Xtar Dragon Plus VP4 - Impressions

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Bort
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Xtar Dragon Plus VP4 - Impressions

It came last week but i got the wrong plug, Xtar was very gracious and sent me a new north america plug which arrived today Smile

So plugged it in, it did nothing for a few seconds then sprang to life. I’m not sure if thats a first startup anomaly or thats normal, i’ll find out

I put 4 batteries at various levels of discharge and it shows percent charge and mAh put in. It has 4 bays, and you switch between them with the center display button. The sound was turned off, and the manual does not say how to turn it on, i checked online, press the record button twice. It also went into record mode, but i find it confusing so i’m not sure if its recording or not (and i don’t get what it records).

The display go into lower brightness mode after a period of not pressing buttons, any button brings it back, i’m not a fan of this feature, it may save some milliwatts but its not worth it IMO.

I also tested the voltage/internal resistance reader, its polarity sensitive (it will show zero if you reverse polarity test). It shows two decimal places of voltage (3.81V for example) and resistance in milliohms, (the battery i checked was 42 milliohm) and the results are repeatable.

I would like a voltage showing on each bay which it does not have, but the percent is actually a nicer touch, if i had to choose between voltage and percent i would not have picked percent till now that i have seen it (edit: After more usage voltage is superior and fungible)

Edit: First battery just finished with a beep which is nice touch, and the buttons beep each time they are pressed, the beep is reminiscent of the EEG machine in a hospital, i found myself pressing the display button every second to recreate a heart monitor sound Innocent

Edit 2: With two batteries charged one screen has a charged and uncharged battery and so does the other. I think future iterations should be able to automatically put the two still charging batteries status on the same screen, and even have an option to automatically cycle through both screens when 3 or 4 batteries are being charged whether any are fully charged or not

Edit 3: It sticks at 99% for a long time, about 10-15 minutes (guesstimate, i have not timed it)

Edit 4: I forgot to mention that the probes look like they are plated with gold Cash
(Photo credit HKJ)

Edit 5: Freshly charged battery came off at 4.15V. Second and third battery spent about 15 and 30 mins respectively after charge finished but left on charger before reading came off at 4.15 and 4.14V respectively Sad

Edit 6: Cell number 4 also reads 4.15V. I tested this one with the built in voltage check and it says 4.19V. My multi meter was compared to several others a few years back so i do trust it but can’t be 100% sure its accurate

Edit 7: Confirmation that the first few seconds after you plug it in it acts like its dead before suddenly springing to life. I think it should spring to life right away and count up to 100% ready to use

Edit 8: A few thoughts after using it a few times, the internal resistance reading probes are attached by USB, i am very careful to use the correct tester port and not the charger port, what happens if i get it wrong in a hurry one day, will the charger get fried? I’m not going to test this, but i hope it simply does nothing or gives a visual error, hopefully XTAR can answer this.
Why is the supplemental plug for 3S charging, i have nothing that uses this, and what about 2S and 4S batteries?
The charger claims to have a 15C max temp increase, this is a very good feature, though i have no ability to test it, and i hope it has an indicator that it was activated, so the user knows the battery may have a problem (though tricky if more then one battery is being charged, which one(s) caused the temp rise in that case?

Edit 9: I charged some eneloops at 1.24-1.25V and it said they were under 10%, when i know they are at about 75%. These batteries are only used in my whole house energy monitor that is not designed for NiMH, so i go through this dance, recharge and after 6 weeks it says they are dead at ~1.25V, i recharge with the BC700 and get about 600mAh in, and put back in meter. This time i used the dragon, and 6-8% when inserted which is obviously incorrect, though it knew they were NiMH on the display. They took about 575mAh, which is about right to recharge and came off at 1.49V. The percent meter is not calibrated correctly for either eneloops or NiMH in general or both.
None of this affects its ability to recharge NiMH (which i suspect did correctly terminate), just that the percent meter is unusable for NiMH and should be ignored.

Edit 10: The startup delay is not caused by the charger but by the power supply, if you plug in the supply and give it a few seconds before plugging it into the charger the charger starts immediately. I’m not sure if the temperature regulation works, some old NiMH got almost too hot to hold, but not quite too hot, so either its a coincidence or it was holding them at that temp (which would be higher then the 15C rise they claim).

Edit 11: I have noticed this charger is putting less mAh into NiMH then my Lacrosse BC700, about 5-10% less by my estimation. I don’t have the ability to precisely measure this so i can’t offer any objective evidence, just personal experience from hundreds of battery chargings over the years

Edit 12: The temperature regulation does not work, i have some NiMH AA batteries that are too hot to hold yet the charger is still trying to charge them (3000mAh in so far)

Edit 13: When you charge batteries beyond 9999 mAh it goes back to 000 as seen here

For the technical review of this charger please see HKJ’s thread

The Journal of Alternative Facts

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of Alternative Facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists."

 

Edited by: Bort on 03/07/2017 - 18:25
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Any questions about the charger, do ask

The Journal of Alternative Facts

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of Alternative Facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists."

 

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After a battery has been charged and sat a few minutes, interested to see what voltage it ends at

My Favorite Modded Lights: X6R, S8 , X2R , M6, SP03

Major Projects:  Illuminated Tailcap, TripleDown/TripleStack Driver

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pilotdog68 wrote:
After a battery has been charged and sat a few minutes, interested to see what voltage it ends at

I already have my multimeter standing by, only one charger i have ever owned finished at 4.2V so i am also curious, i hope its 4.2V otherwise i will have to go back to my Liitokala 300, i got sick of 4.05-4.1V batteries.

The Journal of Alternative Facts

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of Alternative Facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists."

 

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Thanks Bort. Nice honest review.

 

djozz quotes, "it came with chinese lettering that is chinese to me".

                      "My man mousehole needs one too"

old4570 said "I'm not an expert , so don't suffer from any such technical restrictions".

Old-Lumens. Highly admired and cherished member of Budget Light Forum. 11.5.2011 - 20.12.16. RIP.

 

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MRsDNF wrote:
Thanks Bort. Nice honest review.

Thanks, much more to come as well

edit: more info added to OP Wink

The Journal of Alternative Facts

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of Alternative Facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists."

 

hIKARInoob
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You wrote:

Edit 3: It sticks at 99% for a long time, about 10-15 minutes (guesstimate, i have not timed it)

To me this means having a non linear (apparently) percentage display is not meaningful; voltage makes more sense as this is what’s really going on with the cell. The display being stuck at 99% for a long time/too long also reminds me of Microsoft Windows with the installation progress meter. “Come on, come ooooon!!!! HURRRRRRYYYY!!! WHAT’S THE PROBLEM??? FINISH IIIIIIIITTTTTTT!!!!!”
Yeah, Windows traumatised me alright…

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hIKARInoob wrote:
You wrote:

Edit 3: It sticks at 99% for a long time, about 10-15 minutes (guesstimate, i have not timed it)

To me this means having a non linear (apparently) percentage display is not meaningful; voltage makes more sense as this is what’s really going on with the cell. The display being stuck at 99% for a long time/too long also reminds me of Microsoft Windows with the installation progress meter. “Come on, come ooooon!!!! HURRRRRRYYYY!!! WHAT’S THE PROBLEM??? FINISH IIIIIIIITTTTTTT!!!!!”
Yeah, Windows traumatised me alright…


I agree, also the percentage is not uniform in real life, different chemistries and different manufacturers show percentage charge vs voltage varies, there was a chart i remember seeing for 3 common batteries, and i’m sure HKJ has data that will also show the contrast.

The Journal of Alternative Facts

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of Alternative Facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists."

 

pilotdog68
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it depends if the percentage is of charge capacity, or of charge time. If it is 99% capacity, it does indeed take much longer to charge up that last 1% because the charging is slowed to a crawl at the end.

All of my other chargers that display percentage are the same way.

I prefer voltage because I can use it as a quick check without pulling out my DMM

My Favorite Modded Lights: X6R, S8 , X2R , M6, SP03

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pilotdog68 wrote:
it depends if the percentage is of charge capacity, or of charge time. If it is 99% capacity, it does indeed take much longer to charge up that last 1% because the charging is slowed to a crawl at the end.

Thats a good point

Quote:

All of my other chargers that display percentage are the same way.

They are probably handling the charge difference problem the same way as the dragon

Quote:

I prefer voltage because I can use it as a quick check without pulling out my DMM

Why? Whats the point of checking voltage?

The Journal of Alternative Facts

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of Alternative Facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists."

 

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I still find it weird. With the technology that we have today, shouldn’t it be easy (and not expensive at the same time) to have a charger where you can select with a button what you want to see displayed? press button >voltage>charging current==>percentage==>time remaining etc. And one display per channel, so you don’t need to select the two channels you want to see.

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Bort wrote:
Quote:
I prefer voltage because I can use it as a quick check without pulling out my DMM
Why? Whats the point of checking voltage?

I like it so I have an immediate idea how depleted the cells are and how much time (approximately) is required to charge. A more important reason I like it is to check the cell status of four cells (when using a four cell light). Any deviation in cell voltage when inserting in the charger might be/is a sign that one of your cells is bad and you should take action. I could consult here if a deviation of 0.1V or 0.7V is acceptable or not.

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hIKARInoob][quote=Bort wrote:
Quote:
I prefer voltage because I can use it as a quick check without pulling out my DMM
Why? Whats the point of checking voltage?

I like it so I have an immediate idea how depleted the cells are and how much time (approximately) is required to charge.

Percentage is more accurate then converting voltage to charge time Silly

[quote

wrote:
A more important reason I like it is to check the cell status of four cells (when using a four cell light). Any deviation in cell voltage when inserting in the charger might be/is a sign that one of your cells is bad and you should take action. I could consult here if a deviation of 0.1V or 0.7V is acceptable or not.
fair enough

I also used to check voltages frequently, these days i just use lights and charge when i feel its needed based on rough guestimate of usage of the light or i’m going somewhere with a light and want full charge

The Journal of Alternative Facts

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of Alternative Facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists."

 

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CRX wrote:
!{width:99%}[IMG]http://i.imgur.com/GUX9Ggo.jpg[/IMG]!

Thanks Smile

The Journal of Alternative Facts

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of Alternative Facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists."

 

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Many notes added in first post Smile

The Journal of Alternative Facts

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of Alternative Facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists."

 

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Regarding Edit 9: It looks like the doctor needs to see a doctor… Smile

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hIKARInoob wrote:
Regarding Edit 9: It looks like the doctor needs to see a doctor… Smile

The doctor needs to be reprogrammed
If only human doctors could be upgraded so easily Big Smile

The Journal of Alternative Facts

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of Alternative Facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists."

 

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Do you have old, problematic cells to check their internal resistances? What about new (ish) known cells? Thanks.

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eebowler wrote:
Do you have old, problematic cells to check their internal resistances? What about new (ish) known cells? Thanks.

No old cells, i tossed them in the spring, they heated up like crazy and maxed out the internal resistance test on the liitokala (which is an annoying quirk of that charger)
The highest resistance is the cell that came with my Thorfire VG10, 92 mohm, UR18650fm reads 42mohm. You have to press the leads to full compression to get repeatable and correct readings

The Journal of Alternative Facts

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of Alternative Facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists."

 

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Thanks for the review. I “almost” bought the Dragon yesterday but the price seemed a bit steep for the features compared to for example the MC3000.
I dropped back and punted for now and settled for a less expensive AccuPower IQ338LX at $39.95 since all I really need right now is to charge 18650’s and D cells. I’ll look at the Dragon again in about a year.

I also thought that as a first release, there would probably be significant changes and maybe upgrades to the next release.

I also don’t like the percentage display. I want a voltage display. I bet they change that next release. Probably push button selectable.

Your review helped a lot.

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Zebretta wrote:
Thanks for the review. I “almost” bought the Dragon yesterday but the price seemed a bit steep for the features compared to for example the MC3000.
I dropped back and punted for now and settled for a less expensive AccuPower IQ338LX at $39.95 since all I really need right now is to charge 18650’s and D cells. I’ll look at the Dragon again in about a year.

I also thought that as a first release, there would probably be significant changes and maybe upgrades to the next release.

I also don’t like the percentage display. I want a voltage display. I bet they change that next release. Probably push button selectable.

Your review helped a lot.


You are most welcome.
Its a good charger but your correct to look at a lower price point, while i don’t have experience with many other chargers i do have a Liitokala 300 (at a fraction of the price), which does almost everything i need, charge li ion, show voltage, show mA in, internal resistance test and capacity test. The advantage of this charger is the internal resistance is actual not an arbitrary unit that maxes out like the Liitokala

As for the voltage/percent, having used it a while i have concluded for an enthusiast voltage is better, and for a novice percent is probably better. Though Xtar needs to improve the percent readings, it says NiMH are empty that are 2/3 full, so a “empty” NiMH charges in just over an hour, and an actually empty NiMH would take 5 hours. A novice would think the battery is shot when in fact the charger is not correctly calibrated.

The Journal of Alternative Facts

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of Alternative Facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists."

 

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Does the Dragon charge 2, or 4 D batteries at once?

Not what we have but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.

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brad wrote:
Does the Dragon charge 2, or 4 D batteries at once?

Each slot is 35mm width, so you can just fit 4 D batteries at once. However they would charge at 1A. If you want 2A charging you can only use slots 1 and 4. I have a photo showing different sized cells (max 26650) in the DRAGON VP4 Plus in my review linked below:
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/51522

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Thanks, 4 is pretty good for me since I have some 4 D lights, and charging time isn’t important to me.

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4 D cell charging is a top necessity for me also Brad. The AccuPower IQ338LX was the only other charger I found that could charge 4 D cells at once.
I also believe it can charge all 4 at 500,700,1000 and 1500mAh at the same time.

At $40 it was the perfect fit for my needs. Now I’m just hoping it lasts a few years.

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Zebretta wrote:
4 D cell charging is a top necessity for me also Brad. The AccuPower IQ338LX was the only other charger I found that could charge 4 D cells at once.
I also believe it can charge all 4 at 500,700,1000 and 1500mAh at the same time.

At $40 it was the perfect fit for my needs. Now I’m just hoping it lasts a few years.


Wasn’t your first one broken?
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stephenk wrote:
Zebretta wrote:
4 D cell charging is a top necessity for me also Brad. The AccuPower IQ338LX was the only other charger I found that could charge 4 D cells at once.
I also believe it can charge all 4 at 500,700,1000 and 1500mAh at the same time.

At $40 it was the perfect fit for my needs. Now I’m just hoping it lasts a few years.


Wasn’t your first one broken?

Yes. I returned the first one and got a replacement. SFSG on the replacement.

I was about to pull the trigger on a Dragon but this one at $40 does almost everything the Dragon does and it has a Voltage readout (instead of Percent)
When the Dragon comes down in the $50 – $60 range I’ll reconsider. I think it’s overpriced a good bit at $89.00
But most importantly, the Dragon cannot do 4 D cells at the same time. Big deal for me.

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I have a Dragon and like it so far.

Four D cells fit and charge but only at 1 amp.

Stephenk I don’t understand your comment.

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These batteries are beyond strange (and old) so sometimes they will charge forever without getting very hot, no idea where the energy is going, perhaps they have some kind of cold fusion reaction happening?
That said we now know what happens when you put 10,000mAh into a battery with this charger

The Journal of Alternative Facts

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of Alternative Facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists."

 

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Bort wrote:
That said we now know what happens when you put 10,000mAh into a battery with this charger

Just like Keyser Soze… the charge is all gone…

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