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R/C Batteries and Chargers

Table Of Contents

Battery Types

Batteries and battery charger technology are aspects of the R/C hobby that can be confusing. All the choices can be a bit much for a beginner to digest at first.

NiCad
Inexpensive batteries commonly used in transmitters and older hardware.
NiMH
Moderately expensive batteries commonly used in surface vehicles and aircraft that need a bit more juice than NiCads can deliver. These batteries can deliver moderate currents and have slightly higher power density than NiCads.
Lithium ion/Lithium Polymer
Expensive batteries that serve high power, low weight applications. Also good if charge shelf life is important. They can deliver insanely higher currents. When shorted or damaged, they can get very hot or even explode. Many can be destroyed if they are discharged below the batteries critical voltage.
Alkaline
Very inexpensive batteries that are normally not rechargeable. Very rarely used in RC.
Lead Acid
Inexpensive battery for high power, high weight applications like large battle bots and larger vehicles. When pierced or damaged they can lead out corrosive acid.

Battery Chargers

I have a sizable shelf devoted to nothing but battery chargers (pictured below). Two chargers are devoted to charging NiMH batteries for my E-Maxx, they are the small blue chargers on the left and right in the image. They can be powered from wall current or 12VDC. They are quite inexpensive, can charge both NiCads and NiMH battery packs at high current levels, and can deep cycle battery packs. The Accu-Cycle in the center, back is designed for NiCads. It has two independent, computer controlled chargers. One is intended for receiver battery packs and the other is intended for transmitter battery packs. This charger is very smart and knows how to cycle, deep cycle, and trickle charge. The Triton charger in the center, red, is the most intelligent, computer controlled charger I have. It can charge NiCad, NiMH, LiIon, lead acid, and just about anything else. It has an interface for a thermocouple to keep things from getting too hot or exploding. This is a great charger. The only thing I don't like about it is that it must be powered from 12VDC --- that is why the heavy duty 12VDC power supply is on the shelf (far left).

chargers on shelf

References

The book "Practical Electronics for Inventors" by Paul Scherz has an excellent converge of various batteries and battery technologies.

© 2009 Mitch Richling