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PSR-500 Battery Charging

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Flatshovel

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Hello all,
I just ordered a New PSR500 last week and it should be here Monday! Just wondering how long does it take to charge a set of 2400mah batteries in the radio?
what is the charge rate? I have read through the manual but it doesn't say what it is. I usually use a external charger but however mine crapped out on my for some reason over the weekend.

Thanks,
Joey
 

raisindot

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I think the default setting is 16 hours, but this can adjusted in the Global settings. I assume that the scanner is on when you're charging, but some have said that batteries also charge when the scanner is off.

Personally, I'd spring for another external charger, rather than waste the resources of the scanner to do it. You just paid $500 for a scanner; might as well spring $20 or so for a cheap charger.

Just my .02

Suzie
 

thewenk

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I, too, would use an external charger and not use the radio for charging. However, make sure that the charger you buy will charge each cell individually and not in banks of two as most of the cheaper chargers do. I can tell you from experience that when charged in banks of two, one of the two batteries will usually not get fully charged, resulting in the need to recharge the whole set. Even though three batteries may have adequate charge left, if one battery is discharged, the recharge indicator on the 500 will come on. In my experience, you get longer run time on the whole set of batteries by using a charger that charges each battery individually, but they are more ecpensive.

Save your pennies and buy a charger like the Maha MH-C401FS.
http://thomasdistributing.com/shop/chargers-by-model--maha-mhc401fs-black-model-c-147_148_360.html?osCsid=igg5914m4ithlucit03j2p4st6

It is well worth spending more on a "better" battery charger.

Dave
 

Flatshovel

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Thanks for the info. I do have a external battery charger. I have the BC-900, however It is not working properly and I am getting ready to send it back since it is under warranty. If not I will purchase me a Maha and go from there.

Thanks for the help!

Joey
 

troymail

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raisindot said:
Personally, I'd spring for another external charger, rather than waste the resources of the scanner to do it. You just paid $500 for a scanner; might as well spring $20 or so for a cheap charger.


Suzie
Ditto - I really think the internal charger was burning up my batteries. I now use two sets of batteries and an external charger for both my PSR500 and my BC396... It's a bit more hassle but it seems like the batteries are now lasting ALOT longer (# of charging cycles that is).

When I used the internal, I'd put the radio on charge every night. Now, I only change and charge a set when the batteries are indicating nearly or completely drained.
 

raisindot

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troymail said:
Ditto - I really think the internal charger was burning up my batteries. I now use two sets of batteries and an external charger for both my PSR500 and my BC396... It's a bit more hassle but it seems like the batteries are now lasting ALOT longer (# of charging cycles that is).

When I used the internal, I'd put the radio on charge every night. Now, I only change and charge a set when the batteries are indicating nearly or completely drained.
Just out of curiousity--how many hours of use are you getting from your rechargeables? I just bought two sets of brand new Energizer NiHh 2500s and charged them in my cheapo 5-hour NIMH charger. These gave about 7 hours of running time before I get the "battery low" beep. Admittedly, I turn the thing on and off a lot (I use at work), and I've got the LEDs lighting up like Christmas for different talkgroups, but I also listen only through headphones.

Is this untypical, and would getting a $50 charger really deliver that much better performance from these batteries?

Suzie
 

troymail

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raisindot said:
Just out of curiousity--how many hours of use are you getting from your rechargeables? I just bought two sets of brand new Energizer NiHh 2500s and charged them in my cheapo 5-hour NIMH charger. These gave about 7 hours of running time before I get the "battery low" beep. Admittedly, I turn the thing on and off a lot (I use at work), and I've got the LEDs lighting up like Christmas for different talkgroups, but I also listen only through headphones.

Is this untypical, and would getting a $50 charger really deliver that much better performance from these batteries?

Suzie
These days I get quite a long time from my batteries. However, that's because long battery life is more important to me than the "bells and whistles". I used the LEDs and backlight alot when I first got the radio because it was new and I was having alot of problems until the first big firmware release came out. I was listening alot more at the time too - because it was new, etc. However, now that things have settled down, things are much more "routine" so I don't need the backlight as much and I really only use the LED to get my attention for "new" talkgroups, etc.

My issue with charging is more about battery life in "months" - how many charges can you get from them. I've used several different battery vendors -- I used to think that Duracell was the best (I was using some 2650 mA sets) but they seemed to fade quickly (even though the package said I'd get something like 1000 recharges from them), they were only lasting a couple of months.

At some point, someone mentioned Energizers were working well ... and I'd seen other discussions about various radio internal chargers "burning up batteries" ... and I'm aware of battery usage issues in another similar but unrelated situation, I made a conscious choice to change my mode of operation.

I bought 2 sets of Energizers. I charge a set in my external charger (it's about the size of a pack of cigarettes and hangs right on the power outlet - very small - and the charge shuts off in a couple of hours). I take that set and use them in the radio. I then place the 2nd set on charge. I also now only "swap" batteries when the radio tells me the current batteries are nearly empty (previously I would plug in the radio every night and try to bring the batteries back to full charge).

So, the bottom line is, I've taking several different steps all at the same time to make these batteries not only last longer between charges but also hopefully to get more charges out of them.

Oh - and one of the things I REALLY like about the PSR500 over the BC396 is I can (and have) turned off the "battery beep". The battery "low" (solid) indicator and "empty" (flash) indicator on the display is more than good enough for me! I absolutely HATE that damn beep on the 396...and the only way I can "turn it off" is to replace the batteries or turn the radio off.
 
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marauder6

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Knox County Il.
Page 101 of the v1.2 manual states:
"The battery charger is timer based and charges at a
current rate of 150 mA. The charger is disabled
when BATTERY is set to Alkaline. A default charge
time of 9 hours is used for NiCAD batteries, and 16
hours for NiMH batteries."

My 2500mah Energizers run about 9 hours after a 16 hour radio charge. I get about the same using the rapid charger that came with the batteries. These times are without using the backlight or LED.

Also be aware when the unit is turned off the charger is active regardless of the timer settings.

SMG
 

Jakemcgraw

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raisindot said:
Just out of curiousity--how many hours of use are you getting from your rechargeables? I just bought two sets of brand new Energizer NiHh 2500s and charged them in my cheapo 5-hour NIMH charger. These gave about 7 hours of running time before I get the "battery low" beep. Admittedly, I turn the thing on and off a lot (I use at work), and I've got the LEDs lighting up like Christmas for different talkgroups, but I also listen only through headphones.

Is this untypical, and would getting a $50 charger really deliver that much better performance from these batteries?

Suzie
I also use Energizer 2500 mah batteries, Its been my experience over the years, That a charger needs to charge Batteries at least 8 hours minimum, anything under that and batteries don't last as long..Example: Handheld scanner continually on with backlight i get 12 to 14 hours,,When the same batteries were charged in a 2 hour fast charger, they only lasted 7 hours!..what a difference!......I use a Rayovac universal charger, around 10 to 12 hours to charge 4 AA batteries,,You can find em on e-bay for $10 to $20 + ship....The rayovac charger also chages each battery individually !
 
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mpd4128

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Most important reason not to charge in scanner

I just bought the PSR-500 exactly 33 days ago and have already had a melt down (literally)!!! I love the PSR-500, lets make that undestood from the start! I have been in Law Enforcement for 8 years now and have been scanning for 9. I have always bought Radio Shack scanners, not for any particular reason, and have always charged the batteries in the scanner without problem. In the past I have left my radio shack scanner plugged in for weeks at a time with rechargable batteries in it and never had a problem. I noticed with my PSR-500 that it was getting slightly warm around the battery compartment when charging from day one.

I was using Radio Shack NiMH batteries fresh from the pack and was constatnly plugging and unplugging the unit for mobile/base use. On my days off this past week, I got a little busy working on several projects and left the scanner plugged into the provided 9V power supply at home with the scanner sitting on my desk. When I unplugged the unit at the end of the second day, just over 48 hrs of being plugged in, I noticed that the unit would not turn on. I checked the batteries for a loose connection but when I turned the unit over I immediately noticed that the battery cover was warped on the sides. I quickly took the cover off to find that the yellow battery holder had heated to the point that it had formed around the batteries to the point they would not come out, the batteries were corroded, and top part of the scanner casing (just above the metal contacts) had melted.

I have contacted GREcom and they are setting up an RMA to have their techs look at the scanner for a problem. I read the entire manual before calling the company to see what I might have missed that would void my warranty and, to my surprise, could not find anything. No where in the manual does it mention that you can not leave rechargable batteries in the unit conrinously while plugged into an AC source, nor does it tell you that the charge circuit is active without being on.

I would like to reiterate that I have been scanning for many many years, I have exstensive electronic knowledge, and ALWAYS read the inital setup portion of manulas before operating expensive electronics like this $500 scanner. While GREcom has not refused at this point to refurbish or replace my month old product, I am trying not to get my hopes up since I was told that they have only had one other instance remotely close to mine and that one ended up with operator error as he placed the batteries in backwards. I guess the item will be on its way to the factory for inspection with the still corroded batteries in the melted yellow holder soon and I will try to post with their findings asap.

PLEASE head everyone's advice on this thread and take the time to charge your batteries seperately to avoid any damage to your unit. My guess is that we can be expecting a firmware upgrade regardless of their findings with my unit as NO charging citcuit should be based 100% on timers and 0% on current charge level. I have spoken with several people that have worked on RadioShack scanners who stated that their charge cycle appears to operate off of the charge level due to this issue alone.

Once again, this issue aside, I love the operational functions of the PSR-500 and; assuming this issue it fixed under warranty; I will continue to refer this brand of digital scanner!
 

LEH

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I've had a similar problem with both my 500 and 96. I have used both to monitor a UHF trunked system (Langley AFB) during an exercise. I have left the radio plugged in to the charger (yellow case and NiMH batteries) while I scan.

Neither radio gets very 'warm' but when I turn them off prior to unplugging the charger (the 500 does not like that). Then turn it back on, on more than one occasion the scanner will not come on immediately. I've had to wait up to an hour then the scanner will start to operate normally.

If I plug it back in, then things work fine.

I agree that current, not time should be used to control a battery charge. I, and I'm sure many others, have been known to charge a set of batteries prior to going out for a long day of scanning away from a power source.

Charging in the scanner is always 'iffy'. Things can go wrong with a battery or the charging circuit. If you can charge the batteries externally do it. If not, then your odds of a problem are really pretty slim if you charge internally. Just make sure you use a properly rated charger.

I like what the 396 has done. If you attach an incorrect power source, it will tell you.
 

DonS

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mpd4128 said:
My guess is that we can be expecting a firmware upgrade regardless of their findings with my unit as NO charging citcuit should be based 100% on timers and 0% on current charge level.
No firmware update will change this. The charging circuit is a constant 150 mA, can only be turned on/off by the CPU firmware, and is "on" if the CPU isn't running (scanner turned off). Also, the CPU has no way of determining the current charge level when an external power supply is plugged in - it can only measure the voltage at the battery pack, which is the same as the voltage at the tip of the power supply jack (less a diode drop).
I have spoken with several people that have worked on RadioShack scanners who stated that their charge cycle appears to operate off of the charge level due to this issue alone.
I'm 99% certain that all of the recent GRE-made RadioShack scanners (PRO-164, 97, 96, 95, 93) operate in the same way as the PSR-500, with the exception that the PSR-500's CPU can turn the charger off. All of them will charge while the scanner's power switch is turned off.
 

mpd4128

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DonS said:
No firmware update will change this. The charging circuit is a constant 150 mA, can only be turned on/off by the CPU firmware, and is "on" if the CPU isn't running (scanner turned off). Also, the CPU has no way of determining the current charge level when an external power supply is plugged in - it can only measure the voltage at the battery pack, which is the same as the voltage at the tip of the power supply jack (less a diode drop).

I'm 99% certain that all of the recent GRE-made RadioShack scanners (PRO-164, 97, 96, 95, 93) operate in the same way as the PSR-500, with the exception that the PSR-500's CPU can turn the charger off. All of them will charge while the scanner's power switch is turned off.
I'll have to check this out. You are probably right, but the 97 is what I had before for 500, and I know it; along with every other Radio Shack scanner I've ever had; never got as hot as the 500 did. I also won't deny that there could be a defect in just my scanner that caused the it to charge incorrectly. I will get back with the results of the 97 test asap.

DonS, does your 500 get warm at all or is it 100% cool to the touch?

LEH, are you saying that your scanner will sometimes not turn on when taken off of AC power unless you wait an hour? Also, I want to say that I agree with you 100% on it being very rare for things to go wrong when charging in the scanner; I just want people to understand it probably isn't worth the $500 chance.

I must say, the most frustrating part of this whole ordeal is that the manual; in my opinion; was very detailed and well written. They even thought to put in the instructions not to over charge NiCd batteries but they forget to mention anything about overcharging NiMH or just leaving them in the scanner while plugged in. My honest guess is that, like I said before, my scanner is in some way defective. I can not imagine GRE scanners not charging as well, if not better, than Radio Shack scanners since they are the same thing!!!
 

DonS

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mpd4128 said:
DonS, does your 500 get warm at all or is it 100% cool to the touch?
After running overnight, with the charger on (battery icon still blinking in the pattern that indicates charging), it's warmer than ambient temperature. Ambient is 56 degrees (though the garage was about 65 degrees all night, until I opened the door this morning) and, if I had to guess, I'd say the radio is about 80 degrees. The batteries themselves (some not-so-new Energizer 2300 mAh cells) are a few degrees warmer.

I must say, the most frustrating part of this whole ordeal is that the manual; in my opinion; was very detailed and well written. They even thought to put in the instructions not to over charge NiCd batteries but they forget to mention anything about overcharging NiMH or just leaving them in the scanner while plugged in. My honest guess is that, like I said before, my scanner is in some way defective. I can not imagine GRE scanners not charging as well, if not better, than Radio Shack scanners since they are the same thing!!!
The "don't charge in the scanner" idea has been around since at least the PRO-93 days, since there is no way to prevent overcharging. The only difference with the PSR-500 is that, if (and only if) the scanner is turned on, the charge timer will eventually turn the charger off. If you leave the GLOB menu item "Charge Time" set to "Dflt", this should prevent the catastrophic failure you've experienced... as long as the scanner is turned on.
 

a1rusty

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I have had my 500 for about two weeks now, and the battery situation is the only, and I mean __only__, thing I am less than ecstatic about. My previous scanner was a PRO-95, and using two sets of 2650 mAh NiMH batteries, I hardly ever had a low battery issue. I use a Panasonic charger (yep, it charges two-at-a-time), I would get about 12 hours continuous scan time on a charge. With the 500, I get 30 minutes to an hour before I start getting the beeps. Both scanners get warm when left on the car charger, but I would say a long way from "hot." Guess I'll order a Maha & get new batteries.
 

DonS

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Here's the text of a post I made on the Yahoo PRO95 group back in February 2003. Most of it still applies to the PSR-500, since the charging circuit is very similar (though, as mentioned above, the PSR does have a "safety timer" as long as the scanner is turned on)...

Given the scanners' current limiter that Bill describes, it should be OK to charge fully-discharged 1500mAh cells (NiCd and NiMH) in the radio for about 16 hours.

However, with no end-of-charge indication:
  • There's a strong likelihood of overcharging (especially if the batteries are not fully discharged).
  • Higher-capacity batteries may not be fully charged.
  • Lower-capacity batteries may be overcharged.
All of the above may decrease the batteries' useful life.

The following are BAD:
  • Charging with too high a current (raises cell temperature and damages cell)
  • Charging at an "OK" current for too long. You cannot charge NiMH cells indefinitely, even with a "trickle charger".
  • Undercharging.
Here are some recommended optimum parameters for charging NiMH cells (sources: Panasonic, Texas Instruments, EDN magazine, EE Times). You can charge cells outside these parameters, but cell life - useful time after charge as well as the number of charges the cell will take - will be degraded (note that our scanners do NONE of these!):
  1. Fast charge current between .5C and 1.0C (where "C" reflects the cell capacity - an 1800mAh cell has a "C" of 1.8, so it should be fast-charged with a constant current between 0.9A and 1.8A). To charge a range of cells, like 1000mAh to 2000mAh, a fast charge current of 1000mA is required. This is at the high end of the 1000mAh cells' range, and at the low end of the 2000mAh cells' range. You wouldn't want to charge 800mAh cells in such a charger, as 1000mA is 1.25C - too high.
  2. Trickle charge current between .03C and .05C, with a safety timer (i.e. don't charge indefinitely).
  3. Fully-discharged cells should not be fast-charged. A trickle-charge current should first be applied to raise the cell voltage to about .8V
  4. When the dV/dt (negative delta V) occurs near end-of-charge, the charge current should switch to the trickle-charge value and charging should continue for a limited time (NOT indefinitely). This is a "top off" for NiMH cells. (There is also information indicating that the charger should switch to a constant voltage, instead of the trickle charge current, and should terminate when the current approaches zero - this seems to be more applicable to Li+ batteries, though).
  5. Temperature must be monitored throughout the charge cycle. Rapid charging should not be used if cell temperature is below 0 C or above about 50 C (max temp depends on cell size).
  6. Cell temperature will increase during the charge cycle. dT/dt should be monitored and, if it's excessive (the temperature is increasing too rapidly), the charge current should be decreased.
As mentioned previously, there are some chargers that do most, if not all, of this. Maha makes a few that do.
 

adjennings

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Battery Problem w/ Black Battery Pack

I had a problem with regular batteries in the black battery back (the one that is supposed to not charge). I opened up the back and one of the batteries had failed and there was acid all over the inside. Luckily it was contained to the battery compartment. How does this happen with the black battery pack.
 

wa8pyr

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raisindot said:
Just out of curiousity--how many hours of use are you getting from your rechargeables? I just bought two sets of brand new Energizer NiHh 2500s and charged them in my cheapo 5-hour NIMH charger. These gave about 7 hours of running time before I get the "battery low" beep. Admittedly, I turn the thing on and off a lot (I use at work), and I've got the LEDs lighting up like Christmas for different talkgroups, but I also listen only through headphones.

Is this untypical, and would getting a $50 charger really deliver that much better performance from these batteries?
I get 8-10 hours out of two sets of 1800 mAh "house brand" NiMh batteries from DC Ace that I bought at the Dayton Hamvention 4 years ago; I "soft charge" them using a Maha MH-C801D charger, and about once a month or so I condition them in the charger.

I've gotten much better results with these compared to "name brand" batteries, so much so that I bought two sets of 2000 mAh "house brand" batteries at Dayton last week. So far they're good for at least 10 hours.

I highly recommend the purchase of a good charger; the C801D handles 8 batteries, with an individual charging circuit for each battery. Works like a charm on both AA and AAA, NiCd or NiMh types.
 

raisindot

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wa8pyr said:
I get 8-10 hours out of two sets of 1800 mAh "house brand" NiMh batteries from DC Ace that I bought at the Dayton Hamvention 4 years ago; I "soft charge" them using a Maha MH-C801D charger, and about once a month or so I condition them in the charger.

I've gotten much better results with these compared to "name brand" batteries, so much so that I bought two sets of 2000 mAh "house brand" batteries at Dayton last week. So far they're good for at least 10 hours.

I highly recommend the purchase of a good charger; the C801D handles 8 batteries, with an individual charging circuit for each battery. Works like a charm on both AA and AAA, NiCd or NiMh types.
The Maha was just too expensive for me, so I just ordered me up a LaCrosse BC700, which, supposedly, is the new "little brother" to the BC900. Supposedly, the only difference is that its maximum amp is 700, vs. 1000, but I don't care since I really don't need rapid charging for my NiMhs--tend to charge 'em overnight. And the BC900 comes with batteries, but I've already got more than enough, so the $32 price tag (vs. the $69 for the BC900) was well worth the saving. We shall see how good a job it does...

Suzie
 

Flatshovel

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I am seeing 12hrs on a set of batterys 2400mah. I was charging them on a BC900 until my charger went out on me and I had to send it in for replacement. I have not got my replacement in yet, was told that it was on backorder and would get it sometime in June or July? Next charger I buy will be a Maha!!
Hope you have better luck with your BC700 Charger maybe it won't go out on you like mine did in less than a year!
 
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