Print this articlePrint this article


Written by Jon Barnes
Bump up your charger’s capabilities
Product Review
As seen in the July 2018 issue of
Model Aviation.



Specifications

Battery chemistries: LiPo, Lithium-ion, Lithium, Manganese, A123, NiCd, NiMH, lead acid
Pack capacity: 20 mAh to 360 Ah
Input voltage: 10 to 32 VDC reverse-polarity protected
Input current: 1-amp to 40-amp software limited
Output battery charge current: 10 mA to 40 amp
Continuous maximumoutput power: 408 watts at +12 VDC input; 1,000 watts at +30 VDC (per channel)
Output battery discharge current: Internal discharge: 10 mA to 8 amp, 50 watts maximum; regenerative discharge: 10 mA to 40 amp, 1,000 watts maximum
Output connectors: Banana receptacles
Balance connectors: Integrated 6S seven-pin JST XH (two)
Display: High-brightness, 2.8-inch QVGA TFT color LCD with resistive touch screen
Heatsink: Internal 120-watt, thin-finned aluminum
Cooling fan: 50mm diameter, 13 CFM (one)
Weight: 3.6 pounds
Dimensions: 10.2 x 5.6 x 3.1 inches
Price: $379.95
Warranty: One year


Pluses

• Easy to navigate menu system via a high-visibility touch screen.
• Integrated bump controller uses NFC technology to expedite the charging process.
• No battery balancer interface boards required.
• Wireless remote monitoring/control over Bluetooth with optional app.
• Regenerative discharge mode can be used to replenish the lead-acid supply battery being used to power the charger.


Minuses

• CCS mobile iOS app costs an additional $19.99.
• Charging batteries in a LiPo-safe bag or vault with this charger will require balance port extension leads.




The embedded Bump technology virtually eliminates the need for repetitive data entry and presets.



Review Video



Product Review

Revolectrix recently expanded its PowerLab series of full-featured battery chargers with the addition of four new, touch screen-equipped versions. The new models include both six-cell and eight-cell variants, with each offered in single- and dual-channel configurations. Notable new features include an integrated Bump Controller and daylight-visible, color touch screen interface and display.

Revolectrix first utilized the technology known as near-field communication (NFC) in a standalone hardware device that was designed to integrate with the then-existing family of PowerLab battery chargers. NFC is a specialized subset within the family of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology and is used by Revolectrix to automate the process of manually configuring the charger every time a battery is connected to it for charging or discharging.


Operation

Operating this charger begins with providing it with a quality 12-volt DC input. A user can configure up to four input power supplies; e.g. a lead-acid battery used as the input supply while at the flying field versus a DC power supply used where AC power is available. The charger can be configured to present a user with the input power supply selection screen upon powering up, allowing him or her to confirm or select the correct input power supply each time. If a user will only ever be using the same input power supply, this feature can be bypassed.

The Feature Controls menu allows a user to selectively disable many of the chargers’ functions in order to prohibit other users from making changes to the settings. Pressing the Revolectrix logo upon charger power-up is a quick, cool, and clandestine way to temporarily bypass any of the locked-out features.

Real estate is king when it comes to presenting users with as much information at once as possible. The Dual PL6 Touch charger’s 2.8-inch (measured diagonally) QVGA color TFT display features an abundance of area with which Revolectrix capably feeds users configuration and status information.

The display is the centerpiece of this charger. It is bright and colorful and capably retains its viewability, even in direct sunlight. Navigating through the charger’s menu system is as easy as a finger tap on the variety of embedded push buttons. A touchscreen calibration feature allows users to retune the screen’s response to fit their individual and unique viewing angle.

Six types of battery cycles can be selected: accurate charge, storage charge, normal charge, discharge, fast charge, and analyze cycle. Additionally, a monitor selection allows a user to connect to and passively view the charge status and voltage of a pack and its individual cells.

The embedded JST XH balance ports do away with any need for balance adapter boards; users with older batteries that do not use the now-standard JST XH-style of balance connector will be out in the cold. Another caveat to the balance connections being embedded in the charger itself is that users who prefer to place their batteries in any type of secure charging vault or LiPo bag will need to purchase balance cable extensions.




The four-port adapters are available with either EC5- or XT60-style connectors and feature individually fused connection points.


While the charger is in operation, the user can configure the display to view each channel independently, with the entire screen devoted to displaying information and data relevant to the process underway, or the screen can be configured in a split-screen format, with both channels receiving equal display space in a vertically stacked format. The most efficient method of recharging multiple packs with the same cell count is parallel charging.

Revolectrix offers a variety of multiport parallel adapters that can be attached to the Dual PowerLab 6 Touch charger. Configuring the charger to use parallel charging is as quick and easy as touching the small, blue, parallel-mode push button located on the right side of the battery preset push buttons. This allows a user to select the number of packs (up to six allowed) that will be plugged into the multiport adapter board.




When combined with a pair of the optional four-port adapters, the Dual PowerLab 6 Touch charger makes the task of charging one’s batteries in preparation for a big flying outing both safe and extremely quick.


Six adhesive-backed Bump tags are included in the box with this charger. These tags are approximately the same size as a US quarter and can be used to take the concept of battery charger presets to an even higher level.

Users now only need to enter the battery parameters into the charger once. Placing a new, unprogrammed Bump tag near the reader will trigger a programming wizard. The programming wizard walks users through inputting all needed battery information, including the pack’s cell count, C rating, and capacity. When completed, the information is permanently stored in the tag and automatically loads when the tag is scanned.

Positioning a Bump tag near the charger’s reader loads the required battery profile into the actively selected channel. Additional tags can be purchased from Revolectrix in sets of six, 12, or 24. Buying 24 tags is the best value, with a net cost per tag of $1.25.

Although the time-saving advantage of using a Bump tag to quickly load the appropriate charge parameters is obvious, a modeler with a large cache of batteries might have a difficult time justifying the expense of adding a tag to every battery pack in his or her inventory. Users willing to spend the money required to put a Bump tag on each of their battery packs will receive the benefit of being able to track the charge history of their batteries on a pack-by-pack basis.

I decided to confine my use of the Bump tags to my larger-capacity (3,700 mAh and larger) six-cell EDF jet packs, relegating the smaller battery packs in my inventory to simply being stored using the more traditional charger presets (up to 99 available on this charger). Revolectrix suggests this approach when users have several of the same brand and size of batteries and do not want to apply an individual tag to each. The caveat is that you will not be able to track the individual history of each battery pack.

Another tagging methodology that users might wish to implement in lieu of attaching individual tags to batteries is to program tags for the various types of batteries in their inventory. The Bump tags can then be labeled and kept with the charger or in a handy location for easy access and scanning.


CCS Remote Software

A charger control software (CCS) remote control/monitoring application is currently available for both the Android and iOS operating systems, with a Windows version listed as becoming available soon. Given the typical cost of most phone- and tablet-based applications, this one could seem slightly steep to many users at $19.99. It is one of the more expensive applications that I have purchased for my collection of iOS devices.




The optional Android/iOS application allows a user to remotely track and control the charger using a Bluetooth-equipped device.


Users can take some solace in the promise from Revolectrix that all future updates to the app are included in the up-front price. The application taps into the Bluetooth technology that comes embedded in the charger. This function allows a user to remotely monitor and control the charger.

I found that the Bluetooth connection was strong enough to allow me to connect to and monitor the charger, which is kept in a safe and secure charging location, from inside my house. In this scenario, the charger and the iPad running the CCS app were approximately 20 feet apart and separated by a steel-framed wall.

The application allows a user to select between a display that places each channel of the charger on individual tabs and a stacked display that simultaneously displays information from both channels. The Settings menu allows users to enable/disable audible alarms for both Operation Complete and Operation Failed events. A series of tabs allows users to remotely monitor an abundance of charger data, including individual cell voltage, internal resistance of the cells, and the input supply.




Data points that can be graphed and trended include individual cell internal resistance and voltage.


A real-time charging trend can even be displayed for each channel, with colored pens displaying volts, amps, fuel percentage, and mAh transferred. A charge cycle can either be invoked or canceled from within the app. The estimated time until the cycle is complete is included, as is a counter that increments and displays the elapsed time. When using the remote app, a user can view the status of either channel via a tabbed interface.




The application display can be switched between monitoring either a single channel or both channels simultaneously.


The charger display actively follows the app. Selecting the channel two tab in the app will cause the charger to also display the channel two status screen. When the active cycle completes, the color of the channel tab changes from yellow to green and an audible alarm sounds. Similarly, any type of fault in the charger results in an audible alarm that is sure to instantly grab a user’s attention.




A quick glance at the application’s color-coded display is all that is necessary to see the current status of the in-process cycle.



Conclusion

The Revolectrix Dual PowerLab 6 Touch charger is the Cadillac of battery chargers, or perhaps more appropriately stated, the Tesla Model S of battery chargers! The depth of engineering behind this charger is absolutely incredible and becomes more apparent as a user grows in familiarity with the operation of this unit.

The brightly colored touch screen is easy on the eyes, regardless of the ambient lighting, and the touch-screen driven menus and displays are intuitive to use. Those who are seriously into electric-powered models, and who take their hobby more earnestly than most, are seldom satisfied with the bare-bones features that are typical of entry-level charging solutions.

This charger offers hobby enthusiasts an end-all, do-all charging solution. The best practices for safely charging lithium-chemistry batteries demand that batteries be placed in a fire-safe container; the charger’s embedded balancer ports require that users purchase balancer cable extensions to allow this to happen.

One minor grumble I have, given the nearly $400 price tag of this unit, is the relatively high $19.99 price of the optional CCS app. It would be more palatable if Revolectrix either included the application with the charger or offered it at a more affordable price.

Power users who own and use eight-cell packs can opt for the single-channel or dual-channel eight-cell versions of this charger. With wireless Bluetooth remote control/monitoring and Bump technology, this charger frees pilots to more fully focus on the fun of flying!

—Jon Barnes
barnesjonr@yahoo.com


Manufacturer/Distributor:

Revolectrix
(301) 798-2770
www.revolectrix.com








1 comments

I was interested until I found out they don't cover dean's plugs which is most of my batteries.

Add new comment