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Thread: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    Though battery chargers are not my usual review candidates, I recently obtained the new Nona-charger by Cottonpickers, known for being the maker of ‘the world’s smallest li-ion charger with display’, and had to put together a brief review as I have been so impressed with it.


    Initial Impressions:

    Being a fan of chargers that give the user information about the condition of the cell and the charging process, I have found the Nona-Charger to be excellent in this regard.

    The Nona-Charger is so named due to the fact that it offers nine different constant current charging outputs.

    The World’s smallest charger, was a bare bones, mini charger that some felt was not as neatly finished as it could be, however the lack of a casing kept the size right down.

    With the Nona-Charger, Cottonpickers has implemented a custom made plastic housing to keep the electronics hidden and well protected. The case has been made using a Molten Polymer deposition 3D printer. The example I have is a pre-production sample and the final shipped versions will have a more refined casing using layers half the thickness to smooth out the build.



    What is in the tin:

    The Nona-Charger is supplied in a small round unmarked tin with an instruction leaflet.



    Opening the tin lid shows the full kit



    This includes two standard magnetic connection leads and a set of crocodile leads which cone with round gold plated magnets in their jaws.





    Taking a closer look:

    Looking at the top of the Nona-Charger shows the output current selector switch at the top with ten positions from off to 750mA. On the right is the display on/off switch, and to the left the USB plug for power.



    On the right hand end there is the charging indicator light (which goes out when charging is complete) and underneath this the socket for your chosen charging lead.



    Looking at the USB pug end





    Output Modes and User Interface:

    The Nona-Charger’s current output modes are stated as being OFF, 50, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700 and 750mA. You can select a suitable safe output charging current for any size of li-ion down to CR2 and 10440.

    The appropriate output current is selected by moving the slider switch to the appropriate position. You can also choose to have the numeric display on or off (personally I find that it is the display that makes this charger so good so I leave it on all the time).

    In reality, the control circuit allows the output current to vary slightly between an upper and lower limit depending on the cell being charged. Measuring these gives the following actual output current values (min-max):
    41-54
    95-108
    196-209
    291-304
    398-410
    479-492
    598-612
    730-740
    778-790

    The 700mA and 750mA outputs are slightly higher than stated, but using these you will be happy of the extra output for faster charging.

    An example of the charging characteristics of the Nona-Charger is shown here for the 600mA output.


    (Graph courtesy of Cottonpickers)




    Using the Nona-Charger

    To use the Nona-Charger there are a sequence of steps:

    1. Attach the magnetic contacts to the battery terminals according to the lead colour. With the display on you will see the battery voltage.

    2. Choose the desired output current.

    3. Plug into the USB socket.

    4. Wait for the green light to go out (4.2V will be shown on the display before charging is complete).

    5. Unplug the charger.

    6. Disconnect the battery.

    This sequence stops accidental shorting of the charger leads.

    The actual instructions are shown here:






    While charging, the display shows the actual terminal voltage. During charging you can watch the battery voltage rising until it reaches 4.2V at which point charging slows down while the final topping up completes. The Nona-Charger has 4.2V set as the maximum output voltage and does not go over this.

    Once fully topped up, the charger stops charging and switches off the charge light. At this point the display shows the off-charge voltage. You can get an indication of battery condition/quality by seeing what the voltage drops to once taken off charge. Of course the display draws a small current (around 20mA) but this actually helps to show the health of the cell as if the voltage drops quickly once off-charge, the cell is showing its age/condition.

    The Nona-Charger shown ready to plug into a USB port with an AW 16340 protected cell ready for a top-up,




    I would class the Nona-Charger as an ‘enthusiast’ charger. It is not for the inexperienced and not idiot proof, but like ‘hobby chargers’ provides the user great flexibility and precise control.

    If you have multiple cells of the same type/age/model, the off-charge voltage, following completion of the charge cycle, allows easy matching of the cells.

    Charging is fast and unlike any other dedicated li-ion charger I have seen, you are shown the actual terminal voltage so know how far along the charging cycle the cell is. This is so much better than a charger with red/green light which often continues to charge once the green light is shown.

    I’ve been using the Nona-Charger with a computer USB port and a USB mains adaptor and have relegated all my other chargers to a drawer for backup purposes only.

    A very impressive product for a ‘cottage industry’ business, and the Nona-Charger is now the only li-ion charger I use.



    You can find the Nona-Charger over on CPFMP, just search for Cottonpickers.

    Review sample provided for review by Cottonpickers.

    I’ll update post 2 of this thread once I have some more comments to add....
    Last edited by subwoofer; 07-28-2015 at 07:53 AM.
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  2. #2
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    reserved for further updates...
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    Thanks! Looks like a great package ... this isn't for sale quite yet, I gather...

  4. #4

    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    Thank you for this cottonpickers nano charger review. Your pictures are very helpful. I liked the way you presented your graph. It was not confusing with its two contrasting color lines big enough for my color-blind eyes. I also liked the way you clearly separated the information for current, voltage and time.

    My cottonpickers 4-current charger works superbly with my AW18650s and AW14500s. It sent my pila charger to the cabinet. I'm waiting for cottonpickers to finalize the nona chargers and I'll get one of those too.

    Thanks again.
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    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    Subwoofer Excellent review....Thanks...Robert.

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    Flashaholic Draven451's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Talmadge View Post
    Thanks! Looks like a great package ... this isn't for sale quite yet, I gather...
    These are for sale now from cottonpickers at cpfmarketplace. I am waiting for him to offer a 1A version
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    Flashaholic* TinderBox (UK)'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    A usb 2.0 port is only 500ma a usb 3.0 is 900ma , you could use two usb ports to get 1000ma+ with a common cable.

    John.
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    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    Quote Originally Posted by TinderBox (UK) View Post
    A usb 2.0 port is only 500ma a usb 3.0 is 900ma , you could use two usb ports to get 1000ma+ with a common cable.

    John.
    I've seen these used with phone chargers with a USB port on them, these are often rated at 1A to charge smartphones quickly.
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    Flashaholic* tobrien's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    very nice!
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    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    That's an interesting body forming material.
    I am pretty much a rank newbie when it comes to electronics, I know that I Could know how to make one of these, but I just don't.
    I am into building things though and my main snit with cottonpicker's stuff is in the body work. Would it be possible to have some premade jigs to align some tape for blocking off inside parts that need to to remain free, and then just epoxy everything together with a nice low viscosity, clear epoxy? Could end up with a nice durable cast body for these little gems, give them a nice smooth and tough body.
    Last edited by eh4; 04-08-2012 at 05:02 PM.
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    Flashaholic* samgab's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    I love the 3D printed case... Real "maker" type of look.
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  12. #12

    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    Question: are the charging positions marked in any way, so you can tell at which level you are charging?
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    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    Quote Originally Posted by bltkmt View Post
    Question: are the charging positions marked in any way, so you can tell at which level you are charging?
    No, you have to count the number of clicks the slider has moved from one end or the other to know what the output is set to.
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    Flashaholic* hank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    > accidental shorting of the charger leads

    Note that's only possible because the supplied leads have the wire attached to the side of cylindrical magnets, leaving both poles of each magnet exposed -- so the pair will stick to each other magnetically and short-circuit electrically, if you don't follow the procedure as stated (putting them onto the battery first before powering up). If one comes off the battery and leaps toward the other wire, be quick.

    (I notice this because I have similar ones for a different charger from another source.)

    If you want to rule out the possibility, get yourself some magnetic leads made with the attached wire coming off one pole instead, and shrinkwrap everything except the other pole.

    Use two of them with the same pole exposed -- shrinkwrap one red and the other black -- and while they'll still stick together magnetically, the shrinkwrap will keep them from connecting electrically.

    Use for example these, which have the cylindrical magnets in little metal cups, and the wires soldered to the cups.
    Buy two pair, pair up two that _don't_ stick together at the open end, and shrinkwrap everything except the open end, one red, one black.

    <a href="http://www.mindsetsonline.co.uk/images/DSC_1348.jpg"> Picture</a>
    <a href="http://www.mindsetsonline.co.uk/product_info.php?cPath=1_429&amp;products_id=119"> Magnetic Connectors</a>
    One pair is £0.85 ex.VAT £1.02 inc.VAT but remember to do this this way, you need two pair so you can swap around.
    Last edited by hank; 07-05-2012 at 02:19 AM.

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    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    Hey,

    Is this charger overkill for a 'novice'? I have been using rechargeable lions for about a year and a half now.. got several cheap ebay chargers and the ml-102. Would like something with a voltage display. Batteries I use are 18650, 10440, 14500 and 16340. Thanks

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    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    Quote Originally Posted by alex21 View Post
    Hey,

    Is this charger overkill for a 'novice'? I have been using rechargeable lions for about a year and a half now.. got several cheap ebay chargers and the ml-102. Would like something with a voltage display. Batteries I use are 18650, 10440, 14500 and 16340. Thanks
    When I charge my Li-Ions , I clip my meter across the battery and switch it on each time I need to see the voltage ... I'm thinking of clipping my Avo Eight (non-digital) across the battery as I can leave it on right through the charge cycle ... It's a very accurate meter , but I can still check the readings with my DMM if needed.
    .

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    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    Quote Originally Posted by TinderBox (UK) View Post
    A usb 2.0 port is only 500ma a usb 3.0 is 900ma , you could use two usb ports to get 1000ma+ with a common cable.

    John.
    Almost all USB ports can deliver 1A+, 500mA is only guaranteed standard but in reality USB ports can deliver much more. I am easily drawing 1.5A from my laptop's USB as well as from my desktop PC.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    Quote Originally Posted by czAtlantis View Post
    Almost all USB ports can deliver 1A+, 500mA is only guaranteed standard but in reality USB ports can deliver much more. I am easily drawing 1.5A from my laptop's USB as well as from my desktop PC.
    My Denon RCD-M38DAB (CD/DAB player) has a USB socket on the front labelled "USB/iPod , 5V/1A" and is on the desk in my study ... I just realised that I can use this to power my battery chargers ... There are plenty of mains USB chargers about that will supply one amp and some claim to give two amps ... I have a couple of this type for charging my mobile phones , personal-DAB/MP3 players , 3D glasses etc ... I find these most convenient for powering a charger for my Li-Ions.
    .

  19. #19

    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    Quote Originally Posted by march.brown View Post
    When I charge my Li-Ions , I clip my meter across the battery and switch it on each time I need to see the voltage ... I'm thinking of clipping my Avo Eight (non-digital) across the battery as I can leave it on right through the charge cycle ... It's a very accurate meter , but I can still check the readings with my DMM if needed.
    .
    Good tip! Thanks :-)

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    Quote Originally Posted by czAtlantis View Post
    Almost all USB ports can deliver 1A+, 500mA is only guaranteed standard but in reality USB ports can deliver much more. I am easily drawing 1.5A from my laptop's USB as well as from my desktop PC.
    I am disagreeing, i have fried 2 USB 2.0 ports so far pulling only a little over 500ma out of them. While they should have put in more leeway and it is rediculous that these ports were that bad, and they didnt "reset" either, they were permenently fried. Newer computers and lappies should "know by now" that there is a lot of fast phone chargers and all, but i doubt they ALL have the parts in there to cover it.

    most of the high power USB charging items , for like phones and all, only draw ~500ma max off a usb, many of the chargers for the wall and car and all have methods of tying or grounding (with resistance) the data lines to indicate to the charger device they can draw more power from the USB connection point.

    in the situation where I fried a few USB ports the device (a HP) was the kind that has 2 different charging currents, and it was going at the lower current, after one port blew i figured it was just a fluke or something that i had done wrong, after the second blew I knew what had caused it.
    Last edited by VidPro; 07-22-2012 at 09:41 PM.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    That is interesting - how old PC/laptop is that? I used many PCs and all of them except one CompaQ very old laptop worked with 1A just fine.
    In your case they must have used standard fuses instead of resettable polyswitch.
    Anyway repair should be really easy - just open it and track +5V rail - the first component you find in series should be this fuse - so replace it with fuse again or polyswitch.

    Btw my cell phone uses shorting data pins to indicate it is charged from wall-adapter. So I made myself special USB cable with shorted pins to charge at higher rates even from PC :-)

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    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    Quote Originally Posted by czAtlantis View Post
    That is interesting - how old PC/laptop is that? I used many PCs and all of them except one CompaQ very old laptop worked with 1A just fine.
    In your case they must have used standard fuses instead of resettable polyswitch.
    Anyway repair should be really easy - just open it and track +5V rail - the first component you find in series should be this fuse - so replace it with fuse again or polyswitch.

    Btw my cell phone uses shorting data pins to indicate it is charged from wall-adapter. So I made myself special USB cable with shorted pins to charge at higher rates even from PC :-)
    it was not a laptop it was a usb2.0 plug in card for PCI on the desktop. I had it in there because I needed more ports, and had already ruined one port on the motherboard some other way that i never did know. All that stuff was from the year ~2006-7

  23. #23
    Flashaholic* Rosoku Chikara's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    (I have deleted my post.) Reason: I misread "Nano" for "Nona"!
    Last edited by Rosoku Chikara; 01-18-2013 at 11:33 AM.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    Nano charger is not the same as Nona...

    I don't think any lithium-ion charger should be left unattended, and batteries should be removed promptly. The Nona is a wonderful charger in my opinion.
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  25. #25
    Flashaholic* Rosoku Chikara's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cottonpickers Nona-Charger Review

    Quote Originally Posted by bltkmt View Post
    Nano charger is not the same as Nona...

    I don't think any lithium-ion charger should be left unattended, and batteries should be removed promptly. The Nona is a wonderful charger in my opinion.
    Sorry, I misunderstood the other review. I thought he was talking about the Nona. I am thinking of buying a Nona, and thought that they were considered excellent chargers. That's why I was so surprised to see the "bad review." (The names Nano and Nona look so similar in writing, I got confused. If he had posted a picture, I wouldn't have made the mistake.)

    Thanks for correcting me.

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