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Old 10-06-2011, 07:55 AM   #1
Thunder Chicken
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aircraft battery debate

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So I'm a simple sport flyer, mostly 40ish sized planes, a few 20cc scale size. I use standard, non digital servos and 72mhz rx's.
A few years ago I bought 4 cell nimh packs from e-bay, but now they are all crapped out. I need to invest in some new aircraft batteries!
I have bought a few nimh packs from Thunderbolt, which seem to be working great! I also just bought a sanyo enloop pack from GH to try.
As for chargers, I have an accucycle and the wall warts. I will soon be rigging up my trailer, so i'd like to have a simple way to keep everything charged. One battery type will Keep It Simple!
For the type of aircraft and type of flying I do, I can't see anything wrong with sticking with the nimh's. Going to A123's will require new chargers (and I heard they should not be frozen? left in the trailer for the winter?!)
Also, I've never had any servo problems- ever (crash damage excluded) I'm afraid if I go to a higher voltage that record may go poof!!!!
However, my technological knowledge of batteries and related stuff is limited, and things are changing so fast I can't be bothered to keep up. I just want to have fun and KISS!!!!
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Old 10-06-2011, 09:07 AM   #2
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Re: aircraft battery debate

Batteries shouldn't be frozen no matter what. It is better to pull them out and store them inside the house.

As for the battery type, the way you described your airplanes and flying preference, I would probably stick with the NiMh. Maybe a 4.8V and somewhere around 2000Mah should be more than enough for your needs. Your charger is more than enough to handle it.

Just my opinion.

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Old 10-06-2011, 09:17 AM   #3
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Re: aircraft battery debate

You can use other types of cells with higher voltages.
In order to control the voltage add a voltage regulator (preferably adjustable).

The Eneloops are the best NiMh cells available at the current time. They have a very low self discharge rate.

Check them out on the internet. 15% loss of capacity after 1 year on the shelf.

I charge mine at 300 ma.
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Old 10-06-2011, 06:54 PM   #4
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Re: aircraft battery debate

Unless you have the higher current draw due to digital servos and/or lots of systems then NiMH packs should provide all you need. As Ken Currell suggested you can up the cell count, (next most common is 5-cell with a 6V nominal operating rating) and in most cases take advantage of better servo speed and torque. The key is to check the specs on every component in the system, such as receiver and servos, to see if they can handle that voltage, (believe most can, but always best to confirm).

Your accucycle is a great rig. I use 2 of them to charge the majority of the fleet with NiMH packs, (that includes the transmitters, both upped to 2500MAh). My newest builds are running digital servos and I opted for the ThunderboltRC 2S LiFE packs for them as they can supply the amps.

A lot seem to miss that higher current requirement when it comes to the flight system switch, (I did at first, as well). With the standard switch rated to handle only 4A, running a system that can draw more is asking for failure. There are switches that can handle more and I believe since Thunderbolt supplies for larger scale they also have them.

p.s. I had a bad experience with an Eneloop pack I bought at the Toledo Show. Pack wiped out after 4 cycles. As I was still using it for setups I lucked out and caught it before flight.
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Old 10-21-2011, 07:40 PM   #5
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Re: aircraft battery debate

I use only NiCd and NiMH battery packs - in various sizes from 150 mAh to 4000 mAh.

I have close to 30 aircraft, ALL of which have been stored outside (for over a decade in my shed, and recently in the unheated part of my new shop facility, as well as in a trailer).

I have NEVER, EVER had a battery pack (note - I am talking strictly NiCd and NiMH and NO other) go bad due to their being stored in freezing temps for 5 months of the year, and conversly I have several packs that are 5 or 6 years old, and still cycle 90% to 100% of rated capacity.

Storing these types of battery packs in the winter actually seems to prolong their life, as they do not self discharge as they will do at room temperature. I guarantee planes I have put away now will still show working voltage in the spring of next year.

One thing, I never fast charge any of my packs. I only charge at 1/10 C, over night and thats it. I imagine that is another reason I have always had excellent results with my battery packs. Except the one year I decided to buy a fast charger/cycler, and fast charged many packs, most of which lasted one, or maybe two seasons before not wanting to hold a charge.

I will continue to buy good quality, name brand packs (using Sanyo cells) and I am sure they will last me a good, long life. (especially the amount of flying I have been doing this year!!)

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Old 10-21-2011, 09:37 PM   #6
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Re: aircraft battery debate

I agree slow charging is best. Still, your charger needs the proper peak detect sytem to be the most effective. Don't think the standard wall wort is capable of this.

Not so sure on NiMH, but with NiCads trying to rewind them too fast or for too long grows "Fingers" inside the electrolyte. Eventually they connect, the result being a dead cell.

As for cold storage, when I'm using my cordless tools a lot I found it better to stuff them in the fridge before trying to charge them again. Otherwise internal heating tended to muck up the charge. Again, this was the stock charger that came with the tools and doubtful how sophisticated the circuitry. I think it read the high resistance of a warm pack as peaked and shut down.
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Old 10-22-2011, 09:49 AM   #7
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Re: aircraft battery debate

I use NiMH and NICAD batteries, some are stored outside in the garage and some inside in the house. Once a cell decides to go bad it does not seem to matter where I store it. During the winter I do not charge any batteries for three months. I then check them all for voltage under normal load. Actually the ones stored outside seem to fair better.

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