Wednesday, 3 August 2011

iCharger 106B - impressions

A few months ago, I decided to replace my aging Schulze 330d charger. In truth I never really took to it - the menu navigation and a lack of flexibility made it frustratingly awkward to use. I also wanted something with a built in LiPo balancer.

After a bit of research, I settled on an iCharger 106B Plus. This is a compact 12V device, which is capable of  charging a 6S Lipo pack at 10 Amps, and has an integral balancer. For the full spec, see the information thread on RC Groups.

An order was duly placed with Giant Cod, and it arrived soon after.

iCharger 106B+ with home made adapter leads

Five months later, I'm glad to say I am pretty happy with it - well, mainly. The user interface is well thought out, with comprehensive charging options, sensible default values, and not too much opportunity for error. Compared to the horrid interface on the Schulze, the iCharger is a revelation. The ability to save and load configurations is particularly useful.

After a couple of weeks I noticed that the lead-acid programme menu was corrupted with garbled text. Fortunately re-flashing the firmware using the supplied USB cable fixed the issue. Beware though that the USB cable they provide is non-standard, even though it looks like an ordinary lead. The difference is that the connector shields are isolated from one another. So best to label it and keep it separate from your other cables. (If you lose it, you can use a regular USB cable as long as either the PC or iCharger is powered by a battery i.e. not both powered by the mains.)

The balancer port accepts JST-XH connectors. As I don't want to use an adapter board, I am replacing the connectors on my existing batteries with the appropriate JST-XH plugs. These leads don't seem to be easily obtainable separately, but my friendly local model shop was able to provide a few from discarded packs. (Disclaimer: any soldering or lead-cutting on a Lipo pack needs very careful planning and execution, for obvious reasons!).

Various adapter leads

2.1 mm DC power connectors, available from Maplin. Good for around 4A.

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