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Team Check•Point Programmable TC-1030 with 30A Discharge

Dr. Dave reviews the Team Check Point TC 1030 pro charger, discharger and cycler with brushed motor break-in feature.

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Introduction


Dimensions:5.5 x 1.8 x 5.9 inches
Weight:24.5 oz (695g)
Input Voltage:11-15 volts DC
Battery Capacity Range:100-9900mAh
Maximum Fast Charge Power:120 watts
Battery Types:1-10 cell NiCd and NiMH cells (1.2-12.0V) and 1-4 LiPo or Li-Ion cells (3.6-14.8V)
Fast Charge Current:0.1-10.0A (2C max for LiPo/Ion)
Fast Charge Methods:Linear, reflex, pulse, 3-step and 4-step
Fast Charge Termination:Peak detection for NiCd and NiMH - Constant current/Constant voltage for LiPo/Ion (cc/cv)
Peak Sensitivity:0-25mV adjustable (including 1mV, 2mV)
Trickle Charge Current:0-500mA (NiCd/NiMH only)
Top Off Charge:0-1000mAh (NiMH only)
Max Discharge Power:90 Watts
Discharge Current:0.1-10.0A linear discharge current Custom pulsed 20A and 30A w/dead short mode
Discharge Cutoff Voltage:0.1-1.1V per cell (NiCd and NiMH) 2.5-3.7V per cell (LiPo/Ion)
Temperature Cutoff Range:50-132°F (10-55°C)
Cycle Count:1-10 cycles (NiCd/NiMH only)
Battery Memories:10
Display Type:8x21 graphing LCD w/ blue backlight (168 characters max)
Motor Break-in:Single step, four step and motor test, voltage adjustable from 1.0-8.0V, timer adjustable from 1-180 minutes maintains 20A @ 1.5V
Output Connectors:Banana jacks (two adapter leads included)
Manufacturer:Team Checkpoint
Available From:Tower Hobbies
Retail Price:$179.97

We all like to think we are keeping up with technology and at the same time we are thankful there are engineers out there coming up with ideas to make our lives easier. The Team Checkpoint TC-1030 programmable charger with 30A discharge, advanced motor break-in and backlit LCD is distributed by Great Planes and is one of those great ideas. Many of the features of the TC-1030 are geared toward the competition-level race. I want to thank Brad Cunningham, a local racer, for his insight into this charger.

Features

TC-1030 Standard Features

  • Charges 1-10 cell NiCd and NiMH cells (1.2-12.0V) and 1-4 LiPo or Li-Ion cells (3.6-14.8V)
  • Five charge methods: linear, reflex, pulse, 3-step and 4-step with a top-off function that fully charges NiMHs without over heating
  • 0.1-10.0A linear discharge current and custom pulsed 20A and 30A discharge currents for top level pack conditioning, Dead-Short mode for careful deep discharging
  • 0-25mV peak sensitivity for NiCd and NiMHs including 1mV and 2mV options
  • Thermal cutoff (requires optional Pro Temperature Sensor)
  • Three motor break-in modes; single step, four step and motor test mode, voltage adjustable from 1.0-8.0V timer adjustable from 1-180 minutes, can also be used for comm lathes and tire warmers
  • Blue LCD backlight for easy viewing in almost any light condition
  • Two cooling fans
  • Five year limited warranty

TC-1030 Special Features

  • 0.1-10.0A linear discharge current (2C max for LiPo/Ion), with custom pulsed 20A and 30A discharge currents for conditioning of race quality packs, with Dead-Short mode for careful deep-discharging of high powered racing packs
  • 0-25mV peak sensitivity for NiCd and NiMH batts (including 1mV and 2mV)
  • Top-off charge feature fully charges NiMHs without overheating
  • Recall data for 10 full cycles
  • Displays input and output voltage, battery resistance, max. battery temperature, charge and discharge currents, voltages, time, and capacity and much more
  • Adjustable audible tones, LCD contrast, twin fan operation, temperature scale and more
  • Loaded with safety features and warnings, including cool-off time delay, max. charge voltage and battery capacity, reverse polarity protection, open or shorted output, poor battery voltages and temperatures, poor motor connections, excessive charger heating, and more…
  • Durable aluminum case, with rotating dial and twin pushbuttons for easy menu navigation
  • Built-in twin cooling fans for high charge efficiency and extends the life of charger
  • Banana jacks on output with two charge adapters included (alligator clips and Deans® Ultra™ male)
  • Banana plugs installed on input lead, with large mating alligator clips included

The Charger

According to the instructions, you must have at least a 15 amp power supply (if you are like me, you probably use a converted computer power supply which is not adequate for the TC-1030). I purchased a 20 amp power supply from my local hobby shop for testing the larger batteries but this is only necessary when you are charging higher capacity cells. A converted power supply will provide plenty of power for most charging loads.

From the instant you open the box you know this is a heavy duty charger/discharger with some real horsepower. Many of the features are for competition RC auto racing, but it also is an affordable alternative power source that can give you enough juice and help you avoid the sticker shock of larger LiPos for your glow to electric conversions. Many of the features for RC racing can be employed if you use Sub-C cells for your flying.

Instruction manual

I really like the instruction manual for one main reason: when it gives instructions for a particular method using the charger, it also tells you why this choice could be right for your application. The manual is not full of technical jargon, and in short, the manual is succinct! It gets to the point and categorizes all the procedures into logical sequences. Because of the flow of the manual, you are more inclined to try everything in sequence to better understand each feature.

RC RACING AND SUB-C MIMH AND NiCD

To begin the testing, I enlisted a good friend that is well involved in racing. Brad Cunningham (World's Greatest Mechanic), is a long time Mid-Missouri racer with just about every track gadget in his tool box. His insight into the Team Checkpoint charger and its many options greatly enhanced this review. There is level of investment into the hobby of RC racing that goes beyond money, and Brad is a guy who solders his battery into the car each time he races. I definitely respect his opinion!

Discharging

To begin, we did a simple discharge of a 3800 amp 6-cell Sub-c battery. We set the program for 20amps (even though the limit available was 30amps). A .9v/cell cutoff was selected; we did not want to draw the pack down below 5.4v. Using the supplied temperature probe we discharged the battery down in about 10 minutes and measured the charger with an IR temperature gun at 120°. The battery, as measured through the probe, was at 107°. When the cell was discharged we clearly heard a tone indicating the process was complete.

Motor Testing

I realize brushless motors are the popular choice, but if you are like me, my Speed 400 motors are still good for many uses, and I still keep a few planes in the hanger that combo up nicely with the brushed system. For RC racers, this charger is an absolute must unless you have made the move to brushless.

First up was the motor break-in. With new motors, the brushes need to be mated to the commutator by running the motor for a few minutes. The newest brushes are serrated so they break-in much faster. No need to overrun the motor or run it too fast with a high voltage. We only ran the motor three minutes and 48 seconds at 3.0 volts. Even then we got the motor up to 128°.

Downloads

Motor Break-in  1.71 MB

Next up was the 4-step motor break-in, a handy way to let your motor know the runs will not be at one speed but rather at increasing and decreasing speeds. At each of the four steps the output voltage, run-time, and cool-off time can be customized.

Downloads

Our third test determines the condition of the motor. We used two motors for this test: a stock motor with a 27-turn motor and a modified motor with ball bearings and a 12-turn armature. For each motor we chose a voltage of 4.8 so each of the four sequences increases, with a short cool down period, by 1.2v. With this test you can look at the average amps drawn by the motor and the peak amps; the lower the average amps the more efficient the motor.

Downloads

Motor Test  1.79 MB

The motor test feature differs slightly form the motor break-in feature. With break-in the values for the output voltage, run-times and cool-off periods are user defined, but with the motor test function the voltage is automatically increased through the steps by the charger.

We also wanted to show how easily you can adjust the voltage of a motor and register the amperage.

Downloads

Voltage Adjustment  1.68 MB

There is also a lathe feature for this charger. Lathing is used to cut the carbon off the commutator and to re-surface the area for re-mating with new brushes. It is a precision instrument that holds the armature in place and gradually moves it toward the lathe where the other knob moves the armature back and forth across the diamond tipped cutting knife. Below is a picture of the lathe with a motor installed.

Charging

There are four linear charging options and three non-linear options for NiMH and NiCD batteries and a separate mode for LiPo/Ion batteries. I have provided a table with the features offered below

Charge ModeCharge TypeBenefit
Normal Linear 100% linear current delivered to the battery. Included "Reserve Time": feature times the charge to end just before a race or use.
Re-Flex Linear There is an almost 100% linear charge with very quick deep discharges sent to the battery once per second. This is intended to help remove oxidizing bubbles from the cell plates during the charge.
Re-Peak Linear Automatically recharges the battery once or twice to ensure the battery is at capacity before using. Also, monitors how much is needed to re-peak the battery as an indicator of a batteries ability to hold a charge. Include 5-minute cool down between charges
AutomaticLinearCharger automatically detects the condition of the battery and begins the charge. This is a great feature if you are unsure of the specifications of the battery. Note: This feature does not determine the battery type. This must be manually entered.
3 & 4 StepCapacity and Current are adjustableUsing this method you are maximizing the energy available, but also providing for the most accurate peak detection for maximum run-time.
ImpulseHigh level charge pulsesThis is the opposite of re-flex charging. Here there are very quick high level charge pulses equal to 1.5x the charge rate for .5 seconds, every 3 seconds.
Lipo.IonConstant Current/ Constant VoltageConstant current delivered initially then at 4.2v per cell or 4.1v per cell for LiIon the charger stops delivering constant current and starts delivering constant voltage. As the battery becomes more fully charged it requests less current. The charger also has a unique LiPo trickle charge that continues until demand is less than 30mv.

We did our charging sequence using the 3800 mAh battery we previously discharged at 6 amps. Below is the charge screen you see during the charging sequence.

As you are charging or discharging you can also see the graph of the process. In this feature, you can adjust the zoom or detail of the graph, the voltage center and the voltage range. There are two modes for the graphs: automatic and manual.

Downloads

Cycling

NiMH and NiCD Summary

There are a multitude of features available for NiMH and NiCD batteries with this charger. Clearly, Team Checkpoint has done their homework in addressing the needs of their consumers.

Since I had solicited the help of an expert in these types of batteries, I asked what it was about this charger that would make him want to buy one. First, he was comfortable with the inputs - consistency in the way information is input saves a lot of time on the learning curve. Second, he felt the motor break-in feature was very smooth and performed just as he had hoped. Third, he was impressed with the 30 amp discharge feature and the reserve time function. He mentioned it would not be unusual that a charger might be on for 10-12 hours during a race day working all the time. The backlit screen was something he wished for in his other chargers (three of which were present). Add the five year warranty, and he was really impressed.

I as well thought the charger performed very well through the paces of NiMH, NiCD and motor break-in. I learned a lot, and could tell these features are well worth the investment. This charger is far removed from others with its many features.

LiPo Charging

For all of you electric flyers this might be your section, but let me start by being clear that the TC-1030 does not have a cell balancing feature. It uses the constant current/constant voltage technique.

I began my testing of batteries with ones more consistent with my use pattern. These included a 600 mAh 9.6 NiCd transmitter battery, a 4.8 volt 200 mAh NiMH receiver battery and a 11.1 volt 2000 mAh LiPo battery. Each type of battery was first discharged and then charged using the TC-1030.

The graphing feature lets you see the pace of the charge. You can zoom in to 5x, watch the battery resistance and monitor the voltage center point throughout the charge. Moving through the menus was easy but does require some attention to which button you should NOT push (the left arrow button will exit the charging sequence). There was no extreme overheating of the batteries, nor were there any issue with the TC-1030 chassis getting too hot. In fact, through all the tests the charger only reached about 120° surface temperature.

Comparison of the Triton charger and the TC-1030.

TC-1030Triton
10 battery Memory 10 battery memory
5 charge typeLinear only
.1-10amp LiPo Charge .1 - 2.5 LiPo Charge
Trickle for all battery types No trickle for LiPo
50-132° thermal 60-130° Thermal
Backlit No Backlight
Lipo up to 14.8 Up to 14.8
Battery Resistance measured No Resistance provided
NiCd/NiMH .1-10amps NiCd/MiMH .1-5amp
1-10 cells 1-24 cells
1.2-12V NiCd/MiMH 1.2-28.8V NiCd/NiMH
Graphing No graphing
DC Input 11-15v Dc Input 10.5-15v
No Pb Pb Cell Charge
Discharge .1-30 amps Discharge .1-3 amps
1-10 cycles 1-10 cycles
24.5 oz. 16.4 oz.
2 cooling fans 1 cooling fan
character screen2x32 character screen

Conclusion

There are many great features built into the Team Checkpoint TC-1030 that allow it to grow with you in your hobby. It will most certainly handle everything you have in your hangar now with a great deal of precision. I recommend the Checkpoint TC-1030 without hesitation to anyone with a need for a high quality charger that is ahead of the technology curve.

Pluses:

  • Backlit Screen
  • 30 amp discharge
  • 10amp LiPo charge
  • Easy to follow instructions
  • Easy to use features
  • Number of features
  • Graphing
  • Can be used by the weekend flyer or the high level competitive racer

Minuses:

  • Magnetic temp sensor could be better
  • No balanced charging available
Last edited by Angela H; Aug 21, 2007 at 07:10 AM..

Discussion

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Old Aug 21, 2007, 09:43 PM
Ritewinger
WingsWest328's Avatar
Jacksonville, Florida
Joined Dec 2005
255 Posts
So basically it is a hopped up Duratrax ICE charger that has a backlight, larger amp discharge features and dual cooling fans? Is it worth to get rid of my ICE and get this?

Cameron
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Old Aug 22, 2007, 05:33 AM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
1,316 Posts
My sense when I reviewed the TC-1030 with a local racer was the power was worth it and the dual cooling fans were an improvement over the ICE. The backlight screen is really nice too. If you need to discharge quickly and want to be able to put a charge into the battery at a higher rate than the ICE there are no chargers out there better than this one. Besides, you can never have enough chargers.
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Old Aug 22, 2007, 04:24 PM
Ritewinger
WingsWest328's Avatar
Jacksonville, Florida
Joined Dec 2005
255 Posts
Thanks for the response. I think am going to pick this one up.
Thanks,
Cameron
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Old Oct 08, 2007, 05:22 PM
RadioPro
Joined Mar 2007
23 Posts
A LiPo charger with no cell balancing!

They must be nuts!

I'm amazed any vendor would put out a LiPo charger that does not have balancing capabilities. Now that this is known to be the prime cause of charging fires (cell imbalance causing a cell to overchage & explode) I am amazed that they would taek the risk of bearing the liability for such occurrences!

But looks like a reasonable charger for the older technologies.

WC
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Old Feb 06, 2008, 04:53 AM
User registered
TNboy's Avatar
Melbourne Australia
Joined Jan 2004
410 Posts
It's a brilliant charger, and that's a great review. I use 3 chargers for my NiMh racings pack and the TC is my favourite.

One question that I need help with Please anyone...
I have been unable to invoke the trickle charge on my nimh packs, I have tried all charging modes (except auto) and the trickle charge feature just will not kick in ??

Any help would be great, Many Thanks
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