ThunderPower RC TP820CD 800 Watt Dual-Port Multi-Chemistry Battery Charger/Discharger/Cycler/Balancer

Wow, that title is a mouth-full, and this monster delivers!   With the new generations of Lithium-Polymer (LiPo) batteries capable of being charged at up to 12C (12X battery pack capacity – YMMV), the “last generation” chargers were holding my batteries hostage when I  could have been flying — not any more:

(Shown charging a 3-cell Turnigy and a 6-cell ThunderPower pack at the same time.  The “spider-monkey” charge adapters are from DraganFly).

The ThunderPower RC TP820CD comes with two balance paddles that accept ThunderPower and JST-XH balancer connections.  It seems a bit strange that the TP820CD doesn’t appear on the ThunderPowerRC web site, but they can be found all over the web.  The users manual can be downloaded from here.

After upgrading the firmware via the mini-usb connection (running Windows XP, in VirtualBox, under Linux),  I returned the unit to ThunderPowerRC when I noticed my battery packs weren’t being charged to full capacity (only about 80% or so).   Mark at ThunderPowerRC called me back and explained that if the charge balance feature was disabled (I didn’t have balancer adapters for my Hyperion packs), as a safety feature, the batteries won’t be fully charged (doh).   He was very nice, and let me know that he had carefully verfied the operation of the charger, and then promptly returned it.   Apparently this is SOP for ThunderPower, but isn’t for Hyperion Chargers (at least for the 606i).  Mark also referred me to Dan at RC Lipos where I was able to get JST-XH to Hyperion balancer adapters.

To get the full 800+ watts out of the TP820CD, you’ll need a power supply that can provide 24 to 28 Volts at 40 Amps (maximum input current).   13.8V at 40 Amps will allow the charger to deliver 550 watts.   If your input source is less than “full power”, you can set how much of the input power is directed to which port (1 or 2).

The main feature I needed in a charger (besides more power) was one with a “storage mode” for LiPo packs.   The TP820CD will either charge or discharge LiPo packs to roughly 50% capacity (depending on its charge-state), to maximize cell life when the batteries are not going to be used right away.

There are several safety features on the TP820CD to ensure batteries are not over-charged (a very dangerous condition for LiPos), including charge capacity, maximum charge-time, internal cell-sense, and maximum cell-voltage.   It is, however, possible to force the charger to do something bad for your batteries (and perhaps your domicile as well).

Of course, the TP820CD will also charge Lithium-Ion, Lithium-Iron, Lead-Acid, NiCd, and NiMH cells.   The cycling (charge/discharge) mode on the charger can  help rejuvenate some of these chemistries.

I only wish the charger could dissipate more that 50-watts (per channel) on discharge;  several times while discharging cells, the TP820CD would overheat and have to temporarily halt the discharge cycle until it cooled off (a minute-or-so).

Overall, I’m very happy with the unit, and it’s a welcome addition to my “family” of battery chargers/conditioners.

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