[Review] Armytek Handy C1 Pro(Single bay, micro-USB in, USB-A out, NiMH and LiIon support)

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bmengineer
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[Review] Armytek Handy C1 Pro(Single bay, micro-USB in, USB-A out, NiMH and LiIon support)

The Product

Armytek Handy C1 Pro

Armytek sent me their new Handy C1 Pro to review. This is a very compact single bay charger for Li-Ion and NiMH cells. The Handy is also capable of functioning as a USB powerbank.

Note that Armytek also makes a non-pro version of this charger that doesn't support NiMH cells, along with a few other differences.

Spoiler

This charger has stellar powerbank performance, and great charging as well. The usual target market for this sort of device is backpackers looking for a way to use their existing cells to charge other devices without adding much weight, but the secure wings make this a great piece of kit to toss in a bag as well. The flexibility to charge NiMH also adds a bit of versatility - this would be a great first charger or charger to gift someone, as long as lower charge currents and larger cell sizes aren’t needed. It's also the charger I'm most likely to bring to work or on a trip, as it's compact and compatible with all the cell types I use most often.

Size

I measure the charger to be 93.3 mm long by 32.4 mm wide and 31.6 mm tall. The cell slot measures 31.1 mm when the slider is fully closed, and opens up to 71.3 mm. The cell slot is less than 19 mm wide, so cells larger than 18650 will not fit.

XTAR PB2, Armytek Handy C1 Pro, Rofis MR50

Build and Form Factor

The build is fairly typical of the single bay portable chargers that I’ve seen from other manufacturers. The body of the charger is made entirely of a hard plastic, and there’s a spring loaded metal slider that serves as the negative contact. Inside the bay, there’s a cell polarity indication molded into the plastic.

Top view

There are two design elements that make this charger stand out from the pack. The first are the ‘wings’ that are wrapped around the positive end of the cell bay. These wings grip 18650 cells and others of similar diameters tightly, so you don’t need to worry about the cell slipping out. This is useful in all instances, but especially convenient if you’re using the device as a powerbank and you want to toss if in a pocket or a bag. It should go without saying, but I would still suggest not tossing it into a pocket alongside keys or anything conductive, even though the cell should have no way of working itself out of the charger.

18650 held in place

The other interesting design element is the status LEDs. These 4 LEDs are placed at the negative end of the charger, just above the micro-USB power input. They are positioned inside molded channels that serve as light tubes, which allows the charge status to easily be viewed either from the top or the end of the charger.

Status LEDs viewed on end

The sides of the charger have a few of the same molded ribs and other design accents as the rest of the charger. These add some grip, but I don’t think most people will be holding the Handy for too long. From the side, you can get another view of those wings as well.

Side view

At the positive end of the charger, there’s the USB-A port for powerbank use, and not much else.

USB-A output port

The bottom of the charger holds a lot of the important labeling. The two USB ports are labeled with molded “OUT” and “IN” text. There’s a large sticker covering most of the base. In addition to the usual regulatory signs and the product name, this sticker has the supported input and output currents and voltages. Most notable is that this is the only indication on the charger itself that NiMH cells are supported.

Bottom view

What's Included

The charger came in a retail-ready box with a hang tag and an info label sticking out on the right. Inside, a thin foam bag kept the charger safe. The only accessory included is a micro-USB cable. I’m glad to see the included short cable - I find these very useful, and great for tossing into a bag without having to worry about it getting tangled or taking too much space.

Packaging and included kit

Charging

This is exactly the sort of simple charger I love to use. Plug it in and toss in a cell, and the charger will start at the correct voltage. There are 4 simple LEDs that indicate charge status.

Charging a cell in the Handy

Li-Ion:

I tested the charger by charging a Samsung 30Q twice and measuring the current and voltage supplied to the charger. In both tests, current climbed gradually from about 0.75 A to 0.9 A, before going into a CV to top off the cell. Charging terminated at 4.16 V and 4.17 V, which is good. The curve does show the current ‘pulsed’ slightly during the charge, and I’m not sure why that is. All I can say is the cell did not get warm, and overall this seems like a solid charger for Li-Ion cells.

Samsung 30Q charge curve, measured at the USB

Second Samsung 30Q charge curve

NiMH:

I charged an 800 mAh Ikea Ladda cell in the charger. Measuring from the USB input again, current into the charger was just below 0.2 A. After charging, the resting voltage of the cell was at 1.38 V.

Ikea Ladda AA cell charge curve

Powerbank

It’s not clearly listed on the product page, but powerbank functionality only works with Li-Ion cells. This makes sense. To use this feature, simply insert a cell and plug in the device you want to charge. The status LEDs will show the charge remaining in the cell.

Charging a phone with the Handy

Using the same Samsung 30Q and drawing 0.5 A stayed at a rock solid 4.95 V without any sort of variation, and output 9.089 Wh. Resting voltage of the cell at the end of the test was 3.11 V.

0.5 A Current draw

Drawing a higher 2.0 A current, the voltage was largely the same, still staying close enough to spec. Total power delivered was a slightly lower 8.129 Wh. Resting voltage at the end of the test was 3.22 V.

2.0 A Current draw

Armytek claims a maximum current draw of 2.5 A is supported. Testing increasing current shows the device can actually deliver 2.6 A, but shuts off when I tried to pull 2.7 A. The powerbank started charging even at a relatively low 0.1 A draw. Voltage is very respectable across all currents. This is a very good powerbank, and I really can’t find any flaws with it.

Testing the output with increasing current

Summary

Pros:

  • Small, portable unit

  • NiMH support and cell sliders make it one of the more versatile powerbank chargers

  • Wings hold 18650 cells solidly in place

  • Fantastic powerbank performance

Cons:

  • Slight pulse noticed in the input current during charging

  • No support for lower charge currents or larger cells

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Edited by: bmengineer on 11/02/2018 - 15:04
Parametrek
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Thank you for running these tests. They show something very important that I was hoping for back when Armytek said this could support NiMH.

I would like to draw attention to 2 of the results. The 30Q charge used 2360mAh (at 5V) to charge a 3000mAh cell. The NiMH charge used 260mAh (at 5V) to charge an 800mAh cell.

What does this mean? The charger uses a buck regulator and not a linear regulator like the F1/F2! This is a huge deal. Better efficiency and possibly faster charging.

The only remaining question is how it performs with solar panel brownouts and how it performs as a UPS. This could be the best small charger on the market.

Try the largest, fastest, most flexible flashlight search engine: parametrek.com

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bmengineer
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Well that’s good to know. I’m glad these graphs are useful to at least some readers!

I don’t have half the equipment I’d need to fully test UPS performance, but if you’re pass-through charging and you remove or re-plug the charger to the wall, there’s no change in the charge status on a phone – it keeps charging. If there is a drop in current, it’s too small to register on the phone.

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chadvone
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Thanks for doing this review and test. I have had this on my radar for awhile.

This charger does look Handy

CRX
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Thanks Thumbs Up

bmengineer
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Thanks for reading!

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bmengineer
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With the hand-holding of @parametrek I was able to set up a bit of a better test. I wired the USB output directly to a 3 mm LED with a resistor in series, and unplugged the power into the charger. There was no flicker at the LED, showing that this charger should function as a UPS. The LED did go out a few seconds later, but only because the load was not enough for the charger to keep draining the cell.

TLDR: UPS should work.

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