With the summer flying season coming to a close here at the homestead, I decided to give indoor flying a try. The flying club I belong to usually flies one night a week at a nearby high school gymasium unless winter weather says otherwise. I didn't have a LiPo battery charger that operated off of 115 VAC. I had no desire to lug my Hyperion charger, and the 35 amp power supply I use to power it, to the gym every week. It was time to find a small lighweight AC/DC charger.
The aircraft we fly indoors typically use a 1 to 3 cell LiPo battery with a capacity in the 70 to 650 mAH range. That means you don't need a big 500 watt charger. Something in the 50 watt range would well and with a parallel charging board, it could charge several LiPos at a time. As I mentioned, it needs to have its own internal power supply. We plug them into the wall outlets in the gym which work just fine. Some guys have enough batteries for an entire evening of flying so they don't have to recharge while at the gym. I decided a small charger would be better than a few more batteries, especially if I changed aircraft and needed a different battery. And another charge would serve well as a backup charger.
After doing some research on a couple of R/C forums, I opted for the Supermate DC6 charger. I found online info about it dating back to at least 2012 and the photos in that article were identical to my charger. The price point of $50 was within my budget and the reviews showed little to no problems with this particular charger. It had all the basic functions I needed....balance charge, discharge, storage charge, etc. It can operate from a wall outlet or an external power supply providing 11 to 18 volts DC.
The Supermate DC6 comes with a handful of charging plugs which surprised me. I have an expensive charger that came with a single charging lead of which I had to attach my own battery connector. Anyway, it was nice to have a couple of charging cables that could be adapted to just about anything if necessary. One of the charging cables had only pigtails so I soldered a Deans connector to it since a lot of my batteries use them.
The AC-DC switching power supply can provide up to 5 amps of charging capacity with a 50 watt power rating. 2S to 6S batteries can be balanced charged or discharged and obviously a 1S battery can be charged/discharged. The discharge function can operate at up to 1 amp. That isn't very high but then again, few chargers have high discharge ratings due to the size and heat ratings of the discharge resistors used in the chargers.
The operating manual indorrectly claims that the charger has a USB port that can be PC connected to allow you to monitor the charger's operation and the condition of your batteries. Don't by this charger if you really want this feature because it does not exist. The website and manual have apparently been claiming this for at least 7 years but it simply is not so. I circled the "USB port" in red in the above photo. The connector is a 3 pin header and according to the manual, it can also be used with an unsupplied temperature sensor. Don't ask....I didn't write the operating manual.
The two pin connector, on the left in the above photo, is the 110 VAC power connector. The single pin connector in the center is for connecting to an external 12 VDC power supply. The manual warns against powering both the AC and DC connectors at the same time....not a good idea.
The output connectors are the typical 4mm type which means I can easily swap the charger leads with my other charger. The same balance connector is used on my dual channel Hyperion charger.
Operation of the charger is pretty straight forward. The front panel sports a two line LCD readout and four push buttons. I found it pretty straight forward to use after setting up the charger for a couple of my "gymnasium" batteries.
The 22 page operating manual provides an easy to follow flow diagram for entering the battery parameters into the charger. There are only 5 memories where you can store your most commonly used battery profiles. I only needed two for this flying season and it is not likely I would use but maybe another one when next season rolls around. If this were my primary charger, I would want more than 5 memories. My Hyperion charger has 20 memories and I use well over half of them.
Here is the balance plug for attaching your LiPo. It uses the very common JST-XH balance connector. It can accomodate up to a 6 cell battery.
As I write this, I've used the charger now over a 2 month period and it has preformed well. It is a good charger to toss into the "gear box" as I head to the gym for a flying session. I can't imagine it getting much smaller given it contains its own switching power supply. It will charge and discharge all of the popular battery types although I have only used it on LiPo batteries. (I have a NiMH battery pack for my electronic game call but that's a different topic for another write-up). Aside from the bogus USB port, I really can't find any issues with the Supermate DC6. I'll be happy as long as it continues to run for many indoor seasons to come.
4x4 Off-Road Homestead Firearms RC Flying