off-the-shelf standard USB cable (std/mini/micro are all fine). While it is too late for PL8, this thread provides input for FMA that reflects our reactions to their latest offering and may influence its evolution or future products. After all, in some part at least, all the feedback about the CP4 led to the Multi4

Quote:
3) Still, putting USB in the charger does cause us some concern in terms of longevity. Why? Because RS-232 communication was a standard in PC's for like 40 years. Now days, it's hard to even find RS-232 in some computers; particularly laptops.
Which is part of why RS232 is no longer a valid choice from a user's perspective.
Quote:
Will USB really stay the defacto standard? No one can say with certainty. But if it is replaced with something else at any time down the road, products with embedded USB will no longer be compatible with PC's.
Just like products today with RS232 interfaces are no longer compatible with PCs and the solution will be the same, adapters will be made available to allow the many millions of USB-equipped devices compatible with new PCs. Who is to say that the market will drive the availability of RS232-to-newThingy adapters as fast as those for USB, or even at all ? You could end up with a horrible daisy chain with a USB-to-newThingy adapter inserted between the FUIM3 and the new PCs.

Quote:
4) But drivers are a problem and they always will be. We thought that the millions of Prolific-based USB converters commonly available would always have driver support. Turns out that, although the FUIM2 is apparently working inside Vista and Win 7, they are no longer "officially" supporting this chip with updated drivers. Win 8, they may not work at all any more. This puts FMA in a position to try to find 3rd parties who have written updated drivers and then test them. Beyond that, all we can do is provide a new PC interface. Guess what? If we had put the Prolific chip "in the box", a couple years down the road, the current FMA chargers might not work on newer operating systems. Buying a 1000W charger is not like buying a camera or a cell phone that you know you will throw away in 1-2 years. It's a longer-term and sizable investment.
This is a real issue and painful for both the Mfr and customers, but is really the Mfr's problem to solve. I also think the risk is relatively low for a new product being released to today, roughly aligned with the release of Win7 which is likely to be with us for ten years, longer than the typical lifetime of hobby chargers IMO.

Quote:
5) What happens if a better PC communication interface comes along? Old designs would have no way to take advantage of a better solution. Customers would always be stuck with an outdated solution in terms of firmware and PC software.
Huh? The solution to the obsolescence you postulate is exactly the same one you offer now - an adapter between the interface on the charger and the new one. You would be no more stuck if the USB was integral to the charger than by having RS232 integral to the charger.

Quote:
6) What about a product like CPII? We need PC communication for firmware updates. But it's not practical to put a circuit the size of the FUIM3 in an on-board product. Even a simpler solution can pose problems in keeping the electronics small. So, we have to stock FUIM3 any way.
Make the box bigger. Of course there are costs associated with integrating more functionality but since the PCBs, assemblies and boxes are custom designed you have complete flexibility. I am sure your talented engineers could solve this problem. Note we are not talking about changing the PL8 here but about the philosophy and how it affects future designs.

Quote:
What's so wrong about allowing the customer to save money by purchasing only 1 interface that can be used across multiple products?
Nothing, except it rarely proves sufficiently long lived to be a benefit to most customers IMO and experience. After all, those folks who bought a FUIM2 now have to buy a FUIM3 so if this is only their second FMA product, they have saved nothing.

Quote:
Our choice to implement USB support outside of the charger is not about FMA/REVO saving a buck. This is about FMA/REVO saving customers a buck. By embedding USB into a charger, the retail price of every charger would increase. As I stated above, some may choose not to use the PC at all. Others may have more than one FMA/REVO product. Why should he or she be forced to pay for multiple USB interfaces when in many cases, he only needs one?
Some proportion of FMA customers will own more than one FMA product, but I believe it would be a minority and especially so with regard to new customers attracted to FMA specifically by the PL8. IMO most folk paying $300 for a charger will pay $330 and most buying such a high-end charger will want the ability to get firmware updates and/or use the PC logging/control software. So the oft repeated "why charge everyone for one when only some want it" is weak wrt to high-end chargers like the PL8 IMO.
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Old Jan 27, 2010, 09:04 AM
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Tim,

How many of these can be put in series. I currently use 3 BalancePro HD in series to charge my electric motorcycle that is 18S12P. I use 3 isolated power supplies and it works great, other than I am limited to 10 amps charging. Next bike may get a larger pack.

Is there a limit?

Thanks
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Old Jan 27, 2010, 09:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drewjet View Post
Tim,

How many of these can be put in series. I currently use 3 BalancePro HD in series to charge my electric motorcycle that is 18S12P. I use 3 isolated power supplies and it works great, other than I am limited to 10 amps charging. Next bike may get a larger pack.

Is there a limit?

Thanks
Hi:

The key to your solution is, as you say, to use isolated power supplies. We generally do not condone this setup for the simple reason that many are not able to discern whether their power supplies are isolated. We have put warnings in every charge manual about connecting series batteries across multiple chargers. We have gone as far as to add detailed information about this in a sticky at the top of our forum here on RCG.

That said, as long as you follow the necessary precautions, using taps to appropriate points on the series pack, and using isolated power supplies, I do not think there is any limit to how far you can extend this practice.

Tim
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Old Jan 28, 2010, 10:08 AM
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Thank you Tim. Yes I know the danger$ of connecting them wrong.
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Old Jan 28, 2010, 09:26 PM
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Guys,

Check the FMA Web Site.
PL-8 is up!
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Old Jan 28, 2010, 10:05 PM
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Here is a link to FMA's PowerLab 8.

http://www.fmadirect.com/new_applica...powerlab8.html

Glen
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Old Jan 28, 2010, 11:07 PM
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Wow, $239 until March 1st. I'm in just as soon as I sell some stuff on eBay. I was looking at a WMR CBA III for heavier duty discharging, but heck with that.
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Old Jan 29, 2010, 02:28 AM
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Yea... but may 1 release date? That is quite a bit too far in the future for me to place a pre-order . Still very tempted though. Just thinking of using some of that money for an iPad. Lol.

The other problem is deciding between this charger and another one which would require different usage patterns. This one would give me 4C (i personally would only like to go as high as 4C) charge rates for my 6s 6500 mah battery without needing to double up my 75 amp 12v power supply. Another charger is supposed to be released before then with 2 ports at 300w per port by another company which would give me 2C charge rates but to get that 300 watts I would need to double up on the power supplies I have to get a higher voltage. With 4C charge rates I could probably charge things fast enough to not need 2 charge ports at once. Hard decision. Plus the fact that I had problems with my first and replacement charger from fmadirect had problems(it was the older HD chargers they sold). An iCharger I bought had a problem too so they just leave a bad taste in my mouth. Even though I am sure I was just unlucky in both of those instances... others don't have problems with either charger. Hmm maybe I am trying to use them wrong if they leave a taste in my mouth I am sure most are thinking .

Decisions... Decisions... help sell me guys. $40 pre-order discount is nice but not really enough to sway me either way .
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Old Jan 29, 2010, 03:09 AM
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IMO it is an easy decision between those two particular alternatives based on what you have told us = FMA PL8

* 500W/30A output at 12V input which means no extra $$$ to upgrade your PS.
* Excellent specification, feature set and PC software
* US vendor and support (I assume you are in the USA)
* Excellent feedback from the beta testers
* Probably similar total cost for charger+PC interface+shipping but almost certainly cheaper with the pre-order discount
* No way to be sure if the premium version of the 300W+300W you mention will be available before 1 May although the budget (<$200 delivered) versions are out now.

Just checking but my math says that for 6S 6500 LiPo:

300W gives 13A = 2.0C
516W gives 22A = 3.4C

So yes, it will take longer to charge two 6S packs one after the other at 22A than two at once on a dual-port 300W charger. In that application IMO it would be simpler to charge the two 6S packs in parallel at 22A (1.7C) and accept a few minutes longer charge time compared to the other solution.
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Old Jan 29, 2010, 06:46 AM
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United States, AL
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$240 is an amazing price! $200 will still only get you about 200w in other chargers.

Is the balance port the same FMA plug but with more pins?

Any update on the graphing ability? (specifically the ability to overlay)
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