Bantam BC-6 Multi-Chemisty Battery Charger Review - RC Groups
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Bantam BC-6 Multi-Chemisty Battery Charger Review

Every now and then an item will place itself well above the competition, and the Bantam e-Station BC6 is just one of those items. Jeff Williams reviews.

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Introduction


Operating Voltage:DC 11~18 volts - AC 100~240V
Charge/discharge Power:Max 50/5W
NiCd/MH:1~15 cells
LiIo/LiPo/LiFe:1~6 series
Pb:2~20V
Charge Current:0.1 to 5.0A
Discharge Current:0.1 to 1.0A
No. of Cycles: 1 to 5 times
Battery Data Memories:up to 5 data
Weight:960grams
Dimensions:160mm x120mm x40mm
Manufacturer:Bantam
Available From:RC Accessory

Well, if you're gonna fly electric, you're gonna need a way to put electrons back into your battery packs. How to best accomplish this task is a fairly straightforward process - the charger does it for you.

But the complicated part is in choosing that charger. What battery chemistry do you fly with? Do you have the need for more than one type of chemistry? Do you need to charge field batteries? Will you be charging at the field? At the house? It's almost as if I am the waitress at Waffle House. How would you like your hash browns? Smothered? Covered? Chunked?

Every now and then an item will place itself well above the competition, and the Bantam e-Station BC6 is just one of those items.

Unit Walkaround

The charger arrives in the standard cardboard box complete and ready for use. The manual is always available for download from RC Accessory.

What you get:

  • BC-6 charger
  • 4mm banana plugs w/silicon cable and alligator clips
  • US 3 prong or Europe/Asia 2 prong AC power cord
  • Printed manual

Unit Overview

The BC-6 has great "heft" value. Itís very solid, and it simply feels like a quality unit. It is obviously well built.

Using the BC-6

When you start up the BC-6, you will be greeted with all of the user controlled settings that allow you to program the way youíd like. All of the following settings make the BC-6 one of the safest chargers on the market today.

User controllable "settings" are:

  • Lithium Battery Voltage Type: LiIo: 3.6V, LiPo: 3.7V, LiFe: 3.3V
  • NiCd Delta-peak Voltage Sensitivity: 1 to 20mV
  • NiMH Delta-peak Voltage Sensitivity: 1 to 20mV
  • Battery Temp Cut-off: 20 to 80C or OFF
  • Downtime Between Charge/Discharge: 1 to 60 min.
  • Integral Timer Limit: 10 to 720min or OFF
  • Max Charging Capacity: 10 to 9990mAh or OFF
  • Key Beep/ Buzzer Sound: ON/ OFF
  • Input Power Low Alert: 10 to 11V

Once all the parameters are set the way you want them to be, the business of stuffing those electrons back into their storage containers can commence. After all, as stylish as the BC-6 is, we did not buy it as a paperweight.

Navigation

To get our charge on, we must first navigate through the menus to figure out exactly what the BC-6 will do. I have been using the BC-8, and the navigation has become almost too easy (if thatís possible). You do not need to break out the manual every time you want to use it. Once you have used it a time or three, itís second nature.

Let's get CHARGING!

Having discussed the how to balance a pack in my review of the BC-8, I will cover charging in this review since the procedure is the same for the two chargers.

The BC-6 comes equipped with a set of 4mm banana plugs with a set of alligator clips for charging. The 4mm plug outlets come in very handy, as you can make up just about any connector you need for connecting a pack to the charger.

Once the proper leads for your pack have been selected, the battery balance taps will need to be plugged into the appropriate adapter for the packs in order to allow the balance taps to mate correctly with the BC-6. Bantam has an adapter for just about every popular balance tap on the market.

The BC-6 will charge many different chemistries with ease, and the steps to navigate through each chemistry are all the same. I will demonstrate the LiPo charge, since that is a popular chemistry.

All you need to do is setup the charger for the pack you want to charge. We will be charging a 2S 2100 15C pack with the BC-6 in the example.

Simply press the Enter Button to take you to the LiPo Charge Selection page where you set your charge rate and cell count (based on pack voltage).

For this example we are charging a 2S 2100 pack with a charge rate of 2.1 and voltage of 8.4V or 2S. To set charge rate, scroll through and enter 2.1v and then press Enter. Once that is entered, you must enter the cell count. The BC-6 already knows the "available" cell counts and voltage, so all you need to pick is 1S, 2S, 3S, or whatever is applicable. For our purposes, we will choose 2S.

After the parameters are entered, push the Enter button, and the BC-6 reviews your selections.

Once the BC-6 feels that you do indeed have the pack you selected attached to it, it will ask you if you are ready to commence the charge.

If the chargers LiPo senses do not tingle correctly, it will tell you so, and it will not allow you to charge the pack. This is one of the largest safety features built into the Bantam line of chargers. Seems too many LiPo horror stories start with "Well, I was charging a 3S pack, but the charger detected a 4S, ...." and then there are usually pictures of the event. Bantam has taken the necessary steps to avoid such scenarios.

Once you confirm the pack is what you do indeed want to charge, awaaayy we go!

After the charge has begun, you can easily check the voltage of each individual cell while charging.

Other Functions

The BC-6 has quite a few special functions that add to the safety of the unit.

Some of these special features are:

  • Optimized operating software
  • Dual power input
  • Voltage balancer
  • Balance ability during discharge
  • Accepts various types of Lithium batteries
  • Multiple charge modes: "Fast" and "Storage"
  • Data store/load
  • Cyclic charge/discharge
  • PC based analysis

Optimized operating software

While charging/discharging, the BC6 has an "Auto" function that will set the charge feed current automatically. This prevents dangerous overcharging, and is completely controllable by the user.

Dual Power Input

The BC6 can be powered by both AC and DC power.

Balancing

The BC6 is capable of balancing cells via an internal balancer, and there is no need for a separate balancer for Lithium packs. The BC6 can monitor and balance individual cells of a Lithium pack during both the charge and discharge cycles. However, in order to balance a pack either the "balance" or "fast" charges must be selected, as the "charge" selection will do just that and will not balance. If an error occurs an error message will appear and the entire process will be stopped.

Accepts various types of Lithium batteries

Lilo, LiPo and LiFe are all welcomed by the BC6.

Multiple Charge modes: "Fast" and "Storage"

The Fast charge obviously reduces the amount of charging time. The storage charge function allows the user to set the final battery voltage for storage.

Data Store/Load

Store your most used packs and load them up when the time comes to charge them.

Cyclic Charge/Discharge

The BC6 can be programmed to cycle between 1 to 5 cycles of charge to discharge or discharge to charge for battery break in/refreshing and balancing (for NiCad/NiMH only).

PC based analysis

The unit with optional USB port can be plugged into a computer and a graph of voltage, current, capacity and temperature curves.

User Parameters

The BC-6 is also highly customizable by the end user.

Safety Features

One of the nicest things about the Bantam line of chargers is the range of integrated safety features. There are quite a few things that help this charger keep you safe.

This charger helps to keep you safe with:

  • Capacity cutoff - to insure the charger does not try to fill your 2100mAh pack to 7256mAh.
  • Safety timer - after a preset amount of time, the BC6 will shut off.
  • Pack temp cutoff - If the BC6 senses the pack getting too warm, the charge is stopped.
  • Input voltage drops below acceptable levels - charge stops.

With the help of these functions, the end user can:

  • Confirm cell count
  • Set capacity cut off
  • Set timer cut off
  • Set temp cut off
  • Balance charges

All of these features make the Bantam line of chargers one of the safest around.

Conclusion

Having previously used the BC-8, I was looking forward to working with the BC-6. This charger is the perfect charger for most fliers who will never use the capacity of the BC-8 and who wish to have both the choice of AC or DC power.

These chargers are well built and work very well.

The safety of this unit and the ability to be plugged into the wall benefits both the beginner and veteran electron burner. To borrow a quote, "the combination of safety features and ability to charge a multitude of chemistries make the BC-6 a charger worth owning."

It will do everything *I* need to do with a battery and I'm sure there are more *I's* out there.

Pluses:

  • Safety!
  • Ease of use
  • AC and DC

Minuses:

  • Same issue with the BC-8. The charger must be returned to Bantam for firmware updates. Cannot be updated via USB.

In my BC8 review I stated that "I am extremely happy with the BC-8 and find myself eyeing other chargers in the Bantam charger lineup. If they are half the machine the BC-8 is, they are bound to please." Well, having now had the chance to test the BC-6, I am even more taken by the Bantam line of chargers.

If you are in the market for an AC/DC charger that is easy to use, safe and dependable consider looking at the Bantam BC-6.

Last edited by Angela H; Dec 31, 2007 at 09:54 PM..
Thread Tools
Jan 01, 2008, 02:37 AM
Registered User
great review! a great charger at a great value. The AC and DC capabilities makes it very appealing to me, not to mention all the cool features. The BC-6 is my next charger when i get some extra cash.
Jan 01, 2008, 03:41 AM
Registered User
I am another very happy BC6 user. There is no other charger currently available that can match its combination of features, safety and convenience. My only gripes are:

a) I wish it would show me the pack voltage without having to start a charge cycle
b) I wish it was 100W instead of 50W
Jan 01, 2008, 04:02 AM
Registered User
jooNorway's Avatar
Good review tram!
Although I prefer Schulse before anything else this little beauty works great for me. I would compare it to my cheapest Schulse (which is a bit more expensive although...) and the Schulse has only one advantage: higher charge and especially discharge abilities. Not an issue on the smaller batteries, but when it comes to 5S-6S LiPo with higher capacity this is a small minus.
And my more expensive chargers don`t have the "charge-for-storing" function. I find that very helpful

Great for people who fly the smaller planes, but too little power for those who have the bigger electrics.
Jan 01, 2008, 07:27 AM
Dr. Dave
Good review Tram, welcome back.
Jan 01, 2008, 09:02 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by kgfly
I am another very happy BC6 user. There is no other charger currently available that can match its combination of features, safety and convenience. My only gripes are:

a) I wish it would show me the pack voltage without having to start a charge cycle
b) I wish it was 100W instead of 50W
Ken, if there was anything to be changed on the BC-6 it would be more power. The issue is the AC power supply. Doubling the power would increase the size quite a bit.

For b)., what I do is put the battery back on charge at the lowest setting, 100 mah. At that very low setting the cell voltages really would not change in the matter of 2 seconds to press the Increase button to see the cell voltages.

RC Accessory, Inc
Auth US Bantam Importer
Jan 01, 2008, 09:05 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by jooNorway
Good review tram!
And my more expensive chargers don`t have the "charge-for-storing" function. I find that very helpful
The e-Station BC-6 does have a bi-directional Storage Charge/Discharge function.

In Storage program, the BC-6 will automatically detect the volatge of the pack and either charge or discharge the pack to the preset storage voltage. A cool thing also is to connect the pack to the balancer and you will see the individual cell voltages during the STorage function. Actually, anytime you have the balancer connected to the pack, you can see the individual cell voltages. Only the Balance, Fast, and Discharge functions actually have the balancer active.

RC Accessory, Inc.
Auth US Bantam Importer
Last edited by RC Accessory; Jan 01, 2008 at 09:11 AM.
Jan 01, 2008, 12:01 PM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by 78dave
Good review Tram, welcome back.
Thanks..
Jan 02, 2008, 04:05 AM
Registered User
Yes, nice review
Jan 02, 2008, 05:18 AM
Registered User
I find that when I charge in balance mode it takes just about forever. Actually someone on this site told me to use the regular charge mode and avoid the balance mode, I was under the impression that it also balances as well.
I've never used the fast charge mode yet. Should I be using that instead if I want to charge with the balancer active and have the charge completed in a reasonable time.
Jan 02, 2008, 05:43 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by civh
I find that when I charge in balance mode it takes just about forever. Actually someone on this site told me to use the regular charge mode and avoid the balance mode, I was under the impression that it also balances as well.
I've never used the fast charge mode yet. Should I be using that instead if I want to charge with the balancer active and have the charge completed in a reasonable time.

The CV mode of the charge program takes about 30% of the charge time. If you have a pack that takes a very long time to balance charge, you have a pack on the way out.

What happens is that pack is charged to 12.6V (3S lipo) and then the charger goes into CV mode, reduces the charge rate in 100 ma increments and terminates the charge when all cells are and hold 4.2V per cell.

The problem is that if a cell or cells are degrading, the cells do not hold the voltage. If you watch the individual cells on the screen you will see when the charger is testing the holding or resting voltage of the cells. The charge rate will drop to 0 amps and you will see either the cells hold their voltage or drop in voltage, then the charge starts again. In your case, you will see 1 or more cells drop in voltage enough to be considered "out of balance". The charger will continously try to balance that pack, but usually in the long run it can't because the pack or cell in question just can't be done. So either the charger times out (120 min safety time is the default) or after so many tries (I do not know how many) the charger will terminate the charge because it knows the cell just can't hold the voltage.

When you get these packs, you can do a couple things. Use the Fast Charge program. The Fast Charge program will balance the cells but not do a full CV portion. The CC portion of the charge is extended and the CV portion is not done. This will give you about a 93-95% charged pack. The regular lipo charge does not balance the pack. Anytime you have the balancer connected it will show you the cells. Only the Balance, Fast, and Discharge programs activate the balancer.

Hope that helps understand what the charger is doing.

Evan Chapkis
RC Accessory, Inc
Auth US Bantam Importer
Jan 02, 2008, 09:30 AM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RC Accessory
Yes, nice review
Yeh, it's easy when you are working with such nice equipment..

Jeff
Jan 02, 2008, 11:03 AM
Registered User
I've been looking at this charger, for a 6s pack, I'm sensing it cannot charge at 5 amps, is this true? What is max amps it will charge at?
Jan 02, 2008, 11:29 AM
Registered User
jooNorway's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by robl45
I've been looking at this charger, for a 6s pack, I'm sensing it cannot charge at 5 amps, is this true? What is max amps it will charge at?
For 6S max charge is 2,3A.
5A is only available for 1S and 2S. This is why the Wattnumber of the chargers are quite important as soon as you go above 3S Lipoes and need high currents. You should consider the big brother of the BC6.

I charge my 5S5000 LiPoes at max which is 2,7A... Discharge rate is quite low, 0,2A for your 6S, and my 5S can`t be discharged at more than 0,3A.
OK, discharge isn`t that interesting, except for those of us who like to do a bit of "break-in" of our LiPoes.
Jan 02, 2008, 11:50 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by robl45
I've been looking at this charger, for a 6s pack, I'm sensing it cannot charge at 5 amps, is this true? What is max amps it will charge at?
The BC-6 is a 50 watt charger.

25.2V x 5 amps = 126 watts. The BC-6 will charge a 6S pack, but 2.2 Amps or so would be the max. I would recommend the BC-8 if you want 1C charging. The BC-8 is a 150 watt charger. Here is Trams review of the BC-8 charger. https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show....php?t=666885?


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