SkyRC — IFA 2014 — MC3000 charger-analyzer

kreisl

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I mean what are the charging current waveform and value and how do they change with time?
PowerGenix is the only notable NiZn battery maker in the world and they are leaving the AAA AA field. You can check their spec sheet pdf's for the optimal charging algorithm. It's a CC-CV algorithm similar to LiIon charging. All NiZn chargers use this algorithm, so does mc3k.

At home i don't have NiZN nor RAM batteries so i cannot test these BATT TYPE's myself. :oops:

Which other NiZN chargers have you been looking at? :)
 

B-2Admirer

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PowerGenix is the only notable NiZn battery maker in the world and they are leaving the AAA AA field. You can check their spec sheet pdf's for the optimal charging algorithm. It's a CC-CV algorithm similar to LiIon charging. All NiZn chargers use this algorithm, so does mc3k.

At home i don't have NiZN nor RAM batteries so i cannot test these BATT TYPE's myself. :oops:

Which other NiZN chargers have you been looking at? :)
PowerGenix ceased production of AAs long ago and they never made AAAs.

Does MC3000 really supply constant current or is it pulse-width modulated?

I have also been looking at UltraSmartCharger, about which, I assume, you already know.
 

kreisl

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amazon search < powergenix > includes AAA hits and NiZn hits branded BIP and Ultracell. silly of me but as long as i haven't seen in person any actual Ultracell factory and actual BIP factory producing NiZn AAA/AA batteries, to make my life simpler KISS i am going to assume that their cells are actual produce by the PowerGenix factory too, just rebranded, relabeled. similarly as some FDK produce enters the market labeled Eneloop. this is a personal assumption and i am not claiming that BIP and Ultracell NiZN cells are actually produced by PowerGenix; my personal assumption might be wrong and i wouldn't mind np.

MC3000 supplies really constant current. The current (for charging or discharging) is truconstant, not pulsed. Btw the max charging current is 3A/slot; a common pulsed charger, like Maha MH-C9000, would then use 3 amps pulses, no thanks :sick2:

I am well aware of the USC project. I am wondering if their 'The Best NiMh Battery Charger' model is ready for immediate shipping, it looks very :naughty:
 
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B-2Admirer

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When I only started my research into NiZn I asked PowerGenix (http://powergenix.com/contact/) the following
Are the PowerGenix-branded 1150 mWh AAA cells and chargers for them currently sold by Chinese sellers really genuine PowerGenix ones? If not, where are the genuine ones available from?
And they replied
Presently we're heavily focused on micro and mild hybrid systems (12V to 48V based) for the automotive markets, and we are not developing any other size batteries or charges at this time. We have fully depleted our original stock of AA's. PowerGenix NEVER made a AAA size cell.

Please be aware that purchases made from Ebay and other on-line sources most likely were not manufactured by PowerGenix and most likely violate PowerGenix patents. More importantly, the performance, reliability, and safety should be considered suspect.

True constant current is good (I presume). From reading you earlier posts I understand that the minimum charging current is 50 mA and it can be adjusted in 10 mA increments. Can constant voltage supplied to a NiZn cell during the second stage be adjusted, too? I suppose a value slightly lower than 1.9V would be safer (at the expense of undercharge, obviously).
 

kreisl

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Thanks for the quotes, lemme not comment on their statement. Who is really behind PowerGenix-branded AAA's and BIP/Ultracell NiZn's is probably not of any real concern regarding the mc3k thread.

I understand that the minimum charging current is 50 mA and it can be adjusted in 10 mA increments. Can constant voltage supplied to a NiZn cell during the second stage be adjusted, too? I suppose a value slightly lower than 1.9V would be safer
Yesyes, the min nominal charging current is 50mA (CC) and in Advanced UI menu mode one can adjust it in 10mA increments. Lower charging (< 50mA) is possible with a dirty trick as suggested in the user manual :p. The CV of the 2nd stage charging can be adjusted a little bit too, between 1.80~1.95V (in 10mV increments).

How is constant voltage for the second stage is generated (and, as with current, is it really constant)?
.. argh good question, now makes me feel technologically challenged thanks! :duh2:
Don't worry, the microcontroller unit in conjunction with the firmware takes care of it. And yes, as wiv current, the constant voltage is really constant. I am saying this without having tested NiZn battery myself in person.

for discharge current, is it also constant (and if yes, how is it supplied)?

Also, will you consider ordering a few NiZn cells for testing?
Yes discharge current is truconstant and very exact. This allows for more precise mAh capacity measurements since a sampling rate can never be infinitely high. Same as the charge current control, the discharge current is controlled by actual current measurement through the same fast current sense shunt and microcontroller unit and firmware. Basically the same technology as in USC. I might consider ordering a few NiZn cells for testing but i know that the maker already tested real NiZn batteries in the charger.

so if MC3000 uses constant current it cannot be the same technology.

Another question about NiZn charging, can charge termination current for the second stage be adjusted and if yes, by what increments?
In chargers i usually do not use the term PWM because it is easily misunderstood for various technical reasons. The discharge (or charge) current thru the battery in MC3000 is truconstant, it is not a pulsed current, not a pulsating current. I am pretty sure that the current thru the battery in USC is truconstant too, not a pulsating current, not a pulsed current. Dismiss the term "PWM" and ask about the actual current thru the battery.
Yes NiZn charge termination current can be adjusted, down to 0.01A, in 10mA increments. If one wants even lower termination currents omg, then this would be possible too as the user manual suggests.

Hope that sounds good to you, appetizing :thumbsup:
 
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B-2Admirer

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I have ordered three different brands of NiZn AAAs and I have to say all of them look suspiciously similar. Each and every one has -​ZR-​ (whatever that means, superscript hyphens included) stamped on its bottom (or, if it sounds better, negative terminal).

How is constant voltage for the second stage is generated (and, as with current, is it really constant)?
 
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B-2Admirer

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Yes, it certainly sounds good, thanks for the information. Now for discharge current, is it also constant (and if yes, how is it supplied)?

Also, will you consider ordering a few NiZn cells for testing?
 

B-2Admirer

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Yes discharge current is truconstant and very exact. This allows for more precise mAh capacity measurements since a sampling rate can never be infinitely high. Same as the charge current control, the discharge current is controlled by actual current measurement through the same fast current sense shunt and microcontroller unit and firmware. Basically the same technology as in USC.
FYI, "All UltraSmartChargers use PWM (pulse width modulation) for both charging and discharging" (quote from what a developer said), so if MC3000 uses constant current it cannot be the same technology.

Another question about NiZn charging, can charge termination current for the second stage be adjusted and if yes, by what increments?

Thanks.
 

light-wolff

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FYI, "All UltraSmartChargers use PWM (pulse width modulation) for both charging and discharging" (quote from what a developer said), so if MC3000 uses constant current it cannot be the same technology.
It is possible to generate constant current by PWM technology if only the frequency is high enough (some 10 to 100kHz) and an inductor is used (e.g. buck converter, very widespread). There may be some residual ripple, but this is negligible.
 

Lynx_Arc

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It is possible to generate constant current by PWM technology if only the frequency is high enough (some 10 to 100kHz) and an inductor is used (e.g. buck converter, very widespread). There may be some residual ripple, but this is negligible.
PWM is fine for most needs once it reaches a high enough pulse rate to accommodate the circuitry powered by it. I think for the most part what people don't like about PWM is radio interference (due to frequency of pulsing) and flickering of lights powered by it which can be dealt with by increasing the frequency high enough to make it undiscernible. From what I've gathered most PWM circuits base their 100% on (no pulsing) on 100% output and then start to pulse essentially "off" to reduce that number downward. Capacitors can be used to smooth out ripples without the need for a DC/DC converter. Typically DC converters are used to exchange voltage for current while trying to conserve power available. Most chargers like these have a heavy duty DC/DC converter that converts 12-20vdc down to 1.5-5v dvc at high amperage to charge the batteries. The voltage is I believe typically calculated to deliver the maximum charging rate needed and them pulse modulated downwards reducing power for lower output levels. It is possible that the maximum output is designed for essentially constant current charging of lithium ion and lower levels of charging lithium ion AND nimh are them pulsed.
In other words the charger can have two modes, PWM and constant current with the constant current the maximum (non pulsed).
 

light-wolff

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Most chargers like these have a heavy duty DC/DC converter that converts 12-20vdc down to 1.5-5v dvc at high amperage to charge the batteries. The voltage is I believe typically calculated to deliver the maximum charging rate needed and them pulse modulated downwards reducing power for lower output levels.
Do you have an example for such a "hybrid mode" charger? It doesn't sound like a clever scheme because once you have such a DC/DC converter aboard you can just as well directly control charging current with it. All 12V powered XTAR and LiitoKala chargers do it this way - and also the MC3000.

Anyway, what you call "DC/DC converter" is actually the buck converter I was referring to. A buck converter in a charger is usually PWM-controlled: fixed frequency, variable duty cycle.
 

kreisl

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All 12V powered XTAR and LiitoKala chargers do it this way - and also the MC3000.
yikes.

i'll try to avoid naming these two brands in this thread because their (charge and discharge) current thru the battery is either off or not truconstant, i.e. with much noise, fluctuations, oscillations, or pulsating, quite poor compared to the flatline MC3000 performance: what i saw and measured so far with XTAR and Liitokala didn't make me happy. we'll be glad to look deeper into this topic, the performance comparison of non-inexpensive charger-dischargers, in near future when others have a pile of samples too ;)
 
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Julian Holtz

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Hello Kreisl,

the MC3000 is likely the next charger I'm going to get. Do you have any leverage to relay improvement suggestions to the manufacturer? I was heavily involved in helping the Junsi iCharger line become what it is today, and I certainly would like to help, if I can, with the MC3000 as well.
 

kreisl

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hi i remember you're the one who loves the craut me too!:crackup:

yes the project is open to improvement suggestions we can gather and discuss them here and i'd know whom to relay them to np thanks for your willingness to help. btw they looked at iCharger line (and other 50US$+ CN/US dischargers and analyzers) and were not impressed by its resolution nor accuracy for the MC3000 operating range, nor am i who owns the 106B+ as reference. MC3000 has higher resolution and accuracy than any Junsi iCharger, we'll see that the product left us practically with hardly noteworthy room for notable improvement.
 
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Julian Holtz

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Hi Kreisl,

nice to hear you remember me, the world is small after all. :)
For RC purposes, I consider Junsi's accuracy to be just about right for the market. Charging single cells is of course another business than charging packs, and when a circuit is laid out for 10 or 20 Amps, it will not be as accurate as a 3 Amp circuit. But anyhow, I'm not deeply enough in electronics to be able to offer hardware improvement suggestions. I prefer spotting software bugs and generally like to improve options and the UI in general.
So if suggestions are collected here, all the better.
Would you suggest letting the first run blow over and waiting until the first kinks are ironed out, or jumping right in and getting one of the first ones available?
 

kreisl

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Re hardware there are no kinks to be ironed out, everything underwent many iterations, revisions and testings, the first prototype dates back from exactly 2.0 yrs ago and the 2015 redesigned electronics is robust, simpler, and final RTM. Credit where credit due :huh:
Re firmware it is their original UI design which i liked right out of the box and i passed on suggestions to streamline some aspects of it. Now the UI has been fixed and tied to the printed manual and vice versa; everyone proud and happy! Imho the UI is as good and likable as it can get in a 'hobby charger based 4-bay consumer charger', personally i don't see any realistic potential to make major changes, major improvements to the present UI design within the limitations of the given environment (price, LCD, man-hour, time) unless you want to write your own complete code from scratch. But suggestions for minor changes, further fine-tuning, will be welcome and considered, firmware bugs smashed with gusto within the week thanks.
Re the PC Link software (Windows), it is useful but basic. Even though it leaves much room for suggestions for code expansion, realistically let's not expect further and further development of it. Imo whoever is unhappy with the simpleness of the PC Link software could dump the logged data to file and process it with Microsoft Excel. In fact, i wouldn't even recommend Logview Studio for logging and processing because Microsoft Excel is so much more professional.
Re the Bluetooth software (Android/iPhone), these days afaik only the iPhone app is readily available, see iTunes Store. I bent the iPhone such that i cannot test the Bluetooth since the Android app for my Samsung has not appeared on Google Playstore yet. Do you have iPhone or Android?

Julian. Jump right in. Get one of the first ones available. Become part of the story from the very beginning. This product is about fun, not only about dead dry serious professional-like accurate mAh measurements :nana:
 
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Julian Holtz

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Hi Kreisl,

nice to read this all. It seems you are as pedantic as me when it comes to chargers, so when you are satisfied, I will most likely be too! :)

One thing I'd like to know though: Does the charger have an automatic mode one can program in the setup, so that, once this is done, it will begin to charge automatically with the programmed parameters when a cell is inserted?
Sometimes I like to play with chargers, but sometimes I like them just to charge with no programming neccessary.

Thanks,

Julian
 

kreisl

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Does the charger have an automatic mode one can program in the setup, so that, once this is done, it will begin to charge automatically with the programmed parameters when a cell is inserted?
hallihallo :D

yes i am definitely very satisfied with everything (kreislapproved), especially with 2015 hardware, firmware, and manual. and true, i am as pedantic when it concerns the 'DC2' (2nd gen dreamcharger after DC1, the BT-C3100 ©2013 OPUS). now they've let me peek at the production pdf user manual, it has about 35 numbered lil pages omg. funny enough, chinese eneloop testing, cpf, batteryuniversity, imax charger, get some mention in it too *gg*

To answer your question: Kinda. Due to safety reasons, for the time being there is no fully automatic smart mode.

— The following scenario would be as 'automatic' as it gets, you'd need at least 1 click of a button:
Once you've setup a program for a battery, a unique program identifier (= a number between 1…30) must be assigned to it; pre-assignment or post-assignment is possible :naughty:. Then just remember the number, e.g. [02]. When the device is powered off, the last used program in each slot is memorized. Next time you power on the (empty) charger, your program is still there under the back then saved identifier [02]; the LCD shows which programs are preset in the slots. If one of the empty slots, e.g. slot#3, already shows [02] thanks to that 'last program memory', then throw in your battery in #3 and hit the START-button and done; or else you need 2 additional clicks to change the number to [02] before hitting the START-button.
 
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PandaLight

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Sooo, when is this charger available? Searching on google tells me it should have been released in Spring, then Summer, and now August but August is almost over. I can't find it being sold anywhere =[
 
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