Your first foray into quadcopters may be with a mini or micro – most of which use a single cell LiPo battery and come standard with a USB or plug-in charger. However, once you step up in size to larger and heavier drones, you will find that most of them use batteries which are MUCH larger in size, weight and voltage. Most LiPo batteries are built of 3.7 volt cells, so they often are a multiple of that number – the most popular being 11.1 volt (3 cell) packages. In order to properly charge these and other large batteries, you need a balancing battery charger. This means the charger is capable of making certain that all three cells are properly charged. The Turnigy Accucell 6, sold for approx. 30 dollars, is a very decent charger for most beginners, however – like many of the R/C items, it doesn’t come with instructions and it’s operation may be hard for the newbie to immediately grasp. Hence this short guide.
We will be using a 3 cell, 11.1 volt (2200 maH) battery for this guide – however, the Accucell is capable of charging a multitude of batteries of different sizes and types.
Powering the Charger!
When your charger arrives and you take it from the box, your first question may be “how do I plug it in?”, since it comes with no plugs that fit into a wall outlet! Yes, confusing – but easy to understand and rectify.
You can supply input power (the power to charge the battery with) either from a battery – like your car battery (good when in the field), a trickle battery charger OR, as I do, with an extra plug-in power supply you likely have hanging around your house! Look around your junk draws and boxes for one of those small bricks with these specs:
Input = 110-120 V AC – or, if in another country, matching your wall electric!
Output = 12 Volts DC – also named as VDC – ideally, your power supply will have 2.0 amps or more, although a smaller one will work, but charge the battery slower.
Note that the input can be anywhere from 11-17 volts, so if your charger has a DC output in that range, it will work fine. Also, dig around for one where the round plug on the DC end properly fits into the upper left side of the Accucell.
Note, in the picture above, that an input wiring harness for use with batteries is stock – it is the one pictured with alligator clips on the top left of the picture above)
Selecting the Proper Program
OK, so plug your power into the Accucell and it should boot up – now you are ready to set the charger up for your type and voltage of battery.
For our example, we are going to select LiPo battery charging and 11.1 volt, 3 cell (3S) and 2.0 amps. This is done by becoming familiar with the use of the 3 main buttons on the face of the Accucell 6. The “Type” button will cycle you through the various built-in batteries and charge/discharge programs. Press it until you see LiPo charge a above – then hit the Start button to lock in that type. Chances are that the program showing will be for a LiPo single cell (3.7v), so use the left and right keys (marked “Status” and + – ) to scroll through until you get to 11.v 3S. Hit the start button again to lock in this program.
Connection of the Battery
Before we start the charging cycle, we need to connect the battery properly. The Accucell comes with a number of connections on the right hand side – one of which your smaller battery connector (that’s your charging connector) should fit into. But wait – there’s more! The Accucell requires a connection from the output of your battery (the connector usually used to hook up to your quad), since it uses this to monitor the battery as the charging takes place! Hook up the output connections on the Accucell to the larger connector on your battery using the supplied cable as shown.
Starting the Charge Cycle
With the proper program selected and the battery hooked up, press and hold the Start button for a couple seconds – the charger will display a confirmation screen – look at the screen to make sure it says “3SER”, which indicates the three cells – then hit the Start key again and charging should start. A different screen will come up which shows you the progress of the charge. This screen is also a confirmation of your proper settings. If you did everything properly, it should say Li3S on the left upper side and display a voltage of somewhere between 10 and 11.5 volts on the right (if your battery needs charged). Note that most 11.1v batteries are charged up to approx. 12.6v and then run down to about 10 before your quadcopter will fall out of the sky – but this depends on your particular quadcopter setup.
Some additional information will be posted here soon – here is a video which shows the hookup and charging of a 3 cell 11.1v battery on the Accucell 6 charger. Watch it larger or full screen to see the settings on the LCD screen properly!
Here is an owners manual for the Accucell.