Best cheap lipo charger for ~3s lipos - RC Groups
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Dec 19, 2007, 03:53 PM
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Best cheap lipo charger for ~3s lipos


I dug around for this information, but couldn't seem to find it- there's alot of people raving about their chargers that can handle 12s lipo packs and such... but I'm just interested in cheap parkflyers, mostly scratch-built, that run off of (at the very most) 3 cell lipos. I found several inexpensive chargers that might suit my needs- any comments or suggestions?

3E Lipo charger 2-5cell w/ Balancer - $35

HexTronix Balancer/Charger - $25

JB 1100 Lipo/Nimh charger W/ Repair - $40

Imax B5 1-5cell Balance Charger - $55

Thanks for the advice!
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Dec 19, 2007, 05:04 PM
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flydiver's Avatar
First off I only have experience with #2, my buddy has one. I did a bunch of research before buying. #1 is new. I wouldn't get it because it has no adjustment for different size packs. That makes it limited a lot.

#2 seems OK and is cheap.

#3 has some reviews of performance and reliability that are very concerning.

#4 is a copy of an expensive charger that is very good. This one isn't nearly as good but it does work. Someone with electrical ability and who owns the original did an extensive review of it and the basic conclusion he put out is that as long as you know the shortcomings it's an OK buy.

I bought this one and am very satisfied with it:

It does cost more but is considerably better that all the above.

Dec 19, 2007, 05:08 PM
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pda4you's Avatar
This one is reliable and cheap....but limited to 1amp max charge rate.

The Graupner is a variant of the one above but will charge at 3amps....and is under $30

If you can spend $50 the Thunder power on the same page as above is a great charger.

Dec 19, 2007, 05:10 PM
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Thanks for the input. See, the problem is that I'm on a budget as it is (student) and I feel like I'm wasting money by spending almost $100 on a charger that I'm only going to use to fly around airplanes made out of blue foam and help together with packaging tape. I see alot of people with very professional setups using the FMA charger and think- isn't there a cheaper way of getting by? To me, it's like hooking up cheap computer speakers with ultra-expensive, high-quality audio cables. Do you think this analogy holds any water?

Ok- looks like we narrowed it down to the Hextronix or the Imax B5.
Dec 19, 2007, 05:22 PM
hobby lobby apache 2500 is great for $49 BUT NO BALANCER.
Dec 19, 2007, 05:31 PM
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flydiver's Avatar
Originally Posted by polar8
isn't there a cheaper way of getting by? To me, it's like hooking up cheap computer speakers with ultra-expensive, high-quality audio cables. Do you think this analogy holds any water?

Ok- looks like we narrowed it down to the Hextronix or the Imax B5.
Well, no. It's more like heating your house with a kerosene heater. If everything goes well and you watch it maybe things will be fine. If not you'll die of CO2 poisoning.

Lipos have the potential for dramatic combustion if not treated right. This means balanced cells, proper charging rates, and charger reliability. Those characteristics are hard to get in a cheap charger. They really aren't all the same technology.

I used Parkzone chargers (NiMh and lipo) for awhile. I had 5 die (3 Nimh, 2 lipo). The money I put into those (cheap) collectively would have gotten me the FMA. Lesson learned the hard way. Now that I have it I see what I was missing. Before that I was in the dark about it. I didn't know what I didn't know.

You can often get the FMA for $60 on sale. You'll need ~$10 shipping (any of them anyway) plus $10-20 for proper tap adapters (possible on the others too). If you plan to use it indoors you'll need a power adapter (same for all).

Be aware that UH pulls bad reviews. I've read some (another item) that were bad (device deserved the bad review) and the next day only the good reviews remained. I know one guy personally who's review was pulled.

If cheap is critical I'd point you at the Hex. If you are willing to go for the B5 then save a bit more and get the FMA. It also holds a good resale should you want to unload it. None of the others will.

Dec 19, 2007, 05:36 PM
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roidspop's Avatar
Got a Pro-Peak Quattro for $20 in the classifieds here...nice charger. Plug and play. Haven't priced used balancers, but they're bound to be pretty cheap. Can't recommend the UH 8080, but others swear by it. Didn't work for me.
Dec 19, 2007, 05:42 PM
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Dec 19, 2007, 05:45 PM
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tsecrist's Avatar
FMA 4s is my choice. Auto detects cells and balances everything automatically. There is also a storage cycle! You can't beat the price elsewhere for the same features! Tim
Dec 19, 2007, 06:41 PM
Will fly for food
FMA is the best of the lower cost chargers.

It it not wasted money, you are saving your biggest investment in the hobby, batteries.

And if you get a BAD charger, you could burn down your house.

Get a reasonable charger.
Dec 20, 2007, 08:04 PM
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dumb question, but if a charger charges through jst connector, then is it a balancing charger? just need to know what to look for. Thanks
Dec 21, 2007, 01:26 AM
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For most chargers available on the market, yes. But, technically there is nothing stopping a vendor to design a non-balance charger and use the JST connector.

Dec 21, 2007, 10:31 AM
Registered User
Thanks Brian. You're saying that a jst connector can provide a balanced charge as long as the charger has that function. So, next dumb question. If my esky battery has a male jst connector and a balance connector, can I charge through either lead? Sorry for the ignorance. I've read and read, but didn't feel I got an answer I was looking for.
Dec 21, 2007, 11:47 AM
They will soar on wings..
rsasaki's Avatar

Charging options

You can charge either through the main power leads or through the balancing connector. If you can afford it, the FMA CellPro 4s is the best low-cost charger currently available. See pics.

Dec 21, 2007, 11:59 AM
Registered User
Rsasaki, you have answered my question completely. Thank you sir.

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