Given the inherent risk in messing around with electronics and battery technology, what I have here is not an expert's opinion and anything I mention here must be taken in this light and at your own risk!
I did a lot of web-research on LiPo Chargers. As with anything in this hobby, I found the WattFlyer discussion group to have a wealth of information on the topic. I wanted a solid and safe LiPo charger that would charge 2-3s LiPos and NiMH if possible. I also wanted one that does balancing and charging all in one package. Discharging would be nice as well.
Those are the requirements that I started with and then based upon my experience of charging and flying I added one more. I also wanted a charger that was priced to allow me to economically purchase at least 2 of them! This was, based upon the simple fact that it takes a long time to charge batteries and since I was going to increase the battery capacity from ~1000 mAh to ~2000 mAh logic held that it would take up to twice as long as the 30-40minutes it was taking for the stock batteries- give or take.
I had been primarily looking at the Bantam and FMA chargers. I am sure these are great chargers. However, a few positive reviews and the attractive price of the Turnigy Accucel-6 prompted me to give it a look.
Here is the product description:
“The Turnigy Accucel 6 is a NICE balancing charger and discharger that can handle up to a whopping 6 cells and 5A!
The Accucel-6 will also handle NiMH/NiCd up to 15S!
The unit shows individual cell voltage during charge with REAL-TIME updates throughout the charge cycle!
Bundled with the Accucel-6 is a GENEROUS selection of input and output wires which should satisfy any charging need!
This charger has a JST-XH charge plug, which makes it compatible with Zippy, HXT, Loong Max and any pack with a JST adapter.”
I ordered 2 of these chargers along with some LiPo batteries from Hobby King in Hong Kong. In less than 5 days they where delivered to my door!
While the packaging could be described as “basic”, the unit's themselves appear to be well put together. They have a solid black metal case and they have a very nice, and bright, LCD display. The Design in simple and attractive. A good variety of cords come with the unit and deans plugs are attached to the charging leads. A manual does not come in the box, but can be easily downloaded on line.
Putting it to work:
Again, I have very little experience from which to compare this unit. The first charging I did was on NiMH. I had been using the little car charger that came with the Super Cub. Before I get to charging LiPo's I will say this. I feel this charger is worth the money even if you are just charging NiMH batteries given the available settings and information the charger provides. Instead of just seeing a blinking light turn solid you see battery voltage, total mAh put into the battery and charge time. With this charger and some additional reading at the Battery University, you can learn a lot.
One item of note on NiMH charging. In the manual there is information on Auto charging, yet it was not clear how you can get to it. You need to press and hold both “-” and “+” while in the NiMH menu after the rate of charge is flashing to access this feature.
To charge a NiMH I hooked it up to the charger using a deans plug adapter. Selected NiMH type charging, set the rate for 1.1 amps (same as recommended in SC manual) and pressed Start. That's it. I wasn't completely certain if I needed to do anything else and the answer ended up being no. As the battery completed its charge the charger beeped and stopped the charge There is a setting called “D.Peak” that you can change to set this shut down parameter, however I have kept it at the factory default.
For LiPo batteries it works as easy as with the NiMHs. You connect the deans connector into the “output” with supplied cables and then connect the JST connector to the slot on the same side. I have tried both the “charge” and “balance charge” modes with success. I have been charging at low rates. My batteries say not to exceed 1C during charge which would be about 2.2 amps. I have been using 1-1.5am settings. This does end up taking more time with the lower settings. Here is the data at the end of the last balance charging session of a 3s 2200 mAh battery:
Charge Rate 1.0 amps
Cell voltage- 4.2v, 4.2v, 4.2v
Overall Voltage at the end 12.6V
Individual Cell Voltages:
At the price of ~$40 this unit is highly recommended.
Appears to be a well built unit
Incredible feature set for the cost- works as advertised
Cheap enough to buy 2 or 3
Nice case, Nice bright display
Quality appears sound- readings the same across 2 different units
The manual is so-so. However, with the available on-line resources and a little effort you will figure this unit out easily enough.