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Hobby Chargers?

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kd8twg

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I have a bunch of older HTs - GP300s, GP88s, etc., and I want to analyze the battery packs. Some are NiCd and others are NiMH.

Would it be safe to use a hobby charger to analyze these packs? Has anyone here done this before? Is there a better way to analyze them?
 

kd8twg

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Many hobby-grade chargers will condition/cycle the battery (charge and then discharge), but will also track how much they can draw from the battery during the discharge cycle - that's you know the capacity of the battery. That's what I mean by analyze.

They support multiple chemistries, and will charge and discharge at a rate the user specifies. Some, such as the iCharger, will actually connect to PC via USB and graph out the charge/discharge cycle and statistics. You can even get magnetic terminals for them so you can attach them to odd-sized batteries.

They're mostly used in the hobby RC world, but I'm asking if anyone has used these on two-way radio battery packs.
 

jaspence

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Hobby chargers

I have a similar situation with older radios and have been looking into the same solution. The two big stumbling blocks are connecting securely to the battery and finding a reasonably priced quality charger. My local battery rebuilder has one, but it cost a couple of thousand dollars and they still have to use make-shift connectors for some batteries.
 

WA0CBW

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I wasn't aware of the term Hobby chargers. I'm mostly familiar with the commercial ones such as the Motorola Impress. I have tried the iCharger some of the other ones but they have not been very reliable in identifying the battery capabilities. And as jaspence said it is difficult to connect them to most batteries.
 

kd8twg

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Yeah. My guess is that you'd have to infer a little bit about the batteries. The GP300 batteries I have are mostly 7.2v, which likely means they have 6 cells in them. I do have one dead one, maybe I'll (carefully) disassemble it to find out....

And, yeah, some of the chargers have magnetic terminals so you can attach them to weird batteries.
 

JnglMassiv

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I have standardized on the MAHA MH-C777plus for my scores of lithium ion, nicad and NiMH batteries of all kinds. Those comparatively gigantic Motorola chargers simply got unmanagable and are now in deep storage. This universal charger doesn't condition per se but does offer a capacity meter for analysis. The adjustable terminals and magnetic base are quite novel and effective.
The MAHA does have a few drawbacks, both related to Li-ion packs.
First is that it has a high pitched transformer-like whine. Some people may find this sound undetectable and it doesn't occur on NiMH or nicad packs. I have been known to toss a towel over the thing to quiet it down a bit.
Second is that it occassionally restarts the capacity counter so you cannot get the mAmp-hour figure. Again, only lithium packs and they still finish up fully charged.
 

N4KVE

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I'd be careful with RC chargers. The one I had was meant to charge a battery in 10 minutes. Way too much juice for a radio battery. But if the charger allows you to set the charging rate to 800 mah, I'd try it.
 

kd8twg

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Oh, yeah, you never want to charge a battery at more than 1C/hour (which means it would take an hour). If you try that with LiPo or Lithium Ion batteries, they could go poof.
 

brndnstffrd

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Advancetec makes chargers that will do exactly this. I have 2 of them. There are different adapter plates to fit each style radio battery and they are conditioning chargers. The ones that i have are the better models that also will analyze the battery and have a display to show the capacity of the batteries. They can be found if you look around on ebay and the adapter plates are around too if you look for them. They also made some chargers for motorola that have the motorola name on them, but they are the exact same charger. If you search for conditioning/analyzing chargers you should be able to find them. One of the side benefits is that you no longer need to have separate chargers for each model radio, you can just use the same base and just snap on whatever series charge plate that you need. They have single battery models as well as 4 and i think 6 bay chargers and they can be run off of 12 volts and installed in a vehicle.

Just be aware that not all models have the display on them.
 
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N4KVE

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I use the Advancetec chargers w/o the display. I find them at hamfests for a few bucks each. But not all of them allow the adapters to swap out quickly. Most of mine are hardwired to the adapter plate. This way, I never have to change plates. I use them for all my non Impres batteries. They work great, & it's impossible to overcharge the battery. Not for Li on.
 

cmdrwill

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I use the Advancetec chargers w/o the display. I find them at hamfests for a few bucks each. But not all of them allow the adapters to swap out quickly. Most of mine are hardwired to the adapter plate. This way, I never have to change plates. I use them for all my non Impres batteries. They work great, & it's impossible to overcharge the battery. Not for Li on.
I will second that, and we use the same Advancetec line of chargers.
 

kd8twg

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So, interestingly, I'm looking at this schematic:

http://www.batlabs.com/images/gp300bat.gif

And when I test the voltage across the positive and negative terminals on the back of the battery (the terminals that the charger touches), I get very low voltages - less than 1 volt.

Yet, when I test across the terminals that actually come into contact with the radio, I get the voltages I expect.

Why is this? Which terminals should I use to charge?
 

N4KVE

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If you use a conditioning charger, use the inside terminals. [ones that contact radio]. If you use a non conditioning charger, use either terminals. The outside terminals have protection so you can't discharge through them.
 

kd8twg

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Oh, of course! There's a diode in there, that's why I don't get accurate readings. I know the slow charger just trickle charges it indefinitely... But how does the Motorola smart charger know when the battery's done? Does it just use the battery's built-in thermistor and just charge til it heats up?
 
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