Let's take an overview of the Fusion LX60B Pro Charger Elysium. Winter flying? Cold and short days? Who wants to play with glow fuel, flicking props with cold hands? This is where electric flight has an advantage. Plug in a battery and go. If your considering electric flight as an alternative or something else rather than an IC engine, there are a few things to consider. I am assuming your looking at LiPo packs for power. NimH is virtually redundant now for aircraft although still used in RC Car and Boat. So, how many batteries will I need, how to charge them. Well it's all a matter of how much flying you wish to do in any one session and how much to spend.
I won't go into the full usage of this Charger as the Manual is easily readable. I'll just cover the main aspects and what newbies may want to know to get flying quickest. As you can see from the main image this charger comes supplied with everything you need to get you started. A charger/discharger unit, a multi-plug lead, a balance board (JST/XH) and mains lead (for the UK a standard "kettle" lead). At the date of this article it is still widely available and prices vary from £49 to £69 depending on where you purchase. If you are using certain manufacturers LiPo packs you may need to purchase a balance board to suit. In my case the JST/XH was supplied. Check with supplier! Thunder Power packs for instance. Turnigy, GensAce, Nanotech all us the JST/XH balance plug. The unit comes with a fly lead built on with crocodile clips to connect to 12 volt car batteries. The 240v main lead gives you the advantage of being able to charge at home form the domestic socket. So you can pre-charge the packs before leaving for the field.
The charger is able to charge LiPo Li-Ion LiFe from 1 to 6 cells, NiCad and NiMh cells, lead acid batteries 1 - 6 cells at a maximum of 6 amps. For LiPo the charge rate of 6 amps is for 2 cells, so the reduction in charge capacity goes down depending on the number of cells you are charging. For instance, I have used 3 amps for a 3 cell LiPo pack with no issues many times. Of course the time it takes to charge a battery pack depends on the capacity, the level of charge still left and also the charge rate. For example, my 3000maH 3 cell packs at a discharged state of 25% will take approx 40 mins. Which leads on to battery packs and how many?
This is all down to personal preference , how long do you want to fly for and cost. We will cover that later.
Simplicity the Key
For simplicity this charger is ideal for a starter unit and if you are quite happy with aircraft up to 60 size although generally I would suggest Indoor and 25 - 50 size models would be more suited.
So, using the Fusion 60B Pro Elysium. From left to right the buttons are Battery Type(yellow), Increase, Decrease (grey) and Enter (Start Stop) (green). After plugging in, either mains or 12 volt, the unit will power up and display the last used program. The battery type button is continuously pressed to call up the the type of battery. We are using a LiPo 3 cell (11.1 volt) Pressing the Enter button will enable the next set of settings. The display will request the capacity of the pack, for example 2200maH. Use the grey buttons to increase or decrease the capacity. Once set then press Enter again and the voltage of the pack will display 11.1 v (3cells). If correct press Enter again and the charge current will flash, 2.2amps. Press Enter again and the settings are held. Assuming you have plugged in your LiPo pack, the power leads connected (ensure correct polarity) and the balance lead from the cells is also connected via the balance board, pressing and hold for a second will initiate the charging process.
From the example above you will notice that we are charging the pack at 1C, ie; charge current is equal to the battery packs capacity. It is possible to charge the pack at a higher rate, many packs declare a charge rate capability of 5C or 5 times pack capacity. Although this is an option and may be used on odd occasions for speed and assuming the charger is capable of supplying that higher current, it is NOT recommended if you wish to extend the battery packs useful life.
Charging your receiver battery packs, ie; NiMh (NiCad rarely used nowadays) packs the lead supplied will enable you to charge these too. Selecting NiMh in the battery type and plugging in the unit will detect the voltage of the pack and descibed in the paragraph above you can then select the charge rate, for example 200mah.
The LCD Display Info
There are five sections of info on the LCD when the unit is switched on. Top row: Battery Type, Charge or Discharge, Current. Bottom Row: Capacity, Voltage. These will change according to the users settings. For example, charging a 3 cell pack the LiPo icon will flash showing Charge / Balance (assuming you have the balance lead inserted). Time elapsed in seconds, amount of charge put in (in milliamps). Bottom row will display, Packtype and selected charge rate and the time elapsed. At any time you may Stop the process by pressing the Enter button.
Charging your battery packs using the balance lead is not paramount but is recommended. By using the balance lead the micro-processor will detect each cells voltage and make corrections whilst charging to keep the cell voltages reasonably equal. Using a pack with a cell down just like in your car battery will pull the packs efficiency, capacity, voltage down too. This reduces the life expectancy of the pack significantly.
Most battery packs can be cycled using this Charge/Discharger. I regularly cycle my Nimh packs to keep them lively. In earlier days NiCad's had to be cycled. They were good for ouptput power but had the annoying problem of memory effect. Ie; if you only half charged them or did not run them down low enough, they would assume that half charge was full charge, thus reducing their usful capacity. Lipo packs can cycled too with this charger but not at very high rates. There is also no Storage settings either. Storage is when a LiPo/LiFe/Li-Ion pack is not being used for extended periods. Storage voltage is usually around 45 -60% capacity. THe best option for you here is to use the fully charged pack for a few minutes flying time which should bring the pack down to half charge. This really can only be done by noting previous pack capacity after flying sessions and redicing flight time accordingly.
Battery packs? How many do I need? As I said before, it depends on number of flights you wish to complete, how long between breaks (RC flying needs total concentration at all times - can become tiring) and money. To assist you here is an example. Max Thrust Riot. EPP High Wing trainer. Using Turnigy 3000mah 3 cell packs, average flying time in good conditions 8 mins. If you had 4 packs fully charged at the start of the day you could on the face of it, fly for 24 mins plus additional time to change packs and take-off again. The first pack could be placed on charge at 1C, ie; 3 amps and could take up to 40 mins to complete. Now landing after pack two, but his charger can only cope with one pack at a time, so you'll be waiting for the first one to finish and so on and so on.
The answer to this problem is up the charge rate to 2C or 3C (two or three times capacity) which may be possible on odd occasions but not recommended. Factor in that this charger charging a three cell pack at three amps is nearing it's capability.
In the real world most pilots will fly for period and sit down, relax, chat, gather thoughts, etc whilst batteries are on charge. Standing there watching the display is worse than watching paint dry!
For someone, especially a new pilot with the example Riot (see review) would probably be quite happy with two LiPo packs. 2 x Turnigy 3000mah @ £20 each = £40 of pre-purchased fuel which buying batteries really is!
Manual is available in Resources
Fusion LX60B Pro Elysium
- Mains and 12 volt capable
- Simple Menu
- Relatively small and light
- Will charge most batteries that the sport flyer may use
- Limited output of 6 amps (2 cell LiPo)
- 60 watts capacity
Definitely thumbs up as a starter charger for a new to electric flyer. Does what it is intended for well. My first purchase years ago and still going strong. Used as a "At Home" charger still for my LiPo's and NimH packs, LiPo's up to 4 cells.
- Ensure that the charger and battery are placed on a non-flammable surface whilst charging and ideally charge outdoors wherever possible. NEVER charge a Lithium ION/Polymer/Fe battery inside a vehicle whatever the circumstances.
- ALWAYS ensure that the charger is correctly set for the battery being charged, checking both voltage and capacity. Be particularly careful if using a series/parallel battery pack, or if using packs of different specifications with the same charger.
- NEVER charge at a rate higher than that recommended by the cell manufacturer, this can be very dangerous.
- DO NOT leave Lithium ION/Polymer/Fe batteries unattended whilst they are charging. Monitoring the batteries during charging is very important.
- ALWAYS monitor the temperature of the battery being charged every few minutes. If the battery becomes hot to the touch, disconnect it from the charger immediately and allow to cool. DO NOT recommence charging until the battery and charger have been checked for compatibility and the charger settings have been confirmed as being correct.
- In the unlikely event of the Lithium ION/Polymer/Fe battery catching fire DO NOT use water to attempt to put the fire out, instead use sand or a fire extinguisher designed for electrical fires.