iChargers 3010B vs PowerLab 8 v2 - RC Groups
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Jun 13, 2012, 11:13 PM
Registered User

iChargers 3010B vs PowerLab 8 v2

I am using a Hyperion 1201i charger right now and want to upgrade to a higher power charger. I am considering to buy either one of these two chargers.
Any suggestions? Is PowerLab more complicate to use?

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Jun 14, 2012, 12:11 AM
Fast is good
jrplane's Avatar
I have the lab8 and it is easy to use and the most power charger built today.
Jun 14, 2012, 12:20 AM
RC Helicopter Pilot
TheWoodCrafter's Avatar
This should be a good thread.

Good idea getting rid of the Hyperion.

If you don't think you will ever charge over 6S, no sense in getting a 10S charger.
If you will, I don't see that the PL8, limited to 8S, would be helpful.
I don't know of much that use a 7S or 8S packs.
So maybe you want to look at the PL6 or the iCharger 306B.

My helicopter runs 10S and I have the iCharger 306B and charge the packs in parallel.

I don't know much about the PL8 programming but the iCharger is a standard 4 button charger. Pretty simple to use and setup.
Jun 14, 2012, 12:36 AM
Registered User
The PL8 is a "preset driven" design. The iCharger has the common 4-button charger UI with some presets available but not really handy.

If you set up presets, the PL8 is extremely easy to use - easier than the iCharger. If you don't then it usually takes a few more button presses on the PL8 than the iCharger but it's still not "hard".

The PL8 has more safety features including safe parallel adapters and fused main leads, more watts of charge power and way more watts of discharge power. (Though both can do even more watts of regenerative discharging if you have a big charging battery with room.)

If you get the PL8, I recommend getting the PC interface.

By the way, I have 3 iChargers and 2 other generic four-button chargers and every one of them developed one or more unreliable buttons after a year or so. On the other hand, I have 3 CellPros and have never had a button or other issue with them. I'm not sure if that's enough to be "statistically significant" but it seems like the Cellpros have much better buttons than everyone else.
Jun 14, 2012, 02:14 AM
Registered User
Most of my battery packs are 4s and 6s 4000mAh.
I connect them in series to fly in 8s, 10s and 12s for different planes.
I normally charge them in series by using the Hyperion 1201i, but it takes too long.

I think I can charge them in parallel, so both iCharger 3010B and PowerLab 8 can do the job.
Jun 14, 2012, 03:25 AM
Registered User
I have a Hyperion 1210i and a PL8, and much prefer the PL8. I haven't figured how to customise the preset programs yet, but even using the factory presets, starting a charge is simple -- select program for the battery type, then the power source (battery or PSU), single or parallel batteries, charge rate per battery, and whether or not you're using the main leads as well as the balance leads. During charge the up/down buttons can be used to scroll through all the battery parameters -- charge rate, cell voltages, IR, % charge, etc.
Jun 14, 2012, 04:57 AM
SleepySean's Avatar
You need a pro and con list of the features, and figure which are most useful to YOU.

I have the iCharger 3010 and love it, can't comment on the PL8 though.
Jun 14, 2012, 08:01 AM
Fast is good
jrplane's Avatar
If you use pack less than 6S. The lab6 is a better buy than the lab8.
They both charge at 40 amps.
Jun 14, 2012, 12:48 PM
Revolectrix Ambassador


Power Source Presets: When the Powerlab starts up you can have it ask you what power source you are using, battery or AC power. Each of the power supply presents can be configured separately for maximum current, low voltage warning and maximum regenerative discharge (battery only) and a bunch of other settings. This enables seemless transition between high power DC supplies and lower power Pb source which support regenerative discharge. I have seen an number of iCharger owners stuggle to figure out how to enable regen discharge.

Charging Presets: The main menu of the Powerlab is the presets. There are a number of default presets, but if you are like me, you’ll be tuning them, changing their names and changing their order. To simplify things I hide the presents that I don’t need to use. There is also a library of presets that can be imported either via the PC interface or on the console of the charger.
Though you can use a single preset to cover every scenario, only changing the charge current, having separate presets will let you tune things like cutoff behavior, DC-DC frequency, the data that is displayed on screen, and lots more. For example, I have one preset for field use where I've shortened the cuttoff current, and tightened the balance deadband. This lets me cut about 20% of the charge time with only a minor reduction in accuracy.

Powerful and Advanced Balancing
1) All balancing circuits utilize proportional control of the transistor-based balance circuits
2) Proportional control means the balance current adjustment is very close to continuously-variable
3) The above results in much higher accuracy and “adjustability” when compared to on/off or “pulse” control
4) The above requires more microcontroller capacity and enhanced algorithms
5) Revolectrix chargers sport the highest balance current in the industry; up to 1A on several models.  This means they are more aggressive than competing products and capable of correcting major imbalance in packs and/or able to balance higher capacity packs faster.

Expansion Mode: Supports expansion mode where you can string up to 15 Powerlabs together and control them from the control panel of a single charger. I have a second PL8 and its great having a dual port 2600 watt charger that you can operate from one panel. With this setup I can charge two packs at the same time, or parallel charge four 6s packs on one, while charging six 3s packs on the other. It’s the ultimate in charging flexibility.
Native Support for Parallel Charging: While any charger can parallel charge, FMA has added features to make the process similar and easier. The charge cycle starts there is an option to tell the charger how many packs are in parallel. The charger uses this information to automatically increase the current based on the number of packs in parallel. So you can use one preset and never change the current. Just tell the Powerlab how many packs are in parallel and it does the rest. Total mah put into the pack is divided by that number as well, giving you an average of what was put into each pack.
Firmware updates are very easy and usually add new features. When you start the Powerlab software, it automatically checks for firmware updates. So there’s no need to go hunting them down. The updates are very easy to do, have never rendered my PL8 "brain dead".
Powerlab Software: The free charge control software and graphing makes it very easy to see what is going on during the charge, watching live. Or later reviewing saved logs. It also supports export to tab delimited (for Excel) or West Mountain radio. In addition, all the many charger settings can be configured on the PC and downloaded to the charger. This makes locating and configuring charger settings very easy and straightforward. Custom presets can be saved locally and restored to second Powerlab.
Support. FMA provides excellent support state side. Both from their forum on RC Groups where the FMA President is a regular contributor to their service center on the East Coast.

Simple to use, but very feature rich. Perhaps one of the best and understated feature of the Powerlab series is that while it can be very simple to use, the UI had not removed or hidden many settings and features. You can also configure it for quick start. Once you have a preset that is configured the way you want, press and hold the start button to start the charge. Simple and fast.
“Safety” as a core design element. Seatbelts and smoke detectors add cost to a car or house. But we would not live without them. Because the most important thing that you can do to reduce the chance of issues is select and correctly operate a high quality charger.

US Based Design: Hardware and user interface designed in the US. Why does that matter? In answer to another forum post, FMA President Tim Marks had this to say
Originally Posted by Tim Marks
You said you likely don't care where a product is designed. The reason you should care is that it governs, to a large degree, how the interface of a sophisticated product operates. Of course it is my heavily biased opinion that U.S.-designed interfaces are in general, superior to, e.g., Chinese-designed interfaces. The major reason for this is that you are American and you speak and write fluent English and so do we. Furthermore, we as Americans share similar experiences and thought patterns. All of these things affect how simple things like how easy or how difficult it will be to own and operate a device; how the menu works, how fast you can learn to operate the device, and whether or not you will need to keep a manual handy.
Tim Marks
Jun 14, 2012, 01:35 PM
Registered User
This is very informative. Thank you.
Jun 14, 2012, 02:04 PM
A man with too many toys

Power Lab blows away the competation.

I have an iCharger and PL8 V2 and the Power Lab blows away all competation when it comes to easy of use. It’s so mice that I seldom use my iCharger except when I need to nun two chargers at the same time.

Also the Power Lab IR measurement is far more accurate that iCharger – now that’s probably going to start an argument but that’s my opinion.

The Power Lab series of chargers can be linked and used as one big 16s charger if you have the need. If I had it to do again I would have two PL8’s and no iChargers.

Jun 14, 2012, 02:22 PM
Registered User
Originally Posted by RC Man
Also the Power Lab IR measurement is far more accurate that iCharger – now that’s probably going to start an argument but that’s my opinion.
There's plenty of empirical data that refutes your "opinion". Despite 1mOhm resolution, the iChargers have been demonstrated to be more accurate and repeatable in measuring internal resistance.

Still, it's widely agreed that the PowerLabs are better chargers. This coming from someone who owns 4 iChargers...

Jun 14, 2012, 05:06 PM
Registered User
Originally Posted by mrforsyth
there's plenty of empirical data that refutes your "opinion". Despite 1mohm resolution, the ichargers have been demonstrated to be more accurate and repeatable in measuring internal resistance.

still, it's widely agreed that the powerlabs are better chargers. This coming from someone who owns 4 ichargers...

Jun 14, 2012, 05:33 PM
Fast is good
jrplane's Avatar
I have a lab8 and there is 3-lab6's , 4-iChargers, lots of hobby king crap!
From what I can see the IR is really close no matter which charger is being used. They all read slightly different. I really don't see the worry of which is the most accurate, who really cares, IR goes up battery performance goes down. Right or wrong I know about where my batteries started, and I know where they are now.

Just my opinion, only 1 1/2 cents worth

Jun 16, 2012, 09:17 PM
Registered User
Thanks for all the feedbacks. I bought a PL8.

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