Thread Tools
Mar 18, 2013, 04:03 PM
3D NOOB
xCRASHnBURNx's Avatar
Thread OP
Build Log

Portable Charging Station Build with Duel Powerlab 8s


Zeus Power Box Intro
Name: charger_preview.jpg
Views: 1861
Size: 88.6 KB
Description:

I first wanted to discuss why I wanted to take on this project. I outgrew my Hitec X4 AC Plus Multi-Charger and needed to upgrade to something with more power that would not only charge larger batteries but charge them faster. Most high-powered chargers require a separate, usually bulky power supply. Because I’m a bit OCD and can’t stand the thought of carrying a bunch of separate components to and from the field, I was compelled to build something better. Add to that the fact that once everything was connected at the field you usually end up with a rat nest of wires running everywhere. My goal was to put a high-powered system into a small case that would be easy to grab and head to the field. I wanted to design the box so that it would hide the unattractive power supplies and wiring and keep the chargers front and center for easy access. This is what I’ve come up with and I hope it helps people looking to do something similar.

Parts Listing
Before we move onto the build I wanted to give you a complete parts listing so I don't have to discuss each component throughout the build.
1 - Pelican Storm Case 2300
2 – FMA PowerLab 8 Chargers – http://www.epbuddy.com
1 – Solid Hobby 12v Power Supply with 575watts of power – http://www.solidhobby.com
1 – Solid Hobby 24v Power Supply with 1150watts of power – http://www.solidhobby.com
2 – 12v 90mm computer fans – http://www.Amazon.com
2 – 90mm fan grills – http://www.Amazon.com
1 – Powerwerx Chassis Mount for 2 Powerpoles – http://www.Powerwerx.com
1 – 12VDC Toggle Switch with Safety Cover – Radio Shack
1 – 12v Latching Push Button Switch – http://www.amazon.com
1 – 5v Digital LCD Thermometer - http://www.frozencpu.com
1 – 12v to 5v DC Converter - http://www.ebay.com
2 – 3ft Heavy Duty AD Power Cables - http://www.progressiverc.com/
2 – AC Case Adapter - http://www.progressiverc.com/
4 – Pelican Quick Mounts - http://www.pelican-case.com/15pelquicmou.html
3M Heavy Duty Velcro
Zip ties and zip tie mounts with adhesive backing


Step 1 - Planning, Measuring, Planning, Measuring
This is probably the most important step if you want to avoid items not fitting and then having to deal with returns and ordering new parts or equipment. You’ll see from some of the pictures that I didn’t take into consideration the location of the power supply switch. In order to rest the chargers on top of the power supplies, I had to relocate the switches which peeled away some of the black ultracoat, so I trimmed the covering up the best I could.

I’ve had this Pelican case for a while so I took the inside dimensions and did some quick mockups in a 3D modeling software that I know. However, this is not necessary and I suggest using cardboard prototypes or the actual parts to get a more accurate idea of how things will fit. I made cardboard prototypes of the power supplies and chargers based on the dimensions from the manufacturer’s website. Then I fit them into the case the way I wanted them laid out and made sure everything fit and the lid closed. Once I knew things were going to fit the way I wanted them to, I began ordering everything.

Name: test_fit1.jpg
Views: 1603
Size: 156.3 KB
Description: Name: test_fit2.jpg
Views: 1455
Size: 150.6 KB
Description:



Step 2 – Customizing the Case
After I figured out the best location for both fans and optimal cooling, I drilled out the four mounting holes for each fan. I then drilled a large 80mm to 90mm hole for the intake and exhaust fans. To cut the large fan openings and AC adapter openings, I started with my Dremel and a cutting wheel. To fine tune the opening the best tool I found was the Dremel 432 ½” 120 Grit Sanding Bands. At this time I also went ahead and cut the holes where I planned on mounting the AD power adapters. With the case empty, this is now a good time to install your heavy duty Velcro to use to Velcro in your power supplies. Trust me when I say that this velco will hold just about any size power supply or charger without any issues.

Name: fanscrew_holes.jpg
Views: 1103
Size: 130.2 KB
Description: Name: fan_holes2.jpg
Views: 1107
Size: 132.1 KB
Description: Name: fan_holes1.jpg
Views: 1106
Size: 159.8 KB
Description:



Step 3 – Installing the Power Supplies and Fans
Once I figured out where I wanted to put both power supplies, I stuck soft Velcro to the inside, bottom of the case. I then stuck hard Velcro onto the bottom of each power supplies and installed them. Using screws, I then installed both fans and both outside fan grills. After that, I cut both power supply power chords to length. I then split and cut back the black coating to expose the individual positive, negative and ground wires. Then I stripped off about a quarter inch off each wire and crimped on standard QD connectors with protective shrouds. The only thing left to do was hook up the both power supplies to the AC adapters on the side of the case.

Name: fans_installed.jpg
Views: 1340
Size: 157.9 KB
Description: Name: fan_acunit_outside.jpg
Views: 1236
Size: 111.4 KB
Description: Name: acunit_inside.jpg
Views: 1344
Size: 162.1 KB
Description:



Step 4 – Installing the Fan Switch
WARNING: This type of setup puts out a lot of power. If you’re not very experienced with wiring and electricity, I suggest that you take extreme caution during these next few steps. I have a basic knowledge of electricity, enough to accomplish most common electrical tasks around the home. However, because I was unsure on how to connect some of these switches and devices, I tested everything with a simple 9volt battery and alligator clips. Once I was sure I had everything working the way I wanted it to, I crimped on my connectors and started connecting everything up the power supplies. I used a 12v toggle switch with LED. This switch was pretty easy to install, in comparison to the push button latching switch. All you have to do is run the positive and negative wires from the power supply and both fans to the correct posts on the switch. There is a sticker on the side of the switch that tells you which wires connect to each post. I use smaller QD connectors with protective shrouds to connect the wires to the posts.

Name: fan_switch.jpg
Views: 1307
Size: 170.7 KB
Description: Name: fans_on.jpg
Views: 1341
Size: 172.1 KB
Description:



Step 5 – Installing the Digital Thermometer and Push Button LED Switch
This is where the 9v battery came in handy. With pretty much no instructions or wiring diagram, this became a guessing game. There were some indicators on the back of the switch; + for positive, - for negative, NO for normally open and NC for normally closed. Normally open is how I wanted my switch to function, which means that the switch would be normally open and the thermometer would be off. However, there were 5 connections on the back and until I did some heavy Googling, I had no idea how to get the switch to work properly. I connected the positive from the thermometer and positive from the power supply to the positive of the switch. Then you connect the negative from the thermometer to the NO connection. The negative from the power supply get connecter to the blank center connector and then a jumper must be ran to the negative of the switch. This is how you must connect everything if you want the LED on the switch to turn on and off with the thermometer. Without the jumper the red LED on the switch was always on or always off.

On a side note, be sure the read the ratings of all the components carefully so you don’t burn anything up. I burned up the first digital thermometer because even though it was built for computers, it wasn’t 12v it was actually a 5v thermometer. So if you’re going to use this type of thermometer you’ll need to run a 12v to 5v step down converter.

Name: 12v_converter.jpg
Views: 1234
Size: 133.5 KB
Description: Name: negative_jumper.jpg
Views: 1285
Size: 148.8 KB
Description: Name: thermometer_closeup.jpg
Views: 1400
Size: 158.6 KB
Description:



Step 6 – Designing the Charger Panel
Besides having your entire charging system in one easy to carry case, the main reason I did this build was to hide all the ugly wires and components. I first downloaded the CAD file of the interior dimensions of my Pelican case from Pelican’s website. I then took the file into Adobe Illustrator and began laying out the location of all the switches and components that would be installed into the plate. Once I was satisfied with the layout, I printed the diagram to use as a template. I went to my local hobby store and purchased 2ft x 3ft piece of black foam core for 5 bucks, which would be enough for 2 prototypes. I then taped my template to the foam core and using an exacto knife, cut my prototype. I wanted to make sure everything actually fit before I had the final plate cut. If I made a small calculation error on the foam core, it would only cost me $2.50. The final plate, which was laser cut from a sheet of 1/8th inch thick stainless steel, cost $50.00. It was a good thing I did this too, because once the wires were connected to the bottoms of the switch, they were much taller than originally anticipated and I wasn’t able to recess them deep enough into the case because they were resting on some internal components. The latching push button switch for instance, even though it’s flush mounted on top, the bottom of the switch requires 2-3 inches of clearance bellow the panel. On my second prototype I had to tweak their location slightly so that the underside of the switches would clear the internal components below the panel. Once I had everything in the right location, I converted my template into a file that could be used with CAD. I then had my local machine shop laser cut my design out of 1/8th inch this stainless steel. You can also use a cool service I found online at frontpanelexpress.com. They have a free panel designing software that you can download. Once you’re finished with your design you can customize and order it your panel directly from the site. This is a pretty good alternative if you don’t have a laser CNC machine in your area. The final step in this process is what really made the charger panel look great! I wrapped it in 3M DI-NOC carbon fiber vinyl. This stuff not only looks like real carbon fiber, but the material was also pretty easy to work with.

Name: charger_plate_template.jpg
Views: 1133
Size: 20.2 KB
Description:



Step 7 – Wire Management
Nothing to ground breaking here, but a necessary step if you want to make sure your case maintains maximum air flow. Also, if the wires aren’t securely fastened down they can move around during transport and could end up getting caught in the fans. To organize the wires, I use your average zip ties and zip tie mounts with adhesive backing. You can find the zip tie mounts on Amazon. I used the zip ties to basically bundle the wires but then zip tied the wires to the zip tie mounts to keep the wires from moving while transporting to and from the field.



Step 8 – Panel and Charger Installation
To create a level platform to mount the charger panel to I use 4 Pelican Quick Mounts. Each one attaches to the inside of the case via 2 screws. Start by deciding the depth you want the charger panel to sit and measure down the sides of the case to each mount to ensure that the plate will sit level. Make sure the screws you choose to mount the Quick Mounts with are not too long, so they don’t penetrate the outside of the case. I then put heavy duty velcro on top of the power supplies, on the bottom of the Power Lab 8s, on the top of the Quick Mounts and on the underside of the charger panel. After mounting the switches and thermometer into the panel all that’s left to do is hook up wires and set everything into place. Make sure you plan your case fitment and cooling. If you noticed, I had to partially recess the chargers to allow sufficient room for the lid to close. However, this ended up working out well because the cooling and intake vents of the charger line up directly with the overall air flow of the case.

Name: air_flow.jpg
Views: 1518
Size: 159.8 KB
Description: Name: air_tunnel.jpg
Views: 1334
Size: 179.1 KB
Description: Name: powerlab8_cooling.jpg
Views: 1421
Size: 152.4 KB
Description: Name: panel_installed.jpg
Views: 1385
Size: 160.4 KB
Description: Name: quick_mounts.jpg
Views: 1235
Size: 253.5 KB
Description:



Step 9 – Finishing Touches
Having worked in the advertising and design business for the last 14 years, I felt like the case needed some branding. So, I thought about what signifies serious power. The Greek God Zeus seemed like a pretty good fit so I designed my logo in Adobe Illustrator and sent the files to a friend of mine who owns a local sign company in town and he printed the logo on silver metallic vinyl. I post a video tomorrow, showing how easy this system is to power up and start charging.

Name: inside_angled.jpg
Views: 1420
Size: 146.5 KB
Description: Name: inside_front.jpg
Views: 1487
Size: 142.3 KB
Description: Name: lights_off.jpg
Views: 1231
Size: 75.0 KB
Description: Name: outside_front.jpg
Views: 1097
Size: 96.4 KB
Description:

I post a video soon, showing the charger in use.
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Mar 18, 2013, 10:13 PM
Registered User
tacx's Avatar
Yikes!

I figure your somewhere in the neighborhood of $950.00 to $1000.00
Mar 18, 2013, 10:53 PM
Sky Pilot
still4given's Avatar
Looks like you have room for two 24V power supplies rather that one 24V and one 12V. On the 24V supplies you can pull 12V off one or even both sides as well as the 24V. One 24V 1150W is not going to be enough to run both PL8s at full tilt.
Mar 19, 2013, 07:03 AM
Suspended Account
Awesome, is there room for a laptop so the battery can be monitored on the graph will being charged, discharged ect?
Mar 19, 2013, 01:44 PM
Registered User
Care to share the source of that display on the left?
Mar 19, 2013, 09:25 PM
3D NOOB
xCRASHnBURNx's Avatar
Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by tacx
Yikes!

I figure your somewhere in the neighborhood of $950.00 to $1000.00
Not quite that high, you can build this for between $800-$900max. I only have about $400 in it because I timed it around Christmas and got one of the PowerLab 8s and the 12 power supply as gifts. I also had the pelican case and the fans are from my old computer. Even if you have to build it from scratch I think it's a worth while investment when you consider the years of use that you'll get out of it and the time it will save.

Quote:
Originally Posted by still4given
Looks like you have room for two 24V power supplies rather that one 24V and one 12V. On the 24V supplies you can pull 12V off one or even both sides as well as the 24V. One 24V 1150W is not going to be enough to run both PL8s at full tilt.
True, but most standard house hold breakers wouldn't be able to support both running at full power. I'm not sure what size breakers we have at our field. I would have also needed a larger case for sufficient airflow. The only time I even get close to maxing these things out is when I parallel charge large batteries on one charger. Even then I can still charge a single lipo at 3c on the other charger.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeroback
Awesome, is there room for a laptop so the battery can be monitored on the graph will being charged, discharged ect?
Probably not a laptop but you could a windows tablet. The software for the PowerLab 8 is pretty awesome too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Felborn
Care to share the source of that display on the left?
Very beginning of the build in Parts Listing section.
Mar 21, 2013, 04:01 AM
AMA District VII AVP
PropsnWings's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by xCRASHnBURNx
Not quite that high, you can build this for between $800-$900max. I only have about $400 in it because I timed it around Christmas and got one of the PowerLab 8s and the 12 power supply as gifts. I also had the pelican case and the fans are from my old computer. Even if you have to build it from scratch I think it's a worth while investment when you consider the years of use that you'll get out of it and the time it will save.



True, but most standard house hold breakers wouldn't be able to support both running at full power. I'm not sure what size breakers we have at our field. I would have also needed a larger case for sufficient airflow. The only time I even get close to maxing these things out is when I parallel charge large batteries on one charger. Even then I can still charge a single lipo at 3c on the other charger.



Probably not a laptop but you could a windows tablet. The software for the PowerLab 8 is pretty awesome too.



Very beginning of the build in Parts Listing section.
I think you are misunderstanding the current load on the AC vs DC... Never had an issue yet running several supplies on same breaker.
I'd still look at going two 24 volt PSU's .

Nice job!
Mar 21, 2013, 05:03 PM
3D NOOB
xCRASHnBURNx's Avatar
Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by PropsnWings
I think you are misunderstanding the current load on the AC vs DC... Never had an issue yet running several supplies on same breaker.
I'd still look at going two 24 volt PSU's .

Nice job!
Thanks and I probably am misunderstanding. Actually, I was told by someone that I wouldn't be able to run them both at the same time. I guess I'm going to have to give it a shot.
Mar 21, 2013, 06:16 PM
Just fly
evltoy's Avatar
Love the detailed build report. You did a top Job both on the report and design and have given me some more ideas.

I’m currently at the design & hardware spec stage of my charge station. Nowhere as powerful as yours, mine will be running a 1080w (60A) 18v PSU, 2x icharger 106B & a 3010b.

I’ll be happy if I can design my station to fit & charge one 3S lipo on each 106B and have 4x 6S lipos in parallel on the 3010b.
Mar 22, 2013, 02:25 AM
3D NOOB
xCRASHnBURNx's Avatar
Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by evltoy
Love the detailed build report. You did a top Job both on the report and design and have given me some more ideas.

I’m currently at the design & hardware spec stage of my charge station. Nowhere as powerful as yours, mine will be running a 1080w (60A) 18v PSU, 2x icharger 106B & a 3010b.

I’ll be happy if I can design my station to fit & charge one 3S lipo on each 106B and have 4x 6S lipos in parallel on the 3010b.
Thanks. Your setup sounds plenty capable. Post some pics when you're finished.
Mar 23, 2013, 08:03 PM
KK4NZS / RP sUAS
Nelapaty's Avatar
Sheesh thats one of the cleanest builds I have seen so far. Just Fantastic, good job..
Mar 24, 2013, 07:18 PM
3D NOOB
xCRASHnBURNx's Avatar
Thread OP
Thank you, that's what I was going for, clean and compact.
Mar 25, 2013, 09:12 PM
Registered User
This is probably the nicest case I have seen yet. Amazing job!
Mar 28, 2013, 09:39 PM
3D NOOB
xCRASHnBURNx's Avatar
Thread OP
Thank you!
Jun 01, 2013, 05:33 PM
jocanon's Avatar
Just stumbled across your thread today...looks great!


Quick Reply
Message:

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Sold F/S: Cellman Brand 8S/20AH LiFeP04 Battery/Portable Power Source BVH Aircraft - Electric - Batteries & Chargers (FS/W) 1 Feb 12, 2013 11:45 PM
Mini-HowTo DIY Portable Charging Station, 24 AH, Sealed Lead Acid JDCochran Batteries and Chargers 12 Jan 14, 2009 10:30 AM
Discussion Portable Battery Charging Station mmc205 Batteries and Chargers 4 Jan 06, 2009 06:50 PM
Link DIY Portable Charging Station, 24 AH, Sealed Lead Acid JDCochran DIY Electronics 0 Jan 06, 2009 12:51 AM
Portable Multi-Charging Station KurtMc Batteries and Chargers 3 Sep 28, 2003 07:27 PM