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iCharger 4010Duo - Review

Dual output charger, with 1400 watts per channel.

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Introduction

Input Voltage Range:9-50V DC
Input current limit:65A
Maximum charge power capacity:1400W per channel @ >23.5V (up to 2000W in synchronous mode)
Discharge power capacity::130W per channel, or up to 200W in synchronous mode
Maximum regenerative discharge::1400W per channel, or up to 2000W in synchronous mode
Maximum external discharge power capacity:1600W @ 40V/40A, or up to 3200W in synchronous mode
Current drain for balancing:1.2A per channel, or up to 2.4A in synchronous mode
Balance accuracy:10mV
LiPo/LiIo/LiFe:1-10 series per channel
NiCd/NiMH battery cell count:1-25 series per channel
Pb battery cell count:1-18 series (2-36V) per channel
Dimensions (LxWxD):210x140x80 mm
Price:$349.99
Available From:http://www.progressiverc.com

For many of us, keeping those vital battery packs charged up so that our flying doesn't slow down, can be quite a challenge! I have used many chargers over the years, and I've often wished there was a single charger that had dual outputs. Now I know that there are a lot of multi port chargers out there, but most, if not all, only have a relatively weak output per channel. I use a lot of 5000mah 6S packs, so to be able to charge at 1C I require 5 amps out of that channel. However this takes a while, and my batteries can easily be charged at up to 3C out at the field. Being able to charge two packs at the same time on the same charger would certainly cut down my charging time, so I jumped at the chance to review the new iCharger 4010Duo. With a possible 1400 watts per channel, it could be that this charger had been just what I was looking for.

I'd like to preface this review by stating that I am not an electrical engineer, nor am I familiar with the detailed workings of various battery chemistries. I am the average Joe flier, looking to keep my batteries charged in the fastest, safest, and most frequent manner. I encourage you to ask the technical questions, just as I encourage those schooled in such things to help answer.

What's In The Box?

The shipping box arrived safely, and inside I found the iCharger box neatly packed away. Upon opening the box I found that the charger itself was held securely in between two foam packing blocks, which looked like more than enough to handle bumps and bounces along the way from the shipper to my door. The box included the charger, a power extension cable, two JST-XH balance boards, two sets of banana plug cables with bare ends, a USB cable, and a CD.

In addition to the main box, I also received an extra package marked "Gift for Pre-order Customers". This package contained two thermometer probes, and two cables to join the two channels of the charger together. One cable was for the balance ports, the other cable to join the main ports together.

The Charger

Looking like a 90's era gaming console, the 4010Duo looks a little out of place amongst it's iCharger predecessors. The top of the charger features a large rotary dial, with five push buttons arranged around it. The large color TFT LCD screen pivots out of it's flush position, and can be angled up to almost 90 degrees. Along the front of the charger are the main and balance ports for both channels, as well as two ports for the temperature probes. The right side of the charger has two servo ports, which can be used to test servos. Around the back are the two large fans, power input cable, as well as the USB port and micro SD card slot. Along the front and bottom of the charger are many cooling vents, and a large heatsink can be seen through the vents. Power for the charger is supplied via a short, heavy duty cable out of the back of the charger, which has an EC5 connector attached. There is also an extension with another EC5 connected to it, so that you can make up your own adapter.

The Display Screen

When the 4010Duo is first powered on, a boot screen appears that displays some information, including the current firmware version. This is also where you can select your input source, DC or battery power. Out of the box the screen has a protective plastic cover over it, as around the button overlay. In many of these photos the screen may look a little scratched up, but this is just the protective cover that has since been removed.

The TFT LCD screen is divided down the middle into two sides. The left side is dedicated to channel 1, and is illustrated by it's blue color, where as the right side is for channel 2, and is illustrated in green. Any of the general menus that are not specific to either channel are displayed in a white menu box that covers most of the screen, and when you go in to the system menu it takes over the entire display (I'll cover the menu items further into the review). The screen is very vivid, and the brightness and contrast can be adjusted in the system menu.

Navigation Buttons

There are five push buttons, plus one rotary dial that can also act as a push button. The five push buttons are arranged around the rotary dial, two on the left, two on the right, and one directly above it. The two buttons on the left are primarily for channel 1, and the two on the right for channel 2. The push button above the rotary dial is used to tab between menu items, as well as select the system menu. The rotary dial is used to scroll through options, increase/decrease values, and with a push it can select items. The two buttons per channel are used to start/stop charging and to cycle through the channel options when charging is in progress.

Charging Ports

The charging ports for the two channels mirror each other. Each channel has it's own main charging port that uses standard banana plug leads (of which two sets are included). There is also the port for the included balance board, and a port for a temperature probe per channel. All of these ports are neatly arranged along the front edge of the charger.

Servo Ports

An added bonus of the 4010Duo is a built in servo tester. You can use either J1 or J2 ports, but only J1 supports the speed test, and J2 only supports pulse measurement.There are four tests that you can run, a linear test, fixed point test, speed test, and auto CW/CCW test. There is also a pulse measurement option.

The linear test lets you use the rotary dial to manually move the servo through it's range of motion.

The fixed test lets you test the servo as though it was hooked up to a three position switch, switching between a min/middle/max setting.

The speed test is just that, a speed test.

The auto cycling lets you specify a number of passes, and then the charger will cycle through the servos set range of motion (which can be user defined) until it completes the predetermined number of passes.

All of these tests have user adjustable options for min/max range of the servo, you can increase or decrease the step size, as well as adjust the center setting. A handy tool to have out at the field if you suspect a faulty servo.

A short video demonstrating the servo test features.

iCharger 4010Duo Servo Test (1 min 37 sec)

Micro SD Card Slot and USB Port

The micro SD card slot allows you to use a memory card to store log files and configuration files. As average "Joe" flier, the log files do not mean much to me, and are a mass of numbers that I can't make any sense out of. Hopefully someone reading this with a little more knowledge of these files can help explain what they actually mean.

The USB cable attaches the 4010Duo directly to your PC. Once connected you can access the micro SD card (if you are using one), or update the firmware on the charger using the software from the included CD or downloaded from the manufactures website.

Occasionally, maybe three times total over the last month of using the charger, I have received an error message on the screen. After a little reading, and some testing myself, I discovered that it only seems to do this when the micro SD card is in place. However, it happens so infrequently that I just restart the charging process and forget it ever happened. I believe the manufacturer is investigating this, and it will probably be fixed in a future firmware update.

Power Supply

The 4010Duo is hungry for power, no doubt about it. In order to use it at it's fullest potential, you will have to provide it with some serious power. The charger can accept anything from 9v to 50v DC, and the more power you want to get out of it, the more you will have to provide it.

In my case, I'm using a 24v power supply (technically 28.7v). A friend of mine (who also happens to be my flying club's president) has had a lot of success with modifying server power supplies, and I was lucky enough to get one from him. This power supply is rated at 28.7 volts, 58 amps, 1650 watts.

So what does this translate to in real life? Well, it means that I can plug my power supply into a wall socket at my house, and distribute the 58 amps it can put out across the two channels as I see fit. So far, I haven't tripped any breakers, though I suspect it may be getting close. Usually I will end up using one channel maxed out at 40 amps and parallel charging larger packs, while the other channel is used for charging my smaller packs. Out at the flying field, I can hook it up to a car battery for charging small packs, or hook it up to my generator (which is what I mostly do). My 1500 watt generator lets me use 40 amps max (charging four 6S 5000mah packs), and only every once in a while will it trip the breaker.

There has been a lot of discussion already here in the forums about supplying power to the 4010Duo, ranging from using four 12v power supplies, to rigging it up to a 220v outlet at home. I'm sure the more experienced in such matters will lend their expertise.

RCGroups iCharger 4010Duo Support Thread

The Menus

Although I've been mostly dealing with the default charging screen, there are a number of system items that you can adjust. I've already described the default screen, when it is running it will show you most of the information you need at a glance. This includes the battery type, channel temp, timer, output voltage, output capacity, input voltage, input current, and a whole host of other options.

Using the photo above as reference, the cells screen will show the voltage of individual lipo cells. Next to that is a little graphic that indicates if that cell is currently being balanced. Pressing the status button will cycle the lower part of the screen to the IR info page. This page show you the internal resistance of each cell, including overall pack resistance and line resistance. Cycling the status button again takes you to the info page, which displays various info and settings including power, end voltage, lowest input voltage, safety time, temp cut off, and end charge capacity.

When you press the start button, you are greeted with a selection menu that lets you pick a battery type, as well as select a memory preset. There are six built in programs, that serve as a generic starting point for most battery chemistries, but you can also add your own personalized memory presets.

System Menus

They say pictures are worth a thousand words, so here are some photos of the various system menus.

The group of photos below start with the main system menu, accessed by holding down the tab/sys button.

My Experience With The 4010Duo

The first thing I had to decide, was what connectors to put on the included main port charging cables. My larger batteries use EC5 connectors, so I soldered them on the end. I use parallel charging boards a lot of the time too, and have gotten into the habit of parallel charging at the flying field, and then balance charging separate batteries when I am at home.

When I was first using the charger, I noticed that the notification beeps were fairly low out of the box, so another thing I changed from stock was to max out the volumes. The settings for this was accessed through the beep settings in the system menu.

The only battery chemistries I use are Lithium, and NiMH. For NiMH, I select the NiMH default memory selection, set the pack capacity, and let it charge. Lithiums need a little more setting depending on what I'm doing. I parallel charge four 6S 5000mah packs on a single channel. For this I set the capacity to ignore, and current to 40 amps. This gives me a 2C charge across all four packs in a short period of time. While they are charging I can also parallel charge smaller packs on the second channel, or a receiver pack, transmitter battery etc. One thing I've noticed is that the IR info should only be trusted when charging single packs, I don't refer to it when parallel charging.

If you set the Lipo capacity, I found that in the current setting the charger will tell you how man C's you are charging that pack at. This is helpful if you are not entirely sure what C you are charging at when trying to follow the battery manufacturer recommendations. If the charger sees that the C rating is too high, it will show it in red, as well as set off an audio alarm to warn you.

While I do not leave batteries unattended when charging, it is of some comfort to know that with the temperature probes I have a small safeguard when charging packs. If the pack starts to get too hot, the charger will cut power to the pack. As well as the external temperature probes, the charger features an internal temperature probe, which again helps safeguard against things heating up when they shouldn't. The two fans on in the charger are smart as well, they vary their speed depending on how warm the charger gets. The fans are quiet too, easily drowned out by the power supply I use.

The 4010Duo has become the only charger that I take with me. As a result, I needed a way to keep everything portable. There are some cool and elaborate setups out there, but I kept it simple with a single aluminum case. I can fit the PSU, the charger, and all the accessories I need in one easy to carry case.

With all the different battery types and sizes that I use, it is nice to be able to store the settings on the charger, and then be able to call them up quickly when charging. I've been using the 4010Duo for about a month or so, and other than a couple of error messages (due to the SD card as mentioned earlier), the charger has performed flawlessly. I think the biggest challenge with this charger will be providing it with input power, but so far I've been happy with my 28v power supply. Having two separate charging channels that are each more powerful than a lot of chargers out there, is a great time saver.

Conclusion

The 4010Duo is a solid charger. It's power hasn't been watered down between two channels, and the only limiting factor is your power supply. The convenience of two separate channels in one charger can't be beat, coupled with iCharger's reliable software, makes it an appealing package. I like the fact that I can update the software as new firmware is released, and I also like the fact that the manufacturer has a visible presence in the support forum right here on RCGroups. If you run a lot of high capacity batteries, and are in the market for a new charger, the 4010Duo is definitely worth a second look.

Pros Cons
Dual Output Occasional 2101 Error
1400W Per Channel Challenging To Fully Power
Built In Servo Tester
Excellent Support

I'd like to thank Progressive R/C for providing the review sample.

Last edited by CSpaced; Feb 26, 2013 at 04:28 PM..

Discussion

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Old Feb 27, 2013, 01:44 PM
Stop scaring my donkey!
JohnathanSwift's Avatar
Greenland
Joined Mar 2012
7,891 Posts
Very accurate review! Me, I hate the manual, but otherwise it is a fine product.

Oh, for those who rightly want a computer interface as with fma products, sadly there isn't one, so for the lousy manual and no interface, I give it four out of five Hee, haws!
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 02:57 PM
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flyalan's Avatar
United States, TN, Nashville
Joined Aug 2003
27 Posts
Good review Chris. I have been considering the purchase of that one to do away with two separate IChargers. Glad to here you are liking it.

Alan
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 03:17 PM
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CSpaced's Avatar
Oak Ridge, NC
Joined Jun 2006
1,431 Posts
Thanks guys! Alan, you can't go wrong with it, it's an awesome charger.
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 04:22 PM
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Joined Feb 2013
21 Posts
Nice!

Great Review!!!! Actually really enjoyed the detail and pictures of the unit and menus. Does anyone have an idea of when these expect to become more readily available? I've been searching for quite a while, and am thinking of getting a PL8 just because I don't have a charger I can use for my 500-size heli packs...
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 04:57 PM
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So. Cal.
Joined Oct 2004
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David (ProgressiveRC) has indicated that he expects stock by next week.

http://www.progressiverc.com/icharger-4010duo.html

Mark
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 05:06 PM
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flyalan's Avatar
United States, TN, Nashville
Joined Aug 2003
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Thanks Mark.
You guys are enablers!

Cheers
Alan
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 07:05 PM
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Helping nice folks spend their hard-earned $$ is a skill.

Mark
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 09:10 PM
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flyalan's Avatar
United States, TN, Nashville
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Good thing the IRS deposited that refund today! At least a got to spend some of it before my wife does
Order placed!

Cheers
Alan
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 11:48 PM
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United States, CA, Cameron Park
Joined May 2007
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How does this charger compare to the Hyperion Duo charger?
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 06:54 AM
Stop scaring my donkey!
JohnathanSwift's Avatar
Greenland
Joined Mar 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highfly! View Post
How does this charger compare to the Hyperion Duo charger?
There is no rational comparison: night and day. Yes, I had a Hyperion several years back.

Again, there is no computer interface for modifying presets so be sure you can live with that, and the very poor manual.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 08:37 AM
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Richmond Texas
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I noticed that Amazon has two in stock.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 09:41 AM
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United States, MN
Joined Feb 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Holydiver View Post
I noticed that Amazon has two in stock.
Not sold by Amazon though. And ouch on the price. $369.95 + $35 shipping. Why would anyone buy it from them for higher then MSRP and pay shipping on top of that.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 09:44 AM
Stop scaring my donkey!
JohnathanSwift's Avatar
Greenland
Joined Mar 2012
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Yeah, I considered it until I found the shipping fee! Hee, haw!
(So high it scared my donkey!)
David or dale are worth the wait!
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 11:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grimbeaver View Post
Not sold by Amazon though. And ouch on the price. $369.95 + $35 shipping. Why would anyone buy it from them for higher then MSRP and pay shipping on top of that.
As someone else who saw these as well, I cancelled my order....I knew they were sold by a 3rd party, however...they aren't actually "in stock". I asked them for tracking information after a few days and they said they were waiting on a shipment like everyone else.

Regards,
Mike
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