A Luxury Charger Without the Luxury Price Tag
This article was originally published in RC Driver’s September 2015 issue.
by Scott Donaldson
In recent years there has been a trend toward manufacturers coming out with touch panel-equipped battery chargers. With a touch interface you have something that is easy and intuitive to use. Dynamite is the latest player to enter into the touch screen charger arena with the new Passport Ultra 100W AC/DC charger. I’ve had a chance to use a number of touch screen chargers so I was excited to see what the lat- est from Dynamite brought to the table.
PRODUCT: Passport Ultra 100W AC/DC Touch Battery Charger
100W charging output
LCD Touch Screen
0.1-to-10 amp charging range
Charges NiMH/LiPo/LiFe/LiIon/NiMH/ NiCd and Pb
1-6S LiPo Compatibility
2.1A USB Tap to charge smartphone and tablets
The Passport Ultra is a good sized unit, not too big and not too small. The center of the charger has a silver aluminum look while the sides are shrouded by molded pieces. The touch screen lies smack-dab in the middle
of the face of the charger and features a nice backlight. I also liked the angle that the screen was placed at in the chassis of the charger. Sometimes the angle of a display can either be too shallow or too steep but the Passport Ultra’s is at a pretty good angle. The front of the Passport Ultra is all business. It houses the two insulated banana plug ports, a USB port with a 2.1A output for charging your smartphones, tablets or other USB-equipped devices, a temperature sensor port, balance port and a USB jack for installing so ware updates. The le side of the charger features a cooling fan, the input for the AC power cord and the on/off switch. The right side is a li le simpler as only the DC power port can be found here.
To get you up and charging faster Dyna- mite includes multiple charge adaptors to cover your charging needs. There is both
an EC3 and Deans Ultra Plug charge lead included, along with a BEC-style charge adapter to charge your receiver packs quickly. The Passport Ultra has a really nice balance board that accommodates 1-6S LiPo Ba eries and has a decently long lead to make it easier to get to your ba ery in a LiPo safety pouch when charging.
Once I had everything powered up I went through the menus to see what the Passport had under the hood. For me the test of the ease-of-use of any charger is whether or not I can use it without having to turn to the manual. I was able to get into things and get it set up to charge a ba ery in less than five minutes. That’s pre y impressive.
The so ware has a lot going on but not so much that it is daunting. You can actually create charging profiles for up to ten different batteries―pretty cool. The touch screen was very responsive, however there were times when I wanted to touch what was being displayed on-screen (battery type for example) and this charger doesn’t quite work like that. There are a lot of cool features in the menus, too, such as individual cell charge status graphs, charge and discharge graphs and more. Speaking of which, the Passport Ultra features charge, discharge, balance and storage modes. This is one complete charging system.
Testing took place over the course of several weeks and by charging a number of different ba eries. While it may sound odd the first thing I charged with the Passport Ultra was my cell phone. See, I received the charger in the middle of the work day and I had forgotten to charge my phone overnight. I brought the charger to the office and plugged it in and plugged my USB charge lead into the front. While not quite up to Quick Charge 2.0 spec (something the latest phones from Samsung and Motorola feature) it was definitely up to par with my normal USB charger that has a 2.0a output.
With the USB charge test passed I grabbed a variety of different packs to charge and test. I had some packs that I hadn’t raced in some time and threw them on the Passport Ultra and hit the Storage Mode. In what seemed like hours the charger alerted me that the balancing process was completed.
I guess I need to balance charge my packs more often! Speaking of which, the next mode I tried out was the actual balance charge mode with some 3S 3300mAh LiPo ba eries for my quadcopter. The Passport Ultra charged these packs like a champ, along with charging my 5300mAh, 6000mAh and 6500mAh packs, all in 2S, 3S and 4S flavors. A er they were charged I tested each of these packs in their respective vehicles and everything worked great! Runtime was as good if not be er than the other chargers
I had been using with these packs and after multiple charge cycles I noticed my batteries were staying in balance much be er than before. While I did most of my testing with LiPo batteries, the few NiMH packs I tested worked just as well.
Dynamite and Horizon Hobby need to
be commended for creating a really good and user-friendly touch enabled charger, especially at under $110! The interface is intuitive, the charge quality is really good and the overall fit and finish of the Passport Ultra feels more expensive than it is. The size is quite nice as it is easy to fit in a pit bag or hauler and it doesn’t take up too much room on your bench. If you’re in the market for a new charger and touch screen is important to you I would highly recom- mend checking out the Passport Ultra.
Dynamite (Horizon Hobby) www.dynamiterc.com