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- Things to watch out for with LIPO
Most of us tend to take our Lipo batteries pretty well
for granted, we charge them up, maybe using a Lipo-Safe bag, but most
people don't do so, and then we plug them in and pull the Deans connectors
apart with very little thought for those little ole wires that come out of the end
of our Lipos.
WELL, THAT IS WHERE
THE DANGER PART IS.
I have quite a few helicopters of my own,
and handle a lot more for other people, especially when going through
the FREE Heli-Hospital treatment, and I also have a large number of
Lipos of different sizes, different makes, and different C ratings of my
The one thing they all have in common
(with almost all lipos anyway) is that there are two sets of connecting
leads coming out of one end. One pair connects to the ESC, the
other set go into a small white "balancing" plug.
Now these wires just appear out from
under some form of covering, and we probably never give a thought to how
they are connected to the LIPO itself. Well, quite reasonably,
they are soldered to the lipo cells in a specific sequence, especially
the thin balancing plug wires, which actually let us check the voltage
of each individual lipo cell. That is how our fancy lipo chargers
perform what we call balance charging.
So what you may ask. ?
Well, lets consider the case where one or
more of these very small, thin wires has come loose from the connection
inside the battery it should be connected to. WELL BELIEVE ME, THIS IS
NOT AN AS UNCOMMON THING TO HAPPEN AS YOU MIGHT THINK.
You plug the main connector into your
lipo charger after a flight, then connect the balancing plug, and away
it goes. Correct ?
WELL NO ACTUALLY.
Because in this case one of our balance
wires is not connected where it should be, the lipo charger has no way
of checking the voltage in that particular cell. Neither do most
chargers warn of this problem. Even worse is if that lead happens to be
touching a different connector, providing the lipo charger with the
So we wait till our lipo is apparently
fully charged, and off we go and launch our valuable helicopter into the
wild blue yonder, confident that we have a least 8 minutes worth of
battery power - WRONG AGAIN.
Your valuable heli suddenly starts to
lose power rapidly at 60 feet up, and unless you are a well practiced
pilot to whom an autorotation is no problem, you may well end up with a
What went wrong ?
Easy really, your lipo charger did it's
best to charge all 3 cells (11.1v lipo), but it had no idea how well one
of the 3 cells was charged, as it had no connection to it
directly. This means that particular cell will almost certainly
have NOT BEEN CHARGED sufficiently, because lipo charges have to be very
careful to not OVERCHARGE any cell.
The cure for this problem is pretty
simple if you are able to use a soldering iron. If you do not feel
TOTALLY confident to do this - DISCARD THE LIPO safely and entirely - THINK SAFETY.
Each of the three individual cells in an
11.1V lipo battery are aligned the same way inside the casing.
That is the + connections are all at on end and the - connections are
all at the other end. there are also soldered connections at the
other end linking the cells in series.
BE VERY CAREFULLY when cutting the
covering over the cable connection end of your Lipos.
THEM IN ANY WAY OR THEY WILL EXPLODE,
and make sure the knife doesn't short across the solder points)
NOW PEEL THE COVERING BACK SO
THAT YOU CAN SEE ALL THE SOLDERED CONNECTIONS...
Check each one, paying very special care
to the thin balance plug wires, to ensure they are not breaking at the
soldering point, or worse yet, have already broken or have become
If you do find a broken one, make sure
you know exactly where it should be connected back to, and then use a
40W or larger soldering iron to carefully remake the joint. Make
sure you get a really good "remelt" of the original solder so
that one or both leads that should be fitted there are really well
soldered to the cell.
MAKE SURE THE SOLDERING
IRON DOES NOT TOUCH ANY OTHER CONNECTION
OR YOU WILL CREATE A VERY BIG SHORT ACROSS YOUR LIPO
Reseal the end of the battery with some
Gaffer tape or similar.
Recharge the cell and make sure all three
cells are being charged accurately. One good for use Lipo back in