The making of the BLF UC4 charger: the start of a new venture, INTEREST LIST, UPDATE 3(Finalized UI and starting design)

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Lux-Perpetua
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Please include following safety feature which I think is crucial for a reliable charger:

non-automatic start / restart of charging ◄

Reason: If you have a multichemistry-charger (NiMH, NiZn, LiFePO₄, Li-Ion) you don't really want to work with a default chemistry, usually set to 3.7V Li-Ion cells. Most chargers immediately start to charge with this setting regardless if it's a 3.2V LiFePO or a 3.7V Li-Ion battery. Using these chargers with 3.2V cells is a big risk if you forget to change the setting while charging or - very likely to happen - if you encounter a short power disruption and the charger restarts with the default value while you are not watching it. So, in terms of safety both for your personal health and the battery's health I highly recommend to refrain from automatic charging but to require a button pressed manually to initiate the charging, just like with SkyRC's MC3000.

 

I would also like the BLF charger to have a "storage charge" mode, i.e. 3.6 - 3.7V with a flexible charge/discharge termination current just as the MC3000 offers.

Grigio
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Yes, great idea! I’m a new flashlight/batterycharger user and currently using a XTAR VC4S which does not have the option to charge 20700/21700 protected batteries. So yes, a ‘do-it-all’ would be welcome. I also support the idea of a non-black charger, and a nice big clear and understandable display (in color). The graphics used on the VC4S are too small and therefor not clear enough for me. (Yes, need glasses, I know)

djozz
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I’m hardly interested in chargers because I believe that my batteries do not need the amount of TLC that is suggested in the specs. I see a charger as something that just has to charge my batteries and as a luxury my Opus provides mAh measurments, great. Also a charger is not a flashlight, that makes it a lot less interesting.

That said, I do believe in a charger that has a proper user interface, all my chargers are extremely clumsy to operate. A BLF charger does not need to be better than what I have, just easier to operate. There is a tendency by chinese manufacturers to stuff as much functionality in one button as possible so the charger must be operated by multiple clicks, first delecting a channel then multiple click another button. I believe that the operation simplifies enormously if each channel has its own set of physical buttons for the different operations. Similarly, chargers tend to have a display that toggles between the different options, I would like to see all parameters together permanent on display.

And please keep it silent, my Opus drives me crazy!

Agro
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djozz wrote:
Also a charger is not a flashlight, that makes it a lot less interesting.

Maybe we could include a flashlight in it? Maybe package the charger as Q16 with a set of adapter sleeves / blocks for smaller cells so it’s actually a good flashlight?

djozz wrote:
And please keep it silent, my Opus drives me crazy!

Actually…I was thinking along the same lines. Normally I’d rather wait longer for a charge than listen to noise. But then – high discharge rates are likely to need active cooling.
And I sure think that some others would prefer faster charging to silence – that’s why I didn’t speak up before.
zipelgas
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Definitely interested in a good charger. I hope this comes to reality Smile

Overkill is just about enough!

delete
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price not over 30 dollar.please

strayz
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Sounds very interesting…

A_M_K
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Everything sounds great and I can’t wait for this idea to materialize! My only suggestion is to put a big high-quality fan on it, which must be quiet and cool the charger and the batteries. Big Smile Thumbs Up

AEDe
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Not forlomov please, I used their Key.It is one big bug.

Another feature interesting to see, is wires (that can be conected to slot contact) to charge non standart batteries(cellphone, photo, and so on)

nick779
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Subbing.

Didnt SkyRC have a bad track record with HKJ?

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tempo wrote:

great idea, 45USD max is a budget limit imho!

Add power bank functionality, USB 3.0/USB C input and output, and Android operating system and WIFI access to Google Playstore. No more cable for app updates or firmware updates!

Actually the "wireless" capabilities of a device are much more likely to stop working, cause problems, than a cable. A cable is less 5exy but it is will be more trustable. 
I've encountered enough problems with wireless devices.. (that need to connect with other things) 

 

But interesting idea for doing a BLF charger. I'm with Djozz, keep the UI easy.. 

icpart
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Agro wrote:
I’m all in. All my chargers are at most mediocre. I’d like to buy a high end one but there’s nothing that really suits my taste.

  • discharge current should have high adjustment range, ideally the min would be 100 mA or so for 10180 and max 10A+ to test powerful cells

Higher discharge current like 10A+ the charger will need to dissipate around 40W of heat so on in that case we need fan cooling with good heatsink. Also If we want to charge and test battery in the same time with higer currents that also may be a problem for charger to dissipate that heat.
ferthur
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Count me in for one if we can get this thing off the ground. I don’t need another charger, but I do want one.

varbos
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Please make the slots big enough so you can remove cells without having to kind of ‘pick’ at them from top or bottom with fingernail and risk tearing the wrap.

1332332331
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Great idea.

I like a display for each slot, so when I charge cells that were in the same device, I can immediately see that they all took about the same mAh. I guess I’m too lazy to remember the numbers while cycling through them with a button.

>2. Charging/discharging graphs to a USB driver.
How about logging to microSD or SD instead? Then you can just leave a card in it and get the results and plot them when you want. No cable, drivers, app, etc needed. Easy to leave one living in there so you can check later if something unexpected happens. A clock might have to be added.

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Considering the price of the MC3000, this is a lot of features to be asking for at the price currently considered in the OP. Even if BLF were to do all of the hardware design and  write all of the software, I'm not sure it would come in for $45.

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My charger is a LiitoKala Lii-S1, it is exactly what I needed. you put the cell in, it charges, I can remove whenever I feel the voltage is right.
It was on sale on AE a while ago, holding up since then.

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Slayer1 wrote:
I am interested.

Let’s move away from traditional black body colors for this charger.

Red, yellow, camo or any other body colors with color LCD display.

Just a suggestion.

I agree with this. Also translucent plastic colors would be nice, like what was popular with electronics in the past. Then we can see all the internal parts. Maybe even put some LEDs inside so it can work like a night light? I don’t know if that is too crazy of an idea for a charger.

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Jensen wrote:
Slayer1 wrote:
I am interested.

Let’s move away from traditional black body colors for this charger.

Red, yellow, camo or any other body colors with color LCD display.

Just a suggestion.

I agree with this. Also translucent plastic colors would be nice, like what was popular with electronics in the past. Then we can see all the internal parts. Maybe even put some LEDs inside so it can work like a night light? I don’t know if that is too crazy of an idea for a charger.

Yeah, programmable RGB LEDs please. And don’t forget the trit slots. Maybe a limited edition Ti/Cu version? Big Smile

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Make alarm sound when charge is at FUll 100%, Sometime I forget at what time my cell will full.

The also so have very good analysis in determined expected time of fully charge.

Able to counter interupt power supply such as condition when there is sudden voltage drop or cut-off, charger should pass stress test and continue process properly.

Why not use the C-rates or atleast show the C-rate as we choose current selection. E.g when we choose increase the current, the C-rate display also increases.

Usb output for charging mobile phone since they are Li ion cell too.

Hope to see high accuracy of this charger in measuring internal resistance and temperature.

Hope not to be expensive I mean way toooooo expensive that price that fold 3× 5x…

In search of the most ideal flashlight in town:
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2. Durabillity
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JamesB
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Scallywag wrote:

Considering the price of the MC3000, this is a lot of features to be asking for at the price currently considered in the OP. Even if BLF were to do all of the hardware design and  write all of the software, I’m not sure it would come in for $45.

There was no reason for the MC3000 to be so expensive in the first place except that there was nothing quite like it at the time, it was a very botched attempt though, both software and hardware.

I’m all for a better though out MC3000. Thumbs Up

Scallywag
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JamesB wrote:
There was no reason for the MC3000 to be so expensive in the first place except that there was nothing quite like it at the time, it was a very botched attempt though, both software and hardware. I'm all for a better though out MC3000. :THUMBS-UP:

I was under the impression it had undergone a revision or two and was a lot better now... but then again, I don't have $100 for another charger... that's flashlight money!

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WalkIntoTheLight
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Love it. Two of the “must have” features for me is adjustable current and adjustable termination voltage. Great for extending the life of cells.

I’d rather drop some of the fancier features if it keeps the price down. Otherwise, the SkyRC MC3000 already exists for a high price.

#1, #2, #6, #11, #13 are the most important features.

#4, #9, #10 are nice to have, and shouldn’t add to the cost.

  1. is nice, but might add the cost. Probably worth keeping if it’s not too much more expensive, though.

The rest can be dropped if it keeps the price down. Set the max current at 1A per channel, and you won’t need fans, temperature monitoring, etc. Maybe 2A if only 2 slots are used.

Oh, maybe drop LiFePO4 support if it causes safety-issues with automatic restarts, as another poster suggested. Most people probably just need NiMH and 4.2v lithium-ion support.

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Regarding the price goal and the considered OEM list for this project, i don’t see how SkyRC would agree to produce a better charger than the MC3000 for a lower price.

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Really great idea here BlueSwordM

I have been using the Charger Xtar SV2 Rocket Rapid Battery Charger for a couple of years now and really like it. I would like to see something similar but with battery voltage display instead of the battery % charged display. Or all of the above with 4 channel.

J

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Oh boy that’s a long thread.

I’ll have to respond to all of the ideas here.

Agro first:
- 50mA minimum charging current. Ok then. However, 50mA-100mA-100mA+100nmA will have to do.
- 2 larger outer slots would work, but it would require a more custom design. Not more expensive. Just takes more time.
- Capacity measurements will start at 100mA, right up until 700mA. Rather than using resistors, we’ll maybe be using linear fed MOSFETs for discharge. 1A would be doable, but the fan would have to be very good, or use a 90mm internal fan/120mm external fan.
Higher is not possible.
- Good idea, but something I do not want. Good 4,20V terminal charging would be best.
- USD PD input would be very nice, but more expensive than a 5,5*2,5mm DC input jack.

@KevinZA1988, as I said with Agro, would be good. But would make the charger larger, and require a stand to work well. Costs are a bit limited here, so… maybe.

@Lux-Perpetua, storage mode is already included in the list.
Sudden off protection like on a PC can easily be done, and the charger wouldn’t come on until you press a button.

@Grigio, how about a color LCD display to the likes that RD Tech uses? That would be nice.

@delete, unfortunately, that would be too low with the kind of features we want.
A simple 18650/21700 8A charger could be doable without all the added features, but keep the most important ones, like a large current range and charging voltage selection.

@AEDe, thanks for the suggestion for Folomov. Will try to be careful with them if we decide to choose them.
About that non-standard battery charging. We could go include nickel plated neodymium magnet connectors to charge other devices.

@tempo, I’d rather say 49$US for a complete charger.
Powerbank functionality? Yes, but limited to a max of 900mA per the USB 3.0 spec.
USB-C PD input? No for cost reasons.
USB-A output/USB-C output for data? Yes of course.
USB-C input for updates? Yes.
WiFi or Bluetooth? Yeah no…

@varbos, increased the length to 80mm instead of 78mm.

@1332332331, microSD it is.

@hasddie293, this is what I’m implementing a full charge cutoff at 4,2V. Doesn’t charge back up until 4,0V.
For voltage cut off, something like a large capacitor would help.
No C-Rate functionality.
USB-A output at 5V 900mA, or maybe 5V 1,75A.
Good accuracy is important.

@WalkIntoTheLight, absolutely.

My very own high current Beryllium Copper springs Gen 3:
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/67401
Liitokala Aliexpress Stores Battery Fraud: http://budgetlightforum.com/node/60547

Nev
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Should be good as long as the software is done by someone who knows what they are doing & if updateable it is easily done , I hate buying stuff that is inferior to the updated version that comes out a month later but don’t want to buy again to get the updated version.

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Some random outsider thoughts. Most have probably been covered by others, and the rest impractical:
- Bluetooth is a nice whiz-bang feature, and a way to get a lot of info to display all at once via a phone app, but I don’t see it as essential Very Nice, but not essential.
- Adjustable charge rate and cutoff voltages – maybe based on a few canned profiles and x number of custom profile slots. Make sure the user defined profiles are hard to save/overwrite. Definitely do not autosave the settings when backing out or going to a new profile.
- Positive Action required to start a charge / discharge action (no automatic start by default)
- USB output/charge port – connected to either 1 slot or smart slot selection combining by cell voltage
- Input power – standard barrel connector or, preferably, a USB C PD port. (too bad POE is high voltage and low wattage – can you imagine plugging your charger up to a network port and controlling it from any web browser on your subnet?)
- Command port to connect to a PC via USB for control, reporting and updates – maybe make it emulate a network connection so the command interface can be browser based?
- Recording activities to an onboard SD sounds nice, but how can you match up a log entry to a particular physical cell after the fact?
- case color – why not. Original iMac colors? A nice clear, smoke, or frosted semi-transparent? This would make activity LEDs easy to place by each slot.
- Accurate mAh and internal resistance measures are a requirement
- Display – Color is a Nice To Have, but a large, clear display that shows all pertinent info for each cell (at the same time) is required. Maybe put in a mid sized phone type touchscreen color display and do away with most of the physical buttons too?
- UI – I don’t have experience with anything other than my Zanflare C4, but here it goes… Keep the one button under each slot. Make them a slot selector instead of a slot display cycle. Have it set so you can click one to select it, but if you hold down on it, you can click other slot buttons for a multi-select. Two control buttons. Use one to select the mode / data item for each selected slot, the other to modify the values for the selected mode/data item for the selected slots. I’m not sure if the Start function should be a selectable mode/option under the first button and enabled by the second button, or a separate, dayglo red warning sign recessed into the case so you can’t accidentally press it.
- Long Cell Support – Heck Yeah!
- Storage Charge mode – set the desired voltage and it will charge / discharge to that point then disconnect the slot
- incorporate an Android controller — while this is a nice feature, I’m not all that comfortable with it. It would allow for a rich application control and upgrade path, and a nice UI if paired with a color touchscreen, but I know someone will insist that it have a wifi connection and it will become yet another IOT device waiting to be exploited. Then there comes the cost…

DIY LT1 battery wrap image. "PDF on Google Drive":https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IHIEOi1NXu868IYNCzIM7D2Ulpxchmww

Fresh Sanyo NCR18650GAs already wrapped "for sale HERE":http://budgetlightforum.com/node/69120 if you like.

BlueSwordM
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1. Any wireless protocol will not be included for cost and reliability reasons. A direct USB connection to a PC would be best.
2. Yes, that would be good.
3. That would be good, but I’m lazy. Smile
4. Highest cell voltage/internal resistance USB connection.
5. Standard 5,5*2,5mm DC jack input.
6. Yes.
7. Oh that’s easy. Until the charger is completely off, every charge cycle will go like this:
Cell 1-2-3-4
Cell 5-6-7-8, and so on.
8. microSD card functionality would be good for automation, but USB data output is still better, I agree.
9. Case color options would go like this: Black and white.
10. Display. Large IPS display it is.
11. Good UI.

Everything else has already been said, but no Android functionality is to be included for the reasons you mentioned.

With every feature included here, 49$US GB should be doable.

My very own high current Beryllium Copper springs Gen 3:
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/67401
Liitokala Aliexpress Stores Battery Fraud: http://budgetlightforum.com/node/60547

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Interested but if possible not with MiBoxer which tends to sale on amazon with coupon for amazon US most of the time, they don’t care about the rest of the world.

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