In RC, it used to be a NiCd and
NIMH world and all you needed was one charger for both cell
types. These days, however, most people use NiMH and LiPo
battery packs, and these cell chemistries require very different
charging methods. This means that you need two chargers or need
to spend a good amount on a charger that could safely do both.
DuraTrax changes that with the release of the Onyx 230. Letís
take a look and see what the Onyx 230 gives us for a price tag
The Onyx 230 is AC and DC
compatible, so you can plug it into a wall outlet in your house
or run it off your car battery or 12V power supply. The Onyx 230
is backlit so you can use it during the day or at night, and
itís lightweight at only 23.5 oz and includes the popular
banana plug output jacks for charging packs. The Onyx 230 is
part of the Onyx family of chargers which includes four
additional models. The line begins with a 200 series charger
which is more basic, and ends with the 240, which can charge two
NiCd/NIMH packs at once.
Here is what this charger can
1 to 8 Cell NiCd/NiMh
1 to 3 Cell LiPo/Li-Ion/LiFe
Battery Capacity 50 to 9900mAh
Charge Rate .1 to 7 amps
The charger has many features.
Some of the more useful ones are an adjustable safety timer,
adjustable peak detection sensitivity for the packs, 10 battery
memory, the ability to turn the key tones on and off, and
reverse polarity/current overload protection. The Onyx 230 uses
the proven CC/CV method of charging LiPo packs.
To test the charger, I started
with a 7-cell 4700mAh pack from MaxAmps.com. The menu is easy to
use. I charged the pack at 5 amps with a .05mv cell cutoff with
no trickle charging. When the charge was complete the pack was
warm to the touch, but not hot. This is the sign of a fully
charged pack. I threw the pack in my Traxxas Bandit VXL and ran
the battery. It was fully charged and lasted quite a while. I
also tested the charger with a 6000mAh 2S pack from MaxAmps.com.
I set the amp rate at 6 amps with a safer timer of 120min. The
charge was complete well before then.
All in all this is a great
charger, and for the money is hard to beat. Itís able to
charge almost any pack on the market, and can do it at the
workbench or at the track. DuraTrax also gives you a 5-year
warranty on this charger. The one downside is that it canít
balance charge. I wouldnít let that stop you from getting this
charger however as most LiPo packs are factory matched for
voltage. I usually donít balance my packs anyways, and
havenít had any problems as of yet.