power supply

Introduction - Quite a few years ago we were all happy to recharge our power packs from the car battery, although some found that this was not a good idea after a days flying when the car refused to start - flat battery. As time went by our power packs got bigger and bigger and more powerful to go with our larger electric aircraft.  This is becoming a problem!  We then turned to leisure batteries which are by no means cheap, a 75 amp battery could easily set you back by £120 and upwards.  As my aero fleet increased and a sizeable number were electric requiring 6 cell packs at 5000 mah I was now going down the "adding more expense" route to my pastime.

 Lithium Polymer Battery Safety Warning

My Model Aero Club many years ago installed a solar charging station so my charging issues largely went away whilst up at the field.  However, my poor old home mains battery charger, a Fusion L60B was struggling with the larger packs. Time to upgrade so I invested in the brilliant  I-charger 306B although this unit only runs off 12v - 24 volt so it isn't going to help with charging at home.  Balancing out the cost of a leisure battery at home and investing in a decent power supply, the Turnigy Power station 540W was the obvious option although after some extensive "surfing" for an ideal canditate.

The Turnigy Power Supply 540W comes with the correct mains lead for the UK, (if sourced from within the UK) similar to our kettle leads and therefore pre-earthed for safety. Other countries who use two pin plugs may have to earth the unit independently (See sticker on unit).  The power supply is of the Switched Mode regulator type and therefore is very efficient at 89%. The unit is capable of pushing out a total of 30 amps to twin output sockets plus a bonus of twin USB outputs at 5 volt.  It is a fair size unit at 230mm long, 140mm wide and 52mm deep, the case is aluminium with heat sink fins. Weight is 1.62kgs  An automatic fan is installed for cooling when required. 

The Power Supply has a LCD  screen on it's front edge displaying the present voltage and current. The voltage is variable between 12 volts and 18 volts using a dial on the front.  As it is not a laboratory or bench power supply ( which would really sting the pocket) the voltage control is specified as accurate to 0.5 volt and current control to 300 maH.

For me as the ICharger 306B is capable of handling up to 24 volts @ 1000 watts, I could easily use give it 18 volts and therefore could charge some suitable packs much more quickly but I tend to rarely go above the 1C rating to extend the life of the Lipo/LiFe packs.

Testing and using the Power Supply I have charged 6 cell Lipos up to 5000 maH capacity via my ICharger with no problems and no need for the fan to cut in.

Specifications for UK Units:

  • 100 - 240v AC
  • 50Hz
  • Output 12 -18v (within 0.5 v)
  • Output 30 amps (within 0.3 mah)
  • Output voltage ripple <150mv
  • Overload Protection <31amps/500msecs)
  • Mains fuse 10 amps
  • Over Temp protection <65 degs C

.Conclusion.

For me it was a no brainer. I have many Lipo packs for most of my aeros so going up to the field with fully charged packs saves a lot of downtime and more fairer on my fellow members who wish to use the Solar charging station whose storage batteries can only take so much demand.  Overall I am pleased with my purchase which was just over half the price of a small 75 amp/hr leisure battery.

And I must add the instruction manual is in proper English!

Note: I must point out a Safety Warning. Charging Lipo packs indoors, in your shed or garage is NOT recommended at all. Lithium Polymer packs can suddenly fail, burst open and the resulting fire and explosion is chemical and not easily put out at domestic premises. Outside on a brick or on concrete  where you can contain any issue.  We have found that Lipos tend to fail just as they are completing the charge cycle so they will have a serios amount of energy within.  Therer are Lipo charging bags available but there is a limit to what these bags can handle. NEVER, leave a Lipo especially unattended whilst on charge.

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