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Old Aug 03, 2006, 12:57 AM
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San Marcos, CA
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Mini-Review
DN-Power Li-Po Balancing Charger Review

A couple weeks ago, I received a new Li-Po charger in the mail. The charger is a new Balancing charger from DN Power, and is sold by XUS Hobby. You may have seen details of this unit in another thread here on RC groups. This charger has 4 independant, single cell Li-Po chargers inside that are in series with one another. With this type of charger, your Li-Po battery gets balanced on every charge, since each cell gets charged individually. The charger will work with single cell batteries, as well as 2-cell, 3-cell and 4-cell packs. It also has the ability to charge two 2-cell Li-Po battery packs at the same time to speed the charge time up for multiple packs.

The charger retails for $85.95 on the XUS Website. Here is a link to the info page about the charger. DN Power Charger at XUS Hobby

I have also seen the charger advertised on sale at a couple other on-line stores. Here are links to those sites.

www.readyheli.com

Bishop Power Products

Well, let's start by taking a look at the box it came in.





Here is the unit out of the box. It looks to be very well made with a large LCD display. Not trying to be nit-pickey, but the silk screen letters on the front of the unit say "Li-Lon" Instead of "Li-Ion". Oops! Hopefully they can fix this on their next batch of cases.





Here is a shot of the "Business End" of the charger. There are 4 connectors that allow you to plug your balancing connector directly into the charger, as well as a terminal strip to allow you to hook up a specialized connector if you need to. A nice feature of the terminal block is that it unplugs from the unit to make it easier to wire up. The terminal block is an industry standard style, and extra ones could be purchased from a place like Mouser Electronics if you wanted to wire up several different types of balancing connectors.





Also included with the charger was an instruction manual and a set of 3 balance connector adapters. The manual is a little had to understand, as it was obviuosly written by someone who does not have English as their first language. The back of the manual does have some useful diagrams that show how to wire your balance connectors and how the terminal strip hooks up to the charger.

The DN charger has the + terminal on the far right pin of the connector with the alignment keys facing up. Some batteries use this standard, while other are just the opposite, with the + terminal on the far left of each connector. The adapters flip the connectors over so both styles can be used with the charger. This was a welcome addition, since all of my batteries needed the adapters! Here is a photo of the manual and adapters.





The charger comes with 3 foot long power leads with large battery clips attached. These large clips are great for field charging from a car battery, but they are a little large for hooking up to a regular power supply. There is also a 10 amp, automotive style, fuse sticking out the back of the charger. This makes the fuse easy to change in the event that something shorts out. I was curious why they are using a 10 amp fuse when the maximum current of the charger is 2 amps? A smaller fuse may be in order if it is supposed to blow in order to save anything inside from a short circuit.

I have a large 35 amp, 12 volt power supply that has 5/16" thread studs out the back, so the battery clips worked fine on that. I hooked up the charger, turned on the power supply, and the unit sprang to life. The beeper on this charger is quite loud, and it beeps once for about 1/2 second on power-up. After Power up, this is the screen that is displayed.





I took a 3-cell 1500mah Li-Po Battery pack that had been sitting on desk for a couple weeks and hooked it up to the charger into the 3-cell port using the adapter. Since I like to charge my batteries at about 0.8C, I set the charger to a 1.2 amp charge rate. Here is what the display showed after hooking up the battery.





As you can see in the above photo, this battery was almost fully charged with cell #1 showing 4.17 volts, cell #2 showing 4.15 volts, and cell #3 showing 4.13 volts. Since this is a 3-cell pack, cell #4 shows 0.0 volts. I hit the start button and within a few seconds, each of the cells had peaked at 4.20 volts, and the charger shifted into the Constant Voltage mode and folded back the current on each of the 3 cells. The internal cooling fan also kicked on once the charge cycle started. Here is what the displayed showed now.





All three cells were at 4.20 volts. Cell #1 was charging at 0.4 amps, Cell #2 was charging at 0.5 amps, and Cell #3 was charging at 0,6 amps. THis made perfect sense to me because at the beginning of the charge Cell #1 was the highest and Cell #3 was the lowest voltage, and the cells with the lower initial voltage were getting a little more current now. You will also notice that below each of the current readings there is a little bar graph. This bar graph ticks up as time progresses and starts over once it fills in to let you know that charging is taking place. A few minutes later the charger beeped at me and the currents were all at 0.0 amps. I measured all three cells with my Radio Shack Digital volt meter, and all 3 cells showed exactly 4.20 volts. So far so good!

Next, I really wanted to test the charger with a horribly out-of-balance pack. I took the 1500 mah 3-cell pack off the charger and proceeded to discharge it to a very imbalanced state. I took a tail-light bulb and wired it up to a 2-pin connector that would fit into my balance connector. This drew about 1.5 amps from a single cell, so it was a good load that word not overload the wires in the balance connector.

I plugged this bulb into Cell #1 and discharged it to 3.4 volts. I discharged Cell #2 to 3.0 volts, and discharged Cell #3 to 3.8 volts. That is about as bad as it can get ans still have all 3 cells charge in the constant current mode for a while before switching into the constant voltage mode.

After I had the battery out of balance I hooked it back up to the charger and set the charge current to 1.4 amps. This is as close as I could get to the 1500mah capacity of the pack without exceeding 1C. I hit the start button and grabbed my camera and took a photo of the charger display. Here is what it showed,





Each of the cells jumped up about 0.2 volts and the current was showing 1.4 amps on all 3 cells. I marked the time on the clock and the test was on. The current fluctuated a little during the Constant Current part of the charge cycle, but the value was always between 1.3 and 1.5 amps. After a couple minutes of charging the display showed the following.





A few minutes more and voltages were steadily climbing.





Seven minutes into the test, Cell #3 hit 4.2 volts and that cell switched into the constant voltage mode, and the current began to drop.





Twelve minutes into the test and the current on Cell #3 had reduced to 1.0 amps.





Thirty-four minutes into the test, Cell #2 approached 4.20 volts and the current began to fold back. By this time, Cell #3 was down to 0.3 amps of charge current.





42 minutes into the test, both cells #2 and #3 were to 4.20 volts, and cell #3 was almost done with the charge current down to 0.1 amps. I also noticed that once the charger went into the constant voltage mode, the internal cooling fan shut off.





At the 54 minute point, all 3 cells had reached the constant voltage mode. Cell #1 was charging at 0.7 amps, Cell #2 was charging at 0.5 amps, and Cell #3 was showing 0.1 amps, but the bar graph had quit moving, so apparantly Cell #3 was done charging.





At 1 hour and 4 minutes into the test, the current in Cell #3 dropped to 0.0 amps. The voltage fluctuated back and forth between 4.20 and 4.19 at this point. Cell #1 and Cell #2 were still charging, and both were at 0.4 amps.





This next photo was taken 1 hour and 22 minutes into the test. Both Cell #1 and Cell #3 had completed the charge cycle, and the bar graphs had stopped moving. Cell #2 still had a little bit more to go, and was showing a charge rate of 0.3 amps.





A few minutes later and the charger beeped to signify the end of the charge cycle. All 3 cells showed 4.20 volts in the display, so I unplugged the battery from the charger. I have several digital voltmeters, so I grabbed 2 of them, my Radio Shack unit, and one of the $4.99 Harbor Freight DVMs. I have checked the 2 meters against each other before, and the Harbor Freight meter reads a few millivolts higher than the Radio Shack meter. I measured the voltages of each of the cells with both meters and got the following readings:

Radio Shack Meter

Cell #1 - 4.19 volts

Cell #2 - 4.18 volts

Cell #3 - 4.20 volts


I repeated the test with the Harbor Freight meter and got the following:

Cell #1 - 4.21 volts

Cell #2 - 4.20 volts

Cell #3 - 4.22 volts

As I said earlier, this meter reads a little high, but in both cases ther was only a 0.01 volt variance from cell to cell, with the total spread from worst to best of 0.02 volts. I think that this was pretty good when you consider that at the beginning of the test the cells were 0.4 and 0.8 volts out of balance!

All in all, I feel that the charger did a great job of taking a horribly out of balance pack, and restored it to "Like New" condition with 1 charge cycle.

I have a couple other 3-cell X-Peak 3 chargers that I paid $79.95 for. When you consider the fact that this is a 4-cell charger, with automatic balancing on every charge cycle, the $85.95 price is a real bargain.

I will need to test some more packs with the charger to see how it does with other sizes and cell counts, but for now, I am impressed with the charger, both in its operation and simplicity.

The only thing that I would like to see different is a higher current range. 2 amps for a 4-cell pack is a little light. All of my 4-cell packs are 3100mah and 4000mah capacity, so they will take over 2 hours to charge. This is not a real big deal, since I charge my batteries while I work in the shop doing other things, but it would be nice to higher charge currents.

Perhaps they will come out with a "Deluxe" model that does up to 4 amps per cell for around $99.95 or $109.95. ( Hint, Hint )

So that wraps up this session of the review. If I think of anything I might have left out, I will go back and edit this post. Any additional testing I do I will post in a follow-up later on.

See you all later!

Lucien
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Old Aug 03, 2006, 06:46 AM
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What exactly does the bargraph represent?


Thanks.

P.S. I thought this was a much more useful "review" than the introduction thread that babbled on for fifteen (!) pages with no comprehensive/useful information...
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Old Aug 03, 2006, 06:55 AM
Southern Pride
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Haralson County GA. USA
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This charger is old news now.

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showt...ght=DN+charger

It is being sold by at least half a dozen vendors ,priced from $70 to $100 with and without various extension some of which are also polarity reveral adaptors.

Sometimes I wish the search feacture was used more here on RC Groups.

Charles
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Old Aug 03, 2006, 09:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by everydayflyer
This charger is old news now.

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showt...ght=DN+charger

It is being sold by at least half a dozen vendors ,priced from $70 to $100 with and without various extension some of which are also polarity reveral adaptors.

Sometimes I wish the search feacture was used more here on RC Groups.

Charles
The more people that read about this charger, the better chance they will learn how to use it to its full potential. In order to get the best balance, the charge has to continue after the end of charge alarm goes off. When all cells show 0 current let it run longer. Then disconnect the battery and check the voltage of each cell, and you will find it in perfect balance, or as close as you can measure it with a 3 1/2 digit meter. If not continue to charge.
This has been my experience, for what ever it is worth.

Lloyd
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Old Aug 03, 2006, 10:04 AM
Southern Pride
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My point is that if more posted in the same Thread then the imformation would be easier to located. I am not going to repeat all of my finding in another thread and I doubt that others will either.
IMO this is a OK charger. It is better than some and not as good as others. It is over priced ,needs to display more data and needs to be capable of charging more cells at a higher rate.

Charles
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Old Aug 03, 2006, 10:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meteor
What exactly does the bargraph represent?


Thanks.

P.S. I thought this was a much more useful "review" than the introduction thread that babbled on for fifteen (!) pages with no comprehensive/useful information...
The bar graph just indicates it has started charging that cell. When you plug in your battery, you then set the current. The bar graph doesn't move until you press the start button. It helps you to remember to push the start button. Don't ask how I know. After the end of charge alarm goes off the bar graph stops at the full position, but the charger is still final balancing that cell.

I haven't seen any one else suggest letting the charger run after the alarm goes off. I let it run since I just like to see a better balanced cells. I know it is not necessary but it makes me feel good.

Lloyd
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Old Aug 03, 2006, 11:07 AM
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Charles,

I am very sorry that you took offence at someone writing a review about a product. The original posted thread that you referred to was from XUS Hobbies themselves, and was more of a product announcement than a review, so I thought I would take a few hours of my time and write a review as a unbiased end user of the product, and to show how it actually worked during a charge cycle. That thread was originally posted on June 26, 2006. (which by the way happens to be my birthday!) It is now August 3, 2006, so I have a hard time figuring out how you consider something that is 5 weeks old as being "Old News". I am sure that there are many fliers out there that have never heard about this charger before.

For the record, it is OK to start other threads about products, and get other peoples opinions about a product. It is much easier to read a seperate review about a product, than to pour through 250+ posts looking for the "Review" part of the thread that is buried in there somewhere.

I agree with you in the fact that this is a OK charger for it's intended purpose. There are better ones, and there are worse ones out there, but this one does exactly what it is intended to to, and only costs about as much as a couple 3-cell 2000mah Li-Po packs. For the average sport flier that has nothing larger than a 2500mah 4-cell pack, it will do everything you need to keep your batteries both charged and balanced. If you fly 38% electric powered TOC type planes that use over $1000 worth of Li-Po's per pack, then no, this charger would not work, but then again, it is not intended for that purpose. If you read the end of the review, you will see that I made mention of the fact that it would be nice to have a "Deluxe" model that handled larger packs. Perhaps that will happen in the future.

I hope that others out there get a little value from the information presented here, as that is the intention and purpose.

If anyone else has any experience or tips on the use of this charger, please feel free to add your input.

Thanks!

Lucien
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Old Aug 03, 2006, 01:17 PM
Southern Pride
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Everyone can start as many new threads on the same products as they wish. I just find it scatters the same imformation all over and makes it harder to track useful info.

A much better charger for the money IMO, is.

http://www.fmadirect.com/products.htm?cat=45&nid=4

No I would not purchase one due to the source but others have and it appears to be the best under $100 LiPoly charger there is period.

Charles
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Old Aug 03, 2006, 09:18 PM
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Charles,

I have heard good things about both chargers, however does the Cellpro include adapters for will work with many different brands of batteries. I have found that many Li-Polys are using the smae as Dualsky/Align/Eflite or they are using Polyquest type. The only people using Tp or FMA are the respected companies.

If the CellPro is limited charger..only Li-Poly and Only up to 5A. The DN or Kokam charger are a good as second charger to have for your indoor or parkflier planes, but there are better Balancing/Chargers out there that can do 5 cells and 5A.

2dogrc
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Old Aug 03, 2006, 09:32 PM
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Max of 4 cells and 2 amps. with volts and charge rate only displayed versus , max of 4 cells ,3amps, volts ,charge rate ,mAh, percentage of charge,and twenty some-odd other feactures . Oh and I did say best for under $100 and in fact is only $70.
Charles
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Old Aug 03, 2006, 09:48 PM
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It is a good deal for under $100...what does the connector side look like? I have only seen teh standard web pic? Is it like the DN Pro or a set of pins?
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Old Aug 03, 2006, 09:59 PM
Southern Pride
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http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showt...hlight=cellpro
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Old Aug 03, 2006, 10:43 PM
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hi, Folks:

first of all, I don't have one cellpro 4s charger, and I never tested it before. so what I am about to say about it is based on the information I've read from FMA's website.

In the manual or description of FMA Cellpro 4S charger or other reviews online, there are few times that "balancing packs" was mentioned. so my guess is that it's actually a serial charger with an internal balancer.
but DN Power charger, although it's called balancing charger, it actually has 4 separated charging circuits. so there is actually no balancing process, it simply charges all cells to 4.2v. it's should really called "Parallel charger"
I believe that's why CP 4S will cost less than DN Power G2 charger.

I could be wrong about cellpro 4S. I wish someone could prove either I am wrong or right.


thanks

Jun
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Old Aug 03, 2006, 11:28 PM
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IMHO, this discussion about the FMA charger does more to dilute information and scatter knowledge than the start of a new thread.

This was a pretty solid review and all the info is contained in post #1. No wading through hundreds of inane posts such as off topic chargers And yes, the search function is far too underutilized...

Let's focus on the DN... Any other user reports out there?
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Old Aug 04, 2006, 10:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ildo
In the manual or description of FMA Cellpro 4S charger or other reviews online, there are few times that "balancing packs" was mentioned. so my guess is that it's actually a serial charger with an internal balancer.
but DN Power charger, although it's called balancing charger, it actually has 4 separated charging circuits. so there is actually no balancing process, it simply charges all cells to 4.2v. it's should really called "Parallel charger"
I believe that's why CP 4S will cost less than DN Power G2 charger.

I could be wrong about cellpro 4S. I wish someone could prove either I am wrong or right.
Yes Jun,
You are incorrect about the Cellpro...Just as the DN has no balancing process...the cellpro has no balancing process. There are 4 separate circuits to charge each cell individually to 4.2v. Hence the reason it says "Balancing Charger" right on the unit just like the DN.

Even if the Cellpro cost more, all the reviews I have seen from folks that have used both chargers have made the Cellpro look more attractive. The lower price pushes it over the edge for most.
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