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Mar 02, 2003, 11:23 PM
registered user
DNA's Avatar
Thread OP

Lipo Fire #6 with Triton Charger

As I mentioned before in the long lipo thread, many modelers
will not remove the cells from the plane to charge them. There
were even some members who suggested building the cells
into a flying wing making them non-removable. Another report
of a fire using lithiums this time with a Triton charger including
the thermal sensor.
Last edited by DNA; Mar 17, 2003 at 08:45 PM.
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Mar 03, 2003, 01:54 AM
Registered User
BEC's Avatar
It will be very informative to find out what happened there (if we ever do)..... though one could speculate that it was another case of an auto-cell-count-detection mistaking a nearly charged pack of one cell count for a depleted one with one more cell.

Makes me glad I'm using only chargers that use jumpers to select the cell count to charge my LiPolys. But then, I have to not have the jumper in the wrong place
Mar 03, 2003, 02:37 AM
Just an average RC'er
Jim McPherson's Avatar
Yet another reason to never charge batteries un-attended!

Mar 03, 2003, 03:18 AM
Suspended Account
Aside from speculation of the cause, does anybody else feel that the number of reported serious fires reported seems large considering that LiPo is only in limited use in RC compared to Nicad and Nimah?

Mar 03, 2003, 08:26 AM
Registered User
Yes, but every single fire started while the batteries were being charged UNATTENDED. Either the user put the batteries on charge, then went to bed on the other side of the house, or they went out to run an errand.

There is no way these things instantly turn a room into a blazing inferno. If someone were there, they'd notice the batteries ballooning up, smell something funny, or see some smoke long before the building was at risk.
Mar 03, 2003, 08:39 AM
Suspended Account
Nicads and Nimah cells are charged UNATTENDED by thousands of users daily without burning down the house, the garage or your car.

If the incedence of fires was as high with Nicads and Nimah cells as it seems with Lithium cells, we would have had hundreds of fires reported on the forums. Where are they?

Mar 03, 2003, 08:44 AM
Registered User

Probably Not LiPo

As near as I can tell, those were *not* Li-polys that RacerX was using. This is from one of his earlier messages:

>> I used the 1400 mAh Li-Ion cells done three (3) in series, and had flight time of over 13 minutes. The battery was hotter than the SUN, but I'm thinking about adding a heat sink to it. I needed to add 1.5 oz in lead weights to make CG, and would rather add weight in a heat sink instead of dead weight anyway.

If one of us had caught his earlier reference to running a 370 motor on 3 Li-ion cells that was making his pack so hot that he was thinking of putting a heatsink on it, we could have warned him that he was courting disaster.
Mar 03, 2003, 09:29 AM
Space Coast USA
hoppy's Avatar
It has been said that all new ventures involve risk and it is a necessary part of advancement. The problem here, as I see it, is that the 'risk' may not be known to all r/c users and they don't use the proper precautions.

Yes, LiPoly/Li ion batteries are safe with a host of protection devices hung on them, but take away the safety devices and add in variables such as misuse, improper charging and human error, they can become a fire starter. I think it is very important that all users, including the non ezoners, are made aware of that fact.

Mar 03, 2003, 10:27 AM
Registered User
Don Sims's Avatar
These cells deserve to be treated with kid gloves. I charge out in the barn, on top of flat cinderblocks and inside an surplus steel ammo box plus we've got a sand floor out there. I like the performance of the things but may stick with the NICADS and NIMH instead in my speed 400 up and use the Liths in 300 down until things settle down. So far though, they have not even gotten warm on my Triton but I don't charge over 11/2C. Yes it takes longer but no problems so far.
Mar 03, 2003, 01:08 PM
Registered User
meteor's Avatar

Sad, but so predicatable...

It may be an impossible task, but it's a simple matter of education...

Clearly, this person was completely ignorant of the proper application, and care, of Li-Ion cells.

(I use "ignorant" in the sense of uninformed, as well as using generally careless procedures...)

Do you bash Li-Ion/Li-Poly technology because they require a -minor- amount more care in, handling and understanding?

Was this person (and others) not at "fault" simply because they are uninformed, and not following accepted safe handling practices?

In a Court of Law, ignorance is not a valid excuse, nor is it here.

Sorry about being brutal, but these "accidents" completely avoidable, or, at least the damage could be minimized to the cells in question.

P.S. Ever shorted a fully-charged NiCd or NiMh sub-c pack? It's very scary, and potentially just as dangerous as a Li-Ion short. (maybe even hotter)
Mar 03, 2003, 01:40 PM
Registered User
The user was not totally ignorant of lithium safety, as he says he took a number of precautions including using the temperature monitor. The major mistake he made was having the cells in close proximity to combustibles (in the aircraft and on the car seat). He thought the teperature probe would shut it down if it overheated, which was reasonable given that Li-ions have not been reported to have this problem.

Something is very different and peculiar about this incident. This was with hard shell Li-ion cells. Many people have charged surplus Li-ion cells over the past couple of years with no major accidents reported like this one. These cells were apparently new 1400mAh Li-ions with yellow hard case bought from Graves. It's difficult to reconstruct without all of the details. I'll go to the other thread and suggest that Steve participate in this thread so that maybe we can help him pinpoint what happened.
Mar 03, 2003, 01:49 PM
Registered User

Into the Fray

Besides LIpoly beibg different than Li/ion batteries, the common thread running through all these incidents is unattended with a micropprocessor type charger. i.e. dont charge unattended, and watch your charger's startup display when charging. YOu may catch a glitch that might save your battery, home etc. Any charger including those with dipswithces allow human error. There are reports of micro chargers misreading starupt setup in other types of cells as well. Poly's need to be observed in overcharged situations for fire causing events. Although a watched pot never boils.
Mar 03, 2003, 01:56 PM
ok, maybe it is a toy
rob mueller's Avatar
Hello. I've mentioned it before, but I bought a high temp glass (so non-conducting of course) oven bread pan (cheap, only a few $). I store my Lipolys in there and also charge them in their. Just for extra precaution.

I use a Triton. It is possible to start to charge a LiPoly out of careless ignorance with a different settting. I always double check the display is right...since I may have done 1 or maybe 2 things in my life out of careless ignorance.
Mar 03, 2003, 02:43 PM
Registered User
RacerX's Avatar

Li-Ion meltdown

Hi Guys.

I was redirected to this thread by Dave, and am the guy whose car burned down Saturday.

Basically, I had three (3) Li-Ion 1400 mAh cells soldered in series to provide ~11.7 volts. There were mounted in a GWS p51 in a semi-permanent position as I had to mount everything up as close to the front to get the CG right, it really wasn't possible to remove the batteries for charging.

I was using the Triton charger with the thermal protection dialed in at 10 degrees over ambient temp (which was about 80 degrees). The charger was set 10 volts/ .2 amp charge. It is taking something like 7 hours to charge the batteries at this rate, but I was going for low temps and safety over quick charges.

I can't tell you for sure exactly what happened as the car and its contents were effectively cremated. Glass and metal parts actually pooled in the wreck- a display of just how hot it got.
Before now- I was blaming the batteries. Another thread does suggest the possibility of the charger shorting internally or something- but I would think the car's fuse would pop if that were the case, so I'm not really leaning towards that.

Without actually witnessing the act itself, my neighbor does verify that the fire started in the cab. I hadn't driven the car since the previous day, and there was a hard rain overnight, so I can effectively eliminate the car from spontaneously combusting too.

Mainly- I would like this act to not be repeated. While I know of a lot of things I could have done to avoid this, I believe I was just part of that "lucky" 1%.

Mar 03, 2003, 03:03 PM
plane crazy
av8rOC's Avatar
I use the Triton on my NIMH's and have found that at .1 amps it wont detect peak. Its essentially just a trickle charge at that point.

Perhaps the Liions got overcharged??

I could be way off....just an observation from someone who knows very little about charging.

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