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Thread: Pila IBC Charger Compendium

  1. #1

    Default Pila IBC Charger Compendium

    Pila IBC™ 4-stage Charger

    Charging process
    Stage 1 – Automatic analyzing battery status
    Stage 2 – Quick charge
    Stage 3 – Slow charge
    Stage 4 – Standby mode, trickle charge (Stats say this, but it does NOT trickle charge)

    Specifications
    AC/DC adaptor power in : 100 to 240 VAC (50/60 Hz)
    AC/DC adaptor power out : 6 VDC / 2.5 A
    DC/DC adaptor power in : 12 to 24VDC
    DC/DC adaptor power out : 6 VDC / 3 A
    IBC Charger DC in : 6 VDC / 2-3 A
    IBC Charger DC out : 4.2 VDC / 600mA (per bay)
    Charging time : approximate 3 ½ hours (room temperature)
    Ambient temperatures : 0oC to 40oC (32oF to 104oF) for operation
    -20oC to 60oC (-4oF to 140oF) for storage
    Dimensions : Approx 95mm (L) x 55mm (W) x 48 mm (H)
    Weight : Approx 130g (excluding adaptor and power cord).
    Pila IBC Battery Charger includes 1 x AC/DC Adapter with US & EU pins (100 - 240 VAC, 50/60Hz auto-sensing), Carrying Bag.











    1. What size cells does it charge and what doesn't it charge?

    RCR123, *10440, 14500, 14670, 16340, 17500, 17670, 18500, 14500 up to 18650. It can handle cells up through 18mm diameter at least and 65-68mm in length, so 18650 on the large end.

    *Don't run 10440 cells below 3.8 volts resting. The Pila IBC has a maximum charge rate of 600 mA, and the 10440 cells are about 320 mAh, so approaching 2C on a fully empty cell, but if the cell is around half full, the voltage will quickly climb to 4.2 volts and then the current will quickly drop off. Don’t charge an empty (3.3 volts resting) 10440 cell with it, but if it is closer to half empty, it is pushing things, but still will be reasonably safe. The 10440 cell suffer a loss of cycle life by doing this, but that may be acceptable to some.

    NEVER charge RCR2 or 10180.

    2. What spacers are needed for each cell?

    65mm-68mm length cells require no spacers. 50mm length cells fit with the included Pila screw-in spacers. The Pila spacers are not stackable. i.e., you can not use both spacers to fit smaller cells.

    Other lengths need more creativity. For instance, a RCR123 needs the Pila spacer plus a nut and bolt of approximately 34mm. A better idea is to buy a dummy cell of a slightly longer length(without the Pila spacer) than needed and file it down. This avoids the extra contact point and is more stable because of the flat top and bottom of the dummy cell.

    * Keep in mind that any added resistance effects the charger. If the cell has a protection circuit, that adds resistance. Finally, the spacer can add to the resistance. So if you must use a spacer, make it one spacer not multiple. i.e. don't use the supplied Pila spacer with a magnet because the resistance builds up. Just use a single longer magnet or bolt...

    The effect of having extra resistance in the charging circuit is that the cells end up with less of a charge. Which isn't necessarily bad. You get more battery life (more recharges) but less runtime per charge.

    3. What chemistries can be charged, and which never to charge?

    Charges 3.7V Lithium Cobalt Ion {LiCoO2} (such as Pila, AW), LiNiCoO2 (AW's NNP cells) and Lithium Manganese Ion {LiMn2O4} (such as Emoli, Konion).

    AW's IMR cells - Lithium Manganese {LiMN} IMR cells have much lower internal resistance than regular Li-Ion 3.7V cells and they MAY end up with a higher ending voltage when charged. Please check the voltage of them right out of the charger to see if they are above 4.20V when fully charged with your charger. Overcharging above 4.25V may shorten life/cycles. Above 4.50V may even pop them or make them leak. DO NOT use the charger if it seems to overcharge IMR cells.

    DO NOT charge Lithium Iron Phosphate {LiFeP04} (such as A123, Saphion)

    4. Overcharging protection?

    Yes. Charge termination is 4.20V. It will not initiate a charge on an already charged cell, at 4.17V. The Pila IBC uses the correct CC-CV algorithm, and it terminates properly at 4.20V.

    5. It says "Trickle Charge", but doesn't. Please Explain why.

    Technically, what happens is charging terminates when 4.20V is reached. Thereafter, there is voltage sensing and if it drops to 4.17 - 4.18V, it starts charging up to 4.20V again. It should not be called "Trickle Charging" since this was first designed and used in NiMH charging, and implies continuous, low voltage charging.

    6. Minimum voltage to initiate a charge?

    It will start charging a cell that is at 1 volt.

    7. Overheat protection?

    No.

    8. Can it be left plugged in? With cells?

    You can leave the Pila IBC charger plugged in all the time with batteries, but Pila recommends you remove the batteries and unplug the charger once charging is complete. Because we are dealing with a possible “Vent with Flame” situation, CPF also recommends that you remove the batteries and unplug it when the batteries are fully charged.

    9. What voltages does it charge?

    4.20 volts.

    10. What current does it charge?

    600mA at least, the closer to 600mA the more you have to watch heat build up.

    DO NOT use on cells bellow 600mA. Charging a lower capacity cell, especially if the cell has been over discharged, exceeds the recommended 1C maximum charging rate recommended by the cell manufacturers.

    11. Reverse polarity protection? Short circuit protection?

    Yes in that it checks the cell to see if it is shorted.

    12. Is the top-off applied AFTER the charge status light turns green?

    No. Also DO NOT press the Reset Button to attempt to top off the charge on a cell.

    13. What is the Reset Button for?

    It is for cells that the protection circuit that has been tripped. It makes the charger skip the safety checks. It is also for cells that have been drained, but not enough for the charger to recognize it as needing a charge.

    14. What do the lights mean?

    No Batteries . . . Green on / Red fast blink
    Charging . . . . . Greenoff / Red on
    Full . . . . . . . . .Green on / Red off
    Defective Cell . .Green on / Red fast blink

    15. Battery internal resistance tested prior to charging?

    There is a check done on the cell, but I don't believe it has to do with the internal resistance of the cell. I think it is looking for a shorted cell.

    16. Can I use the Pila IBC Charger in my car?

    To use the PILA in a car, you need a brick. Although the 12V adapter is shown in PILA sales pages, it DOES NOT come with the unit. Remember, there is a chance of venting with flame. So place it in a fire-proof container with tall sides.


    Using the Pila IBC Charger
    Place the charger in a nonflammable location, in case of fire. Place one or two cell(s) in the charger bay(s) with the appropriate spacer if required, then give them a quarter turn to make better electrical contact. ** When the light turns green, remove the cells and unplug the charger.

    **If you have a protected cell that you believe was tripped and the charger signals the cell as damaged, press the reset button.
    Error Signal - Green light on and red light blinking.

    Each of the two stations on this charger is independent of each other. So, yes you can charge two batteries in different states of charge or just one battery.

    As a rule of thumb you should not charge Li-ions at more than 1C so you should avoid charging batteries with a capacity lower than 600ma in the Pila IBC.

    Useful Multimeter information for checking the voltage (how much fuel) is left in a Li-Ion cell.
    The figures below are resting voltages, where the Li-Ion cell has been resting (not under load) for ~15 minutes. The figures are approximate, but they are a good guide.
    4.2 volts 100%
    4.1 about 90%
    4.0 about 80%
    3.9 about 60%
    3.8 about 40%
    3.7 about 20%
    3.6 empty for practical purposes
    <3.5 = over-discharged

    Equation for to approximate time to fully charge.
    Code:
         1.5 X ####mAh 
     -------------------- = #.## hours 
             ###ma
    for example:
    Code:
         1.5 X 2900mAh 
     -------------------- = 7.25 hours 
             600ma

    *NOTE: The order of the questions have been changed to put similar questions together or combine them when it was appropriate. The following posts that only refer to a # might not be an answer to the posted question above.


    Thanks to Silverfox, DM51, Hitthespot and LuxLuthor whom I’ve outright stolen from to create this compendium and the many unsung others.

    Last edited November 1, 2010
    Last edited by Flashlight Aficionado; 11-01-2010 at 01:29 PM. Reason: Final Version (Hopefully)
    If you don't use a flashlight, you'll probably fall off a cliff, get hurt, or die - Hooked on Fenix
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    Quote Originally Posted by Flashlight Aficionado View Post
    1. What batteries does it charge and what doesn't it charge?

    2. What chemistries are great, just O.K., and never use?

    3. Overcharging protection?

    4. Undercharged battery jumpstart ability?

    5. Overheat protection?

    6. Can it be left plugged in? With batteries?

    7. Any others I may have missed?
    To start you off:

    1. Due to charge current, the smallest capacity you would probably want to charge is 750mAh (some say 600mAh), so a 16340 or 14500 is about the limit. It can handle cells up through 18mm diameter at least and 65-68mm in length, so 18650 on the large end.

    To charge a 16340, you need a dummy 16340 so that it will make contact with the terminals. A 14500 fits with the included Pila spacers.

    2/3. Charges ONLY 3.7V Li-ion. Charge termination is 4.20V.

    4/5. Deferring for someone with real answers.
    6. The recommended way to charge I couldn't resist. I'm sure someone will have a more detailed answer for you.

    7. Reverse polarity protection? Short circuit protection? Is the top-off applied AFTER the charge status light turns green? Battery internal resistance tested prior to charging? Minimum voltage to initiate a charge?

    To partially answer my own last one on #7, it will not initiate a charge on an already charged battery, so if your charge finishes and the power cycles, it won't start charging again when power returns. I do not know the minimum voltage used for this.

    Regards,
    Eric

  3. #3
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    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    The charger sounds great, certainly better than the ones I have already!

    I contacted flashlightz.com earlier to get a quote for shipping to the UK but was told they only ship to the US. Does anyone know of a supplier that will ship to London UK? and turn into preferably with not too high shipping cost?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    Quote Originally Posted by ukmike View Post
    Does anyone know of a supplier that will ship to London UK?
    BugOutGearUSA ship internationally.
    Resistance is futile...

  5. #5
    *Flashaholic* mdocod's Avatar
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    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    #6. YES, it should be fine, terminates like a cell phone or laptop, correctly, it should be able to remain plugged in with cells on it indefinitely without a problem.

    #7. 3.7V cells only, modern Lithium Cobalt Oxide designed for use with 4.20V termination. Do not use with really old li-ion cells as termination would need to be 4.10V, shouldn't be an issue as most cells that old are not around any more.

    not sure about the rest.

  6. #6

    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    few things i would like to know about this charger before i get it is, does it charge each cell independently, for instance can you put an almost depleted cell along with lets say an 80% cell. also what can you use as a dummy cell for using rcr123s and where do you get them, all the places i see that sell this charger dont even offer this option.........sorry im no help to this thred i just have more questions

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* Hitthespot's Avatar
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    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    Quote Originally Posted by foxracer72 View Post
    few things i would like to know about this charger before i get it is, does it charge each cell independently, for instance can you put an almost depleted cell along with lets say an 80% cell. also what can you use as a dummy cell for using rcr123s and where do you get them, all the places i see that sell this charger dont even offer this option.........sorry im no help to this thred i just have more questions
    Each of the two stations on this charger are independent of each other. So, yes you can charge two batteries in different states of charge. The charger comes with spacers for charging rcr123 batteries.

    I did a fairly extensive review on this charger with pictures which should come up if you do a search.

    For those who are curious my sample of the IBC charger charges my 14500's and rc123's pretty consistantly to 4.17v and has been a great performing charger so far.


    Bill
    Last edited by Hitthespot; 06-26-2008 at 09:46 PM.
    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits."
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  8. #8
    *Flashaholic* Burgess's Avatar
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    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    These are very good questions.

    ( and answers )






    My concern would be:

    Suppose you are charging a battery, and your electricity goes out (briefly).

    Does the charger come right back on, by itself ?

    And . . . .

    Is that gonna' cause a problem ?


    This has already happened to me, while charging NiMH's.

    Don't wanna' tempt fate while charging Li-Ion cells.


    _

  9. #9
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    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    Thanks DM51 for your help.

  10. #10
    Flashaholic lengendcpf's Avatar
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    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    This charger looks tempting.

    I don't mind paying a bit more for this. But only 1 thing hold me back. It cannot charge 10440.

    Btw, any way to overcome this ?

  11. #11
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    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    Hello Flashlight Aficionado,

    I can add a couple of answers...

    4 and 12 are related. I don't know if it actually has a over discharged recovery segment, but it will start charging a cell that is at 1 volt.

    6 is yes, but it is not recommended as a general practice.

    7 seems a little confusing. I believe you intended to ask what current it uses, and that is 600 mA. If it is actually voltage, then it charges to 4.2 volts.

    8 is yes.

    9 is yes in that it checks the cell to see if it is shorted.

    10 is no.

    11, there is a check done on the cell, but I don't believe it has to do with the internal resistance of the cell. I think it is looking for a shorted cell.

    I might also add that I charge 10440 cells with it all the time. However, I don't run my 10440 cells below 3.8 volts resting. The Pila has a maximum charge rate of 600 mA, and the 10440 cells are about 320 mAh, so I am approaching 2C on a fully empty cell, but if the cell is around half full, the voltage will quickly climb to 4.2 volts and then the current will quickly drop off. I would not charge an empty (3.3 volts resting) 10440 cell with it, but if it is closer to half empty, I think it is pushing things, but still reasonably safe. You may suffer a loss of cycle life by doing this, but that may be acceptable to some.

    The only issue I have with this charger is that when charging 2 empty cells, the charger heats up and the cells get lukewarm. However, the positive aspects of this charger far outweigh this issue.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* Hitthespot's Avatar
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    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox View Post
    .

    I might also add that I charge 10440 cells with it all the time. However, I don't run my 10440 cells below 3.8 volts resting. The Pila has a maximum charge rate of 600 mA, and the 10440 cells are about 320 mAh, so I am approaching 2C on a fully empty cell, but if the cell is around half full, the voltage will quickly climb to 4.2 volts and then the current will quickly drop off. I would not charge an empty (3.3 volts resting) 10440 cell with it, but if it is closer to half empty, I think it is pushing things, but still reasonably safe. You may suffer a loss of cycle life by doing this, but that may be acceptable to some.


    Tom
    Interesting Tom. I would have thought that even if half full, the cell accepting 600ma even for short durations would shorten its cycle life to unacceptable levels, but maybe not? I'm definitely no expert on 10440 cells, or Li-on cells in general. I will say I top off my cells frequently. I will try the Pila charger when I do finally pick up some 10440 cells. I didn't buy any 10440 cells because I just didn't want to buy another charger. This may just save me the trouble.

    Thanks Tom, your always a wealth of charge.

    Bill
    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits."
    Albert Einstein

  13. #13

    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    O.K. guys, since things are petering out, I will do what I said I'll do tomorrow. If you have any last minute things to add, please do it now.

    Do not send me links to CPF. I did a search and stole heavily. (I will give credit) Mostly Hitthespot, DM51 and Silverfox. DIRECT links to other sites will be appreciated. I will not search them like I did CPF.

    Thank you.
    If you don't use a flashlight, you'll probably fall off a cliff, get hurt, or die - Hooked on Fenix
    CPF: Because 6-figure illumination just isn't enough. - maxa beam
    As a backup to my backup to back up my backup's backup. - Roger999

  14. #14

    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    Very last bump. See post #13 above.
    If you don't use a flashlight, you'll probably fall off a cliff, get hurt, or die - Hooked on Fenix
    CPF: Because 6-figure illumination just isn't enough. - maxa beam
    As a backup to my backup to back up my backup's backup. - Roger999

  15. #15

    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    guys, does it charge 18650?



    AAA?\
    AA?

  16. #16
    Flashaholic lengendcpf's Avatar
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    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    Quote Originally Posted by gazaati View Post
    guys, does it charge 18650?



    AAA?\
    AA?
    I think you must have missed out the first post..

  17. #17
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    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    This charger is excellent. I got one to replace an UltraFire charger I had that killed batteries too fast. The only complain I have with it is that it's very sensitive to dirty contacts at the end of charge (added resistance). A microscopic move of the cell on the contact and the light will turn green, with the cell not being completely charged (often around 4.10V). But the reset button restart the charge and you will be able to restart it until the cells hit 4.17V, where the reset button won't work anymore (always giving green light).

  18. #18
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    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox View Post
    I might also add that I charge 10440 cells with it all the time. However, I don't run my 10440 cells below 3.8 volts resting. The Pila has a maximum charge rate of 600 mA, and the 10440 cells are about 320 mAh, so I am approaching 2C on a fully empty cell, but if the cell is around half full, the voltage will quickly climb to 4.2 volts and then the current will quickly drop off. I would not charge an empty (3.3 volts resting) 10440 cell with it, but if it is closer to half empty, I think it is pushing things, but still reasonably safe. You may suffer a loss of cycle life by doing this, but that may be acceptable to some.

    The only issue I have with this charger is that when charging 2 empty cells, the charger heats up and the cells get lukewarm. However, the positive aspects of this charger far outweigh this issue.

    Tom

    Using a 2C charge on 10440. Do you use a timer, set at 30 mins, afterwhich, you remove the 10440?

    Also, do you use magnets or the included spacers?

    I am very interested in this, if it can charge the 10440, 16340, 14500 and 18650..

  19. #19

    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    Quote Originally Posted by lengendcpf View Post
    Using a 2C charge on 10440. Do you use a timer, set at 30 mins, afterwhich, you remove the 10440?
    The light will turn green when charged. The Pila charger just can't handle overly discharged 10440. Do not charge a 10440 that is discharged below 3.8 volts resting.


    Also, do you use magnets or the included spacers?
    Good question, anybody?


    I am very interested in this, if it can charge the 10440, 16340, 14500 and 18650..
    Read the first post.
    If you don't use a flashlight, you'll probably fall off a cliff, get hurt, or die - Hooked on Fenix
    CPF: Because 6-figure illumination just isn't enough. - maxa beam
    As a backup to my backup to back up my backup's backup. - Roger999

  20. #20

    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    WildChild - Just to be clear, you are talking about the Pila IBC?

    Quote Originally Posted by WildChild View Post
    The only complain I have with it is that it's very sensitive to dirty contacts at the end of charge (added resistance). A microscopic move of the cell on the contact and the light will turn green, with the cell not being completely charged (often around 4.10V). But the reset button restart the charge and you will be able to restart it until the cells hit 4.17V, where the reset button won't work anymore (always giving green light).
    If you don't use a flashlight, you'll probably fall off a cliff, get hurt, or die - Hooked on Fenix
    CPF: Because 6-figure illumination just isn't enough. - maxa beam
    As a backup to my backup to back up my backup's backup. - Roger999

  21. #21
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    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    Quote Originally Posted by Flashlight Aficionado View Post
    WildChild - Just to be clear, you are talking about the Pila IBC?
    Yes I am...

  22. #22

    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    Thanks, back to the editing room.
    If you don't use a flashlight, you'll probably fall off a cliff, get hurt, or die - Hooked on Fenix
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    As a backup to my backup to back up my backup's backup. - Roger999

  23. #23
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    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    Hello Legendcpf,

    I made up some of my own spacers using nuts and bolts.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  24. #24
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    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    Hello WildChild,

    The proper procedure for inserting a cell into a holder (both for charging and for using) is to insert the cell, then turn it in place about 1/4 turn. This breaks up any oxidation at the contacts and minimizes resistance issues.

    You still have to clean the battery contacts from time to time, but it goes a long way toward minimizing resistance problems.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  25. #25

    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox View Post
    I made up some of my own spacers using nuts and bolts.
    Which battery sizes do you need to make spacers for?

    If not a pain to look up, can you say which bolt or bolt for which sized battery? Again, if too hard don't bother.
    If you don't use a flashlight, you'll probably fall off a cliff, get hurt, or die - Hooked on Fenix
    CPF: Because 6-figure illumination just isn't enough. - maxa beam
    As a backup to my backup to back up my backup's backup. - Roger999

  26. #26

    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    Silverfox - Any answer for number 12 on the list? Minimum voltage to initiate a charge?

    Thanks.
    If you don't use a flashlight, you'll probably fall off a cliff, get hurt, or die - Hooked on Fenix
    CPF: Because 6-figure illumination just isn't enough. - maxa beam
    As a backup to my backup to back up my backup's backup. - Roger999

  27. #27
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    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    Hello Flashlight Aficionado,

    Here is the spacer I use for R-CR123 charging...



    this is used in combination with the supplied spacer that comes with the charger.

    The one for 10440 cells is the same style, but is a little shorter and is used without the supplied spacer.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  28. #28

    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    It is done. Check out the first post.
    If you don't use a flashlight, you'll probably fall off a cliff, get hurt, or die - Hooked on Fenix
    CPF: Because 6-figure illumination just isn't enough. - maxa beam
    As a backup to my backup to back up my backup's backup. - Roger999

  29. #29
    Flashaholic* WildChild's Avatar
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    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox View Post
    Hello WildChild,

    The proper procedure for inserting a cell into a holder (both for charging and for using) is to insert the cell, then turn it in place about 1/4 turn. This breaks up any oxidation at the contacts and minimizes resistance issues.

    You still have to clean the battery contacts from time to time, but it goes a long way toward minimizing resistance problems.

    Tom
    Thanks for the hint!

  30. #30
    Flashaholic* Bones's Avatar
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    Default Re: PILA IBC Charger

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox View Post
    Hello Flashlight Aficionado,

    Here is the spacer I use for R-CR123 charging...

    [image]

    this is used in combination with the supplied spacer that comes with the charger.

    The one for 10440 cells is the same style, but is a little shorter and is used without the supplied spacer.

    Tom
    Thanks for the image SilverFox.

    Is it reasonable to presume that the bolts are cut to length, and the nuts tightened down to ensure a good connection?

    Also, I was browsing for a similar set-up a while ago, and found what I needed in solid brass, solid stainless steel and chrome plating.

    Any thoughts on which would provide the best connection with minimal pressure?
    I don't know why we are here, but I'm pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves

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